The French health ministry reported more than 2,500 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, setting a new post-lockdown daily high for the third day in a row, and taking the country’s cumulative total of cases to 249,611. 

An Australian inquiry into the virus-infected Ruby Princess cruise ship said health officials made a “serious and material error” in allowing passengers to disembark from the vessel. 

Worldwide coronavirus cases surpassed 21 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, while more than 13 million people have recovered. More than 763,000 people have died.

Here are the latest updates:

Saturday, August 15
14:10 GMT – Nearly half of Brazilians say Bolsonaro not to blame for coronavirus deaths

Almost half of Brazilians think President Jair Bolsonaro bears “no responsibility at all” for the country’s more than 100,000 dead from the coronavirus pandemic, the world’s second highest death toll, according to a new Datafolha poll.

The poll was published on Saturday in Brazil’s Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper and says 47 percent of Brazilians do not assign him any blame for the body count, whereas percent do.

Brazil has the world’s worst outbreak outside of the United States and Bolsonaro’s response to the pandemic has been widely condemned by health experts.

Right-wing Bolsonaro has pushed for the use of an unproven anti-malarial drug to fight the disease, replaced health ministers who opposed his agenda, encouraged Brazilians to oppose lockdown measures and shown indifference to the rising death toll. 

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro holds a box of anti-malarial drug chloroquine outside of the Alvorada Palace in Brasilia [File: Adriano Machado/Reuters]

13:50 GMT – Indonesia records 2,354 new coronavirus cases, 50 deaths 

Indonesia has reported 2,345 new coronavirus cases, taking the total number of infections to 137,468, according to data from Indonesia’s COVID-19 task force.

The data showed 50 more coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 6,071.

Colombia economic slump: Fears 20 years of gains could be erased (2:32)

13:45 GMT – Vietnam reports 21 new coronavirus cases, 2 deaths 

Vietnam’s health ministry has reported 21 new coronavirus infections and two deaths, bringing the total number of cases in the Southeast Asian country to 950, with 23 fatalities. 

More than 470 of the cases are linked to the central city of Danang, where a new outbreak began late last month. 

The ministry said 115,858 people are being quarantined, including 4,182 at hospitals, 25,952 at centralised quarantine centres and the rest at home.  

11:28 GMT – Qatar announces 277 new confirmed cases

Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) confirmed 277 new cases of coronavirus taking the country’s cumulative total of cases to 114,809.

The MOPH also reported 247 recoveries in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of people who recovered from the disease in the country to 111,505 cases. 

It also announced two new deaths. 

The number of new daily cases and hospital admissions is continuing to decline each week, the MOPH said in the statement.

“The virus is affecting poor people the most. It’s having a massive impact on poor nations.” #AJOpinion hears from @WHO’s Special Envoy for COVID-19 response @davidnabarro, on how coronavirus reveals systemic inequality across the world.

— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) August 15, 2020

10:50 GMT – Thousands of Britons return from France to avoid quarantine

Thousands of British tourists beat a hasty retreat from France, packing out planes, trains and ferries to return to the UK to avoid a mandatory 14-day quarantine at home.

UK: Complaints about British tourists ignoring COVID-19 measures

On Friday, many British travelers in the country opted to cut short their vacations to meet the Saturday deadline that had only been announced the night before.

Anyone arriving back from France from Saturday must stay at home for two weeks to make sure they cannot spread the coronavirus beyond their households if they have become infected.

10:05 GMT – Denmark to make face masks compulsory on public transport

Wearing face masks on public transport will be compulsory in Denmark from August 22 following a spike in numbers of new coronavirus cases, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said.

In mid-April, Denmark became one the first European countries to ease its coronavirus lockdown as the epidemic appeared to be contained, but the reproduction rate at which it is spreading rose above 1.5 in the past week, the highest reading since early April.

Frederiksen said the surge also meant that plans to remove a limit on the size of public gatherings would be deferred, with the limit remaining at 100 people for the time being.

09:51 GMT – Croatia defends opening to tourists as COVID-19 numbers rise

Croatia launched additional restrictive measures to curb a COVID-19 outbreak.

The country – which presently has around 820,000 foreign tourists, including many Germans and Austrians holidaying on its Adriatic coast – reported 180 new infections on Thursday and another 208 on Friday.

Social Distancing: The Dos and Don’ts

Both were the highest figures to date, after staying around dozens daily until recently.

Since the outbreak, Croatia had by Friday reported 6,258 infections, with 163 deaths and 5,134 people recovered. However, 979 of the infections occurred over the past 14 days.

08:50 GMT – Russia starts production of COVID-19 vaccine

Russia has started manufacturing its new vaccine for COVID-19, the Interfax news agency reported, citing the health ministry.

Russia has said the vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute and the first for the coronavirus to go into production, will be rolled out by the end of this month. Some scientists said they fear Moscow may be putting national prestige before safety.

08:31 GMT – India set to mass produce COVID-19 vaccine

India is ready to mass produce COVID-19 vaccines when scientists give the go-ahead, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his Independence Day speech on August 15, also launching a national project to roll out health identities for each citizen.

In annual celebrations held at the 17th-century Red Fort and scaled down due to the pandemic, Modi identified health and economic self-reliance as the key priorities for his government.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets officers as he arrives at Independence Day celebrations [Adnan Abidi/Reuters]

At the event, soldiers who ceremonially welcomed Modi had been under quarantine days before the event.

Only around 4,000 guests were allowed and made to sit six feet apart, while medical booths with ambulances were set up for any attendee showing COVID-19 symptoms during entry.

08:12 GMT – Russia reports more than 5,000 new coronavirus cases

Russia reported 5,061 new cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing its nationwide tally to 917,884, the fourth highest caseload in the world.

Russia’s coronavirus crisis response centre said 119 people had also died over the last 24 hours, pushing its official death toll to 15,617. It added that 729,411 people have recovered.

07:14 GMT – Ukraine sees new record daily high

Ukraine registered 1,847 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, officials said, a new daily record for infections in the country – which is seeing cases increase sharply following the easing of some COVID-19 restrictions.

The figure given by the national council of security and defence surpassed the previous single-day record of 1,732 reported on Friday.

Total cases reached 89,719, including 2,044 deaths.

Infections have risen since June as authorities have eased some restrictions, allowing cafes, churches and public transport to reopen.

06:12 GMT – India cases cross 2.5 million with another jump

India’s confirmed coronavirus cases have crossed 2.5 million with another biggest single-day spike of 65,002 in the past 24 hours.

India is behind the United States and Brazil in the number of cases.

The health ministry on Saturday also reported another 996 deaths for a total of 49,036.

India’s two-month lockdown imposed nationwide in late March kept infections low. But it has eased and is now largely being enforced in high-risk areas [Bikas Das/AP]

The average daily reported cases jumped from around 15,000 in the first week of July to more than 50,000 at the beginning of August.

The health ministry said the rise shows the extent of testing with 800,000 carried out in a single day. But experts say India needs to pursue testing more vigorously.

04:55 GMT – New Zealand’s outbreak grows

New Zealand reported seven new cases of COVID-19 as a lockdown in the country’s biggest city, Auckland, was extended in response to the Pacific nation’s first coronavirus outbreak in months.

Six of the seven new cases have been linked to the cluster responsible for all the previous community cases, while one case was being investigated, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told a media briefing in Wellington.

The new cases bring New Zealand’s total infections since the start of the year to 1258, while the number of currently active cases stands at 56. Twenty-two people have died so far.

04:21 GMT – Latin America’s caseload exceeds 6 million

Coronavirus cases in Latin America have exceeded six million and are continuing to accelerate, according to a Reuters tally, as most of its nations begin to relax lockdown measures.

The region reached 6,000,005 confirmed cases by Friday evening and 237,360 deaths. That accounts for just under one-third of the world’s total caseload and a similar share of reported deaths from the pandemic.

The climb from five to six million cases took 11 days, one day less than it took to reach the previous million.

Latin America is the region of the world worst-affected by the pandemic, reporting an average of more than 86,000 daily infections and more than 2,600 deaths in the last seven days.

03:47 GMT – China reports 22 new cases

Health authorities in China reported 22 new coronavirus cases in the mainland for August 14, compared to 30 cases a day earlier.

Of the new infections, 14 were imported and the locally transmitted cases included seven in the far western region of Xinjiang and one in Guangdong province.

On Friday, a shopping centre in Shenzhen, a city in Guangdong, was sealed after a COVID-19 case was confirmed there. The Shenzhen health authority later that day said two positive cases had been found, both of whom had worked inside the mall at the Alibaba-owned supermarket Freshippo.

Freshippo said in a separate statement that it had suspended operations at 21 of its stores in Shenzhen to carry out disinfection work and nucleic acid tests for its employees.

Medical workers wearing protective suits are seen at a nucleic acid testing site outside the IBC Mall in Shenzhen after a worker was confirmed to have COVID-19 [David Kirton/ Reuters]

03:13 GMT – Australia’s Victoria reports 303 new cases

The Australian state of Victoria continued to flatten the curve in its wave of COVID-19 infections and deaths, reporting four more fatalities and 303 new cases in the past 24 hours.

It was the second-lowest daily figure in Victoria this month after 278 cases on Thursday.

Victoria’s daily numbers are gradually decreasing, with the seven-day average down to 344 from 521 a week ago. But authorities warn more progress is needed before lockdown restrictions in the city of Melbourne can be eased.

“We could not conceive of opening up with 200 cases a day. We couldn’t do it with 100 cases a day. We have to head for the lowest possible number,” said Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.

101 EAST | Australia’s Cruise Ship Nightmare (23:48)

02:45 GMT – South Korea’s cases jump again

South Korea reported 166 newly confirmed case of the coronavirus, its highest daily jump in five months, amid fears transmissions were getting out of control in the greater capital area.

The figures announced by the country’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) brought the national caseload to 15,039, including 305 deaths.

The KCDC said 155 of the new infections were locally transmitted, mostly from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area where authorities scurried to shut down thousands of churches, which have emerged as a major source of COVID-19 cases. Many of them had failed to properly enforce preventive measures, allowing worshippers to take off their masks, sing in choirs or eat together in diners.

Other clusters have been tied to nursing homes, schools, restaurants, outdoor markets and door-to-door salespeople.

02:29 GMT – Top official says coronavirus has peaked in Mexico

Hugo Lopez-Gatell, Mexico’s point man for the coronavirus pandemic, said he thinks the country reached its peak of infections over the last three weeks.

“We have now had a maximum point in the curve,” the assistant health secretary said, while also predicting that second waves of infections would continue occurring around the world for some time.

“This is a phenomenon that is going to be with us in the whole world for several years,” he said.

Lopez-Gatell had previously wrongly predicted that infections would peak in May and June.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Mexico rose by 5,618 on Friday to reach 511,369. The health department reported 615 newly confirmed deaths from COVID-19, bringing the country’s total deaths to 55,908.

COVID-19 vaccine: Safety concerns as countries rush for cure (1:57)

01:37 GMT – Paris expands mask requirements for pedestrians

France’s capital, Paris, is expanding the areas of the city where pedestrians will be obliged to wear masks starting on Saturday morning.

The Champs-Elysees Avenue and the area around the Louvre Museum are among zones where masks will be mandatory, and police checks ensuring respect for mask-wearing in designated areas are to be reinforced.

Bars and restaurants could be ordered closed if distancing and other barriers to virus transmission are not respected, health officials said. 

00:20 GMT – California surpasses 600,000 cases, most in US

California became the first state in the United States to surpass 600,000 cases of COVID-19 on Friday, although Governor Gavin Newsom said he was encouraged to see that hospitalisations have declined 20 percent over the past two weeks and admissions to ICU wards were down 14 percent in the same period.

“The number that really matters to us is that positivity rate,” he said when asked about the state’s caseload. The positivity rate – the number of confirmed infections as a percentage of tests done – has declined from 7 percent to 6 percent statewide over the past 14 days, Newsom said.

“I’m not going to back off on more tests because I fear [more cases],” he said.

Karla Funderburk, artist and owner of Matter Studio Gallery, stands among some of the thousands of origami cranes hanging during an exhibition honouring the victims of COVID-19 in Los Angeles, the US on Tuesday, August 11, 2020 [Richard Vogel/ AP]

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives. 

For all the key developments from yesterday, August 14, go here. 

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