Faced with an uptick in coronavirus cases, Italy orders mask wearing in public from 6pm – 6am and a three-week closure of all dance venues.


France will propose face masks in workspaces as it grapples with a coronavirus rebound to more than 3,000 in the past 24 hours – a post-lockdown high for the fourth day in a row. 


South Korea’s new cases jumped to 279 on Sunday, rising above 200 for the first time in five months, due mainly to sporadic local infections in the greater Seoul area.


South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that stringent coronavirus regulations would be eased on Monday as the country’s infection rate falls. 

Worldwide coronavirus cases surpassed 21 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, while more than 13 million people have recovered. At least 772,000 people have died.

Here are the latest updates:

Sunday, August 16
23:18 GMT – Lebanon registers new daily record of coronavirus infections

Lebanon has registered a record daily number of coronavirus infections, with 439 people contracting the virus and six fatalities.

The new infections bring to 8,881 the total number of people reported infected in the small country of just over 5 million. Some 103 have died because of COVID-19.

The latest development comes as the country continues to grapple with the aftermath of the Beirut explosion that killed more than 200 people and injured about 6,000 others.

Lebanon’s health sector has been challenged by the pandemic that hit amid a deepening economic crisis. The blast that hit in Beirut’s center knocked out at least three hospitals in the capital and greatly increased pressure on those still operating.

21:00 GMT – Israeli, UAE firms sign deal on coronavirus research

An Emirati firm and an Israeli company have signed a pact to cooperate on research into COVID-19, UAE state-run news agency WAM has reported.

The deal between Emirati APEX National Investment and Israel’s TERA Group is considered an outgrowth of the normalisation deal between the UAE and Israel.

Under the agreement, the companies will cooperate on developing a device that will accelerate knowledge of the virus with high precision.

APEX works in the field of public investment, including the health sector, while the TERA Group, founded in 2003, works as part of the Israeli Weizmann Institute of Science, and has investments in research and development.

20:05 GMT – Jordan to isolate city near Syria after spike

Jordan will seal off a city near the Syrian border from Monday following the largest daily rise in four months in coronavirus cases, which officials say have come mainly from its northern neighbour.

The health ministry said half of the 39 cases recorded in the last 24 hours were from Ramtha city, near the Syrian border.

Officials say truck drivers and individuals entering Jordan from the Jaber border crossing with Syria are spreading the virus.

Ramtha will be isolated as of Monday with the authorities re-imposing restrictions on movement in the first such reversal of a provincial area since the authorities eased a nationwide lockdown last June.

19:40 GMT – Hundreds protest in Madrid against restrictions

Chanting “freedom”, hundreds of people have rallied in Madrid to protest against the mandatory use of facemasks and other restrictions imposed by the government.

Protesters held up home-made placards featuring slogans that included “The virus does not exist”, “Masks kill” and “We are not afraid”.

The demonstration drew a variety of attendees, including conspiracy theorists, libertarians and opponents of vaccination.

18:25 GMT – Nishikori tests positive ahead of US Open

Japan’s Kei Nishikori has said he has tested positive for COVID-19 while in Florida – just two weeks before the US Open, set to begin in New York on August 31.

The 30-year-old former world number four has been staying at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, and pulled out of the upcoming Western & Southern Open, a warm-up tournament for many before the Grand Slam.

“This morning while still in Florida, I got tested for COVID-19 and tested positive,” Nishikori said in a statement. “I will have to pull out of the Cincinnati tournament at this time.”

Nishikori added that he had “very little symptoms” and would go into self-isolation.

17:44 GMT – UN reports four new deaths in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon

The UN Palestinian refugee agency has confirmed four new COVID-19 deaths in camps in Lebanon, calling for vigilance in observing hygiene measures as infections rise across the country.

“During the past 24 hours, four deaths have been recorded among Palestine refugees” in Lebanon, UNRWA said in a statement.

This brings to eight the total number of Palestinian refugees who have died from the COVID-19 illness since Lebanon first recorded an outbreak of the virus in February.

17:35 GMT – Cases in France surpass 3,000 for second day

The French Health Ministry has reported 3,015 new coronavirus infections over the past day, the second day in a row in which new cases have surpassed the 3,000 mark.

However, the daily count was below the 3,310 cases reported on Saturday, when a new post-lockdown high was reached, the ministry’s data showed.

17:20 GMT – Italy suspends discos and orders mask wearing at night in public

Faced with an uptick in coronavirus cases blamed in part on young partygoers, Italy has ordered the three-week closure of all dance venues.

In a decree signed by Health Minister Roberto Speranza, the government also said that from 6pm to 6am, the wearing of masks would be mandatory in public areas where groups could form.

Closed establishments had already been barred from operating. The new measure, to take effect on Monday and last through September 7, comes after wrangling between the government and regions over the nightlife sector, which employs nearly 50,000 people in 3,000 clubs across the country, according to the nightclub operators’ union SILB.

A worker, left, checks body temperatures of moviegoers to screen for possible infections of coronavirus on the opening night of an outdoor movie theatre in Rome, Italy [Riccardo Antimiani/EPA-EFE]

16:15 GMT – Holidaymakers arriving in Rome get virus tests

Holidaymakers arriving in Rome from four Mediterranean countries are immediately being tested for the coronavirus at Leonardo da Vinci airport.

Last week, Italy’s health minister issued an ordinance requiring tests for all travellers arriving in Italy from Croatia, Greece, Malta or Spain.

Travellers have the option of being tested instead within 48 hours of arrival at local public health offices closer to their home or destination in Italy.

Alessio D’Amato, health commissioner for Lazio, the region including Rome, said at the airport that concern was mounting about the rising number of infections, especially since school will resume in Italy on September 14 for the first time since the pandemic began.

Tourists are seen near Pantheon in Rome, Italy [Massimo Percossi/EPA-EFE]

15:30 GMT – Former India opener Chauhan dies aged 73

Former Indian test opening batsman Chetan Chauhan, who had been diagnosed with COVID-19, has died from complications at the age of 73, the country’s cricket board (BCCI) has said.

Chauhan was admitted to hospital in July when he tested positive for the coronavirus and was on a ventilator when his health deteriorated over the weekend.

15:20 GMT – More than 200 protest in Brussels after mask order

More than 200 people have demonstrated in Brussels against coronavirus restrictions after the regional government mandated face masks in public.

Wearing a mask became compulsory on Wednesday for 1.2 million people living in the Brussels region, as Belgium battles one of the most serious coronavirus outbreaks in Europe.

The call to demonstrate was launched on social media by a group of citizens under the slogan “Viruswaanzin”, or “viral madness” in Dutch, a movement that first appeared in the Netherlands.

14:43 GMT – Qatar reports 271 new cases

Qatar’s Health Ministry has reported 271 positive cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours and one coronavirus-related death, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 115,080.

There are now a total of 3,093 active coronavirus cases while 111,794 people have recovered. The total death toll stands at 193.

14:00 GMT – Germany tracks down most travellers with COVID after test blunder

The German state of Bavaria has said it has tracked down most of the people returning from abroad who tested positive for the coronavirus but were not told about it.

Bavaria said in a statement that it had found 903 of the 949 people who tested positive from a total of 44,000 travellers returning to the country, while it could not locate personal data for 46 of the positive tests.

The tests had been carried out up to two weeks ago at special centres that were opened with great fanfare in the southern state, but problems with data entry meant that the travellers had been waiting for their test results for days.

Passengers stand in front of a coronavirus test centre for returnees from risk countries at the airport in Frankfurt am Main, Germany [Ronald Witteck/EPA]

13:51 GMT – UK reports 1,040 new cases

The UK has recorded 1,040 new coronavirus cases, the government has said, the sixth day in a row there have been more than 1,000 infections in daily figures.

Another five people were reported to have died within 28 days of testing positive for the coronavirus.

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Hello, this is Mersiha Gadzo in Toronto, Canada taking over the live updates from my colleague Arwa Ibrahim.

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09:13 GMT – First large cruise line set to depart Genoa for Mediterranean tour

The first major cruise ship to set sail is poised to depart from Genoa, as Italy’s struggling travel industry hopes to regain ground after a bruising coronavirus hiatus.

The departure of the MSC Grandiosa from the northwestern port city at 7:30pm (17:30 GMT) represents a high-stakes test for the global sector in the key Mediterranean market and beyond.

The international cruise industry has also been battered by accusations of botched handling of the pandemic in its early stages and hopes new, tighter protocols will allow them to control the threat of coronavirus on board ships while still offering travellers the cruise experience they want.

08:52 GMT – The Philippines reports 3,420 new coronavirus cases, 65 deaths

The Philippines has recorded 3,420 new cases of the coronavirus and 65 additional deaths, the health ministry said.

The country has so far registered a total of 161,253 infections and 2,665 deaths, according to ministry data.

08:15 GMT – Indonesia reports 2,081 new coronavirus infections, 79 deaths

Indonesia reported 2,081 cases of the new coronavirus and 79 COVID-19 deaths, according to data from Indonesia’s COVID-19 governmental task force.

The total number of infections in the world’s fourth-most populous country is now at least 139,549 cases.

07:51 GMT – Russia reports nearly 5,000 new coronavirus cases

Russia reported 4,969 new cases, bringing its nationwide tally to 922,853, the fourth-highest in the world.

Russia’s coronavirus crisis response centre said that 68 people had died over the past 24 hours, pushing its official coronavirus death toll to 15,685, adding that 732,968 people have recovered.

07:25 GMT – Italy garbage dips with virus lockdowns, but plastics rise

Italy produced an estimated 10 percent, or 500,000 tonnes, less garbage during its coronavirus lockdown in March and April.

That decrease is enabling dumps in Italy – where rubbish collection in major cities often becomes a hot-button political issue – to absorb the estimated 300,000 tonnes of extra waste from protective masks and gloves this year, according to the Italian National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research.

“Substantially, the figures will balance each other by the end of this year,” Valeria Frittelloni, the institute’s head of waste management and circular economy, told the Associated Press.

06:32 GMT – NZ coalition partner calls for vote delay due to COVID-19

New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters called for a delay to the planned general election, given an abrupt reappearance of COVID-19 in the country, increasing pressure on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to postpone it.

Last week’s resurgence of infections in the city of Auckland – after the country had been free of coronavirus for 102 days – was compromising the ability to hold a “free and fair election” on September 19, Peters, the leader of the New Zealand First party, wrote in a letter to Ardern.

The opposition National Party also wants a delay, hoping that Ardern, who had garnered much praise for crushing the pandemic, will lose some of her lustre once hardships caused by the Auckland lockdown begin to bite.

05:59 GMT – South Korea accuses religious sect leader over COVID-19 case surge

South Korea accused the leader of a religious sect of violating self-isolation rules and obstructing investigations into the country’s biggest outbreak of new coronavirus in five months.

The capital posted a record 146 new cases, out of which 107 were linked to Sarang Jeil Church led by Reverend Jun Kwang-hoon, a controversial pastor and an outspoken government critic.

The health ministry said it would file a complaint against Jun, accusing him of violating self-isolation rules by participating in a rally on Saturday and “obstructing” an epidemiological investigation by failing to submit a full list of church member names for testing and tracing.

Hello, this is Arwa Ibrahim in Doha, taking over the blog from my colleague Ted Regencia.

05:30 GMT – South Korea, US delay military drills over COVID-19 concerns

South Korea and the US will start their annual joint military drills on Tuesday, after what local media said was a two-day delay after a South Korean officer tested positive for the new coronavirus.

The scaled-down drills will start on Tuesday, “considering the COVID-19 situation”, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying on Sunday. US-based officers will not be mobilised amid restrictions on travel of US personnel to South Korea.

The combined drills are closely monitored by North Korea, and have been reduced in recent years to facilitate US negotiations aimed at dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear programmes.

04:43 GMT – Australia’s coronavirus cases ease

 Australia, which was struggling with a coronavirus resurgence in two of its largest states, New South Wales and Victoria, has reported a further decline in the number of new infections.

New South Wales reported just five new cases, while Victoria, where masks became compulsory in July, reported 279 new cases on Sunday, and with 16 deaths.

The daily number of new cases this week has been well below the August 5 peak of 725. Victoria’s capital, Melbourne, remains under strict lockdown.

Amid fears of the spread of the coronavirus disease, protesters gather in Austalia’s city of Brisbane in support of asylum seekers, who are reportedly being detained at a hotel in the city [Darren England/EPA]

04:26 GMT – New Zealand’s COVID-19 outbreak grows

A new coronavirus outbreak in New Zealand is still growing, health officials said on Sunday, the country recording 13 new cases, bringing the total cases to 69 and putting the September general election in question.

After stifling the virus earlier this year and after 102 days without new infections, a resurgence last week in Auckland prompted an immediate lockdown of the country’s largest city.

The conservative opposition wants to delay a September 19 general election, citing safety. Opinion polls show Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Party winning the election if it were held on time; Ardern has said she would decide by Monday.

04:00 GMT – Philippine interior secretary tests positive of coronavirus again

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s interior secretary – a former military general designated by Duterte to lead the fight against the pandemic – has tested positive of the coronavirus disease for the second time.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Eduardo Ano said he began self-isolation on Friday after experiencing flu-like symptoms and that his test result on Saturday night confirmed he had been infected again.

As of Saturday, the Philippines reported almost 158,000 cases and 2,600 deaths linked to COVID-19.

03:36 GMT – Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 625 to 223,453

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 625 to 223,453, Reuters news agency reported on Sunday, quoting the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

The reported death toll remained unchanged at 9,231.

03:05 GMT – Mexico reports over 6,300 cases, 635 new deaths

Mexico has recorded at least 6,345 new cases, pushing the total to 517,714, according to the country’s health ministry. 

The health ministry also reported an additional 635 new fatalities, making a total of 56,543 deaths.

Another 7,685 patients have recovered, making a total of 418,164 or 80.7 percent of total cases.

02:38 GMT – China new local COVID-19 cases fall as Xinjiang cluster recedes

China’s new locally transmitted coronavirus cases fell to four on August 15, a one-month low as a cluster in the western region of Xinjiang receded, Reuters news agency reported on Sunday, citing the country’s health authority.

All four cases were in Xinjiang, the National Health Commission said in a statement, down from eight cases nationwide a day earlier, and the lowest since July 16.

In mainland China, the total number of new confirmed infections stood at 19 as of the end of August 15, including “imported” cases involving travellers arriving from abroad.

Attendees enjoy a music festival in China’s Hebei Province on Saturday. Large scale events are returning with China having contained the outbreak with most new cases arriving from overseas [Ng Han Guan/AP]

01:49 GMT – New cases soar to 279 in South Korea

South Korea’s new coronavirus cases jumped to 279 on Sunday, rising above 200 for the first time in five months, due mainly to local infections in the greater Seoul area, according to Yonhap news agency.

The additional cases raised the country’s total caseload to 15,318, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of the new cases, 267 were local transmissions, and there were no additional fatalities reported, keeping the death toll at 305 and the fatality rate 1.99 percent.

The total number of people released from quarantine after recovering stood at 13,910, up nine from the previous day.

01:10 GMT – Brazil registers 41,576 new cases and 709 deaths

Brazil has registered 41,576 cases and 709 deaths due to the novel coronavirus, Reuters news agency reported quoting the health ministry.

Overall, the country now has 107,232 deaths and 3,317,096 confirmed cases.

00:30 GMT – Trinidad and Tobago ramps up measures against coronavirus

Trinidad and Tobago’s government will implement tougher measures to reduce the spread of the coronavirus after the number of infections increased in August, the prime minister announced.

The nation registered a jump in COVID-19 cases in August after a gradual rise in July, and has now recorded 474 cases and 10 fatalities, according to Reuters.

The new measures, which will go into effect on Monday and last 28 days, include the closure of beaches and places of worship, as well as a ban on dining at restaurants and bars.

00:05 GMT – France plans masks at work amid coronavirus resurgence

France will propose face masks in shared workspaces as the country grapples with a coronavirus rebound in the past 24 hours to more than 3,000, according to Reuters.

The health ministry reported 3,310 new infections, marking a post-lockdown high for the fourth day in a row, and that the number of clusters being investigated had increased by 17 to 252.

The resurgence prompted the UK to impose a 14-day quarantine for people arriving from France, and led the authorities in Paris to expand zones in the capital where wearing a mask is mandatory outdoors.

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Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 

For all the key developments from yesterday, August 15, go here.



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