Hong Kong has started mass testing for coronavirus in an initiative that has been undermined by suspicions of China and concerns about privacy.

A World Health Organization survey of 105 countries has found 90 percent experienced disruption to health services because of coronavirus, with low- and middle-income countries most affected. 

Nearly 25.5 million cases of coronavirus have been confirmed around the world, according to Johns Hopkins University, and 850,535 people have died. Some 16.8 million people have recovered.

Here are the latest updates:

Tuesday, September 1
05:20 GMT – Sanofi says arthritis drug faliure as COVID-19 treatment

French drugmaker Sanofi says its rheumatoid arthritis drug Kevzara does not work as a treatment for coronavirus. 

With Kevzara’s failure to meet the main goals of a US study testing it among the most critically-ill COVID-19 patients, Sanofi and Regeneron do not anticipate any further clinical studies for the drug in relation to the disease, Sanofi added.

“Although this trial did not yield the results we hoped for, we are proud of the work that was achieved by the team to further our understanding of the potential use of Kevzara for the treatment of COVID-19,” said Sanofi’s Global Head of Research and Development John Reed.

Big Pharma and the cost of developing COVID-19 drugs and vaccines | Counting the Cost

04:20 GMT – Students return to school after months of home learning

Children in Europe and parts of Asia are returning to school this week after months away from their classrooms.

China’s state-run media showed pictures of primary and middle school children returning to class – with physical distancing and other measures in force – in Shanghai.

Primary and middle schools in #Shanghai begin the new semester under strict #COVID19 control and prevention measures. https://t.co/wcq5a0RUsW pic.twitter.com/ZCs35iL9sF

— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) September 1, 2020

Students in France and Belgium are also due to resume classes on Tuesday after the summer break, with pupils in England and Wales returning later in the week after six months away.

Regulations differ in each country, but most children over the age of 12, as well as all staff are required to wear face masks. Physical distancing and regular handwashing have also been made part of the new routine. 

03:40 GMT – More than 10,000 tested in first two hours of Hong Kong’s universal testing

The South China Morning Post is reporting that more than 10,000 people were tested for coronavirus in the first two hours after the territory’s controversial mass testing programme began.

Testing centres opened at 8am local time (00:00 GMT), and small queues formed outside some, the newspaper said. Hong Kong chief executive was among a number of government officials and health experts who took the test.

People queuing outside a testing centre in Hong Kong on Tuesday as a mass testing campaign began [Kin Cheung/AP Photo]

03:15 GMT – Researchers find COVID-19 has disrupted cancer care in US, Australia

Researchers from the University of Sydney and Duke University in the US studying the impact of COVID-19 on cancer treatments say the pandemic has fuelled a shift towards online consultations, forced the suspension of research and clinical trials and required doctors to assess the risks of administering standard treatments given patients’ vulnerability to COVID-19.

“In light of physical distancing restrictions due to COVID-19, standard cancer procedures are being altered or delayed, including surveillance imaging; non-emergency surgical procedures; and clinical trials,” said Professor Alex Broom, health sociologist and the lead Sydney researcher.

“The suspension of clinical trials is especially detrimental for patients with rare cancers. For them, enrolling in a clinical trial for a promising new therapy may be the best option.”

However, the team noted that as a result of the pandemic there was also increased identification of non-essential drugs and better identification of treatments which did not offer significant improvements to quality or quantity of life. The findings were published in Clinical Cancer Research.

Suspended research and testing, the rise of #telehealth, and new economic considerations are among the effects of #COVID-19 on #cancercare in Australia and the US, according to @BroomAlex. @ArtSS_Sydney https://t.co/uRMx2MYiWN

— SSPS (@Usyd_ssps) September 1, 2020

02:50 GMT – Cases, deaths ease in Victoria

The Australian state of Victoria has been releasing its latest coronavirus numbers and the picture seems more encouraging.

The number of deaths – 5 – was the lowest in two weeks, while the number of new cases – 70 – was the lowest in more than eight weeks. All the deaths were linked to homes for the elderly. 

With active cases in rural Victoria lower than in the state capital Melbourne, state premier Dan Andrews plans to unveil two separate roadmaps out of lockdown, local media reported. The details will be released on Sunday.

“The challenge is different in metropolitan Melbourne than it is in regional Victoria.”

Premier Daniel Andrews has announced two reopening roadmaps will be unveiled on Sunday — one for Melbourne and another for regional Victoria.https://t.co/9IuCwpYPs3

— 3AW Melbourne (@3AW693) September 1, 2020

02:00 GMT – Coronavirus fuels ‘Kannywood’ boom in Nigeria

‘Kannywood’, the film industry named after the city of Kano in the mainly Muslim north of Nigeria, is booming even with coronavirus.

The industry has 502 production firms and employs 30,000 people, and Northflix, its fledgling streaming platform has seen subscribers double and revenue triple since lockdowns were imposed in March.

“Coronavirus has been a blessing to us business-wise, despite the disruptions caused to the global economy,” CEO and co-founder Jamil Abdussalam told AFP. Northflix switched to a flat rate subscription model charging the equivalent of $4 a month as the pandemic deepened and Nigerians looked online for entertainment. 

‘Kannywood’ films cover themes of love, revenge and betrayal but follow strict Islamic rules.

00:15 GMT – Hong Kong begins mass testing programme 

Hong Kong begins mass testing for coronavirus this morning, with the assistance of 60 experts from China.

This is the first time Chinese health officials have provided direct help to Hong Kong in the pandemic, and the move has fuelled concerns about privacy among members of the pro-democracy movement following China’s imposition of national security legislation at the end of June. Activists have urged the territory’s 7.5 million people to boycott the initiative.

Still, the government said that, as of 6pm (10:00 GMT) on Monday just over 500,000 had registered for the programme via its online booking system, and 97 of the 141 community testing centres were fully booked for September 1.

People in line at the Hung Hom Municipal Services Building Sports Centre as Hong Kong’s mass Covid-19 testing begins

Video: SCMP/Lea Li pic.twitter.com/8i7fb5T02m

— SCMP Hong Kong (@SCMPHongKong) September 1, 2020

The programme aims to “identify asymptomatic COVID-19 patients, and to cut the transmission chain on the community,” the government said in a statement. 

23:30 GMT –  Coronavirus disrupts healthcare in 90 percent of countries

A World Health Organization survey of 105 countries shows that 90 percent have experienced disruption to their health services as a result of the coronavirus, with low- and middle-income countries the most affected.

Up to 70 percent of service interruptions have been for essential services including routine immunisation, diagnosis and treatment for non-communicable diseases, family planning and contraception, treatment for mental health disorders and cancer diagnosis and treatment, the United Nations health agency said.


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

Read all the updates from yesterday (August 31) here.

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