Israeli defence minister, Benny Gantz, has said he entered quarantine as a precautionary measure due to suspected exposure to a person infected with the coronavirus.
Italy called for new precautionary measures for passengers travelling to European Union countries from outside the bloc to contain the spread of coronavirus
- The United States has officially notified the United Nations secretary-general of the country’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization even as it grapples with nearly three million cases of coronavirus.
- Nearly 11.8 million people around the world have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and nearly 544,000 have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The US and Brazil have reported the most cases and the highest death tolls.
Here are the latest updates.
Wednesday, July 8
16:00 GMT – UK royal residences to open after virus shutdown
Some of Queen Elizabeth II’s royal residences will reopen to the public later this month after the coronavirus shutdown, the charity that runs them said.
Windsor Castle, west of London, where the 94-year-old monarch has been staying since the start of the pandemic, will be open for pre-booked, timed visits from July 23.
The Royal Mews and the Queen’s Gallery at her London home of Buckingham Palace will reopen the same day, as will the Palace of Holyroodhouse, her official residence in Edinburgh.
However, the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, Frogmore House and Clarence House will stay shut over the summer months “owing to the operational challenges of social distancing”.
15:35 GMT – Merck agrees to supply potential COVID-19 drug Rebif to EU countries
German drugmaker Merck said on Wednesday it had agreed to supply its potential COVID-19 drug Rebif to European Union countries should orders be placed for the treatment.
The comment followed a Reuters report earlier on Wednesday about a deal reached by the EU Commission and Merck for the supply of Rebif. A similar deal was struck with Roche about possible COVID-19 treatment RoActemra.
“Merck has been asked by the European Commission to be prepared to supply one of its medicines, Rebif (Interferon beta-1a), to EU countries upon request if and when the indication for COVID-19 treatment is adjudicated,” the company said in a statement to Reuters.
15:15 GMT – Philippines records 2,539 cases, biggest single-day increase
The Philippines’ health ministry on Wednesday reported 2,539 new coronavirus cases, marking the biggest single-day increase in confirmed infections, and five additional deaths.
The ministry said total deaths have increased to 1,314 while infections have reached 50,359, a fifth of which were confirmed in the past five days.
The government has warned it might tighten anew the world’s longest lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.
14:35 GMT – Serbia’s president calls for halt of protests amid virus fears
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic called on demonstrators to stop attending anti-government protests in order to halt the further spreading of the coronavirus infections.
Vucic’s call came a day after police clashed with demonstrators who protested against a planned lockdown over the weekend. “
There are no free beds in our hospitals, we will open new hospitals,” Vucic said in his address to the nation.
14:10 GMT – Italy calls for restrictions on non-EU arrivals
Italy called for new precautionary measures for passengers travelling to European Union countries from outside the bloc to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.
Italy has suspended all flights from Bangladesh for one week due to a “significant number” of passengers who tested positive to COVID-19 on a flight to Rome on Monday.
“I would consider it appropriate to outline together new rigorous precautionary measures for arrivals from non-Schengen and non-EU areas,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said in a letter addressed to the EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides and Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn.
13:45 GMT -Trump warns ‘may cut off funding’ if schools do not open
President Donald Trump, who has been pushing states to open American schools in the fall, threatened to cut off federal funding to those that did not open.
“The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!” Trump said on Twitter, pointing to schools reopening in some European countries with no problems.
It was not clear what specific aid the Republican president had in mind. States are responsible for primary and secondary education under the US Constitution but the federal government provides some supplementary aid.
13:15 GMT –
Hello, Hamza Mohamed here taking over from my colleague Umut Uras.
Hello, this is Umut Uras. I’ll be handing over this blog shortly to another colleague in Doha.
13:00 GMT – EU must stand strong against coronavirus: Portuguese PM
Portugal’s Prime Minister Antonio Costa has said it is essential for the European Union to stand strong in its fight against the coronavirus outbreak and its effect on the bloc’s economy.
“We either come of it together or we die together,” Costa told online conference Global Leaders’ Day organised by the International Labour Organization. “We need a strong EU.”
EU leaders still have to agree on the makeup of any recovery package, and a meeting on the recovery fund and the next joint EU budget will take place in Brussels on July 17 and 18.
12:20 GMT – Iran coronavirus death toll exceeds 12,000 as lockdown curbs ease
Iran’s coronavirus death toll has exceeded 12,000, the health ministry said, with 153 deaths in the past 24 hours, amid a sharp rise in the number of daily infections and deaths in the past week as lockdown measures have eased.
The total number of infections has reached 248,379, with 209,463 people having recovered, ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said in a statement on state TV.
Iran recorded 200 deaths from COVID-19 within a 24-hour period on Tuesday, the highest official figure recorded by the ministry.
11:40 GMT – EU reportedly secures potential COVID-19 drugs
The European Commission has struck deals with drugmakers Roche and Merck KGaA to secure supplies of experimental treatments for COVID-19, a Commission source told the Reuters news agency.
The deals cover Roche’s arthritis medicine RoActemra and Merck’s multiple sclerosis drug Rebif – both seen as potential treatments for COVID-19 – and will secure supplies to any of the 27 EU member states willing to buy them, the source said.
According to Reuters, the source, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the topic, did not disclose the terms of the deals. Roche, Merck and a Commission spokeswoman were not immediately available for comment.
10:55 GMT – Nigeria restarts domestic flights amid easing coronavirus restrictions
Nigeria has resumed domestic flights after a hiatus of about three months as Africa’s most populous country relaxes restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the new coronavirus.
The airports for the capital, Abuja, and commercial hub Lagos reopened for flights. A handful of other airports will open on July 11 and the remainder of airports will resume flights on July 15.
The resumption of flights is the latest step by the government to reopen Africa’s biggest economy, which has also been hit hard by low oil prices. In recent weeks it has lifted a ban on interstate travel, allowed some pupils to return to school and permitted places of worship to open.
10:25 GMT – Spain’s Catalonia region makes masks obligatory everywhere
Catalonia’s regional authorities will decide to make it mandatory to wear masks regardless of people’s ability to maintain a safe distance, becoming Spain’s first region to do so, Catalan regional leader Quim Torra said.
Torra said the measure would come into force on Thursday.
Wearing masks indoors and outdoors is mandatory in Spain if people cannot guarantee a 1.5-metre distance from one another until a cure or vaccine for the coronavirus is found.
10:00 GMT – Oman coronavirus cases exceed 50,000: Health ministry
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Gulf state of Oman has exceeded 50,000, the Ministry of Health said.
The country reported 1,210 new cases of the novel coronavirus and nine deaths in the last 24 hours, taking its total count to 50,207 cases with 233 deaths.
A week ago, the health minister warned there had been a disturbing surge in infections in the last six weeks and urged people to comply with health measures.
9:40 GMT – Israel’s Gantz self-isolating due to suspected exposure to coronavirus
Israel’s defence minister has said he was self-isolating due to suspected exposure to a person infected with the coronavirus.
Benny Gantz‘s spokesman said: “Due to suspicion of being exposed to a coronavirus patient last Sunday evening, out of the desire and responsibility to avoid the risk of infection and after consulting with medical officials, Defence Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz decided to go into isolation, pending a corona examination and epidemiologic investigation.”
9:15 GMT – How to stay safe when dining out
Restaurants, pubs and cafes have reopened in parts of the United Kingdom as life gradually returns back to normal.
Doctor Amir Khan explains how you can stay safe when going out for dinner or drinks.
As restaurants, pubs and cafes reopen in parts of the UK, how can you stay safe when going out for dinner and drinks? @DrAmirKhanGP answers.
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) July 8, 2020
8:45 GMT – Hong Kong reports surge in local coronavirus infections
Hong Kong has reported 24 new coronavirus cases, with 19 of them being local infections, stoking worries of a renewed community spread in the city after it reported mostly imported cases for months.
The total number of cases in the global financial hub since late January now stands at 1,324. Seven people have died.
8:15 GMT – Austria issues travel warnings for Bulgaria, Romania
Austria is issuing travel warnings for Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova because of the worsening coronavirus situation in those countries and clusters in Austria involving people arriving from the region, the government said.
Anyone arriving from those countries must go into two weeks’ quarantine or show a negative test, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg told a news conference. Checks at the Hungarian and Slovenian borders will also be increased, they added.
7:50 GMT – Russia’s coronavirus case tally passes 700,000
The total number of cases of the novel coronavirus in Russia has passed 700,000, as the country reported 6,562 new infections in the past 24 hours.
The country’s coronavirus crisis response centre said 173 people had died from the virus overnight, taking the official death toll to 10,667.
Total infections stand at 700,792. Russia has said that 472,511 people have recovered.
7:20 GMT – French PM says any new coronavirus lockdown would be targeted
New French Prime Minister Jean Castex has said in case of a new major coronavirus outbreak, any new lockdown would be targeted, not nationwide.
He also said in an interview with news channel BFM that after talks on pension reform were halted due to a two-month coronavirus lockdown, new talks with unions would start before July 20.
6:45 GMT – Norway’s economy rebounded in May as lockdown lifted
The Norwegian economy rebounded in May after two months of steep decline as a gradual reopening of businesses from coronavirus lockdowns helped turn activity around, Statistics Norway (SSB) said.
Although the mainland economy, which excludes volatile offshore oil and gas production, grew by 2.4 percent in May from April, it has still contracted 8.9 percent since February, the agency said.
On March 12, Norway became one of the first nations in Europe to close down social interactions in its battle against the virus, but has lifted many curbs since, with a bounce in retail sales as the pandemic was reined in.
6:15 GMT – Germany’s confirmed cases rise to 197,341: RKI
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has increased by 397 to 197,341, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.
The death toll rose by 12 to 9,036, the tally showed.
Hello, this is Umut Uras in Doha taking over from my colleague Kate Mayberry.
05:30 GMT – Fireflies of Tatsuno dance free as coronavirus curbs visitors
The coronavirus has forced the cancellation of Tatsuno’s annual firefly festival leaving the area’s thousands of fireflies to mate in peace – away from crowds of people.
The spectacle lasts just 10 days in early summer and, when the conditions are right, the fireflies take to the night skies to find a mate and lay eggs for the next year. The insects glow to communicate with each other.
Festival organiser Tatsuki Komatsu told the AFP news agency he felt the fireflies were “looking for a partner more freely with no humans around” but hoped the event would be able to return in 2021.
“The brief shining of the light is so impressive, making me feel that I also have to live my best,” he said.
04:35 GMT – Doubts over AirAsia’s ability to continue in business
Auditors for AirAsia, Southeast Asia’s biggest low-cost carrier, have warned there is a risk to the airline’s ability to continue in business as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The airline has said it is looking to raise more capital. On Monday, it posted its biggest-ever first-quarter loss – 803.3 million ringgit ($103m).
AirAsia was bought over by Malaysian tycoon and former music industry executive Tony Fernandes nearly 20 years ago and turned into a low-cost airline inspired by EasyJet in the United Kingdom. Its shares were suspended on Wednesday.
AirAsia, with 255 planes and over 20000 employees, is in deep trouble.
Auditors say its ability to continue as a going concern may be in “significant doubt.” https://t.co/6UlG9pgR0L
— Tarun Shukla (@shukla_tarun) July 8, 2020
03:45 GMT – Panic buying hits Victorian supermarkets
Panic buying has hit supermarkets in Melbourne and Victoria again in advance of the six-week lockdown that comes into force in a few hours time.
Woolworths – Australia’s biggest grocery chain – has already reinstated buying limits for basics, including pasta, sugar and toilet paper.
There is absolutely no need to rush out to the supermarket.https://t.co/kFonAZbgVD
— 3AW Melbourne (@3AW693) July 8, 2020
03:35 GMT – Australia to consider limiting citizen and resident returns
Australia’s coronavirus emergency cabinet is to consider limiting the number of citizens and residents allowed to return to the country, following a spike in cases in Melbourne.
Health authorities say many of the cases have been traced back to hotels where people who had returned from overseas were being quarantined.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says there are no plans to reimpose coronavirus restrictions across the country after the Melbourne outbreak prompted the closure of state borders and a citywide lockdown.
Many are asking where the lockdown areas end. See map below.
Stage 3 restrictions will affect Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, for six weeks.
This is to #FlattenTheCurve once more, here in Victoria.
— Dr Sandro Demaio (@SandroDemaio) July 8, 2020
03:05 GMT – Scientists warn of coronavirus carries risk of brain damage
Scientists at University College London are warning of the risk of brain damage from coronavirus.
UCL researchers studied 43 patients who suffered either temporary brain dysfunction, stroke, nerve damage or other serious effects on their brain, and say the disease can lead to severe neurological complications including psychosis and delirium.
The study found nine of the patients were diagnosed with a rare condition called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), which is usually seen in children and can be triggered by viral infections.
The team said they would only usually see about one adult patient with ADEM a month, but it had risen to a “concerning” one a week while they were conducting the study.
“Given the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause,” said Ross Paterson, who co-led the study. “Doctors need to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes.”
02:35 GMT – UK to unveil mini-budget to boost coronavirus-hit economy
The UK government is to announce a mini-budget later on Wednesday to kick-start the economy after the prolonged coronavirus lockdown.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce the plan – with a focus on infrastructure spending – at 11:30 GMT. He is expected to offer 2 billion pounds ($2.5bn) in grants for households to improve home insulation, while 1 billion pounds ($1.25bn) will be available for public buildings including hospitals.
Sunak is also expected to reveal new plans to create jobs for young people. You can read more on that story here.
02:15 GMT – New Zealand to charge man with coronavirus who escaped quarantine
New Zealand is to prosecute a 32-year-old man who briefly absconded from an isolation facility after testing positive for the virus.
The man was in quarantine in Auckland after arriving from New Delhi on July 3. He escaped through a fenced area of the hotel and visited a supermarket before returning to the facility.
“We take any breach of the COVID-19 rules very seriously,” said Commodore Darryn Webb, the head of managed isolation and quarantine. “Willfully leaving our facilities will not be tolerated, and the appropriate action will be taken.”
00:45 GMT – California reports more than 10,000 confirmed cases
The US state of California has reported a record daily rise in confirmed cases of coronavirus – some 10,201 cases.
The state has taken steps to curb the outbreak by suspending indoor activities and training contact tracers.
Other states have also reported record daily numbers of cases including Hawaii, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma and Texas, with the number of known cases across the US now approaching three million.
00:00 GMT – Australia’s Victoria confirms 134 new cases after lockdown imposed
The Australian state of Victoria has confirmed 134 new cases of coronavirus, with Melbourne due to begin a six-week lockdown at midnight (14:00 GMT).
About 4.9 million people in the country’s second-biggest city will be confined to their homes for all but essential activities.
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 here.