UK signs up for 90m coronavirus vaccine doses: Live updates | News


  • British officials say they have signed a deal to buy 90 million doses of experimental coronavirus vaccines being developed by the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and others.

  • Several banks in Hong Kong closed branches or curtailed their working hours on Monday after a spike in the number of new coronavirus cases over the weekend.

  • US President Donald Trump has insisted that the coronavirus will be brought “under control” even as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported at least 67,574 new cases and at least 877 more deaths in the country.

  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro ventured out of his official residence, Alvorada Palace, on Sunday to speak and greet his supporters even as he recovers from COVID-19.
  • The number of deaths from the coronavirus around the world has surpassed 605,000, with the US the worst-affected country. There are more than 14.4 million confirmed cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Here are the latest updates.

Monday, July 20

11:58 GMT – Greece tightens rules for foreign seasonal workers

Greece introduced stricter rules for foreign seasonal workers after a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the Balkans.

Last year, more than 10,000 seasonal workers were employed in Greece’s agricultural sector, mainly from Albania, Bulgaria and North Macedonia.

“Land workers that exit the country before August 4 will not be able to return until further notice,” government spokesman Stelios Petsas told a news briefing.

Seasonal workers were permitted into the country in early May under a three-month special licence.

Petsas added that land entry to Greece will be allowed only via six northern border crossings to better control imported COVID-19 cases.

10:45 GMT – UK PM Johnson: We’re not there yet on COVID-19 vaccine 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he could not promise there would be successful vaccine against COVID-19 developed by the end of this year, saying “we’re not there yet” even as Britain lines up supplies.

“To say that I’m 100 percent confident that we’ll get a vaccine, this year or indeed next year, is alas, just an exaggeration. We’re not there yet,” Johnson said after Britain announced supply deals for two more vaccines under development

10:33 GMT – Cinemas in China begin to reopen after six-month closure

Some cinemas in Chinese cities from Shanghai to Chengdu reopened after a six-month closure, raising hope that the world’s second largest movie market can start to recover from painful losses during the pandemic.

Chinese authorities last week said they would allow movie theatres in low-risk areas to resume operations in a restricted fashion, a long-awaited piece of news for a leisure industry that has seen many other venues revive recently.

But many cities kept their cinemas shut on Monday as Beijing said they would leave the final decision on whether to open up to local authorities.

09:54 GMT – UK buying 90 million coronavirus vaccine doses                  

British officials say they have signed a deal to buy 90 million doses of experimental coronavirus vaccines being developed by the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and others.

The British government said in a statement that it had secured access to a vaccine candidate being developed by a Pfizer and BioNTech, in addition to another experimental vaccine researched by Valneva.

Britain had previously signed a deal with AstraZeneca to provide 100 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine being tested by Oxford University, which is expected to announce further results later Monday.

“Millions of people could be vaccinated against coronavirus,” the government statement said, citing the three different vaccines it has now invested in.

Doctor holding vaccine

Vaccines typically take years to develop and more than a dozen are in the early stages of testing globally [File: Getty Images]

09:42 GMT – Indonesia reports second-highest daily increase in deaths

Indonesia reported its second-highest daily increase in coronavirus-related deaths with 96 fatalities, a day after registering a record daily jump in deaths, data presented by health ministry official Achmad Yurianto showed.

The country also reported 1,693 new infections, taking the total to 88,214, the highest in East Asia, with a total of 4,239 deaths. 

08:58 GMT – Hong Kong reports 73 new cases as local transmissions stay high 

Hong Kong reported 73 new cases, including 66 that were locally transmitted, as new restrictions took effect and authorities warned there was no indication that the situation was coming under control.

The global financial hub reported more than 100 cases on Sunday, a record number as Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced that non-essential civil servants must work from home. 

08:44 GMT – Philippines reports 4 new deaths, 1,521 more infections 

The Philippines’ health ministry confirmed four new coronavirus deaths and 1,521 new cases, its fifth straight day of reporting over a thousand infections.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total deaths have increased to 1,835 while confirmed cases have reached 69,898. 

08:38 GMT – France says up to 500 virus clusters but no ‘second wave’ yet    

French authorities have reported 400 to 500 active coronavirus outbreak clusters but there are no signs of an imminent “second wave,” Health Minister Olivier Veran said.

Many of the current virus clusters involve abattoirs or other contained professional settings such as old age homes, he said.     

Others had resulted from family reunions during the summer holidays.  

“At this point we are very far from a second wave,” Veran told Franceinfo radio, as face masks were made mandatory in all enclosed public spaces including shops, covered markets and administrative buildings.     

“The goal is not to worry people excessively, but to keep them on their guard,” he said.

08:01 GMT – Russia reports almost 6,000 new infections

Russia reported 5,940 new cases, pushing its total infection tally to 777,486, the fourth largest in the world.

In a daily readout, officials said 85 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 12,427. 

07:43 GMT – Synairgen’s drug shows reduced risk of severe disease in COVID-19 patients

Synairgen Plc said its drug helped reduce the risk of developing severe diseases in hospitalised COVID-19 patients, according to data from a trial of more than 100 people in the United Kingdom.

The trial, which used interferon beta, showed that patients who were given Synairgen’s formulation had a 79 percent lower risk of developing severe disease compared to placebo.

Patients who received the drug, SNG001, were more than twice as likely to recover from COVID-19 as those on placebo, the company said.

07:21 GMT – 14 died from likely COVID-19 complications in Egyptian prisons: HRW 

At least 14 prisoners have died from likely COVID-19 complications in scantly-monitored outbreaks of the disease at Egyptian detention centres, Human Rights Watch.

“At least 14 prisoners and detainees have died, most likely from Covid-19 complications, in 10 detention facilities as of July 15,” the rights groups said in a statement.      

HRW based its report on witness accounts, leaked letters from prisons and reports by local rights groups. 

“Prisons had insufficient medical care and virtually no access to testing for the virus or symptom screening,” it said.     

HRW noted that Egypt had released some 13,000 prisoners since February, but this was “insufficient to ease overcrowding in congested prisons and jails”.  

A truck drives in front of security and riot police guards, outside Cairo's Tora prison, where the trial of ousted Egyptian Islamist President Mohamed Mursi took place, in Cairo ‘Prisons had insufficient medical care and virtually no access to testing for the virus or symptom screening,’ HRW said [File: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters]

07:05 GMT – India reports 40,000 new cases, a record daily surge in infections

India reported 40,425 new cases of the coronavirus, a record high for the country.  The new infections raised the country’s total number of cases to 1,118,043, including 27,497 deaths.

The ministry said late Sunday that India’s coronavirus fatality rate – currently at 2.49 percent – is “progressively falling” due to an effective containment strategy and aggressive testing.

A country of 1.4 billion people, India has been conducting nearly 10,000 tests per million people. More than 300,000 samples are being tested every day now, compared to just a few hundred in March, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research, India’s top medical research body.

With a surge in infections in the past few weeks, local governments in India have been ordering focused lockdowns in high-risk areas.

07:01 GMT – Number of active cases in Pakistan continue to drop

Active cases of the coronavirus continue to drop in Pakistan, where the government says it is testing fewer and fewer people because there has been a drop in the number of patients seeking treatment for COVID-19. 

On Sunday, at least 1,587 new cases of the virus were registered, taking the country’s overall tally to 265,083 since its outbreak began in late February. Active cases, however, fell by 97, as the case increase was offset by recoveries. Active cases are now at 53,465, their lowest level since June 3.

At least 31 deaths took the death toll to 5,689 on Sunday, the data showed. 

Hello, this is Farah Najjar taking over from my colleague Ted Regencia.

05:02 GMT – Malaysian PM to give update on COVID-19 situation

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is expected to address the nation on Monday at 08:00 GMT to give an update on the country’s coronavirus situation, according to one of his ministers.

On Sunday, the country reported 15 new cases including four from abroad, and one death.

More than 97 percent of  COVID-19 patients in Malaysia have recovered.

04:39 GMT – Hong Kong banks shutter branches again new infections

HSBC, Standard Chartered and other banks in Hong Kong closed branches or curtailed their working hours on Monday after a spike in the number of new coronavirus cases in the Asian financial hub, according to Reuters news agency.

Hong Kong recorded more than 100 cases in 24 hours over the weekend, the most since the pandemic began in late January. The rise in cases took the tally close to 2,000 patients, 12 of whom have died.

Hong Kong

A medical worker in protective suit collects swab from a man to test for the coronavirus at a specimen collection point for taxi drivers in Hong Kong on Monday [Lam Yik/Reuters]

04:03 GMT – US state of Kentucky hits daily record of new cases

A daily record of nearly 1,000 coronavirus cases has been reported in the US state of Kentucky, a spike that the governor said should be a “wake-up call” for the state’s citizens to abide by mask and social distancing restrictions, according to AP news agency.

Democratic Governor Andy Beshear announced in a news release there were 979 new cases reported on Sunday, including 30 involving children five-year-old or younger.

The state has reported more than 23,000 cases and almost 700 deaths so far.

03:38 GMT – Cyprus raises concerns over spread of infection by migrants

Cyprus’s health minister says there is concern that coronavirus-infected migrants could be seeping through the ethnically divided island nation’s porous ceasefire line, The Associated Press news agency reported.

Minister Constantinos Ioannou on Sunday pointed to “a problem” after a number of migrants who recently crossed from the breakaway north to seek asylum in the internationally recognised south have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Ioannou said the government had ordered two months ago that all migrants undergo testing for the virus before they enter reception centres for processing.

At least eight Syrian migrants who crossed southward in the last week tested positive for the virus.

03:16 GMT – Majority of Japanese reject gov’t tourism campaign

Tokyo, Japan

Broadcaster NHK said more than 500 new cases were reported nationally on Sunday, of which 188 were in Tokyo [Eugene Hoshiko/AP]

Most people in Japan are against government plans to kick-start domestic tourism with a subsidised campaign, according to newspaper surveys published on Monday, as fears grow over the number of new coronavirus cases, particularly in Tokyo, according to Reuters news agency.

The results highlight growing concerns that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s $16bn “Go To” campaign, set to begin on Wednesday, could spread the virus to rural parts of the country where medical systems are fragile.

Broadcaster NHK said more than 500 new cases were reported nationally on Sunday, of which 188 were in Tokyo – down by about 100 from the previous day but still well above levels seen when Abe’s government in late May called an end to a state of emergency it had imposed to contain the virus.

02:58 GMT – More cases reported in China’s Xinjiang

Numbers of coronavirus cases in Xinjiang’s city of Urumqi continue to rise, with another 17 reported on Monday, bringing the total in China’s latest outbreak to at least 47.

Another five cases were brought from outside the country, the National Health Commission said.

So far 83,682 cases, including 4,634 deaths, have been recorded.

China had largely contained local transmission of the virus before the Urumqi outbreak and has taken swift action including a lockdown to bring it under control.

Coronavirus - Urumqi

In China, 249 people remain in treatment [China Out/Reuters ]

02:40 GMT – Germany’s confirmed cases rise by 249

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 249 to 201,823, Reuters news agency reported on Monday quoting data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.

The reported death toll rose by two to 9,086, the tally showed.

02:05 GMT – Despite COVID-19 infection, Bolsonaro greets supporters 

Bolsonaro - Brazil

President Bolsonaro gestures while meeting supporters during a ceremony of lowering the national flag for the night, amid the coronavirus outbreak, at the Alvorada Palace in Brasilia, Brazil on Sunday [Adriano Machado/Reuters]

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro ventured out of his official residence, Alvorada Palace, on Sunday to greet his supporters even as he recovers from COVID-19.

Bolsonaro, who announced he tested positive for coronavirus on July 7, stepped out onto the grounds of official resident, walked towards a group of supporters, and spoke with them for about an hour.

Wearing a mask, Bolsonaro said he is feeling well and again credited his health to the use of hydroxychloroquine to fight COVID-19, despite no scientific evidence.

01:50 GMT – Australia’s Victoria state reports 275 new cases

Australia’s second-most populous state of Victoria on Monday recorded one death from the new coronavirus and 275 new cases compared with 363 a day earlier, according to Reuters news agency.

A woman in her 80s died from the virus overnight, Premier Daniel Andrews said in a briefing in Melbourne, taking the national death toll to 123.

Coronavirus cases have spiked in Victoria in July, mostly in Melbourne, prompting authorities to ask residents to wear face masks when they step outside their houses or risk fines of 200 Australian dollars ($140) for not complying.

01:30 GMT – Imported cases still rising in South Korea

South Korea’s imported coronavirus cases continue to rise by double-digit figures, according to the latest figures on Monday, even as new daily cases fell below 30 for the first time in more than three weeks.

The country identified 26 new cases, raising the total caseload to 13,771, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). Of the newly added cases, just four were local infections, and 22 were imported.

The country has seen double-digit numbers of imported cases for 25 consecutive days as of Monday, according to Yonhap news agency. One additional death was also reported, bringing the total death toll to 296.

01:00 GMT – El Salvador postpones economic reopening

El Salvador

El Salvador has registered a total of 11,846 coronavirus cases and 335 deaths [File: Martin Mejia/AP]

Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele has announced that he will postpone the second phase of the country’s economic reopening, slated to begin on Tuesday, after evaluating inputs from experts and the Salvadoran health ministry, Reuters reported.

“After listening to the opinions of experts and above all, the Ministry of Health … I have decided to suspend Phase 2 of the economic reopening,” Bukele wrote in a social media post on Sunday.

El Salvador has registered a total of 11,846 coronavirus cases and 335 deaths.

00:30 GMT – Mexico reports 5,311 new cases, 296 more deaths

Mexico’s health ministry reported 5,311 new confirmed coronavirus infections and 296 additional deaths, bringing the total in the country to 344,224 cases, including 39,184 deaths, according to Reuters.

The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

00:12 GMT – Florida adds 12,000 new cases

The US state of Florida reported more than 12,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the fifth day in a row the state has recorded more than 10,000 new infections, even as President Donald Trump pledged that “it’s going to be under control”.

The virus has killed more than 140,000 people since the pandemic started, and Florida, California, and other Southern and Western states are creating new records every day, according to Reuters.

“We have embers and we do have flames. Florida became more flame-like, but it’s – it’s going to be under control,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News television channel.

00:01 GMT – Golf legend Jack Nicklaus reveals he had COVID-19

Jack Nicklaus - Golf

Nicklaus said his wife also contracted COVID-19 but did not have any symptoms, while he had a sore throat and a cough [Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters]

US golf legend Jack Nicklaus has revealed that he and his wife Barbara tested positive for the coronavirus at the onset of the pandemic, AP reported. They turned 80 a month apart at the start of the year.

He said his wife had no COVID-19 symptoms, while he had a sore throat and a cough. Nicklaus said they were home in Florida from March 13 “until we were done with it” on about April 20.

_______________________________________________________________

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

You can find all the key developments from yesterday, July 19, here.





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