- Donald Trump calls off the Republican Party’s convention in Florida
- The World Health Organization reports a record single-day increase in global COVID-19 cases
- Researchers say a large number of cases at a German slaughterhouse was mainly due to one highly infectious worker
- German ministers decide to offer free tests to returning holidaymakers, but on a voluntary basis
All updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)
00:00 We have now closed this live updates article. For the latest Saturday developments, click here: German state leader says second wave is ‘already here’
22:52 Brazil reported 55,891 new confirmed coronavirus cases, and 1,156 deaths over the last 24 hours, according to the health ministry. The country now has 2,343,366 total cases, with a death toll of 85,238.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has downplayed the effects of the pandemic, is also among the infected. He tested positive for COVID-19 for the third time yesterday. He was first tested on July 7, and has been in quarantine ever since.
19:52 The World Health Organization has reported a record single-day increase in coronavirus cases across the globe, with the total rising by 284,196 in 24 hours.
Fatalities rose by 9,753 — the biggest single-day increase since a record high of 9,797 deaths on April 30.
The previous highest daily leap in new cases was 259,848 on July 18. Deaths have tended to average 5,000 per day in July, up from an average of 4,600 a day in June.
According to the WHO, 69,641 of the new cases were in the United States, 67,860 in Brazil, 49,310 in India and 13,104 in South Africa.
The biggest surges in new deaths were 3,876 in Peru, 1,284 in Brazil, 1,074 in the United States, 790 in Mexico and 740 in India. Peru recently reviewed its COVID-19 data and in one day increased its total death toll by 3,000.
19:30 The World Health Organization has expressed concern about a resurgence of COVID-19 in Europe, the AFP news agency reports.
The WHO’s European chapter pointed to a rise in cases on the continent over the past two weeks. It stressed that tighter measures may be needed to curb infections.
Like other regions, Europe is struggling to balance restrictions with the need to breathe life back into economies that were devastated by the virus and subsequent lockdown.
The continued danger was highlighted on Friday by the death of a 3-year-old girl in Belgium, the country’s youngest coronavirus fatality.
“The recent resurgence in COVID-19 cases in some countries following the easing of physical distancing measures is certainly cause for concern,” a WHO-Europe spokeswoman told AFP.
The sprawling European region of the WHO includes former Soviet republics such as Kyrgyzstan, the worst affected in the zone per capita with 335 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the past two weeks.
In Spain, health authorities face outbreaks in Aragon and Catalonia, where officials have reintroduced local restrictions. The residents of Barcelona and its suburbs have been advised to leave home only for essential trips for two weeks.
18:40 With no tourists in sight, Machu Picchu has marked the 109th anniversary of its rediscovery by American explorer Hiram Bingham.
On this day every year, the 15th-century Inca citadel typically attracts even more visitors than usual but Peru’s biggest tourist site has been closed to the general public since March.
Authorities had hoped to reopen Machu Picchu in time for its anniversary but had to give up in the face of a continued rise in COVID-19 cases in the Andean country.
Darwin Baca, mayor of the district where the citadel is located, told news agency AFP: “The date of reopening is not yet set. It will probably be in August because cases are on the rise in [the comparatively nearby city of] Cusco.”
Perus’s biggest tourist draw has been closed to the public for months
17:40 Formula 1 will return to Germany’s Nürburgring in October for the first time since 2013, as part of a new schedule that has been severely disrupted by the pandemic.
The Eifel Grand Prix will take place on October 11 in western Germany’s Eifel region, and is one of three European races that have been added to the calendar, along with the Portuguese Grand Prix in Portimao two weeks later, and the Emilia-Romagna GP in Italy on November 1. The race in Portugal will be the first time the country has hosted an F1 race since 1996, and will have spectators in attendance.
However, events in the United States, Mexico, Brazil and Canada have been dropped this year due to the pandemic.
F1 said it still hoped to hold between 15 and 18 races “and end in the Gulf in mid-December.”
The sport was hit hard by the pandemic, with the season postponed just hours before practice for the first race in Melbourne after the McLaren team announced that members had tested positive and that it would not be racing as a result.
The season finally got underway earlier this month with two races in Austria before moving to Hungary last weekend. The next two races will take place at Silverstone in Britain on July 31 and August 7.
17:00 British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has admitted his government may have reacted too slowly to the outbreak as the coronavirus was not well understood in its early stages.
Johnson told the BBC there were “very open questions” about whether the lockdown had been introduced too late.
“This was something that was new, that we didn’t understand in the way that we would have liked in the first few weeks and months. The single thing that we didn’t see at the beginning was the extent to which it was being transmitted asymptomatically from person to person,” he said.
The UK implemented its lockdown on March 23, while other European nations acted sooner. Italy went into a nationwide lockdown on March 9, while Spain did the same five days later. France followed suit on March 17.
German schools closed on March 13 and the country closed its borders with Austria, Denmark, France, Luxembourg and Switzerland two days later. Lockdown measures were introduced across the country on March 22.
14:10 Germany will soon be offering free coronavirus tests to all German residents returning from abroad in an effort to prevent a second wave of infection during the summer holidays.
The 16 state health ministers agreed on the new measure during a meeting on Friday afternoon.
“Those returning from risk countries should be tested, and those returning from non-risk countries will also have the option,” Berlin Health Minister Dilek Kalayci said.
According to the plan, those returning from non-risk zones would not be offered tests directly at airports, but would rather have the option to get tested without charge at other locations within 72 hours of entering the country.
Health ministers also agreed that “random checks” would be carried out “at points of entry close to the border.”
Kalayci said the tests would initially be voluntary, and that all holidaymakers returning from countries considered to be high risk would have to self-isolate at home for two weeks if they test positive or refuse to take a test. In the build-up to the meeting, some had called for the tests to be mandatory.
13:15 China’s capital city Beijing partially reopened movie theaters on Friday as coronavirus infection rates and cases continue to fall in the country.
Cinemas in parts of the mega-city deemed at low risk of transmission began admitting movie fans under social distancing rules. Tickets must be booked in advance, attendance is capped at 30% of capacity and eating and drinking has been banned during viewings.
Undergoing temperature checks and providing an online record of one’s movements was required to gain entry, in line with many venues across China.
Cinemas have been closed for around six months but began reopening this week in major cities throughout the country. Beijing has gone more than two weeks without any cases caused by local transmission, spurring authorities to lift many restrictions on activities.
12:30 Russia will resume a limited number of international flights from August 1, Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova has announced.
The first destinations on the list are the UK’s capital city London, the Turkish cities Istanbul and Ankara and the island of Zanzibar in Tanzania. Flights will take off and land from airports in Moscow, St. Petersburg and the port city of Rostov-on-Don in the south.
The flights are resuming because the transmission rate in the country is slowing, said Golikova speaking on state television.
More holiday destinations in Turkey are set to be added from August 10.
International flights have been grounded since March 30 after the imposition of lockdown measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The latest figures show just under 800,000 infection cases and just over 13,000 deaths in Russia.
11:47 Spanish authorities are pressing agricultural employers to provide better accommodation and transport for seasonal migrant workers, a top lawmaker said on Friday.. Fears are growing that poor living conditions are creating coronavirus hot spots.
“Infections in rural areas don’t happen on farms or in fields, they happen in transport and accommodation,” Farm Minister Luis Planas said in an interview with national Cadena Ser radio.
He drew comparisons with Germany and France where officials are also worried that the movement of tens of thousands of seasonal agricultural workers spreads COVID-19.
Employers must provide “dignified living conditions” for employees. Spain’s Health Ministry reported Thursday 971 new coronavirus infections over the previous 24 hours – the country’s biggest daily increase since a lockdown ended.
Planas’ comments came on the same day that a United Nations report said Spain’s living conditions for its seasonal workers are “deplorable” and demanded the country improve them.
11:00 A sudden spike in cases in Hong Kong could stem from the territory’s willingness to allow “essential personnel” such as seafarers and truck drivers to skip quarantine when entering the city, according to some health experts.
After analyzing virus samples from recent confirmed cases, Gabriel Leung, Dean of the University of Hong Kong’s medical school, said the virus’ resurgence most likely stemmed from such imported cases.
He said the wave was “probably because of the multiple imported [cases], it could be the crew members or sailors exempted from quarantine.”
“When they entered Hong Kong, there were no immediate quarantine measures or testing arrangements. You could imagine, some of the crew members, the hotel they stay in maybe is downtown,” he said.
“The number of the exempted people [arriving] is not small, so it poses a risk to Hong Kong unless the number goes down,” said Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan from Hong Kong’s Center for Health Protection.
However, other officials have said the arrangement was necessary, insisting that it was a “misunderstanding” that the latest surge could be due to such an exemption.
More than 1,000 infections have been confirmed in the territory since early July, more than 40% of the total since the virus first hit the city in late January.
10:46 A three-year-old girl died in Belgium after testing positive for coronavirus, amid a surge in new infections, health authorities reported.
The announcement came a day after Belgium reimplemented restrictions to stem the spread of the virus, including mandating masks in crowded outdoor public spaces.
The girl suffered from several severe associated diseases, according to a statement. She is believed to be the youngest person to pass away from coronavirus complications after a 12-year-old died in March.
Belgium has reported nearly 65,000 cases and over 9,800 deaths.
10:14 The chief scientist at the World Health Organization estimates that about 50% to 60% of the population will need to be immune for there to be anyprotective “herd immunity” effect.
Herd immunity is usually achieved through vaccination and occurs when most of a population is immune to a disease.
Studies done from some countries hit hard by the pandemic show that about 5% to 10% of people now have antibodies, although in some countries, it has been as high as 20%, said Dr. Soumya Swaminathan.
“As there are waves of this infection going through countries, people are going to develop antibodies and those people will hopefully be immune for some time so they will also act as barriers and brakes to the spread,” Swaminathan added.
To achieve herd immunity through natural infection, you need to have several waves and you will see the morbidity and mortality that we see now, she said.
Other experts have estimated that as much as 70% to 80% of the population need to have antibodies before there is any herd immunity effect.
In the early stages of the pandemic, countries including Britain and Sweden suggested achieving herd immunity as an outbreak response strategy. However, researchers are now also finding evidence that coronavirus immunity may not last indefinitely, as some recovered patients have tested positive for the virus a second time around.
09:42 Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has gone into quarantine after the head of his political office tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday, according to a government press office statement.
Borissov, 61, whose first test for coronavirus revealed a negative result, will stay in self-isolation until the results of a second test taken early on Friday come out.
Bulgaria has registered a spike in infections over the past month. On Friday, the country reported 268 new cases, bringing the total to 9,853, including 329 deaths.
09:32 Germany’s Bild newspaper is reporting that the official coronavirus tracking app wasn’t working properly for up to five weeks due to an issue affecting millions of Android smartphones.
According to the report, some users with Huawei and Samsung phones, for example, did not receive notifications if they had come into contact with the virus.
The Health Ministry confirmed that some Android operating systems blocked the app from running in the background in order to save power. While that wouldn’t have affected the app’s ability to exchange information with other phones, it would have prevented or delayed notifications about potential infection risk from being sent out.
In a statement, the ministry stressed that Android settings can hamper any app from working properly. It said the problem had been solved with an update released on Wednesday.
The center-left SPD’s spokesman for digital policy, Jens Zimmermann, called for “a swift explanation” from Health Minister Jens Spahn.
“It is more than annoying that the responsible politicians are hearing about this matter from the media,” he told Reuters news agency. “I would have liked to see open communication from the Health Ministry,” he added.
09:06 The number of daily passenger flights in China has rebounded to about 80% of pre-pandemic levels, according to the country’s aviation regulator.
On July 23, Chinese airlines operated 13,059 passenger flights, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said.
Daily transported air passenger numbers have also recovered — they’re at nearly 70% of the levels seen last year.
The global aviation industry is closely watching capacity in China as a harbinger of demand recovery trends.
China has been gradually reopening its economy. However, the country is still seeing cases flare up in certain areas, while many cities are still living with virus-related restrictions.
Beijing is also allowing more international flights, but requires all arrival passengers to provide negative COVID-19 test results before boarding.
08:55 German federal and state health ministers are debating whether to impose mandatory coronavirus testing on holidaymakers returning from high-risk countries, amid growing concern over infection spikes at popular holiday destinations.
Setting up COVID-19 testing stations at German airports and making tests mandatory for returnees is one of the proposals that ministers will consider on Friday.
Walk-through testing stations are already in operation at Germany’s Frankfurt and Munich airports, but there is no obligation for passengers to participate.
Germany has put in place guidelines for people returning from one of the over 100 high-risk countries, as identified by the country’s public health body, the Robert Koch Institute.
Returnees are meant to enter a 14-day home quarantine as well as register with the local health authority.
Turkey — one of Germany’s most popular holiday destinations, along with the US, Egypt and Israel — all currently feature on the RKI’s high-risk list.
But there have also been increases in infection rates recently at holiday resorts in Croatia and Mallorca, Spain, that are popular with Germans.
Germany currently has confirmed nearly 205,000 cases and over 9,000 deaths.
08:39 A Vietnamese man tested positive for coronavirus in the central city of Da Nang, ending a 99-day period in which Vietnam had recorded no community transmissions, state media reported.
Doctors initially suspected that the patient, 57, had contracted pneumonia but positive tests came back from two separate testing centers, local newspaper VnExpress reported.
Fifty people who were in contact with the man have been isolated, and the entire hospital placed under lockdown. A number of people who had been in contact with the man were also displaying symptoms, said Nguyen Tien Hong, deputy director of Da Nang’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Vietnam has proven successful in taming the spread of the virus, and has not recorded any fatalities. All recent new cases have come from Vietnamese nationals who were repatriated after becoming stranded overseas.
08:06 Both Austria and England have implemented stricter mask-wearing requirements from today. Following a significant increase in the infection rate in Austria, people in supermarkets, banks, post offices, hospitals and nursing homes will now have to wear face protection. Masks were previously only required in public transport and pharmacies.
In England, although masks were already mandatory on public transport, they will now also be required in shops. The requirement will only apply to England, however, and not the rest of the United Kingdom. The UK has recorded over 298,000 cases and more than 45,500 deaths.
07:49 Payments of the unprecedented coronavirus stimulus approved by leaders of the European Union will start in the second half of next year, the bloc’s economy commissioner, Paolo Gentiloni, was quoted as saying.
Countries may be able to use a tenth of the €1.8 trillion ($2 trillion) coronavirus aid and budget package in anticipation of the plan’s approval, said Gentiloni in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
He suggested the bloc would have to approve new resources, such as the digital tax and the CO2 tax, to repay the common debt between 2026 and 2056.
“Otherwise, individual countries will find themselves having to repay the money because Europe has not been able to repay the common debt,” Gentiloni said.
07:20 India has overtaken France’s death toll, with a total of 30,601 fatalities. Over the past 24 hours, India recorded 740 new deaths from the virus and 49,310 new infections, official data showed.
An antibody study showed this week that almost a quarter of people in the capital New Delhi have had the virus — almost 40 times the official number.
The death toll is the sixth-highest in the world, behind the US, Brazil, Britain, Mexico and Italy. It also has the third-highest caseload with almost 1.3 million infections.
07:00 Vietnam, one of Asia’s biggest consumers of wildlife products, has suspended all imports of wild animal species “dead or alive” and vowed to “eliminate” illegal markets across the country.
The directive, signed by the leader of the communist country, follows the scandal over links between the unregulated sale of wildlife and the origins of the coronavirus in neighboring China.
“The prime minister orders the suspension of imports of wildlife — dead or alive — their eggs… parts or derivatives,” said the order released Thursday on the government website. “All citizens, especially officials… must not participate in illegal poaching, buying, selling, transporting… of illegal wildlife.”
The country will also “resolutely eliminate market and trading sites which trade wildlife illegally”, the edict said — warning of a crackdown on the poaching, trafficking, storing and advertising of animals, birds and reptiles.
Among the most frequently smuggled animal goods are tiger parts, rhino horn and pangolins used in traditional medicine. Vietnam has reported just over 400 cases and no deaths.
06:18 Following the outbreak at the Tönnies slaughterhouse in Germany, which saw over 2,000 employees infected, researchers have found that the virus likely spread to several people within a radius of more than eight meters from a single infected person.
Researchers found that the virus had been caught by multiple employees from a so-called superspreader — a cattle butcher — in May.
The findings came from a joint study by the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research (HZI), the University Clinic Hamburg-Eppendorf and the Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology (HPI).
“A super spreader process has been found for the outbreak at Tönnies,” said Adam Grundhoff, a co-author of the study.
The primary transmission took place inside the abattoir, where the circulated air was cooled to 10 degrees Celsius [50 degrees Fahrenheit], said Grundhoff. Researchers pointed to a low supply of fresh air combined with strenuous physical work.
“Under these conditions, a distance of 1.5 to three meters alone is obviously not sufficient to prevent transmission,” he added.
Tönnies later installed a new air filter system to prevent the virus from spreading through the air.
Despite concerns that the close living quarters of Tönnies mostly-migrant workforce may have played a role in the spread, the researchers said they saw no link.
03:35 Germany has registered 815 more cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), bringing total infections in the country to 204,183.
With 10 additional deaths, the total number of fatalities in Germany rose to 9,111.
01:55 A study in Brazil has found hydroxychloroquine to be an ineffective drug to treat COVID-19.
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) conducted across 55 hospitals in Brazil found that the anti-malaria drug is not effective against the virus. The study also found that the drug has potentially damaging side effects, such as the increased risk for heart and liver problems.
“Among patients hospitalized with mild-to-moderate COVID-19, the use of hydroxychloroquine, alone or with azithromycin, did not improve clinical status at 15 days as compared with standard care,” said the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who tested positive for coronavirus earlier this month, has praised hydroxychloroquine. He has repeatedly pushed for its widespread use and is reportedly even taking it himself.
The authors of the study also acknowledged its limitations, adding that “the trial cannot definitively rule out either a substantial benefit of the trial drugs or substantial harm.”
Brazil reported 59,961 new cases over the past 24 hours, bringing its total confirmed cases to nearly 2.3 million. It also reported 1,311 new deaths, taking the country’s death toll past 84,000.
01:24 Mexico reported a record number of new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours. The Health Ministry confirmed 8,438 new cases and 718 deaths, taking the total in the country to 370,712 infections and 41,908 fatalities.
The government has said the actual number of cases is likely much higher than the confirmed cases.
A survey showed that less than 8% of Mexican firms received aid from the government as the economic recession hit during the pandemic. While several companies said they did not know they could get help from the state, others polled said they applied for aid and did not receive any.
Mexico’s economy is forecast to shrink by up to 10% or more this year.