US coronavirus cases pass three million: Live updates

Hotspots include Texas, Arizona and Louisiana but President Donald Trump continues to downplay risk from disease.

  • The United States has now confirmed more than three million cases of coronavirus. The outbreak is surging in several southern and western hotspots.

  • Italy has called for new precautionary measures for passengers travelling to European Union countries from outside the bloc to contain the spread of coronavirus. 

  • More than 11.8 million people around the world have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and at least 545,300 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

22:30 GMT – Trump’s Tulsa rally probably contributed to Oklahoma’s COVID-19 surge

Thousands attended US President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa in late June and health officials say the event probably contributed to a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases in Oklahoma.

Tulsa County reported 261 confirmed cases on Monday, a new record one-day high, and an additional 206 cases on Tuesday.

County Health Department Director Dr Bruce Dart says the gatherings “more than likely” contributed to the spike.

A reporter who attended Trump’s rally is among those who have tested positive for COVID-19, along with six of Trump’s campaign staff and two members of the Secret Service.

20:45 GMT – Bolsonaro vetoes COVID-19 aid for Indigenous people

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has vetoed provisions of a law that required the federal government to provide drinking water, disinfectant and a guarantee of hospital beds to Indigenous communities because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The president’s office on Wednesday said those provisions in the law were “against the public interest” and “unconstitutional”, by creating expenses for the federal government without new sources of revenue to cover them.

Brazil’s Indigenous population of roughly 850,000 is more vulnerable to COVID-19, as they live in remote areas with little access to healthcare facilities. 

Read more here.

20:30 GMT – Brazil journalists quarantined after interviewing infected Bolsonaro

Brazilian broadcasters have quarantined journalists after they were exposed to President Jair Bolsonaro in an interview where he announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

On Tuesday, Bolsonaro told a handful of television journalists at his official residence that he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Several held microphones in front of his chest, without the minimum 1-2 metres (3-6 feet) of distance advocated by medical experts to avoid contagion.

In separate emailed statements, CNN Brasil, Record TV and the state-run Brazil Communications Company (EBC) said they had taken their reporters off the job following the interview.

Record and EBC said their journalists would return to work only if they tested negative for the virus in coming days. CNN Brasil did not give details on the protocol for its journalists.

19:35 GMT – Canada handled the coronavirus outbreak better than US: Trudeau

Canada handled the novel coronavirus outbreak better than many of its allies, including the United States, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said.

Canada – with a population one-tenth the size of the US – has so far recorded 106,167 positive cases and 8,711 deaths, and Trudeau said the situation was stabilising, although some hot spots remained.

In contrast, the US has recorded more than three million cases and 131,336 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

Read more here.

19:10 GMT – Rock Hall of Fame to replace 2020 ceremony with broadcast special    

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is to replace its annual live performance induction ceremony for this year’s nominees with a broadcast special because of the coronavirus pandemic.   

The programme – whose honorees include rapper The Notorious B.I.G. and pop icon Whitney Houston – will air on HBO on November 7, replacing the ceremony originally scheduled for May 2.

The late legends are joined in 2020’s class by the synth-pop act Depeche Mode and the industrial experimental group Nine Inch Nails, along with the 1970s rockers The Doobie Brothers and English glam rock band T-Rex.    

“To protect the health and safety of our inductees, their families, crews and our attendees, we’ve made the decision that the scheduled live event is not possible,” John Sykes, chairman of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, said in a statement.

18:35 GMT – France reports 32 coronavirus deaths, total at 29,965

The number of deaths in France from the new coronavirus has risen by 32 from the previous day to stand at 29,965 the country’s health department said.

That figure is almost twice as high as the daily average of 18 seen over the last seven days. In June, France counted 34 additional deaths every day on average, in May 143 and in April 695.

17:45 GMT – Sudan begins easing coronavirus lockdown measures

Sudan began loosening lockdown measures on Wednesday in and around the capital Khartoum after three months of tight restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The usual bustle of pedestrians and car traffic returned to Khartoum’s streets, with shops and restaurants reopening.

Sudan’s official news agency SUNA quoted government spokesperson Faisal Saleh as saying that the night-time curfew will remain in place in Khartoum state, but from 6pm to 5am (16:00 GMT to 03:00 GMT), as of Wednesday.

Read more here.

17:15 GMT – New York City mayor says schools will reopen in autumn

Most New York City students will return to their classrooms two or three days a week and learn online the rest of the time under a plan announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Most schools will not be able to have all their kids in school at the same time,” de Blasio said. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has clashed with de Blasio repeatedly over control of the city’s schools and other issues, said all school districts statewide must submit plans for reopening by July 31 and state officials will decide in the first week of August whether to accept the plans and whether schools will reopen at all.

“They can submit a plan, the plan will be reviewed and then we will accept or deny the specific plan or ask for alterations on the specific plan and then make a global decision as to whether or not any school district will reopen and that will be the first week of August,” said Cuomo, who held a press conference in New York City shortly after de Blasio’s briefing.

16:45 GMT – Coronavirus cases in the US hit three million

The United States has now confirmed three million cases of coronavirus, as President Donald Trump downplayed the risks posed by the pandemic and aggressively pushed for schools to reopen.     

The coronavirus is surging in several southern states including Texas, Florida, Louisiana and Arizona, while it has almost entirely receded from its former epicentre in New York and the north-east.      

“At this point, we have tested more than 39 million Americans,” US Vice President Mike Pence told reporters.  

“Among those, more than three million Americans have tested positive and more than 1.3 million Americans have recovered.”

16:25 GMT – New Jersey to make face masks mandatory outdoors 

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy says he will sign an executive order requiring people to wear face coverings outdoors.

Murphy told MSNBC that requiring the public to wear masks outdoors was critical to controlling the spread of the virus in the state.

“There’s no question that face coverings are a game-changer,” he said, acknowledging that it would be hard to enforce the order but saying the state needed to build on the progress made in its battle against the virus.

“We’ve gone through hell in New Jersey. We’ve lost over 13,000 people, we’ve brought our numbers way down. We can’t go through that hell again.”

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.     

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 on 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.

Read more here.

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.

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 s ituation 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.

 

—-

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.


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