US u-turn on testing coronavirus contacts raises alarm: Live news

Health experts react with dismay to sudden decision given the risk of asymptomatic people spreading virus further.

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

  • South Korea has reported the highest number of daily coronavirus cases since March, increasing expectations that the authorities will impose tougher restrictions to control the disease. 

  • The u-turn by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US on testing of close contacts of people with COVID-19 has raised concern among experts about the asymptomatic spread of the disease.

  • The Australian state of Victoria has reported its lowest number of coronavirus cases in nearly two months.

  • More than 24 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, and 15.7 million have recovered, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than 822,000 have died.

Here are the latest updates:

Thursday, August 27

01:35 GMT – South Korea reports biggest jump in cases since March

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the country recorded 441 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, the highest daily number since March.

It’s the first time the number has been above 400 since March 7, and raises the prospect of tighter restrictions to curb the spread of the disease. Cases have been in triple digits since August 14.

Tougher restrictions would include a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people, while cinemas, cafes and wedding venues might also have to close.

00:00 GMT – Victoria reports lowest number of daily cases in two months

The Australian state of Victoria reported 23 deaths, and 113 new coronavirus cases – the lowest in nearly two months – helped by a strict lockdown.

The state’s battling a second wave of the virus thought to have emerged from a breach in quarantine rules for returning travellers.

23:00 GMT (Wednesday) – Air New Zealand posts $300m loss as pandemic bites

Air New Zealand has posted a net loss of 454 million New Zealand dollars ($300m) for the financial year ended June 30.

Like many airlines around the world, the closing of borders has led to a collapse in passenger traffic leaving planes on the ground.

About one-third of Air New Zealand’s 12,500 employees are expected to lose their jobs as a result.

22:30 GMT (Wednesday) – Concern at US testing U-turn

Health experts are concerned a sudden US decision to change testing guidance for people who have been exposed to COVID-19 patients but have not developed symptoms risks spreading the virus further.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now says so-called “close contacts” of people with COVID-19 do not “necessarily need” to be tested if they do not have symptoms.

The CDC has not explained the decision.

Read all the updates from yesterday (August 26) here.

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