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WHO says Europe can live with COVID-19 with local lockdowns: Live – Al Jazeera English

  • Europe can live with COVID-19 without a vaccine by managing outbreaks with localised lockdowns, the World Health Organization’s director for the region said, adding he did not expect a return to full national-level restrictions.

  • Hong Kong has started mass testing for coronavirus in an initiative that has been undermined by suspicions of China and concerns about privacy.
  • Nearly 25.5 million cases of coronavirus have been confirmed around the world, according to Johns Hopkins University, and 850,535 people have died. Some 16.8 million people have recovered.

Here are the latest updates:

Tuesday, September 1

12:30 GMT – Guatemala’s international airport to resume flights on September 18

Guatemala’s Aurora international airport will reopen to commercial flights on September 18, the government has announced, as the Central American country relaxes its coronavirus lockdown.

Guatemala registered more than 74,000 coronavirus infections and 2,760 deaths during the pandemic. The airport has been shut since mid-March.

12:10 GMT – Mexican president gains popularity during pandemic: Poll

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s approval rating has risen during the coronavirus pandemic, with a majority of surveyed voters applauding his campaign to crack down on political corruption, an opinion poll showed.

Lopez Obrador now holds a 65 percent approval rate, according to a nationwide survey of 1,000 voters in face-to-face interviews conducted by pollster Parametria from August 26-30.

The rate rose from 54 percent in March, just as the coronavirus crisis took hold in Latin America’s second-largest economy. Lopez Obrador will give a state of the nation address on Tuesday, as Mexico stands in fourth-place globally for most lives lost to the pandemic.

11:50 GMT – Coronavirus cases to peak this month in Indonesia, says president

Indonesia’s coronavirus outbreak will likely peak this month, President Joko Widodo has said, adding he was “very confident” about access to a safe and effective vaccine by the end of this year.

The upbeat assessment came as Indonesia – which has one of the world’s lowest per-capita testing rates – saw record new cases on three successive days last week, when 11 percent of its total 177,571 infections were recorded.

Its 7,505 COVID-19 deaths are the most in Southeast Asia.

11:20 GMT – 900,000 in Finland download virus tracing app

Finnish health authorities say some 900,000 people have downloaded a coronavirus tracing app a day after it was launched.

The Koronavilkku app is aimed at finding out whether a person has been exposed to the coronavirus, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare said, adding that the free-of-charge application was created to help break infection chains.

App users send a randomly generated code via Bluetooth to others when in close contact.

10:50 GMT – Germany sees economy recovering faster than expected in 2020

Germany expects the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to be less severe than originally feared this year, but it sees a weaker rebound for Europe’s largest economy next year due to sluggish foreign demand.

Presenting the government’s updated forecasts, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said the economy was doing better than expected and was recovering quickly from the coronavirus shock thanks to a strong response from the state.

10:30 GMT – Spain PM concerned at Madrid spike in virus infections

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has said his government is concerned about a spike in coronavirus infections in the capital Madrid.

Spain was one of the hardest-hit countries when the coronavirus struck Europe this year before a strict lockdown helped reduce the outbreak’s spread.

But infections have surged since the lockdown measures were fully removed at the end of June, especially in Madrid, with the rise in infections often linked to the return of nightlife and social gatherings.

10:15 GMT – South African state firms request bailouts over COVID-19

South African state companies have requested billions of rand in funding from the government to help them weather the effect of the coronavirus crisis, a finance ministry presentation to parliament showed.

Loss-making state companies have long been an Achilles’ heel for Africa’s most industrialised economy, requiring bailouts that have placed its public finances under huge strain at a time of weak economic growth and helped push its sovereign credit rating to “junk” status.

10:05 GMT – Poland bans direct flights from Spain, Israel due to coronavirus fears

Poland is banning from Wednesday direct flights from 44 countries including Spain, Israel and Romania in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the Central European country, the government has said.

The United States, Malta, Montenegro, Mexico, Brasil, Argentina and India are also on the list of countries, but local media reported that Russia and China had been removed from it.

The move follows measures to reintroduce restrictions on public life in the worst affected parts of the country, as the government tries to tackle the spread of the virus without resorting to a complete lockdown.

09:50 GMT – Philippines raises limits on attendance at religious services

Philippine authorities have raised the limit on attendance at religious services in the capital to 10 percent of a venue’s capacity, up from just 10 people since June.

The new rules allow Catholic churches and other places of worship to be filled up to 10 percent of their capacity in the Metro Manila region, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

09:25 GMT – Children in Wuhan return to school

Children have returned to school in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the original epicentre of the coronavirus epidemic that underwent months of lockdown but which has not seen new cases of local transmission for weeks.

State media reported 1.4 million children in the city reported to 2,842 kindergartens, primary and secondary schools as part of a nationwide return to classes.

09:10 GMT – Malaysia to bar long-term pass holders from India, Indonesia, Philippines

Malaysia has said it will bar entry of long-term immigration pass holders from India, Indonesia and the Philippines from September 7, in a bid to curtail imported coronavirus cases amid a spate of new clusters in the country.

Health authorities in Southeast Asia’s third-largest economy have recorded more than 9,300 cases as of Tuesday, and 128 deaths, with new cases found in clusters detected in at least four states.

08:50 GMT – French children head back to school

Millions of French children have started going back to school despite a recent rise in virus infections, in a nationwide experiment aimed at bridging inequalities and reviving the economy.

“The virus is still there, and you have to protect yourself,” President Emmanuel Macron said in an Instagram video aimed at France’s more than 12 million schoolchildren on their first day back.

08:30 GMT – Philippines confirms 3,483 more coronavirus cases, 39 deaths

The Philippines’ health ministry has reported 3,483 additional novel coronavirus infections and 39 more deaths.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed infections had reached 224,264, more than half of which were reported in the past 30 days, while deaths had increased to 3,597.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday kept partial restrictions in and around the capital for another month until end-September to stem the continuous rise in infections.

08:15 GMT – Indonesia reports 2,775 new coronavirus cases, 88 deaths

Indonesia has reported 2,775 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total tally to 177,571, data from the country’s COVID-19 taskforce showed.

The Southeast Asian country also added 88 new deaths on Tuesday, taking the total number to 7,505, the highest coronavirus death toll in Southeast Asia. 

08:00 GMT – Russia’s coronavirus case tally passes one million mark

The total number of coronavirus cases in Russia have passed the one million mark after 4,729 new infections were reported.

That brought the country’s total tally to 1,000,048. Russia’s coronavirus crisis centre said 123 new deaths had been confirmed in the last 24 hours. 

07:30 GMT – India’s case surge eases slightly as millions take exams

India’s tally of coronavirus infections have surged to nearly 3.7 million, as millions of masked students sat for college admission exams after the government refused to defer them.

India, the world’s third most affected country by the pandemic after the United States and Brazil, reported 69,921 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, the lowest in six days.

07:15 GMT Ghana to reopen international airport after five months

Ghana will reopen its international airport but with new regulations in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the president has announced.

Kotoka International Airport, located outside the capital Accra, was closed in March along with other border points in a bid to contain the virus in the west African country.

“I am glad to announce that Kotoka International Airport will reopen and resume operations from Tuesday, September 1, 2020,” President Nana Akufo-Addo said in a nationwide broadcast. He said land borders would remain closed.

06:55 GMT – Chinese students begin full return to school

Chinese students began a full return to regular classes following two weeks without new cases of local transmission in the country.

Reports said students had their temperatures checked on arrival but rules on social distancing and mask wearing varied depending on the region.

Inside Story: What is China’s post-coronavirus strategy? (25:00)

06:40 GMT – Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 1,218

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany have increased by 1,218 to 243,599, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed. 

The reported death toll rose by 4 to 9,302, the tally showed. 

06:05 GMT – Hungary reopens borders to some eastern neighbours

Hungary has decided to let tourists from its three East European neighbours, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia enter the country with a fresh negative coronavirus test, just as a lockdown on its borders took effect.

Last week Hungary said it would close its borders to foreigners from Tuesday to curb a rise in coronavirus cases. Returning Hungarian citizens can leave a 14-day quarantine only if they provide two negative COVID tests.

Hi, this is Elizabeth Melimopoulos in Doha taking over the live updates from my colleague Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

05:20 GMT – Sanofi says arthritis drug failure as COVID-19 treatment

French drugmaker Sanofi says its rheumatoid arthritis drug Kevzara does not work as a treatment for coronavirus. 

With Kevzara’s failure to meet the main goals of a US study testing it among the most critically-ill COVID-19 patients, Sanofi and Regeneron do not anticipate any further clinical studies for the drug in relation to the disease, Sanofi added.

“Although this trial did not yield the results we hoped for, we are proud of the work that was achieved by the team to further our understanding of the potential use of Kevzara for the treatment of COVID-19,” said Sanofi’s Global Head of Research and Development John Reed.

04:20 GMT – Students return to school after months of home learning

Children in Europe and parts of Asia are returning to school this week after months away from their classrooms.

China’s state-run media showed pictures of primary and middle school children returning to class – with physical distancing and other measures in force – in Shanghai.

Students in France and Belgium are also due to resume classes on Tuesday after the summer break, with pupils in England and Wales returning later in the week after six months away.

Regulations differ in each country, but most children over the age of 12, as well as all staff are required to wear face masks. Physical distancing and regular handwashing have also been made part of the new routine. 

03:40 GMT – More than 10,000 tested in first two hours of Hong Kong’s universal testing

The South China Morning Post is reporting that more than 10,000 people were tested for coronavirus in the first two hours after the territory’s controversial mass testing programme began.

Testing centres opened at 8am local time (00:00 GMT), and small queues formed outside some, the newspaper said. Hong Kong chief executive was among a number of government officials and health experts who took the test.

People queuing outside a testing centre in Hong Kong on Tuesday as a mass testing campaign began [Kin Cheung/AP Photo]

03:15 GMT – Researchers find COVID-19 has disrupted cancer care in US, Australia

Researchers from the University of Sydney and Duke University in the US studying the impact of COVID-19 on cancer treatments say the pandemic has fuelled a shift towards online consultations, forced the suspension of research and clinical trials and required doctors to assess the risks of administering standard treatments given patients’ vulnerability to COVID-19.

“In light of physical distancing restrictions due to COVID-19, standard cancer procedures are being altered or delayed, including surveillance imaging; non-emergency surgical procedures; and clinical trials,” said Professor Alex Broom, health sociologist and the lead Sydney researcher.

“The suspension of clinical trials is especially detrimental for patients with rare cancers. For them, enrolling in a clinical trial for a promising new therapy may be the best option.”

However, the team noted that as a result of the pandemic there was also increased identification of non-essential drugs and better identification of treatments which did not offer significant improvements to quality or quantity of life. The findings were published in Clinical Cancer Research.

02:50 GMT – Cases, deaths ease in Victoria

The Australian state of Victoria has been releasing its latest coronavirus numbers and the picture seems more encouraging.

The number of deaths – 5 – was the lowest in two weeks, while the number of new cases – 70 – was the lowest in more than eight weeks. All the deaths were linked to homes for the elderly. 

With active cases in rural Victoria lower than in the state capital Melbourne, state premier Dan Andrews plans to unveil two separate roadmaps out of lockdown, local media reported. The details will be released on Sunday.

02:00 GMT – Coronavirus fuels ‘Kannywood’ boom in Nigeria

Kannywood, the film industry named after the city of Kano in the mainly Muslim north of Nigeria, is booming even with coronavirus.

The industry has 502 production firms and employs 30,000 people, and Northflix, its fledgling streaming platform has seen subscribers double and revenue triple since lockdowns were imposed in March.

“Coronavirus has been a blessing to us business-wise, despite the disruptions caused to the global economy,” CEO and co-founder Jamil Abdussalam told AFP. Northflix switched to a flat rate subscription model charging the equivalent of $4 a month as the pandemic deepened and Nigerians looked online for entertainment. 

Kannywood films cover themes of love, revenge and betrayal but follow strict Islamic rules.

00:15 GMT – Hong Kong begins mass testing programme 

Hong Kong begins mass testing for coronavirus this morning, with the assistance of 60 experts from China.

This is the first time Chinese health officials have provided direct help to Hong Kong in the pandemic, and the move has fuelled concerns about privacy among members of the pro-democracy movement following China’s imposition of national security legislation at the end of June. Activists have urged the territory’s 7.5 million people to boycott the initiative.

Still, the government said that, as of 6pm (10:00 GMT) on Monday just over 500,000 had registered for the programme via its online booking system, and 97 of the 141 community testing centres were fully booked for September 1.

The programme aims to “identify asymptomatic COVID-19 patients, and to cut the transmission chain on the community,” the government said in a statement. 

23:30 GMT – Coronavirus disrupts healthcare in 90 percent of countries

A World Health Organization survey of 105 countries shows that 90 percent have experienced disruption to their health services as a result of the coronavirus, with low- and middle-income countries the most affected.

Up to 70 percent of service interruptions have been for essential services including routine immunisation, diagnosis and treatment for non-communicable diseases, family planning and contraception, treatment for mental health disorders and cancer diagnosis and treatment, the United Nations health agency said.


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 (August 31) here.


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