Coronavirus heaps economic pain on once booming Asia: Live news | Coronavirus pandemic News

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  • The Asian Development Bank says the economies of ”developing Asia” will contract by 0.7 percent in 2020, the first contraction in nearly six decades.
  • The southwestern Chinese city of Ruili has been locked down, with all 200,000 residents to be tested for COVID-19 after two Myanmar nationals were diagnosed with the virus.
  • More than 29 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, and 927,245 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 20 million have recovered.

Here are the latest updates:

Tuesday, September 15

08:30 GMT – Oil demand set for slow recovery from virus: IEA 

With novel coronavirus cases surging in many parts of the world and more people working from home, the recovery in global oil demand is likely to be slow in the coming months, the IEA has said, as it lowered its forecasts.

Oil demand quickly recovered part of the lost ground from April when much of the world was in lockdown to slow the spread of the virus that causes the Covid-19 illness.

But the International Energy Agency said in its latest monthly report it expected the recovery in demand “to decelerate markedly in the second half of 2020, with most of the easy gains already achieved”.

“The economic slowdown will take months to reverse completely, while certain sectors such as aviation are unlikely to return to their pre-pandemic levels of consumption even next year,” it said.

08:10 GMT – Philippines reports 3,544 new coronavirus cases, 34 deaths 

The Philippines’ health ministry has confirmed 3,544 new coronavirus infections and 34 more deaths.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total infections had increased to 269,407, the highest in Southeast Asia, while confirmed deaths have reached 4,663. 

08:05 GMT – Russia reports 5,529 new coronavirus cases, 150 deaths 

Russia have reported 5,529 new coronavirus cases, pushing its national tally to 1,073,849, the fourth largest in the world.

Authorities said 150 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 18,785. 

07:50 GMT – Most people can get COVID-19 tests locally: UK interior minister 

Britain’s interior minister Priti Patel has said that COVID-19 tests were avialable for people in their local areas, amid reports that those living in virus hot-spots and staff at hospitals and care homes were struggling to get tested.

“The majority of tests are available within a 10 mile (16 km) radius,” she told BBC TV, although she conceded that in some extreme cases people wouldn’t be able to get a test locations within that radius.

Indonesia: Lockdowns back in capital as hospitals near capacity (2:30)

07:45 GMT – Party next door? Call the police, says UK interior minister 

British interior minister Priti Patel has said that she would call the police if neighbours had a party because it was right to report people who might be spreading COVID-19 by disregarding new restrictions on gatherings of more than six people.

“If I saw something that I thought was inappropriate, then quite frankly I would effectively call the police,” she told Sky News.

“It’s not about dobbing in neighbours, I think it’s all about us taking personal responsibility. If there was a big party taking place, it would be right to call the police.” 

07:35 GMT – S.Korea to secure coronavirus vaccines for 60 percent of population: PM Chung

South Korea will secure early supply of coronavirus vaccines from international organizations and overseas drug makers for 30 million people, or 60% of its population, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a cabinet meeting.

07:20 GMT – Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 1,407 to 261,762

Confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany rose by 1,407 to 261,762, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The death toll rose by 12 to 9,362, the tally showed. 

Is the coronavirus pandemic a chance to tackle climate change? | Inside Story (25:00)

07:00 GMT – Fifteen scientists launch critique of Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine data 

A group of scientists has sent a formal letter to the Lancet outlining doubts about the accuracy of early data on Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine, one of the authors said, adding further fuel to a dispute surrounding the “Sputnik-V” shot.

Fifteen scientists from five countries signed the letter presenting their concerns to the international medical journal, Enrico Bucci, biologist adjunct professor at Philadelphia’s Temple University, told Reuters news agency.

The move nonetheless highlights growing concern among scientists about the safety and efficacy of the Sputnik-V vaccine, which the government approved for use before completing full human trials.

The official letter came days after a larger group of scientists – including the 15 – signed an open letter to the Lancet’s editor, published on Bucci’s personal blog, after the journal published the early-stage trial results from Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute.

Coronavirus myths debunked (3:05)

06:50 GMT – India reports lowest daily coronavirus increase in a week 

India has reported its lowest daily jump in new coronavirus infections in a week, logging another 83,809 infections in the past 24 hours.

The Health Ministry also reported 1,054 deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities up to 80,776 since the pandemic began.

With 4.93 million confirmed infections, India has reported the second most cases in the world behind the United States. India also has the highest number of recovered patients in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The country’s recovery rate stands at 77.8 percent and nearly 3.8 million people have recovered from the virus so far, according to the Health Ministry.

Coronavirus and the economy: Can the world cope with more debt? | Counting the Cost (25:56)

06:40 GMT – UK jobless rate rises for first time since COVID-19 lockdown 

Britain’s unemployment rate rose for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown began in March but official data published on Tuesday also showed a less severe fall in employment than feared.

The unemployment rate increased to 4.1 percent in the three months to July from 3.9 percent in the April-June period, the Office for National Statistics said. Economists polled by Reuters had expected the unemployment rate to rise to 4.1 percent.

However, the fall in the number of people in employment was a relatively small 12,000 compared with a median forecast for a fall of 125,000 in the Reuters poll.

Figures from Britain’s tax office showed the number of staff on company payrolls fell by 695,000 between March and August, versus a sharply revised 659,000 in the March-July period.

UK implements gathering restrictions to curb spread of COVID-19 (2:37)

06: 30 GMT – Jordan to suspend schools, close places of worship, public markets 

Jordan will suspend schools for two weeks from Thursday and close places of worship, restaurants and public markets as part of renewed restrictions after a record spike in cases in the last few days.

Health authorities have so far recorded 3,528 coronavirus infections, including 26 deaths. 

06:20 GMT – Australia’s Victoria state reports 42 new coronavirus cases 

Australia’s Victoria state, at the centre of the country’s latest coronavirus outbreak, has reported 42 new cases, compared with 35 a day earlier.

Victoria, Australia’s second-most populous state, said no deaths from the virus were reported in the last 24 hours.

Melbourne, the southeastern state’s capital, is on an extended hard lockdown until September 28. Those curbs have helped to bring down the daily rise in cases in the state to double digits after it touched highs of more than 700. 

Can the coronavirus help save the planet? | Start Here (9:08)

04:55 GMT – Badminton’s top events postponed because of COVID-19

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) says this year’s Thomas and Uber Cup Finals in Denmark have been postponed until 2021. 

South Korea and Indonesia pulled out of the biennial championship on Saturday, joining Australia, Taiwan and Thailand.

The finals were originally scheduled for May but were first postponed to August because of COVID-19 and then October. 

“These are exceptional circumstances we find ourselves in and while a return to international badminton remains a priority for the BWF, the health and safety of the entire badminton community is of utmost importance,” the federation said in a statement.

04:50 GMT – Secondary schools, colleges to reopen in Pakistan 

Universities, colleges and secondary schools will reopen in Pakistan for the first time in six months on Tuesday.

It’s the first phase of the country’s plan to resume education, and there’ll be strict protocols in place to reduce the risk of the coronavirus spreading. 

Pakistan registered 404 new cases of the coronavirus and six deaths on Monday.  

04:30 GMT – Hong Kong’s Lam claims success with mass testing

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam has described the territory’s mass screening for COVID-19 as a success, even though less than a quarter of the 7.5 million population has taken part.

“To have 1.78 million voluntarily take part in a massive testing programme is a very good result,” Lam said, according to public broadcaster RTHK, adding the tests would help the authorities identify asymptomatic cases and fine-tune their pandemic response.

“Now with a relatively low rate – I think the rate is perhaps two cases per 100,000 situation – that provides a very good epidemiological picture of what is happening in Hong Kong.”

Hong Kong launches COVID-19 testing campaign despite boycott calls

04:05 GMT – Main opposition party wants Myanmar election postponed

The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), Myanmar’s main opposition party, and a number of smaller parties, are calling for elections due in November to be postponed after a surge in coronavirus cases.

The parties say coronavirus restrictions have hobbled campaigning, which began last week, giving the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) an unfair advantage.

Myanmar has confirmed more than 3,000 cases of coronavirus and 32 deaths after a sudden resurgence in the pandemic in the middle of last month.

03:40 GMT – COVID-19 boosts healthy eating, plant-based foods in China

Chinese companies are betting on a bright future for plant-based ‘meat’ products as people take their health more seriously in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and other health scares.

Beijing-based startup Zhenmeat, whose products include plant-based meatballs, steak, pork loin, crayfish and dumplings, is one of many small Chinese companies entering the market, and its ‘meatballs’ – made of pea and soy protein – are now available on a trial basis at a Beijing store of Chinese hot-pot chain Hope Tree.

Zhenmeat founder and CEO Vince Lu told Reuters news agency that sales were “up considerably” since June.

China Market Research Group Director Ben Cavender says the key to the future of the plant-based meat market is taste. “When we interview consumers the vast majority say they’re open to trying these products once,” he said. “But the big question is how do they like it? Do they see how they can fit it into their diet on daily basis, whether that’s cooking at home or at restaurants? But if they do like it they’ll keep buying.”

03:20 GMT – China vaccines may be ready as early as November: official

An official with the China Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has told state television, that the coronavirus vaccines the country is developing could be ready for use by the general public as early as November.

Phase-three clinical trials were going smoothly and the vaccines could be ready for the general public in November or December, CDC chief biosafety expert Guizhen Wu said in an interview with state TV late on Monday.

Wu took an experimental vaccine herself in April and said she has experienced no abnormal symptoms, but did not specify which vaccines she was referring to. China has four vaccines in the final stage of clinical trials, and at least three have already been offered to essential workers under an emergency use programme launched in July.

COVID-19 vaccine: Safety concerns as countries rush for cure

02:30 GMT – Asia’s economies to contract in 2020 for first time since the 60s 

The economies of developing Asia – from the Cook Islands in the Pacific to Kazakhstan in Central Asia – are expected to contract in 2020 for the first time in nearly six decades, throwing tens of millions of people into poverty, according to the Asian Development Bank.

The 0.7 percent drop in gross domestic product compares with the ADB’s previous estimate made in June for 0.1 percent growth, and marks “the first regional GDP contraction since the early 1960s”, the bank said.

The ADB says the region should return to growth in 2021, forecasting expansion of 6.8 percent, but the coronavirus will be key. 

02:20 GMT – South Korea to secure vaccines for 60 percent of population

South Korea’s Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun says the country plans to secure a supply of coronavirus vaccines for 30 million people or 60 percent of the country’s population.

02:15 GMT – US official accused scientists of ‘sedition’: New York Times

The top communications official at the US department in charge of combating the coronavirus told his followers in a Facebook Live session that government scientists were engaging in “sedition” in their handling of the pandemic, according to the New York Times.

Michael Caputo, assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) claimed, without evidence, that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was harbouring a “resistance unit” determined to undermine President Donald Trump, the newspaper said.

Caputo is a former adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign. 

01:15 GMT – Test rate positivity down in California

Only 3.5 percent of COVID-19 tests came back positive in California over the last seven days, the lowest rate since the state began reporting the data in March, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. 

The newspaper says its analysis of the data also shows new confirmed cases at the lowest since mid-June and hospitalisations at the lowest since the start of April.  

00:15 GMT – Judge in US rules Pennsylvania restrictions ‘unconstitutional’

A federal judge in the United States state of Pennsylvania has ruled that lockdown measures imposed in March to curb the spread of COVID-19 are “unconstitutional”.

The measures, including the closure of businesses and a limit on the size of gatherings, were challenged in court by several Republican lawmakers and small business owners, who argued the restrictions put their enterprises at risk.

Judge William Stickman ruled in their favour, and said that even if the state’s governor acted with “good intention of addressing a public health emergency”, he did not have the right to infringe on citizens’ fundamental freedoms.

“There is no question that this country has faced, and will face, emergencies of every sort,” the judge wrote. “But the solution to a national crisis can never be permitted to supersede the commitment to individual liberty that stands as the foundation of the American experiment.”

00:00 GMT – Border city in China’s southwest to start mass testing  

The Chinese city of Ruili, which lies on the border with Myanmar, will begin nucleic acid testing of all residents after two people were discovered to have COVID-19 on Sunday. 

The two patients are both from Myanmar and entered China illegally, according to state broadcaster CGTN. They have been isolated in hospital along with five others. Some 190 close contacts of the two have also been put in isolation.

A citywide lockdown has been imposed in Ruili and all residents told to stay at home.

The Chinese city of Ruili lies just across the river from Myanmar’s Shan State. Two Myanmar nationals who crossed into China illegally have been found to have COVID-19 [Ye Aung Thu/AFP]


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 (September 14) here.

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