France is to propose that masks be worn in workspaces as it grapples with a rebound in coronavirus cases that rose again in the past 24 hours to more than 3,000 – marking a post-lockdown high for the fourth day in a row. The UK has imposed a 14-day quarantine for people arriving from France.
South Korea’s new coronavirus cases jumped to 279 on Sunday, topping the 200 level for the first time in five months, due mainly to sporadic local infections in the greater Seoul area.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that stringent coronavirus regulations would be eased on Monday as the country’s infection rate falls.
Worldwide coronavirus cases surpassed 21.35 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, while more than 13.36 million people have recovered. Almost 769,000 people have died.
Here are the latest updates:
Sunday, August 16
06:32 GMT – NZ coalition partner calls for vote delay due to COVID-19
New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters called for a delay to the planned September general election, given an abrupt reappearance of COVID-19 in the country, increasing pressure on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to postpone the vote.
Last week’s resurgence of the infections in Auckland – after the country had been free of infections of the new coronavirus for 102 days – was compromising the ability to hold a “free and fair election” on Sept. 19, Peters, the leader of the New Zealand First party, wrote in a letter to Ardern.
The opposition National Party also wants a delay, hoping that Ardern, who had garnered much praise for crushing the pandemic, would lose some of her lustre once hardships caused by the Auckland lockdown begin to bite.
05:59 GMT – South Korea accuses religious sect leader over COVID-19 cases surge
South Korea accused the leader of a religious sect of violating self-isolation rules and obstructing investigations into the country’s biggest outbreak of new coronavirus in five months.
The capital posted a record 146 new cases, out of which 107 were linked to Sarang Jeil Church led by Rev. Jun Kwang-hoon, a controversial pastor and an outspoken government critic.
The health ministry said it will file a complaint against Jun, accusing him of violating self-isolation rules by participating in a rally on Saturday and “obstructing” epidemiological investigation by failing to submit a full list of church members for testing and tracing.
Hello, this is Arwa Ibrahim in Doha, taking over the blog from my colleague Ted Regencia.
05:30 GMT – South Korea, US delay military drills over COVID-19 concerns
South Korea and the United States will start their annual joint military drills on Tuesday, in what local media said was a two-day delay after a South Korean officer tested positive for the new coronavirus.
The drills will start on Tuesday, “considering the COVID-19 situation,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying on Sunday.
The combined drills are closely monitored by North Korea, which calls them a “rehearsal for war.” They have been reduced in recent years to facilitate US negotiations aimed at dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear programmes.
This year’s exercises will be scaled down, not mobilising US-based troops amid COVID-19 restrictions on the travel of US personnel to South Korea, Reuters said.
04:43 GMT – Australia’s coronavirus cases ease
Australia, which has been struggling with a resurgence of the coronavirus in two of its largest states, New South Wales and Victoria, has reported a further decline in the number of new infections.
New South Wales reported just five new cases, while Victoria, where masks became compulsory in July after the state became the centre of the country’s largest outbreak, reported 279 new cases on Sunday, along with 16 more deaths.
The daily number of new cases this week has been well below the peak of 725 on August 5. Melbourne, the state’s capital, remains under a strict lockdown.
Speaking before Victoria announced its daily tally, Australia’s Health Minister Greg Hunt said the state still has a long way to go.
04:26 GMT – New Zealand’s COVID-19 outbreak grows
A new coronavirus outbreak in New Zealand is still growing, health officials said on Sunday, with the country that had an early triumph over the pandemic recording 13 new cases and putting the September general election in question.
After stifling the virus earlier this year before it became a public health crisis and after 102 days without new infections, an abrupt resurgence last week in Auckland prompted an immediate lockdown of the country’s largest city.
Sunday’s numbers bring New Zealand’s total active cases to 69, providing more ammunition to a conservative opposition that wants to delay a September 19 general election, which opinion polls show Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Party winning.
Ardern is expected to resist a delay but has said she will decide by Monday.
04:00 GMT – Philippine interior secretary tests positive of coronavirus anew
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s interior secretary has tested positive of the coronavirus disease for the second time.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Eduardo Ano said that he began self-quarantine on Friday after experiencing flu-like symptoms. He said his test result on Saturday night confirmed that he was infected anew.
Ano, a former military general, is one of the top officials designated by Duterte in the fight against the pandemic.
As of Saturday, the Philippines reported almost 158,000 cases and 2,600 deaths linked to COVID-19.
03:36 GMT – Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 625 to 223,453
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 625 to 223,453, Reuters news agency reported on Sunday quoting data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.
The reported death toll remained unchanged at 9,231, the tally showed.
03:05 GMT – Mexico reports over 6,300 cases, 635 new deaths
Mexico has recorded at least 6,345 new cases, pushing the total to 517,714, according to the country’s health ministry.
The health ministy also reported an additional 635 new fatalities for a total of 56,543 deaths.
Another 7,685 patients have recovered for a total of 418,164, representing 80.7 percent of the total cases.
02:38 GMT – China new local COVID-19 cases fall as Xinjiang cluster recedes
China’s new locally transmitted cases of the novel coronavirus fell to a one-month low as a cluster in the western region of Xinjiang receded, Reuters news agency reported on Sunday citing data released by the country’s health authority.
The number of locally transmitted cases in China dropped to four on August 15, all of which were in Xinjiang, the National Health Commission said in a statement. That compares with eight cases nationwide a day earlier, and is the lowest since July 16.
Asymptomatic cases test positive for the virus, but China does not classify them as confirmed cases until they show clinical symptoms of infection such as a fever or a cough.
In mainland China, the total number of new confirmed infections stood at 19 as of the end of August 15, including so-called imported cases involving travellers arriving from abroad.
As of August 15, mainland China had 84,827 confirmed coronavirus cases and 4,634 deaths.
01:49 GMT – New coronavirus cases soar to 279 in South Korea
South Korea’s new coronavirus cases jumped to 279 on Sunday, topping the 200 level for the first time in five months, due mainly to sporadic local infections in the greater Seoul area, according to Yonhap news agency.
The additional cases of the COVID-19 pandemic raised the country’s total caseload to 15,318, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). Of the new cases, 267 were local transmissions.
There were no additional fatalities reported, keeping the death toll at 305. The fatality rate was 1.99 percent.
The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries stood at 13,910, up nine from the previous day.
01:10 GMT – Brazil registers 41,576 new coronavirus cases and 709 deaths
Brazil has registered 41,576 cases and 709 deaths due to the novel coronavirus, Reuters news agency reported quoting the health ministry.
Overall, the country now has 107,232 deaths and 3,317,096 confirmed cases.
00:30 GMT – Trinidad and Tobago ramps up measures against coronavirus
Trinidad and Tobago’s government will implement tougher measures aimed at reducing the spread of the coronavirus after the number of infections increased in August, the prime minister has announced.
The Caribbean nation registered a jump in COVID-19 cases in August after a gradual rise in July, and has now recorded 474 cases and 10 fatalities, according to Reuters News Agency.
“Given how the virus has been behaving in other populations worldwide … we expect that we will be able to control the level of infection in a situation where our parallel (health) system would be able to cope,” Prime Minister Keith Rowley told reporters.
The new measures, which will go into effect on Monday and last 28 days, include the closure of beaches and places of worship, as well as a ban on dining at restaurants and bars.
00:05 GMT – France plans masks at work amid coronavirus resurgence
France is to propose that masks be worn in shared workspaces as the country grapples with a rebound in coronavirus cases that rose again in the past 24 hours to more than 3,000, according to Reuters News Agency.
The health ministry reported 3,310 new coronavirus infections, marking a post-lockdown high for the fourth day in a row.
The number of clusters being investigated increased by 17 to 252, it said in a website update.
The resurgence prompted the UK to impose a 14-day quarantine for people arriving from France, and led the authorities in Paris to expand zones in the capital in which wearing a mask is mandatory outdoors.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
For all the key developments from yesterday, August 15, go here.