Russia’s confirmed coronavirus case tally, the fourth largest in the world, rose to 902,701 after officials reported 5,102 new infections.
The WHO has not received enough information on the Russian COVID-19 vaccine to evaluate it, according to Jarbas Barbosa, assistant director of its Americas branch, the PAHO.
Worldwide coronavirus cases have surpassed 20 million, with Brazil and Mexico reporting a combined 27,000 infections in just one day. More than 12.4 million have recovered, and almost 738,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Here are the latest updates:
Wednesday, August 12
12:48 GMT – Jordan to close border with Syria after spike in COVID-19 cases
Jordan will close for a week its only land trade border crossing with Syria after a spike in COVID-19 cases coming from its northern neighbour, officials said.
They said the interior minister’s decision to close the main Jaber border crossing would come into effect on Thursday morning.
12:31 GMT – For the art collector with everything, the $1.5 million COVID mask
Art rather than ostentation is the rationale behind the world’s most expensive coronavirus mask, say the Israeli jewellers who are crafting the $1.5 million object for an unnamed US-based client.
Made from 18-carat gold and studded with 3,600 black and white diamonds, the mask will be fitted with an N99 filter to offer a high level of protection, said Isaac Levy, owner of the Yvel jewellery brand.
“I don’t think (the customer is) going to use it going to the supermarket but he is going to use it here and there, I’m sure,” said Levy.
He described the client as a Chinese art collector living in the United States.
12:13 GMT – Norway to quarantine more travellers as COVID-19 rises
Norway is reimposing quarantine on more travellers from foreign countries, the government said, and reiterated its advice that Norwegians should avoid travelling abroad amid a jump in the number of new coronavirus cases.
“We’re doing this now so that everyone as soon as possible will be able to live their lives as freely as possible,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg told a news conference.
“All foreign travel is associated with a risk of infection,” Solberg said.
The country will now reimpose 10-day quarantines from Saturday for all travellers from Poland, Malta, Iceland, Cyprus and the Netherlands, as well as the Faroe Islands and some Danish and Swedish regions.
11:25 GMT – Vietnam PM says next 10 days ‘critical’ in virus fight
Vietnam’s Prime Minister said that the next 10 days would be critical in the Southeast Asian country’s fight against a new coronavirus outbreak, which resurfaced late last month after three months of no domestic cases.
“Note that the period from this week to the middle of next week is critical,” Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said, according to a government statement.
“Which measures should we continue to implement to win against the virus? Which lessons have we learnt from this current outbreak?” said Phuc.
Vietnam reported three new coronavirus infections, raising the number of cases in the country to 866, with 17 deaths. All fatalities stemmed from the new outbreak.
10:53 GMT – Sharp rise in cyberattacks amid COVID-19
Global distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks tripled in the second quarter of 2020, said a report by global cybersecurity firm Kaspersky.
Kaspersky experts believe that behind the increasing malicious activity is the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the second quarter of 2020, DDoS attacks jumped 217 percent year-on-year, up 30 percent from the first quarter.
“The DDoS attack will send multiple requests to the attacked web resource – with the aim of exceeding the website’s capacity to handle multiple requests, and prevent the website from functioning correctly,” Kaspersky’s website said.
10:31 GMT – Philippines talking to Russian vaccine maker on trials, seeks ‘complete dossier’
Philippine scientists were set to meet representatives of the Russian state research facility that developed a coronavirus vaccine, to discuss participation in clinical trials and access to its research data.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has lauded the Russian vaccine and offered to be “injected in public”, to allay public fears about its safety.
Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire said Philippine experts would meet representatives of research facility Gamaleya to discuss trials and would request a “complete dossier” on the vaccine.
09:59 GMT – Bus stop newest front in South Korea’s coronavirus battle
South Korea has opened a high-tech new front in the battle against coronavirus, fortifying bus shelters with temperature-checking doors and ultraviolet disinfection lamps.
Ten advanced facilities have been installed in a northeastern district of Seoul, offering protection from monsoon rains, summer heat and the novel coronavirus.
To enter, passengers must stand in front of an automated thermal-imaging camera, and the door will only slide open if their temperature is below 37.5 degrees Celsius (99.5 Fahrenheit).
A separate camera is installed lower down to test children.
Inside the glass-walled booths – which cost about 100 million won ($84,000) each – the air-conditioning systems have ultraviolet lamps installed to kill viruses at the same time as cooling the air.
09:35 GMT – France to ramp up police checks to ensure masks are worn
France will gradually ramp up police checks to ensure people wear face masks where it is mandatory and respect social distancing amidst a new surge of COVID-19 infections, the government’s spokesman said.
“We’re at a tipping point (…) We’re going to mobilise polices forces to make checks,” BFM TV showed Gabriel Attal telling journalists while visiting the Mediterranean island of Corsica.
“But it’s not the police people should be afraid of (…) they should fear the virus that lurks and contaminates,” he said.
09:18 GMT – Hong Kong reports 62 new coronavirus cases
Hong Kong reported 62 new coronavirus cases, as authorities cautioned that the global financial hub still faced a critical period to contain further transmissions of the virus and warned residents to stay vigilant at social distancing.
Authorities said 61 of the 62 cases were locally transmitted.
Since late January, around 4200 people have been infected in Hong Kong, 63 of whom have died.
09:01 GMT – Indonesia reports 1,942 new coronavirus cases, 79 deaths
Indonesia reported 1,942 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of confirmed infections in the country to 130,718, data from the government’s health ministry website showed.
The Southeast Asian country also added 79 new deaths, taking the total number to 5,903, the highest COVID-19 death toll in Southeast Asia.
08:46 GMT – Brussels makes face masks compulsory in all public spaces as COVID-19 cases spike
Wearing a face mask became compulsory in all public places in Brussels as the number of COVID-19 infections rose to a government alert level that puts the city among the worst affected in Europe.
The Belgian capital, which hosts the headquarters of the European Union and NATO, recorded on average 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants daily over the last week.
Everybody in the city, which has a population of 1.2 million, now has to wear a face mask when in parks, on streets or in any other public sites, as well as in private space accessible to the public, the regional government said.
08:23 GMT – Singapore reports lowest daily count of coronavirus cases in 4.5 months
Singapore reported 42 new COVID-19 cases, its lowest daily count in about four and a half months.
The city-state went into a lockdown in mid-April after mass outbreaks in cramped migrant worker dormitories pushed its caseload to one of the highest in Asia.
Last week, it said it had cleared infections from all of the dormitories – housing around 300,000 workers – barring some blocks which continue to serve as isolation zones.
Of Wednesday’s cases – its lowest tally since March 29 – the majority were among those remaining workers serving quarantine.
08:10 GMT – Russia says allegations COVID-19 vaccine is unsafe are groundless
Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said allegations that Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine was unsafe were groundless and driven by competition, the Interfax news agency reported.
Moscow’s decision to grant it approval has raised concerns among some experts. Only about 10 percent of clinical trials are successful and some scientists fear Moscow may be putting national prestige before safety.
07:56 GMT – Last-minute change to English exam grading after COVID controversy
England sought to defuse a looming row over the awarding of school qualifications during the pandemic by allowing students to use the results of earlier tests, in a last-minute change following an outcry in Scotland.
The coronavirus pandemic has meant that almost no examinations took place in Britain. Pupils in England are set to receive marks for their A levels on Thursday, exams that are taken generally by 18-year-olds to gain a place at university.
Results were due to be based on the judgement of a student’s school and then moderated by exam boards.
But education minister Gavin Williamson said that students would now have the option of choosing between using their calculated grade, or deciding to go with their mock result, or sit a new exam in the autumn.
07:44 GMT – Russia’s coronavirus case tally passes 900,000
Russia’s confirmed coronavirus case tally, the fourth largest in the world, rose to 902,701 after officials reported 5,102 new infections.
Authorities said 129 people had died in the last 24 hours, pushing the official death toll to 15,260.
07:17 GMT – China’s Jingzhou city says woman tests positive for coronavirus again after recovering
Jingzhou city in China’s central province of Hubei reported a coronavirus case where the person turned positive again after recovering months ago, the Jingzhou government said.
The 68-year-old woman, who had tested positive for coronavirus on February 8 but recovered a few months ago, tested positive again on August 9, the government said.
She is now under quarantine and treatment, and people who have contacted her have tested negative for the coronavirus, it said.
There is no evidence of a risk of transmission from relapsed cases, it added.
06:57 GMT – German health minister says he is sceptical about Russian COVID-19 vaccine
German Health Minister Jens Spahn said he was sceptical about Russia becoming the first country to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine, saying it was key to have a safe, tested product rather than just being first.
Russia’s vaccine, which will be called “Sputnik V” in homage to the world’s first satellite launched by the Soviet Union, has not yet completed its final trials. Its regulatory approval came after less than two months of human testing.
“It’s not about being first somehow – it’s about having an effective, tested and therefore safe vaccine,” Spahn told Deutschlandfunk radio.
“In order to have trust in such a vaccine, I think it is very, very important, even during a pandemic, to properly do studies, the relevant tests and especially to make them public. The problem is that we know very little about it as the Russian authorities are not being very transparent,” he said.
06:39 GMT – Facebook removes seven million posts spreading coronavirus misinformation
Facebook removed more than seven million posts in the second quarter containing coronavirus misinformation that could potentially harm people’s health, the social media giant said.
The company also placed warning labels on some 98 million pieces of dubious, but less-dangerous content on the virus, Facebook’s vice president of integrity Guy Rosen said.
“While our technology for identifying and removing violating content is improving, there will continue to be areas where we rely on people to both review content and train our technology,” Facebook said in a blog post.
06:24 GMT – New Zealand to make decision on coronavirus restrictions Friday
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her cabinet will decide on Friday on the next steps regarding new restrictions placed across the country, as it reported four new probable cases of coronavirus in the community.
Of the four new probable cases, two are work colleagues of a man who tested positive, and two are related to the household that one of the cases stayed at.
05:41 GMT – Former Indian president critical after surgery, positive virus test
Former Indian president, Pranab Mukherjee, who has coronavirus, is in a critical condition following surgery to remove a blood clot in his brain, an official broadcaster reported.
Mukherjee, 84, was on ventilator support at the Army Research and Referral Hospital in New Delhi, state-run All India Radio said.
He was admitted to the hospital on Monday, when tests revealed a large brain clot for which he underwent emergency life-saving surgery.
Mukherjee on Monday tweeted that he had also tested positive for coronavirus after arriving at the hospital and urged those who had come in contact with him to self-isolate and get tested.
Hello, this is Arwa Ibrahim in Doha, taking over from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed.
04:53 GMT – Cathay Pacific reports first-half loss of $1.27 bn
Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific said it lost 9.9 billion Hong Kong dollars ($1.27bn) in the first half of this year after border closures triggered by the pandemic grounded its fleets.
“The first six months of 2020 were the most challenging that the Cathay Pacific Group has faced in its more than 70-year history,” chairman Patrick Healy said in a stark statement.
“The global health crisis has decimated the travel industry, and the future remains highly uncertain,” he added.
03:55 GMT – China’s community cases hit single digits
China’s newly confirmed community transmitted cases of coronavirus fell into the single digits on Wednesday, while Hong Kong saw another 33 cases of infection.
The National Health Commission said all nine new cases had been found in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, whose capital Urumqi has been at the centre of China’s latest major outbreak.
Another 25 cases were brought by Chinese travellers arriving from abroad.
03:18 GMT – New Zealand considers freight as possible source of new cluster
New Zealand officials are investigating the possibility that its first COVID-19 cases in more than three months were imported by freight.
Ashley Bloomfield, director-general of health, said health officials are “working hard to put together pieces of the puzzle on how” the four members of one family got infected in Auckland.
Investigations were zeroing in on the potential the virus was imported by freight and Bloomfield said surface testing was under way in an Auckland cool store where a man from the infected family worked.
WHO COVID Debrief on masks (3:00)
02:45 GMT – S Korea, US to hold ‘smaller’ military drills
South Korea and the US will kick off their annual joint military drills this week but without mobilising US-based troops after scaling back the programme due to coronavirus concerns, according to South Korean media.
The Yonhap news agency said exercises will be held from August 16-28 but on a reduced scale, though the timeframe was extended by a few days to keep participants spread out and minimise night activities.
The exercises usually begin in August and involve tens of thousands of soldiers from both sides.
01:48 GMT – Argentina death toll tops 5,000
Argentina’s death toll from the coronavirus reached 5,004 on Tuesday amid a surge in cases despite months of lockdown since March 20.
Officials had previously relaxed restrictions in many parts of Argentine, a move blamed for the recent spike.
The country recorded 7,043 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, pushing the total confirmed infections to 260,911, surpassing the total caseload in Italy.
01:01 GMT – Mexico sees near-record deaths
Mexico reported a near-record 926 confirmed COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, bringing the country’s accumulated total to 53,929.
The Health Department reported 6,686 new coronavirus infections, bringing the country’s total confirmed cases so far to 492,522.
00:28 GMT – New Zealand defers dissolution of parliament
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern deferred the dissolution of parliament to make way for a general election until Monday, following the latest outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.
Parliament was due to be dissolved on Wednesday morning – the first step towards holding the general election scheduled for September 19.
Ardern said no decision had been made yet on postponing the election.
00:19 GMT – Australia’s Victoria logs deadliest day of pandemic
Australia’s second-most populous state of Victoria reported its deadliest day of the coronavirus pandemic with 21 fatalities in the last 24 hours and 410 new cases.
The state reported 19 deaths from the coronavirus, its previous one-day high in casualties, on Tuesday and Monday. It logged 331 cases a day earlier.
Victoria last week imposed a night curfew, tightened restrictions on people’s daily movements and ordered large parts of the local economy to close to slow the spread of coronavirus.
00:04 GMT – US inks $1.5bn vaccine deal with Moderna
The US entered an agreement with drugmaker Moderna Inc to acquire 100 million doses of its potential COVID-19 vaccine for approximately $1.5bn, the company and the White House said.
Moderna’s price comes out to about $30.50 per person for a two-dose regimen, its vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, is one of the few that have already advanced to final-stage testing.
The US government has allocated a total of at least $10.9bn for the development and manufacturing of a coronavirus vaccine and has already ordered 100 million vaccine doses from Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, Pfizer and Sanofi and 300 million from AstraZeneca.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives.
For all the key developments from yesterday, August 11, go here.