S Korea doctors ordered off strike on coronavirus jump: Live news | News

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  • Doctors in South Korea have been ordered to return to work because of the continued surge in coronavirus cases, after they began a three-day strike on Wednesday over government plans to train more medical students.

  • The University of Cambridge is due to start vaccine trials in the coming months after securing government funding.

  • The Australian state of Victoria has reported its second-deadliest day of the pandemic with 24 deaths in the past 24 hours. Nearly 64 percent of deaths have taken place in homes for the elderly.

  • More than 23.8 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, and 15.4 million have recovered. More than 817,000 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Here are the latest updates:

Wednesday, August 26

06:30 GMT – Kazakhstan secures supplies of Russia’s vaccine

Kazakhstan has signed a deal to get supplies of Russia’s first potential COVID-19 vaccine once clinical trials are complete, the Central Asian nation’s government said.

The government did not say how many doses of the vaccine it planned to buy and at what price. It said the vaccine would be made available to at-risk Kazakh citizens free of charge.

The vaccine, called “Sputnik V” in homage to the world’s first satellite launched by the Soviet Union, has been hailed as safe and effective by Russian authorities and scientists following two months of small-scale human trials. But Western experts have been more sceptical. 

Read more about it here. 

Hello, this is Saba Aziz in Doha, taking over from the colleague Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur

05:10 GMT – Myanmar reports biggest daily rise in cases

Myanmar has reported 70 new cases of the novel coronavirus, its biggest daily jump since the start of the pandemic.

The health ministry did not say where the new cases were found.

Most recent cases have been in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine, the western state where there has been fighting between the military and rebels and where the Rohingya were driven from their homes in a brutal army crackdown three years ago.

A lockdown and curfew has been imposed in the city.

The Myanmar Red Cross has been working in the area since March to help people deal with a potential outbreak.

04:40 GMT – S Korean doctors defy government order

It seems tens of thousands of doctors have gone ahead with a full-scale nationwide strike, defying the government’s return-to-work order.

They are angry about planned reforms to medical training, but the strike comes as the country grapples with a resurgence of coronavirus cases.

The three-day strike is organised by the Korean Medical Association (KMA), which has some 130,000 members, including interns and resident doctors at general hospitals and practitioners at neighbourhood clinics.

You can read more on the story here.

04:20 GMT – Australian antibody therapy aims for early 2021 trial

Researchers in Australia working on a coronavirus antibody therapy say they hope to start human trials in early 2021.

Wai-Hong Tam, a researcher at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, told the Reuters news agency the team has made good progress in identifying the most potent antibodies to neutralise the spike protein in the virus and stop it from getting into human cells.

Tam says antibody therapies would be most useful for older people and those with weakened immune systems. 

03:50 GMT – Australia boosts defence spending in latest stimulus

Australia will boost defence spending by one billion Australian dollars ($716.80m) in the government’s latest attempt to help the country’s coronavirus-hit economy.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the money will be used to upgrade military facilities and offer additional paid employment to some 27,000 reservists.

Many of the facilities earmarked for improvement are in areas ravaged by fire earlier this year.

Australia could slip into recession for the first time in 30 years because of the pandemic. 

02:20 GMT – South Korea’s striking doctors ordered back to work

Doctors in South Korea have been ordered back to work after they began a three-day strike on Wednesday, and the number of new coronavirus cases jumped above 300.

Trainee doctors and other medics have been staging walkouts in recent weeks, but a full-scale strike by members of the profession forced the country’s five major general hospitals to limit hours and postpone scheduled surgeries. 

“The government has no choice but to take necessary legal actions such as an order to open business to not put citizens’ lives and safety in danger,” Health Minister Park Neung-hoo told journalists. “We urge all trainee and fellow doctors to immediately return to work.”

Doctors’ associations are opposed to government reforms that would include training more medical students, opening more public medical schools, and broadening telemedicine options. They say the money would be spent on improving the pay and conditions of existing trainees so they would be willing to work outside Seoul.

The country reported 320 new cases on Wednesday, with nearly 20 percent of cases in the past two weeks coming from unknown sources, according to Yonhap. 

01:30 GMT – Malaysian minister to be questioned over failure to follow mandatory quarantine

Malaysia’s Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali is expected to be questioned by police on Wednesday after he failed to comply with a mandatory two-week quarantine when returning from a business trip to Turkey.

Mohd Khairuddin has been fined 1,000 ringgit ($240) for failing to go into quarantine after he returned from the trip on July 7.

Malaysians have been infuriated not only by his failure to comply with the quarantine rules, but also that he was allowed to travel overseas at a time when Malaysians are barred from leaving the country.

A man who returned from India in July and failed to comply with his quarantine was jailed for five months and fined 12,000 ringgit ($2,880), while a 72-year-old woman who had lunch out in breach of quarantine orders was jailed for a day and fined 8,000 ringgit ($1,920).

00:30 GMT – Latest data from Mexico, China

Mexico and China have just released their latest data on coronavirus.

Mexico has confirmed 4,916 new cases of the disease and 650 more deaths, bringing its totals to 568,621 cases and 61,450 deaths.

China, meanwhile, has reported 15 new cases in the mainland – all of them in people returned from overseas. The mainland has not confirmed a domestically transmitted case in 10 days. It also had 14 new asymptomatic cases, which are not included in confirmed cases. The death toll remains unchanged at 4,634. 

23:30 GMT (Tuesday) – North Korea’s Kim calls for enhanced prevention efforts

Kim Jong Un has told North Korea to step up prevention efforts against the coronavirus.

State news agency KCNA says a politburo meeting “assessed some defects in the state emergency anti-epidemic work for checking the inroads of the malignant virus”.

North Korea has not reported any confirmed cases of the virus, but imposed a strict lockdown in the city of Kaesong after a man there showed symptoms of the disease. Later tests were inconclusive, according to the WHO. 

23:05 GMT (Tuesday) – Cambridge to start vaccine trials in the autumn

The University of Cambridge said it will start clinical trials of a possible coronavirus vaccine in the UK’s autumn (the months of September to December) after getting funding of 1.9 million pounds ($2.5m) from the UK government.

The scientists working on the vaccine – called DIOS-CoVax2 – are using genetic sequences of all known coronaviruses to hone an immune response and reduce potential side effects. 

“We’re looking for chinks in its armour, crucial pieces of the virus that we can use to construct the vaccine to direct the immune response in the right direction,” said Jonathan Heeney, head of the Laboratory of Viral Zoonotics at the university.

There are already 30 vaccines in human trials.

A colourised scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (green) infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (yellow) isolated from a patient sample, captured at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in the US [National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH/Handout via Reuters]

23:00 GMT (Tuesday) – Victoria reports 149 new cases, 24 deaths in past 24 hours

Australia’s southern state of Victoria has reported its second-deadliest day of the pandemic with 24 deaths and 149 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours.

Melbourne, the state’s capital and the second-biggest city in Australia, is midway through a six-week lockdown and curfew as it battles a resurgence of the disease.

Almost 64 percent of deaths have been among elderly people living in nursing homes.


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 25) here.

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