South Africa economy slumps 51% during coronavirus lockdown: Live

  • There have been more than 27.3 million cases of coronavirus confirmed around the world, according to Johns Hopkins University, and 892,443 people have died. At least 18.3 million people have recovered. 

Here are the latest updates:

Tuesday, September 8

12:30 GMT – Dutch coronavirus infections jump to highest level since April

The number of new coronavirus infections in the Netherlands jumped 51 percent last week to their highest level since the end of April, Dutch health authorities said on Tuesday.

Newly confirmed infections increased to 5,427 in the week to Tuesday, up from 3,597 in the previous week, while the total number of tests rose 10 percent to little over 180,000.

Hidden coronavirus tragedies: Dutch elderly forgotten in pandemic

12:00 GMT –  India weighing Russian offer for Sputnik-V vaccine trial, manufacturing: official

India has received an offer from Russia to conduct a trial and manufacture its “Sputnik-V” COVID-19 vaccine, with several Indian companies currently studying the proposal, an Indian government official said.

“The government of India attaches great importance to this offer of partnership from a friend,” said VK Paul, member of the Indian federal government think-tank NITI Aayog.

The outcome of discussions on the offer were expected soon, he added.

India has world’s second-highest number of COVID-19 cases

11:45 GMT – Liberia’s Taylor denied coronavirus jail move

Judges have rejected a bid by Liberian ex-president and convicted war criminal Charles Taylor to be moved from a British jail, where he claimed he risks dying from coronavirus.

Taylor is serving a 50-year sentence at Frankland prison near Durham in northeastern England after being convicted in 2012 by a court in The Hague of fuelling civil conflict in Sierra Leone.

The warlord had argued that due to a “massive outbreak of COVID-19 in the UK” his life was at risk from continued detention and that he wanted to be moved to a “safe third country”.

11:20 GMT – Hong Kong to further ease virus measures

Hong Kong is further relaxing social distancing measures, as the territory’s number of new coronavirus cases dwindles.

Hong Kong reported another six cases of the virus on Tuesday.

From Friday, the limit on public gatherings will be relaxed to four people, up from two people. Most indoor and outdoor sports facilities, as well as museums will be allowed to re-open.

11:00 GMT – Russia completes early trials of second potential COVID-19 vaccine: Report

Siberia’s Vector virology institute has completed early-stage human trials, known as Phase II, of a second potential Russian vaccine against COVID-19, the state consumer safety watchdog was cited by the Interfax news agency as saying.

Russia registered its first vaccine candidate, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, in August. Late-stage trials of this vaccine, due to involve 40,000 participants, were launched last week.

Human trials of the second potential COVID-19 vaccine, a peptide-based jab, began on July 27 and involved a group of 100 volunteers, Interfax cited watchdog Rospotrebnadzor as saying.

WHO COVID Debrief on global coronavirus vaccine efforts

10:45 GMT –  Montenegro: Protests lead to a spike in coronavirus cases 

Montenegro reported 106 new coronavirus cases, bringing the national total to 5,659.

The spike came after the government declared the country coronavirus-free. The director of the Institute of Public Health Boban Mugosa, said that the latest protests have contributed to the rise of numbers. 

10:30 GMT – UN reports 42 virus cases among Syria staff, families

More than 40 members of UN staff and their families have caught coronavirus in Syria, a UN official told AFP, warning the illness was spreading in the war-torn country.

There were about 200 people including “staff and dependents, spouses, children, parents, who have displayed symptoms of Covid-19,” said Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

“From these 200, there are 42 staff and dependents who have been confirmed positive with Covid-19,” he added, speaking to AFP from Geneva, without specifying the nationalities of the infected personnel.

10:15 GMT – ‘Don’t kill your gran’ – the UK sounds COVID alarm

Ministers and medics are urging the public to get serious again about the coronavirus after a sharp rise in infections raised fears the outbreak was slipping out of control in some parts.

Close to 3,000 new cases were recorded on Sunday and again on Monday – a sudden jump from numbers much closer to 1,000 for most of August, and the highest since May.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said young people had become too relaxed about social distancing and could endanger older relatives through complacency.

“Don’t kill your gran by catching coronavirus and then passing it on. And you can pass it on before you’ve had any symptoms at all,” he told a BBC radio programme aimed at younger audiences.

UK scientists warn against lifting lockdown too soon

09:45 GMT – Japan’s Suga says coronavirus will take priority in deciding on snap election

As Japan’s ruling party formally kicked off its leadership race, frontrunner and chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said that preventing the spread of the coronavirus should take priority in any decision to call a snap election.

Suga, a favourite to succeed incumbent Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is stepping down due to poor health, also stressed that the biggest job for the new prime minister will be to revive the coronavirus-ravaged economy.

“Thinking about the dissolution of parliament and a general election, of course, we have to prioritize the coronavirus infection situation,” Suga told a news conference.

09:30 GMT – S.Korea’s Celltrion to begin commercial production of COVID-19 antibody drug

South Korea’s Celltrion Inc will begin commercial production of its experimental treatment for COVID-19 this month, as it pushes ahead with clinical trials of the antibody drug.

The company said it planned to make a request soon to regulators for emergency use authorisation of the drug, but that it would start mass production – likely to amount to around 1 million doses – before receiving that approval.

The treatment became the country’s first COVID-19 antibody drug to be tested on humans after receiving regulatory approval in July for clinical trials.

09:15 GMT – Egypt coronavirus cases top 100,000: ministry

Egypt has detected more than 100,000 COVID-19 infections and reported 5,541 deaths from the virus disease, the health ministry has said. 

The North African country of more than 100 million people had imposed a night-time curfew from March to June to curb the spread of the illness but since eased restrictions.

Daily life has since returned in the largest Arab country, with cafes, restaurants and tourist sites again open to the public.

08:50 GMT – Taj Mahal to reopen even as virus rages in India

India’s top tourist attraction the Taj Mahal is set to reopen more than six months after it was shut, officials have said, even as the vast nation battles soaring coronavirus infections.

India, home to 1.3 million people, on Monday overtook Brazil to become the world’s second most-infected nation with more than 4.2 million cases, behind only the United States.

“The Taj Mahal will reopen on September 21. All Covid-19 protocols, like physical distancing, masks will be followed,” northern Uttar Pradesh state’s Tourism Department deputy director Amit Srivastava told AFP.

Outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Agra

 By mid-March, the iconic Taj Mahal – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – was closed to visitors as part of measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic [File: Sunil Kataria/Reuters]

08:35 GMT – Philippines expand mandatory wearing of face masks

The government of the Philippines has expanded its face mask requirement by making the wearing of it mandatory in supermarkets, shopping malls and government venues.

According to local reports, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) said that in “all other public areas, the wearing of face shields shall be highly encouraged.”

The Philippines has the most coronavirus infections in Southeast Asia, with 238,727 confirmed cases.

Philippines faces worst COVID-19 crisis in Southeast Asia

08:20 GMT – Russia reports 5,099 new coronavirus cases, 122 deaths

Russia has reported 5,099 new coronavirus cases , pushing its national tally to 1,035,789, the fourth largest in the world.

Authorities confirmed 122 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 17,993.

Will the Russian COVID-19 vaccine work? | Inside Story

08:00 GMT – Election countdown starts in Myanmar under virus shadow

Myanmar’s election campaign begun with Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains widely admired and respected at home despite her tarnished image abroad, hoping for a landslide win to further cement her status as the country’s civilian leader.

The Nobel laureate’s National League for Democracy (NLD) swept to power in 2015 – the first national polls since the Southeast Asian nation emerged from decades of junta rule.

Wearing a red face mask, plastic visor and rubber gloves, Suu Kyi raised the NLD flag – with its fighting peacock symbol – at the party’s office in the capital, Naypyidaw.

“We want our victory to be the country’s victory,” she said, thanking supporters for flying the NLD colours across the nation.

07:45 GMT – South Korea: Five people from China test positive for coronavirus 

Five passengers from China arriving in South Korea have been tested positive for coronavirus since August 16, according to South Korea’s health authorities, raising a question over the credibility of China’s claim of no local infection cases for more than three weeks.

Among the five people, two were South Korean nationals and three were Chinese nationals. All of them showed no symptoms. 

China has announced that there have been no new locally transmitted cases of coronavirus since August 16.

On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping hosted a ceremony to honour those who have been working to stem the COVID-19 pandemic. The event was widely seen as China’s declaration of a victory over its battle against coronavirus.

07:30 GMT – Ukraine reports record number of daily coronavirus deaths

Ukraine has registered a record 57 deaths related to the new coronavirus in the past 24 hours, the national security council said, up from a previous record of 54 deaths registered last week.

The council said a total of 140,479 cases were registered in Ukraine as of September 8, with 2,934 deaths and 63,546 people recovered.

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

04:50 GMT – India reports highest number of deaths in a month

India has reported the most deaths from coronavirus in a month.

The health ministry says 1,133 people died of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, lifting the total death toll to 72,775.

The number of cases was 75,809, the lowest daily figure in a week.

04:00 GMT – Xi says China ‘open and transparent’ on COVID-19

More from the ceremony in Beijing where President Xi Jinping has been speaking.

He told the audience that China acted in an “open and transparent” manner over the virus, which first emerged in the central city of Wuhan late last year.

The country has also made “concrete efforts” to help other nations affected by the disease, he said.


President Xi Jinping presents the national medal to respiratory disease expert Zhong Nanshan at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing [Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters]

03:50 GMT – Victoria to strengthen contact tracing as it doubles down on virus

Victoria is strengthening its contract tracing programme to ensure is maintains a steady decline in cases.

State Premier Daniel Andrews says the state government will set up five contact tracing teams to focus on different geographic areas of the southeastern state of Australia, making it easier to target specific areas when patients are diagnosed.

Andrews says the lower daily case figures show the state’s on the right track with its tough lockdowns.

“I think we’ll be able to take some significant steps soon because the trend is with us, the trend is good,” he said in a televised news conference, referring to more rural areas of the state.

03:30 GMT – Zhong Nanshan honoured in China special COVID-19 event

China is holding a special event to recognise its ‘role models’ in the fight against the coronavirus with Zhong Nanshan, China’s top respiratory disease expert, awarded the Medal of the Republic – China’s top honour.

Zhong was among a group of specialists who first went to Wuhan in January to investigate the mysterious new virus that had emerged at the end of December.

“We must not lower our guard and must finish the battle,” Zhong said in his acceptance speech.

China came down hard on doctors in the city who tried to raise the alarm over the disease, and there was outrage after the death of Li Wenliang, an eye doctor who was reprimanded by the authorities for raising his concerns about the new illness with colleagues. Li was ‘exonerated’ in August.

03:15 GMT – South Korea daily cases below 200 for sixth straight day

South Korea has reported 136 new cases of coronavirus, the sixth day in a row that the number has been below 200, according to Yonhap.

The country’s been trying to control a spike in cases that begun in August 14 and has been linked to a church service and a political rally in central Seoul.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says stricter distancing measures are beginning to have an impact although the emergence of case clusters remains a concern. 

02:50 GMT – Antigen tests in focus as Bali cases surge

Medical experts are linking a surge in coronavirus cases on the Indonesian island of Bali to the inaccurate, low-cost rapid antibody test kits that are being used to screen domestic visitors.

Foreign tourists can’t travel to the popular island, but Indonesians have been able to do so since July 31.

Since then, the island’s tourist authority says it has been welcoming an average of 3,000 domestic tourists every day.

But along with the tourists’ return it has also seen a spike in coronavirus cases, and health experts say the use of cheap, but unreliable, antigen tests could be creating a false sense of security.

You can read more on that story here.

Bali, Indonesia

Balinese people, who are Hindu, wear protective suits during a cremation ceremony called ‘Ngaben’ in Klungkung last month. The island has seen a growing number of cases since domestic tourism resumed in August [Made Nagi/EPA]

01:40 GMT – Japan to tap emergency reserve for $6.3b for coronavirus vaccines

Japan has approved the use $6.3 billion from its emergency budget to secure coronavirus vaccines.

The government says it hopes to have enough vaccine for every citizen by the middle of next year, providing any innoculation for free.

01:30 GMT – Japan’s economy shrinks more than thought in Q2

It seems Japan’s economy shrank even more than initially thought in the second quarter to the end of June.

The government initially said the economy contracted by 7.8 percent compared with the first quarter.

Now it’s taken a closer look at the figures and says it shrank 7.9 percent.

It’s the country’s worst economic contraction in its modern history.

Japan shrinks: Coronavirus sends economy into record contraction

00:15 GMT – Victoria in Australia reports 55 new cases, eight deaths

Victoria state has reported 55 new cases of coronavirus and a further eight deaths.

The southeastern state now accounts for about three-quarters of Australia’s 26,377 cases. Melbourne, its capital city, is under a strict lockdown and curfew until September 28. 

00:00 GMT – South Korea doctors say they will return to work

Doctors’ associations in South Korea say their members are returning to work after a weeks-long strike over government plans to reform the medical system.

The Korean Intern Resident Association (KIRA), which represents interns and residents, at general hospitals, says the doctors will resume work from 7am (22:00 GMT), Yonhap News Agency reported.

A separate committee representing physicians and clinicians who also took part in the strike says its members will also report for duty.

The Korean Medical Association, the country’s largest doctor’s group, reached an agreement with the government to end its strike on Friday, as coronavirus cases surged.


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur and will be keeping you updated over the next few hours.

Read all the updates from yesterday (September 7) here.

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