President Vladimir Putin says Russia has developed the first vaccine offering “sustainable immunity” against the coronavirus, but the WHO said it does not have enough information on the vaccine to evaluate it.
Worldwide coronavirus cases have surpassed 20.4 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University. More than 12.7 million have recovered, and more than 745,000 have died,
Here are the latest updates:
Thursday, August 13
04: 45 GMT – Passengers from mainland China to be allowed temporary transit through Hong Kong
Hong Kong International Airport said that passengers from mainland China would be able to transit through Hong Kong to other destinations from August 15 until October 15, in a boost for its dominant carrier Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd.
Transit in the other direction, inbound to mainland China, will remain banned at a time when China’s aviation regulator has severely limited the number of international flights due to concerns over the spread of coronavirus.
04:05 GMT – TUI agrees new 1.2 billion euro aid package
Tourism giant TUI and the German government have agreed to a second massive aid package to bolster the firm through its winter 2020/21 season.
The Hanover-based company agreed to a 1.2 billion euro ($1.4bn) package with German public lender KfW on Wednesday. The new funds add to the 1.8 billion-euro government loan that the company agreed to in April.
CEO Fritz Joussen said while the group had already introduced “massive” cost reductions, “no one knows when a vaccine or medication will be available and what effects the pandemic will have in individual markets in the coming months”.
“Therefore it is right and important to take further precautions together with the German government.”
03:21 GMT – Close adviser to Venezuela’s president has coronavirus
Jorge Rodriguez, Venezuela’s communications minister and close adviser to President Nicolas Maduro said he has been diagnosed with the coronavirus.
“Even though I am in good general condition, I must comply with the isolation measures and the necessary care in order to overcome the virus,” Rodriguez said on Twitter.
Venezuela’s Communications and Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez (left) said he was in ‘good general condition’ [File: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/ Reuters]
02:49 GMT – Argentina, Mexico to produce AstraZeneca vaccine
Argentina and Mexico will produce the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for most of Latin America, Argentine President Alberto Fernandez after a meeting with company executives involved in the project.
An agreement signed between British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and the biotechnology company mAbxience of the INSUD Group includes transfer of technology to initially produce 150 million doses of the vaccine to supply all of Latin America with the exception of Brazil, according to the Argentine government.
“Latin American production will be handled in Argentina and Mexico and that will allow timely and efficient access for all countries in the region,” Fernandez said.
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said later on Twitter that the deal had been pushed by Fernandez and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. He said output of the vaccine could extend to 250 million doses.
WHO COVID Debrief on global coronavirus vaccine efforts (4:07)
02:17 GMT – NFL Union, league agree to daily testing through September 5
National Football League (NFL) players in the US can expect daily COVID-19 testing through September 5, the players’ union said in advance of the season kick-off next month.
The league has conducted 109,075 COVID-19 tests among players, staff and coaches since the start of training camps through Tuesday, NFL Chief Medical Officer Allen Sills told reporters, with an overall positive rate 0.46 percent and a positive rate among players of 0.81 percent.
A total of 53 new positives were confirmed among players upon their intake into training camp last month.
“Our goal is all the same: to have the safest possible environment for everyone,” said Sills. “We want to try to ensure that there’s no one – player, coach, staff member, official, anyone – who steps onto a field with an active COVID infection.”
02:04 GMT – New Zealand logs 14 new cases
New Zealand reported 14 new COVID-19 cases, of which 13 were locally transmitted infections, as officials scrambled to trace the source of the country’s first outbreak in more than 100 days.
There are now a total of 36 active cases in the country.
“We can see the seriousness of the situation we are in,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a televised media conference, noting that experience showed “things will get worse before they get better”.
More cases were likely to be reported in coming days, she said.
Officials said all of the 13 locally transmitted infections were linked to the four Auckland family members in whom the latest outbreak was first detected. Three of the new cases were at a refrigerator storage facility, where one of the family members worked.
A health worker conducts a test at a COVID-19 coronavirus testing centre in the suburb of Northcote in Auckland on August 12, 2020 [David Rowland/ AFP]
01:48 GMT – Disney World actors ready to work after testing dispute resolved
Walt Disney World actors, who argued that the US theme park’s proposed coronavirus safeguards were inadequate to protect them, have resolved a dispute about COVID-19 testing, according to a union statement.
The Actors’ Equity Association had called on Walt Disney Co to provide regular coronavirus testing for its members, who cannot wear protective masks while performing as other park employees do.
Disney said on Wednesday that it would provide space just outside Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, for a testing site run by the Florida Division of Emergency Management. The site will be open to Disney employees, known as cast members, and the public.
Walt Disney World Update – @Disney has announced that it is providing space for testing in the parks, including for Equity performers within Walt Disney World. With that, Equity’s executive committee has signed off on the MOU with Disney permitting our performers to return. pic.twitter.com/5FZwZt0org
— Actors’ Equity (@ActorsEquity) August 12, 2020
01:35 GMT – Australia on course for lowest one-day rise in three weeks
Australia was poised to post its lowest one-day rise in new COVID-19 cases in more than three weeks on Thursday, stoking hopes that a second wave of new infections gripping Victoria state is finally being brought under control.
Victoria reported 278 new infections in the past 24 hours, down from 410 a day earlier.
Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales reported 12 new cases, while Queensland state said it had found no new COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours.
Barring a large rise in cases from states that have effectively eliminated the virus, that means Australia’s total of 290 cases would be the lowest one-day rise in new coronavirus cases since July 20.
Australian authorities cautiously welcomed the decline.
“I think we have to wait and see what happens over the coming week just to make sure that downward slope continues over the days ahead,” Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd told Australia’s Channel 9.
Nearly five million people in Melbourne have been confined to their homes except for essential reasons for nearly a month [James Ross/ AAP via Reuters]
01:19 GMT – Mexico’s confirmed cases almost at 500,000
Mexico’s health ministry reported 5,858 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 737 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 498,380 cases and 54,666 deaths.
The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.
00:58 GMT – UN chief says pandemic threatens peace and risks new conflicts
Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, warned that the COVID-19 pandemic not only threatens gains in fighting global poverty and building peace but risks exacerbating existing conflicts and “fomenting new ones”.
The UN chief told a Security Council meeting a number of warring parties took steps to de-escalate and stop fighting following his March 23 call for an immediate ceasefire in conflicts around the world to tackle the coronavirus.
“Yet, regrettably, in many instances, the pandemic did not move the parties to suspend hostilities or agree to a permanent ceasefire,” Guterres said.
The pandemic has also raised growing questions about the effectiveness of health systems, social services, trust in institutions and systems of governance, he said.
“All of this means that our commitment to sustaining peace is more urgent than ever.”
The UN chief also warned that “without concerted action, inequalities, global poverty and the potential for instability and violence could grow for years”.
00:37 GMT – Peru to return to total curfew on Sundays
Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra announced the return of a total curfew on Sundays in response to a new surge in coronavirus cases in the country.
“We want and think that it is better to go back one step so that we are all responsible again for recovering the conditions that we would all like to have,” he said.
The national curfew will prohibit gatherings of family and friends.
Peru’s government has reported more than 489,000 infections, with an average of more than 7,000 new cases per day, and the highest death rate per million in the Americas, above Chile, the United States, Brazil and Mexico.
00:24 GMT – England’s revamped contact-tracing app to begin public trials
A revamped coronavirus contact-tracing app for England will begin its public trials on Thursday, according to the BBC.
The software will be modelled after Apple and Google’s privacy-centric method of one smartphone detecting another, BBC said, adding that engineers were still trying to reduce how often the Bluetooth-based tech wrongly flags people as being within two metres (6.6ft) of each other.
The app will also let people scan barcode-like QR codes to log venue visits.
Shoppers walk past social distancing signs following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease, in London [File: Toby Melville/ Reuters]
00:14 GMT – White House, Democrats trade blame over aid deadlock
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, one of President Donald Trump’s top negotiators with Democrats on US coronavirus aid, tried to shift blame for a five-day lapse in talks back on House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Mnuchin disputed a statement from Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that said Republicans had invited more talks but refused to budge from their initial offer of a $1 trillion response.
He said Pelosi “made clear that she was unwilling to meet to continue negotiations unless we agreed in advance to her proposal, costing at least $2 trillion”.
Sticking points between the two sides include the size of an extended unemployment benefit, aid to state and local governments, money for schools to reopen and other issues.
Congress has already approved about $3 trillion in assistance for families, hospitals, healthcare workers, state and local governments, vaccine research and testing.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday found that Americans divide blame pretty evenly between Democrats and Republicans.
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 12, go here.