Coronavirus latest: WHO calls for ′gradual′ easing of travel restrictions | News | DW | 30.07.2020

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Coronavirus latest: WHO calls for 'gradual' easing of travel restrictions

Countries should gradually lift international travel measures based on risk assessment and must prioritise essential travel for emergencies, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said. Follow DW for the latest.

  • Brazil registers almost 70,000 new cases in a single day
  • India reports 52,123 new infections, a new daily record for the hard-hit country
  • US death toll surpasses 150,000
  • More than 17 million people have contracted the virus worldwide, resulting in more than 660,000 deaths

23:59 We will now be closing these live updates for today and the immediate future. We will of course continue to provide you with all the most important latest news. However, for now, we will only be doing using this particular format should events warrant it. Thank you for your interest and stay tuned to DW!

23:00 An antibody drug, originally test as a treatment for psoriasis, may help in decreasing the risk of complications and death among older people suffering from COVID-19, a small study in Cuba has shown.

After 19 patients — all above the age of 64 — from a single nursing home tested positive for the coronavirus in April, they received either one or two intravenous doses of itolizumab in addition to standard treatment at the time.

Researchers say the combination of treatments helped in reducing inflammation, and all but one were discharged from the hospital in 14 days.

22:30 Here’s a look at virus developments from Africa:

As the continent approaches 1 million confirmed infections, the director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that "this is no time for us to panic and fear" as Africa still has a "very good chance of beating back this virus" with a comprehensive strategy that includes testing assertively.

South Africa is easing its virus curfew by an hour to aid the recovery of the ailing restaurant sector, the tourism minister announced. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa had imposed a 9 p.m. curfew on July 12, which restaurants said kept customers from coming in for dinner, taking away significant earnings from the already battered sector. 

With over 471,000 confirmed infections, South Africa has the world's fifth-largest confirmed caseload. 

Gambia’s Vice President Dr. Isatou Touray has tested positive for the coronavirus, the country’s State House said. As a precaution, the president will go into quarantine for two weeks. The West African nation has reported just over 400 confirmed infections.

The International Monetary Fund has approved $171.9 million in funding for Madagascar to help the island nation deal with the pandemic. 

"Madagascar's economic outlook has worsened ... due to a further deterioration of the global environment and a deepening of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," the IMF statement read. This brings the total coronavirus emergency support to Madagascar to $337.9 million.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has called for an additional $250 million in aid to Zimbabwe, as he country deals with a massive economic crisis only worsened by the virus. 

The UN food agency warned that nearly 60% of Zimbabwe’s population, or 8.6 million people, could become "food-insecure" by December if relief was not provided.

22:00 Here’s a roundup of all developments from Asia at the end of Thursday:

China is struggling to contain a virus outbreak in the northwest region of Xinjiang with 105 new virus cases reported. Of these, 96 were reported from Xinjiang.

Indian authorities say herd immunity is not an option for the world’s second-most populous country and a vaccine is the only way for India to beat the virus.

"With India's population, to build herd immunity without vaccination is not a strategic choice or option," said Rajesh Bhushan, a senior Health Ministry official. The country has reported nearly 1.6 million confirmed infections with close to 35,000 deaths.

The Australian state of Victoria has made wearing masks mandatory, soon after reporting a new daily record of 723 confirmed infections. After being lauded for its virus response in the initial stage, Australia is facing a resurgence of COVID-19.

Virus restrictions in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta have been extended until August 13 as the number of new infections continues to rise, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said on Thursday. With 20,969 confirmed cases and 817 deaths, the capital city has become the island nation’s first epicenter.

With close to 4,000 new confirmed infections, the Philippines has recorded its highest daily total. This brings the total number of cases to nearly 90,000. The country has the highest virus caseload in Southeast Asia after Indonesia.

After nearly five months, Sri Lanka is reopening schools on August 10, the Education Ministry said on Thursday. All public and government-approved private schools will bring back students while following strict social distancing measures.

21:00 Countries should start to gradually ease travel restrictions, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended. Priority should be given to essential travel for emergencies, humanitarian actions, travel of essential personnel, and repatriation, it said.  

A surge of new infections in many parts of the world has forced many countries to reimpose some restrictions.

The WHO has now urged each country to conduct a risk-benefit analysis of its own and decide on its priorities, before resuming international travel.

In its latest travel advisory, the WHO said countries must take into account the local epidemiology and transmission patterns, the national health and social measures already in place.


20:00 Formula One driver Sergio Perez has tested positive for the coronavirus and will miss the upcoming British Grand Prix, his Racing Point team confirmed. 

The 30-year-old Mexican is the first driver to test positive for COVID-19 since the world championship made its delayed start in Austria earlier in July, under strict testing protocols. The F1 season has so far seen more than 15,000 coronavirus tests. 

Only two positive results had been recorded so far, both of which were from local set-up staff. 

"Following the announcement that Sergio has tested positive for COVID-19 at the Silverstone Circuit ahead of the British Grand Prix, the team regrets to announce that he will be unable to participate in this weekend's race," said his team in a statement. 

The world championship has held three races behind closed doors, back-to-back events in Austria followed by the Hungarian Grand Prix. 

Racing Point said that Perez, who had participated in all three races, had not returned to Mexico since the Hungarian Grand Prix 10 days earlier.  

18:29 Several global companies and national governments have reported record-low financial results for the second quarter of 2020. In Germany, gross domestic product fell 10.1%, in the US, the economy shrank a record-breaking 33%, and in Mexico there was a contraction of 17.3%.

German rail operator Deutsche Bahn reported its worst quarterly performance ever and Volkswagen has reported a pre-tax loss of €1.4 billion for the first half of 2020.

Read more: Firms crippled by coronavirus report miserable Q2 results

16:10 Berlin's legendary techno club Berghain has announced the music will resume for the first time since it closed due to the pandemic in mid-March. Instead of letting clubbers back into its cavernous, industrial building, it will instead host a garden party with a number of measures.

"Please bring masks that cover your mouth and nose sufficiently and avoid direct contact with other guests, unless you come from the same household," it said on its website. Masks are mandatory in the entrance area, on the dance floor and in the toilets. They have also installed fans on the dance floor and in the toilets "to prevent the spread of aerosols.

Earlier, the club had announced a sound art installation inside the building's Kessel Hall. Fifty people at a time were to be allowed in to the former power plant to listen to a soundscape of rhythmic throbbing, soft city noises, murmurings and even the whirling of helicopter blades.

Berlin's renowned techno scene has been hit hard by the closures, with many clubbers now organizing illegal, underground raves in contravention of pandemic regulations.

Read more: Covid raves, block parties, and the joy of rebellion

Sound installation at techno club Berghain

15:36 US biotechnology firm Inovio Pharmaceuticals has announced that its vaccine candidate INO-4800 was effective in protecting rhesus macaques from the virus 13 weeks after the last vaccination.

Its study showed that the vaccine reduced viral load in the lower lungs and nasal passages in the monkeys that received two doses of the vaccine four weeks apart. The study has not been peer reviewed.

The news prompted shares in the company to jump 6% before the bell.

15:21 A fifth federal minister in Brazil has tested positive for the virus. Science and Technology Minister Marcos Pontes is the latest of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's cabinet to catch the virus. The 57-year-old revealed his diagnosis on Twitter. He is now isolating after experiencing flu-like symptoms and headaches. It comes after Citizenship Minister Onyx Lorenzoni and Education Minister Milton Ribeiro both tested positive last week and Bolsonaro himself announcing his positive result on July 7.

Brazil is the world's second-worst hit country with more than 2.5 million confirmed cases and more than 90,000 deaths.

10:40 Of 21 European countries, the UK suffered the highest rate of excess deaths so far during the pandemic, a comparison has shown countries.

The analysis by Britain's Office for National Statistics (ONS) said excess mortality — the number of deaths from all causes that exceed the five-year average for the time of year — is the best way of calculating deaths from an outbreak as it is internationally comparable.

The ONS analysis confirmed Britain's place as one of the countries worst hit by a pandemic that has killed more than 666,000 people worldwide.

Around 65,000 more people than usual have died from all causes across the United Kingdom so far this year, the highest total in Europe.

The statistics showed the United Kingdom also had Europe's highest excess death rate when adjusted for the size and age of its population.

Over 303,000 people have been infected and more than 46,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the UK.

10:00 The Austrian economy has shrunk by 10.7% in the second quarter amid the COVID-19 pandemic — the biggest contraction since World War II.

The figure from the think tank Wifo, which compiles data for the Austrian government, was compared with the previous three months. There was an even greater drop — of 12.8% — compared with the same time the previous year.

Meanwhile, Belgium's GDP fell by 12.2% in the second quarter compared with the previous three months, according to the National Bank of Belgium.

The news comes on the same day Germany saw its economic output fall at a record pace, with a drop in gross domestic product of 10.1%.

08:30 Mount Everest and other major mountains in Nepal will be reopened to foreign visitors once restrictions on international travel are lifted in mid-August, officials said.

"Climbers can apply for the permit from today," said Mira Acharya, the head of the local Department of Tourism, told the DPA news agency. "We are still discussing the quarantine modality for the tourists who will be allowed to fly in from August 17."

Social distancing measures are expected to be in place. The authorities are also considering measures such as asking tourists to submit proof that they had a negative COVID-19 test and to self-isolate for two weeks before setting out on their expedition.

The Himalayan nation allows mountaineering on 414 peaks, but climbing permits were canceled in March.

a bird flies as Mount Everest is seen from Namche Bajar, Solukhumbu district, Nepal

Nepal canceled and had stopped issuing new climbing permits in March

08:20 The coronavirus pandemic has led people in Germany to drink less beer, statisticians say. Beer consumption nationwide dropped by 5.9% in the first half of 2020 compared to the first half of last year, according to the Federal Statistics Office.

German breweries and business sold around 4.3 billion of liters of beer (1.36 billion gallons) between January and June 2020, marking a shortfall of some 303 million liters compared to last year. Over 82% of this amount was consumed in the EU country. 

08:00 Germany saw its economic output fall at a record pace, according to data released by the Federal Statistics Office. The country's gross domestic product fell by 10.1%.

"This was the sharpest decline since the quarterly GDP calculations for Germany began in 1970," the statistics office said.

07:45 German carmaker Volkswagen has reported a loss of €1.4 billion ($1.6 billion) before taxes in the first half of 2020 due to plunging sales during the coronavirus crisis.

In the same period last year, pre-tax profit stood at €9.6 billion.

Read more: Volkswagen scandal: Top court rules on 'dieselgate' damage claims

VW, Europe's largest automaker, said revenue dropped by 23% to €96 billion year-on-year as lockdowns closed showrooms and halted production lines.

"The first half of 2020 was one of the most challenging in the history of our company due to the COVID-19 pandemic," finance chief Frank Witter said.

Overall, the group — which includes Porsche, Audi and Skoda brands — sold 3.9 million vehicles between January and June, about 27% fewer cars compared to the first half of 2019. The biggest slump was recorded in April, when many countries were in lockdown to curb the spread of the virus. 

Read more: Could 400,000 car industry jobs in Germany be lost?

Witter said VW was nevertheless on track to end the year in "positive territory," with easing of restrictions around the world expected to spur sales.

"Due to the positive trend exhibited in our business over the past few weeks and the introduction of numerous attractive models, we look cautiously optimistic to the second half of the year," he said.

07:27 The leader of the German state of Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann, thinks holidaying abroad is not "appropriate" in the time of a global pandemic.

"I am just not going to do it, because it is too complicated and also not appropriate,"  he told Germany's DPA news agency. "In times like these, you can just stay in the country and don't have to travel the world."

The 72-year-old Green party politician said he would spend his summer walking in the Bavarian Forest in southern Germany, and also take his grandchildren to the zoo or playground.

Germany has lifted many of its pandemic travel warnings, allowing people to take their summer vacations after months of delay. There are currently no restrictions on visitors from other EU and Schengen countries. However, incidents involving drunken German tourists on the Spanish island of Mallorca have prompted concerns of a renewed outbreak and lockdowns by authorities in Spain.

06:59 British Health Secretary Matt Hancock says he is "worried about a second wave" of coronavirus infections in Europe and that the government won't hesitate to reimpose quarantine measures if the situation gets worse.

"I think you can see a second wave starting to roll across Europe, and we've got to do everything we can to prevent it from reaching these shores and to tackle it," Hancock said in an interview with Sky News.

"It's not just Spain ... but there are other countries too where the number of cases is rising. And we are absolutely determined to do everything that we can to keep this country safe," he said.

Britain brought back a two-week quarantine rule for people arriving from Spain last week, sparking an outcry from Madrid. Other European countries are exempt from the measure, but a rise in infections in countries such as France has led to fears the policy could be expanded.

Read moreNew blow to Spain's tourism sector from German, UK travel bans

06:41 Tennis world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty has pulled out of the US Open citing "significant risks" from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Australian is the highest-ranking player so far to withdraw from the tournament, which is scheduled to kick off in New York in August.

"My team and I have decided that we won't be traveling to the US for the Western and Southern Open and the US Open this year," the 24-year-old said in a statement.

"It was a difficult decision but there are still significant risks involved due to COVID-19 and I don't feel comfortable putting my team and I in that position."

The singles champion said she was still deciding whether she would compete in European tournaments scheduled to take place in September and October.

Other players have also voiced concern about traveling to the United States, where more than 150,000 people have died of the coronavirus.

Hundreds of spectators allowed at Berlin tennis tournament

06:06 European aircraft manufacturer Airbus has announced net losses of €1.9 billion ($2.2 billion) in the first six months of the year due to the knock-on effects of the coronavirus.

In a statement, the firm said it had used €12.4 billion in assets in the first half of 2020 and was hoping new measures would help it "to not burn through more" in the next six months.

Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury said the impact of the pandemic on the company was clear, with aircraft deliveries down 50% compared to the same half-year period in 2019.

Airbus' net losses in the second quarter of 2020 amounted to €1.4 billion, compared to €1.2 billion profit in the same period last year.

The virus outbreak has taken a heavy financial toll on the aviation industry, with international travel essentially halted and the vast majority of flights grounded around the world. In a bid to deal with the drop in activity among its airline customers, Airbus last month announced plans to cut 15,000 jobs worldwide and slash production by 40% for two years.

05:48 India has recorded over 50,000 cases in a single day for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

The new daily high of 52,123 infections took the country's overall tally to 1,583,792.

The Health Ministry also reported 775 deaths over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of fatalities to 34,968.

India is the third hardest-hit country behind the United States and Brazil in terms of reported cases, although its fatality rate is significantly lower.

Read more:  Is India about to achieve 'herd immunity'?

05:18 France is set for a 10% drop in GDP this year, however "it may be a little better" than that, said the head of the country's central bank, Francois Villeroy de Galhau. 

He also predicted a "strong rebound" after the end of the year "to hopefully regain a pre-COVID level of activity at the start of 2022."

Commenting on large stimulus packages offered by the state, Villeroy said the government must spend wisely and that housing and confidence in the private sector were a key to speeding up recovery.

"Public money is not unlimited," he told Paris Match magazine. "The 'whatever it takes' must progressively give way to the 'when it is needed'."

04:57 Vietnam has imposed more coronavirus restrictions after an outbreak at the coastal resort of Da Nang spread to five other cities.

The Health Ministry reported nine new infections on Thursday — eight of them in Da Nang and one in the capital, Hanoi, in a man who had recently returned from the beach resort.

Hanoi city authorities said they would ban gatherings and close bars and clubs from Thursday, as well as test 21,000 people who returned from Da Nang before the city was locked down earlier this week.

Provinces neighboring Da Nang, Quang Nam and Quang Ngai, have closed their beaches and nonessential businesses. Further south, Dak Lak province reimposed social distancing measures on Thursday, closing nonessential services and banning public gatherings of more than 20 people.

Until the outbreak in Da Nang, Vietnam had gone more than three months without a single case of community transmission of COVID-19.

03:35 South Korean biopharmaceutical firm Celltrion has received approval from the UK to begin a phase I clinical trial for its COVID-19 treatment drug.

Celltrion's antiviral treatment targets the surface of the virus and is designed to block it from attaching to human cells.

The company received South Korean approval for an early-stage trial earlier this month, which was the first such antiviral drug to be tested on humans.

Celltrion CEO Kee Wo-sung has said the treatment will be cheaper than Gilead's antiviral drug remdesivir. Kee has advocated for drugmakers to make COVID-19 treatments affordable to help end the pandemic.

03:05 Brazil is ready to welcome foreign visitors who enter the country by plane despite registering a record number of confirmed infections and deaths.

The country has extended its ban on visitors arriving by land or sea for another 30 days. However, those arriving by air will be allowed into the country in a bid to revive Brazil’s tourism industry, which has been ravaged by the four-month lockdown.

According to estimates by the National Confederation of Trade in Goods, Services and Tourism (CNC), the industry has lost nearly $23.6 billion.

The country has the second-largest virus caseload in the world with confirmed infections crossing 2.5 million. Over 90,000 deaths have been reported.

Read more: Coronavirus: Latin America struggles to contain the pandemic

03:00 Japan will allow some foreign residents to re-enter the country next week, lifting a ban designed to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Some 90,000 foreign nationals with residency permits in Japan are stranded abroad after authorities banned re-entry from over 100 countries.

From August 5, students, business people and trainees will be able to return to Japan provided they have a "re-entry confirmation letter" from the nearest Japanese diplomatic mission and can prove they have tested negative within 72 hours of their return flight.

Foreign nationals in other categories, including permanent long-term residents and spouses and children of Japanese residents, can return from September 1.

Read more: Why is India denying COVID-19 community transmission?

02:12 Costa Rica will begin a staggered reopening plan on Saturday to help the beleaguered economy, despite a rise in cases.

Under the terms of President Carlos Alvarado's plan, restaurants will open during the first nine days of August, but then will pause for 12 days and resume restrictions — a cycle that will be repeated.

"We're looking for the appropriate balance to keep protecting the health and at the same time resume productive activities that have been closed," he said. "We are giving a certain timeline so that companies can plan ahead."

Costa Rica has reported 16,800 coronavirus cases and 133 deaths since the pandemic began. Three-quarters of the cases and 90% of deaths have been recorded in July.

01:35 China recorded another 105 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, up from 101 cases the day before, but no new deaths. 

Of the new infections, 96 were in the northwest region of Xinjiang, which has experienced a recent outbreak.

Mainland China has recorded 84,270 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, which originated in the northern city of Wuhan in the Hubei province.

01:27 The state premier David Andrews of Victoria in Australia confirmed 723 new coronavirus cases, a new daily record.

Victoria, Australia's second-most popular state, has struggled with a second wave of infections, recording 1,934 thus far this week.

To combat the outbreak, Andrews said face coverings will be mandatory from Sunday. Masks are already compulsory in the state capital of Melbourne, which is halfway through a six-week lockdown.

00:51 Mexico's Health Ministry reported 5,752 new cases and 485 further deaths.

Mexico has the fifth-highest number of coronavirus cases worldwide with 408,449 and the fourth-most fatalities with 45,361 since the pandemic began.

The government has said the real case number may be higher than the confirmed tally.

00:33 The chairman of an antitrust panel in the US House of Representatives accused Facebook of making money off of conspiracy theories related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Addressing Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during an antitrust hearing, Democrat David Cicilline noted that a series of conspiracy theories, including ones claiming that the pandemic was a hoax, have thrived on Facebook's platform.

Read more:  How denial and conspiracy theories fuel coronavirus crisis in Pakistan

"It brings the most activity which, of course, produces great profit," Cicilline said.

Zuckerberg defended the social media giant's misinformation policies, saying the company has been "quite aggressive in taking some of that down."

00:24 Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, said masks will be required on the House floor after a Republican representative tested positive for COVID-19.

She said House members will be provided a mask if he or she forgets one and masks can be removed when addressing the chamber.

"The chair expects all members of staff to adhere to this requirement as a sign of respect for the health, safety and well-being of others in the chamber and surrounding areas," Pelosi said on the House floor.

Texas Republican Louie Gohmert tested positive just before he was set to travel to his home state with US President Donald Trump. He often shunned wearing a mask and frequently voted without one.

00:05 Here's a wrap of the news elsewhere in North and South America:

The death toll from COVID-19 in the United States has exceeded 150,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than half of the country's 50 states have recorded 1,000 deaths. The US has also recorded more than 4.4 million cases since the pandemic began. 

Ecuador's capital Quito has seen a surge in coronavirus cases since the South American country eased lockdown measures last month. The city has recorded 12,474 cases and 605 deaths since the pandemic began, but half of the cases and 141 deaths have been recorded since June 30. Ecuador has a whole has registered 83,193 cases and 5,623 deaths.

Hospital officials in Guatemala say they have had to bury dozens of unidentified COVID-19 death victims. A hospital has been creating an archive with the hopes of eventually identifying the deceased when the pandemic passes. Workers at one of the country's largest hospitals have begun photographing people too ill to give their personal details when they enter the premises. Guatemala has recorded 47,605 cases and 1,800 deaths since the pandemic began.

Argentina has approved clinical trials of a COVID-19 treatment involving hyperimmune serum from horses. The serum is obtained by injecting a horse with a SARS-CoV-2 protein and extracting plasma with the neutralizing antibodies the horse creates. The clinical trial, which is being conducted by biotech firm Inmunova, will be carried out on 242 people diagnosed with the disease.

00:01 Brazil's Health Ministry has confirmed 69,074 new cases and 1,595 deaths, both new single-day records. The figures push the country's totals over 2.5 million cases and 90,000 fatalities.

"Brazil is experiencing the worst phase of the pandemic," said Alexandre Naime, who heads the department of infectious diseases at Sao Paulo University. "Paradoxically, public policy and personal behavior are going in the opposite direction, as if we are not going through a daily tragedy.

00:00 Catch up on Wednesday's coronavirus news here.

In reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, unless otherwise specified, DW uses figures provided by the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Coronavirus Resource Center in the United States. JHU updates figures in real-time, collating data from world health organizations, state and national governments, and other public official sources, all of whom have their own systems for compiling information.

Germany's national statistics are compiled by its public health agency, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). These figures depend on data transmission from state and local levels and are updated around once a day, which can lead to deviation from JHU.

dv/rt (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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