Coronavirus latest: Pandemic exposes global inequality, says UN head | News | DW | 18.07.2020

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Coronavirus latest: Pandemic exposes global inequality, says UN head

COVID-19 has exposed "fallacies and falsehoods everywhere," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said, adding that global leaders need to build a more equal and sustainable world. Follow DW for the latest.

  • Pandemic created a "generational opportunity" to build a more equal and sustainable world, the head of the UN says
  • A senior Indian politician warns the 1 million infection rate is on course to double within three weeks
  • Google says it will ban content and advertising that promotes conspiracy theories about the pandemic
  • Australian PM Scott Morrison requests the next sitting of Parliament be delayed
  • Texas reports a record number of deaths from COVID-19

All updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT) 

23:00 We have now closed this live updates article. For the latest developments, see here: Coronavirus latest: Record single-day increase in global cases

20:42 Thousands of people protested in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's handling of the coronavirus crisis and alleged corruption.

Protests have been surging in the country with the Israelis taking to the streets in almost daily demonstrations. 

Saturday’s protests saw people gathering around Netanyahu's residence to demand his resignation. The police used water cannons to disperse the crowd.

Israel is grappling with high unemployment, a spike in the COVID-19 caseload and reimposed virus restrictions.

Netanyahu has announced several aid packages to cushion the blow to the economy but some of them have been slow to come through and others have come under criticism for being ineffective. 

The country has reported nearly 50,000 cases of infections and 400 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

20:42 The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported a record spike in the global coronavirus cases for the second day in a row, with a total of 259,848 cases in 24 hours.

The US, Brazil, India and South Africa recorded the biggest jump in cases on Saturday – 71, 484 new cases in the US; 45,403 in Brazil; 34,884 in India; and 13,373 in South Africa.

On Friday, the WHO reported 237,743 new cases.

The single-day COVID-19 death toll also rose to a record high on Saturday with 7,360 fatalities.

Globally, the total coronavirus cases surpassed 14 million on Friday. Nearly 600,000 people have died of the virus since the pandemic started in December 2019.

19:35 The US state of Florida has reported some 10,000 more confirmed coronavirus cases and 90 more deaths, bringing the statewide total of over 338,000 patients and over 5,000 lives lost to COVID-19. Over 9,000 patients are currently hospitalized and hospitals are struggling to cope with the spike in infections. Medical staff urged state authorities to supply them with Remdesivir, a medication that shortens recovery times for coronavirus patients. On Saturday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said 30,000 doses of the drug were being shipped into the state, which is enough to treat around 5,000 patients.

The US still leads the globe in terms of infections and COVID-19 deaths, with close to 3,677,000 confirmed cases and nearly 140,000 fatalities.

19:20 Barcelona police closed down a substantial portion of the city's beaches after too many people ignored request to stay home as coronavirus infections increase in the region.

Authorities blocked people from entering the beach and used loudspeakers to tell the crowds to disperse because they were not keeping a safe distance away from each other.

Barcelona and other parts of Spain's northeastern region of Catalonia have experienced the country's largest outbreaks since Spain lifted a strict three-month lockdown. Catalan health authorities on Saturday reported over 1,200 new daily cases.

In all, Spain has suffered 28,420 deaths from COVID-19 and 260,255 people have been infected by the coronavirus.

18:40 Finance ministers and central bankers from the world's 20 most industrialized economies said they would continue using "all available policy tools" to fight the coronavirus pandemic and support the global economy.

G20 finance ministers and central bankers, A statement issued after a virtual meeting said the global economy would recover as economies gradually reopen but added that further actions were needed to ensure growth.

"We are determined to continue to use all available policy tools to safeguard people’s lives, jobs and incomes, support global economic recovery, and enhance the resilience of the financial system while safeguarding against downside risks," they said in the statement.

The ministers also called on bilateral creditors to keep in place a short-term halt on debt collection for the world's poorest countries but stopped short of officially continuing a debt freeze through 2021 and did not mention canceling debt for struggling nations. 

17:11 France will make wearing face masks mandatory in banks, shops and indoor markets starting from Monday, Health Minister Olivier Veran has said.

"Hygiene measures and screening remain essential to effectively fight the virus," he wrote on Twitter.

French authorities have currently only mandated wearing face masks on public transport and in public spaces where social distancing is impossible.

Officials have decided to boost the anti-infection measures amid reports on new flare-ups, especially in western and southern France. Data from Friday indicated that the key R-value, which shows how many people catch the virus from one infected person, rose from 0.92 to 2.62 between July 10 and July 14 in the region of Brittany. This means that 100 infected are expected to pass the infection to a total of 262 people.

"It's a worrying number because it means the epidemic is taking off again," Eric Caumes, an infectious disease specialist at the Pitie-Salpetriere hospital in Paris told BFM TV on Friday.

16:05 UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has compared the coronavirus pandemic to an "x-ray" that has exposed deep global inequalities and "fractures in the fragile skeleton of the societies we have built."

Delivering a lecture for the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Guterres lambasted rich countries for failing "to deliver the support needed to help the developing world."

The UN has appealed for $10.3 billion (€9 billion) to help poor states hit by the pandemic but has so far only received $1.7 billion.

"Entire regions that were making progress on eradicating poverty and narrowing inequality have been set back years, in a matter of months," he warned, adding that the crisis could trigger "famines of historic proportions" and push 100 million more people into poverty.

Guterres stressed that there needed to be a new global system with change "at the top: in global institutions."

He ended his address by urging leaders to build a more equal and sustainable world: "Will we succumb to chaos, division and equality? Or will we right the wrongs of the past and move forward together, for the good of all?"

13:40 Germany has said it is prepared to provide an additional €3 billion in international aid to countries struggling to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The funds will be made available as long-term loans for the International Monetary Fund's Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz made the announcement during a virtual meeting of G20 ministers. The Finance Ministry said Germany has set aside a total of 14.4% of its 2020 gross domestic product to address the effects of the pandemic.

13:10 Afghanistan has launched a food distribution program to support people who are struggling to make ends meet during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to German news agency DPA, Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh said the $244 million (€215 million) scheme would deliver aid packages containing rice, beans, wheat, oil and soap to affected families. 

The United Nations has warned that 14 million Afghans will need aid to survive in 2020, almost twice as many as in December 2019. Saleh said the new food program, to be implemented by NGOs, would benefit around 4 million families.

11:35 Britain says it will pause its daily update of the country's coronavirus death toll after the government ordered a review into the calculation of the data over concern numbers might have been exaggerated.

Two academics have said the way that Public Health England (PHE), the government agency responsible for managing infectious disease outbreaks, calculates the figures means they might look worse there than in other countries of the UK.

The researchers said the daily updates may include people who have died of other causes.

Britain has been the European country worst hit by the virus, with an official death toll of more than 45,000. 

10:17 The number of coronavirus cases in Indonesia has surpassed that of China after the South-East Asian country reported 1,752 infections on Saturday. 

Indonesia's total number of confirmed cases stood at 84,882, the Health Ministry said, overtaking China's official tally of 83,644.

The virus-related death toll rose to 4,016 after 59 fatalities were reported overnight, said Health Ministry spokesman Achmad Yurianto.

Indonesia has consistently recorded more than 1,200 cases daily since the start of July. The world's fourth most populous country began the gradual reopening of its economy in June. 

Authorities in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, have scrapped plans to reopen cinemas this month after a spike in daily cases. Some social and travel restrictions in the city of 10 million people will remain in place for the next two weeks. 

08:44 Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and her 8-year-old daughter have been moved to a Mumbai hospital days after testing positive for COVID-19, media reports said Saturday.

Her husband Abhishek Bachchan and her father-in-law, superstar actor Amitabh Bachchan, had been earlier admitted to the Nanavati Hospital last weekend for treatment for the virus.

The Bachchan family are the most high profile personalities to be suffering from the pandemic in India, which on Friday recorded a total of 1 million cases. 

The 46-year-old Aishwarya Bachchan, a former Miss World, and her daughter Aaradhya had been staying in isolation in their Mumbai home after testing positive nearly a week ago.

The two were moved to Nanavati Hospital on Friday night after they complained of breathlessness, the Hindustan Times daily reported. Both mother and daughter were "fine," the PTI news agency reported quoting hospital sources.

Aishwarya, among the top stars in Indian cinema, has appeared in Hollywood films as well and drawn international attention. She has also been the face of many top cosmetic and luxury brands.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan - Bollywood Schauspielerin

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and her only daughter are in hospital following their diagnosis

07:34 European Union leaders will on Saturday be presented with new ideas to break the deadlock in their summit on a huge post-coronavirus economic recovery plan, EU diplomats and officials have said.

The leaders of the 27-member bloc are meeting in Brussels, for their first face-to-face talks since the coronavirus outbreak.

A lot is at stake, as the bloc faces its worst-ever recession and the countries need fast cash to reel from the economic crisis induced by the pandemic.

An unprecedented €1.85 trillion ($2.1 trillion) deal on the EU budget and a coronavirus recovery fund remained out of reach on Friday after more than 12 hours of discussions without a breakthrough.

The size of the recovery fund is being seen as the biggest bone of contention as the Netherlands, along with Austria, Denmark,  Sweden — the so-called "Frugal Four" — as well as Finland are putting their weight behind a smaller fund and smaller portion of grants.

The Netherlands has insisted member states retain the final say on EU funding for national recovery plans.

07:27 Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says that 25 million Iranians have been infected with the coronavirus and that another 35 million are at risk of acquiring it.

The figures, which Rouhani said were based on a new Health Ministry report, are far higher Iran’s official caseload of 269,440.

In a televised speech, the president did not address the discrepancy. "Our estimate is that as of now 25 million Iranians have been infected with this virus and about 14,000 have lost their dear lives,” Rouhani said. "There is the possibility that between 30 and 35 million other people will be at risk."

He claimed that "more than 200,000 people have been hospitalized" in the Islamic Republic.

06:10 China's National Health Commission has confirmed 16 more cases of COVID-19 in the country's far-west Xinjiang region, on top of the first case in a new outbreak that was discovered yesterday.

The outbreak in the city of Urumqi is the most recent to appear since China largely succeeded in containing the spread of the virus within its borders since March. The largest outbreak occurred last month in Beijing, where over 330 people were infected. 

Authorities in Urumqi have reduced public transport and taxi service and closed off some residential communities, Chinese media reported. They have also introduced restrictions on people leaving the city.

China has been accused of carrying out human rights violations in Xinjiang, the home to the largely Muslim Uighur ethnic community. There is a strong security presence in the area, which China says is necessary for preventing acts of terrorism.

Kenya – Coronavirus turmoil in Kibera

05:52 New cases of coronavirus in the Australian state of Victoria have dropped by over half over the past day, in what Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton called a "relief."

New infections fell from a record high of 428 reported Friday to 217 on Saturday. The Health Department also reported the deaths of two more Victorians, bringing state fatalities to 34 and Australia's national death toll to 118.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said he was encouraged by the drop in infections but warned against jumping to conclusions.

"We'd want to see a pattern where there's stability and then a decrease,'' he said.

He called on residents in the state capital of Melbourne to continue abiding by a six-week lockdown, saying that "being bored is much better than being in intensive care."

05:26 The number of coronavirus infections in India will double by August 10 if greater action isn't taken, the leader of the county's main opposition party has warned.

India has reported 34,884 more coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, taking the national total to 1,038,716, as government officials scramble to reimpose lockdown measures in an attempt to slow the spread of the outbreak

The Health Ministry also reported 671 more fatalities. A total of 26,273 people in India have died from COVID-19.

As in many other countries, the actual numbers in India are thought to be much higher, due to a number of reasons that include limited access to testing.

Around a dozen states have put high-risk areas under lockdown and are only allowing essential food supplies and health services to enter. 

Leader of the country's main opposition Congress party Rahul Gandhi called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take concrete action to slow the spread. At the current rate, Gandhi said, the number of infections will double to 2 million by August 10.  

04:30 Hong Kong has set new regulations for travelers arriving from countries deemed at high risk for the coronavirus. These arrivals will be required to present an official certificate proving they have tested negative for the coronavirus. 

The new measures will into effect at midnight local time next Saturday. 

Hong Kong announced the regulation as the city grapples with a new wave of infections that has seen dozens of new cases reported daily. 

The new conditions affect travelers who have visited Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, and South Africa in the 14 days prior to arriving in Hong Kong. 

Travelers will have to provide a letter or certificate stating the healthcare provider or laboratory who ran the test that shows the negative result, as well as an official letter from a government verifying the legitimacy of the testing facility. Confirmation of a hotel booking for 14 days is also required. 

Aircraft operators will be required to present a document to Hong Kong's Department of Health before arrival that confirms travelers being checked in for flights to Hong Kong have produced the relevant forms.  

Hong Kong has reported 1,714 cases of coronavirus including 11 deaths. Officials have expressed concern over the fact that 234 imported cases were reported between June 20 and July 27. 

04:13 The total tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Germany has risen by 529 to 201,372, according to the latest figures from Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.

The country reported one new death taking the toll to 9,083.   

Yesterday, Germany had registered 583 cases and four deaths.

How important is herd immunity?

03:12 Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has canceled the next parliament sitting in light of the spike in COVID-19 cases.

The parliament, scheduled to return on August 4, will now reconvene on August 24.

Morrison said on Saturday that he was canceling the sitting in Canberra on the advice of his chief medical officer who cautioned about "a significant risk" in allowing politicians to travel to the capital amid a surge in community transmissions in Melbourne and Sydney.

Canberra had reported no cases of coronavirus for weeks until arrivals from Melbourne, the capital of the state of Victoria, brought in new cases earlier this month.

Victoria registered 428 new cases of infection on Friday, the highest ever daily rise in the country since the start of the pandemic. 

Three new deaths were also reported in the state.

Other parts of the country are witnessing easing of restrictions but Victoria’s borders have been shut and residents of Melbourne have been asked to stay home, except for essential work. 

The increased cases in Sydney are linked to one man.

02:26 The US economy is set to shrink by 6.6% in 2020 in the wake of the pandemic, according to the latest forecast by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The gloomy prediction is actually an upgrade from one the IMF made last month when it suggested the US economy might contact as much as 8% this year.

But the IMF warned that the US economy faces downside risks from a recent resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

The US economy ground to a halt in March and April as citizens stayed home and businesses shut down to curb the
spread of the virus.

There has been a gradual increase in infections since early June, putting the economic recovery in jeopardy. "The recent increase in infection rates in some states is already leading to a slowdown or partial reversal of reopening decisions," the IMF said in its annual assessment of the US economy.

02:24 Google has said it would ban advertisers and publishers, who use the platform, from showing ads that promote coronavirus conspiracy theories.

Claims that the virus is a hoax or was created as a bioweapon, are among the content that Google will not allow to monetize on its platforms.

The tech giant already has prohibitions in place for content that makes claims about disease prevention, "miracle" cures or promote the anti-vaccination movement. 

"Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, we've worked hard to ensure users are protected from fraudulent, dangerous and harmful ads and content," a Google spokesperson said in a statement.

As per the statement, Google has removed more than 200 million ads for tactics such as price-gouging and capitalizing on medical supply shortages.

"Today we are putting additional safeguards in place by expanding our harmful health claims policies for both publishers and advertisers to include dangerous content about a health crisis that contradicts scientific consensus," the statement said.

02:22 The United States has recorded another record daily caseload of coronavirus cases.

It is the third consecutive day the US has registered a record high, notching 77,638 new infections in the last 24 hours, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The US recorded 927 deaths over the past 24 hours, according to the figures from the Baltimore-based university at 8.30 p.m. EST (0030 GMT Saturday).

A key factor behind the country's death toll was Texas' record daily high of 174 deaths from the novel virus.

The United States is by far the hardest hit in the world, suffering 139,128 fatalities from a total of 3.64 million confirmed infections.

02:00 As California, Texas and Chicago laid out the criteria for reopening of schools on Friday, millions more children in the US learned that they would, most likely, not return to classrooms full time in the fall.

California announced strict criteria for school reopening, making classroom instruction unlikely for most districts. As per the rules, students above 2nd grade and the staff will be required to wear masks in school.

Texas has allowed public schools to remain closed well into the fall. Under the new mandate, schools can hold online-only instruction for up to the first eight weeks of the school year.

Chicago — the nation's third-largest school district —  will see most children returning to the classroom just two days a week, while the other three days they will attend online classes under a tentative plan.

Many states in the country, especially in the Sunbelt, are struggling amid a spike in the coronavirus caseload.

California reported its highest 48-hour tally of confirmed cases with nearly 20,000 infections and 258 deaths in two days.

Florida registered 11,345 new cases on Friday and 128 deaths.

Texas recorded 10,000 new infections for the third day on Thursday and 129 new deaths.

Meanwhile, New York City is slated to begin a limited version of the fourth phase of statewide reopening from Monday.

Movie and TV crews will be allowed to film and professional sports teams would be able to play without an audience.

Zoos will see reduced footfall, while malls, museums and dine-in restaurants will remain closed.

00:00 Catch up on Friday'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.

jsi,dv/sms(dpa, Reuters, AP, AFP)

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