Latin America coronavirus death toll tops 250,000: Live updates | News

Latin America coronavirus death toll tops 250,000: Live updates | News
  • The French health ministry reported 4,711 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, a new post-lockdown record and a level last seen during the height of the epidemic in France.

  • Germany confirmed 1,707 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the highest daily toll since April, official figures showed.

  • Brazil expressed cautious optimism that the country’s coronavirus outbreak could be about to slow down, with cases and deaths on a weekly basis falling from their late-July peaks. 

  • More than 22.5 million people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 around the world, and more than 14.4 million have recovered. More than 790,500 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Here are the latest updates:

Friday, August 21

04:27 GMT – Peru, Morocco to test China Sinopharm’s vaccine

Authorities in Peru and Morocco approved Phase 3 clinical trials for a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by China National Biotec Group (CNBG), the company said late on Thursday.

Phase 3 trials, which usually involve several thousand participants, allow researchers to gather data on the efficacy of potential vaccines for final regulatory approvals.

The experimental vaccine of CNBG, a unit of state-owned pharmaceutical giant China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), has entered a Phase 3 trial in the United Arab Emirates that has already recruited 15,000 volunteers.

It has also obtained approval to be tested in Bahrain in a Phase 3 study designed to involve around 6,000 participants.

03:55 GMT – Stay-at-home order in Myanmar’s Sittwe

Health authorities ordered residents of Sittwe, the capital of Myanmar’s Rakhine state, to stay at home after detecting three more locally transmitted cases, according to the Myanmar Times newspaper.

A total of nine cases have been reported in Rakhine since August 16, when authorities detected Myanmar’s first locally transmitted case in nearly a month.

Buses and flights have suspended operations in and out of Sittwe starting on Thursday.

For years now, Rakhine has been mired in conflict between the military and ethnic groups seeking greater autonomy. The restive state is also home to the Rohingya, a persecuted mostly Muslim minority, many of whom now live in camps for displaced people.

03:32 GMT – Biden says his top priority is to ‘get control of virus’

Joe Biden, the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, said his “first step” if elected president of the United States would be to “get control of the virus that has ruined so many lives”.

Speaking at the Democratic National Convention, Biden said: “We will never get our economy back on track, we will never get our kids back in schools, we will never have our lives back until we deal with this virus.”

His plan to contain the pandemic included developing and deploying rapid tests, bolstering the supply of protective gear and instituting a national mandate for masks.

Biden also offered a withering assessment of Donald Trump’s response to the pandemic: “Our current president has failed in his most basic duty to the nation: he has failed to protect us.”

Joe Biden accepts the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination during a speech delivered for the largely virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, US, August 20, 2020 [Kevin Lamarque/ Reuters]

03:12 GMT – New Zealand defers lockdown decision

New Zealand reported nine new locally transmitted coronavirus cases, and put off a decision about easing restrictions in its biggest city of Auckland to next week.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she would announce on Monday whether the government would ease alert level 3 restrictions enforced in Auckland, and level 2 measures in the rest of the country.

02:41 GMT – Germany to take on more debt in 2021

Germany will need to take on yet more debt in 2021 to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus on the economy, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said.  

“Next year we will continue to be forced to suspend the debt rule and spend considerable funds to protect the health of citizens and stabilise the economy,” Scholz said in an interview with the Funke media group, referring to Germany’s cherished policy of keeping a balanced budget.

Scholz already plans to borrow around 218 billion euros ($258bn) this year to help pay for a huge rescue package to steer the country through the coronavirus-induced downturn.

The minister said he was expecting the German economy to have recovered from the virus shock and returned to pre-crisis levels “by the end of next year or the beginning of 2022”.

02:26 GMT – New virus cases in Australia’s Victoria hit five-week low

Australia’s Victoria reported its lowest number of new infections in five weeks, logging 179 new cases in the past 24 hours, compared with 240 a day earlier and down from over 700 two weeks ago.

The decline in cases comes after authorities introduced a nightly curfew and shut large swathes Victoria’s economy. The state reported nine deaths.

Despite the second wave outbreak in Victoria, Australia has largely avoided the high casualties of other nations with just under 24,500 infections and 450 deaths from the virus.


A man wearing a face mask crosses a quiet road in Melbourne’s Chinatown area on August 13, 2020 [William West/ AFP]

02:11 GMT – Japan to ease re-entry curbs on foreign residents

Japan plans to ease its COVID-19 entry restrictions on foreign nationals with resident visas starting next month, public broadcaster NHK reported.

Re-entry will be permitted for visa holders, including permanent residents and exchange students, on condition that they undergo coronavirus testing and quarantine for 14 days, the same policy that applies to Japanese citizens re-entering the country, according to NHK.

01:58 GMT – Mexico to get 2,000 doses of Russian vaccine for testing

Mexico will receive at least 2,000 doses of Russia’s potential COVID-19 vaccine, dubbed ‘Sputnik V’, to test among its population, according to the Mexican foreign minister.

Marcelo Ebrard called the Russian offer “very good news”.

Mexico has already agreed to help manufacture a vaccine candidate being developed by Britain’s AstraZeneca and Oxford University to supply the Latin American market. It is also preparing to carry out late-stage trials for US company Johnson & Johnson and two Chinese companies.

COVID-19 vaccine: Safety concerns as countries rush for cure (2:24)

01:46 GMT – Extreme poverty ‘could surge by 100 million’

David Malpass, the president of the World Bank, warned that the coronavirus pandemic may drive as many as 100 million people back into extreme poverty.

The Washington-based development lender previously estimated that 60 million people would fall into extreme poverty due to COVID-19, but the new estimate puts the deterioration at 70 to 100 million, and Malpass told the AFP news agency “that number could go higher” if the pandemic worsens or drags on.

The situation makes it “imperative” that creditors reduce the amount of debt held by poor countries at risk, going beyond the commitment to suspend debt payments, he added.

01:07 GMT – Morocco may reimpose full lockdown

King Mohammed VI warned that Morocco could return to a complete coronavirus lockdown amid a jump in infections that has strained health services and triggered protests by medical staff.

New cases nationally have surged to more than 1,000 a day since Morocco lifted a strict three-month-long lockdown in late June and hit a record high of 1,766 on August 15.

“If figures continue to increase, the COVID-19 Scientific Committee may recommend another lockdown, perhaps with even tighter restrictions,” the king said in a speech.

As of Thursday, Morocco had recorded a total 47,638 cases, including 775 deaths and 32,806 recoveries.

START HERE | Coronavirus: What did they get wrong? (9:03)

00:57 GMT – Canada extends emergency aid

Canada announced a four-week extension of emergency aid for people who lost work due to the pandemic, and an easing of rules on qualifying for unemployment benefits when that expires.

Officials estimated the cost of the new measures at 37 billion Canadian dollars ($28bn) over one year.    

About 4.5 million Canadians, or 12 percent of the population, are currently receiving $2,000 a month in emergency support. That will now be in place until September 27.

Afterwards, claimants will be shifted to an unemployment benefits programme.

00:33 GMT – Peruvian, Argentine economies post huge falls

Peru’s year-on-year gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 30 percent in the second quarter of 2020 due to coronavirus containment measures, the government said.

In Peru, mandatory confinement was in place throughout the whole of the second quarter and was only lifted in the majority of the country on July 1. The worst-hit sectors of the economy were mining, down by 20.9 percent; processing, down by 44.5 percent; and services, down by 28.3 percent, the state statistics and information institute said.

In Argentina, official data showed the country’s economy contracted by almost 13 percent in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year.

The year-on-year fall in GDP for June was 12.3 percent, although that was an improvement on April and May. 

Concerns over Brazil tourism curb amid COVID-19 pandemic (2:37)

00:27 GMT – Latin America’s death toll passes 250,000

The number of COVID-19 deaths in Latin America surged past 250,000 on Thursday, according to a Reuters tally.

The grim milestone was passed as Brazil reported 1,204 deaths from the virus in the past 24 hours.

Over the past week, the region has reported more than 3,000 deaths a day, while daily caseloads continue to rise in Peru, Colombia and Argentina.

00:16 GMT – Brazil’s cases top 3.5 million

Brazil reported 45,323 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 1,204 deaths from the disease caused by the virus in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said.

Brazil has now registered 3,501,975 cases of the virus since the pandemic began, while the official death toll from COVID-19 has risen to 112,304, according to ministry data.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives. 

Go here for all the key developments from yesterday, August 20. 

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