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- India reported a daily jump of 57,981 infections, taking the total to nearly 2.65 million, third only behind the United States and Brazil, while the death toll jumped by 941, with the total of 50,921.
- Australia has reported the deadliest day of the pandemic with 25 fatalities from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours and 282 new cases in the state of Victoria, according to the government on Monday.
- New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday postponed the general election by four weeks to October 17 but ruled out delaying it any further, as the country tackles a new outbreak of the coronavirus.
- The United States has surpassed 170,000 coronavirus deaths, according to the latest Johns Hopkins University tally, as health officials express concerns about COVID-19 complicating the fall flu season. More than 5.4 million people in the US have been infected, while 1.8 million have recovered.
- Worldwide coronavirus cases surpassed 21.6 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, while more than 13.6 million people have recovered. Almost 774,300 people have died.
Here are the latest updates:
Monday, August 17
6:40 GMT – Lebanon needs two-week lockdown after COVID-19 spike, health minister says
Lebanon should be locked down for two weeks after a spike in COVID-19 infections, the caretaker government’s health minister said.
“We declare today a state of general alert and we need a brave decision to close (the country) for two weeks,” Hamad Hassan told Voice of Lebanon radio.
Lebanon registered a record 439 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours on Sunday.
06:10 GMT – South Korea battles worst coronavirus outbreak in months
South Korea has warned of tighter novel coronavirus restrictions as new outbreaks appeared, including one linked to a church where more than 300 members of the congregation have been infected but hundreds more are reluctant to get tested.
The outbreak linked to the Sarang Jeil Church in Seoul is the country’s biggest in nearly six months and led to a tightening of social distancing rules on Sunday.
The outbreak at the Seoul church has revived fears seen in February when authorities were struggling with an outbreak that emerged in a secretive Christian sect in the city of Daegu and became the country’s deadliest cluster.
05:50 GMT – Malaysia’s Penang halts medical tourists after arrivals from Indonesia
Malaysia’s northern state of Penang has barred entry by overseas visitors seeking medical treatment until it finalises new health and safety procedures in light of the coronavirus crisis.
Authorities toughened curbs on movement in some parts of the island over the weekend, as new infections emerged after more than three months with no cases.
“The state government deeply regrets that it was not informed of the ‘sudden’ arrival of the patients,” Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said, announcing the ban.
05:10 GMT – Germany’s Bavaria unable to trace dozens who test positive of COVID-19
Bavarian authorities have admitted that they are still haven’t been able to contact 46 of more than 900 people who tested positive for the new coronavirus upon entering Germany recently, but didn’t receive the results, AP news agency reported.
Last week, the southern German state admitted that tens of thousands of travelers returning back home had to wait for weeks to receive their test results – among them the more than 900 who had tested positive but were not aware of it because of the missing results.
The bureaucratic breakdown led to an uproar in Germany over concerns that those who tested positive but were not aware of it could spread the virus to others.
Germany has reported a total of 224,014 cases and over 9,200 deaths.
04:41 GMT – India’s coronavirus death toll surpasses 50,000
The country reported a daily jump of 57,981 infections, taking the total to nearly 2.65 million, third only behind the United States and Brazil.
The death toll jumped by 941, with the total now 50,921.
Read more here.
04:30 GMT – China grants country’s first COVID-19 vaccine patent
Chinese authorities have granted the first patent to the pharmaceutical firm CanSino Biologics Inc for the development of a new coronavirus vaccine, according to the state-owned Global Times.
The vaccine is a vaccine named Ad5-nCoV co-developed by CanSino Biologics Inc and a team of Chinese military infectious disease experts.
Earlier it was reported that Saudi Arabia has signed an agreement with China to begin clinical trials of the vaccine.
04:14 GMT – Malaysia reports mutation of COVID-19 virus
Malaysia’s Institute of Medical Research (IMR) has detected a mutation of Covid-19 virus in the country, according to the country’s top health official.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a social media post that the mutation would likely make existing vaccine ineffective against the disease.
“It was found to be 10 times likely to infect other individuals and easier to spread by super spreader individuals,” he wrote, adding
Among those detected to have the mutated coronavirus was an individual from the Philippines.
03:53 GMT – Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe enters hospital for check-up: report
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe entered a hospital on Monday for a medical check-up, a government source said, after a top official voiced concern the premier was suffering from fatigue because of his workload during the coronavirus pandemic.
Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, plans to return home later on Monday after the examination at Tokyo’s Keio University Hospital, the source familiar with the situation told Reuters News Agency.
The reason for the check-up was not immediately clear.
More details here.
03:40 GMT – Germany’s coronavirus cases rise by 561 to 224,014
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 561 to 224,014, Reuters news agency reported on Monday citing data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.
The reported death toll rose by one to 9,232, the tally showed.
02:50 GMT – Bolivia surpasses 100,000 cases, authorities predict September peak
Bolivia has surpassed 100,000 coronavirus cases, the country’s Ministry of Health reported, predicting that the virus would reach its peak there in September, according to Reuters news agency.
Bolivia’s confirmed coronavirus infections reached 100,344, the ministry said, and there have been 4,058 deaths since the virus first emerged in the country in early March.
“Cases are climbing steadily, at least in the western side of the country. By the end of the month, we will reach … 130,000 to 150,000,” Rene Sahonero, the ministry’s director general of hospitals, told state television.
Sahonero said cases had accelerated among Bolivia’s population of 11.6 million after recent protests linked to the postponement of general elections.
The Electoral Court decided in July to postpone the vote until October 18 due to the spread of the coronavirus.
02:04 GMT – Brazil’s first lady negative of COVID-19 in latest test
Michelle Bolsonaro, the first lady of Brazil, has said that her latest COVID-19 test result is negative, more than two weeks after she announced that she tested positive of the disease.
“Negative exam. Thanks for the prayers and for all the expressions of affection,” 38-year-old Michelle, the wife of President Jair Bolsonaro, said on Instagram. She published an image of what she said was her laboratory exam. “Undetected,” it read.
On Wednesday, Michelle Bolsonaro’s grandmother died of COVID-19.
Bolsonaro’s youngest son from his second wife, 22-year-old Jair Renan, has also tested positive for the virus. On Saturday, he released a video in which he takes pills that he says are hydroxychloroquine. The drug has no proven efficacy against the new coronavirus but has been widely publicised by the Brazilian president as a treatment for COVID-19.
President Bolsonaro had said he tested positive for the coronavirus on July 7, suffered mild symptoms and was free of the virus in late July. He has downplayed the devastating impact of COVID-19, often appearing in public without a mask and meeting supporters in close proximity despite social distancing recommendations.
Brazil has recorded more than 3.3 million coronavirus cases and more than 107,000 deaths, second only to the United States.
01:34 GMT – South Korea reports 197 new COVID-19 cases
South Korea reported 197 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday as it battles sporadic outbreaks in densely populated Seoul and its neighbouring area, according to Yonhap news agency.
The additional COVID-19 cases raised the country’s total caseload to 15,515, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). Of the new cases, 188 were local transmissions.
The country reported no additional fatalities, keeping the death toll at 305. The fatality rate was 1.99 percent.
Seven more people have been released after recovering from the disease, bringing the total to 13,917.
01:15 GMT – Mexico’s coronavirus cases rise to 522,162, deaths to 56,757
Mexico’s health ministry has reported 4,448 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and 214 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 522,162 cases and 56,757 deaths as of the end of Sunday, according to Reuters news agency.
The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.
01:00 GMT – China reports 22 new coronavirus cases in mainland
China reported on Monday 22 new coronavirus cases in the mainland for August 16, compared with 19 cases a day earlier, Reuters news agency reported quoting the National Health Commission.
All of the new infections were imported cases, the agency said in a statement. There were no new deaths.
China also reported 37 new asymptomatic patients, compared with 16 a day earlier.
As of August 16, mainland China had a total of 84,849 confirmed coronavirus cases, it said. China’s death toll from the coronavirus remained unchanged at 4,634.
00:50 GMT – Evo Morales’ sister dies in Bolivia due to COVID-19
Esther Morales, the 70-year-old sister of former Bolivian President Evo Morales, has died of COVID-19, AP news agency reported quoting a statement from the exiled leader.
“She was like my mother,” wrote Morales on social media. He was forced to resign last year after an election marred by irregularities.
Morales, who is in Argentina, faces sedition and other charges if he returns to Bolivia. He blamed “racism and political persecution” for preventing him from visiting his sister in a hospital in Oruro, southeast of La Paz.
In the last two weeks, supporters of Morales’ party set up nationwide blockades to protest the recent postponement of elections as Bolivia struggles with the coronavirus pandemic.
00:08 GMT – Australia reports deadliest day of pandemic
Australia has reported the deadliest day of the pandemic with 25 fatalities from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours and 282 new cases in the state of Victoria, according to the government.
The previous record for Australia was 21 deaths in one day.
00:05 GMT – Mexico president says vaccine expected to be ready early next year
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has announced that a COVID-19 vaccine could be available in the country and throughout Latin America by the first quarter of 2021.
In a video posted on social media on Sunday, Obrador said Mexico has reached a deal with Argentina’s AstraZeneca pharmaceutical company to produce a vaccine for distribution throughout Latin America.
Mexico has recorded more than 517,000 coronavirus cases and more than 56,500 deaths – the third-highest in the world next to the US and Brazil.
00:01 GMT – Lebanon registers new daily record of coronavirus infections
Lebanon has registered a record daily number of coronavirus infections, with 439 people contracting the virus and six fatalities.
The new infections bring to 8,881 the total number of people reported infected in the small country of just more than five million. Some 103 have died because of COVID-19.
The latest development comes as the country continues to grapple with the aftermath of the Beirut explosion that killed more than 200 people and injured about 6,000 others.
Lebanon’s health sector has been challenged by the pandemic that hit amid a deepening economic crisis. The blast that hit in Beirut’s centre knocked out at least three hospitals in the capital and greatly increased pressure on those still operating.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
For all the key developments from yesterday, August 16, go here.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES
Belarusian opposition politician Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said on Monday she was ready to lead Belarus and called for the creation of a legal framework to ensure a new fair election could be held.
An estimated 100,000 opposition protesters rallied in Belarus’s capital on Sunday – the biggest demonstrations yet against the disputed re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko, even as the leader rejected calls to step down and hold new polls.
Speaking in a video address from Lithuania, Tikhanovskaya urged security and law enforcement officers to switch sides from Lukashenko’s government, saying their past behaviour would be forgiven if they did so now.
“I did not want to be a politician. But fate decreed that I’d find myself on the frontline of a confrontation against arbitrary rule and injustice,” Tikhanovskaya said in the video from exile.
“I am ready to take responsibility and act as a national leader during this period.”
Belarusians chanting “Step down!” filled the centre of Minsk in the biggest protest so far against what they said was the fraudulent re-election a week ago of the longtime president.
In a defiant speech at a smaller rally of his own supporters in Minsk’s Independence Square, Lukashenko said Belarus would “die as a state if it agreed to hold new elections under pressure” and accused NATO of massing on his country’s western border.
“I called you here not to defend me … but for the first time in a quarter-century, to defend your country and its independence,” said the 65-year-old leader.
Belarus has been rocked by a week of street protests after protesters accused Lukashenko of rigging a presidential election last Sunday in which he claimed to have secured 80 percent of the votes.
Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus for the last 26 years and is facing the greatest challenge to his leadership, denies the allegation.
“I am not a fan of rallies but alas, it’s not my fault I had to call you to help me,” he said as some 5,000 supporters waved national flags and shouted: “Thank you!” and “Belarus!”
Wiping his brow, the president, standing at a podium in a short-sleeved shirt, insisted on the legitimacy of his election victory over the popular opposition candidate, Tikhanovskaya.
“The elections were valid. There could not be more than 80 percent of votes falsified. We will not hand over the country,” he said.
He warned of a threat from neighbouring NATO countries as well as from the opposition movement calling for new elections, as the crowd shouted “No!”
‘Lukashenko must answer’
Lukashenko’s rally coincided with the opposition movement calling for nationwide “March of Freedom” protests, which saw tens of thousands gathering in Minsk.
Other major Belarusian towns and cities also saw large rallies, local media reported.
Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen, reporting from the capital, said Lukashenko’s rally was “hastily organised” and “dwarfed” in comparison to the opposition protest.
“[There is a] euphoric mood here in Minsk, unprecedented scenes,” she said. “People here are coming up to us saying, ‘we are changing the country, you are witnessing history’.”
Chanting “Leave!”, the opposition supporters marched down Independence Avenue, some carrying a red and white flag, once the state flag and now used to represent opposition to Lukashenko’s government.
Demonstrators raised victory signs and held flowers and balloons, with many wearing white, the colour that has come to symbolise the opposition movement. Those marching included a group of veteran paratroopers in uniform berets.
“It’s unbelievable what I am seeing here right now, there are up to 100,000 people here. Huge crowds,” said Vaessen. “This is something Lukashenko was not expecting.”
Demonstrators held placards with slogans such as “We are against violence” and “Lukashenko must answer for the torture and dead”.
A violent police crackdown on protesters saw more than 6,700 people arrested, hundreds wounded and two people dead. Many protesters alleged they were tortured in custody.
The brutal suppression of post-election protests in Belarus has drawn harsh criticism by Western countries and the United Nations.
European Union foreign ministers said on Friday they rejected the election results in Belarus and began drawing up a list of officials in Belarus who could face sanctions for their role in the crackdown.
On Sunday, Lukashenko spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who told the Belarusian leader that Moscow was ready to provide help in accordance with a collective military pact if necessary, according to a statement issued by the Kremlin.
Lukashenko’s challenger Tikhanovskaya, who fled to neighbouring Lithuania on Tuesday, called for the weekend protests and an election recount. Her campaign announced she was starting to form a national council to facilitate a transfer of power.
Victor Olevich, lead expert at the Center for Actual Politics, a Moscow-based think-tank, told Al Jazeera “Lukashenko has lost what remnants of legitimacy he still had after the massively falsified elections that gave him 80 percent of support”.
“As for as the Russian position is concerned, Moscow cannot afford to give significant support or to appear as if it is giving significant support to a leader who has lost legitimacy among his own people in his own country.
“Otherwise that would be against Moscow’s long-term interest in Belarus because the Belarusian people will then believe that Moscow is not acting in their best interest.”
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES