Australia signed a deal to secure a COVID vaccine being developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca should it pass clinical trials. PM Scott Morrison says vaccine should be compulsory for all 25 million Australians.
South Korea has reported the highest daily number of cases since March, many linked to churches in the capital.
More than 22 million people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 around the world now, some 14 million people have recovered, and more than 779,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Here are the latest updates:
Wednesday, August 19
07:32 GMT – Finland imposes ‘Europe’s tightest’ border restrictions
Finland has removed most EU countries from its “green travel list”, with only arrivals from a handful of states now able to enter the country without restrictions, the government announced.
The tougher rules, aimed at halting the spread of the coronavirus, mean that only people coming from Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, Estonia and Lithuania will now be allowed into Finland without proving they have a valid reason for travel and self-isolating for two weeks.
Arrivals from a number of non-EU countries including Georgia, Rwanda and South Korea continue to be freely permitted under the measures which will come into force next Monday.
Since June, the government has said it will allow arrivals from countries with fewer than eight new coronavirus cases per 100,000 population in the last two weeks, although ministers have now made exceptions for countries with under 10 cases.
06:22 GMT – UK expands COVID-19 national testing study
The British government said it would expand its COVID-19 national testing study, with an aim of reaching 400,000 people to provide weekly data on the spread of the infection and better locate future local outbreaks.
The Department of Health and Social Care said in a statement that it would initially test 150,000 people in England per fortnight by October, up from 28,000 people now, aiming to eventually reach 400,000 across the United Kingdom.
The testing survey, undertaken by the Office for National Statistics, would also be extended to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
04:40 GMT – China and US to double flights between the two countries
After curbing travel between the two countries because of the coronavirus pandemic, China and the United States are beginning to ease restrictions.
The US Department of Transportation says it will allow the four Chinese passenger airlines currently flying to the US to double flights to eight weekly round-trips, as China agrees to allow US carriers to double their flights to China.
US carriers voluntarily halted flights to China after the coronavirus outbreak. President Donald Trump, on January 31, barred nearly all non-US citizens from travelling to the US from China.
You can read more on that story on AJ Impact.
03:20 GMT – Brazil gives nod to final-stage trials for Johnson & Johnson vaccine
Brazil’s health regulator has approved final-stage trials for Johnson & Johnson’s experimental coronavirus vaccine – the fourth to get the nod for testing in the country.
The vaccine will be tested on 7,000 volunteers across seven states, Anvisa, the health regulator, said in a statement.
Brazil has the world’s second-biggest caseload for COVID-19 and has recorded nearly 110,000 deaths from the disease.
02:50 GMT – Indigenous protesters resume Amazon roadblock
Indigenous protesters have resumed a roadblock of a key highway through the Amazon rainforest despite a judge ordering then to dismantle the blockade.
The protesters from the Kayapo Mekranoti ethnic group want help to fight the coronavirus and an end to illegal mining and deforestation.
Indigenous people have been among the groups worst affected by the coronavirus in Brazil with at least 21,000 diagnosed with the disease and 618 deaths.
02:45 GMT – Australia PM says COVID-19 vaccine should be compulsory
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the coronavirus vaccine should be compulsory for all Australians with only limited medical exceptions.
He told local radio station 3AW the vaccine should be “as mandatory as you can possibly make it” and the stakes were too high to allow the disease to continue to spread.
01:40 GMT – Global caseload exceeds 22 million
More than 22 million cases of coronavirus have now been reported around the world, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The first cases were reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
The US has now confirmed the most cases, followed by Brazil, India, Russia and South Africa. The US has also recorded the most deaths.
- US – 5,481,557
- Brazil – 3,407,354
- India – 2,702,742
- Russia – 930,276
- South Africa – 592,144
- US – 171,687
- Brazil – 109,888
- Mexico – 57,023
- India – 51,797
- UK – 41,466
01:30 GMT – New cases in South Korea reach five-month high
South Korea has reported the highest number of new coronavirus cases since March, many traced to churches in Seoul.
The country added 297 cases – including 283 that were locally transmitted – the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday. That is the most since March 8, according to Yonhap news agency.
The spike prompted authorities to tighten restrictions. Outdoor gatherings are now limited to 100 people and indoor ones to 50 and venues seen as high-risk, including karaoke lounges and nightclubs, have been closed. Churches in Seoul and surrounding areas have been told to stop in-person services.
00:05 GMT – Australia’s Victoria reports 216 new coronavirus cases, 12 deaths
Australia’s second-most populous state of Victoria says 12 people have died from the new coronavirus in the last 24 hours and reported 216 new cases.
Victoria reported 222 cases a day earlier, its lowest one-day rise in a month, and 17 deaths.
The state is the epicentre of Australia’s latest COVID-19 outbreak, but cases appear to have slowed in recent days.
00:00 GMT – Australia secures vaccine deal
Australia has signed a deal with British drugmaker AstraZeneca to secure a potential COVID-19 vaccine being developed with Oxford University.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the vaccine is one of the most promising and advanced of the drugs currently in development.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.
Read all the updates from yesterday (August 18) here.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES