Hong Kong braces for toughest ever coronavirus curbs: Live | News

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    • Hong Kong is set to impose its toughest curbs yet to control the coronavirus, after authorities warned the risk of a large-scale outbreak was extremely high.



    • The WHO has warned the pandemic could get far worse if countries around the world do not follow basic healthcare precautions. “The virus remains public enemy number one,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing from WHO headquarters in Geneva.


    • More than 13 million people around the world have been diagnosed with COVID-19, 7.3 million have recovered, and more than 573,000 have died, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University. The US, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Italy have recorded the most deaths.


Here are the latest updates.

Tuesday, July 14

11:05 GMT – Thai authorities seek to fix errors that allowed infected foreigners in

Authorities in Thailand have urged almost 1,900 people to quarantine themselves and get tested for the virus after a breakdown in screening allowed two foreigners with the disease to pose a risk to public health.

The agency coordinating Thailand’s coronavirus response also announced it is rolling back regulations for admitting foreign visitors in order to tighten up procedures.

10:50 GMT – Singapore enters recession with 41 percent contraction

Singapore’s economy slipped into recession in the second quarter, contracting by a record 41.2 percent from the previous three months, and is facing its biggest slump ever this year as measures to contain the coronavirus hammered the trade-reliant country.

Economists polled by the Reuters news agency had expected a 37.4-percent slump, but the pandemic took a heavy toll on the construction sector, which plunged 95.6 percent.

Read more here.

Singapore mall economy

The lockdown hit Singapore’s retail industry badly but analysts say consumer spending should recover as the government now has more experience in fighting the virus [File: Edgar Su/Reuters]

10:35 GMT – Virgin Atlantic to clinch $1.5bn rescue deal

British airline Virgin Atlantic is close to securing a 1.2 billion pound ($1.5 billion) rescue deal, Sky News reported, removing the medium-term chance of administration as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

The deal, which will involve backing from Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and hedge fund Davidson Kempner, could be confirmed later on Tuesday, Sky News said. A spokeswoman for Virgin Atlantic declined to comment on the report.

10:15 GMT – UK demands the public wear face coverings in shops

Britain’s government will demand people wear face coverings in shops as it seeks to clarify its message after weeks of prevarication amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to tell the House of Commons on Tuesday that anyone failing to comply with the order could face a fine of up to 100 pounds ($125). The order comes into effect on July 24, giving shops and the police time to prepare.

Many European nations, including Germany, Spain, Italy and Greece, already require masks to be worn in enclosed spaces. Britain, which has reported one of the world’s highest numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths, had taken a more relaxed attitude, recommending masks but not requiring them – at least until now.

10:00 GMT – Transparency concerns raised over India COVID-19 fund

Bejon Misra responded quickly to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal in March for donations to a new fund to strengthen the country’s fight against the coronavirus.

The next day, the 69-year-old retired management professor made a donation. “It was a generous contribution because Modi is the face of it,” Misra said.

Such trust in Modi is common in India, the prime minister enjoying a very high approval rating, despite coronavirus infections spiking in recent weeks.

Read more here.


WHO on coronavirus: ‘There are no shortcuts out of this pandemic’ (1:40)


09:15 GMT – Philippines confirms six new coronavirus deaths, 634 cases

The Philippines’ health ministry has reported six new coronavirus deaths and 634 additional infections, the lowest daily increase in cases in nearly two weeks.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total deaths had increased to 1,603, while confirmed cases had reached 57,545.

Philippines Eases Lockdown As Coronavirus Cases Continue To Rise

More than 1,600 people have died from the virus in the Philippines [File: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images]

09:05 GMT – Hong Kong reports 48 new coronavirus cases

Hong Kong has reported 48 new coronavirus cases, including 40 that officials said were transmitted locally, ahead of new social distancing measures due to come into force at midnight.

Tuesday’s toll was slightly lower that Monday’s 52 new cases but remained broadly in line with a recent sharp increase in the city.

Since late January, the global financial hub has reported more than 1,500 cases and eight deaths

08:55 GMT – Indian IT hub Bangalore locks down again

India’s IT hub Bangalore will go back into lockdown Tuesday as the number of coronavirus cases in the country surged towards a million with about 500 people dying daily.

After imposing one of the world’s strictest lockdowns in late March, India has been steadily easing rules to lessen the huge economic impact.

But infections have continued to soar, passing 900,000 on Monday with almost 24,000 deaths, according to health ministry figures that many experts say underplay the severity of the situation.


Argentina artists struggle during COVID-19 crisis (2:39)


08:40 GMT – Turkmenistan halts passengers trains amid virus reports

Turkmenistan has ordered passenger trains halted from July 16 amid reports of coronavirus in the isolated Central Asian country that has yet to declare any cases. 

A statement on the state-run railway’s website this week said that local passenger train travel would be suspended for a week from July 16 to July 23, but gave no reason for the stoppage.

Turkmenistan – a tightly-controlled, oil-rich ex-Soviet state – is one of the few countries in the world yet to declare any coronavirus cases.

07:45 GMT – Russia coronavirus deaths reach 11,614, total cases 739,947

Russia has reported 6,248 new cases of the novel coronavirus, pushing its confirmed national tally to 739,947, the fourth largest in the world.

Officials said 175 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 11,614.

Members of an electoral commission visit a regional hospital during a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms in Tver

Health authorities have registered 175 new deaths over the past 24 hours [File: Tatyana Makeyeva [Reuters]

07:30 GMT – India reports more than 28,000 new coronavirus infections

India has reported 28,498 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, taking its total number of infections to 906,752. Cases have jumped by 100,000 in four days.

The Health Ministry also reported another 553 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 23,727.

India has largely lifted its nationwide lockdown, but the spread of the virus has prompted several big cities to reimpose partial lockdowns.

07:25 GMT – Yemen’s Houthis announce easing of coronavirus lockdown

Yemen’s Houthi rebels are easing a variety of coronavirus restrictions amid a news blackout on the virus’ toll in their territory.

The Houthi Cabinet announced late Monday it was allowing restaurants, wedding halls, public baths, parks and playgrounds to reopen. The statement encouraged people to sanitize regularly and practice social distancing.

Over the past months, the Houthis, who control Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, and much of the war-torn country’s north, have suppressed all information about the virus. They’ve severely punished doctors and journalists who speak out, imposed only loose restrictions and promoted conspiracy theories.


Kashmiris stuggling to survive as India restores lockdown (3:00)


06:55 GMT – Study predicts surge in HIV, TB and malaria deaths amid COVID-19 pandemic

Deaths from HIV, tuberculosis and malaria could surge in poor and middle-income countries as already weak health systems grapple with severe disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a predictive study published on Monday.

Over the next five years, deaths from the three diseases could rise by as much as 10, 20 and 36 percent respectively – putting the mortality impact on a scale similar to the direct impact of the coronavirus pandemic itself, the modelling study found.

“In countries with a high malaria burden and large HIV and TB epidemics, even short-term disruptions could have devastating consequences for the millions of people who depend on programmes to control and treat these diseases,” said Timothy Hallett, a professor at Imperial College London who co-led the work.

He said the knock-on impact of COVID-19 could undo some of the significant progress against these diseases made over the past two decades, “compounding the burden caused by the pandemic directly”.


South Africa reimposes lockdown amid soaring COVID-19 cases (2:41)


06:40 GMT – Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 412 to 199,375

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 412 to 199,375, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by four to 9,068, the tally showed. 

Coronavirus testing site in Berlin

More than 190,000 people in Germany have tested positive for the coronavirus [File: Anadolu]

06:30 GMT – Mexico reports 485 new coronavirus deaths, 4,685 infections

Mexico’s Health Ministry reported 4,685 new confirmed coronavirus infections and 485 additional fatalities, bringing the country’s totals to 304,435 cases and 35,491 deaths.

The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases. 

05:15 GMT – Debt-relief measures failing to help Cambodian poor

Human Rights Watch says debt relief measures by micro-loan providers in Cambodia are failing to help families struggling with the impact of the pandemic, who may be forced to sell land and homes to survive.

The rights group says the National Bank of Cambodia and the government should suspend debt collection and interest accruals for borrowers who can no longer meet their payments because of the pandemic.

“Many Cambodians fear losing their lands more than catching the coronavirus … and the government has done little to help them,” HRW’s Asia Director Phil Robertson said in a statement. HRW says Cambodians have the world’s highest average amount of micro-loans at $3,804 per capita.

05:00 GMT – Worse than dismal: Singapore Q2 GDP plunges 41.2 percent

Singapore’s economy suffered a coronavirus-induced record contraction in the second quarter, putting it on course for its worst-ever slump this year.

Gross domestic product (GDP) plunged by a record 41.2 percent in the three months ended June, on a quarter-on-quarter annualised basis, preliminary data from the Ministry of Trade and Industry showed on Tuesday. Economists polled by Reuters were expecting a 37.4-percent decline.

“We were expecting these numbers to look quite dismal, although this is worse than what we had expected,” Steve Cochrane, economist at Moody’s Analytics, told the news agency.

04:45 GMT – Tokyo theatregoers asked to come forward for testing

Some 800 Tokyo theatregoers are being asked to come forward for testing after at least 20 coronavirus cases were traced back to a production involving a Japanese boy band.

Health officials are focusing on the Theatre Moliere, a 190-seat theatre in the Shinjuku area of the capital, which put on the show ‘Werewolf’ for six days earlier this month.

The first case was reported on July 6 and involved a cast member.

04:30 GMT – DRC facing new Ebola outbreak as tries to control COVID, measles

Ebola is spreading in the western Democratic Republic of the Congo, with nearly 50 known cases across a region bordering the Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Mike Ryan, the WHO’s top emergencies expert, says the outbreak, first detected on June 1, remains “very active” and of great concern.

The DRC is also dealing with a measles epidemic that has killed more than 6,000 people and COVID-19, which has infected more than 3,000 and killed 188.

You can read more on that story here.

FILE PHOTO: Mwamini Kahindo, an Ebola survivor working as a caregiver to babies who are confirmed Ebola cases, holds an infant outside the red zone at the Ebola treatment centre in Butembo

FILE PHOTO: Mwamini Kahindo, an Ebola survivor working as a caregiver to babies who are confirmed Ebola cases, holds an infant outside the red zone at the Ebola treatment centre in Butembo, DRC, 2019 [Baz Ratner/Reuters]

03:45 GMT – Malaysia and Singapore ease some border restrictions

Border restrictions between Malaysia and Singapore will be eased to support essential business and official traffic, as well as the movement of residents who have long-term work permits for either country.

This will include a Reciprocal Green Lane for essential business and official purposes where all travellers have to undergo a PCR swab test before travel and submit a detailed itinerary for the duration of the visit.

The new measures are expected to come into force on August 10, the two countries’ governments said in a joint statement on Tuesday. The details of the arrangements – including health protocols and the application process – will be announced 10 days before that.

03:30 GMT – Hong Kong prepares for toughest-ever coronavirus curbs

People in Hong Kong are preparing for the toughest curbs yet to control the coronavirus as authorities warn that the risk of a large-scale outbreak in the territory is “extremely high”.

The new measures come into force at midnight (16:00 GMT). They include mandatory face masks on public transport and a limit on the size of gatherings to just four people.

You can read more on that story here.

Hong Kong

Masks will be mandatory on all public transport in Hong Kong under measures that come into force at midnight [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

02:30 GMT – Mystery of Argentine sailors who caught virus while at sea

Argentina is trying to solve the mystery of how 57 sailors managed to come down with COVID-19 while they were at sea even though all had tested negative and spent 14 days in quarantine in a hotel before the voyage began.

The health ministry for the southern province of Tierra del Fuego says the fishing trawler is now back in port after 35 days at sea, with 57 of the 61 crew diagnosed with the virus after a new test. Two are now in hospital.

A team is trying to establish the “chronology of contagion” among the crew. “An incubation period this long has not been described anywhere,” said Leandro Ballatore, head of the infectious diseases department at Ushuaia Regional Hospital.

01:25 GMT – No new cases confirmed in Beijing for eighth day

The wave of coronavirus cases connected with Beijing’s wholesale market that began in June appears to have been brought under control with no new cases of the disease reported in the Chinese capital for eight successive days.

China’s National Health Commission reported five new cases on the mainland on Tuesday, all among people returning from overseas.

01:00 GMT – Nearly 1,000 staff at US immigration detention centres have COVID-19

More than 930 people working for four private companies that run detention centres for US immigration services have tested positive for coronavirus, according to executives speaking at a congressional hearing.

The four firms are CoreCivic (554 cases), the GEO Group (167 cases), Management & Training Corp (73 cases) and LaSalle Corrections (144 cases). The US immigration department has reported 45 cases among its own staff.

Lawmakers are concerned about the spread of the virus across the US’s nearly 70 detention centres. More than 3,000 detainees have tested positive for the disease, and two have died. There are currently about 22,580 people in immigration custody.

00:00 GMT – UK to make masks mandatory in shops

The British government will announce on Tuesday that people will have to wear masks when they go into a shop from July 24.

“There is growing evidence that wearing a face covering in an enclosed space helps protect individuals and those around them from coronavirus,” a statement from the prime minister’s office said.

Masks have been required on public transport since June 15.

23:45 GMT (Monday) – Worldwide cases surpass 13 million

More than 13 million people around the world have now been confirmed to have had the coronavirus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Below are the five most-affected countries.

    • United States – 3,361,042


    • Brazil – 1,884,967


    • India – 878,254


    • Russia – 732,547


    • Peru – 330,123



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 (July 13) here.

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