The coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 24.3 million people and killed over 829,000 people around the world. Here are updates for August 27:

People wearing face masks stand in front of le Sacre Coeur in Paris, France on August 27, 2020.
People wearing face masks stand in front of le Sacre Coeur in Paris, France on August 27, 2020. (AFP)

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Masks compulsory across Paris as virus cases rise

France's prime minister announced that face masks will become compulsory throughout Paris as he urged the public to help halt a trend of mounting coronavirus infections.

Jean Castex said 19 departments have been added to a map with "red" zones of active virus circulation, meaning 21 of mainland France's 94 departments are now classified as such.

Official figures released on Wednesday showed more than 5,400 confirmed new cases in just 24 hours, with admissions to hospital and intensive care units on the rise.

There was an "undeniable resurgence" of the Covid-19 epidemic throughout France, Castex told a press conference, with 39 positive tests per 100,000 population, four times the level of a month ago, and rising in all age groups.

The total number of people infected with the virus in France now stands at 253,587. A total of 30,544 deaths have been recorded.

Turkey confirms 1,491 more virus cases

Turkey confirmed 1,491 new cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing the tally to 263,998.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced on Twitter that the total number of recoveries have reached 240,792.

Citing Health Ministry data, Koca said that 995 patients recovered from Covid-19 over the past day. Meanwhile, the death toll in the country reached 6,209, as 26 more people lost their lives.

Healthcare professionals conducted 106,111 more tests to diagnose the disease over the last 24 hours, pushing the tally to 6.72 million.

Of those infected, 7.3 percent suffer from pneumonia.

Koca said the number of patients in critical condition increased to 862.

UK adds Switzerland, Czech Republic, Jamaica to quarantine list

Travelers arriving in Britain from Switzerland, the Czech Republic or Jamaica after 0300 GMT on Saturday will need to quarantine themselves for 14 days to slow the spread of Covid-19, Transport Minister Grant Shapps said.

"Data shows we need to remove the Czech Republic, Jamaica and Switzerland from our list of Coronavirus Travel Corridors to keep infection rates DOWN," Shapps said in a statement.

People arriving from Cuba, however, would no longer have to quarantine, he added.

UK reports highest daily Covid case total since June 12

The United Kingdom recorded 1,522 new cases of Covid-19 in the latest daily government statistics published on Thursday, the highest number since June 12 and up from 1,048 cases a day earlier.

A further 12 people were recorded as having died within 28 days of their first positive test for Covid-19, taking the United Kingdom's cumulative death toll on this measure to 41,477. 

Spain to hold masks mandatory for students as cases mount

Masks will be mandatory for all students in Spain age 6 or older when returning to schools in September because of increased coronavirus cases, the government announced.

The measure will be adopted by the country’s 17 regions, which manage education autonomously. It’s part of a series of standardised guidelines agreed in a meeting with central authorities. Previously, masks were only required for students above age 12 by some Spanish regions.

Students will receive a daily body temperature check, must wash hands at least five times per day and classrooms will need frequent ventilation, the government said.

Parent and teachers have expressed concern, with new waves of outbreaks since the country emerged from a strict lockdown.

Spain diagnosed 3,781 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, health emergency coordinator Fernando Simon told a news briefing on Thursday, slightly higher than 3,594 reported the previous day.

US virus deaths cross 180,000, cases continue to fall

US deaths from the novel coronavirus crossed 180,000 mark after a surge of new cases in June and July, particularly in hotspots like California, Florida, and Texas.

There are signs of an improving outlook. 

Last week, deaths fell 17 percent from the prior week and below an average of 1,000 a day for the first time in weeks, according to a Reuters analysis.

However, while US metrics on cases, deaths, hospitalisations and test positivity rates are all heading downward, health experts fear there could be another surge as schools reopen and colder weather forces more gatherings indoors.

US confirmed cases are now over 5.8 million – the highest total number of cases in the world as death toll is also the highest in the world.

Stricter virus measures loom as students return to Portugal's schools

Stricter measures to curb the coronavirus outbreak will be introduced across Portugal from mid-September as students return to schools and many workers go back to the office, the government has said.

Cabinet Affairs Minister Mariana Vieira da Silva told a news conference the new measures would only be announced in early September but said the whole country would be put under the so-called state of contingency.

"The measures will be worked out over the next few days and presented after a meeting between experts and policy makers," said Vieira da Silva.

At the moment the only area in Portugal under the contingency category is Greater Lisbon, where gatherings are limited 10 people, compared to 20 for the rest of the country.

EU signs vaccine contract

The European Union has signed a contract with British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca to provide a possible Covid-19 vaccine to its member states.

The EU Commission says the contract provides for the 27 EU nations to buy 300 million doses with an option for 100 million more. The contract also allows vaccines to be donated to poorer countries or redirected to other European nations.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says it was “an important step forward” in making sure any vaccine would be available to as many EU citizens as possible.

Vaccines typically take years to develop and more than a dozen are in the early stages of testing globally.

Denmark advises against traveling to France, Croatia

Basing its decision on Danish health authorities, the Foreign Ministry in Copenhagen has said the advice came because those countries have now passed the threshold of 30 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the past days.

 The figure for France was 31.3 and Croatia 32.6.

The other nations on the list within Europe were Andorra, Belgium, Luxembourg, Malta, Romania, Spain and Monaco.

Denmark has 16,627 confirmed cases and 624 deaths.

Pakistan, China cooperate on virus vaccine

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman has said his country and China have agreed to strengthen cooperation in developing a vaccine for the coronavirus.

The ministry spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri says Beijing has agreed to keep supporting Pakistan to overcome the impact of the coronavirus. 

He said this understanding was reached during a recent visit of Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to China.

The announcement comes days after Pakistan's drug regulatory agency approved final-phase testing of a Chinese-made vaccine against coronavirus. 

Pakistan has reported six new deaths and 445 new cases in the past 24 hours. The coronavirus has caused 6,274 confirmed deaths since February.

India reports record daily jump of 75,760 virus infections

India has reported a record daily jump of 75,760 coronavirus infections, bringing its total cases to 3.31 million as cases surged across the country, data from the federal health ministry showed.

India is the worst affected country in Asia and third behind the United States and Brazil in terms of total cases. It had the highest number of single-day cases in the world since August 7. Deaths in the same 24-hour period increased by 1,023, taking the death toll to 60,472. 

Russia's coronavirus cases surpass 975,000

Russia reported 4,711 new virus cases and 121 deaths, bringing its nationwide case tally to 975,576, the fourth largest caseload in the world.  This is up from 4,676 cases and 115 deaths on previous day. 

Russia's coronavirus task force said that the official death toll reached 16,804.

Germany's confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 1,507 

The number of confirmed virus cases in Germany increased by 1,507 to 237,936, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by five to 9,285, the tally showed. 

The virus's reproduction factor (the average number of people infected by one person with the virus) fell to 0.85 on Wednesday from 0.90 the previous day.

South Korea sees 441 new cases, parliament closes

South Korea reported 441 new virus cases, the most daily infections since early March when the country had the first large outbreak, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The country's parliament was shut down after a photojournalist who covered a ruling party meeting on Wednesday was later confirmed to have contracted the virus. The photographer came in contact with around 50 people at the assembly, 32 of them party lawmakers and officials.

South Korea also urged businesses to have employees work from home after reporting the highest daily number of coronavirus cases since March. Some 434 of the new cases were locally transmitted, bringing the total tally to 18,706 infections, with a total of 313 deaths.

Public distrust of China's offer for HK testing

A Chinese government offer to test all Hong Kong residents for the novel coronavirus is meeting scepticism from the city's medical community and public and is emerging as a politically charged issue ahead of the launch of the plan next week.

A 60-person mainland Chinese team will carry out tests and build temporary hospitals in the first direct help from Chinese health officials for the semi-autonomous city in it s battle with the epidemic.

Some medical experts have cast doubt on the effectiveness and need for the tests, with some branding the exercise more of a political effort by Beijing to burnish its image rather than a medical necessity.

China sees eight new cases

China reported eight new Covid-19 cases in the mainland, down from 15 a day earlier, the country's health authority said.

All of the new cases were imported infections, which involve travellers from overseas, marking the 11th consecutive day of no locally-transmitted infections reported. China also reported 19 new asymptomatic infections, compared with 14 a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 infections for mainland China now stands at 85,004, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

China does not count asymptomatic patients, who are infected with the coronavirus, but not showing symptoms, as confirmed cases.

Australia sees lowest daily rise in two months

Australia's second most populous state of Victoria reported 23 deaths from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours and 113 new cases, its lowest daily rise of cases in nearly two months.

The southeastern state, which has become the country's virus hot spot, a day earlier reported its second-most deadly day of the pandemic with 24 deaths and logged 149 cases.

Strict lockdown measures have helped ease the daily rise of coronavirus infections in Victoria after the state hit a one-day high of more than 700 cases about three weeks ago.

New Zealand allocates funds for vaccine

Neighbouring New Zealand said it has allocated extra funding of "hundreds of millions of dollars" to help secure access to a coronavirus vaccine as soon as one becomes available.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declined to specify the total amount that will be spent on procuring the vaccine, citing commercial-sensitive reasons.

EU top trade official resigns over controversy

The European Union's top trade official Phil Hogan resigned late on Wednesday after he became embroiled in a controversy over a recent trip home to Ireland and questionable adherence to Covid-19 rules.

The move will force the EU's executive office to replace Hogan in the midst of the pandemic crisis, amid fraught trade relations with the United States and China, and as the final months of talks on a future deal with post-Brexit Britain approach.

“It was becoming increasingly clear that the controversy concerning my recent visit to Ireland was becoming a distraction from my work," Hogan said.

He came under fire amid allegations that he skirted rules other Irish citizens have to live by to contain the second wave of the pandemic. Not only had Hogan attended a posh golf dinner with some 80 guests when maximum attendance should have been much lower, but he was also criticised for traveling in parts of Ireland where a lockdown applied – and for emerging early from a mandatory two-week quarantine.

Abbott Laboratories to issue portable antigen tests

Abbott Laboratories has said that it won US marketing authorisation for a Covid-19 portable antigen test that can deliver results within 15 minutes and will sell for $5.

The portable test is about the size of a credit card, requires no additional equipment to operate, and can be conducted using a less invasive nasal swab than traditional lab tests, Abbott executives said on a call with reporters.

Abbott expects to ship tens of millions of tests in September, ramping to 50 million tests a month from the beginning of October.

The test, BinaxNOW Covid-19 Ag Card, could be used to check that people participating in larger gatherings, such as those returning to schools or workplaces, do not have Covid-19 and could help aid the reopening of the US, the executives said.

Abbott created a downloadable app that people who have taken the test could present before entering venues to show that they are Covid-19 free, they said.

Antigen tests are cheaper and faster than molecular diagnostic tests but somewhat more likely to fail to identify positive cases of the virus than lab-based diagnostic tests.

Argentina sees record daily rise

Argentina posted a record daily rise of 10,550 Covid-19 cases, the health ministry said, taking the total caseload to 370,188 as the country struggles to rein in the spread of infections while trying to ease open its crisis-hit economy.

The grain producer, which imposed a strict lockdown in March that initially helped slow the spread of the virus, is now fast catching up with other hard-hit countries in the region, including neighbouring Chile, where new infections have slowed.

Brazil records more than 1,000 deaths

Brazil reported 47,161 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 1,086 deaths from the disease caused by the virus in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said.

Brazil has registered 3,717,156 cases of the virus since the pandemic began, while the official death toll from Covid-19 has risen to 117,666, according to ministry data, in the world's worst coronavirus outbreak outside the United States

Source: TRTWorld and agencies