Trump urges Americans to wear masks to curb coronavirus: Live

Trump urges Americans to wear masks to curb coronavirus: Live

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera's continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I'm Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

  • From mask sceptic to champion of face coverings: After months of downplaying their use, United States President Donald Trump has told Americans to wear masks because "they have an impact". He would "gladly" use one, he added.

  • More than 14.8 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, and nearly 614,000 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Here are the updates:

Wednesday, July 22

03:00 GMT – Japan approves dexamethasone as treatment

Japan's health ministry has approved the use of dexamethasone as a treatment for COVID-19.

Dexamethasone is a cheap and widely-used steroid.

Studies have shown it has benefits for people with moderate or advanced cases of the disease.

Is plasma therapy effective against coronavirus?

02:00 GMT – Study suggests coronavirus can spread through speaking

A new study by the University of Nebraska suggests that COVID-19 can spread through normal speaking and breathing, and travel further than two metres, according to a report by AFP.

The findings have not yet been peer reviewed.

The Nebraska scientists collected air samples from the rooms of five patients bed-ridden with COVID-19 from about 30 centimetres above the foot of their beds. The patients were talking – producing microdroplets or aerosols that can remain in the air for a number of hours – and some were coughing.

The team collected microdroplets as small as one micron in diameter, and three of the 18 samples were able to replicate in the lab.

Joshua Santarpia, an associate professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, said the findings supported the idea that people can get COVID-19 through microdroplets.

"It is replicated in cell culture and therefore infectious," he told the news agency.

COVID-19 survivor: 'You understand how important life is'

01:15 GMT – China reports nine new cases in Xinjiang

China has reported 14 new cases of coronavirus, five of them imported and the rest in the far western region of Xinjiang.

There have been no new cases of community transmission in Beijing for 16 days, according to state media.

On Tuesday, the Chinese mainland reported:
– No new #COVID19 deaths
– 14 new cases: 5 imported cases and 9 domestically transmitted cases in Xinjiang
– 22 new asymptomatic cases
– 233 active cases in total, including six in critical condition pic.twitter.com/2VctIqdgzs

— People's Daily, China (@PDChina) July 22, 2020

23:30 GMT (Tuesday) – Qatar to relax travel restrictions from August 1

Qatar is relaxing its coronavirus travel restrictions from the beginning of next month.

From August 1, citizens and permanent residents will be allowed to travel overseas and return, while residents will be allowed to return.

Travellers from low-risk countries will have to take a COVID-19 test on arrival and another after a seven-day home quarantine period, the Government Communications Office said in a statement.

If they are confirmed COVID-free from a recognised testing centre no more than 48 hours before travelling, they will be exempted from the test on arrival.

A list of the countries designated low-risk will be published on the website of the Ministry of Public Health and updated every two weeks.

23:00 GMT (Tuesday) – Trump comes out in favour of masks

After months of downplaying their importance, US President Donald Trump has come out unequivocally in favour of wearing masks.

Speaking at the first White House press briefing in weeks, and without any medical experts present, Trump urged Americans to get a mask and wear it.

"Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact, they'll have an effect and we need everything we can get," he said. "I will use it, gladly."

US face masks
Homemade masks for sale outside a house in Los Angeles. The US president has finally acknowledged face masks can help curb the spread of coronavirus [Chris Delmas/AFP]

Read all the updates from yesterday (July 21) here.