WHO says no 'silver bullet' to defeat coronavirus: Live updates

WHO says no 'silver bullet' to defeat coronavirus: Live updates

  • WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said there might never be a "silver bullet" for the new coronavirus despite the rush to discover effective vaccines.

  • More than 18 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus as of Monday. Almost 11 million have recovered while nearly 690,000 have died.
  • Despite fears of the spread of coronavirus, parliamentary elections will go ahead in Sri Lanka on Wednesday, with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa hoping to tighten his hold on the nation's politics.

  • Millions of COVID-19 tests that work in 90 minutes will be rolled out in the UK, the country's health minister says. Cases nationwide surpassed 306,000, with more than 46,000 deaths.

Here are the latest updates:

Monday, August 3

14:48 GMT – Norway suspends cruise ships with more than 100 people on board from disembarking at ports

Norway will stop all cruise ships with more than 100 people on board from disembarking at Norwegian ports in the wake of the outbreak of COVID-19 on a Hurtigruten cruise ship, the Norwegian health minister has said.

The new rules will initially apply for fourteen days, Bent Hoie said. They will not apply to regular ferries traffic, both domestic and international.

14:34 GMT – India's Modi set to visit temple site despite minister having COVID-19

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend a foundation-laying ceremony for a Hindu temple on Wednesday, organisers have said, even though his interior minister has contracted COVID-19.

Amit Shah, who is Modi's top lieutenant as well as India's interior minister, was admitted to a private hospital near Delhi on Sunday, four days after attending a cabinet meeting which the prime minister presided over.

But preparations are continuing for Modi to visit a temple that is being built in honour of Hindu god-king Ram in the northern town of Ayodhya, said the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, which is driving its construction at the site of a mosque that was razed nearly three decades ago.

14:20 GMT – Spain to roll out COVID-19 app twice as effective as human tracers in pilot

Spain aims to roll out a COVID-19 contact-tracing app across the country in September after saying that a pilot showed it could detect almost twice as many potential infections as human trackers during a simulated outbreak on a tiny island.

In the absence of a vaccine or cure, states are deploying Bluetooth wireless technology to log contacts and alert people when someone they have been near tests positive.

Spain used a new system developed by Google and Apple which holds data on individual devices to ensure privacy, to build an app it tested on La Gomera, an island next to the tourist hotspot of Tenerife in the Canary archipelago, in July.

13:43 GMT – White House, Congress face tough week of aid talks

Congressional Democrats and Trump administration officials face increasing pressure to come up an agreement on coronavirus aid legislation on Monday, after missing a vital deadline to extend relief benefits to tens of millions of jobless Americans.

Top Democrats in Congress and top representatives of President Donald Trump were due to meet in the US Capitol to resume talks aimed at breaking the deadlock, after reporting progress over the weekend.

But the two sides remained far apart, with top Republican lawmakers on the sidelines of the negotiations.

Hi, this is Mersiha Gadzo in Toronto, Canada taking over the live updates from my colleague Linah Alsaafin in Doha, Qatar.

12:33 GMT – India's Wockhardt strikes deal to supply COVID-19 vaccines to UK

Indian drugmaker Wockhardt Ltd will supply millions of doses of multiple COVID-19 vaccines, including that being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, under a deal with the UK government.

The company has reserved fill-and-finish capacity – the final manufacturing step of putting vaccines into vials or syringes and packaging them – as part of the agreement, it said.

"Fill finish is a critical step in the process to get the vaccine in a form to be given to patients. The agreement with Wockhardt will boost our capability to ensure that," Kate Bingham, chair of UK Vaccines Task Force, said in a statement.

11:25 GMT – WHO: There may never be a COVID-19 'silver bullet'

The World Health Organization has warned that despite hopes for a vaccine, there may never be a "silver bullet" for coronavirus, and the road to normality will be long.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and WHO emergencies head Mike Ryan exhorted all nations to rigorously enforce all health measures, Tedros telling a virtual news briefing that face masks should become a symbol of solidarity around the world.

"A number of vaccines are now in phase three clinical trials, and we all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection. However, there's no silver bullet at the moment – and there might never be."

10:55 GMT – Greece makes masks compulsory on ship decks after COVID-19 spike

Greece will make mask-wearing compulsory on the decks of ferries sailing to its islands, extending the requirement beyond interior spaces after a recent spike in infections, a government spokesman said.

Last week, Greece made mask-wearing mandatory in all indoor public spaces and also in outdoor spaces where proper distancing cannot be observed.

The new measure will go into effect from Tuesday until August 18, as the summer holiday season hits its peak.

09:38 GMT – Norway's Hurtigruten halts cruises after COVID-19 outbreak

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tromso
MS Roald Amundsen, operated by Norway's Hurtigruten, leaves a port in Tromso, Norway, after its crew members were diagnosed with COVID-19 [Terje Pedersen/NTB Scanpix/ via Reuters]

Norwegian cruise line Hurtigruten is halting all its expedition cruises until further notice following an outbreak of COVID-19 on one of its vessels last week, the company said.

At least 40 passengers and crew from the MS Roald Amundsen cruise liner have so far tested positive for the coronavirus, public health officials said on Sunday.

"Our own failure, as well as the recent rise in infections internationally, have led us to halt all expedition cruises in Norwegian and international waters," Chief Executive Daniel Skjeldam said in a statement.

08:55 GMT – Top Indian ministers in hospital as virus cases breach 50,000 for fifth day

India's interior minister Amit Shah and the chiefs of two big states – Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh – have been hospitalised with COVID-19 as the country's daily cases topped 50,000 for a fifth straight day.

The country reported 52,972 new infections in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 1.8 million – the third-highest in the world after the US and Brazil.

With 771 new deaths, the COVID-19 disease has now killed 38,135 people in India.

08:05 GMT – Data leak reveals Iran cover-up on COVID-19 deaths: BBC

A BBC Persian service investigation has found the number of deaths from COVID-19 in Iran is nearly triple what Iran's government claims.

The government's own records appear to show almost 42,000 people died with COVID-19 symptoms up to 20 July, versus 14,405 reported by its health ministry.

The number of people known to be infected is also almost double the official figures: 451,024 as opposed to 278,827.

07:40 GMT – Melbourne to close retail, scale back other industries until mid-September

Australia's second-biggest city has announced new restrictions on sectors including retail and construction as it tries to contain the spread of a resurgent coronavirus.

From Wednesday night, Melbourne will close retail, some manufacturing, and administrative businesses as part of a six-week lockdown, which is expected to hit 250,000 jobs, roughly the number already impacted.

Meanwhile, the state of Victoria declared a "state of disaster" on Sunday due to a surge in community transmissions.

07:06 GMT – Poland to check virus regulations followed in shops

Poland reopens the borders with the European Union countries
Poland has made wearing face masks mandatory in public [File: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters]

Poland's health minister said police and health authorities would start checks in shops this week to see if people are following regulations to keep their mouths and noses covered.

"This week we are starting inspections in shops… (to see) whether clients are wearing masks, whether the staff are wearing masks," Lukasz Szumowski told Polish public radio.

06:20 GMT – Vietnam PM says early August 'decisive time' to avert large-scale virus spread

Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said early August would be a decisive period for preventing large-scale coronavirus spread, which has re-emerged after more than three months.

"We have to deploy full force to curb all known epicentres, especially those in Danang," state broadcaster VTV quoted Phuc as saying.

Phuc said this current wave of infection could have a more "critical impact" than the previous one and ordered officials to both contain the spread and maintain supply chains.

Hello, this is Linah Alsaafin in Doha taking over from my colleague in Kuala Lumpur, Ted Regencia.

05:06 GMT – Singapore to make travellers wear electronic tags to enforce quarantine

Singapore will make some incoming travellers wear an electronic monitoring device to ensure compliance with coronavirus quarantines as the city-state gradually reopens its borders.

From August 11, the devices will be given to all travellers coming from a select group of countries who will be allowed to isolate at home rather than at a state-appointed facility, Reuters news agency said.

The travellers are required to activate the device upon reaching their home and must acknowledge all notifications received on the device. Attempts to leave home or tamper with the device will alert the authorities.

04:22 GMT – US registers more than 45,000 new COVID-19 cases, 420 deaths

The United States has registered at least 45,688 new cases as of the end of Sunday, raising the total to 4.68 million from the previous day of 4.64 million, according to the latest Reuters tally on Monday.

Reuters also reported at least 420 new deaths during the same 24-hour period, raising the total to 155,343, compared to 154,923 the previous day.

04:03 GMT – Honduras extends coronavirus curfew for another week

Honduras will extend its coronavirus curfew for another week through to August 9 in an effort to curb the pandemic, Reuters reported, quoting the country's security ministry.

Honduras first imposed a curfew, in effect between 5pm (23:00 GMT) and 7am (13:00 GMT), in March.

03:48 GMT – Germany's confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 509 to 210,402

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 509 to 210,402, Reuters reported on Monday, quoting the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.

The reported death toll rose by seven to 9,148, the tally showed.

03:18 GMT – Sri Lanka polls to go ahead despite spread of coronavirus

Parliamentary elections will go ahead in Sri Lanka on Wednesday despite coronavirus fears. Voters will wear masks, carry their own pens and maintain physical distancing for the poll, which has been postponed twice because of the pandemic. Votes will be counted on Thursday.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa hopes to tighten his hold on the nation's fractious politics in an election that could elevate his brother and allow the two to change the constitution if they prevail.

Sri Lanka has reported 2,816 infections and 11 COVID-19 deaths as of Sunday. The totals are lower than in neighbouring South Asian countries, held in check by a strict lockdown since March.

Sri Lanka elections
Sri Lanka's main opposition party leader Sajith Premadasa, centre, waves to supporters during the last day of the election campaign for the upcoming parliamentary elections in Colombo on Sunday [Chamila Karunarathne/EPA]

02:31 GMT – Coronavirus outbreak in Xinjiang subsides, 28 new cases reported

An outbreak in China's far northwestern region of Xinjiang is still subsiding, with 28 new cases reported Monday, according to AP news agency.

The 590 cases so far have been concentrated in the capital, Urumqi, where authorities have conducted mass testing, cut public transport, isolated some communities, and restricted travel.

02:15 GMT – South Korea reports 23 new COVID-19 cases

South Korea has confirmed 23 new cases – 20 from overseas and three local transmissions – amid a downward trend in the number of locally infected patients, AP reported.

The cases announced on Monday by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took the country's total to 14,389 cases and 301 deaths.

Health authorities consider imported cases less threatening to the wider community as they enforce two-week quarantines on all arrivals from overseas.

02:00 GMT – Australia's Melbourne braces for more business closures as tougher restrictions bite

Australia's second-biggest city, Melbourne, entered its first day of tougher restrictions to contain a resurgent coronavirus, Reuters reported. State premier Daniel Andrews was expected to announce measures around business closures later on Monday.

The state of Victoria declared a "state of disaster" on Sunday and imposed a nightly curfew for the capital as part of the country's harshest movement restrictions to date, a move backed by the federal government.

Supermarkets will remain open along with restaurant takeaway and delivery services, but some other businesses will be asked to shut down. Schools will move to remote learning from Wednesday.

01:15 GMT – Pope appeals to political leaders create jobs

Pope Francis has called on politicians to create jobs so economies can relaunch from the lockdowns imposed to combat the pandemic, according to AP news agency.

The pope, speaking after the traditional Sunday blessing, said "without work, families and society cannot go forward … It requires lots of solidarity and lots of creativity to resolve this problem."

The pope's remarks follow a week in which officials released statistics showing a record plunge in both the US and eurozone economies.

00:55 GMT – Italy's tally of new virus cases down to 239

The number of new confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Italy nudged lower to 239 in the last 24 hours, while eight deaths were recorded in Lombardy, the epicentre of the country's epidemic.

That brings the total number of cases in Italy to 248,070 to date and deaths to 35,154, AP news agency reported early on Monday quoting the country's health ministry.

The number of daily cases in Italy has hovered between 200-300 for weeks, mostly related to people arriving from outside of Italy, either foreign workers or migrants.

00:25 GMT – Britain to roll out millions of 90-minute coronavirus tests

UK - coronavirus
Britain's healthcare system has come under severe strain during peaks in the country's COVID-19 outbreak, which has killed more than 46,000 people, the fourth-highest toll in the world [Andy Rain/EPA]

Millions of COVID-19 tests – which can offer results in 90 minutes and do not need to be administered by a health professional – will be rolled out to British hospitals, care homes and laboratories in the coming months, Reuters news agency quoted health secretary Matt Hancock as saying.

Separately, the publicly-funded National Health Service said it would be offering "COVID-friendly" treatments to cancer patients, including drugs that do not have a big impact on the immune system.

Britain's healthcare system has come under severe strain during peaks in the country's COVID-19 outbreak, which has killed more than 46,000 people, the fourth-highest toll in the world, according to a Reuters tally collated on Sunday.

00:15 GMT – Mexico reports 4,853 new coronavirus cases, 274 more deaths

Mexico's health ministry has reported 4,853 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 274 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 439,046 cases and 47,746 deaths, according to Reuters news agency.

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

Mexico
Workers are pictured next to a body bag containing the body of a COVID-19 victim at a crematory in Mexico City on Sunday [Edgard Garrido/Reuters]

00:01 GMT – Brazil registers 25,800 new coronavirus cases, death toll tops 94,000

Brazil has recorded 25,800 additional confirmed cases and 541 deaths in the past 24 hours, according to Reuters news agency quoting the country's health ministry.

Brazil has registered more than 2.73 million cases of the virus since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 94,104 as of the end of Sunday, according to the ministry data.

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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 coronavirus-related developments from yesterday, August 2, click here.