Live: WHO reports largest 24-hour increase in coronavirus cases | News

  • Spain has opened its borders to most European countries, as well as Britain, as the coronavirus state of emergency ends. Spaniards were also allowed to move freely around the country from Sunday.

  • A new field hospital in eastern Morocco will receive about 700 new coronavirus patients following a spike in infections in the kingdom, said the government.

  • Iraqi football legend Ahmad Radhi has died at a hospital in Baghdad as a result of complications from the new coronavirus.

  • Worldwide, at least 8.75 million people have been confirmed to have the coronavirus, more than 4.3 million have recovered, and more than 464,000 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Here are the latest updates:

Sunday, June 21

23:11 GMT – Italy wants to evaluate new WHO recommendations

Italy’s Health Ministry is asking government advisers to evaluate new World Health Organization recommendations that people with COVID-19 can come out of isolation even before they test negative for the virus, AP news agency reported.

The WHO last week said patients who spent 10 consecutive days in isolation with symptoms can be released if they then are symptom-free for at least three days. Previously, WHO recommended ending the isolation of infected people only after they tested negative twice on samples taken 24 hours apart.

The change is significant given that many countries are grappling with how to deal with thousands of people who are technically infected with the virus but may not still pose a transmission risk to others.

Italy on Sunday reported 224 new coronavirus cases and 24 deaths in the past day, bringing the country’s official death toll in the pandemic to 34,634.

20:50 GMT – WHO reports largest single-day increase in cases

The WHO has reported the largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases by its count, at more than 183,000 new cases in the latest 24 hours.

The UN health agency says Brazil led the way with 54,771 cases tallied and the US next at 36,617. Over 15,400 came in in India.

Experts say rising case counts can reflect multiple factors including more widespread testing as well as broader infection.

Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Sao Paulo

People walk at a popular shopping street amid the coronavirus disease in Sao Paulo, Brazil [Amanda Perobelli/Reuters]

20:30 GMT – Germany reproduction rate jumps, indicating rising contagion

Germany’s coronavirus reproduction rate has jumped to 2.88, up from 1.79 a day earlier, health authorities said, a rate showing infections are rising above the level needed to contain the disease over the longer term.

The rise brings with it the possibility of renewed restrictions on activity in Europe’s largest economy – a blow to a country that so far had widely been seen as successful in curbing the coronavirus spread and keeping the death toll relatively low.

To keep the pandemic under control, Germany needs the reproduction rate to drop below one. The rate of 2.88, published by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for public health, means that out of 100 people who contract the virus, a further 288 people will get infected.

20:00 GMT – Saudi ends lockdown despite spike in infections     

Saudi Arabia has ended a nationwide coronavirus curfew and lifted restrictions on businesses, including hair salons and cinemas, after three months of stringent curbs, despite a spike in infections.     

Prayers were also allowed to resume in mosques in the holy city of Mecca, state media reported, just weeks before the annual hajj pilgrimage is due to start.     

International flights and religious pilgrimages, however, remain suspended and social gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited, according to the interior ministry.

The kingdom, which has the highest reported coronavirus infections in the Gulf, has seen a spike in cases after it began a phased easing of stringent lockdown measures in late May. On Sunday, the total number of infections rose to 157,612, while the death toll climbed to 1,267, according to data from the health ministry.

Saudi jewellers

Saudi jewellers wearing protective face masks stand as people shop at a jewellery store during Ramadan in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia [Ahmed Yosri/Reuters]

19:20 GMT – France death toll rises by seven

The number of deaths in France from COVID-19 has risen by seven from the previous day to stand at 29,640 said the country’s national health service on Sunday.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose by 284 to 160,377.

France has the fifth-highest coronavirus death toll in the world, although the rate of casualties has dropped sharply over the last two months, allowing the country to gradually reopen its economy.

Spain lifts coronavirus state of emergency and reopens borders

18:40 GMT – Tennis: Adria Tour final cancelled after Dimitrov tests positive

Grigor Dimitrov has said said he has tested positive for COVID-19, making him the highest-profile tennis player to reveal he has the disease.

The 29-year-old Bulgarian had been competing in the Adria Tour exhibition tournament in Croatia until he withdrew with illness during the weekend. The final of the event, which would have featured world number one Novak Djokovic and Russian Andrey Rublev, was cancelled as a result.

18:00 GMT – NYC virus tracing off to a bumpy start: Report

New York City’s effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus through contact tracing has been hampered by the reluctance of many people who are infected with the virus to provide information to tracers, according to a report in The New York Times.

The Times report said just 35 percent of the 5,347 city residents who tested positive or were presumed positive for COVID-19 in the first two weeks of the contact tracing program gave information about their close contacts.

Perry N. Halkitis, dean of the School of Public Health at Rutgers University, told the newspaper that the 35 percent rate for eliciting contacts is “very bad”.

Business New York

A worker passes by a boarded-up restaurant during the outbreak of coronavirus  in New York City [Brendan McDermid/Reuters]

17:20 GMT – China bans some US chicken imports, PepsiCo products

China banned imports from a top US poultry producer and ordered a Beijing Pepsi factory to close Sunday as authorites clamped down on food production and distribution amid a new coronavirus cluster in the capital.

Health officials also reported 22 new virus cases in Beijing, where they have tested more than two million residents as they seek to contain a wave of new infections linked to a wholesale market in the capital.

Imports of frozen chicken from Tyson Foods have been “temporarily suspended”, the General Administration of Customs said, after a virus outbreak was found at one of the company’s production facilities in the US.

US food and drinks giant PepsiCo was also ordered to shut down one of its snack-making plants in Beijing after several employees tested positive, company spokeswoman Fan Zhimin said.

16:40 GMT – Dubai to allow foreign tourists to enter from July 7 

Dubai will allow foreign visitors to enter from July 7, while foreigners with residency visas will be able to enter from June 22, the Dubai Media Office has said.

It said those entering would have to present certificates to show they had recently tested negative for the coronavirus or would undergo tests on arrival at Dubai airports. Citizens and residents would be permitted to travel abroad from June 23.

People wearing protective face masks order food as they keep social distancing at the food court in Dubai mall after the UAE government eased a curfew and allowed stores to open

People wearing protective face masks order food as they keep social distancing at the food court in Dubai mall in the United Arab Emirates [Rula Rouhana/Reuters]

16:00 GMT – Dutch police arrest dozens after protest over restrictions

Police in The Hague have arrested dozens of people after they refused to leave a protest against the Dutch government’s social distancing measures put in place to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

About a thousand protesters had gathered in the Malieveld area in The Hague, close to the Dutch seat of government, even though the rally had been banned by the municipality.

“The remaining demonstrators on the Malieveld who refused to leave have all been arrested,” the police tweeted on Twitter, without saying how many people had been detained. Dutch media said about 100 people were arrested. A witness gave a similar estimate.

The authorities had allowed a brief protest to go ahead before asking demonstrators to leave. Police made the arrests when a small group of about 200 people refused to leave, the witness said.

15:20 GMT – German police use pepper spray on resident on quarantine facility

Police used pepper spray on residents of a quarantined housing complex in the German city of Goettingen after   riots broke out, leaving eight officers injured, officials have said. 

Police said they were pelted with bottles, stones, metal bars, household items and pyrotechnics when around 80 to 100 residents gathered at a fence surrounding the apartment complex on Saturday. Officers said they were only able to prevent the barrier from being broken with the “heavy use of pepper spray.”  

Some 700 people living in the apartments had been placed under forced quarantined on Thursday in efforts to stem a coronavirus outbreak.  

Initial test results showed that around 17 percent of the people living there had been infected with the novel coronavirus.

14:40 GMT – UK death toll rises by 43 to 42,632

The number of people in Britain who have died after being confirmed to have COVID-19 has risen by 43 to 42,632, according to health officials.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases in the UK rose by 1,221 to 304,331.

14:00 GMT – Serbians head to polls in Europe’s first post-lockdown election

Serbians have gone to the polls to elect a new parliament in Europe’s first national election since coronavirus lockdowns took effect three months ago, with the ruling conservatives expected to win a comfortable majority.

Polling stations were equipped with face masks and hand sanitisers for use by the country’s electorate of almost 6.6 million, many of whom were expected to skip voting – partly because of fears of infection.

At 2 PM local time (1200 GMT), turnout was 26.5 percent compared with 29.7 percent at the same stage of voting four years ago, figures released by the state election commission showed.

Turnout could also be hit by a boycott by some opposition parties, who say the vote will not be free or fair owing to President Aleksandar Vucic’s grip over the media.

Serbia polls

A polling official checks voter’s finger to prevent two-time voting, during the first national election in Europe since coronavirus lockdowns began, in Belgrade, Serbia [Marko Djurica/Reuters]

13:30 GMT – Spain reopens its borders as state of emergency comes to an end

Passengers wearing masks and wheeling suitcases arrived at Madrid’s main airport and French citizens crossed the border to buy bargain alcohol and tobacco on Sunday as Spain opened its borders to most European countries and ended a state of emergency imposed to contain COVID-19.

Spain’s borders are now open to all European Union countries except Portugal, as well as Schengen area members outside the bloc and Britain. British tourists will be allowed in without having to quarantine, Spain said on Saturday, even though they will still be subject to 14 days isolation upon their return..

Spaniards were also allowed to move freely around the country from Sunday and many were expected to visit friends, relatives and second homes in other regions. Since March 14, people have had to remain in their own provinces.

Could dexamethasone cure coronavirus? Dr Khan answer

Hello, this is Joseph Stepansky in Doha taking over from my colleague Arwa Ibrahim.

12:53 GMT – Beijing can screen one million people daily for coronavirus

The Chinese capital is capable of screening almost one million people a day for the coronavirus, an official said, as testing continued across the city to try to contain the spread of a fresh outbreak.

Beijing has been expanding testing in the city of 20 million since a cluster of infections linked to a food wholesale market erupted about a week ago.

The outbreak, the first in Beijing in months, has now surpassed previous peak numbers in the city in early February.

12:48 GMT – FIFA pays tribute to late Iraqi footballer Ahmad Radhi

FIFA, or the International Federation of Association Football, paid tribute to Ahmad Radhi, the Iraqi football legend who died due to the coronavirus in a Baghdad hospital earlier on Sunday.

In a tweet, FIFA listed Radhi’s achievements in his football career, before adding: “Football lost a legend today. RIP Ahmed Radhi.”

12:35 GMT – Pope says coronavirus should spark new environmental awareness

The drastic reduction in pollution during coronavirus lockdowns around the world should lead to greater concern for the environment as restrictions are lifted, Pope Francis said.

At his Sunday address in St Peter’s Square, the pope said the pandemic made many people reflect on their relationship with the environment. 

“The lockdown has reduced pollution and revealed once more the beauty of so many places free from traffic and noise. Now, with the resumption of activities, we should all be more responsible for looking after our common home,” he said.

Pope Francis

 St Peter’s Square, where the address was held, reopened to the public a month ago and Italy’s last travel restrictions were lifted on June 3 [File: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP]

12:24 GMT – Afghan health workers deliberately attacked during pandemic: UN

The United Nations released a special report expressing concerns over what it called recent “deliberate attacks” against healthcare workers and facilities in Afghanistan during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said it documented 12 incidents of deliberate acts of violence between March 11 and May 23.

The report said eight of the incidents were carried out by Taliban fighters while three incidents were attributed to Afghan security forces.

COVID-19 in Afghanistan The most horrific attack, on a maternity ward last month at a Kabul hospital that killed 24 people, remains unsolved [File: Anadolu]

12:10 GMT – Coronavirus cases surge in Oman

Oman confirmed three more deaths from the novel coronavirus, said the Ministry of Health, taking the country’s death toll to 131.

A further 905 new infections were recorded over the last 24 hours, pushing the total cases to 29,471.

The country has so far reported 15,552 recoveries from the disease.

11:58 GMT – UK to seek new powers to scrutinise foreign takeovers

The United Kingdom will seek changes to the law to allow scrutiny of certain foreign takeovers to ensure they do not threaten the country’s ability to tackle public health emergencies such as the coronavirus outbreak.

The government said it would introduce changes to the Enterprise Act on Monday to allow it to intervene if a business involved in a pandemic response became a target of a takeover.

“These powers will send an important signal to those seeking to take advantage of those struggling as a result of the pandemic that the UK government is prepared to act where necessary to protect our national security,” Business Secretary Alok Sharma said in a statement.

11:14 GMT – Morocco opens field hospital after spike in virus cases

A new field hospital in eastern Morocco will receive about 700 COVID-19 patients following a spike in infections in the kingdom, the government said.

Morocco reported a record single-day rise in novel coronavirus cases on Friday after an outbreak was detected in fruit packing plants in eastern Kenitra province, prompting Rabat to tighten restrictions in the region.

The North African kingdom reported more than 500 cases on Friday, mainly in Kenitra, having recorded on average fewer than 100 new COVID-19 infections daily since confirming its first cases in early March.

Outside image - blog - morocco

Strawberry fields in Kenitra – usually busy with workers harvesting at this time of year – were deserted at the weekend, following an outbreak in packing plant [File: Fadel Senina/AFP]

09:56 GMT – India records highest daily rise in coronavirus cases

India registered 15,413 more cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, its highest single-day increase so far, with total confirmed cases now at 410,461, according to the Ministry of Health.

Data from the ministry confirmed 306 deaths, raising the overall toll to 13,254.

Some 128,205 cases have been confirmed so far in the western state of Maharashtra, which remains the worst-affected state in the country, followed by the southern state of Tamil Nadu and the national capital New Delhi.

Outside image - blog - Grim India record  The health ministry data showed 306 deaths in the past 24 hours [File: Harish Tyagi/EPA]

09:49 GMT – UK to unveil lockdown easing plans this week

The UK will outline its plans to ease the coronavirus lockdown this week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, potentially relaxing the two-metre rule on social distancing, allowing many businesses to reopen in early July.

“We’re about to see another step in the plan,” Hancock told BBC.

“This week, we will announce further details of the measures we can take to relieve some of the national lockdown measures at the start of July, including on July 4.”

Matt Jancock -  reuters

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock says government will potentially relax the two-metre social distancing rule [File: Andrew Parsons/Reuters]

09:28 GMT – Saudi Arabia to launch $4bn tourism development fund

Saudi Arabia plans to start a tourism development fund with an initial $4bn investment, the Ministry of Tourism said, as part of plans to diversify the economy in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and low oil prices.

The Tourism Development Fund will launch equity and debt investment vehicles to develop the tourism sector in collaboration with private and investment banks, the ministry said in a statement.

“The launch of the fund at this time, as the tourism sector faces unprecedented global challenges, is testament to investor and private-sector confidence in the long-term outlook for tourism in Saudi Arabia,” Minister of Tourism Ahmed al-Khatib said in the statement.

09:11 GMT – Indonesia reports 862 new coronavirus infections, 36 more deaths

Indonesia reported 862 new coronavirus infections, taking its total number of cases to 45,891.

Health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said there were 36 more deaths reported, with total deaths now at 2,465 – the highest in East Asia after China.

08:24 GMT – Chinese researchers launch Phase 2 human tests for possible vaccine

Chinese researchers have started a second phase human trial of a possible coronavirus vaccine, the Institute of Medical Biology at Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (IMBCAMS) said, in efforts to further assess effectiveness and safety.

IMBCAMS began on Saturday Phase 2 human tests for its experimental shot, following an ongoing first phase study that has recruited about 200 participants since May, it said on its social media channel.

The Phase 2 trial will determine the shot’s dose and continue to evaluate whether the potential vaccine can safely trigger immune responses in healthy people.

Employee Philipp Hoffmann, of German biopharmaceutical company CureVac, demonstrates research workflow on a vaccine for the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease at a laboratory in Tuebingen

 Chinese scientists are testing six possible vaccines in humans for the new coronavirus [File: Andreas Gebert/Reuters]

07:56 GMT – Russia reports fewer than 8,000 new coronavirus cases

Russia reported 7,728 new cases of the novel coronavirus, pushing its nationwide case tally to 584,680 since the crisis began.

The national coronavirus response centre said 109 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 8,111.

07:20 GMT – Iraqi football legend Ahmad Radhi dies due to coronavirus 

Iraqi football legend Ahmad Radhi has died at a hospital in Baghdad as a result of complications from the new coronavirus, Iraqi media reported. 

Radhi Amish Ahmad

Iraqi footballer and then captain Ahmad Radhi heading his team before the match that ended with Iraq’s victory against Iran 2-1, in October 1993 in Doha, Qatar [File: Burhan Ozbilici/The Associated Press]

The 56-year-old was considered a national star, known for scoring one World Cup goal in Mexico in 1986, when Iraq’s national football team, the Lions of Mesopotamia, qualified for the championship. 

Radhi spent most of his career in the Iraqi league, representing Al-Zawraa and Al-Rasheed, winning five league titles and topping the scoring charts twice. 

06:57 GMT – Tokyo confirms 35 new coronavirus cases

Thirty-five novel coronavirus infection cases were confirmed in Japan’s capital city, Tokyo, metropolitan government officials said.

The daily number exceeded 30 for the fourth straight day. Nine of the 35 were found positive in group testing conducted by the government of Shinjuku Ward, which has a popular nightlife district.

06:12 GMT – UK Finance Minister Sunak plans emergency cut in VAT

British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak is ready to cut the value-added tax (VAT) as part of the government’s latest efforts to tackle economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, the Sunday Times reported.

Sunak has ordered officials to prepare options for reducing the sales tax, including a cut in the headline rate, and zero rating more products for a fixed period, the newspaper reported.

The finance minister may announce lowering the VAT and business rates in a speech in early July, the report added.

Hello, I’m Arwa Ibrahim in Doha, Qatar, taking over the live blog from my colleague, Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

05:10 GMT – China reports 25 new cases as millions tested 

Chinese authorities reported on Sunday at least 25 new confirmed cases – 22 in Beijing and three in neighbouring Hebei province.

China’s National Health Commission also said 2.3 million people had been tested in an effort to contain the outbreak in the capital that led to the closure of its biggest wholesale food market.

China recorded at least 84,553 cases, with 4,639 confirmed deaths.

03:48 GMT – Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases rise

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 687 to 189,822, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Sunday.

The institute also reported the death toll to be 8,882, one lower than Saturday’s. No explanation was given why the number decreased, according to Reuters news agency.

03:24 GMT – South Korea reports 48 new cases

South Korea reported 48 new cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, down by 19 from a day earlier, Yonhap news agency reported.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said imported cases have dropped, but local infections rose amid a continuing spread of the virus in the Seoul metropolitan area and the central city of Daejeon.

Of the new cases, 40 are local infections, and eight are imported, raising the total caseload to 12,421. There were no additional deaths, keeping the total death toll at 280.

03:12 GMT – Australian state extends state of emergency in Victoria

Australia’s second-most populous state, Victoria, on Sunday extended its state of emergency for four more weeks to July 19, as it battles a spike in coronavirus infections, Reuters reported. This comes a day after the state announced it would reimpose restrictions capping visitors to households to five people and outdoor gatherings to 10, starting Monday. The limits had been relaxed on June 1.

Victoria reported 19 new infections on Sunday, the fifth day of double-digit rises. The state has now had 1,836 total confirmed cases, a quarter of Australia’s cases.

State Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said 210 of the cases are believed tied to community transmission, partly blamed on families who have had big parties, lunches and dinners attended by people with mild symptoms.

02:48 GMT – No 14-day quarantine requirement for UK visitors: Spain

Spain is dropping the country’s 14-day quarantine requirement for British visitors starting Sunday, when citizens of Schengen countries will be allowed to freely enter the country.

Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya told the BBC: “We are doing this out of respect for the 400,000 British citizens who have a second residence in Spain.”

Gonzalez Laya says she hopes the British government will likewise drop the quarantine requirement for Spanish citizens travelling to the UK. Some 250,000 Spaniards have homes in the UK, she said.

02:30 GMT – North Macedonia reports 11 deaths, Greece reports one

Greece has reported one more death from the coronavirus, while the small neighbouring country of North Macedonia reached a new daily record with 11 virus-related deaths, according to The Associated Press news agency.

North Macedonia’s death toll to date is 233, with 5,005 confirmed cases as of Saturday. Infections began to climb early this month after authorities lifted restrictions and ended a curfew. In a TV interview, Health Minister Venko Filipce said cases are increasing because residents ignored recommendations to avoid gatherings, wear masks and maintain social distance.

In Greece, authorities announced 19 new confirmed cases. The country’s total number of confirmed cases now stands at 3,254, with 190 deaths. 

02:00 GMT – Trump urges slowdown in COVID-19 testing

US President Donald Trump told thousands of his supporters that he had asked US officials to slow down testing for the novel coronavirus, calling it a “double-edged sword” that led to more cases being discovered. Trump said the US had now tested 25 million people, far more than other countries.

“When you do testing to that extent, you’re gonna find more people you’re gonna find more cases. So I said to my people slow the testing down, please,” Trump told a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where many supporters were not wearing face masks.

A White House official said Trump was joking about his call for a slowdown in testing.

01:30 GMT – Mexico reports 4,717 new coronavirus infections, 387 deaths

Mexico reported 4,717 new infections and 387 additional coronavirus deaths, Reuters news agency said quoting the health ministry. The total number is now 175,202 cases and 20,781 deaths.

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

Mexico - coronavirus

Protesters chant against Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador demanding he keep promises made, as he visits a public hospital in Cuernavaca, Mexico on Friday [Fernando Llano/AP]

01:18 GMT – Rio mayor suspends games to give teams more time to prepare

The resumption of Brazilian football was dealt a setback when the Rio de Janeiro mayor suspended matches involving Botafogo and Fluminense to give the clubs more time to prepare.

The Rio de Janeiro state championship became the first Brazilian football tournament to restart on Thursday when reigning champions Flamengo beat Bangu 3-0. However, Fluminense and Botafogo threatened not to play games scheduled for June 22, Fluminense players saying they needed more time to train, and Botafogo declaring they would only be ready to play in July.

With courts refusing their appeal to postpone the games and the two clubs worried they would lose points by a WO, Mayor Marcelo Crivella with an initial decree to suspend all games in the Rio state championship until June 25  that he reversed hours later to halt only Botafogo’s match against Cabofriense and Fluminense’s encounter with Volta Redonda.

00:01 GMT – Montenegro restores some lockdown measures after new cases emerge

Montenegrin health authorities have restored some lockdown measures in a northeastern border town to contain a cluster of coronavirus cases, AP news agency reported.

Authorities have confirmed new cases after there had been none in Montenegro for several weeks, saying that out of the country’s 31 active cases, 26 were imported from neighbouring Serbia.

Those infected include some who went to a football game in Serbia’s capital of Belgrade and some citizens of the northeastern Montenegrin town of Rozaje who travelled to a town across the border.


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 

You can find all the key developments from yesterday, June 20, here

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