• Russia’s coronavirus cases surpass 980,000 after the country reported 4,829 new cases in the last 24 hours.

  • The number of coronavirus cases in Latin America surpassed seven million, as legislators in Argentina’s capital passed a law allowing relatives to maintain a bedside vigil for patients dying of COVID-19.

  • South Korea extended social distancing rules in the capital, Seoul, amid a triple-digit rise in cases, while India reported another record jump in daily cases. New Delhi has reported the world’s highest single-day caseload every day since August 7.
  • More than 24.3 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, and 15.8 million have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 828,000 people have died.

Here are the latest updates:

Friday, August 28

14:06 GMT – UK COVID-19 reproduction “R” rate steady 

UK economy

Shoppers walk past social distancing signs at the Covent Garden shopping and dining district, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease [File: Toby Melville/Reuters]

The reproduction “R” number of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom remains between 0.9 and 1.1, said the government, indicating that the rate of infection is most likely either broadly stable or slightly growing.

The latest growth rate for the whole of the country is between -2 percent and 1 percent, meaning the number of new infections is somewhere between shrinking by 2 percent and growing by 1 percent every day.

13:35 GMT – Denmark extends support for cultural activities 

Denmark said it will extend support for theatres and sport clubs and other cultural activities impacted by coronavirus curbs on large gatherings until the end of October.

The government injected more than 300 billion Danish crowns ($48 billion) into the economy at the beginning of the crisis, including direct economic aid to businesses, state-guaranteed loans, and extended deadlines for tax payments.

Most of those packages will be phased out at the end of August as planned following an improvement in employment numbers, the government said. 

12:30 GMT – Moderna in talks with Japan to supply 40 million doses of vaccine

Moderna Inc has said it is in talks with Japan’s government to potentially supply 40 million or more doses of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

The vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, would be distributed in Japan by Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd, beginning in the first half of 2021, if it receives regulatory approval.

The news comes as the country scrambles to secure access to enough doses of the vaccine to inoculate its population four times over, as it prepares to host a delayed Summer Olympics next year.

11:55 GMT – Bangladesh’s Beximco in vaccine pact with Serum Institute of India

One of Bangladesh’s largest drugmakers, Beximco Pharmaceuticals, announced that it will invest with the Serum Institute of India (SII) to ensure Bangladesh gets access to vaccines it is developing for the novel coronavirus.

The deal comes after Bangladesh said this month it was ready to hold trials of candidate vaccines developed by India as both countries seek to curb the spread of the virus.

“The investment amount will be treated as an advance and once the vaccine receives regulatory approvals, SII will include Bangladesh among the countries who will be the first to receive an agreed quantity of this vaccine from SII on a priority basis,” Beximco said in a statement, citing the heads of both organisations.

11:30 GMT – J&J to start mid-stage vaccine trials in three European countries

Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit will begin mid-stage trials for its coronavirus vaccine in Spain, the Netherlands and Germany next week, Spain’s health minister said, as the US drugmaker expands testing for its experimental shot.

The phase two trial will last two months and include 550 participants across the three countries, including 190 people in Spain, Salvador Illa told a news conference in Madrid.

Spain, which has western Europe’s highest tally of coronavirus cases, is also working with AstraZeneca via the European Union’s vaccine procurement programme to secure sufficient doses.

outside image - blog - vaccine

More than 150 potential vaccines are being developed and tested globally to combat the COVID-19 pandemic [AFP] 

10:55 GMT – Slovakia adds six EU countries to quarantine requirement

Slovakia will require travellers from six more European countries to stay in quarantine from September 1 due to rising numbers of coronavirus cases there, the Health Ministry said.

They are Croatia, a particularly popular holiday destination for Slovaks, as well as Spain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Malta.

Anyone who has visited those countries in the previous two weeks will be required to self-quarantine for 10 days, or present a negative test after at least five days’ self-isolation following entry to Slovakia.

The ministry also advised people not to travel to Greece and certain parts of other European countries due to rising numbers of coronavirus cases. Those areas include the Czech capital, Prague, the Austrian capital, Vienna, and in the UK, Tayside in Scotland and the Northwest region of England.

10:30 GMT – Amsterdam ends ‘experiment’ with mandatory face masks

The city of Amsterdam said it was ending an experiment with mandating the use of face masks in crowded public spaces as a way to slow the spread of coronavirus, as the peak of the tourism season has passed.

The city, bucking national guidelines that only require masks on public transportation, had introduced mandatory masks in tourist hotspots on August 5.

Social distancing requirements remain in place in the city, which remains a virus hotspot, and nationally.

10:00 GMT – Merkel warns situation to get more difficult over winter

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the coronavirus pandemic will make things more difficult in the coming months and over the winter.

“It will probably get more difficult,” Merkel told reporters at a news conference.

09:30 GMT – Philippines reports 3,999 virus cases, 91 more deaths

The Philippine health ministry confirmed 3,999 additional novel coronavirus infections and 91 more deaths.

The ministry said total confirmed cases have reached 209,544, about a fifth of which were reported in the past 10 days, while deaths rose to 3,325.

The Philippines has the most confirmed COVID-19 infections in Southeast Asia and the region’s second-highest number of coronavirus deaths, next to Indonesia.

A boy wears a face shield while watching a simulation of an online learning class from a smartphone in his home, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Manila, Philippines,

A boy wears a face shield while watching a simulation of an online learning class in Manila, Philippines [File: Reuters]

09:00 GMT – China approves Sinovac’s vaccine candidate for emergency use: Report

Sinovac Biotech Ltd’s coronavirus vaccine candidate CoronaVac was approved in July for emergency use as part of a programme in China to vaccinate high-risk groups such as medical staff, a person familiar with the matter told the Reuters news agency.

China National Biotec Group (CNBG), a unit of state-owned pharmaceutical giant China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), also said it had obtained emergency use approval for a coronavirus vaccine candidate.

CNBG, which has two vaccine candidates in phase three clinical trials, did not say which of its vaccines had been cleared for emergency use.

08:15 – Indonesia reports record new virus cases for second day

Indonesia reported 3,003 new coronavirus cases, its biggest rise in new infections for a second successive day, data from the country’s COVID-19 task force showed.

The new cases brought Indonesia’s total coronavirus infections to 165,887, while 105 more fatalities took the death toll to 7,169, the data showed.

07:45 – Russia’s coronavirus cases surpass 980,000

Russia reported 4,829 new cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing its nationwide tally to 980,405, the fourth largest caseload in the world.

Russia’s coronavirus task force said 110 people had died over the last 24 hours, pushing its official death toll to 16,914.

Russia's coronavirus cases rise to 687,862

Russia says 110 people died over the last 24 hours, pushing its official death toll to 16,914 [File: Anadolu]

07:10 GMT – UK transport minister: ‘It is now safe to return to work’

The British government will urge people to return to offices and other workplaces where it is safe to do to help the economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Transport Minster Grant Shapps said.

“Our central message is pretty straightforward: we are saying to people it is now safe to return to work,” he told LBC radio, referring to a campaign set to be launched next week.

06:45 GMT – France hopes to avoid Switzerland quarantine measures 

France is hoping to avoid COVID-19-related quarantine measures imposed on its citizens travelling to and from Switzerland, French junior European affairs minister, Clement Beaune, told Europe 1 radio.

06:15 GMT – Ukraine reports daily record of 2,438 new virus cases

Ukraine registered a record 2,438 cases of the new coronavirus in the past 24 hours, officials said.

Ukraine this week imposed a temporary ban on most foreigners from entering the country until September 28 and extended lockdown measures until the end of October to contain a recent spike in coronavirus cases.

The country has so far reported a total of 114,497 infections and 2,451 deaths from the virus.

05:50 GMT – Japan’s Abe aims to secure virus vaccine for all citizens by mid-2021

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced new measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic, including boosting testing capability to 200,000 tests per day and aiming to secure enough vaccines for all citizens by mid-2021.

Abe also said Japan will allow foreigners with residence status to enter the country from the start of next month.

Shinzo Abe

Abe says Japan will allow foreigners with residence status to enter the country from the start of next month [EPA] 

Hello. This is Umut Uras in Doha, taking over from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed.

04:52 GMT – India reports record daily jump of 77,266 infections

India has reported a record daily jump of 77,266 coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, taking the country’s total to 3.39 million.

India has reported the highest single-day caseload in the world every day since August 7, a Reuters tally showed, and is the third-most affected country behind only the United States and Brazil.

Deaths in the same period went up by 1,057, taking the total toll to 61,529.

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Kolkata

Catholic nuns from the Missionaries of Charity, the global order of nuns founded by Saint Mother Teresa, wear protective face shields as they prepare to distribute free snacks and tea among the poor in Kolkata, India [Rupak De Chowdhuri/ Reuters]

04:26 GMT – Venezuela using COVID-19 to crack down on critics, says HRW

Venezuelan security forces and authorities under President Nicolas Maduro have used the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to crack down on dissenting voices, Human Rights Watch reported.

The New York-based rights group said Venezuelan authorities have targeted dozens of journalists, healthcare workers, human rights lawyers and political opponents critical of the government’s response to the pandemic.

Some critics have been physically abused to levels bordering on torture, it said in a report listing 162 such cases from March through June.

“In Venezuela today, you can’t even share a private message criticizing the Maduro government via WhatsApp without fear of being prosecuted,” said Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. 

03:57 GMT – Trump says US will ‘crush’ COVID-19 with vaccine ‘this year’

US President Donald Trump has promised to “crush” the coronavirus pandemic with a vaccine by the end of the year, as he accepted the Republican Party’s presidential nomination for a second term.

“We are marshalling America’s scientific genius to produce a vaccine in record time,” Trump said.

“We will have a safe and effective vaccine this year and together we will crush the virus.”

03:22 GMT – UN concern over ‘widespread’ COVID-19 transmission in Syria 

Ramesh Rajasingham, the United Nations’s deputy emergency relief coordinator, says COVID-19 is having a dramatic effect on healthcare services in Syria, where limited testing is obscuring the real extent of the pandemic.

Official COVID-19 figures suggest community transmission of the coronavirus is widespread in Syria, he told the UN Security Council (UNSC), with the majority of the 2,440 cases confirmed by the Ministry of Health not traceable to any known source.

“Reports of healthcare facilities filling up, of rising numbers of death notices and burials, all seem to indicate that actual cases far exceed official figures,” he told the UNSC.

Meanwhile, healthcare workers still lack sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) and several facilities have suspended operations due to lack of capacity and staff falling ill from COVID-19, he said.

02:43 GMT – S Korea extends coronavirus curbs as cases rise

Chung Sye-kyun, the prime minister of South Korea, has extended social distancing rules in the Seoul metropolitan area for one more week amid another triple-digit increase in daily coronavirus cases.

The phase two restrictions, which ban gatherings of more than 50 people indoors, were due to expire this weekend.

Chung said there are growing calls to elevate the distancing requirements to the highest level on the three-phase level, but that remains “the choice of last resort given its economic and social repercussions”.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 371 new coronavirus cases as of midnight on Thursday, bringing the country’s total to 19,077, including 316 deaths.

02:16 GMT – US’s COVID-19 death toll passes 180,000

The United States has added 931 new coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s total death toll to 180,527.

An additional 42,859 new infections brought its overall caseload to 5,860,397.

01:39 GMT – Curfew in Cuba’s Havana

Havana’s governor has announced an overnight curfew and a ban on travel from the Cuban capital to other provinces and greater restrictions on the circulation of vehicles in a bid to curb a new peak in coronavirus cases.

The new measures will come into effect on September 1 for 15 days, Reinaldo García Zapata said on national television, at which point the situation will be reassessed.

01:01 GMT – Australia’s Victoria reports steady rise in cases

Australia’s second-most populous state – the epicentre of the country’s latest COVID-19 outbreak – says it detected 113 new cases in the past 24 hours, a number that remained unchanged from the previous day.

Strict lockdown measures have helped ease the daily rise of COVID-19 infections in Victoria after the state hit a one-day high of more than 700 cases about three weeks ago.

Australia has now recorded nearly 25,500 COVID-19 infections nationwide, while the death toll rose to 584 after 12 people died in Victoria.

00:54 GMT – Buenos Aires to allow relatives to attend patient deaths

Healthcare workers in the Argentine capital will be instructed to allow family members to maintain a bedside vigil for dying COVID-19 patients under a new law approved on Thursday.

“In much of the world, the coronavirus has been defined as the disease of loneliness. There are many cases where people said their loved ones died because they felt alone,” said Facundo Del Gaiso, the city congressman who introduced the bill.

The measure allows one family member, between the ages of 18 and 60, to keep vigil with the dying patient, with the exception of pregnant women or people with pre-existing medical conditions.

00:31 GMT – Severe or fatal COVID-19 very rare in children, study finds

Children and young people are far less likely than adults to get severe cases of COVID-19 infection, and death from the disease among children is exceptionally rare, according to research published in the British Medical Journal.

A study of COVID-19 patients admitted to 138 hospitals in the United Kingdom between January 17 and July 13 found that less than 1 percent were children, and of those, fewer than 1 percent – or six in total – died, all of whom were already suffering from serious illness or underlying health disorders.

“We can be quite sure that COVID in itself is not causing harm to children on a significant scale,” said Calum Semple, a professor of outbreak medicine and child health at the University of Liverpool, who co-led the work.

“The highest-level message really has to be that [in children with COVID-19] severe disease is rare, and death is vanishingly rare – and that [parents] should be comforted that their children are not at direct harm by going back into school,” he told a briefing.

While the overall risk of children getting severe COVID-19 is “tiny”, the researchers said, children of Black ethnicity and those with obesity are disproportionately affected, as previous studies in adults have found.

00:18 GMT – Latin America’s coronavirus cases pass seven million

Coronavirus cases have passed the seven-million-mark in Latin America, according to a Reuters tally, even as some countries begin to show a slight decline in infections in the region with the world’s highest level of contagion.

The daily average of cases fell to about 77,800 in the last seven days through Wednesday, against almost 85,000 the previous week, the tally based on government figures showed.

Latin America’s increase from six million to seven million occurred in 13 days, two more than the previous million mark.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives. 

For all the key developments from yesterday, August 27, go here