Grim toll comes as WHO warns the global coronavirus pandemic is accelerating and entering a ‘new and dangerous phase’.
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned of a “new and dangerous phase” in the accelerating coronavirus pandemic after 150,000 new cases were reported worldwide on Thursday – the highest in a single day.
The United Kingdom’s chief medical officers have agreed to lower the country’s coronavirus alert level from four to three.
German biopharmaceutical company CureVac has started a clinical trial for a vaccine against the novel coronavirus.
More than 458,000 people have died as a result of the new coronavirus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. At least 8.6 million people have been confirmed to have the coronavirus around the world and more than 4.2 million have recovered.
Here are the latest updates:
Saturday, June 20
02:53 GMT – Beijing reports further drop in new cases
China’s capital recorded a further drop in new confirmed coronavirus cases as tightened measures to contain the spread remain in place.
Officials reported 22 new cases in Beijing, along with five others elsewhere in the country. No new deaths were reported and 308 people remain hospitalised for treatment for COVID-19.
One of the Beijing cases is a nurse at a hospital in the suburban Changping district. The Peking University International Hospital where she worked is now under tightened restrictions, along with residential communities in the surrounding area.
A total of 205 people have been diagnosed with the virus in Beijing since the outbreak began last week, with at least two of them critically ill and 11 others in serious condition.
02:19 GMT – Pandemic could worsen Haiti’s ‘already alarming humanitarian situation’
Helen La Lime, the United Nations Special Representative for Haiti, said the coronavirus pandemic is worsening the country’s “already alarming humanitarian situation”, something that could see an increasing number of citizens flee the island to seek a better life abroad.
And unless more help was offered to tackle Haiti’s economic recession, ”a primarily domestic problem could transform into a regional issue,” she warned during a virtual meeting of the UN Security Council on Friday.
She added: “A vicious circle of mistrust, recrimination, and ultimately violence, is once again starting to define the dynamics of Haitian politics at a time when the entire society should be unified in its response to the pandemic”.
Haiti has a population of 11 million people and has so far recorded 4,900 coronavirus cases and 84 deaths.
01:57 GMT – Mexico City delays reopening as cases continue to surge
Authorities in Mexico City delayed a planned reopening of the economy as new confirmed cases and deaths reported nationwide continued at near-record levels.
Claudia Sheinbaum, mayor of the 11 million strong city, said hospital occupancy and case numbers had not decreased to the point where reopening malls and street markets would be possible. The city has about 70 percent of its hospital beds occupied.
Mexico’s Health Department reported 5,030 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 647 more deaths, both numbers down just slightly from Thursday. Total cases now stand at 170,485, with 20,394 fatalities.
01:35 GMT – US court rejects bid for mandatory masks at Trump rally
Oklahoma’s Supreme Court rejected an effort to require everyone attending US President Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa this weekend to wear a face mask and maintain social distancing to guard against spreading the coronavirus.
In a concurring opinion, two justices said the local residents asking for precautions at Trump’s rally – the US’s largest indoor gathering in months – could not establish their legal right to the relief they sought.
The petition was filed by two people described as having compromised immune systems and at particular risk from COVID-19.
The ruling came as Oklahoma reported its second-biggest increase in new infections on Friday, logging 359 cases of COVID-19 and one death. That brings the state’s total case load to 9,706 and number of deaths to 367.
01:10 GMT – Costa Rica halts reopening
Costa Rica is halting the reopening of its economy after registering on Friday a record 119 new coronavirus infections – a figure that brings the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 2,508.
“These are not numbers to think that nothing is wrong and that we can continue with the reopening,” Health Minister Daniel Salas told reporters.
“Stores and shopping malls, beaches, churches and other activities will have to wait until we have a sustained decrease in cases,” he said, adding that the country’s national soccer league is also suspended “until further notice”.
At least 12 people have died from COVID-19 in Costa Rica.
00:23 GMT – Brazil surpasses one million coronavirus cases
Brazil passed one million coronavirus cases and approached 50,000 deaths, a new nadir for the world’s second-worst-hit country as it struggles with a tense political climate and worsening economic outlook.
The country’s health ministry reported 1,032,913 confirmed cases on Friday, with 1,206 new deaths that took the total official fatalities to 48,954.
Friday also saw a new record daily number of cases, with 54,771 infections, a jump the health ministry said was largely due to “instability” in its reporting system, which meant some states were reporting figures from multiple days.
Brazil is likely to surpass 50,000 deaths on Saturday, although weekend reporting can be lower.
Read more here.
00:16 GMT – Zimbabwe health minister arrested over coronavirus supplies scandal
Zimbabwe’s health minister Obadiah Moyo was arrested on Friday for alleged corruption related to the supply of medical materials to combat the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s anti-graft agency said.
He was being held at a Harare police station and is likely to appear in court on Saturday.
“I can confirm that the minister of health and child welfare has been arrested and is being detained at Rhodesville police station,” John Makamure, spokesman for the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, told the AFP news agency.
“It’s to do with the procurement of COVID-19 materials,” he added.
The government did not immediately comment on the arrest, which came a day after the country’s main opposition condemned alleged corruption following suspicions about a two-million-dollar payment to a medical company contracted to provide anti-coronavirus equipment.
Harare has come under fire for granting two-month-old company Drax Consult SAGL a contract to supply $20m worth of drugs, personal protective equipment and COVID-19 test kits.
The deal was allegedly signed without the consent of Zimbabwe’s procurement registration authority.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives.
You can find all the key developments from yesterday, June 19, here.
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