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Coronavirus: Free to read

Coronavirus: Week of July 19 to July 25, South Korea's 113 cases, most since March

US posts 1,000 deaths for 4th day; Gold price soars on economic anxiety

A model wears a mask during a fashion show in Seoul on July 24 to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.   © Reuters

The Nikkei Asian Review is tracking the spread of the new coronavirus that originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Follow the latest updates

Global cases have reached 15,667,461, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

The worldwide death toll has hit 638,238.

To see how the disease has spread, view our virus tracker charts:

(Source photo by AP) 

Here are the latest developments (Tokyo time):


Saturday, July 25

10:30 a.m. China reports 34 cases of the new coronavirus on the mainland Friday, up from 21 cases a day earlier, the country's health commission said Saturday. Of the new infections, 20 were in the far western region of Xinjiang. Nine were in the northeastern province of Liaoning, while the remaining five were imported cases.

10:22 a.m. South Korea reports 113 cases of the new coronavirus on Saturday, the largest one-day increase since March, bringing the country's total to 14,092.

9:18 a.m. The U.S. records more than 1,000 deaths from COVID-19 for the fourth day in a row on Friday, according to a Reuters tally, as the Trump administration stresses the need for children to go back to classrooms despite fears about safety.

8:05 a.m. The U.S. is doubling down on claims that Chinese consulates are facilitating espionage, including attempted theft of COVID-19 vaccine research, after it ordered the Chinese Consulate in Houston to close, citing the city's importance in medical research. 

8:01 a.m. People who are obese or overweight are at increased risk of death or severe illness from COVID-19, according to a report by Public Health England published Saturday, as the U.K. government prepares to introduce measures to confront the problem.

6:50 a.m. Sao Paulo, the biggest city in South America, postpones its 2021 Carnival celebrations on the same day that Formula One scrapped its next planned race here, underlining the enduring effects policymakers expect the coronavirus pandemic to have on Brazil.

5:49 a.m. Many companies in Japan have responded to the pandemic by encouraging or requiring employees to telecommute, but this is not always possible. Some workers need to come to the office for safety or security reasons, and businesses are finding ways to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus using tools such as cardboard partitions to separate desks.

5:20 a.m. The National Zoo in Washington partially reopens to visitors for the first time in more than four months, despite the capital's mayor expanding public health measures to fight the coronavirus this week.

3:40 a.m. The World Health Organization reports a record number of new global COVID-19 cases -- 284,196 in 24 hours.

12:59 a.m. Human trials of Russia's second potential coronavirus vaccine, developed by the Siberian Vector institute, will begin on July 27, reports Reuters, citing the TASS news agency. An early-stage human trial of a separate vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya institute in Moscow, was completed this month, with scientists hailing the results and authorities planning to move to mass production in the autumn.

12:40 a.m. Gold futures have topped $1,900 per troy ounce, a psychologically important price threshold, amid rising uncertainty over the global economic outlook. That brings the precious metal close to an all-time high of $1,923 reached in September 2011. Gold prices are up nearly 25% this year.

Friday, July 24

10:00 p.m. The European Medicines Agency has begun a review of a British study that suggests the common steroid dexamethasone can prove effective against COVID-19, Reuters reports. Japan recently approved dexamethasone as its second treatment for severe cases of the coronavirus disease.

5:55 p.m. The Philippines' Department of Health reports 2,103 new infections, bringing the total number of cases to 76,444, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

5:35 p.m. Singapore's Health Ministry confirms 277 new coronvirus cases, taking the city-state's total to 49,375, The Straits Times reported. VivoCity's Golden Village cinema, Raffles City Shopping Centre and Golden Mile Complex were added to the list of places visited by those infected with the virus on Thursday.

Cambodia has reported four new cases of coronavirus among its soldiers who had been stationed in Mali, West Africa, on a U.N. peacekeeping mission.   © Reuters

5:30 p.m. Indonesia reports 1,761 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total in the country to 95,418, according to Reuters. The number of deaths rose by 89, raising the death toll to 4,665.

5:05 p.m. Minor International, a Thai operator of hotels and restaurants, says it plans to reopen around 90% of its hotels by September despite the novel coronavirus pandemic.

5:00 p.m. Cambodia's Health Ministry confirms four new cases of coronavirus among its soldiers who were stationed in the West African nation of Mali on a U.N. peacekeeping mission, AP reported. The three men and a woman were members of a team that had worked on land mine clearances.

4:27 p.m. Bank of Thailand Gov. Veerathai Santiprabhob tells a local TV station that the kingdom's job losses were estimated at 7 to 8 million during the coronavirus lockdown but that half of those losses could be recouped after the situation eases.

 A man in a face mask stands in front of a screen advertising the Tokyo 2020 Olympics: The Japanese capital has had new coronovirus infections in triple digits for 16 straight days.   © Reuters

4:20 p.m. Tokyo confirms 260 new cases of COVID-19, down from 366 the previous day. The number of new infections has been in triple digits for 16 days in a row, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Japanese capital to 10,680.

1:58 p.m. Health authorities in the city of Danang, Vietnam, report the first suspected case of COVID-19 thorough local transmission, after 99 days without any. They have tracked down more than 100 people who had contact with the suspected infected person, and all of the results were negative in initial testing.

1:25 p.m. India reports a new daily record for coronavirus cases, at 49,310, in the last 24 hours, bringing the country's tally to nearly 1.3 million. The death toll jumped to 30,601, an increase of 740 from Thursday morning.

Health workers wearing protective gear take down details on residents during a check-up campaign for the novel coronavirus in Mumbai on July 22.    © Reuters

12:14 p.m. Australia's second-most populous state of Victoria says six people died from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, the highest daily toll since the pandemic began. The state recorded 300 new infections, compared with 403 cases a day earlier, according to Reuters.

11:25 a.m. The South Korean government says it will allow baseball fans back into ballparks starting Sunday, with seating limited to no more than 10% of capacity. Soccer fans will be able to come to stadiums from Aug. 1, subject to the same restrictions. The country confirmed 41 new coronavirus cases, down from 59 on Thursday. The country's total infections reached 13,979, with 298 deaths.

10:40 a.m. The ATP and WTA professional tennis associations have cancelled their remaining tournaments in China this year, including the flagship WTA Finals. The General Administration of Sport, China's highest sporting body, earlier said only trials for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics will be held in 2020.

8:55 a.m. U.S. President Donald Trump says he will cancel the Republican Party's nominating convention in Florida in August. He said it was not the right time to hold a "crowded convention."

4:20 a.m. South African public schools will close for a four-week break, with some exceptions, says President Cyril Ramaphosa, as confirmed coronavirus cases rise over 400,000.

4:00 a.m. Jeju Air, South Korea's largest low-cost carrier, will drop its planned acquisition of foundering compatriot Eastar Jet as the coronavirus pandemic wipes out demand for air travel.

3:30 a.m. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus hits back at U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's claim that China had co-opted the World Health Organization, calling his remarks "unacceptable."

1:09 a.m. British vacuum cleaner company Dyson says it will cut 900 jobs around the world due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on consumer demand.

Dyson will give the ax to 900 workers worldwide.   © Reuters

Thursday, July 23

11:30 p.m. The governor of Japan's Hyogo Prefecture, home to Kobe, tells older residents and people with underlying medical conditions to avoid unnecessary outings during the ongoing four-day holiday weekend. Japan is experiencing a rise in new COVID-19 cases, with Thursday's count reaching a one-day record of 996. Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike has made a similar request.

4:28 p.m. The Malaysian government has announced that starting Aug.1 it will be mandatory to wear a mask on public transportation and in crowded places. The mandate comes amid a boom of people not complying with requests and ahead of a potential second wave of infections in the country.

2:08 p.m. Tokyo confirms more than 360 infections, sources tell Nikkei, breaking the 300 mark for the first time.

1:34 p.m. India reports its biggest single-day increases in cases and deaths, with 45,720 new infections and 1,129 fatalities. The country's COVID-19 totals now stand at over 1.23 million cases and 29,861 deaths.

1:20 p.m. Taiwan proposes a second supplementary budget for 2020 worth T$210 billion ($7.13 billion) to ease the impact of the pandemic on the trade-reliant economy, which is expected to slow to a five-year low.

12:20 p.m. California overtakes New York as the worst-hit U.S. state, a Reuters tally of county data shows, with total cases in the most populous U.S. state rising by 12,112, the biggest single-day increase since the pandemic began. California has now reported more than 421,000 cases. The state also recorded a single-day high in deaths, at 159.

11:45 a.m. Australia reports its biggest budget deficit since World War II as the coronavirus crisis knocks the country into its first recession in three decades.

10:30 a.m. Victoria reports 403 new infections, its third-highest daily rise. On Wednesday, Australia's second most populous state posted its biggest one-day spike, 484 cases.

A medical worker conducts a free nucleic acid test in a residential compound after new coronavirus cases were discovered in Urumqi, Xinjiang Province, China, on July 19, 2020.   © Reuters

10:00 a.m. China reports 22 new cases for Wednesday, up from 14 a day earlier. Of the new infections, 18 were in the far western region of Xinjiang and one was in Liaoning Province, in the northeast, according to a statement by the National Health Commission. The other three were imported cases. China also reported 31 new asymptomatic patients, up from 22 a day earlier.

8:00 a.m. South Korea entered a recession for the first time in 17 years as exports plunged due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Bank of Korea announces. The country's gross domestic product fell 3.3% in the April-to-June period from the previous quarter, when it contracted 1.3%.

7:20 a.m. Tesla shatters Wall Street's expectations yet again, reporting a fourth straight quarter of profit driven by its success in China even as the coronavirus pandemic slows the global economy. For the three months ended June 30, Tesla recorded $6.04 billion in total revenue, down 5% year over year, but beating the $5.2 billion consensus from Wall Street analysts.

6:00 a.m. A controversial Japanese campaign to promote domestic travel kicked off Wednesday, but the demand outlook remains dim going into a four-day holiday weekend as Tokyo and now Osaka grapple with rising coronavirus cases.

3:30 a.m. Senate Republicans and White House officials are discussing a short-term extension of enhanced unemployment benefits beyond their expiration at the end of the month, an indication that they are unlikely agree on a broader relief package before then, according to U.S. media.

Students prepare for school in Bekasi, on the outskirts of Jakarta, after the government reopened classrooms.   © Reuters

1:20 a.m. Global COVID-19 cases have surpassed 15 million, with 617,000 deaths, according to the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University's Coronavirus Resource Center. In the U.S., California has topped New York as the state with the most confirmed cases.

12:05 a.m. Thursday marks one year until the start of the postponed 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. In this week's Big Story, read more about how the pandemic-induced delay has left businesses stuck in limbo.

Wednesday, July 22

10:40 p.m. Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has again tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Reuters reports, quoting a Communications Ministry official.

8:15 p.m. The U.S. government says it will pay $1.95 billion for Pfizer to produce and deliver 100 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate in the U.S., Reuters reports. The agreement allows the government to acquire an additional 500 million doses, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense says.

7:57 p.m. Mitsubishi Motors has started making the final arrangements for the closure of a car plant of subsidiary Pajero Manufacturing within three years as vehicle sales slump due to the coronavirus pandemic, sources familiar with the matter told Nikkei on Wednesday.

6:20 p.m. The Philippines' health ministry announces six new deaths and 1,594 additional infections, the seventh straight day when confirmed cases have topped 1,000, Reuters reported. The ministry said total deaths had reached 1,843, while confirmed cases rose to 72,269.

6:05 p.m. Indonesia's Health Ministry announces 1,882 new cases Wednesday, bringing the total to 91,751, the Jakarta Post reported. 139 more people have died in the country's highest daily increase, bringing the death toll to 4,459.

6:00 p.m. Hong Kong sees a record high of 113 new cases, more than half from an unknown origin, bringing the city's total to 2,131, as the government unveiled a range of heightened measures to battle the worsening spread of the pandemic, the South China Morning Post reported. Among the new infections, 105 were locally transmitted, including 63 that have not been traced.

5:19 p.m. The Singapore government launches a 45 million Singapore dollar ($32 million) domestic tourism campaign -- "SingapoRediscovers" -- to help local businesses. Under the program, the iconic Marina Bay Sands hotel is offering "staycation" packages starting from SG$339 per night.

4:33 p.m. Thailand will extend a state of emergency until the end of August, a senior official says, as the country maintains the security measure put in place to contain its coronavirus outbreak. The announcement comes after nearly two months of no local transmission and with many people in the nation questioning the need for such a decree.

4:06 p.m. Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike says Japan's capital has confirmed 238 new infections, marking the second day in a row for the count to exceed 200 cases. The number sends Tokyo's overall total past 10,000. Koike also asked Tokyo residents to refrain from going out during a four-day weekend beginning Thursday, except for urgent or necessary reasons. Meanwhile, the major western Japanese city of Osaka posts a record number of new infections with 121, surpassing the 100 mark for the first time.

2:57 p.m. Wearing face masks will be made compulsory in all indoor public areas and on public transport in Hong Kong from Thursday. The 14-day temporary measure comes after the city saw a third wave of coronavirus infections, with daily new cases exceeding 100 in recent days.

1:40 p.m. India confirms 37,724 new cases, higher than 37,148 reported the previous day, and bringing the country's COVID-19 tally to over to nearly 1.2 million. The death toll has jumped to 28,732, up 648 from Tuesday morning.

Women who will give vaccines wear protective masks as they have their temperatures checked during an anti-polio campaign in a low-income neighborhood of Karachi, Pakistan, on July 20.   © Reuters

12:40 p.m. The Beijing-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank says it will lend $250 million to Pakistan to help the country through the pandemic. The loan, to be cofinanced by the World Bank, is meant to bolster Pakistan's health infrastructure, social safety nets, investment in human capital and economic growth, an AIIB statement says. The AIIB had previously approved a $500 million loan for Pakistan's COVID-19 response.

12:12 p.m. Gold jumps more than 1% to its highest prices in nearly nine years, driven by a weaker dollar and as expectations of more stimulus to resuscitate pandemic-hit economies lift the metal's inflation-hedging appeal. Spot gold was up 0.9% at $1,857.86 per ounce by 0232 GMT, after hitting its highest since September 2011 at $1,865.35 earlier in the session. U.S. gold futures rose 0.8% to $1,858.20.

12:04 p.m. South Korea confirms 63 new cases, up from 45 a day ago. Total infections reach 13,879 with 297 deaths.

11:53 a.m. Australia's second most populous state of Victoria reports two new deaths from the coronavirus and logs a record daily increase of 484 new cases, up from 374 on Tuesday. The state recorded its previous one-day high of 428 cases last week.

11:27 a.m. Foreign direct investments into the Philippines fell 68% to $311 million in April, the height of the country's lockdown. From January to April, FDI declined 32% to $2 billion, the Philippine central bank reports.

9:54 a.m. China reports that 14 new cases were confirmed on the mainland on July 21, up from 11 a day earlier. Of the new infections, nine were in the far western region of Xinjiang. The other five were imported.

9:31 a.m. Rare-earth metal producer Lynas says output nearly halved in the fourth quarter due to halts at its Malaysian processing plant and flagship mine in Australia. The pandemic also hit demand for the 17 metals, which are used in ventilators, iPhones, military weapons and a vast array of other technology, according to Lynas, the world's largest producer of rare-earth metals outside China.

9:17 a.m. Mexico reports 6,859 new infections and 915 fatalities, bringing the country total to 356,255 cases and 40,400 deaths.

7:57 a.m. U.S. deaths rose by more than 1,000, the biggest single-day increase since early June, according to Reuters.

Japan has approved the use of dexamethasone as a treatment fo COVID-19.   © Reuters

6:32 a.m. Japan has authorized the anti-inflammatory drug dexamethasone to treat severe cases of COVID-19, after the inexpensive steroid lowered fatalities by roughly a third in a British trial. This marks the second time a candidate has won fast-track approval in Japan.

4:41 a.m. Brazil is in talks with U.S. biotech company Moderna to get priority in purchasing a potential COVID-19 vaccine that the company is developing, says interim Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello. He said that Brazil also has an understanding with AstraZeneca for the company to deliver 30 million doses of its potential vaccine.

4:15 a.m. Two of the drugmakers developing COVID-19 vaccine candidates, Moderna and Merck, tell U.S. lawmakers they expect to make a profit on these products.

"We will not be selling our vaccine at cost, although it is premature for us as we're a long way from understanding the cost-basis," Julie Gerberding, chief patient officer for Merck, says in House of Representatives subcommittee hearing, according to Reuters.

3:00 a.m. The number of people infected with the coronavirus in some parts of the United States is from two to 13 times higher than the reported rates for those regions, data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.

A large number of unconfirmed cases means that many people who did not have symptoms or did not seek medical care may have kept the virus circulating in their communities.

12:45 a.m. The U.S. Justice Department indicts two Chinese nationals for hacking defense contractors, COVID researchers, and other companies worldwide, according to a court filing. U.S. authorities said Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi participated in a multiyear cyberespionage campaign that stole weapons designs, drug information, software source code and more, reports Reuters.

Tuesday, July 21

The U.S. Department of Justice indicted two Chinese nationals for stealing COVID-19 research and other information through a multiyear hacking campaign.   © Reuters

11:49 p.m. McDonald's says it will open over 700 restaurants for dine-in service in the U.K. and Ireland, but not in Wales due to government guidance.

11:38 p.m. The Citi Open in Washington, which was scheduled to restart the men's ATP Tour after the COVID-19 shutdown, is canceled for 2020. The tennis tournament was set to begin on Aug. 14.

11:17 p.m. South Korea's Posco says it will close a nearly 50-year-old blast furnace in its home city next year. The furnace had remained in operation despite earlier plans to shut it down, but a plunge in demand driven by the coronavirus pandemic forced the company's hand.

10:36 p.m. IndiGo says it will cut its workforce by about 2,000, or 10%, becoming the first major Indian airline to announce a concrete restructuring plan in response to the industrywide slump caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

9:56 p.m. The University of Oxford's possible COVID-19 vaccine could be rolled out by the end of the year but there is no certainty, says the lead developer. It needs to be shown to work in late-stage trials, there needs to be large quantities manufactured, and regulators have to agree quickly to license it for emergency use before large numbers of people could be vaccinated, Sarah Gilbert tells BBC Radio.

7:25 p.m. The top markets for beauty products retailer L'Occitane, which is listed in Hong Kong, have been scrambled by the pandemic.

The company says its sales in mainland China grew 22.9% in the April-June quarter from a year earlier, thanks to new store openings after the country passed through the worst of the outbreak. This makes the country its biggest market globally behind the U.S.

South Korea and Taiwan, which both also saw relatively few cases during the period, enjoyed strong growth too. Sales fell 24.9% in Japan, which had been the company's top Asian market.

6:40 p.m. The Philippines reports 1,951 additional infections, up from 1,521 a day earlier, bringing total cases to 70,764. President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to arrest anyone not wearing a mask or breaching social distancing guidelines.

6:20 p.m. South Korea's SK Bioscience says it has agreed to produce AstraZeneca's experimental vaccine to help the British company build global supplies. The manufacturing contract, which begins this month, will last until early next year and could be extended depending on how successful AstraZeneca is in developing the vaccine.

Data on Monday showed that the vaccine, jointly developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, produced an immune response in early-stage clinical trials.

6:10 p.m. Indonesia reports 1,655 new cases, down from 1,693 a day earlier, bringing the nation's total number of infections to 89,869, according to official data released by the government. The number of fatalities due to COVID-19 rose by 81 to reach a total of 4,320.

6:00 p.m. Hong Kong reports 61 new coronavirus cases, including 58 that were locally transmitted. Hong Kong has tightened social distancing measures amid this month's rise in local transmission numbers.

4:30 p.m. Temasek Holdings, Singapore's state investor, says its net portfolio value declined for the first time in four years due to the pandemic. Its portfolio value fell 2.2% to S$306 billion ($220.3 billion) in the year to March. This came after three consecutive years of gains.

4:10 p.m. Passengers of China-bound flights must provide negative COVID-19 test results before boarding, the Civil Aviation Administration of China says. Nucleic acid tests must be completed within five days of embarkation. The announcement comes as countries struggle with testing capacity and speed. In parts of the U.S., test results can take up to two weeks.

2:47 p.m. Tokyo confirms 237 new infections, Gov. Yuriko Koike says, a day after it reported 168 cases. It is the first time in three days that the capital's total surpassed 200.

1:37 p.m. India confirms 37,148 new cases, down from the biggest daily increase of 40,425 reported the previous day and bringing the country's COVID-19 tally to over 1.15 million. The death toll has risen to 28,084, up 587 from Monday morning.

1:27 p.m. European Union leaders agree on a massive stimulus plan for their coronavirus-blighted economies at a pre-dawn meeting that took place after a fractious summit that lasted almost five days.

1:20 p.m. The Japanese government says it will cover cancellation fees incurred by Tokyo residents and those who planned to travel to the capital after excluding it at the last minute from a domestic tourism promotion campaign to boost economies in pandemic-hit regions.

11:30 a.m. Vietnam reports 12 new infections, all among citizens held in quarantine after coming back from Russia. The country has not recorded a local transmission for more than three months.

11:26 a.m. A total of 1,500 South Korean businesspeople from 241 companies will begin a visit to Vietnam on Wednesday as part of a travel bubble program. On Thursday, 159 people from 57 mid-size companies will leave for Guangdong Province in China. Meanwhile, South Korea confirms 45 new cases, up from 26 on Monday. Total infections reach 13,816 with 296 deaths.

10:50 a.m. Victoria, Australia's second-most populous state, reports three deaths from the new coronavirus and 374 daily infections, compared with 275 a day earlier.

Japan Airlines, globally renowned for its customer service, might skip its annual spring hiring blitz for 2021.   © Reuters

9:48 a.m. Japan Airlines is considering not hiring cabin attendants and other employees who would otherwise start with the company in spring 2021, sources say, now that the pandemic has forced the carrier to slash its international flights by 90%. It will continue hiring pilots as carriers face a pilot shortage.

7:10 a.m. Two more Brazilian government ministers say they tested positive for the new coronavirus. President Jair Bolsonaro tested positive earlier this month. The world's second-most affected country confirmed 20,257 new cases on Monday.

5:00 a.m. U.S. stocks rise on reports of promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials, with the Dow closing up 0.03%, or 9 points, and the S&P 500 climbing 0.84%. The Nasdaq Composite gained 2.51% to a record high on surging technology shares.

2:30 a.m. A vaccine developed by CanSino Biologics and China's military research unit appears to be safe and induced immune responses in most subjects in a closely watched mid-stage study, researchers say. The CanSino candidate, Ad5-nCOV, which was tested in 508 subjects, is one of a handful of vaccines that have shown promise in early human testing.

1:00 a.m. German biotech BioNTech and U.S. drugmaker Pfizer say data from an early-stage trial of their experimental coronavirus vaccine show that it prompted an immune response and was well-tolerated, similar to results seen in an even earlier test.

Monday, July 20

10:54 p.m. AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine under development with Oxford University shows positive results in early trials, eliciting antibody and T-cell immune responses in healthy volunteers. The vaccine caused no serious side effects, the study finds.

A coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca has produced a promising immune response in a large, early-stage human trial.   © Reuters

9:45 p.m. Australia is expected to announce plans to continue subsidizing wages of employees at companies hit by the pandemic, Reuters reports, easing fears of an "October cliff" after the current support program expires at the end of September. The news agency cites excerpts from the pending announcement, saying the payouts would be trimmed with stricter eligibility criteria.

8:10 p.m. Indian police have arrested 14 people on suspicion of selling locally made doses of the antiviral drug remdesivir for five times the maximum retail price, according to Reuters. Patent owner Gilead Sciences has granted licenses to six Indian drugmakers to make generic versions, but production remains limited and infections are surging. Police in Mumbai and Hyderabad say the suspects were selling the drug on the black market for as much as 30,000 rupees ($400) a dose, compared with the maximum price of 5,400 rupees.

7:25 p.m. Hong Kong's unemployment rate has taken another turn for the worse, reaching 6.2% in the three months through June. That is the highest figure in more than 15 years.

7:10 p.m. Malaysia is looking at making face masks mandatory in public, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin says in a televised address, Reuters reports. After nearly three months in lockdown, the country began easing restrictions on June 10, but daily cases have crept back into double digits recently. Muhyiddin says the details will be announced once his government finalizes them.

A family wearing face masks poses while visiting Kuala Lumpur Tower in early July.   © Reuters

6:08 p.m. Japanese drugmaker Shionogi plans to increase production capacity for its coronavirus vaccine candidate, aiming to turn out enough vaccines for 30 million people per year by the end of 2021, as competition intensifies to develop COVID-19 treatments, Nikkei has learned.

6:00 p.m. Indonesia reports its second-highest daily increase in coronavirus-related deaths, with 96 fatalities, a day after registering a record daily jump in deaths, government data shows. The country also reported 1,693 new infections, taking the total to 88,214 with a total of 4,239 deaths.

5:50 p.m. Hong Kong reports 73 new coronavirus cases, including 66 that were locally transmitted, as new restrictions took effect. The city reported more than 100 cases on Sunday, a record, as Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that nonessential civil servants must work from home.

5:45 p.m. The Philippines confirms four new coronavirus deaths and 1,521 new cases, its fifth straight day of reporting over 1,000 infections. Its total deaths rose to 1,835, while confirmed cases reached 69,898.

3:30 p.m. Bangladesh has approved the third-phase trial of a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech, officials say. Sinovac has been looking for volunteers outside of China as the number of coronavirus cases there has dwindled, said a member of Bangladesh's national technical advisory committee to tackle COVID-19.

2:30 p.m. Britain has signed deals to secure 90 million doses of two candidate COVID-19 vaccines from the Pfizer and BioNTech alliance and French group Valneva, the country's business ministry says. The deals follow a previously announced agreement with AstraZeneca for the company to produce 100 million doses of its potential vaccine being developed in partnership with the University of Oxford.

2:01 p.m. India reports its biggest one-day jump in cases, 40,425, taking the country's Covid-19 tally to over 1.1 million. The number of deaths has climbed to 27,497, up 681 since Sunday morning.

2:00 p.m. Tokyo confirms 168 new infections, sources tell Nikkei, down from 188 a day earlier. The metropolitan government last week raised its virus alert to the highest level after daily cases surged above 200.

11:30 a.m. China keeps its benchmark lending rate steady for the third straight month, matching market expectations amid signs that the world's second-largest economy is recovering from the shock of the coronavirus.

The one-year loan prime rate (LPR) was kept unchanged at 3.85%, while the five-year LPR remained at 4.65%.

11:01 a.m. South Korea confirms 26 new cases, down from 34 a day ago. Total infections reach 13,771 with 296 deaths.

Members of a support service remove food trays from a locked-down public housing tower in Melbourne on July 8.   © Reuters

10:40 a.m. Australia will extend its coronavirus loan guarantee scheme for small businesses and increase the credit limit to 1 million Australian dollars ($700,000) from A$250,000. The expanded scheme, which is to begin in October, will also allow businesses with a turnover of under A$50 million to apply for loans to fund investments. State of Victoria added 275 new cases on Monday.

9:30 a.m. A surge in COVID-19 cases in Australia's second-biggest city could take "weeks" to subside despite a lockdown and orders to wear masks, Australia's acting chief medical officer says. Victoria state, mainly in Melbourne, saw a daily record of 438 new cases on Friday.

9:00 a.m. Japan's exports plunged 26.2% in June from a year earlier, a double-digit decline for the fourth month in a row, government data shows. It followed a 28.3% fall in May, which was the biggest annual decline since September 2009 as the pandemic hit global demand. Imports fell 14.4% year-on-year in June.

3:50 a.m. U.S. President Donald Trump says the coronavirus is being contained, despite Florida having reported over 12,000 new cases. "We have embers and we do have flames. Florida became more flame-like, but it's ... going to be under control," he said on Fox News Sunday. "I'll be right eventually," he added.

Containers are processed at Kobe Port. June saw the fourth month in a row of double-digit declines in Japan's exports; imports fell 14.4% year-on-year the same month.   © Reuters

2:00 a.m. In a recent Nikkei/TV Tokyo poll, 80% of respondents said the government is going too fast in launching its Go To Travel campaign, which on Wednesday is to begin promoting domestic tourism in areas excluding Tokyo; 15% said the timing is right.

Sunday, July 19

5:19 p.m. Hong Kong tightens coronavirus restrictions, with nonessential civil servants told to work from home from this week. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam says that the city has recorded more than 100 cases in the past 24 hours, the most since the pandemic took hold in late January, taking the tally close to 2,000 patients, 12 of whom have died.

5:16 p.m. The Philippines' health department reports 58 deaths related to COVID-19 and 2,241 additional infections of the new coronavirus. Total deaths now stand at 1,831, with 67,456 confirmed cases, it says.

4:00 p.m. The July sumo grand tournament starts at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan after a two-week delay and a move from its traditional location in the central Japanese city of Nagoya to the capital to mitigate the risk of infection posed by travel. This is the restart of the sport's first top-level meet since March's Spring Grand Sumo Tournament was held behind closed doors in Osaka.

3:44 p.m. People in Melbourne must now wear masks when leaving their homes as Victoria, Australia's second-most-populous state, marks two weeks of triple-digit increases in coronavirus infections on Sunday. Melbournians not wearing face coverings will be fined $200 Australian dollars ($140), Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said.

1:11 p.m. Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike says the capital is likely to report more than 180 new infections on Sunday. The city had seen the new cases rise to above 200 for three consecutive days previously.

10:16 a.m. Mainland China reports 16 new cases of the novel coronavirus as of the end of July 18, up from 22 reported a day earlier, the Chinese national health authority said Sunday. Of the new infections, 13 were found in Urumqi, the capital of China's far western region of Xinjiang.

People wearing face masks worship at the Buddhist Jing'an Temple in Shanghai as it reopens following the coronavirus outbreak on July 18.    © Reuters

9:24 a.m. Mexico's Health Ministry on Saturday posted a single-day record for new coronavirus cases, with 7,615 more confirmed cases, bringing its overall tally of infections to 338,913, health ministry data shows.

7:48 a.m. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Saturday that lockdown measures used to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus "kill" and have "suffocated" the economy. "Without salaries and jobs, people die," he said, referring to restrictions imposed by some states and municipalities. "Lockdown kills," he added, saying that some politicians have suffocated the economy with forced curfews. The president's statement comes as Brazil's economy is expected to contract 6.4% this year, hit by the pandemic.

3:47 a.m. Finance officials from the Group of 20 countries on Saturday called for all official bilateral creditors to implement fully a short-term debt freeze for the world's poorest countries, but stopped short of extending the initiative into next year.

Saturday, July 18

8:37 p.m. About 650 new cases of the novel coronavirus are reported Saturday across Japan -- the highest since April 11 -- with nearly half of them confirmed in Tokyo. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government confirms 290 new cases of the virus behind COVID-19. It marks the third straight day for Tokyo to see its daily new cases reach nearly 300, after reporting a single-day record of 293 on Friday and 286 on Thursday.

5:39 p.m. Major Japanese menswear retailers are rushing to adapt to changing tastes and needs brought on by the coronavirus by stressing clothing adapted to the "new normal" of telecommuting and face masks.

3:01 p.m. Confusion reigns in Central Asia after the World Health Organization concludes a mission to Turkmenistan by recommending that the government activate "measures as if COVID-19 were circulating" despite no cases being detected officially to date, while surging infections send neighboring countries back into lockdowns.

2:02 p.m. Foreign students hoping to find work at Japanese companies are in a tough spot. Many employers have seen their business suffer during the pandemic and have responded by cutting back on hiring.

10:00 a.m. Global demand for paper is falling as business slows, schools close and telework grows. Production of office print paper in developed countries crumpled by 20% to 30% year on year since spring, with some countries showing even steeper declines than during the 2008 financial crisis.

3:04 a.m. Japanese trading house Itochu has decided to make half of its 3,000 or so domestic employees work from home, reversing course on returning to the office as coronavirus cases surge.

To catch up on earlier developments, see last week's latest updates.

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