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Coronavirus: Free to read

Coronavirus: Week of July 26 to Aug 1, Vietnam reports more Danang-linked cases

Google says 20 US states looking at tracker apps; Japan daily cases hit new high

A medical specialist wearing a protective suit collects a blood sample from a boy who has returned after travelling to Danang, at a rapid testing center for coronavirus disease outside Hanoi on July 30.    © Reuters

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

Global cases have reached 17,497,354, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

The worldwide death toll has hit 677,279.

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

(Source photo by AP) 

Here are the latest developments (Tokyo time):



Saturday, August 1

9:46 a.m. Vietnam's health ministry says 12 new local coronavirus cases linked to the recent outbreak in the central city Danang have been confirmed. Vietnam has registered a total of 558 coronavirus cases and recorded its first two deaths on Friday, according to Reuters.

5:46 a.m. Chilean police are training sniffer dogs to detect the coronavirus in people's sweat at an early stage, after a similar trial in the U.K. showed encouraging results, reports Reuters.

3:15 a.m. Google says 20 U.S. states and territories are exploring the use of contact-tracing apps based on the Exposure Notifications System, developed with Apple. "We expect to see the first set of these apps roll out over the coming weeks," the company says.

Such apps have been introduced in Singapore and other countries, but not without controversy.

12:55 a.m. Vietnam confirms its second death in an announcement late Friday night, local time.

Friday, July 31

10:50 p.m. India's Tata Motors says its group net loss doubled on the year to 84.3 billion rupees ($1.13 billion) in the April-June quarter, as the coronavirus hurt sales for both its own brand and for subsidiary Jaguar Land Rover.

10:10 p.m. Japan confirms 1,572 new cases of COVID-19 as of 10 p.m., marking a new daily high. Most of the reported cases are among young people, but more vulnerable older Japanese are also becoming infected.

A health care worker takes a sample from a man for a rapid antigen test at a checkup center in Kolkata on July 31.   © Reuters

8:45 p.m. India's federal fiscal deficit touched a record $88.5 billion in the April to June quarter, reflecting the impact of the pandemic on the economy and tax collections. Total net federal tax receipts in the three months fell more than 46%, year-on-year, to 1.35 trillion rupees ($18.05 billion).

8:43 p.m. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says during a televised address that people should use gasoline as a disinfectant for protective face masks. "Just go to the gasoline station, and then have some drops, that's disinfectant." He added: "I am not joking. That is true. You think I am just kidding."

8:40 p.m. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says at a news conference that a recent uptick in coronavirus infections was alarming and that he will halt the easing of the lockdown in response. "I said we would not hesitate to put on the brakes at the slightest sign that the numbers were going in the wrong direction. We're now seeing a warning light on the dashboard."

7:41 p.m. Drugmakers Pfizer and BioNTech say they have agreed to supply Japan with 120 million doses of their experimental coronavirus vaccine in the first half of 2021.

7:14 p.m. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the city's legislative election due to be held Sept. 6 would be postponed for a year, citing the risks of the pandemic. Ahead of the announcement, opposition lawmakers issued a statement urging Lam not to delay the election.

6:00 p.m. Hong Kong reports 121 new coronavirus cases, including 118 that were locally transmitted. The Chinese territory reported 149 new cases, a daily record, on Thursday.

Health care workers stand in a street near the house of a COVID-19 patient in Hanoi on July 30.   © Reuters

5:50 p.m. The Philippines confirms 4,063 novel coronavirus infections, reporting the highest daily increase in cases in Southeast Asia for a second straight day.

5:37 p.m. Taiwan's gross domestic product unexpectedly shrank 0.73% in the April to June quarter from a year earlier. The consensus forecast among economists surveyed was for 0.55% growth.

4:54 p.m. Vietnam confirms its first new coronavirus fatality after the death of a 70-year-old man who had tested positive in Danang, where the virus re-emerged in the country last week after 100 days. Vietnam reported 45 new cases linked to the city earlier on Friday.

4:10 p.m. Central Japan Railway posts an operating loss of 83.6 billion yen ($800 million) for the April-June period, its first quarterly loss since the introduction of quarterly business results in 2003. The number of riders on the Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train, the company's top earner, plunged 84% from a year earlier due to the coronavirus outbreak.

2:05 p.m. Tokyo confirms 463 new cases, sources tell Nikkei, marking the highest daily tally. The metropolitan government announced on Thursday it will ask restaurants, bars and karaoke parlors to close by 10 p.m. to curb infections, starting Aug. 3.

1:28 p.m. India sets another daily record with 55,078 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the country total to over 1.63 million. The death toll has risen to 35,747, up 779 from Thursday morning.

1:10 p.m. Japan's benchmark Nikkei Stock Average falls sharply during afternoon trading, dropping over 500 points, or 2%, as investors fear increasing infections in the capital could cause the economy to weaken further.

11:30 a.m. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte extends coronavirus restrictions in Manila until mid-August. The capital and provinces south of it were placed under general community quarantine, limiting movement of the elderly and children, as well as the capacity of business establishments. The country reported a record 3,954 new infections on Thursday.

11:18 a.m. South Korea confirms 36 new cases, up from 18 a day ago, bringing the country total to 14,305 with 301 deaths.

11:00 a.m. China's factory activity expanded in July for the fifth consecutive month and at a faster pace, despite disruptions from floods and a resurgence in coronavirus cases worldwide. The manufacturing Purchasing Manager's Index rose to 51.1 in July from June's 50.9, official data shows, marking the highest reading since March.

10:30 a.m. Australia's state of Victoria reports 627 new cases and eight deaths in the last 24 hours, compared with a record 723 cases and 13 deaths a day earlier.

10:00 a.m. Vietnam reports 45 new infections linked to a recent outbreak in the central city of Danang, marking the biggest daily increase since the virus first emerged in the country in January, Reuters reports. The new patients are linked to four hospitals and a hotel in Danang.

9:30 a.m. China reports 127 new cases for Thursday, up from 105 the previous day and the highest daily total since March 5. Of the new sufferers, 112 were in the far northwestern region of Xinjiang, up from 96 a day earlier. Another 11 were in Liaoning Province, in the northeast, up from five the previous day. There were four new imported cases, compared to three a day earlier.

9:00 a.m. Japan's industrial output for June rose 2.7% from the previous month, government data shows. The seasonally adjusted index of production at factories and mines stood at 80.8 against the 2015 base of 100. The result followed a downwardly revised 8.9% fall in May.

8:58 a.m. Japan's key gauge of job availability in June dropped to its worst showing in five years and eight months despite unemployment edging down, government data shows, as restaurants and hotels struggled to stay in business amid the pandemic. The ratio of job openings to applicants stood at 1.11 in June, down from 1.2 the previous month.

4:30 a.m. Spain reports its biggest daily increase in new coronavirus cases since the country's lockdown ended.

2:30 a.m. U.S. President Donald Trump wants to address the United Nations General Assembly in person this September, his U.N. ambassador Kelly Craft is quoted as saying by Reuters.

12:48 a.m. Herman Cain, a former U.S. Republican presidential candidate, dies after contracting COVID-19. Cain, 74, was diagnosed with the disease in late June after attending a Tulsa, Oklahoma, rally for President Donald Trump, where he was seen without wearing a face mask while in close proximity to other attendees.

12:45 a.m. Japan's Ministry of Health will change its plans for distributing an additional 80 million cloth masks to nursing homes and other facilities nationwide. Instead of across-the-board handouts, the masks will go only to facilities that want them, with the rest held in a national stockpile. The change follows criticism of the plan as inefficient and wasteful spending.

Thursday, July 30

11:45 p.m. Blaming the pandemic, Mazda Motor will withdraw a goal of reaching about 1.8 million vehicle sales worldwide in fiscal 2024, Nikkei has learned. That level would have marked a 15% increase from fiscal 2018.

Mazda's sales for the first half of 2020 fell 25% on the year to around 560,000 vehicles.

10:20 p.m. U.S. President Donald Trump, in a tweet opposing universal mail-in voting, says: "Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???"

Trump says mail-in voting for all would create "the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA."

9:55 p.m. The U.S. economy shrank at a 32.9% annualized rate in the April-June quarter, the sharpest contraction on record, the Commerce Department reports.

9:00 p.m. Jakarta Gov. Anies Baswedan says the "transition period" of relaxing movement restrictions in the Indonesian capital, which was supposed to expire today, will be extended for the third time through Aug. 13. This means offices, shopping malls and other public places can run at only half capacity.

8:40 p.m. Ho Chi Minh City orders bars and nightclubs to shut and bans gatherings of more than 30 people from midnight Thursday, as it seeks to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus, which has resurfaced in Vietnam.

8:24 p.m. The Philippines confirms a record 3,954 new infections. This brings the total to 89,374, eclipsing China's 87,457 reported cases, based on the latest tally by the World Health Organization. Manila also reports 23 new fatalities, putting the death toll at 1,983.

A man walks inside Manila's Rizal Memorial Sports Complex on July 25. Thousands of Filipinos stranded due to coronavirus restrictions wait at the baseball stadium to be transported back to their provinces.   © Reuters

6:46 p.m. Indonesia reports 1,904 new infections, taking its total to 106,336, data from the country's COVID-19 task force shows. The Southeast Asian nation also reports 83 new coronavirus-related deaths, taking total fatalities to 5,058.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi says Indonesia has agreed to a travel-corridor arrangement with the United Arab Emirates. This will allow essential business travel between the two countries, albeit under strict health protocols. UAE previously pledged to invest in Indonesia's planned new capital.

6:00 p.m. Hong Kong reports 149 new coronavirus cases, a daily record. All but four cases were locally transmitted. The rise in infections in the Chinese territory comes ahead of an easing of a ban on eating at restaurants. It reported 118 new cases on Wednesday. Since late January, more than 3,000 people have been infected in the city.

5:31 p.m. Panasonic logged a net loss of 9.8 billion yen ($93 million) in the April-June quarter, the Japanese electronics company says, its first net loss for the April-June period in nine years, as the pandemic battered sales.

3:20 p.m. East Japan Railway posts a net loss of 155.3 billion yen ($1.4 billion) for the April-June period as the number of passengers decreased sharply due to the outbreak. The loss was the biggest ever for the normally profitable railway operator, even larger than that of the January-March 2011 period, which witnessed the earthquake and tsunami that slammed northeastern Japan.

2:06 p.m. Tokyo confirms a record high 367 new daily infections, sources tell Nikkei, as the capital struggles to curb the virus's resurgence.

Hong Kong reported a daily high of 149 new coronavirus infections on Thursday.   © Reuters

1:25 p.m. India reports its highest single-day increase, 52,123 new daily cases, bringing the country's COVID-19 total to over 1.58 million. The death toll jumps to 34,968, up 775 from Wednesday morning.

1:21 p.m. Hanoi will carry out rapid testing by Saturday on 21,000 people who have returned to the Vietnamese capital from Danang, now the country's coronavirus epicenter. Hanoi on Thursday registered its first case of COVID-19 linked to the Danang outbreak.

1:00 p.m. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga tells reporters the government is not considering another state of emergency declaration, citing relatively fewer numbers of patients older than 60 and fewer sufferers with serious symptoms.

12:07 p.m. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is considering invoking a request that restaurants, bars and karaoke parlors shorten their operating hours and close by 10 p.m. due to the resurgence of the coronavirus, Nikkei has learned. The request is expected to take effect Monday and last through August. A 200,000-yen ($1,900) subsidy is under consideration for businesses that accept the request. In Japan, governments cannot legally mandate that businesses close or shorten their hours.

A waitress wearing a protective mask to prevent infection checks the temperature of a customer at a restaurant in Tokyo on May 8.   © Reuters

11:30 a.m. The number of layoffs and contract terminations, including notices of the like, linked to the pandemic in Japan exceeds 40,000 for the first time, according to the labor ministry. It sat at 40,032 on Wednesday, an increase of about 10,000 from a month or so earlier.

11:20 a.m. South Korea's Celltrion says the U.K. has given it regulatory approval for a Phase 1 clinical trial of its experimental COVID-19 treatment. The company is to enroll participants in the U.K. after gaining approval from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.

11:00 a.m. Australia records its worst day of the crisis, with over 700 new cases and 13 deaths in the second-most-populous state of Victoria. The previous national high was 518 new cases. The state capital of Melbourne is now locked down, and other states have closed their borders.

10:20 a.m. China reports 105 new cases, up from 101 a day earlier. Of the new infections, 96 are in the far western region of Xinjiang, five in the northeastern province of Liaoning and one in Beijing. Three were imported cases.

9:40 a.m. Retail sales in Japan fell for the fourth straight month in June as consumer sentiment remained bruised due to the impact from the pandemic, though the pace of decline was slower than expected. Retail sales dropped 1.2% from a year earlier.

9:30 a.m. Vietnam reports nine new local transmissions linked to the recent outbreak in the central city of Danang, taking total infections to 42 since the virus resurfaced over the weekend, Reuters reports. Of the nine new patients, eight are from Danang and one is from the capital, Hanoi. The resurgence has spread to six cities and provinces in as many days.

6:30 a.m. Brazil sets daily records for confirmed cases, 70,074, and deaths, 1,595, raising the country's totals to more than 2.5 million confirmed infections and 90,134 fatalities.

4:50 a.m. Confirmed U.S. deaths from COVID-19 top 150,000, with record daily tallies in such states as California, Florida and Texas. The U.S., which reported roughly 10,000 deaths in 11 days, accounts for nearly a quarter of all coronavirus deaths worldwide.

Emergency medical technicians load a patient into an ambulance outside the Elmhurst Hospital Center in the Queens borough of New York City on April 24.   © Reuters

3:25 a.m. The Federal Reserve decides after a two-day meeting to hold interest rates near zero and extend swap lines with other central banks until the first quarter of 2021. It reiterates its pledge to use its "full range of tools" and keep rates low for as long as necessary for the economy to recover from the impact of the coronavirus.

2:40 a.m. Boeing announces deeper cuts to production of commercial aircraft and confirms plans to end production of its iconic 747 in 2022 after reporting a larger-than-expected quarterly loss due to the pandemic.

Wednesday, July 29

11:05 p.m. The two airports serving Tokyo have started conducting coronavirus antigen tests for international arrivals that produce results in about an hour, helping them roughly double testing capacity.

10:45 p.m. The U.S. military has made COVID-19 tests mandatory for all personnel arriving in Japan.

9:48 p.m. Roche's attempt to retool its rheumatoid arthritis drug Actemra/RoActemra to treat patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19-related pneumonia has failed in a late-stage trial, says the Swiss company.

9:13 p.m. Russia's first potential COVID-19 vaccine will win local regulatory approval in the first half of August and be administered to frontline health workers soon afterwards, reports Reuters, citing a development source.

7:26 p.m. Astra International, one of Indonesia's largest conglomerates, posts a 44% drop in net income to 5.5 trillion rupiah ($378.7 million) in the first half of 2020, compared with the same period of last year -- excluding proceeds from its one-off sale of lending unit, Bank Permata, to Bangkok Bank prior to the pandemic. Income losses were led by a 79% drop in automotive sales, followed by revenue declines in financial services and heavy equipment.

7:05 p.m. A serological surveillance study of nearly 7,000 people in India's financial hub of Mumbai shows that 57% of respondents from its densely-populated slums had developed COVID-19 antibodies, compared to 16% in non-slum areas. Such a survey involves testing blood serum of a group of individuals to determine the prevalence of a virus in a particular area. The study indicates high asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 in Mumbai's slums where people share common facilities such as toilets and water-gathering points.

6:00 p.m. Japan records more than 1,000 new coronavirus infections for the first time and posts 1,003 cases nationwide, up from 982 on Tuesday.

5:58 p.m. The Philippine health ministry reports 1,874 new infections and 16 additional COVID-19 deaths. In a bulletin, the ministry says total fatalities increased to 1,962 while confirmed cases have reached 85,486.

5:48 p.m. Maruti Suzuki India posts a quarterly loss for the first time in at least 15 years, as production and sales at the country's largest automaker were hit due to coronavirus lockdowns and supply chain disruptions. The New Delhi-headquartered company logged a net loss of 2.49 billion rupees ($33.30 million) for the three months ended June 30, compared with a profit of 14.36 billion rupees a year ago.

5:46 p.m. Hong Kong reports 118 new infections, up from 106 the previous day, as strict new measures including restricting gatherings to two people and a ban on restaurant dining took effect.

5:37 p.m. Muslim pilgrims, donning face masks and moving in small groups after days in isolation, begin arriving at Islam's holiest site in Mecca for the start of a historically unique and scaled-down hajj pilgrimage reshaped by the coronavirus pandemic.

5:33 p.m. Indonesia reports 2,381 new infections, taking the total to 104,432, data from the country's COVID-19 task force show. The Southeast Asian nation also reports 74 new coronavirus-related deaths, taking total fatalities to 4,975.

4:27 p.m. Thailand will extend its state of emergency for another month, despite recording no local transmissions for over two months. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha's cabinet endorsed a proposal from the country's Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration to extend the emergency decree for the fourth time until August 31.

4:21 p.m. The U.S. military says it will test all personnel arriving in Japan for the coronavirus. The order comes after infections surged on U.S. bases across the country, which prompted Defense Minister Taro Kono and local authorities to push for more stringent steps to contain the outbreak.

A man and his children, all wearing protective masks, ride a bicycle in Vietnam's capital of Hanoi on July 27.   © Reuters

3:50 p.m. Hong Kong could postpone by one year a vote for seats in the city legislature scheduled for Sept. 6 as infections rise, public broadcaster RTHK reports, citing unnamed sources.

3:32 p.m. India's Hetero Labs says it received local approval to launch its version of anti-viral drug favipiravir, the generic form of Avigan. The drug, priced at 59 rupees (79 cents) per tablet, will be available at drug stores from Wednesday, the company said.

3:18 p.m. The Tokyo metropolitan government reports 250 new cases compared with 266 the previous day, when the number topped 200 for the first time in two days. Nationwide, Japan recorded 982 cases on Tuesday, the highest daily total as concerns mount over rising infections.

2:37 p.m. India reports 48,513 new cases in the last 24 hours, up from 47,703 the previous day, bringing the country's COVID-19 tally to over 1.53 million. The death toll has jumped to 34,193, up 768 since Tuesday morning.

2:00 p.m. Vietnam's government has made plans for multiple flights to bring back about 500 nationals stranded overseas, more than half of whom have contracted COVID-19.

1:56 p.m. Coronavirus cases have been detected in Vietnam's two biggest cities -- Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City -- and in the country's central highlands coffee belt, due largely to increased domestic travel, state television reports. Broadcaster Vietnam Television (VTV) said the infections resulted from movement of people between those areas and Danang, the central city where the country's first community transmission in three months was reported on Saturday. The health ministry has not confirmed the cases reported by VTV, which said there were 30 infections linked to Danang.

12:00 p.m. Serum Institute of India and South Korea's SK Bioscience are poised to become key players in the fight against the coronavirus after they were chosen to produce a new vaccine developed by Oxford University and British pharmaceutical AstraZeneca.

11:44 a.m. South Korea confirms 48 new cases, up from 28 a day ago, bringing the country total to 14,251 with 300 deaths.

11:30 a.m. Singapore's jobless rate rises sharply in the second quarter to a decade-high of 2.9%, provisional data shows, as the pandemic caused employment to shrink in the services and construction sectors. Overall unemployment has climbed from 2.4% in the first quarter and is nearing the 3.4% peak seen during the global financial crisis of 2009.

11:29 a.m. Thailand records no foreign tourist arrivals and spending for a third straight month in June, as its borders remained closed, with a 66% year-on-year drop in the January-June period to 6.69 million visitors.

11:15 a.m. Australia's second-most populous state of Victoria says daily infections fell below 300 for the first time in more than a week, with 295 over the last 24 hours compared with 384 a day earlier. There were nine deaths over the same period, with seven linked to nursing home facilities, Premier Daniel Andrews said in a media conference.

11:13 a.m. Deaths in the U.S. neared 1,300 on Tuesday, the biggest one-day rise since May, according to a Reuters tally. California, Florida and Texas -- the nation's most populous states -- reported one-day record deaths, together accounting for 584 of the 1,292 new deaths. Arkansas, Montana and Oregon also had one-day record increases in fatalities.

11:05 a.m. Japan expects its economy to shrink to the mid-4% range for fiscal 2020, Nikkei has learned. The revised projection for real gross domestic product marks a significant downward revision from the prospect of 1.4% growth planned at the start of the year. The figure exceeds the 3.4% decline in GDP in fiscal 2008, when the economy was hit by the global financial crisis.

10:22 a.m. Ratings agency Fitch revises its outlook on Japan's long-term foreign currency debt rating to negative from stable, citing the sharp coronavirus-induced economic contraction. "The coronavirus pandemic has caused a sharp economic contraction in Japan, despite the country's early success in containing the virus," Fitch said, while affirming Japan's 'A' rating.

9:41 a.m. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has warned the city is on the brink of a large-scale outbreak of the coronavirus and urged people to stay indoors as much as possible as strict new measures to curb the spread of the disease take effect on Wednesday.

A sample is collected from a taxi driver by a health worker at a makeshift testing station in a Hong Kong parking lot following a flare-up of the coronavirus in the city on July 27.   © Reuters

9:40 a.m. China reports 101 new coronavirus cases in the mainland for July 28, the highest number in more than three and a half months, the country's health commission says.

9:33 a.m. Australia's second-largest bank, Westpac Banking, says it will bring back 1,000 call center jobs to Australia from overseas to meet growing demand for customer assistance due to the coronavirus pandemic.

8:56 a.m. Vietnam's Health Ministry reports eight new locally transmitted coronavirus cases linked to three hospitals in the central city of Danang, raising the number of infections to 30 since the virus resurfaced over the weekend.

7:42 a.m. Drugmaker Moderna plans to price its coronavirus vaccine at $50 to $60 per treatment course, at least $11 more than another vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, the Financial Times reported Tuesday, citing unnamed sources.

6:49 a.m. U.S. fast food chain McDonald's will sell off a significant chunk of shares held in McDonald's Japan, a move that will grant its Japanese counterpart greater freedom to chart its own course after the pandemic. The Chicago-based burger chain also reports that its global same-store sales fell 23.9% in the second quarter, dragged down by big international markets including the U.K., France and Latin America.

6:47 a.m. U.S. President Donald Trump doubled down on Tuesday on his support for the unproven drug hydroxychloroquine, describing it as extremely successful in treating the deadly coronavirus. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month revoked its emergency-use authorization for hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 after several studies cast doubt on its effectiveness.

6:36 a.m. Moderna on Tuesday said its experimental COVID-19 vaccine induced a robust immune response and protected against infection in a study on monkeys. The vaccine, MRNA-1273, given to nonhuman primates protected against infection in the lungs and nose, and prevented pulmonary disease in all animals, the company said in a news release.

4:41 a.m. The coronavirus has chilled the atmosphere for Southeast Asia's startups, which for years have been fueled by billions of dollars in venture capital from investors such as SoftBank Group's controversial $100 billion Vision Fund. For Gojek, Grab and others, the quest for profit become a struggle for survival. Find out more in The Big Story.

4:26 a.m. Optical equipment maker Canon has posted its first quarterly loss, with the pandemic sapping sales for a range of products, including printers, cameras and display-manufacturing equipment.

People wear masks at an event to mark the 67th anniversary of the Korean War armistice in Pyongyang on July 27 in this image provided by the Korea Central News Agency.   © Reuters

2:28 a.m. Duty-free store operator Laox will close half of its locations in Japan, the company said Tuesday, seeing no recovery from a plunge in Chinese, South Korean and other Asian tourists.

1:57 a.m. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko says that he caught the coronavirus and recovered "on his feet" without showing any symptoms, sounding a defiant tone as he addressed military leaders in Minsk, reports Reuters. Lukashenko, 65, has resisted calls for strict lockdown measures to contain the pandemic

1:43 a.m. Sixty-five migrants who were in a group of 94 people rescued at sea and brought to Malta have tested positive for COVID-19, says Malta's health ministry. It was the single largest cluster of positive cases detected on the Mediterranean island since the first case came to light in the country on March 7, according to Reuters.

Tuesday, July 28

11:18 p.m. North Korea introduces tougher curbs against the coronavirus after it locked down the town Kaesong, on the border with the South, to tackle what could be its first publicly confirmed infection, reports Reuters, citing state media.

8:25 p.m. Australia is sending a medical team to help Papua New Guinea confront an alarming surge in cases, Reuters reports, citing Canberra's Acting Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Birmingham. The small Pacific island state had 62 cases as of Tuesday, up from just eight 11 days ago.

6:50 p.m. The World Health Organization has warned against complacency over coronavirus transmissions in the northern hemisphere, saying that the virus does not behave like influenza that tends to follow seasonal trends.

"People are still thinking about seasons. What we all need to get our heads around is this is a new virus and... this one is behaving differently," Margaret Harris said at a video conference in Geneva.

The World Health Organization has warned that the coronavirus does not follow seasonal trends like influenza and that people must not become complacent about its transmission over the summer.   © Reuters

6:15 p.m. The Philippines says it has recorded another 1,678 infections, the 14th consecutive day that it has marked more than 1,000 new daily cases.

6:00 p.m. Hong Kong has reported 106 new coronavirus cases, including 98 local transmissions, as residents brace for strict new measures that ban restaurant dining and restrict gatherings to two people to take effect from Wednesday.

5:30 p.m. Indonesia reports 1,748 new infections, bringing its tally to 102,051 confirmed cases overall. Deaths related to COVID-19 have risen by 63, bringing the country's total to 4,901.

5:08 p.m. Nissan Motor expects its biggest-ever operating loss of 470 billion yen ($4.4 billion) this fiscal year, the Japanese automaker announces, plagued by plunging sales amid uncertainty over the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

3:50 p.m. Hawaii Gov. David Ige says Japan has put it on a list of destinations for the potential resumption of international travel, making it the only U.S. state being considered. "It's important that we restore travel between Japan and Hawaii," Ige said, "and we see this program as a way to make this possible." No timetable has been set for when the program might start.

2:41 p.m. Tokyo confirms 266 new infections, sources tell Nikkei, up from 131 a day earlier. The metropolitan government is concerned about the recent trend of increasing transmissions among family members, colleagues at companies and people dining out, in addition to those occurring in nightlife districts.

1:39 p.m. India confirms 47,703 new cases in the last 24 hours, down from the biggest single-day spike of 49,931 the previous day, bringing the country's COVID-19 tally to over 1.48 million. The death toll has jumped to 33,425, up 654 since Monday morning.

11:15 a.m. China reports 68 new coronavirus cases for July 27, up for the fourth consecutive day, the health authority says. Two were in Beijing, while 57 were in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. The northeastern province of Liaoning reported six new cases. Another four involved travelers arriving from overseas.

11:00 a.m. Australia's second-most populous state of Victoria reports six deaths from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours and 384 new cases compared with a record 532 cases a day earlier.

11:00 a.m. Vietnam has suspended all flights to and from Danang for 15 days starting Tuesday after at least 14 cases of the novel coronavirus have been detected in the city, Reuters reports. The country has also suspended all passenger bus and train services to and from the coastal municipality.

9:00 a.m. The U.S. government announces it will award $265 million to Fujifilm Holdings. According to the Japanese company, it will invest the money in increased vaccine manufacturing capacity at a Texas plant by autumn. It expects to be able to enter mass production in early 2021.

If an evaluation of their lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate goes well, Pfizer and BioNTech could submit the treatment for regulatory approval in October and be on track to supply up to 100 million doses by the end of the year.   © Reuters

8:12 a.m. U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech say they are to begin a pivotal global study to evaluate their lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The vaccine could be submitted for regulatory approval in October, and the companies could be on track to supply up to 100 million doses by the end of the year. The announcement comes shortly after Moderna said it had launched an advanced stage trial with 30,000 participants.

6:48 a.m. Belgium announces sharp curbs on social contact after a surge of coronavirus infections in the past three weeks. From Wednesday, a Belgian family or those living together would only be able to meet five other people over the next four weeks, sharply down from 15 now.

5:40 a.m. Google will extend its work-at-home option for global employees by six months to the summer of 2021 as the coronavirus spread gathers pace in the U.S. while flaring up again in other parts of the world. The company had planned to return to normal work locations in early 2021.

4:23 a.m. The International Monetary Fund approves a $4.3 billion emergency loan for South Africa to help the country cope with the health and economic consequences of the the coronavirus pandemic.

3:00 a.m. California's attorney general has begun a probe into what has done to protect its workers during the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reports, citing a court filing.

1:45 a.m. U.S. biotech company Moderna's vaccine against COVID-19 could become available by the end of this year, U.S. officials say after the developer announces it has begun a trial involving 30,000 subjects.

Monday, July 27

11:30 p.m. U.S. President Donald Trump's national security adviser Robert O'Brien has tested positive for COVID-19, the White House says.

U.S. national security adviser Robert O'Brien, left, with President Donald Trump in Washington on June 1.   © Reuters

11:20 p.m. Prime Minister Narendra Modi says India is ramping up its COVID-19 testing capacity to reach 1 million tests per day in the coming weeks. That would be roughly double the current level.

In January, when India confirmed its first COVID-19 case, it had just one coronavirus testing center. Now there are nearly 1,300 such laboratories across the country, Modi says, inaugurating three "hi-tech" testing facilities at a videoconferencing event.

8:04 p.m. Emergent BioSolutions signs a $174 million agreement with U.K.-based AstraZeneca to produce the British drugmaker's vaccine candidate. AstraZeneca chose the U.S. company in June to help produce 300 million doses of its potential vaccine pledged to the U.S.

7:38 p.m. World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says the pandemic is easily the worst global health emergency. Only with strict adherence to health measures, from wearing masks to avoiding crowds, would the world be able to beat it, he added. "Where these measures are followed, cases go down. Where they are not, cases go up."

6:00 p.m. Japan Airlines is expected to report an operating loss of about 120 billion yen ($1.1 billion) for the April-June quarter, Nikkei has learned. This will mark the biggest quarterly loss for Japan's flag carrier since its stock market relisting in 2012. JAL's utilization rate on its international routes was as low as 4% in June, 6% in May and 23% in April.

5:55 p.m. Hong Kong reports 145 cases, of which 142 were locally transmitted. This marks a new daily high just hours after the city announced its toughest measures yet to curb a community outbreak.

5:51 p.m. Indonesia's infections top 100,000, with 1,525 cases in the last 24 hours and 57 deaths. This brings the country total to 100,303 with 4,838 deaths.

4:55 p.m. Mitsubishi Motors says it expects a group net loss of 360 billion yen ($3.4 billion) for the year ending March 2021, marking the second straight year of red ink, as sales cratered due to the coronavirus pandemic.

4:30 p.m. Russia reports 5,635 cases -- its lowest daily tally since April 23 -- bringing the country total to 818,120, the fourth-highest in the world.

4:17 p.m. Dine-ins at restaurants in Hong Kong will be banned for seven days starting on Wednesday as the city fights a third wave of infections. Gatherings of more than two people will also be prohibited. Meanwhile, the wearing of face masks will be made compulsory in all public premises.

3:17 p.m. ANA will further reduce the number of domestic flights in August from what it had announced on July 14. The Japanese carrier now says it will operate at 77% of scheduled flights for the month, down from the previously planned 88%, as cases increase and bookings turn out to be slower than expected.

2:32 p.m. Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike says the metropolitan government has confirmed 131 new infections, marking the first time the capital has recorded less than 200 daily cases since July 20.

2:00 p.m. Vietnam is evacuating 80,000 people, mostly local tourists, from the central tourism hot spot of Danang after the first community infections since April were confirmed on the weekend. The evacuation will take at least four days with domestic airlines operating approximately 100 flights daily from Danang to 11 Vietnamese cities.

A flight attendant explains safety procedures before takeoff of a Vietnam Airlines flight Feb. 23.   © Reuters

1:35 p.m. India reports another record single-day spike in infections with 49,931 cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the country's COVID-19 tally to over 1.43 million. The death toll has climbed to 32,771, up 708 from Sunday morning.

12:30 p.m. Gold prices jump to record highs as an intensifying U.S.-China row hammered the dollar and cemented expectations that central banks would continue pumping out stimulus to ease the economic pain from a worsening coronavirus pandemic.

11:50 a.m. China's industrial profits in June rose for a second straight month and at the fastest pace in more than a year, the statistics bureau says, another sign that the country's economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis is gaining momentum. Steel, oil and gas extraction as well as the nonferrous metal sector led the way to an 11.5% profit increase from the year-earlier level to 666.55 billion yuan ($95.27 billion), the fastest pace of growth since March 2019.

10:30 a.m. Australia's second-most populous state of Victoria reports a record daily increase of 532 new cases, compared with 459 a day earlier. It also logs six new deaths.

10:06 a.m. Japanese companies' sales dropped 7.5% in the January-March quarter from a year earlier, according to a downward revision to a preliminary 3.5% decrease, released in June, the finance ministry says. The tumble is the largest since the April-June quarter of 2011, after Japan was walloped by a major earthquake and tsunami. Japanese companies' capital spending rose 0.1%, another big reduction from the preliminary 4.3%.

The inclusion of more small and midsize companies that were hit harder by the virus than large ones led to worse numbers, the ministry says.

9:40 a.m. The Bank of Japan is wary of risks to Japan's economic outlook, including the possibility that its recovery may be delayed as it takes time to adjust to structural changes brought by the pandemic, a summary of opinions at the mid-July meeting shows. One board member said, "The economy may not rebound to the pre-pandemic level even in fiscal 2022," which ends March 2023.

8:35 a.m. South Korea's auto output tumbled nearly 20% to an 11-year low in the first half of the year due to the coronavirus outbreak, industry data shows, according to Yonhap News Agency. The country's five major automakers produced 1.63 million vehicles in the January-June period, down 19.8% from a year earlier. It was the lowest figure since the first half of 2009.

South Korea's auto industry took a big hit from the coronavirus outbreak in the first six months of this year.   © Reuters

8:30 a.m. The White House and Senate Republicans reach "an agreement in principle" on the next coronavirus relief bill, a White House official says, according to Reuters.

2:02 a.m. Toyota Motor has asked suppliers to lower prices on certain parts, citing sluggish sales and a drop in material costs amid the coronavirus, Nikkei has learned, in a move that could hit earnings in the sprawling supply chain of one of the world's largest automakers.

1:30 a.m. Moderna says it has received an additional $472 million from the U.S. government's Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to support the development of its late-stage coronavirus vaccine clinical trials, including an expanded Phase 3 study. In April, Moderna received $483 million from the U.S. federal agency, which funds disease-fighting technology.

Sunday, July 26

9:48 p.m. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi says it is important to practice social distancing and wear masks to fight the virus in his monthly radio broadcast to the nation. "The danger of corona is far from being over. At many places, it is spreading fast," Modi says. "We need to be extra vigilant." More than 48,000 cases were confirmed in the past 24 hours.

7:02 p.m. Global cases surpass 16 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.

5:28 p.m. Indonesia reports 1,492 new coronavirus infections, bringing the total to 98,778, data from the country's Health Ministry website shows. The number of deaths in the Southeast Asian nation related to COVID-19 rises by 67, bringing the total to 4,781.

4:20 p.m. Tokyo reports 239 new cases as Japan's infections jump in urban areas. The latest figure for Tokyo comes a day after the capital reported 295 new cases, with a single-day record of 366 confirmed on Thursday. It was the sixth straight day for the figure to eclipse 200, bringing the cumulative total for the capital to 11,214.

4:00 p.m. Australia records its highest-ever daily corona death tally as authorities in the state of Victoria battled scores of infection clusters and intensified contact tracing efforts. Victoria's leader, Daniel Andrews, tells a media briefing the state had reported 10 COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, Australia's highest-ever daily toll.

6:37 a.m. North Korea reports its first case, a person who returned to the North on July 19, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un convenes an emergency Politburo meeting of the country's ruling Workers' Party.

6:51 a.m. Brazil registers an additional 1,211 deaths attributable to the novel coronavirus over the past 24 hours and another 51,147 confirmed cases, according to the health ministry. The nation has now registered 86,449 deaths and 2,394,513 total confirmed cases.

7:52 a.m. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 4,099,310 total cases, an increase of 74,818 from its previous daily count. It counts another 1,145 deaths, pushing the worst-hit nation's total to 145,013.

12:13 a.m. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declares an emergency and a lockdown in a border town after a person suspected of being infected with the novel coronavirus returned from South Korea after illegally crossing the border, state media says.

Saturday, July 25

6:26 p.m. Hong Kong reports 133 new coronavirus cases, including 126 local transmissions, a record daily increase, as authorities warn that the city faces a crucial period in containing the virus.

5:39 p.m. Indonesia reports 1,868 new infections, bringing its total to 97,286, according to new data from the country's COVID-19 task force. Deaths related to COVID-19 rise by 49, bringing the total to 4,714.

4:41 p.m. Tokyo reports 295 new daily cases, while the nationwide overall tally tops 30,000, as Japan's increase in infections in the capital and other urban areas moves ahead. The figure is the second-highest single-day total for Tokyo, which logged a record 366 daily cases on Thursday.

4:35 p.m. Russia reports 5,871 new cases and 146 more deaths from the respiratory disease. The nationwide tally of infections is now 806,720, Russia's coronavirus crisis response center says. The death toll stands at 13,192, and 597,140 people have recovered.

2:06 p.m. Vietnam is back on high alert after medical officials in Danang detect the central city's first locally transmitted case in three months. Thanks to strict quarantine measures and an aggressive and widespread testing program, the country has kept its virus total to an impressively low 415 cases; it had reported no local transmissions for 100 days.

10:30 a.m. China reports 34 mainland cases for Friday, up from 21 cases a day earlier, according to the country's health commission. Of the new infections, 20 were in the far western region of Xinjiang, nine were in the northeastern province of Liaoning and five were imported cases.

10:22 a.m. South Korea reports 113 cases, 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 their classrooms despite safety fears.

8:05 a.m. The U.S. doubles 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, Public Health England says in a report as the U.K. government prepares to introduce measures to confront the problem.

6:50 a.m. Sao Paulo, South America's largest city, postpones its 2021 Carnival celebrations as Formula One scraps its next planned race there.

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, such as by erecting cardboard partitions between 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 24-hour record for new global COVID-19 cases, 284,196.

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

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