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Coronavirus: Free to read

Coronavirus: Week of Sept. 13 to Sept. 19, Australia's Victoria logs fewest cases since June

Japan lawmaker infected for first time; Roche says its drug reduces ventilator need

Police are seen in Melbourne, the capital of the Australian state of Victoria, on Sept. 12. Victoria reported its lowest daily increase of infections in three months, putting it on course to relax a hard lockdown in Melbourne by the end of the month.    © AP

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 30,395,579, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

The worldwide death toll has hit 950,434.

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

Here are the latest developments (Tokyo time):

(Source photo by AP) 

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UPDATES CLOSED

Saturday, September 19

10:20 a.m. China reports 14 new infections for Friday, down from 32 a day earlier. All new cases were imported infections involving travelers from overseas. It also reports 24 new asymptomatic cases, up from 20 a day earlier.

9:30 a.m. Australia's state of Victoria, the center of the country's coronavirus outbreak, reports its lowest daily increase of infections in three months, putting it on course to relax a hard lockdown in the state capital of Melbourne by the end of the month. Victoria recorded 21 new cases in the prior 24 hours, less than half the previous day's number and its lowest since June 24.

5:20 a.m. U.S. President Donald Trump says he thought the U.S.-Canada border would open before the end of the year, reports Reuters. The restrictions on non-essential travel at land borders between the two countries were first imposed in March and do not cover trade or travel by air. They have been extended several times, including on Friday to Oct. 21, as the U.S. has struggled to contain its coronavirus outbreak.

2:13 a.m. India ordered its states not to hoard oxygen supplies and allow free movement amidst reports of shortages, as novel coronavirus infections hit 5.2 million on Friday, edging the country's tally closer to the United States, which is the worst-hit globally, according to Reuters.

12:04 a.m. The European Union agrees to buy a potential COVID-19 vaccine from Sanofi and GSK in its second such deal to secure supplies, as a deadline for joining the World Health Organization's purchase program looms, reports Reuters. The deal will see the French and British drugmakers, which have teamed up to manufacture a recombinant protein-based vaccine they hope to get approved next year, provide the EU with up to 300 million doses in exchange for a down payment of 324 million euros ($384 million).

Friday, September 18

11:51 p.m. Moderna says it expects to produce 20 million doses of its experimental coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year. The company continues to expect to make 500 million to 1 billion doses of the vaccine in 2021, according to a filing with U.S. securities regulators.

11:31 p.m. Europe's healthcare regulator endorses using dexamethasone to treat COVID-19 patients with breathing difficulties, paving the way for the steroid to become the region's second approved treatment for the respiratory illness, reports Reuters.

11:27 a.m. South Africa will allow travel from Oct. 1 to and from all countries in Africa as well as other countries where levels of COVID-19 infections are not too high, a government minister says.

11:18 a.m. Myanmar reports 424 new coronavirus infections, the Southeast Asian country's biggest daily rise so far, amid a recent resurgence of the virus after weeks without confirmed domestic transmission.

9:42 p.m. Shuichi Takatori, a lower house legislator from Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, has COVID-19, the lower house says. This is the first confirmed infection of a member of parliament.

6:30 p.m. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte extends the state of calamity for another year, until September 2021, as the number of infections continues to rise in the country. The extension gives the government "ample latitude" to deal with the crisis, including access to funds and control over commodity prices.

6:00 p.m. Indonesia reports 3,891 new infections, up from 3,635 a day earlier and taking the country's total tally to 236,519. The number of deaths rose by 114 to 9,336, the highest number of fatalities in Southeast Asia.

5:10 p.m. The Philippines reports 3,257 new coronavirus infections, marking the 11th straight day the country has recorded more than 3,000 daily cases. Total confirmed cases rose to 279,526, most of which are in the capital, while deaths increased by 47, reaching 4,830.

4:20 p.m. Japanese travel agencies and hotels begin accepting reservations for domestic trips to and from Tokyo that begin Oct. 1, taking advantage of a government subsidy that offers 35% discounts. The subsidy campaign was launched in July but ended up excluding the capital, which was giving rise to COVID clusters at the time. On Friday, Tokyo reported 220 new infections, up from 171 a day earlier.

3:00 p.m. The Seoul metropolitan government says it will seek 4.6 billion won ($4 million) in damages against the Sarang Jeil Church and its leader for fostering the spread of the coronavirus by disrupting tracing and testing efforts. There was a new wave of infections at the church, whose members attended a large protest in downtown Seoul in mid-August, becoming the country's largest cluster in the capital area.

2:30 p.m. Roche's Actemra/RoActemra drug reduced the likelihood patients with COVID-19-related pneumonia will need mechanical ventilation, the company says. Hospital patients taking the treatment were 44% less likely to need ventilators or die, Roche says, citing the results of its Empacta phase III study.

2:20 p.m. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the country will gradually increase the number of citizens allowed to return home each week to 6,000 by mid-October, up from the current 4,000. There were an estimated 24,000 stranded Australians wanting to return home, which the government has pledged to facilitate before Christmas, Morrison said.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce speaks at Sydney Airport before the last departure of a Qantas 747 jumbo jet on July 22 as the airline retired its remaining 747s early due to the COVID-19 pandemic.   © Reuters

1:40 p.m. The total pay for Qantas Airways Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce fell by 83% in the financial year ended June 30 because of the impact of the pandemic. Joyce's total pay was 1.7 million Australian dollars ($1.24 million), down from A$9.9 million a year earlier, Qantas said in a statement.

1:29 p.m. India reports 96,424 cases in the last 24 hours, slightly down from its biggest single-day increase of 97,894 the previous day, bringing the country tally to over 5.2 million. Fatalities jump by 1,174 to 84,372.

11:00 a.m. South Korea confirms 126 new coronavirus cases, down from 153 a day eariler, with the country's total infections reaching 22,783, along with 377 deaths.

9:40 a.m. China reports 32 new infections for Thursday, up from nine cases a day earlier. All new cases are imported infections involving travelers from overseas. It also reports 20 new asymptomatic cases, up from 14 a day earlier.

9:30 a.m. Australia's coronavirus hot spot of Victoria reports its biggest daily rise in infections in more than a week as the state began relaxing lockdown restrictions. Victoria reports five deaths from COVID-19 and 45 infections in the last 24 hours. It reported eight deaths and 28 cases a day earlier.

9:00 a.m. Japan's core consumer prices fell at their fastest pace in almost four years in August, government data shows, dragged mostly by government-sponsored discounts for domestic travel aimed at supporting the battered tourism sector. The core consumer price index, which includes oil products but excludes volatile fresh food prices, fell 0.4% in August from a year earlier.

8:03 a.m. Confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide have reached 30,003,378, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The death toll from COVID-19 has hit 943,203.

Medical workers take care of a patient suffering from COVID-19, at the Intensive Care Unit in Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi on Sept. 15. Global coronavirus cases surpassed 30 million on Friday.    © Reuters

4:50 a.m. France registers 10,593 new infections in the past 24 hours, up from 9,784 a day earlier and marking the country's highest single-day count since the pandemic began. The rise followed a government decision to make COVID-19 tests free, leading to a surge in testing and an increase in infection rates.

4:43 a.m. Several Latin American countries have informed the World Health Organization they intend to request more time to sign up for its global COVID-19 vaccine allocation plan known as COVAX, an official at the WHO's regional branch says.

3:43 a.m. The major Canadian province of Ontario will clamp down on social gatherings in response to "reckless careless people" who are spreading the coronavirus at illegal parties, premier Doug Ford says. Starting Friday, the maximum permitted size of indoor social events would be cut to 10 from 50 while the limit for outdoor gatherings would shrink to 25 from 100. Those who break the law will be subject to fines of up to C$10,000 ($7,580).

2:00 a.m. The Namibian government says it will open up the country for international travel from Sept. 18 as it ends a six-month long state of emergency with the average number of daily coronavirus cases trending downwards, reports Reuters.

1:51 a.m. Hundreds of workers at COVID-19 laboratories in France went on strike, a trade union says, angry over poor working conditions as the coronavirus testing system buckles under huge demand, according to Reuters.

1:04 a.m. France will implement extra measures to curb the COVID-19 epidemic in the cities of Lyon and Nice, reports Reuters, citing the health minister. The measures will add to the three other regions deemed as virus "red zones" where additional measures are already in place.

Thursday, September 17

8:48 p.m. More than 170 countries have joined the World Health Organization's global vaccine plan to help buy and fairly distribute immunization shots around the world, the body's director-general said. WHO previously said 92 lower-income nations were seeking assistance and that some 80 higher-income nations had expressed interest. The vaccine plan aims to procure and deliver 2 billion doses of approved vaccines by the end of 2021.

7:51 p.m. Taiwan's central bank upwardly revised its outlook for the year as the economy begins to bounce back from a pandemic-induced slowdown, raising its 2020 gross domestic product forecast to 1.6%, up from the 1.52% it predicted in June. It expects 3.28% growth next year.

7:31 p.m. Foreigners arriving at Abu Dhabi airport will now have to wear on their wrists a tracking device until they have completed a mandatory 14-day home quarantine, according to state-owned Etihad Airways. Infections in the United Arab Emirates rose by 786 on Thursday, but the figure was down from the 1,007 recorded on Saturday when it marked its highest daily toll.

6:28 p.m. The Philippines is considering allowing more nurses to leave for jobs abroad, said a spokesperson from the office of President Rodrigo Duterte. The labor minister has proposed to allow those who had signed contracts until Aug. 31 to work overseas to leave. So far, only those with contracts up to March 8 have been allowed to travel.

6:20 p.m. An experimental COVID-19 therapy using blood plasma developed by Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical and partners is scheduled to begin a late-stage clinical trial after initial delays. The study, sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the U.S., is seeking 500 participants from the U.S., Britain, Argentina and Denmark, Reuters reports.

An experimental COVID-19 therapy using blood plasma developed by Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical and partners is scheduled to begin a late-stage clinical trial in the U.S., Britain, Argentina and Denmark.   © Reuters

6:10 p.m. South Korea says it has approved Celltrion's experimental COVID-19 treatment for Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical trials as the company plans to seek an emergency use authorization for the antibody drug. Celltrion said earlier this month it would begin commercial production of the drug, CT-P59, this month and that this run would likely amount to around 1 million doses.

6:00 p.m. The global economy might need five years to fully recover from the corona crisis, World Bank chief economist Carmen Reinhart says. "There will probably be a quick rebound as all the restriction measures linked to lockdowns are lifted," she said, "but a full recovery will take as much as five years." Reinhart added that the pandemic-caused recession will last longer in some countries and exacerbate inequalities between rich and poor nations.

5:50 p.m. Indonesia reports 3,635 new infections, down from 3,963 a day earlier and bringing the country's total to 232,628. The country also reports 122 additional deaths from the virus, bringing total fatalities to 9,222.

5:10 p.m. The Philippines reports 3,375 new infections and 53 deaths. Total confirmed cases have reached 276,289, the most in Southeast Asia, while deaths have increased to 4,785.

4:40 p.m. Indonesia's central bank keeps its benchmark interest rate unchanged for a second straight month, citing the need to maintain stability in the financial markets amid recent pressure on the rupiah currency. The seven-day reverse repurchase rate, its main policy rate, is kept at 4.00%.

1:14 p.m. India reports its biggest single-day rise in coronavirus cases, with 97,894 in the last 24 hours, bringing the country's total to 5.12 million. The death toll jumped to 83,198, up 1,132 since Wednesday morning.

 Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac Biotech will start a combined Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trial of its experimental coronavirus vaccine in 552 healthy children and adolescents later this month.   © Reuters

1:00 p.m. Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac Biotech plans to start a clinical trial of its experimental coronavirus vaccine with children and adolescents later this month, widening its test on a shot that is already in the final stage of study with adults, Reuters reports. A total of 552 healthy children aged between 3 and 17 will take two doses of the company's CoronaVac or a placebo in a combined Phase 1 and Phase 2 trial that is expected to begin Sept. 28 in the northern Chinese province of Hebei, according to a registration record.

12:05 p.m. The Bank of Japan maintains its ultra-easy monetary policy and emergency loan programs for the coronavirus-hit economy, as the nation experienced its first leadership change in nearly eight years.

11:00 a.m. President Donald Trump takes exception to comments from the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who said a vaccine for the novel coronavirus could be broadly rolled out in mid-2021. Trump, at a news conference, said he believed a vaccine will be rolled out much sooner. He said he called Redfield after his testimony to question him about it, and that Redfield appeared to have been confused by the question.

U.S. President Donald Trump, contradicting the head of of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has said a coronavirus vaccine will be widely available much sooner than mid-2021.   © AP

9:10 a.m. China reports nine new coronavirus cases for Wednesday, down from 12 a day earlier. All new cases were imported infections involving travelers from overseas. The number of new asymptomatic patients also fell to 14 from 16 a day earlier.

10:50 a.m. South Korea confirms 153 new coronavirus cases, up from 113 a day eariler, with the country's total infections reaching 22,657, along with 372 deaths. Kia Motors suspended operations at two plants in its Sohari Factory near Seoul, as 10 cases were confirmed among the automaker's employees and families.

8:30 a.m. Australia's Victoria state reports 28 new cases, the smallest daily rise since June 24 and down from daily highs above 700 in early August. The state has begun relaxing most restrictions outside its largest city, Melbourne, after a steady drop in cases in recent days.

8:20 a.m. New Zealand fell into its deepest economic slump on record in the second quarter as its battle against the coronavirus pandemic paralyzed business activity, official data shows. Gross domestic product contracted a seasonally adjusted 12.2% quarter-on-quarter, its sharpest quarterly contraction on record. GDP fell 12.4% year-on-year.

5:15 a.m. Canada aims to more than triple its nationwide daily capacity of novel coronavirus tests to 200,000 and the federal government is providing 4.28 billion Canadian dollars ($3.25 billion) to provinces to reach the goal. Canada is "not out of the woods yet," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says, highlighting the upward trend of COVID-19 cases across the country in recent weeks. Authorities have blamed the surge on private social gatherings.

3:20 a.m. The Federal Reserve keeps interest rates pinned near zero and makes a bold, new promise: to keep them there until inflation is on track to "moderately exceed" the U.S. central bank's 2% inflation target "for some time." The new guidance marks a monetary policy shift, first announced by the Fed last month, that is aimed to offset years of weak inflation and allow the economy to keep adding jobs for as long as possible.

2:15 a.m. The adverse events that led to a pause in trials evaluating AstraZeneca Plc's COVID-19 vaccine candidate may not have been associated with the vaccine itself, according to a document outlining participant information that was posted online by Oxford University.

2:00 a.m. Vietjet Air, Vietnam's largest low-cost carrier, will resume international flights from Sept. 29, starting services from Ho Chi Minh City to Tokyo and Seoul, and from Hanoi to Taipei.

12:40 a.m. Japan's foreign ministry will consider lowering its travel warnings on infectious diseases, which have expanded during the pandemic, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi says in his first news conference since being reappointed by new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

Japan has designated about 160 countries and territories as Level 3, which urges people to "avoid all travel." Tokyo now looks to downgrade the warnings "as we work to restart the international movement of people," Motegi says.

Wednesday, September 16

11:15 p.m. The U.S. government plans to start distributing a COVID-19 vaccine within one day of any regulatory approval, Reuters reports, quoting an official from the Department of Health and Human Services.

People stand in line to enter a metro station in New Delhi on Sept. 14.   © Reuters

10:15 p.m. The Russian Direct Investment Fund announces a tie-up with Indian pharmaceutical group Dr Reddy's Laboratories for clinical trials and distribution in India of "Sputnik V," touted by Moscow as the world's first registered vaccine against COVID-19.

"Upon regulatory approval in India, RDIF shall supply to Dr. Reddy's 100 million doses of the vaccine," the sovereign wealth fund says in a statement, adding "deliveries could potentially begin in late 2020 subject to completion of successful trials and registration of the vaccine by regulatory authorities in India."

6:57 p.m. Thailand plans cash handouts worth 51 billion baht ($1.64 billion) to boost domestic consumption and support an economy struggling from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reports, citing a government official.

6:19 p.m. Restaurants and karaoke parlors in Tokyo's 23 wards were free to operate normally as of Wednesday, after authorities in the Japanese capital lifted their request that such businesses close no later than 10 p.m.

5:46 p.m. Russia's sovereign wealth fund has agreed to sell 100 million doses of the Sputnik-V vaccine to a major listed pharmaceutical company in India, a source close to the deal says. Clinical trials of the vaccine in India are expected to follow, and the company is to take part in conducting them, the source says.

5:28 p.m. Indonesia's daily infections hit a record 3,963. The nation also reports 135 more deaths. The country's totals now stand at 228,993 cases and 9,100 deaths.

Commuters ride an escalator at the Tanah Abang Station as Indonesia's capital returns to large-scale social restrictions.   © Reuters

5:05 p.m. The Philippines' health ministry records 3,550 additional infections and 69 more deaths.

4:19 p.m. Vietnam is pushing garment manufacturers to make personal protective equipment, including face masks, to offset drops in textile exports and foreign investment due to the pandemic.

3:11 p.m. Serum Institute of India has received regulatory approval to resume clinical trials of AstraZeneca's potential COVID-19 vaccine, a source familiar with the matter says, according to Reuters.

3:09 p.m. Tokyo reports 163 new infections, down from 191 a day earlier.

2:34 p.m. COVID-19 has decimated many industries, but the insurance sector might end up a beneficiary, one Indonesian startup believes.

1:48 p.m. Yoshihide Suga was elected Japan's prime minister in a parliamentary vote on Wednesday, marking a new chapter in the nation's politics after a record seven years and eight months under Shinzo Abe. Suga, 71, will confront the immediate challenges of keeping COVID-19 under control, jump-starting the economy and paving the way for Tokyo to host the delayed Olympics next year.

1:07 p.m. India reports 90,123 new cases in the last 24 hours, up from 83,809 the previous day, bringing the national total to over 5 million. It also confirms 1,290 fatalities -- the highest single-day spike -- taking the death toll to 82,066.

11:35 a.m. U.S. President Donald Trump said a vaccine could be three or four weeks away, despite cautionary notes sounded by some U.S. public health officials about that accelerated timeline. Trump, speaking at a town hall hosted by ABC News in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, defended his handling of the coronavirus crisis and said a vaccine could be ready for distribution before the election on Nov. 3.

A research scientist works inside a laboratory of India's Serum Institute, the world's largest maker of vaccines, which is working on vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Pune, India, May 18.   © Reuters

11:30 a.m. Japan has committed 17.2 billion yen ($165 million) in funds for the World Health Organization's COVID-19 vaccine program. The program, known as COVAX, is aimed at helping buy and fairly distribute vaccine doses around the world. But some countries that have secured their own supplies through bilateral deals, including the United States, have said they will not join. Japan's funds are part of a 1.64 trillion yen reserve intended to bolster the government's response to the virus, a government document released on Tuesday showed.

11:17 a.m. South Korea confirms 113 new cases, up from 106 a day ago. Total infections reach 22,504 with 367 deaths. The Education Ministry said that it will reopen kindergartens as well as elementary and middle schools in greater Seoul next week as the second coronavirus wave is under control.

10:02 a.m. New Zealand's economy bounced back faster than expected from its lockdown, provisional data released by the Treasury showed on Wednesday. The operating deficit for the year ending in June was put at 23.29 billion New Zealand dollars ($15.6 billion), less than the NZ$28.29 billion forecast in the annual budget in May, the pre-election economic and fiscal update showed.

9:52 a.m. Australia's Victoria state said the daily rise in infections in its coronavirus hot spot of Melbourne has eased further, setting it on course to relax an extended hard lockdown in the city by the end of the month. Average cases over the last two weeks in Melbourne, the state's largest city, fell below 50, health authorities said, within the target range for the state to further ease curbs.

9:39 a.m. Yoshihide Suga, the new leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, is set to take office as Japan's prime minister on Wednesday, with an immediate focus on reviving a battered economy while keeping the coronavirus under control.

8:54 a.m. Japan's exports slumped 14.8% in August from a year earlier, down for the 21st straight month, Ministry of Finance data showed on Wednesday, underlining the pandemic's heavy hit to global demand.

6:52 a.m. China has suspended imports from an OK Foods poultry plant in Fort Smith, Arkansas, because of coronavirus cases among workers, the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council said on Tuesday.

With Melbourne now averaging fewer than 50 new COVID-19 cases per day, Victoria state will relax an extended hard lockdown.   © Reuters

3:34 a.m. Apple unveils a new Apple Watch that monitors blood oxygen using infrared light, providing a way to detect potential signs of such respiratory conditions as COVID-19.

2:46 a.m. Pfizer says that its coronavirus vaccine candidate shows moderate side effects in a late-stage clinical trial, with fatigue cited most commonly.

2:10 a.m. International travel fell 65% in the first half of the year, according to the World Tourism Organization. The 440 million international arrivals lost between January and June translates to an estimated $460 billion loss in export revenues.

12:51 a.m. Myanmar reports 307 new infections on Tuesday, the nation's highest daily tally since the start of the pandemic.

Tuesday, September 15

10:00 p.m. South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha will visit Vietnam on Thursday and Friday, the Southeast Asian country's foreign ministry says. This will mark the first visit by a high-ranking diplomat to Vietnam since it closed its borders in April.

9:43 p.m. Influenza cases in Japan are down significantly from the typical year, potentially due to precautions taken against the coronavirus. In the first week of this year's flu season through Sept. 6, three cases were reported nationwide, according to the health ministry, compared with 3,813 in the comparable period in 2019.

8:30 p.m. Hong Kong will further relax social distancing measures after recording no local infections for the first time since early July. Theme parks, swimming pools, karaoke bars and pubs can reopen from Friday, provided they close by midnight. Meanwhile, 1.78 million residents, or roughly a quarter of the population, have participated in the Beijing-backed COVID-19 mass testing program, which costs the government HK$530 million ($68.3 million) and has turned up 42 asymptomatic cases.

8:00 p.m. Thailand's cabinet approves a plan to issue visas of up to 270 days for long-stay tourists, Reuters reports, as part of the government's preparations to allow in some foreign visitors in the near future. Tourists would be able to extend a 90-day visa twice, a spokeswoman says.

7:00 p.m. A World Health Organization official says AstraZeneca's decision to pause global trials of its experimental coronavirus vaccine after an unexplained illness shows the company is prioritizing safety. "This is what we want to see with trials," Margaret Harris told reporters in Geneva, according to Reuters. "Safety is always critical." She also commented on experimental COVID-19 vaccine use in China and Russia: "The WHO would like to see vaccines go head to head so we can have clear information and to see these results against each other."

5:40 p.m. Indonesia reports 3,507 new infections, up from the 3,141 daily rise it recorded on Monday and taking the country's total tally to 225,030. The number of deaths rose by 124 to 8,965, the highest number of fatalities in Southeast Asia.

5:10 p.m. The Philippines reports 3,544 additional infections, down from 4,699 a day earlier, bringing the country total to 269,407 cases. The archipelago also confirms 34 more deaths, pushing the death toll to 4,663.

4:00 p.m. Peugeot maker PSA and Fiat Chrysler have restructured the terms of their planned merger to conserve cash. The partners are also promising more cost cuts during the pandemic. They are to merge and become Stellantis, the world's fourth-largest carmaker. Fiat Chrysler is to cut the cash portion of a 5.5 billion euro ($6.5 billion) special dividend its shareholders will receive under the terms of the accord they signed last year to 2.9 billion euros.

3:30 p.m. Britain's unemployment rate increased to 4.1% in the three months to July, from 3.9% in the April-June period, government data shows, marking the first rise since the coronavirus lockdown began in March.

1:40 p.m. Indonesia's exports slipped 8.36% on year in August, compared with a decrease of 9.9% the previous month. Meanwhile, imports plunged 24.19%, slightly better than July's drop of 32.55%.

1:58 p.m. India reports 83,809 cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the country total to 4.93 million. Total deaths now stand at 80,776.

A sign at a Seoul fast-food restaurant reminds customers to help curb the coronavirus. The signs read: "Social distance and delicious distance, one meter."   © AP

12:40 p.m. South Korea wants to secure a supply of an eventual coronavirus vaccine for 30 million people, or 60% of the population, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun tells his cabinet. While the government hopes to inoculate the entire population of 52 million, uncertainty around safety, efficacy and development was hindering South Korea's plan, Chung said.

12:30 p.m. Coronavirus vaccines being developed in China may be ready for use as early as November, an official with the China Centre for Disease Control and Prevention says in an interview on state TV, according to Reuters. China has four COVID-19 vaccines in the final stage of clinical trials. At least three have already been offered to essential workers under an emergency program launched in July.

12:00 p.m. China's industrial output rose in August, while retail sales expanded for the first time this year, suggesting the economic recovery is gathering pace as demand starts to improve across a broad spectrum.

10:31 a.m. Developing economies in Asia are expected to shrink 0.7% this year due to the pandemic, marking the first regional recession in nearly six decades, the Asian Development Bank says.

10:28 a.m. South Korea confirms 106 cases, down from 109 a day ago, bringing the country total to 22,391 infections with 367 deaths.

9:20 a.m. China records eight cases for Monday, down from 10 a day earlier. All the new infections were imported, involving overseas travelers. The country also reports nine asymptomatic cases for Monday, down from 39 a day earlier.

Mexican state oil group Pemex's Cadereyta refinery, in Cadereyta, on the outskirts of Monterrey.   © Reuters

8:50 a.m. Australia's state of Victoria reports 42 cases in the last 24 hours, up from 35 a day earlier, while reporting no deaths in more than two months.

5:19 a.m. Carmakers PSA and Fiat Chrysler have revised the terms of their planned merger, reports Reuters, citing a source. PSA would hold onto parts maker Faurecia and FCA would cut the cash portion of a 5.5 billion euro ($6.5 billion) special dividend. "The aim of those changes is to reinforce the balance sheet structure of both companies after the COVID-19 crisis and ensure that the merger plan is concluded as soon as possible," the source said.

5:02 a.m. The U.S. State Department has lowered a travel advisory for Americans headed to China or Hong Kong from "Do Not Travel" to "Reconsider Travel." The warning cites the country's COVID-19 outbreak and arbitrary enforcement of local laws.

3:30 a.m. Demand for gasoline and other liquid fuels never fully recovers from the fall caused by the coronavirus pandemic in two of three scenarios put forward in BP's "Energy Outlook 2020," implying that oil demand "peaked in 2019," the oil major says.

3:10 a.m. A group of 15 scientists from five countries has sent a letter to the medical journal the Lancet explaining their doubts about the accuracy of preliminary data on Russia's COVID-19 vaccine, Reuters reports.

A scientist at a Russian pharmaceutical works on the development of a vaccine against COVID-19 in June.   © Reuters

The effectiveness of the so-called Sputnik V shot has become a matter of international debate. Among those who have expressed hope is Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who says his government will prioritize buying COVID-19 vaccines provided by Russia or China.

2:03 a.m. The United Arab Emirates issues emergency approval for the use of a coronavirus vaccine that is currently in phase three trials. Front-line workers would have priority in receiving the vaccine.

Monday, September 14

9:40 p.m. Japan's Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labor will increase payments to hospitals that accept coronavirus patients under the country's national health care insurance program.

7:34 p.m. India's health minister Harsh Vardhan tells parliament the country's national lockdown, imposed on Mar. 25, "prevented approximately 1.4 million-2.9 million cases and 37,000-78,000 deaths."

He adds that the nation of over 1.3 billion people has been able to limit its cases and deaths per million population to 3,328 and 5.5 respectively, saying it is "one of the lowest [rates] in the world."

6:00 p.m. Nintendo is boosting output of the Switch game console by 20%, to 25 million units for the fiscal year through March 2021, as stay-at-home and other coronavirus restrictions have led to a surge in demand.

5:50 p.m. Indonesia reports 3,141 new cases, taking the country total to 221,523, government data show. Another 118 people died, taking Indonesia's total to 8,841, the highest death toll in Southeast Asia.

5:45 p.m. The Philippines reports a record daily increase in new coronavirus deaths for the second time in three days, adding 259 more fatalities to bring the total to 4,630. The country also records 4,699 newly confirmed cases, taking total infections there to 265,888, the highest in the region.

Passengers line up to ride a bus in Quezon City, Metro Manila. The Philippines has reported a record number of virus-caused deaths for the second time in three days.   © Reuters

5:00 p.m. Tokyo Disney Resort plans to cut winter bonuses by 70% for its roughly 4,000 full-time and part-time employees, sources say. Some contract workers, such as dancers, who are currently without work, are being urged to transfer or retire to cut costs.

4:00 p.m. Yoshihide Suga has been elected president of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party and is set to become prime minister, succeeding Shinzo Abe later this week. Abe's chief cabinet secretary defeated former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba and former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in the party leadership contest. "We cannot have any vacuum in policy," Suga said after the vote.

3:08 p.m. Cathay Pacific Airways will park more of its fleet in long-term storage outside Hong Kong after the territory's COVID-19 resurgence dampened hopes for a recovery in air traffic. The airline said it will park about 40% of its planes, up from a third, and cap passenger operations at about 10% of normal capacity in September and October. It operated at 7.8% capacity in August, but still only filled a fifth of its seats.

2:10 p.m. Australia proposes incentives worth 2.3 billion Australian dollars ($1.67 billion) over 10 years to keep the country's four remaining oil refineries open, saying it would invest in building fuel storage as part of a long-term fuel security plan. The country's refiners have been battered by the coronavirus-driven collapse in fuel demand, racking up losses they say threaten the future of operations.

A student wearing a protective face mask gets his temperature measured as he arrives at an examination center for National Eligibility cum Entrance Test amid the coronavirus pandemic in Ahmedabad, India, on Sept.13.   © Reuters

1:53 p.m. India reports 92,071 cases in the last 24 hours, marking the fifth straight day of more than 90,000 cases and bringing the country total to nearly 4.85 million. Deaths jump 1,136 to reach 79,722.

1:20 p.m. China reports 10 cases for Sunday, the same as a day earlier, all of which were imported. The country also reports 39 asymptomatic patients, compared with 70 a day earlier.

11:00 a.m. U.S. President Donald Trump holds an indoor campaign rally in the state of Nevada, despite public health officials' warnings against large indoor gatherings during the pandemic. People were seated close together and many did not wear masks, Reuters reports.

10:35 a.m. South Korea confirms 109 cases, down from 121 a day ago, bringing the country total to 22,285 with 363 deaths. Authorities eased social distancing rules in greater Seoul for two weeks starting today, allowing cafes to serve indoors and lifting the night curfew on restaurants.

10:23 a.m. New Zealand will lift coronavirus restrictions across the country on Sept. 21 except in Auckland, its biggest city and the epicenter of a second wave of infections. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Auckland's restrictions would be reviewed next week.

8:00 a.m. Australia's state of Victoria reports seven deaths and 35 cases in the last 24 hours, its lowest daily rises since late June. The state has eased some restrictions in its largest city Melbourne starting Monday, shortening the overnight curfew by an hour and doubling the amount of time people can spend outside to two hours per day.

5:33 a.m. The World Health Organization reported a record one-day increase in global cases on Sunday, with the total rising by 307,930 in 24 hours.

2:57 a.m. Israel will enter a three-week nationwide lockdown starting on Friday to halt the contagion after a second surge of cases, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

2:01 a.m. Saudi Arabia will partially lift its suspension of international flights as of Sept. 15 to allow "exceptional categories" of citizens and residents to travel. These include public and military sector employees, diplomats and their families, those working for public or non-profit private sector jobs abroad, businesspersons, people who need medical treatment abroad and those studying abroad.

1:45 a.m. Fatalities in Turkey hit 7,056 on Sunday, rising by 57 in the last 24 hours. The number of cases increased by 1,527 on Sunday, bringing the country total to 291,162. Both daily deaths and infections have risen to mid-May levels in recent days.

Sunday, September 13

6:36 p.m. India reports 94,372 cases, pushing the country total past 4.7 million, as infections rise in several states amid a gradual reopening of businesses. Total deaths rise to 78,586 with 1,114 new fatalities.

Medical workers wear personal protective equipment as they get ready to treat patients suffering from the coronavirus disease in New Delhi.    © Reuters

5:55 p.m. Police in the Australian state of Victoria arrested 74 people and fined 176 for breaching public health orders, as scattered protests against a weekslong lockdown continued for a second straight day across Melbourne. Victoria police said there were between 200 and 250 people involved in the protests but have yet to report any injuries.

5:11 p.m. Indonesia reports 3,636 cases and 73 deaths. The latest report brought the total number of infections to 218,382 and deaths to 8,723 -- the highest number of fatalities in Southeast Asia. Jakarta will reimpose stricter restrictions starting on Monday to control the virus.

5:03 p.m. The Philippines records 3,372 cases and 79 deaths. Confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country have risen to 261,216 -- the highest in the region -- while the death toll has hit 4,371.

4:40 p.m. Russia reports 5,449 cases, bringing the country total to 1,062,811, the fourth-highest in the world. Authorities say 94 people died in the last 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 18,578.

4:26 p.m. South Korea eases its tough social distancing policy for the next two weeks in Seoul, with daily infections hovering within triple digits. The government has lifted a ban on onsite dining after 9 p.m., but establishments must restrict seating and record patrons' contact details. While leisure facilities such as gyms and internet cafes can also reopen, indoor gatherings are limited to 50 people and outdoor gatherings to 100, while spectators are banned from sporting events.

12:13 p.m. The Philippines deported a United States Marine on Sunday convicted of killing a transgender woman in the Southeast Asian country in 2014, after being granted a pardon by President Rodrigo Duterte. The pardon has sparked condemnation from activists, who described the move as a "mockery of justice." Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, who served as a lawyer for the prosecution, had said Duterte's decision may have stemmed from his desire to get access to coronavirus vaccines being developed by U.S. companies.

12:08 p.m. Lockdown restrictions in the Australian state of Victoria will ease slightly on Monday, as the number of daily cases continued to fall in the country's hotspot. Announcing a 3 billion Australian dollar ($2.2 billion) aid package to businesses in Victoria, home to a quarter of Australia's population, officials also said there were 41 infections and seven more deaths.

9:24 a.m. Mexico reported 5,674 cases and 421 fatalities on Saturday, bringing the country totals to 663,973 infections and 70,604 deaths.

12:24 a.m. The U.K. reported 3,497 cases on Saturday compared with 3,539 a day earlier.

Saturday, September 12

11:53 p.m. France confirms 10,561 new cases in the past 24 hours, a new daily record as the number topped 10,000 for the first time.

10:17 p.m. Pfizer and BioNTech SE propose to the U.S Food and Drug Administration to expand their Phase 3 vaccine trial to about 44,000 participants while increasing the diversity of the trial population. The initial target figure for the trial was up to 30,000 participants, which the companies say they expect to reach by next week. The proposed expansion would also allow the companies to enroll people as young as 16 and people with chronic, stable HIV, hepatitis C and hepatitis B, they added.

9:42 p.m. AstraZeneca restarts U.K. clinical trials of its vaccine, one of the most advanced in development, after getting the green light from safety watchdogs, the company says. The late-stage trials of the experimental vaccine, developed with researchers from the University of Oxford, were suspended after an illness in a study subject in Britain on Sept. 6, casting doubts on an early rollout.

5:38 p.m. Taiwan will sign up for the "COVAX" global vaccine allocation plan to ensure it will be able to access a vaccine when one becomes available, the health minister says. The self-ruled island is also researching its own vaccine. The World Health Organization and the GAVI vaccine alliance are leading the COVAX facility, aimed at helping buy and fairly distribute shots around the world.

2:30 p.m. India reports 97,570 new infections, reaching a record daily jump. The country's total confirmed cases are now more than 4.65 million.

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

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