Coronavirus infects 24,000 S African health workers

  • Some 24,000 health workers in South Africa have contracted the coronavirus, 181 of whom have died, according to the health ministry.

  • More than 18.55 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus as of Wednesday, up by more than 400,000 in just one day. More than 11.1 million have recovered, while about 700,000 have died.

  • Amid fears of widespread coronavirus infections among voters, Sri Lankans will head to the polls on Wednesday to choose a new parliament in an election President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s party is expected to win.

    14:35 GMT – Canada signs deals for experimental COVID-19 vaccines

    Canada has signed separate deals with Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc to supply millions of doses of their experimental coronavirus vaccines, a top official said.

    Procurement Minister Anita Anand also told a news conference that Ottawa was negotiating with other potential domestic and international vaccine suppliers but did not give details.

    There are no approved vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, but 19 vaccines are being tested in humans around the world.

    Moderna will provide its mRNA-1273 vaccine candidate, she said. Pfizer – which is working with German biotech firm BioNTech SE – said separately it planned deliveries of the BNT162 mRNA-based vaccine candidate over the course of 2021.

    14:20 GMT – Oman to lift internal travel restrictions, reduce curfew

    Oman will on Saturday lift a domestic ban on travel between provinces, imposed on July 25 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus during the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, the state news agency ONA has said.

    From Saturday it will also reduce its curfew for a week to between 9 pm and 5 am (1700-0100 GMT), instead of 7 pm to 6 am (1500 to 0200 GMT). A full lockdown of the Dhofar province in the south will be maintained until further notice.

    Oman, a country of 4.7 million people, has recorded almost 80,000 coronavirus infections and 421 deaths.

    14: 15 GMT

    Hello, this is Elizabeth Melimopoulos taking over the live updates from my colleague Hamza Mohamed in Doha.

    12:45 GMT – Scotland shuts pubs in Aberdeen to tackle virus outbreak

    Scotland imposed new restrictions on the northeastern city of Aberdeen to tackle an outbreak of COVID-19 cases, ordering pubs to close and visitors to stay away.

    “We are at a stage of this pandemic where extreme caution is necessary, and also in my view, sensible,” First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said at a news conference.

    12:25 GMT – Trump says he may suspend payroll tax

    US President Donald Trump said he may suspend the payroll tax himself as part of his administration’s efforts to help the economy after the coronavirus shutdown when the idea faced opposition in Congress in talks on the next relief bill.

    “Well I may do it myself,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News.

    “I have the right to suspend it, and I may do it myself – I have the absolute right to suspend the payroll,” he added.

    12:05 GMT – German-Chinese coronavirus vaccine trial begins in China

    Clinical trials on humans have begun in China for a potential coronavirus vaccine developed by German pharmaceutical group BioNTech with Chinese company Fosun Pharma, the companies said.

    Seventy-two participants have already received their first dose following approval for the phase one trial from Chinese regulatory authorities, BioNTech and Fosun Pharma said in a statement.

    The vaccine candidate, known as BNT162b1, is one of four based on BioNTech’s proprietary mRNA technology.

    Another, BNT162b2, is being evaluated in a global phase three trial conducted by BioNTech and US giant Pfizer which started on July 27.

    The phase one trial in China involves 144 participants who will receive two doses 21 days apart. Those aged 18-55 will be the first to take part, followed by older people.

    11:45 GMT – Vietnam confirms 41 new infections

    Vietnam’s health ministry on Wednesday reported an additional 41 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the country’s total to 713 infections, including eight deaths.

    Forty of the new cases are linked to Danang, the new coronavirus epicentre where Vietnam on July 25 detected its first locally transmitted infections in more than three months.

    There were two other cases reported earlier in the day.

    There have been 264 cases since the virus resurfaced in Danang, which include all eight of the country’s COVID-19 deaths. Infections have since been found in at least 10 locations in Vietnam.

    11:15 GMT – One-third of Afghans estimated to have contracted virus: Gov’t

    Nearly a third of Afghanistan’s population – or 10 million people – has been infected with the coronavirus, according to health ministry estimates published on Wednesday.

    The figure comes from a survey based on antibody tests on nearly 9,500 people across the country, with technical support from the World Health Organization, Health Minister Ahmad Jawad Osmani said at a press briefing.

    The survey estimated that 31.5 percent of the population had contracted the virus, with the highest infection rate in Kabul where more than half of the city’s five million population were thought to have been infected.

    But the country of about 32 million people has a limited testing capacity and has officially declared just 36,000 cases and more than 1,200 deaths.

    “A second wave of the infection is happening everywhere in the world and we cannot be an exception. We will use the findings of this survey to better prepare ourselves for a possible second wave,” Osmani said.

    10:30 GMT – Hong Kong reports 85 cases as authorities battle third wave

    Hong Kong reported 85 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, including three locally transmitted ones, as authorities battle to control a third wave of the outbreak which has seen a resurgence in infections over the past month.

    Since late January, about 3,700 people have been infected in Hong Kong, 42 of whom have died.

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