Coronavirus live news: France cases rise by 54% in a week; Germany labels three Spanish regions high-risk

France confirms ‘marked increase’ in cases; Vietnam records first Covid-19 death; Tokyo sees new daily record cases; numbers climb in Spain, Germany and Russia

Germany has added three northern Spanish regions to its list of high-risk destinations, meaning anyone arriving from those areas will have to produce a negative coronavirus test or go into quarantine for 14 days.

Germany’s foreign ministry said it had toughened up its warning against travel to the regions of Catalonia, Navarre and Aragon following a spike in COVID-19 cases there.

Spain plunged into recession in the second quarter after its gross domestic product tumbled by 18.5% due to the pandemic, official figures showed on Friday.

In the first quarter, growth had fallen by 5.2%, the Institute of National Statistics said (INE). A recession is commonly defined as two consecutive quarters of a contraction in GDP, AFP reports.

The Hong Kong government has postponed its upcoming elections for one year, citing the growing coronavirus outbreak in the city but sparking immediate accusations that the pandemic was being used as a pretext to suppress democracy.

The city’s leader, chief executive Carrie Lam, announced on Friday she had invoked emergency regulations to delay the 6 September vote, saying it was the “hardest decision I have made in the past seven months”.

Related: Concern as Hong Kong postpones elections for one year, citing Covid-19

Here is the Guardian’s report on Boris Johnson’s postponement of lockdown easing in England.

Related: Boris Johnson postpones latest coronavirus lockdown easing in England

Thousands of demonstrators are expected to gather in Berlin at the weekend to protest against restrictions introduced to dampen the spread of coronavirus.

Under the umbrella title ‘End of the pandemic – the Day of Freedom’ diverse groups from the extreme left and right, including anti-vaxers, Holocaust deniers, and conspiracy theorists who believe the virus has been imposed by an elite in order to gain power, are due to hold dozens of individual protests across the German capital.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson has announced he will reverse a decision to relax a range of lockdown measures due to come into force in England on Saturday, including cancelling plans to allow a full range of beauty treatments.

The further easing of lockdown restrictions in England that were due on 1 August for higher risk settings, including allowing small wedding receptions and the reopening of bowling alleys, skating rinks and casinos, has been postponed for at least two weeks, he said.

A new test powered by artificial intelligence (AI) could be capable of identifying coronavirus within one hour, according to new research.
Its developers say it can rapidly screen people arriving at hospitals for Covid-19 and accurately predict whether or not they have the disease, the Press Association reports.
The Curial AI test has been developed by a team at the University of Oxford and assesses data typically gathered from patients within the first hour of arriving in an emergency department - such as blood tests and vital signs - to determine the chance of a patient testing positive for Covid-19.
Testing for the virus currently involves the molecular analysis of a nose and throat swab, with results having a typical turnaround time of between 12 and 48 hours.
However, the Oxford team said their tool could deliver near-real-time predictions for a patient’s Covid-19 status.
In a study running since March, the researchers have tested the AI tool on data from 115,000 visits to A&E at Oxford University Hospitals (OUH).
Study lead Dr Andrew Soltan said the tool had accurately predicted a patient’s Covid-19 status in more than 90% of cases, and argued that it could be a useful tool for the NHS. He added that the researchers now hope to carry out real-world trials of the technology.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said today that the government will postpone highly anticipated legislative elections, citing a worsening coronavirus outbreak in the semi-autonomous Chinese city, AP reports.
The Hong Kong government is invoking an emergency regulations ordinance in delaying the elections. Lam said the government has the support of the Chinese government in making the decision.
Hong Kong has seen a surge in infections since the beginning of July.
The postponement is a setback for the opposition, which was hoping to capitalise on disenchantment with the current pro-Beijing majority to make gains.
Pro-democracy lawmakers have accused the government of using the outbreak as an excuse to delay the elections.

In India, a vendor sprays sanitiser as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus on ‘rakhis’ (sacred thread) at his shop ahead of the annual Hindu festival ‘Raksha Bandhan’, in Hyderabad

The Raksha Bandhan festival is marked by a simple ceremony in which sisters tie sacred threads known as ‘rakhi’ on their brothers’ wrists as a prayer for their prosperity and happiness.

Japan has signed a deal to secure 120m doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine, the German pharmaceutical group BioNTech, which is developing the drug with US pharma giant Pfizer, said today.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed, with BioNTech saying the terms were based on the timing of the delivery and volume of doses, AFP reports.

In Texas, hurricane season means preparing for one natural disaster in the middle of another, Erum Salam reports from Houston.

On a recent weekend in Houston, hundreds of people thronged a local Home Depot, buying plywood, bags of sand and gallons of water. They were getting supplies – not for a quarantine DIY project – but rather purchasing materials to protect their homes during hurricane season.

Related: 'You need to pay attention': virus-hit Texas readies for hurricane threat

Portugal’s economy contracted 14.1% in the second quarter from the first three months of this year as it imposed lockdowns to slow the spread of coronavirus, the national statistics agency said today.

With gross domestic product having fallen by 3.8% in the first three months of this year, Portugal has met the technical definition for a recession of two consecutive quarters of a drop in quarter-on-quarter GDP, AFP reports.

Hi. Caroline Davies here. I am going to be running the blog for the next few hours. You can get in touch on

France’s health authorities have confirmed a “marked increase” in the number of coronavirus cases of 54% across the mainland – excluding overseas territories – in a week.

The increase covered all age groups, but Public Santé France, the public health authority, said the rise was particularly worrying in those aged between 20 and 30. There was also an increase in the number of patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19, and the figures for those requiring intensive care went up by one - the first time the figure has increased in 16 weeks.

In week 30 the increase in new positive cases is much higher than the increase in the number of tests carried out.

A 70-year-old man has died after contracting Covid-19 in Vietnam, the first coronavirus-related death to be recorded in the country, which has been widely praised for its response to the pandemic.

Vietnam responded quickly to the outbreak in January and used extensive contact tracing and strict quarantine rules to prevent the spread of the virus. So far, the country of 96 million has recorded 509 cases.

Spain must focus on recovery after after registering an “unprecedented” collapse in second-quarter GDP, prime minister Pedro Sanchez said on Friday ahead of a meeting with regional leaders, Reuters reports.

Reducing inequality between Spain’s regions must be a part of any eventual recovery, he said, adding that the worst moments of the crisis had now passed.

The Philippine health ministry on Friday confirmed 4,063 novel coronavirus infections, reporting the highest daily case increase in south-east Asia for a second straight day, Reuters reports.

In a bulletin, the ministry said the total number of confirmed infections have risen to 93,354, while deaths increased by 40 to 2,023.

Poland reported its highest number of new daily coronavirus cases since the global pandemic started for the second day in a row on Friday, with 657 new cases, Reuters reports, citing the health ministry.

The ministry reported seven new deaths, with a total of 45,688 reported coronavirus cases and 1,716 deaths.

Russia reported 5,482 new cases of coronavirus on Friday, according to a report by Reuters. The latest count pushes its national tally to 839,981, the world’s fourth largest caseload.

Officials said 161 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 13,963.

Police are ready to set up roadblocks, create diversions and close off sections of Bournemouth beach to prevent a repeat of last month’s chaotic scenes as a heatwave sweeps parts of the UK, reports Steven Morris and Simon Murphy.

They write:

With temperatures forecast to hit 33C in parts of southern England, some officers have been asked to work extended shifts and weekend leave has been cancelled for others as the emergency services and the local council brace themselves for another major influx of visitors.

The moves come as the prime minister, Boris Johnson, urged people not to lose focus and risk spreading Covid-19. He said on Thursday: “Broadly speaking, the only way to control coronavirus is if everybody collectively obeys the social distancing rules and works together to drive the virus down.

Related: Police cordons to stop crowds at Bournemouth beach amid fears of heatwave

Germany reported 870 more confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, according to a tally from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases.

Reuters reports that the total number of cases now stands at 208,698, while 9,141 deaths have been recorded

Hello, I’m Aamna taking over the blog for the next few hours. If you have any questions, you can email me ( or tweet me (@aamnamohdin)

The governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, has warned that the Japanese capital could declare a state of emergency if the coronavirus outbreak continued to worsen, after new cases reached a record single-day high of 463 on Friday.

“If the situation worsens, Tokyo would have to think about issuing its own state of emergency,” Koike said, a day after she called on bars, restaurants and karaoke venues to close early, at 10pm, from Monday until the end of August. Those that comply will be eligible for a subsidy of ¥200,000 ($1,900).

Here’s a summary of the latest coronavirus developments:

In the US, Donald Trump has said closing schools across the country was causing death. “Keeping them out of school and keeping work closed is causing death also,” he said. “Economic harm, but it’s causing death for different reasons, but death. Probably more death.”

After 150,000 coronavirus deaths in the country, Trump added the country “understands what it is dealing with now”, before pointing out leaders in countries like Australia and Japan were praised before a resurgence in Covid-19 cases. You can see the video below.

A number of French cities will introduce additional face mask requirements from Friday (masks are already required in all enclosed public spaces nationwide, including public transport).

From Friday, masks will be required in open-air markets in Orleans, central France, and after 9:00 pm long the Loire river, where crowds of people have been gathering in the evenings.

The UK’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, said “households gathering and not abiding by the social-distancing rules” was a reason for the stricter rules, announced late on Thursday evening, and that the move was in order to “keep the country safe”.

He said: “We take this action with a heavy heart but unfortunately it’s necessary because we’ve seen that households meeting up and a lack of social distancing is one of the causes of this rising rate of coronavirus and we’ll do whatever is necessary to keep the country safe.”

No one would argue with putting in place local action to reduce the transmission of coronavirus.

But announcing measures affecting potentially millions of people late at night on Twitter is a new low for the government’s communications during this crisis.

The people of Greater Manchester now need urgent clarity and explanation from the government - and there must be proper support for those businesses and people affected by any lockdown.

Tens of thousands of people in the north of England are waking up to new restrictions that came into force at midnight on Thursday night (approximately 6 hours ago). The new requirements (below), will apply in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and East Lancashire after increase in cases. (Specifically: Greater Manchester, Pendle, Hyndburn, Burnley, Rossendale, Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leicester City).

Related: Lockdown tightened in parts of northern England with ban on indoor meetings

I was struck by this amazing image of a marimonda monkey walking a tightrope in a Colombian wildlife park. It was taken during what’s described by Agence France-Press as “environmental enrichment training” at Bioparque Wakata in Jaime Duque park, in Briceno municipality near Bogota. The park itself is closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but has created virtual programs to receive donations from the public to meet some economic demands and ensure the livelihood of the animals.

Indonesian women attending Eid al-Adha prayers maintain social distancing in the East Java city of Surabaya.

In case you missed it, the US economy shrank by an annual rate of 32.9% between April and June, its sharpest contraction since the second world war, government figures revealed on Thursday.

The record-setting quarterly fall in economic growth compared to the same time last year came as another 1.43 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, a second week of rises after a four-month decline.

Related: US economy suffers worst quarter since the second world war as GDP shrinks by 32.9%

Global coronavirus cases stand at 17,219,767, according to the Johns Hopkins university tracker, with 671,00 deaths.

The top five countries with the most infections are:

China has recorded its highest daily total of new Covid-19 cases since early March, the vast majority of them in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

On Thursday health authorities confirmed 127 new cases, including four imported and 123 local transmissions. There were 112 in Xinjiang and 11 were in the province of Liaoning.

Vietnam has reported 45 new coronavirus infections in the city of Danang, marking the country’s biggest single-day jump in cases, as the health ministry sent more health experts to the central city in a bid to combat the outbreak.

Reuters reports that the new patients, aged between 27 and 87, are linked to three hospitals and two clinics in Danang, a tourism hot spot where Vietnam last week detected its first locally transmitted infections in more than three months, the ministry said in a statement.

The Philippines president, Rodrigo Duterte, says restrictions in the capital Manila will remain until mid-August. He also announced free vaccines to combat a surge in infections that has overwhelmed health care workers and facilities.

“My plea is to endure some more. Many have been infected,” Duterte said in a televised address.

Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro said on Thursday he was taking antibiotics for an infection that left him feeling weak. Reuters reported that he was chuckling in an online video about “mould” in his lungs, having spent weeks in isolation after catching coronavirus.

“I just did a blood test. I was feeling kind of weak yesterday. They found a bit of infection also. Now I’m on antibiotics,” Bolsonaro said in a livestream video, without elaborating on the infection.

Mexico’s health ministry posted 639 new deaths from coronavirus on Thursday bring the country’s toll to 46,000, almost the same as the United Kingdom which has the third-highest death toll worldwide from the pandemic.

Total confirmed infections in Mexico stand at 416,179 cases, up 7,730, according to the ministry’s official count.

Japan does not need to reimpose a state of emergency chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said on Friday, reiterating the government’s stance amid a surge in new infections across the country.

Suga said the current trend in infections was different from that in March and April.

Just to give you a bit of context on the scale of this Australian outbreak, the country’s previous highest daily total of new cases was 460, on 28 March. The graph below shows the huge uptick in cases in July, almost entirely driven by what is going on in Victoria.

Just while I’m still on Australia, the country’s second most populous state, New South Wales, has recorded 21 new cases in the past 24 hours. I believe that’s the biggest number since April, but will check that as soon as I can. Only two of the 21 new cases in the state, are returned travellers in hotel quarantine.

There are significant concerns over these growing cases, including six in today’s figures from the Apollo restaurant in the city’s inner east suburb of Potts Point. There are now 19 cases associated with this cluster.

The Victorian state figure of 627 is the second highest number in the course of this pandemic, behind yesterday when there were 723 new cases.

He’s now talking about the 6-week lockdown, which passed its half-way mark on Wednesday. He says public health experts will spend the next two days looking at the trends until now, and that he will have more to say after that on where the state sits with its outbreak.

Andrews says there were more than 130 people who were not at home when they should have been self-isolating. More than 100 cases have been returned to Victoria police. He says it’s not acceptable to have the virus and not be isolating at home.

This has been a recurring theme of the past few days’ press conferences. The police will be dealing with those who have not been self-isolating when directed to do so.

The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, has begun his daily update on the state’s coronavirus outbreak. He confirms 627 new cases and 8 more deaths. Deaths include people in their 50s, 70s, 80s. Four of the deaths are linked to aged care facilities, which have been particularly hard hit by this outbreak. Some 928 cases have now been linked to aged care.

We are expecting a news conference from Australia shortly, from the premier of the state of Victoria, Daniel Andrews. The capital, Melbourne, is in the grip of a serious coronavirus outbreak and is more than half way through a 6-week lockdown to stop the spread of the virus. But yesterday Andrews announced its biggest number of daily new cases in the state so far – 723 – and another substantial number is expected today, according to local media. We’ll take you to that as soon as he is speaking.

Iran’s government has ignored repeated requests from senior prison officials for help in containing coronavirus in the country’s overcrowded jails, according to Amnesty International.

The rights group said it reviewed copies of four letters to the health ministry signed by officials at Iran’s Prisons Organisation, “raising the alarm over serious shortages of protective equipment, disinfectant products, and essential medical devices”.

Face masks may need to be worn more widely in a number of French cities as cases continue to rise (masks are already required in all enclosed public spaces nationwide, including public transport).

In the Nord department adjacent to Belgium, the government’s top official said “reinforced measures” would be announced Friday, possibly making masks compulsory outdoors, in response to a surge in cases across the border.

Spain’s health ministry’s emergencies coordinator, Fernando Simon, says the country is not experiencing a second wave of the virus, despite a fresh surge in infections in the country.

“I don’t know if there will be second waves in the future. This does not look to me to be it. If it was, we would be in a very different situation that we are now,” he told a news conference.

The World Health Organization has warned that spikes in coronavirus transmission in a number of countries were being driven by young people “letting down their guard”.

“Young people are not invincible,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual news conference in Geneva on Thursday.

We call on young people to take precautionary measures: #handhygiene, physical distance, wear a mask, stay home if you’re feeling unwell, avoid crowded places & mass gatherings, to protect yourselves & others from #COVID19. Play it safe & help end this pandemic.

Just a quick note on the way the new restrictions in England were introduced ... the Health Secretary said on Twitter just hours before the new measures come into force: “We take this action with a heavy heart, but we can see increasing rates of covid across Europe and are determined to do whatever is necessary to keep people safe.”

4/4 We take this action with a heavy heart, but we can see increasing rates of covid across Europe and are determined to do whatever is neccessary to keep people safe.

With regards to Leicester City, which you may remember had restrictions in place beyond many other places in England, in the country’s first local lockdown, the health department said:

“While social gathering restrictions remain in place in Leicester City, the area will benefit from the lifting of restrictions that took place on 4 July in England, and all local restrictions currently in place in the neighbouring borough of Oadby and Wigston will end.

Related: Lockdown tightened in parts of northern England with ban on indoor meetings

Parts of the north of England have had a new face ban on indoor meetings between households introduced in the past half hour. The new measures apply to Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and East Lancashire after increase in cases. (Specifically: Greater Manchester, Pendle, Hyndburn, Burnley, Rossendale, Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leicester City).

The new measures mean:

Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of the continuing coronavirus pandemic, with me, Alison Rourke.

England has reintroduced lockdown measures over large areas of the north of the country, after a surge in cases the country’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, says have been caused largely by people “not abiding to social distancing”. On Thursday night he said from midnight people from different households in Greater Manchester, parts of East Lancashire, West Yorkshire and Leicester would not be able to meet each other indoors.

Continue reading...