Coronavirus: Latest on COVID-19 from around the world - Friday, August 21

As of Friday morning there were 22.7 million confirmed infections of COVID-19, but testing suggests tens of millions in countries like India might now have been infected.

There have been 794,000 deaths directly attributable to the disease.

Here's the latest from around the world overnight. 


United Kingdom

Britain removed Portugal from its COVID-19 quarantine list on Thursday, but said rising infections elsewhere meant travellers arriving from Croatia, Austria and Trinidad and Tobago would have to quarantine themselves for two weeks.

Britain recorded 1182 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the second-highest daily total since June 21, government figures showed.

Britain also reported a further six deaths of people who died within 28 days of receiving a positive coronavirus test result, taking the total number of fatalities on this measure to 41,403. 

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland tightened restrictions on the size of gatherings as it faces a rise in new cases of COVID-19.

Outdoor gatherings will from next week be limited to 15 people, reduced from 30, while indoor gatherings in private dwellings are now limited to six individuals from two households, from 10 previously.

Events such as weddings, church services and sporting events can be bigger if there is strict social distancing.

The British region's Department of Health reported on Thursday that 51 people tested positive for COVID-19.

No new deaths were reported, but the region's Health Minister, Robin Swann, said the reproduction rate, or the number of people who become infected from each positive case, was likely to be around 1.3. Whenever the reproduction rate is above 1, the epidemic is increasing.


Germany's health authorities can cope with the rising number of infections at present, the deputy director of the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases told Reuters, but urged people to do everything to help reverse the trend.

The number of new daily cases in Germany has been rising steadily since early July and has accelerated in recent weeks, driven by partying and people returning from holiday in countries where there is a high risk of catching the virus.

On Thursday, the number of confirmed cases climbed by 1707 to 228,621, marking the biggest daily increase since April 26.


Italy reported 845 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Thursday, marking the highest daily increase since May, when the government eased its rigid lockdown measures.

Italy, one of Europe's worst-hit countries, managed to contain the outbreak after a peak in deaths and cases between March and April. However, it has seen a steady increase in infections over the last month, with experts blaming gatherings of people associated with holidays and nightlife.


With coronavirus cases surging and less than two weeks of the school holidays left, parents, teachers and opposition politicians in Spain are angry at the government's plans for reopening classrooms.

"Don't be confused: things are not going well," health emergency chief Fernando Simon told reporters.

Pablo Casado, leader of the conservative opposition People's Party, accused Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's leftist government of keeping the country guessing on the reopening of schools.

"Not a single Spanish family knows what will happen to their children when the school year starts," he said. "We cannot let a whole generation of children have their education held back because of a lack of planning."

In Madrid, where more than 1000 new cases were reported on Thursday, regional authorities did not rule out delaying face-to-face classes, putting a strain on working families.


Africa is beginning to slowly "bend the curve" of COVID-19 infections as measures like mask-wearing and social distancing slow down the spread of the pandemic on the continent, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday.

Although the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak was slow in Africa in the early stages of the pandemic, the rate of infection gradually accelerated especially in South Africa, which now accounts for more than half of its case load of more than 1.1 million.

On average, there were signs of a decline in new infections across Africa over the last two weeks, said John Nkengasong, head of Africa CDC.

"So I think that is really some sign of hope that we are beginning to bend the curve slowly. We take this news with cautious optimism," he said.



Almost 30 percent of the population in India's capital of New Delhi likely have been infected by the novel coronavirus, according to a serological survey of 15,000 people conducted by the local government, a figure that indicates infection numbers are much higher than those recorded.


Thailand sought to allay fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections on Thursday, after a woman tested positive having cleared quarantine nearly two months ago on returning from overseas.

Thailand has gone 87 days without domestic transmission but news that a woman tested positive for COVID-19 in Bangkok on Tuesday, having returned from abroad on June 24, has triggered concern of a fresh outbreak in a country so far spared the level of contagion elsewhere.

Children isolated at kindergarten in Thailand.
Children isolated at kindergarten in Thailand. Photo credit: Getty


Vietnamese police have arrested four men accused of defrauding more than 5000 Americans trying to buy COVID-19 protective equipment online out of nearly US$1 million, the Ministry of Public Security said on Thursday.


United States

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday doubled down on his commitment to reopen schools for in-person learning next month, a day after the city's teachers union said his reopening protocol was insufficient to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"We are going to make sure these schools are safe and ready. And if we don't think they're safe and ready, they won't reopen," de Blasio said on Thursday.

Compared to De Blasio's threshold of a 3 percent COVID-19 infection rate for schools to shut down again, the city's positive test rate on Thursday was 0.88 percent.

New York City teachers on Wednesday threatened to strike or bring legal action unless the city government addresses specific safety demands like a more rigorous COVID-19 testing plan and protocols for isolating students who show symptoms of the virus.

Economic impacts

No more parties and events in homes listed on Airbnb, the short-term home rental company said on Thursday as it tries to enforce strict social-distancing norms to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new rules include a cap on occupancy at 16, with hosts or guests who try to skirt the rules facing a ban from Airbnb's community and even legal action, the company said on Thursday.

"Instituting a global ban on parties and events is in the best interest of public health," Airbnb said in a statement, adding that the ban applies to all future bookings.

Medical developments

Johnson & Johnson aims to test its experimental coronavirus vaccine in up to 60,000 volunteers in a late-stage trial scheduled to start in September, according to a US government database of clinical trials.

The trial would be conducted in nearly 180 sites across the United States and other countries, including Brazil and Mexico, according to the information posted on on August 10.

A Chinese mining company claims to have immunised its employees in Papua New Guinea against the virus.

Singing is no more risky than speaking when it comes to the possibility of spreading the new coronavirus, British scientists said on Thursday, adding that volume is the most important risk factor.

Reuters / Newshub.