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EU reaches deal on coronavirus recovery: Live updates | News

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  • EU leaders have reached a pre-dawn agreement on a massive post-pandemic economic recovery plan.

  • The Australian state of Victoria reported 374 new cases of coronavirus and three deaths on Tuesday as it prepares to make mask-wearing mandatory.

  • Scientists at the University of Oxford say their experimental coronavirus vaccine prompted a protective immune response in an early trial involving hundreds of people.

  • More than 14.7 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. More than 7.5 million have recovered while nearly 610,000 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The US has recorded nearly 141,000 deaths, the most in the world.

Here are the latest updates.

Tuesday, July 21

07:10 GMT – Possible COVID-19 vaccine rolled out this year: Oxford developer

The University of Oxford’s possible COVID-19 vaccine could be rolled out by the end of the year but there is no certainty that will happen, the lead developer of the vaccine said.

The experimental vaccine, which has been licensed to AstraZeneca produced an immune response in early-stage clinical trials, data showed on Monday, preserving hopes it could be in use by the end of the year.

“The end of the year target for getting vaccine rollout, it’s a possibility but there’s absolutely no certainty about that because we need three things to happen,” Sarah Gilbert told BBC Radio, saying it needed to be shown to work in late stage trials, there needed to be large quantities manufactured and regulators had to agree quickly to licence it for emergency use. 

06:30 GMT – China: negative COVID-19 tests required for arriving air passengers

Passengers on flights arriving in China must provide negative COVID-19 test results before they board, the aviation authority said.

The nucleic acid tests must be completed five days before embarking, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said in a statement on its website. 

China virus shop

China says the nucleic acid tests must be completed five days before embarking [File: Reuters] 

06:00 GMT – Ukraine coronavirus cases exceed 60,000

The total number of coronavirus cases in Ukraine has reached 60,166 and 1,518 people died as of July 21, Ukrainian health minister Maksym Stepanov said.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said last week Ukrainians were fed up with the coronavirus lockdown and the government should be cautious about extending it.

04:35 GMT – Tokyo Games organisers prepare for one-year countdown

The organisers of the Tokyo Olympic Games are preparing a day of celebrations to mark a year to the start of the Games, which are now due to be held in July 2021 after a year-long delay because of the coronavirus. 

The postponement has raised concerns about cost, as well as the safety of athletes and spectators; a recent poll conducted by Kyodo News found that fewer than one in four favoured holding the Games as scheduled next year.

One-third believed the Olympics should be postponed again and another third wanted the Games cancelled outright.

You can read more on the story here.

epa08389035 (FILE) - A giant Olympic rings monument is illuminated at dusk at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo, Japan, 25 March 2020 (issued 28 April 2020). According to local media reports, during an inte

A giant Olympic rings monument illuminated at dusk at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo in March. The Games are now scheduled for July 2021 [Franck Robichon/ EPA]

03:50 GMT – EU deal at pre-dawn meeting follows marathon summit

The EU managed to reach a deal to boost the bloc’s post-pandemic economies after Charles Michel, president of the European Council and chair of the summit, offered compromises over a 750 billion-euro ($860 billion) recovery fund.

Some countries, dubbed the “frugals”, had been concerned about the proportion of grants under the fund. Non-repayable grants will total 390 billion euros compared with the 500 billion euros originally proposed. Disbursements will also be linked to governments observing the rule of law.

EU Summit

Dutch PM Mark Rutte, centre left, with European Council President Charles Michel, centre right, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, as EU leaders met to thrash out a plan to help economies ravaged by the coronavirus [Stephanie Lecocq/Pool Photo via AP Photo]

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said the talks took “four long days and nights of negotiation … but it was worth it,” she said. “This is a sign that Europe is able to act. Before Europe was often accused of being too slow to act. In this case, it is the opposite.” 

You can read more on that story here.

03:32 GMT – EU leaders reach deal on COVID-19 support package

Charles Michel has tweeted that the leaders of the 27 countries making up the EU have reached a deal. No details yet, just a very enthusiastic tweet.

03:15 GMT – EU leaders resume talks on COVID-19 recovery plan

European Union leaders are resuming discussions on a proposed post-pandemic economic recovery plan.

Leaders seem close to a deal after four days of difficult negotiations.

02:25 GMT – Nursing home cluster boosts coronavirus cases in South Korea 

South Korea has reported 45 new cases of coronavirus.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 20 of the cases were locally acquired, and nine of them came from a nursing home in western Seoul.

Imported cases have been growing by the double digits for 26 days, according to Yonhap news agency. The latest were found mostly in workers returning from Iraq as well as among sailors on Russian-flagged ships docked in Busan. 

01:50 GMT – Brazil to start advance testing of vaccine being developed by China

Brazil is to start mass testing of a vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac on medical workers from six states, starting at the Clinical Hospital of Sao Paolo. 

Initial results are expected in 90 days.

Sinovac is working with the Butantan Institute, a public health research centre, on the trials and the institute will have the right to produce 120 million doses if the trial is a success.

01:15 GMT – Australian state of Victoria report 374 new cases, three deaths

The coronavirus outbreak in the Australian state of Victoria continues to grow as state Premier Daniel Andrews announced there had been 374 new cases and three deaths.

He urged people to get tested – noting there are 160 testing sites across the state – and said that while the number of cases was higher than the previous day, measures to address the outbreak were having an impact. 

Masks will be mandatory from midnight (14:00 GMT) on Wednesday.

00:15 GMT – China offers free testing to all residents of Urumqi

China is providing free COVID-19 tests to residents of Urumqi in the far western region of Xinjiang after a sudden spike in coronavirus cases there, according to state media. 

The testing is designed to “effectively lower the risk of the virus spreading,” the Global Times reported the city’s anti-epidemic group as saying. 

Urumqi has a population of about 3.5 million people, and the outbreak has been linked to group activity, the paper said. The actual origin of the infection remains unknown, it added.

23:45 GMT (Monday) – Christopher Nolan’s Tenet delayed again as coronavirus rages

The release of Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi epic Tenet is being delayed again.

After twice being delayed, Tenet was slated to come out on August 12, but Warner Bros told AFP news agency that it had to reconsider because “the coronavirus continues to proliferate”.

Many cinemas in the US and other parts of the world remain closed.

—- 

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

Read all the updates from yesterday (July 20) here.



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Chinese cities using anal swabs to screen COVID infections | Coronavirus pandemic News

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Study shows virus traces in faecal samples could remain detectable for a longer time and provide more accurate test results.

Some Chinese cities are using samples taken from the anus to detect potential COVID-19 infections as China steps up screening to make sure no potential carrier of the new coronavirus is missed ahead of next month’s the Lunar New Year holidays when tens of millions of people usually travel home to their families.

China has been battling new pockets of the disease that have appeared in the north and northeast with strict lockdowns and mass testing in a bid to stamp out the outbreaks.

Justifying the decision to take anal swabs, a city official in Weinan in northern Shaanxi province said a 52-year-old man with symptoms including coughing initially tested negative for COVID-19. He was then tested via an anal swab.

The man, who was confined to a centralised facility for medical observation as a close contact of another COVID-19 patient earlier this month, was then confirmed to have the virus, the official told a news conference.

Anal swabs require inserting a cotton swab three to five centimetres (1.2 to two inches) into the anus and gently rotating it.

In a video posted online by state-backed newspaper Global Times, Zhang Wenhong of Huashan Hospital in Shanghai, said that such swabs could be useful in helping minimise the risk of a relapse after recovery.

“There may be traces of the coronavirus detected in the abdominal cavity faeces and intestine,” Zhang was quoted as saying in the report.

Last week, a Beijing city official said that anal swabs were taken from more than 1,000 teachers, staffers and students at a primary school in the city after an infection had been found there. Nose and throat swabs and serum samples were also collected for testing.

Additional tests using anal swabs can pick up infections that other tests miss, as virus traces in faecal samples or anal swabs could remain detectable for a longer time than in samples taken from upper respiratory tract, Dr Li Tongzeng, a respiratory and infectious disease specialist in Beijing city, told state TV last week.

Li added that such samples were only necessarily for key groups such as those under quarantine.

‘Low harm, extreme humiliation’

Stool tests may be more effective than respiratory tests in identifying COVID-19 infections in children and infants since they carry a higher viral load in their stool than adults, researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) found in a paper published last year.

Users of China’s Weibo, its Twitter-like social media platform, reacted to the method with a mix of mirth and horror.

“So lucky I returned to China earlier,” one user wrote.

“Low harm, but extreme humiliation,” another said, using a laughing emoticon.

Others who had undergone the procedure chimed in with dark humour.

“I’ve done two anal swabs, every time I did one I had to do a throat swab afterwards – I was so scared the nurse would forget to use a new swab,” one Weibo user joked.



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