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Mexico posts world’s third-highest coronavirus death toll: Live | News

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  • Vietnam recorded its second coronavirus death as the country battles a new outbreak of the virus, which emerged in the city of Danang.

  • Spain reported a second day of 1,000-plus coronavirus infections, the highest since the nation lifted its lockdown in June.

Here are the latest updates:

Saturday, August 1

04:58 GMT – Japan’s Okinawa declares state of emergency

Japan’s Okinawa region has declared a state of emergency and asked people to stay home for two weeks amid an “explosive spread” of coronavirus cases.

Governor Denny Tamaki said hospitals were being overwhelmed by the surge and told residents to avoid non-essential outings through the emergency, which is set to end on August 15.

Okinawa reported 71 new coronavirus cases Friday, bringing its total to 395. US forces based on the island account for 248 of those cases.

04:21 GMT – S Korea arrests Christian leader over church cluster

Authorities in South Korea have arrested the founder of a secretive Christian sect at the centre of the country’s largest outbreak on charges of obstructing the government anti-virus efforts.

Lee Man-hee is the powerful head of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus which is linked to more than 5,200 coronavirus infections, or 36 percent of South Korea’s total cases.

Prosecutors allege the 89-year-old conspired with other sect leaders to withhold information from authorities, including meeting places and the number of participants at the sect’s gatherings as authorities tried to trace infection routes in February.

Lee and his church have steadfastly denied the accusations, saying they’re cooperating with health authorities. Its spokesperson, Kim Young-eun, said the church will do its best so that “the truth is clearly proved in court”.

FILE PHOTO: People watch a TV broadcasting a news report on a news conference held by Lee Man-hee, founder of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony, in Seoul

People watch a TV broadcasting a news report on a news conference held by Lee Man-hee, founder of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony, in Seoul, South Korea, March 2, 2020 [File: Heo Ran/Reuters]

03:47 GMT – Google says 20 US states, territories ‘exploring’ contact tracing apps

Alphabet Inc’s Google says 20 US states and territories, representing about 45 percent of the country’s population, are “exploring” contact tracing apps using a tool it developed with Apple Inc.

In addition, the company said public health authorities in 16 countries and regions outside the US had launched apps using the Apple-Google tool, up from 12 previously. They include Austria, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Gibraltar, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Northern Ireland, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and Uruguay.

The technology enables app users to track encounters with other people through Bluetooth signals and anonymously notify contacts if they later become infected with the virus.

Google said the first of the US apps would be released in the “coming weeks”, but declined to name the states. It added that its system with Apple now enables apps launched by different countries to talk to each other, allowing contact-logging to continue even when users cross borders.

03:26 GMT – Sharp drop in new cases in China

China has reported a sharp drop in newly confirmed infections in the mainland, logging 45 additional cases in a possible sign that its latest outbreak in Xinjiang may have run its course.

Thirty-one of the cases were in far western Xinjiang, eight were in northeastern Liaoning and the remaining six were imported cases. The figures are down from 127 cases reported nationally on Friday.

03:15 GMT – Vietnam logs 12 new cases, ramps up testing

Vietnam’s health ministry has reported 12 new local coronavirus cases linked to the recent outbreak in the tourist hotspot of Danang, taking total infections to 116 since the virus resurfaced last week.

The new patients, with ages ranging from two to 78, are linked to Danang hospital, the ministry said in a statement. 

Vietnam has registered a total of 558 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. After months of successful curbs, it reported its first two deaths on Friday. 

In Hanoi, where two people have tested positive after returning from Danang, more than 100 clinics have been set up with test kits to detect the virus. Hanoi has tested a third of the 54,000 people returning from Danang.

VIETNAM - HEALTH - VIRUS

Residents wait to be tested at a makeshift rapid testing centre as Vietnam records a rise in cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Hanoi on July 31, 2020 [Manan Vatsyayana/ AFP]

“I want to be tested so I can stop worrying if I have the virus or not. It is for me and for the community,” said Pham Thuy Hoa, a banking official who recently went to Danang for a family vacation.

“Since coming back, my family and I have quarantined ourselves at home. I did not go to work or see others. We must be responsible for the entire community.”

In Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s southern hub, five people who returned from Danang have tested positive for the virus. The city is testing some 20,000 other returnees.

As the number of cases continues to increase, Danang has tightened security and set up more checkpoints to prevent people from leaving or entering the city, which has been in lockdown since Tuesday.

02:48 GMT – California, Florida report record rise in deaths

California and Florida, two of the most populous US states, have reported record increases in COVID-19 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.

Florida reported 257 deaths and California, 208 on Friday.

For Florida, this is the fourth day in a row with a record rise in deaths and for California the second this week. Mississippi, Montana and Nevada also had a one-day record increase in deaths on Friday.

Overall in the US, deaths have increased by more than 25,000 in July to 153,000 total lives lost since the pandemic started.

01:41 GMT – Puerto Rico extends restrictions

Wanda Vazquez, the governor of Puerto Rico, has extended measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus for two more weeks.

That means bars, gyms, marinas and movie theatres across the US territory will stay shuttered until at least August 15. Beaches remain closed on Sundays, and are open the rest of the week only to people doing exercise, including surfers, swimmers and runners.

Face masks continue to be mandatory, and those who refuse to wear one will be arrested, Vazquez said.

A curfew from 10pm to 5am will remain in place, and no parties or gatherings will be allowed in short-term rental facilities.

01:22 GMT – Fitch revises US outlook to negative

Fitch Ratings has revised the outlook on the US’s AAA rating to negative from stable, citing eroding credit strength, including a growing deficit to fiscal stimulus to combat the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The credit rating agency also said the future direction of US fiscal policy depends in part on the November election for president and the resulting makeup of Congress, cautioning there is a risk policy gridlock could continue.

00:56 GMT – Mexico overtakes UK to post third-highest death toll

The number of coronavirus deaths in Mexico rose to 46,688 on Friday, with the Latin American country overtaking the United Kingdom for the world’s third-highest COVID-19 death toll.

The health ministry registered 8,458 new cases, a record for a single day, as well as 688 additional deaths, bringing the total to 424,637 cases and 46,688 deaths.

The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

00:36 GMT – Free tests for migrants stuck at Costa Rica-Nicaragua border

Costa Rican doctors have started giving free coronavirus tests to about 200 Nicaraguan migrants who have been stranded at the two countries’ border for more than a week because the Nicaraguan government has demanded negative test results.

Clinica Biblica Hospital in the capital of San Jose sent a mobile lab to the Penas Blancas border crossing.

“I thank God that finally we are going to be able to return to our country,” said one migrant, who declined to give their name.

COSTA RICA - HEALTH - VIRUS - MIGRANT

Nicaragua has prevented the entry of hundreds of its citizens from Costa Rica citing COVID-19 concerns [File: Wendy Quintero/ AFP]

00:18 GMT – Argentina halts plans to ease lockdown

Argentina President Alberto Fernandez has announced a halt on the easing of lockdown measures due to an increase in new cases and fears the health system could become overwhelmed.

“We will keep things as they are until August 16,” said Fernandez.

“In the last few days the virus has been spreading more, and we’ve seen a larger increase in infections. All this generates hospital admissions and unfortunately, deaths.”

In Argentina, more than 185,000 infections and nearly 3,500 deaths have been registered so far, figures well below those of other countries in the region.


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives. 

For all the key developments from yesterday, July 31, go 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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