- Mainland China has reported 101 new cases of the novel coronavirus – the highest number in more than three and a half months. Of the new cases, 89 are in the far western region of Xinjiang.
- A $1 trillion coronavirus relief plan is under discussion in the United States Congress, but the only element the Republicans and Democrats can agree on is a one-time payout of $1,200 to all Americans. The country’s death toll – the highest in the world – is closing in on 150,000.
- Nearly 16.7 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus. Some 9.7 million patients have recovered, and more than 659,000 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Here are the latest updates:
Wednesday, July 29
07:20 GMT – Half of Mumbai’s slum residents have had coronavirus: study
Over half the people living in the slums of Mumbai have had the coronavirus, according to a city-commissioned study that raises fresh doubts about India’s official case numbers.
Blood tests on 6,936 randomly selected people conducted by Mumbai’s city authorities found that 57 percent of slum-dwellers and 16 percent of non-slum residents had virus antibodies.
Mumbai, where about 40 percent of the population lives in slums, has reported just over 110,000 infections and more than 6,000 deaths so far.
The western city of 20 million people is home to India’s largest slum Dharavi, where an estimated one million people live.
07:00 GMT – India’s Hetero wins approval to launch COVID-19 drug favipiravir
India’s Hetero Labs Ltd said it received local regulatory approval to launch its version of anti-viral drug favipiravir for the treatment of COVID-19.
The drug, priced at 59 rupees (79 US cents) per tablet, will be available at drug stores from Wednesday, privately held Hetero said.
06:15 GMT – European border closures must be avoided if possible: French minister
The closure of borders between European countries as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic must be avoided as much as possible, French Junior European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune told France Inter radi.
Beaune said that while political responses to the COVID-19 crisis were always prone to change, responses such as European border closures “were to be avoided”.
Hello, this is Umut Uras in Doha taking over from my colleague Kate Mayberry.
05:15 GMT – Sanofi, GSK reach deal to supply UK with COVID-19 vaccine
Sanofi and GSK have reached an agreement with the United Kingdom government to supply as many as 60 million doses of its potential COVID-19 vaccine.
No vaccine has yet been found although many are in development.
The two drug companies expect to start clinical trials of their vaccine in September. It will be developed by combining Sanofi’s S-protein COVID-19 antigen with GSK’s pandemic adjuvant technology.
05:10 GMT – Vietnam national TV says cases confirmed in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnamese government-owned television is reporting that coronavirus cases have been found not only in Hanoi but also in Ho Chi Minh City.
The country had been free of the virus for months, until an outbreak was detected in the central city of Danang at the weekend.
Eight cases were reported there this morning.
— Việt Nam News (@VietnamNewsVNS) July 29, 2020
04:15 GMT – Hanoi warned on risk of coronavirus outbreak
The Vietnamese government is warning authorities in Hanoi to prepare for a potential coronavirus outbreak.
The warning follows local media reports that a person working at a pizza restaurant in the capital had tested positive for the virus.
“The city’s health department should get ready with materials and equipment needed for the prevention and fight against COVID-19,” the government said in a statement.
Hanoi has a population of about eight million and had not reported a case of coronavirus for months.
03:10 GMT – Virus behind pandemic has been in bats ‘for decades’
Another interesting study on the evolution of the coronavirus … this time published in Nature.
A group of scientists from around the world who have been tracing the virus’s origins say their findings indicate that “the lineage giving rise to the SARS-CoV-2 has been circulating unnoticed in bats for decades”.
Writing on Twitter, award-winning science author Laurie Garrett says the study has a number of significant implications.
BREAKING: Multinational team uses 3 different methods to determine where #SARSCoV2 came from: each leads to horseshoe bats found widely in Asia. The virus now causing a human #pandemic has been in bats “for decades,” only now reaching people.
— Laurie Garrett (@Laurie_Garrett) July 29, 2020
02:40 GMT – Moderna vaccine worked well in monkeys: Study
Moderna’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine worked well in monkeys and prevented the virus from replicating in their noses and lungs, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
In the Moderna study, three groups of eight rhesus monkeys received either the vaccine or a placebo at two different dosages.
All those who were given the vaccine developed high levels of antibodies to attack parts of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Scientists said monkeys that got the vaccine even at the lower dosage produced more antibodies than people who had recovered from the virus, and that it appeared to stimulate an immune response from so-called T-cells.
The study also found that two days after the vaccinated monkeys were exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 through the nose and directly to the lungs, no replicating virus was found in the lungs of seven of the eight animals regardless of dosage while those that had been given the placebo all still had the virus.
None of the animals given the higher dose of the vaccine had detectable levels of the virus following their exposure.
“This is the first time an experimental COVID-19 vaccine tested in non-human primates has been shown to produce such rapid viral control in the upper airway,” said the National Institutes of Health, which is co-developing the vaccine.
02:10 GMT – Hong Kong warns on brink of large outbreak
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam is warning the city is on the brink of a large-scale outbreak of coronavirus.
Strict new measures to curb the spread of the virus came into force on Wednesday with a ban on gatherings of more than two people, the closure of restaurants for all but takeaway and mandatory mask-wearing.
Quarantine measures for ship and airline crews have also been tightened.
01:55 GMT – Queensland closing border to people from Sydney area
Annastacia Palaszczuk, the premier of the northern Australian state of Queensland, says the state will be closed to people from the Sydney area from the early hours of Saturday.
Queensland residents returning home will also be required to spend 14 days in hotel quarantine at their own expense.
BREAKING: Queensland will close its borders to all of Greater Sydney. From 1am Saturday, more hotspots will be declared and no one from Sydney will be allowed into Queensland. #COVID19au pic.twitter.com/044iZeTZ1g
— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) July 29, 2020
01:15 GMT – China reports most new cases since mid-April
China’s National Health Commission has just announced the latest coronavirus data for the country.
It has reported 101 new cases – up from 68 previously – the highest since mid-April.
Of the new cases, 89 were found in the far western region of Xinjiang where mass testing is under way.
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) July 29, 2020
00:30 GMT – Australia deploys emergency response team to nursing homes
The Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) has been deployed to nursing homes in Melbourne, which are at the centre of the current coronavirus outbreak in the state of Victoria.
AUSMAT teams are usually sent to disaster zones and include doctors, nurses, paramedics, radiographers and pharmacists.
National Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth told ABC Television there were more than 679 active cases linked to care homes, and that it was crucial to “get these outbreaks under control as quickly as possible”.
Local media says Victoria is likely to announce about 295 cases on Wednesday.
#BREAKING: Victoria is expected to announce just under 295 new coronavirus cases today, the ABC understands.
— ABC News (@abcnews) July 29, 2020
00:00 GMT – Stark divisions in Congress over relief plan
Republicans and Democrats in the United States Congress are divided over a $1 trillion coronavirus aid package that Republicans announced on Monday.
Under the plan, unemployment benefits would be cut to just $200 a week, compared with an expanded $600 a week under earlier relief measures that are due to end on Friday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has touted the proposal as a “tailored and targeted” plan, which would give many Americans direct payments of $1,200 each, provide billions in loans to small businesses and help schools reopen.
While Democrats agree on the payment, they say the package itself is too limited, and too late. Some Republicans say it is too expensive.
You can read more here.
23:30 GMT (Tuesday) – MSF tells Cepheid to drop price of coronavirus test
The aid group Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF) is urging the US diagnostics firm Cepheid to “refrain from profiteering off of the pandemic” and cut the price of its COVID-19 tests (Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV-2) to $5 per test, from the nearly $20 it currently charges in the world’s poorest countries.
“It is indefensible for Cepheid to profit in this pandemic,” Sharonann Lynch, senior HIV & TB adviser for MSF’s Access Campaign, said in a statement. “This is not the time to set the price based on what the market can bear. This critical test must be made accessible to all people who urgently need it at $5 per test to tackle this global health emergency.”
MSF said its research shows the tests could be sold at a profit for $5 each.
“As countries are struggling to deal with suspected COVID-19 cases, having an accurate rapid diagnostic test is essential for real-time management of people affected with the virus, in order to tackle this pandemic,” said Dr Greg Elder, Medical Coordinator for MSF’s Access Campaign. “So many lives could be saved if corporations like Cepheid made their test available urgently and affordably in all countries.”
Cepheid developed the Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV-2 cartridge with $3.7 million in public funding from the US government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. The test delivers results in less than an hour.
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 July 28 (yesterday) here.