Beijing shuts schools over new coronavirus outbreak: Live updates

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Beijing's education commission has ordered the closure of the capital's schools again following a new outbreak of the coronavirus. The steroid dexamethasone has been found to save the lives of one-third of the most serious COVID-19 cases, according to trial results by the University of Oxford, hailed as a "major breakthrough" in the fight against the disease. More than 8 million people have been confirmed to have the coronavirus around the world. Nearly 3.9 million have recovered, while at least 437,000 have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The US, Brazil and the UK have reported the most deaths.

Here are the latest updates:

Tuesday, June 16 16:18 GMT - US Open to go ahead New York governor says

The 2020 tennis US Open will go ahead from August 31 despite the pandemic, Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, has said.

15:45 GMT - Beijing shuts city schools again over new outbreak

Beijing's education commission has ordered the closure of the capital's schools again following a new outbreak of the coronavirus in the city of 21 million people.

The commission said on its WeChat social media account that all schools would resume online teaching from Wednesday and universities should also suspend the return of students.

Students wearing protective face masks to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus are directed by a teacher to keep their social distancing as they arrive for the reopening of a primary school in

Students are directed by a teacher to keep their social distancing as they arrive for the reopening of a primary school in Beijing, on June 1 [Andy Wong/AP]

15:40 GMT - WHO Americas director says pandemic still accelerating in the region

The World Health Organization's regional director for the Americas Carissa Etienne has said the pandemic is still accelerating as the region is fast approaching four million coronavirus cases.

Speaking in a virtual briefing from Washington-based Pan American Health Organization, Etienne said Brazil accounts for 23 percent of the more than 3.8 million cases in the Americas and 23 percent of the almost 204,000 deaths in the region and "we are not seeing transmission slowing down".

15:34 GMT - Canada, US extend border restrictions to July 21

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada and the US have extended border restrictions until July 21.

15:07 GMT - Heart disease, diabetes significantly raise risk of hospitalisation, death: US study

People with underlying health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes are six times more likely to be hospitalised with COVID-19 and have a risk of coronavirus-related death 12 times higher than otherwise healthy individuals, a US study has found.

Men were more likely than women to have bad outcomes, and the prevalence of hospitalizations and deaths were highest among patients aged 70 years and older, according to a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report.

15:05 GMT - Mexico pauses farm worker program in Canada

Mexico has paused its migrant farm worker program in Canada, Mexico's foreign ministry spokesman has said, after a coronavirus outbreak in Ontario killed two workers from Mexico, although Canadian farm groups said the suspension was limited.

The outbreak has hit at least 17 farms, killing two Mexicans aged 24 and 31, and prompting the testing of about 8,000 migrant farm workers.

Migrant workers from Mexico have groceries delivered, wear masks and practice social distancing to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during a mandatory 14-day quarantine af

Migrant workers from Mexico have groceries delivered to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus during a 14-day quarantine after arriving at Mayfair Farms in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada [Shannon VanRaes/Reuters]

14:50 GMT - UK's drug regulator suspends hydroxychloroquine trial recruitment

The UK's drug regulator has instructed scientists trialling the use of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19 to suspend the recruitment of participants.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said it was following "emerging concerns" about the use of the drug, and also cited a UK trial which found no meaningful mortality benefit in patients hospitalised with COVID-19.

14:45 GMT - UK death toll rises by 233 to 41,969

The UK death toll from COVID-19 cases has risen by 233 to 41,969 , according to government data.

A triage nurse waits for patients to arrive in the Emergency Department at Frimley Park Hospital Frimley Park Hospital, in Camberley, England, May 22, 2020. The hospital is part of a group saying that

A triage nurse waits for patients to arrive at Frimley Park Hospital, in Camberley, England [Steve Parsons/AP]

14:23 GMT - Dexamethasone trial result most important so far, English health chief says

England's Chief Medical Officer has hailed a finding that steroid drug dexamethasone can save the lives of those severely ill with COVID-19 as the most important trial result so far.

"This is the most important trial result for COVID-19 so far," Chris Whitty said on Twitter about the findings of the UK-led clinical trial known as RECOVERY.

"Significant reduction in mortality in those requiring oxygen or ventilation from a widely available, safe and well known drug... It will save lives around the world."

This is the most important trial result for COVID-19 so far. Significiant reduction in mortality in those requiring oxygen or ventilation from a widely available, safe and well known drug. Many thanks to those who took part and made it happen. It will save lives around the world. https://t.co/zRIaHulHOe

— Professor Chris Whitty (@CMO_England) June 16, 2020 14:14 GMT - Cases surging in Alabama, South Carolina and Oklahoma

New coronavirus cases have nearly doubled in Alabama and South Carolina in the second week of June compared to the prior seven days, a Reuters analysis has found, as 17 US states reported weekly increases of its spread.

Alabama's new cases rose 97 percent to 5,115 for the week ending June 14, with 14 percent of COVID-19 tests coming back positive compared to six percent in the prior week, according to the analysis of data from The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort to track the outbreak.

US: Drive-in cinemas make a comeback amid COVID-19 pandemic

13:55 GMT - Pence says looking at other venues for Trump Tulsa rally

Officials are considering other venues in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for US President Donald Trump's first campaign rally since the coronavirus shutdown, Vice President Mike Pence has said.

Pence acknowledged the health risks of bringing so many people together - the campaign said it had received more than one million ticket requests - during an interview with Fox News.

"It's one of the reasons that we're going to do the temperature screening and we're going to provide hand sanitizers and provide masks for people that are attending," Pence said.

The chief health officer in Tulsa said over the weekend he was worried about holding such a large indoor event while coronavirus cases are rising in the area and wished the rally could be postponed.

More: US Fed's bond-buying programme gives global stocks a boost Coronavirus: Which countries have confirmed cases? Coronavirus: All you need to know about symptoms and risks 13:45 GMT

Hello, this is Mersiha Gadzo in Doha taking over the live updates from my colleague Saba Aziz.

12:30 GMT - Steroid saves one-third of most severe cases: trial

The steroid dexamethasone has been found to save the lives of one-third of the most serious COVID-19 cases, according to trial results hailed as a "major breakthrough" in the fight against the disease.

Researchers led by a team from the University of Oxford administered the widely available drug to more than 2,000 severely ill COVID-19 patients.

Among those who could only breathe with the help of a ventilator, dexamethasone reduced deaths by 35 percent, and it reduced deaths of those receiving oxygen by a fifth, according to preliminary results.

12:20 GMT - Amazon to use AI tech to enforce physical distancing

Amazon.com Inc has launched an artificial intelligence-based tracking system to enforce physical distancing at its offices and warehouses to help reduce the risk of contracting the new coronavirus among its workers.

Monitors set up in the company's warehouses will highlight workers keeping a safe distance in green circles, while workers who are closer will be highlighted in red circles, Amazon said.

The system, called "Distance Assistant", uses camera footage in Amazon's buildings to also help identify high-traffic areas.

Amazon logistics center in Lauwin-Planque

The world's largest online retailer is facing increasing scrutiny over staff safety amid the pandemic [Pascal Rossignol/Reuters]

11:45 GMT - Nearly 10,000 new COVID-19 cases in Africa

At least 9,761 people in Africa were tested positive for coronavirus in one day, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said. 

According to the latest update, the total number of cases in the continent of 1.2 billion people has now reached 251,866. The number of people killed went up to 6,769 after 305 virus-linked deaths were registered across Africa.

Recoveries also grew by 4,331 in the last 24 hours to 114,308.

11:40 GMT - Spain mulls reciprocal quarantine for UK visitors

British visitors to Spain may face quarantine despite the reopening of Europe's borders if London upholds a similar measure, the Spanish foreign minister said.

Spain will lift its quarantine measures on June 21 for all residents of the European Union and the passport-free Schengen zone.

"Should the UK want to keep (quarantine measures) beyond that date... then we will respect this but we will probably reciprocate," Arancha Gonzalez Laya told the BBC's HARDtalk programme.

Read more about which European countries have eased travel restrictions. 

EU borders reopen: Many countries easing travel restrictions

11:30 GMT - Under 20s half as likely to contract COVID-19: Study

People under the age 20 are almost half as susceptible to COVID-19 as people aged 20 or above, according to new research, and clinical symptoms of the pandemic disease appear in only about a fifth of infections in children and teens.

The modelling study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, based on data from six countries - China, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Canada and South Korea - found that by contrast, COVID-19 symptoms appear in 69 percent of infections in people aged 70 or older.

Dr Amir Khan wrote about why older people are more vulnerable to COVID-19 for Al Jazeera's Doctor's Note in March. 

11:05 GMT - Indonesia to reopen schools in low-risk areas

Indonesia will reopen schools located in low-risk areas starting in July after months of closure due to coronavirus, the education ministry said.

Sri Wahyuningsih, a ministry official, said in a webinar that the reopening of schools will be carried out in phases depending on the level of education and the provisions of the health protocols.

"Middle and high schools will start to reopen in July, elementary schools in September, while kindergartens will be the last to reopen in November at the earliest," said Wahyuningsih, adding only 6 percent of all schools in the country are located in low-risk areas.

Coronavirus: Indonesian patients say stigma difficult to overcome

11:00 GMT - Turkey makes masks compulsory in 42 provinces

Turkey has made the wearing of face masks mandatory in five more provinces, following an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter that the wearing of masks is now compulsory in 42 of Turkey's 81 provinces.

In the remaining provinces, residents are required to wear masks on public transportation and in shops and malls, and are being advised to wear masks and keep to social distancing practices elsewhere.

Koca said: "We cannot struggle against the virus without masks."

Turkey masks

Turkey reopened cafes, restaurants and bazaars as it eased restrictions earlier this month [File: Umit Bektas/AP]

10:30 GMT - Hungary MPs vote to end virus emergency powers

Hungarian MPs have voted to revoke anti-coronavirus emergency powers that triggered international criticism and fears of a power grab by Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Dominated by Orban's ruling Fidesz party, parliament approved the lifting of a "state of danger" and related special powers to tackle the COVID-19 crisis.

The state of danger is expected to be formally lifted later on this week by the government.

10:00 GMT - Coronavirus a recipe for disaster for German potatoes

German demand for potatoes and potato products has collapsed during the coronavirus crisis, with the vegetable being used as animal feed or for making biogas instead, an industry body said.

There had been a "catastrophic reduction in sales" of frozen, chilled and dry potato products, the German Association of the Fruit, Vegetable and Potato Processing Industry (BOGK) said.

Germany is the biggest producer of potatoes in the European Union and a huge consumer.

Potatoes are offered on a farmer's market during the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Hamburg

Potatoes are offered on a farmer's market during the outbreak of coronavirus in Hamburg, Germany [Fabian Bimmer/Reuters]

09:30 GMT - More than 600,000 lose jobs in the UK 

The number of people on British company payrolls fell by more than 600,000 in April and May as the coronavirus lockdown hit the labour market, and vacancies plunged by the most on record, official data showed.

The jobless rate unexpectedly held at 3.9 percent over the three months to April - despite a record slump in overall economic output during that period - as firms turned to the government's job retention scheme to keep employees on their books.

Meanwhile, the number of people claiming job-related benefits also increased by a monthly 23.3 percent in May to 2.8 million. 

UK retail opens up, London Fashion Week goes digital

09:15 GMT - Latest coronavirus figures

Oman: 25,269 cases (745), 114 deaths (6)

Russia: 545,458 cases (8,248), 7,284 deaths (193)

Indonesia: 40,400 (1,106), 2,231 deaths (33)

Malaysia: 8,505 cases (11), 121 deaths (0)

Philippines: 26,781 cases (364), 1,103 deaths (5)

08:45 GMT - Germany's coronavirus tracing app goes live

Germany sought to mobilise the public to download a new smartphone app that seeks to help break the chain of coronavirus infections, one of several such apps in Europe that governments hope will revive travel and tourism.

The new Covid-Warn-App, which became available for download for Apple and Android phones overnight, uses Bluetooth short-range radio to monitor close contacts between people and issue a warning should one of them test positive.

Germany to launch coronavirus smartphone contact tracing app

German Health Minister Jens Spahn attends the presentation of the new contact-tracing smartphone app [Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters]

"Everyone who downloads the app, and everyone who encourages friends to do so, is making a difference," Health Minister Jens Spahn told ZDF public television ahead of a launch event in Berlin.

08:30 GMT - Singapore to start human trials of vaccine in August

Singapore scientists testing a COVID-19 vaccine from US firm Arcturus Therapeutics plan to start human trials in August after promising initial responses in mice.

More than 100 vaccines are being developed globally, including several already in human trials from the likes of AstraZeneca and Pfizer, to try and control a disease that has infected more than 8 million people and killed over 430,000 worldwide.

The vaccine being evaluated by Singapore's Duke-NUS Medical School works on the relatively-untested Messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, which instructs human cells to make specific coronavirus proteins that produce an immune response.

New COVID-19 outbreak in China a threat to economic recovery

08:20 GMT - Hong Kong to allow gatherings of up to 50 people 

Hong Kong will let groups of up to 50 people meet from Friday, easing an earlier limit of eight people, after reporting only a small number of coronavirus cases in recent weeks, Health Secretary Sophia Chan said.

The Asian financial hub has reported a total of 1,113 cases and four deaths since the outbreak began in late January.

07:45 GMT - Tokyo Olympic board member would support another delay

An executive board member of the Tokyo Olympic organising committee says another delay should be sought if the games can't be held next year.

The Tokyo Olympics were to be held this year but were postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The suggestion comes from Haruyuki Takahashi in an interview published in the Japanese sports newspaper Nikkan Sports.

"The main priority is to make a united effort to hold them (Olympics) in the summer of 2021," Takahashi said. He added if that is not possible we should start action once again to get another delay.

Mar 24, 2020; Tokyo, Japan; Olympic rings monument at Rainbow Bridge, Odaiba, Tokyo. On Monday the IOC announced that the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics Games would be postponed due to the COVID-19 corona

According to the new schedule, the Olympics will begin on July 23, 2021 and run through Agust 8 [Yukihito Taguchi/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters]

07:10 GMT - Ukraine president's wife hospitalised with coronavirus

The wife of Ukraine's President, Olena Zelenska, was hospitalised after contracting coronavirus and her condition was stable, the presidential office said. 

Zelenska said last week she had tested positive for coronavirus, while her husband Volodymyr Zelenskiy and their two children had tested negative.

We are keeping a list of celebrities, athletes and politicians who have been infected.

More: Asymptomatic COVID-19: Five things to know Coronavirus: Which countries have confirmed cases? Which European countries eased travel restrictions? 07:00 GMT - Patients filling beds in India's largest cities

India has recorded another 10,000-plus coronavirus infections as patients swamp health services in its largest cities.

The Health Ministry also reported a 24-hour increase of 380 deaths due to COVID-19, driving the death toll to 9,900.

The 10,667 new cases raise the nation's total to 343,091, fourth-highest in the world behind the US, Brazil and Russia. 

Maharashtra, the western state that is home to Mumbai, India's financial and entertainment capital, continues to have the highest state toll. Mumbai, Chennai and the capital New Delhi are seeing rising infections swamp their health services.

Taxi driver

Bodies of people who died due to the coronavirus disease arrive for cremation at a crematorium in New Delhi [File: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters]

06:30 GMT - Ilhan Omar's father dies from coronavirus complications

Father of Somalia-born US Representative Ilhan Omar has died of complications from the novel coronavirus, local media reported.

"It is with tremendous sadness and pain to say goodbye to my father," the Minnesota congresswoman tweeted late on Monday. "No words can describe what he meant to me and all who knew and loved him."

Omar and her father Nur Mohamed came to the United States as refugees in 1995 from Somalia during the country's civil war and eventually settled in Minneapolis, according to Politico.

إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ

Surely we belong to God and to him shall we return.

It is with tremendous sadness and pain to say goodbye to my father, Nur Omar Mohamed. No words can describe what he meant to me and all who knew and loved him. pic.twitter.com/gb7q0gMXG2

— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) June 16, 2020 06:15 GMT - Privacy fears over COVID-19 apps by Bahrain, Kuwait, Norway

Amnesty International has raised privacy and security concerns over "invasive" contact-tracing apps rolled out by Bahrain, Kuwait and Norway to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The UK-based rights group said an investigation into COVID-19 apps being used by 11 countries had rated Bahrain's "BeAware Bahrain", Kuwait's "Shlonik" and Norway's "Smittestopp" as among the "most dangerous" for human rights, putting hundreds of thousands of people at risk.

Amnesty found that all three were actively carrying out live or near-live tracking of users' locations by frequently uploading GPS coordinates to a central server.

Read more here. 

Can apps keep coronavirus in check? | Inside Story

Hello, this is Saba Aziz in Doha, taking over the live blog from my colleague Kate Mayberry. 

05:15 GMT -

I'm handing the blog to my colleagues in Doha shortly. Before I go, a quick round-up of what's been happening over the past few hours.

The situation in Beijing is proving worrisome with city officials stepping up containment measures and other parts of China imposing quarantines on those travelling from the capital. Pakistan is also promising tougher measures as it tries to get a grip on the outbreak. Elsewhere, New Zealand has confirmed two new cases. The disease wasn't acquired locally, however. It was found in two people who had recently returned from the UK. 

05:00 GMT - Pakistan identifies 20 cities at coronavirus risk

Pakistan's government says it has identified 20 cities that are most at risk from the rapid spread of the coronavirus and will be implementing strict lockdowns in certain neighbourhoods.

Al Jazeera's Asad Hashim says the authorities are calling it a "smart" lockdown approach.

Hospitals struggle as coronavirus cases explode in Pakistan

On Monday, Pakistan endured the deadliest day of the pandemic so far, recording 110 deaths, taking the country's tally to 2,897 people killed by COVID-19 since late February. Cases rose by 4,443 to 148,921. 

Chairing a meeting on coronavirus response, Prime Minister Imran Khan directed officials to investigate increasing reports of hospitals in major cities hitting their capacity and not being able to admit more coronavirus patients, especially those requiring critical care.

04:10 GMT - US airlines threaten ban for passengers who refuse to wear masks

Major US airlines will provide masks to passengers who do not have them, and have warned passengers who refuse to wear masks that they could be banned from flights.

The airlines will clearly inform passengers about their individual policies on face coverings before flying, followed by an announcement with specific details onboard, Airlines for America said in a statement.

Each carrier will decide the appropriate consequences for passengers who fail to comply, up to and including being put on that airline's no-fly list.

Read more about this here.

US aviation

A passenger walks through Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC. Airlines are saying passengers could be banned if they refuse to wear a face mask [File: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

03:50 GMT - Beijing officials say Xinfadi market outbreak 'very grim'

City officials in Beijing have described the coronavirus outbreak centred on the Xinfadi market as "very grim" according to the Global Times.

The Times says nine of 11 districts in Beijing have reported confirmed cases, with the area of Fengtai, which is around the market, the worst affected. 

Beijing expects to complete a citywide inspection and sanitation campaign targeting wholesale and vegetable markets, as well as restaurants and canteens on Wednesday. All vendors and business operators will have to undergo nucleic acid tests. 

03:30 GMT - Shanghai imposes quarantine for some domestic visitors

Shanghai says it will impose a 14-day quarantine on all people arriving in the city from medium to high-risk COVID-19 areas elsewhere in China.

Wu Jinglei, the director of Shanghai's health commission, says those arriving from high-risk places will have to complete a centralised quarantine and will undergo nucleic acid testing twice.

02:30 GMT - Beijing imposes curbs on more districts after outbreak linked to market

Beijing is imposing coronavirus restrictions on more districts after an outbreak linked to the capital's wholesale food market. There are now 22 districts deemed "medium-risk" with local authorities setting up checkpoints, stepping up social distancing and closing schools.

City officials reported 27 new cases for June 15, taking the total for the latest spike to 106, as the authorities track down close contacts of those known to have the virus.

Other cities in China have also responded to the outbreak, with some imposing quarantines or stepping up their own preventive measures.

After cluster infection was found in #Beijing's markets, #Wuhan started three-day inspection of the city's supermarkets, wet and vegetable markets on Saturday. All 6,178 samples took from those markets, including chopping boards, kitchen knives, tested negative for #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/JuBGBLgZAa

— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) June 16, 2020 02:15 GMT - China's president to convene COVID-19 'solidarity' summit with Africa

China's President Xi Jinping is to hold a "solidarity" summit with Africa over the coronavirus pandemic.

Xi will deliver a keynote speech at the summit on June 17, according to Chinese state media.

02:00 GMT - New Zealand reports two new cases in travellers returning from UK

New Zealand has confirmed two new cases of coronavirus, both connected with travel to the UK and to each other.

New Zealand lifted all coronavirus restrictions last week, but is keeping its borders to closed to everyone except citizens and special cases.

00:00 GMT - More than 8 million coronavirus cases recorded worldwide

Some 8,005,294 cases of coronavirus have now been confirmed around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The actual figure is likely to be much higher because countries often have different criteria for testing, and milder and asymptomatic cases may go undetected.

These are the five countries with the most cases:

US - 2,111,622 Brazil - 888,271 Russia - 536,484 India - 332, 424 United Kingdom - 298,315

These are the five countries that have recorded the most deaths:

US - 116,114 Brazil - 43,959 United Kingdom - 41,821 Italy - 34,371 France - 29,439 23:30 GMT - Coronavirus more likely to kill those with chronic conditions: CDC

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found people with chronic illnesses including heart disease and diabetes are six times more likely to be admitted to hospital, and 12 times more likely to die than COVID-19 patients with no underlying conditions. 

The CDC based its analysis on 1.32 million confirmed cases of coronavirus received between January 22 and the end of May.

Although information on underlying conditions was available for only 22 percent of those patients, the CDC found that of those, 32 percent had a heart-related illness, 30 percent had diabetes and 18 percent had chronic lung conditions, including asthma.

Underlying medical conditions

People with underlying health conditions including asthma are at a far higher risk from COVID-19 than otherwise healthy people according to a new CDC report [File: David McNew/Getty Images via AFP]

The CDC said age remained a major risk. The percentage of intensive care admission was highest among people aged at least 60 and over with underlying conditions. People over the age of 80 were the most likely to die, even if they did not have a chronic illness.

Dr Amin Khan wrote about chronic illnesses and COVID-19 for Al Jazeera's Doctor's Note in March.

----

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 (June 15) here.

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