The French health ministry reported more than 2,500 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, setting a new post-lockdown daily high for the third day in a row, and taking the country’s cumulative total of cases to 249,611.
An Australian inquiry into the virus-infected Ruby Princess cruise ship said health officials made a “serious and material error” in allowing passengers to disembark from the vessel.
Worldwide coronavirus cases surpassed 21 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, while more than 13 million people have recovered. More than 763,000 people have died.
Here are the latest updates:
Saturday, August 15
04:55 GMT – New Zealand’s outbreak grows
New Zealand reported seven new cases of COVID-19 as a lockdown in the country’s biggest city, Auckland, was extended in response to the Pacific nation’s first coronavirus outbreak in months.
Six of the seven new cases have been linked to the cluster responsible for all the previous community cases, while one case was being investigated, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told a media briefing in Wellington.
The new cases bring New Zealand’s total infections since the start of the year to 1258, while the number of currently active cases stands at 56. Twenty-two people have died so far.
04:21 GMT – Latin America’s caseload exceeds 6 million
Coronavirus cases in Latin America has exceeded 6 million and is continuing to accelerate, according to a Reuters tally, as most of its nations begin to relax lockdown measures.
The region reached 6,000,005 confirmed cases by Friday evening and 237,360 deaths. That accounts for just under one-third of the world’s total case load and a similar share of reported deaths from the pandemic.
The climb from 5 million to 6 million cases took 11 days, one day less than it took to reach the previous million.
Latin America is the region of the world worst-affected by the pandemic, reporting an average of more than 86,000 daily infections and more than 2,600 deaths in the last seven days.
03:47 GMT – China reports 22 new cases
Health authorities in China reported 22 new coronavirus cases in the mainland for August 14, compared to 30 cases a day earlier.
Of the new infections, 14 were imported and the locally transmitted cases included seven in the far western region of Xinjiang and one in Guangdong province.
On Friday, a shopping centre in Shenzhen, a city in Guangdong, was sealed after a COVID-19 case was confirmed there. The Shenzhen health authority later that day said two positive cases had been found, both of whom had worked inside the mall at the Alibaba-owned supermarket Freshippo.
Freshippo said in a separate statement that it had suspended operations at 21 of its stores in Shenzhen to carry out disinfection work and nucleic acid tests for its employees.
Medical workers wearing protective suits are seen at a nucleic acid testing site outside the IBC Mall in Shenzhen after a worker was confirmed to have COVID-19 [David Kirton/ Reuters]
03:13 GMT – Australia’s Victoria reports 303 new cases
The Australian state of Victoria continued to flatten the curve in its wave of COVID-19 infections and deaths, reporting four more fatalities and 303 new cases in the past 24 hours.
It was the second-lowest daily figure in Victoria this month after 278 cases on Thursday.
Victoria’s daily numbers are gradually decreasing, with the seven-day average down to 344 from 521 a week ago. But authorities warn more progress is needed before lockdown restrictions in the city of Melbourne can be eased.
“We could not conceive of opening up with 200 cases a day. We couldn’t do it with 100 cases a day. We have to head for the lowest possible number,” said Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.
101 EAST | Australia’s Cruise Ship Nightmare (23:48)
02:45 GMT – South Korea’s cases jump again
South Korea reported 166 newly confirmed case of the coronavirus, it’s highest daily jump in five months, amid fears transmissions were getting out of control in the greater capital area.
The figures announced by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) brought the national caseload to 15,039, including 305 deaths.
The KCDC said 155 of the new infections were locally transmitted, mostly from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area where authorities scurried to shut down thousands of churches, which have emerged as a major source of COVID-19 cases. Many of them had failed to properly enforce preventive measures, allowing worshippers to take off their masks, sing in choirs or eat together in diners.
Other clusters have been tied to nursing homes, schools, restaurants, outdoor markets and door-to-door salespeople.
02:29 GMT – Top official says coronavirus has peaked in Mexico
Hugo Lopez-Gatell, Mexico’s point man for the coronavirus pandemic, said he thinks the country reached its peak of infections over the last three weeks.
“We have now had a maximum point in the curve,” the assistant health secretary said, while also predicting that second waves of infections would continue occurring around the world for some time.
“This is a phenomenon that is going to be with us in the whole world for several years,” he said.
Lopez-Gatell had had previously wrongly predicted that infections would peak in May and June.
Meanwhile, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Mexico rose by 5,618 on Friday to reach 511,369. The health department reported 615 newly confirmed deaths from COVID-19, bringing the country’s total deaths to 55,908.
COVID-19 vaccine: Safety concerns as countries rush for cure (1:57)
01:37 GMT – Paris expands mask requirements for pedestrians
France’s capital, Paris, is expanding the areas of the city where pedestrians will be obliged to wear masks starting on Saturday morning.
The Champs-Elysees Avenue and the area around the Louvre Museum are among zones where masks will be mandatory, and police checks ensuring respect for mask-wearing in designated areas are to be reinforced.
Bars and restaurants could be ordered closed if distancing and other barriers to virus transmission are not respected, health officials said.
00:20 GMT – California surpasses 600,000 cases, most in US
California became the first state in the United States to surpass 600,000 cases of COVID-19 on Friday, although Governor Gavin Newsom said he was encouraged to see that hospitalisations have declined 20 percent over the past two weeks and admissions to ICU wards were down 14 percent in the same period.
“The number that really matters to us is that positivity rate,” he said when asked about the state’s caseload. The positivity rate – the number of confirmed infections as a percentage of tests done – has declined from 7 percent to 6 percent statewide over the past 14 days, Newsom said.
“I’m not going to back off on more tests because I fear [more cases],” he said.
Karla Funderburk, artist and owner of Matter Studio Gallery, stands among some of the thousands of origami cranes hanging during an exhibit honouring the victims of COVID-19 in Los Angeles, the US on Tuesday, August 11, 2020 [Richard Vogel/ AP]
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, August 14, go here.