At least nine people were killed late on Wednesday as a 43-year-old German man went on a shooting rampage in the western town of Hanau, targeting customers at two separate shisha lounges.
The suspect and his mother were found dead in his apartment early on Thursday after a huge manhunt.
Police are attempting to identify the victims.
Federal prosecutors have said there are indications of a far-right motive.
Police said the two crime scenes were at Heumarkt, in the centre of Hanau, and Kurt-Schumacher-Platz in the western neighbourhood of Kesselstadt, about 2km (1.24 miles) away. The suspect’s apartment was also in Kesselstadt.
Here are all the latest updates:
Thursday, February 20
A survivor describes the attack
“The man entered … and killed them all.”Wounded survivor recounts the moment a gunman opened fire in Hanau, Germany. pic.twitter.com/zMa2kM4msc
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) February 20, 2020
“Last night, in Kesselstadt, in the Arena Bar, we first heard five or six gunshots. After that I saw [a man] going inside. I was eating at that moment – we were all eating, we had already paid the bill. A man went inside. There were 10 to 12 people. Only two, three or four managed to survive. One of them was me.
“The man came to one side and shot everyone. Then he came to our side. He shot the first guy in his head. He immediately fell down. Then he started shooting at the rest of us. My arm … I hid behind the wall. While hiding behind the wall I got shot in my arm. Then I fell onto the ground. Another guy fell over me, I fell over another guy, a guy fell over me, another one fell over him … We all went down like (inaudible), we were all one big pile.
“The guy that was lying under me, he had a hole in his throat. There was a hole in his throat. I spoke to him. He told me: ‘Brother, I cannot feel my tongue. I cannot feel my tongue, I am not able to breathe.’
“I said to him … I recited the shahada [the Islamic creed]. The guy started to scream, repeating the shahada, saying: ‘Everyone say shahada.’ No-one responded. There was only the two of us left. Yes. The man ran afterwards. We couldn’t see anything.”
What we know so far
At least nine people were killed in a shooting rampage in Germany’s Hanau. Officials say the shooter had a far-right motive. Here’s what we know so far 👇 pic.twitter.com/cgn3lZ1TmE
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) February 20, 2020
One victim ‘was Bosnian’
The Bosnian ministry of foreign affairs has confirmed that one victim was a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
After initially stating that no citizens were among the victims of the attack, it has been subsequently established by the foreign ministry in conjunction with its consulate in Frankfurt that one victim – a permanent resident of Germany – was originally from Bosnia, and held Bosnian citizenship.
Germany’s federal prosecutor: ‘Suspect’s manifesto contained deeply racist material’
Germany’s federal prosecutor General Peter Frank told reporters that investigators are trying to determine if anyone else knew about or supported the attack, adding:
The suspect’s name was Tobias R. (It is common for authorities in Germany to only give the initial of a suspect’s surname)
At least six people were injured in the attack, including one who was seriously wounded. Germans and foreign citizens were among the victims
A gun was found next to the suspect’s body
The suspect had a manifesto that contained conspiracy theories and racist material
“On the suspected perpetrator’s home page, he had put up video messages and a kind of manifesto that, in addition to obscure thoughts and absurd conspiracy theories, pointed to deeply racist views,”
Boris Johnson, UK prime minister, tweets condolences
The United Kingdom’s prime minister has offered support to Germany after the attack.
In a tweet, Boris Johnson wrote: “My thoughts are with the people of Germany as they grieve those lost in the terrible attack in Hanau last night. The UK stands with our German friends against this racist assault on our values.”
Merkel condemns ‘poison’ of racism
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was much to indicate racism motivated the Hanau shootings.
She also said: “Racism is a poison, hate is a poison, and this poison exists in our society.”
“Everything will be done to investigate the circumstances of these terrible murders,” Merkel said.
‘Germany the past week’
Stephanie Burnett, a reporter with Germany’s state-owned Deutsche Welle network, has tweeted a timeline of the past week including events that signal a growing far-right threat.
Germany the past week Friday: Police raid far-right network planning attacks on Muslims/politicians/asylum-seekers Mon: Thousands of anti-Islam protesters in Dresden Mon: Germany’s Muslims demand protection at mosques Wed: Gunman shooting rampage at #Hanau shisha bars
— Stephanie Burnett (@Stephy_Burnett) February 20, 2020
Leader of Merkel’s party: Xenophobia is poisoning our society
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said xenophobia was a growing problem in Germany.
“It’s poison to see people as opponents, to see yourself as better than others, to see fellow citizens as foreigners – that’s a poison that is increasingly penetrating society and can ultimately lead to these crimes,” she said.
EU chief ‘deeply shocked’ by Germany shootings
“I am deeply shocked by the tragedy that took place last night in Hanau. My thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims, to whom I want to extend my sincerest condolences. We mourn with you today,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, a former German government minister, tweeted.
EU Council head Charles Michel and European Parliament speaker David Sassoli echoed the sentiments in their own tweets.
General view of one of the crime scenes, following a shooting in Hanau [Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters]
German state minister: Suspect had xenophobic motive, his mother is dead
The interior minister of the German state of Hesse said there was a xenophobic motive for the shooting in Hanau and said the suspect, a 43-year-old German man, and his mother, had been found dead with bullet wounds at his home.
Peter Beuth said investigations were ongoing as to whether there were any letters of confession. He added that he could not say who was visiting the shisha bars at the time of the attack.
Beuth said the perpetrator was in legal possession of arms and was a sports marksman.
Ethnic Turks among victims: Turkey
Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for the Turkish presidency, said some of those killed were of Turkish origin.
Kalin said on Twitter: “We expect German authorities to show maximum effort to enlighten this case. Racism is a collective cancer.”
Indications of far-right motive: Prosecutors
There are indications that a gunman who shot dead nine people in shisha bars in Hanau in an overnight rampage had a far-right motive, German federal prosecutors said.
“Federal prosecutors have taken over the investigation and there are indications of a right-wing extremist background,” said a spokesman for the prosecutors.
Local media says suspected attacker left letter and video confession
Bild, Germany’s biggest-selling daily tabloid newspaper, said without citing a source that the suspected attacker left a letter and a video claiming responsibility and expressing extreme right-wing views.
It also said the man was a German citizen and that ammunition and gun magazines were found in his car. He had a firearms hunting licence, the report said.
A special forces officer works on a robot in front of a house that is searched in Hanau [Michael Probst/AP]
Police track suspect by car number plate
Michael Malkmus, South East Hesse police spokesperson: “Now we are here at another crime scene in Hanau Kesselstadt. The police came to the scene on the basis of information from witnesses who identified a vehicle in the previous crimes and were able to read a licence plate number.”
“As a result, special forces have located this address. Two people were found dead in the apartment, and it looks like that one of the dead is the suspect.”
Federal prosecutors taking charge of Germany shooting case
Federal prosecutors say they are taking charge of the investigation into the Hanau shootings.
The Federal Prosecutors Office in Karlsruhe, which handles serious crimes, said it planned to hold a news conference later on Thursday.
Hanau shooting: Nine dead after two shisha bar attacks in Germany
A man suspected of fatally shooting nine people in the German city of Hanau was found dead at his home early on Thursday, hours after the attacks in and outside two shisha lounges, police said.
Read more here.
Germany says nerve agent Novichok found in Russia’s Navalny |NationalTribune.com
Tests performed on samples taken from prominent Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny showed the presence of the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok, the German government said. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said in a statement on Wednesday testing by a special German military laboratory had shown “proof without doubt of a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok…
Tests performed on samples taken from prominent Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny showed the presence of the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok, the German government said.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said in a statement on Wednesday testing by a special German military laboratory had shown “proof without doubt of a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok group”.
“It is a dismaying event that Alexey Navalny was the victim of an attack with a chemical nerve agent in Russia,” Seibert said. “The German government condemns this attack in the strongest terms. The Russian government is urgently requested to provide clarifications over the incident.”
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was not informed of the German findings and had no such data, the TASS news agency reported.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas urged Moscow to investigate the poisoning, and said the Russian ambassador had been summoned to explain the evidence.
“This makes it all the more urgent that those responsible in Russia be identified and held accountable,” Maas told reporters. “We condemn this attack in the strongest terms.”
Novichok – a military grade nerve agent – was used to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the United Kingdom.
The Charite hospital in Berlin, where Navalny is being treated, has reported “some improvement” in his condition, but he remains in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator.
Navalny, 44, a politician and corruption investigator who is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics, fell ill on a flight back to Moscow from Siberia on August 20 and was taken to a hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk after the plane made an emergency landing.
He was later transferred to Charite hospital, where doctors last week said there were indications he had been poisoned.
Seibert said the German government would inform its partners in the European Union and NATO about the Novichok test results. He said it would consult with its partners in light of the Russian response “on an appropriate joint response”.
Navalny’s allies in Russia have insisted he was deliberately poisoned by the country’s authorities, accusations the Kremlin rejected as “empty noise”.
“To poison Navalny with Novichok in 2020 would be exactly the same as leaving an autograph at a crime scene, like this one,” Navalny’s longtime ally and strategist Leonid Volkov said in a tweet that featured a photo of Putin’s name and a signature next to it.
The Russian doctors who treated Navalny in Siberia have repeatedly contested the German hospital’s conclusion, saying they ruled out poisoning as a diagnosis and their tests for poisonous substances came back negative.
Al Jazeera’s Aleksandra Stoyanovich-Godfroid, reporting from Moscow, said Russia’s response was so far “cautious and restrained”.
“The Russian doctors released Navalny with a ‘metabolic disorder’ diagnosis. Two labs in Russia didn’t find anything suspicious and a pre-investigation didn’t find anything leading to foul play,” she said. “On the other hand, the opposition is saying, ‘We knew [it was Novichok] – all the symptoms are there.'”
Novichok is a deadly group of nerve agents developed by the Soviet military in the 1970s and ’80s. It is a cholinesterase inhibitor, part of the class of substances that doctors at the Charite initially identified in Navalny.
Navalny’s allies said the German government’s identification of the poison used against him suggested the Russian state had been behind the attack.
“Only the state [FSB, GRU] can use Novichok. This is beyond any reasonable doubt,” Ivan Zhdanov, director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, said on Twitter, referring to the FSB internal security and GRU military intelligence services.
Bharat Pankhania, from the University of Exeter Medical School, said while Russian authorities have access to chemical weapons such as Novichok, so too do other countries.
“It’s well known in the intelligence communities, despite international agreements, nations were developing these agents, and we know the Soviet Union as it was breaking up did have supplies,” Pankhania told Al Jazeera.
“But that is also not to say other states do not also have access. We should never blame one area, we know other states also have access to nerve agents.”
The Navalny case has drawn parallels with two suspected Kremlin-linked poisonings in the UK. British authorities identified Novichok as the poison used in 2018 on former Russian spy Skripal and his daughter in Salsbury, England.
In 2006, Putin was blamed for the radiation poisoning death of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko in the British capital.
Germany records highest daily coronavirus cases in months: Live |NationalTribune.com
Russia’s confirmed coronavirus case tally, the fourth largest in the world, rose to 902,701 after officials reported 5,102 new infections. The WHO has not received enough information on the Russian COVID-19 vaccine to evaluate it, according to Jarbas Barbosa, assistant director of its Americas branch, the PAHO. President Vladimir Putin says Russia has developed the…
Russia’s confirmed coronavirus case tally, the fourth largest in the world, rose to 902,701 after officials reported 5,102 new infections.
The WHO has not received enough information on the Russian COVID-19 vaccine to evaluate it, according to Jarbas Barbosa, assistant director of its Americas branch, the PAHO.
President Vladimir Putin says Russia has developed the first vaccine offering “sustainable immunity” against the coronavirus.
Worldwide coronavirus cases have surpassed 20 million, with Brazil and Mexico reporting a combined 27,000 infections in just one day. More than 12.4 million have recovered, and more than 744,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Here are the latest updates:
Wednesday, August 12
20:49 GMT – Will the Russian COVID-19 vaccine work?
Will the Russian COVID-19 vaccine work? | Inside Story
20:15 GMT – Italy orders tests on travelers from Greece, Spain, Croatia, Malta
A passenger wearing a protective face mask walks at Fiumicino Airport in Rome [File: Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters]
Travelers arriving to Italy from Croatia, Greece, Malta and Spain will have to be tested, while Colombia has been added to a list of countries under a complete travel ban.
The move came as the country reported nearly 500 new cases and 10 deaths over the last 24 hours, twice the levels regularly seen in June.”We must continue on a path of caution to defend the results we have obtained over the past months through sacrifices by everyone,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Facebook.
19:46 GMT – Brazil’s Parana state agrees to produce Russian vaccine
The Brazilian state of Parana reached an agreement with Russia to produce a COVID-19 vaccine that Moscow has touted as ready to be brought to market, the state’s press office said.The Russian vaccine has grabbed headlines for going to market prompting skepticism by other countries as its final trials have yet to be completed.
WHO COVID Debrief on global coronavirus vaccine efforts
19:23 GMT – Surge in Spain’s cases prompts regional smoking ban, field hospital
Coronavirus cases in Spain jumped by nearly 1,700 as part of a surge that has prompted the construction of a military field hospital in the hard-hit Aragon region and led authorities in Galicia to practically ban smoking in public places.
Since lifting its strict lockdown around six weeks ago Spain has struggled to keep a lid on new infections, with average daily cases rising from less than 150 in June to more than 1,500 in the first 12 days of August.
Is the world facing a second wave of COVID-19? | Inside Story
18:56 GMT – Turkish board proposes schools stay closed longer
Turkey’s science board recommended that education in schools should not begin for at least one more month, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said, after the board met to discuss measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.In a written statement following the meeting, Koca said that face-to-face education will begin gradually and that online education will be conducted if necessary.
A 16-year old high school student, watches a history lesson on television as part of home schooling during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Diyarbakir, Turkey [File: Sertac Kayar/Reuters]
18:22 GMT – UK held first socially distanced gig
The UK held its first concert in Newcastle set to maintain social distancing. Organizers placed 500 separate metal platforms, each accommodating up to five people from the same household.
The UK’s first socially distanced gig happened in Newcastle last night. 500 separate raised metal platforms, each accommodating up to five people from the same family/household. Hand sanitizer station and mini fridge included. Singing allowed too! pic.twitter.com/49pp1EnVFj
— Ian Dempsey (@IanDempsey) August 12, 2020
18:11 GMT – Russia says medics to get vaccine shots in two weeks
Russia said that the first batch of the world’s COVID-19 vaccine would be rolled out within two weeks and rejected as “groundless” safety concerns aired by some experts over Moscow’s rapid approval of the drug. “It seems our foreign colleagues are sensing the specific competitive advantages of the Russian drug and are trying to express opinions that in our opinion are completely groundless,” Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said the day after President Vladimir Putin announced it had won regulatory approval.
Russia claims to have developed ‘first’ coronavirus vaccine
17:45 GMT – Greece records highest daily tally
With 262 new cases, Greece reported its highest daily tally since the start of the outbreak in the country.
The latest jump in cases brings the total number of infections in the country to 6,177 since its first infection surfaced in late February. There have been 216 deaths recorded.
The increase in infections in recent weeks has prompted authorities to gradually introduce more restrictions during the peak of the tourism season.
People wearing protective face masks take a selfie as they wait for the start of an ancient Greek drama at the ancient amphitheatre of Epidaurus, Greece [File: Costas Baltas/Reuters]
17:32 GMT – Venezuela oil minister recovered from COVID-19
Venezuelan oil minister Tareck El Aissami said he had recovered from the novel coronavirus after 33 days he had been struggling with the disease.
“Thanks to President Nicolas Maduro and [first lady] Cilia Flores for all their support and strong prayers,” El Aissami, who is also the OPEC nation’s economic vice president, said on Twitter. “We have overcome.”
Venezuela: Breaking lockdown rules punished
17:11 GMT – UK’s official death toll lowered after methodology change
As the UK government adopted a new way of counting fatalities following concerns over its previous method, Britain’s official death toll was lowered by over 5,000 – from 46,706 to 41,329. The UK government and the devolved regional administrations agreed to publish the number of deaths that occurred within 28 days of a positive, lab-confirmed COVID-19 test result on a daily basis, the Department of Health said. Previously, there was no cut-off time for deaths after a positive test.
16:38 GMT – France: new post-lockdown daily record
Tourists in protective masks stand by a masked statue that reads, “Let’s protect ourselves” in Nice as France reinforces mask-wearing as part of efforts to curb a resurgence of COVID-19 across the country [Eric Gaillard/Reuters]
France reported 2,524 new cases over the past 24 hours, marking a new post-lockdown daily high and taking the country’s cumulative total of cases to 206,696. The seven-day moving average of new infections, which averages out weekly data reporting irregularities, increased to 1,810, the highest level since April 24, when the epidemic was in full swing.
15:47 GMT – Democrats, White House ‘miles apart’: Pelosi
United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats and the Trump administration remained far apart regarding any agreement over further economic aid amid the pandemic. “We’re miles apart,” Pelosi told MSNBC in an interview, citing education funding in particular, among other needs. “It’s a chasm … but as a practical matter, they’re going to have to come to the table.”
15:15 GMT – UK reports 1,009 new cases
The United Kingdom reported 1,009 new cases in the past 24 hours, marking the third time in a month that the number of daily infections has surpassed 1,000. However, today’s figure was down from 1,148 the previous day.
UK: Complaints about British tourists ignoring COVID-19 measures
14:37 GMT – Uzbekistan to lift lockdown
After a month-long lockdown, Uzbekistan said it will remove most restrictions starting from Saturday. People will be allowed to drive their cars again and hold ceremonies such as weddings for up to 30 guests at their homes. Businesses such as hotels, barbershops and outdoor cafes will also be able to reopen and air and rail traffic will resume, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s office said in a statement. The government reintroduced a lockdown last month after lifting restrictions in June led to a surge in new cases, leaving hospitals struggling to cope.
People wearing protective face masks line up at a safe social distance outside the grocery store amid the coronavirus disease outbreak in Tashkent, Uzbekistan [File: Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov/Reuters]
14:04 GMT – New Zealand’s largest city back into lockdown
After more than 100 days without a local case, New Zealand has enforced a lockdown around its largest city Auckland. As authorities reported four new cases within the same family, for three days Auckland residents will be asked to stay home, large gatherings will be banned, non-essential businesses will be shut, and some social-distancing restrictions will be reintroduced in the rest of the country.
Motorists queue at a COVID-19 coronavirus testing centre in the suburb of Northcote in Auckland following a stay-at-home lockdown order for the country’s largest city [David Rowland/AFP]
13:33 GMT – Concerns grow over rising cases in Germany
Thousands of Germans protest against coronavirus restrictions
The number of infections in Germany hit a three-month high as the government urged citizens to keep their guard up and stick to public health guidelines. The country’s disease control authority reported 1,226 new infections, the highest number since early May, although the figure has topped 1,000 in several days recently.
“This is worrying, without doubt,” Health Minister Jens Spahn told a local radio. “And it can naturally lead to a new dynamic, if we don’t all now exercise caution,” he said adding that smaller and mid-sized outbreaks have occurred in almost all regions, largely driven by travelers returning from abroad and people partying or having family gatherings.
Hi, this is Virginia Pietromarchi taking over the coronavirus liveblog from my colleague Arwa Ibrahim in Doha, Qatar.
12:48 GMT – Jordan to close border with Syria after spike in COVID-19 cases
Jordan will close for a week its only land trade border crossing with Syria after a spike in COVID-19 cases coming from its northern neighbour, officials said.
They said the interior minister’s decision to close the main Jaber border crossing would come into effect on Thursday morning.
12:31 GMT – For the art collector with everything, the $1.5 million COVID mask
Art rather than ostentation is the rationale behind the world’s most expensive coronavirus mask, say the Israeli jewellers who are crafting the $1.5 million object for an unnamed US-based client.
Made from 18-carat gold and studded with 3,600 black and white diamonds, the mask will be fitted with an N99 filter to offer a high level of protection, said Isaac Levy, owner of the Yvel jewellery brand.
“I don’t think (the customer is) going to use it going to the supermarket but he is going to use it here and there, I’m sure,” said Levy.
He described the client as a Chinese art collector living in the United States.
12:13 GMT – Norway to quarantine more travellers as COVID-19 rises
Norway is reimposing quarantine on more travellers from foreign countries, the government said, and reiterated its advice that Norwegians should avoid travelling abroad amid a jump in the number of new coronavirus cases.
“We’re doing this now so that everyone as soon as possible will be able to live their lives as freely as possible,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg told a news conference.
“All foreign travel is associated with a risk of infection,” Solberg said.
The country will now reimpose 10-day quarantines from Saturday for all travellers from Poland, Malta, Iceland, Cyprus and the Netherlands, as well as the Faroe Islands and some Danish and Swedish regions.
Norway has already reintroduced similar constraints for Spain, France, Switzerland and several other countries [File: Sean Gallup/Getty Images]
11:25 GMT – Vietnam PM says next 10 days ‘critical’ in virus fight
Vietnam’s Prime Minister said that the next 10 days would be critical in the Southeast Asian country’s fight against a new coronavirus outbreak, which resurfaced late last month after three months of no domestic cases.
“Note that the period from this week to the middle of next week is critical,” Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said, according to a government statement.
“Which measures should we continue to implement to win against the virus? Which lessons have we learnt from this current outbreak?” said Phuc.
Vietnam reported three new coronavirus infections, raising the number of cases in the country to 866, with 17 deaths. All fatalities stemmed from the new outbreak.
10:53 GMT – Sharp rise in cyberattacks amid COVID-19
Global distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks tripled in the second quarter of 2020, said a report by global cybersecurity firm Kaspersky.
Kaspersky experts believe that behind the increasing malicious activity is the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the second quarter of 2020, DDoS attacks jumped 217 percent year-on-year, up 30 percent from the first quarter.
“The DDoS attack will send multiple requests to the attacked web resource – with the aim of exceeding the website’s capacity to handle multiple requests, and prevent the website from functioning correctly,” Kaspersky’s website said.
10:31 GMT – Philippines talking to Russian vaccine maker on trials, seeks ‘complete dossier’
Philippine scientists were set to meet representatives of the Russian state research facility that developed a coronavirus vaccine, to discuss participation in clinical trials and access to its research data.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has lauded the Russian vaccine and offered to be “injected in public”, to allay public fears about its safety.
Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire said Philippine experts would meet representatives of research facility Gamaleya to discuss trials and would request a “complete dossier” on the vaccine.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has lauded the Russian vaccine and offered to be ‘injected in public’ [File: Ace Morandante/AP]
09:59 GMT – Bus stop newest front in South Korea’s coronavirus battle
South Korea has opened a high-tech new front in the battle against coronavirus, fortifying bus shelters with temperature-checking doors and ultraviolet disinfection lamps.
Ten advanced facilities have been installed in a northeastern district of Seoul, offering protection from monsoon rains, summer heat and the novel coronavirus.
To enter, passengers must stand in front of an automated thermal-imaging camera, and the door will only slide open if their temperature is below 37.5 degrees Celsius (99.5 Fahrenheit).
A separate camera is installed lower down to test children.
Inside the glass-walled booths – which cost about 100 million won ($84,000) each – the air-conditioning systems have ultraviolet lamps installed to kill viruses at the same time as cooling the air.
09:35 GMT – France to ramp up police checks to ensure masks are worn
France will gradually ramp up police checks to ensure people wear face masks where it is mandatory and respect social distancing amidst a new surge of COVID-19 infections, the government’s spokesman said.
“We’re at a tipping point (…) We’re going to mobilise polices forces to make checks,” BFM TV showed Gabriel Attal telling journalists while visiting the Mediterranean island of Corsica.
“But it’s not the police people should be afraid of (…) they should fear the virus that lurks and contaminates,” he said.
09:18 GMT – Hong Kong reports 62 new coronavirus cases
Hong Kong reported 62 new coronavirus cases, as authorities cautioned that the global financial hub still faced a critical period to contain further transmissions of the virus and warned residents to stay vigilant at social distancing.
Authorities said 61 of the 62 cases were locally transmitted.
Since late January, around 4200 people have been infected in Hong Kong, 63 of whom have died.
09:01 GMT – Indonesia reports 1,942 new coronavirus cases, 79 deaths
Indonesia reported 1,942 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of confirmed infections in the country to 130,718, data from the government’s health ministry website showed.
The Southeast Asian country also added 79 new deaths, taking the total number to 5,903, the highest COVID-19 death toll in Southeast Asia.
08:46 GMT – Brussels makes face masks compulsory in all public spaces as COVID-19 cases spike
Wearing a face mask became compulsory in all public places in Brussels as the number of COVID-19 infections rose to a government alert level that puts the city among the worst affected in Europe.
The Belgian capital, which hosts the headquarters of the European Union and NATO, recorded on average 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants daily over the last week.
Everybody in the city, which has a population of 1.2 million, now has to wear a face mask when in parks, on streets or in any other public sites, as well as in private space accessible to the public, the regional government said.
People wearing masks walk along a street as the tally for novel coronavirus cases passes 73,000 in Belgium [File: Anadolu]
08:23 GMT – Singapore reports lowest daily count of coronavirus cases in 4.5 months
Singapore reported 42 new COVID-19 cases, its lowest daily count in about four and a half months.
The city-state went into a lockdown in mid-April after mass outbreaks in cramped migrant worker dormitories pushed its caseload to one of the highest in Asia.
Last week, it said it had cleared infections from all of the dormitories – housing around 300,000 workers – barring some blocks which continue to serve as isolation zones.
Of Wednesday’s cases – its lowest tally since March 29 – the majority were among those remaining workers serving quarantine.
08:10 GMT – Russia says allegations COVID-19 vaccine is unsafe are groundless
Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said allegations that Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine was unsafe were groundless and driven by competition, the Interfax news agency reported.
Moscow’s decision to grant it approval has raised concerns among some experts. Only about 10 percent of clinical trials are successful and some scientists fear Moscow may be putting national prestige before safety.
07:56 GMT – Last-minute change to English exam grading after COVID controversy
England sought to defuse a looming row over the awarding of school qualifications during the pandemic by allowing students to use the results of earlier tests, in a last-minute change following an outcry in Scotland.
The coronavirus pandemic has meant that almost no examinations took place in Britain. Pupils in England are set to receive marks for their A levels on Thursday, exams that are taken generally by 18-year-olds to gain a place at university.
Results were due to be based on the judgement of a student’s school and then moderated by exam boards.
But education minister Gavin Williamson said that students would now have the option of choosing between using their calculated grade, or deciding to go with their mock result, or sit a new exam in the autumn.
07:44 GMT – Russia’s coronavirus case tally passes 900,000
Russia’s confirmed coronavirus case tally, the fourth largest in the world, rose to 902,701 after officials reported 5,102 new infections.
Authorities said 129 people had died in the last 24 hours, pushing the official death toll to 15,260.
Russia’s has the fourth largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world [File: Pavel Golovkin/The Associated Press]
07:17 GMT – China’s Jingzhou city says woman tests positive for coronavirus again after recovering
Jingzhou city in China’s central province of Hubei reported a coronavirus case where the person turned positive again after recovering months ago, the Jingzhou government said.
The 68-year-old woman, who had tested positive for coronavirus on February 8 but recovered a few months ago, tested positive again on August 9, the government said.
She is now under quarantine and treatment, and people who have contacted her have tested negative for the coronavirus, it said.
There is no evidence of a risk of transmission from relapsed cases, it added.
06:57 GMT – German health minister says he is sceptical about Russian COVID-19 vaccine
German Health Minister Jens Spahn said he was sceptical about Russia becoming the first country to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine, saying it was key to have a safe, tested product rather than just being first.
Russia’s vaccine, which will be called “Sputnik V” in homage to the world’s first satellite launched by the Soviet Union, has not yet completed its final trials. Its regulatory approval came after less than two months of human testing.
“It’s not about being first somehow – it’s about having an effective, tested and therefore safe vaccine,” Spahn told Deutschlandfunk radio.
“In order to have trust in such a vaccine, I think it is very, very important, even during a pandemic, to properly do studies, the relevant tests and especially to make them public. The problem is that we know very little about it as the Russian authorities are not being very transparent,” he said.
06:39 GMT – Facebook removes seven million posts spreading coronavirus misinformation
Facebook removed more than seven million posts in the second quarter containing coronavirus misinformation that could potentially harm people’s health, the social media giant said.
The company also placed warning labels on some 98 million pieces of dubious, but less-dangerous content on the virus, Facebook’s vice president of integrity Guy Rosen said.
“While our technology for identifying and removing violating content is improving, there will continue to be areas where we rely on people to both review content and train our technology,” Facebook said in a blog post.
Facebook has been under pressure to reduce false information on its platform and has taken a tougher stance on policing content in recent months [File: Dado Ruvic/Reuters]
06:24 GMT – New Zealand to make decision on coronavirus restrictions Friday
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her cabinet will decide on Friday on the next steps regarding new restrictions placed across the country, as it reported four new probable cases of coronavirus in the community.
Of the four new probable cases, two are work colleagues of a man who tested positive, and two are related to the household that one of the cases stayed at.
05:41 GMT – Former Indian president critical after surgery, positive virus test
Former Indian president, Pranab Mukherjee, who has coronavirus, is in a critical condition following surgery to remove a blood clot in his brain, an official broadcaster reported.
Mukherjee, 84, was on ventilator support at the Army Research and Referral Hospital in New Delhi, state-run All India Radio said.
He was admitted to the hospital on Monday, when tests revealed a large brain clot for which he underwent emergency life-saving surgery.
Mukherjee on Monday tweeted that he had also tested positive for coronavirus after arriving at the hospital and urged those who had come in contact with him to self-isolate and get tested.
Hello, this is Arwa Ibrahim in Doha, taking over from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed.
04:53 GMT – Cathay Pacific reports first-half loss of $1.27 bn
Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific said it lost 9.9 billion Hong Kong dollars ($1.27bn) in the first half of this year after border closures triggered by the pandemic grounded its fleets.
“The first six months of 2020 were the most challenging that the Cathay Pacific Group has faced in its more than 70-year history,” chairman Patrick Healy said in a stark statement.
“The global health crisis has decimated the travel industry, and the future remains highly uncertain,” he added.
03:55 GMT – China’s community cases hit single digits
China’s newly confirmed community transmitted cases of coronavirus fell into the single digits on Wednesday, while Hong Kong saw another 33 cases of infection.
The National Health Commission said all nine new cases had been found in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, whose capital Urumqi has been at the centre of China’s latest major outbreak.
Another 25 cases were brought by Chinese travellers arriving from abroad.
03:18 GMT – New Zealand considers freight as possible source of new cluster
New Zealand officials are investigating the possibility that its first COVID-19 cases in more than three months were imported by freight.
Ashley Bloomfield, director-general of health, said health officials are “working hard to put together pieces of the puzzle on how” the four members of one family got infected in Auckland.
Investigations were zeroing in on the potential the virus was imported by freight and Bloomfield said surface testing was under way in an Auckland cool store where a man from the infected family worked.
WHO COVID Debrief on masks (3:00)
02:45 GMT – S Korea, US to hold ‘smaller’ military drills
South Korea and the US will kick off their annual joint military drills this week but without mobilising US-based troops after scaling back the programme due to coronavirus concerns, according to South Korean media.
The Yonhap news agency said exercises will be held from August 16-28 but on a reduced scale, though the timeframe was extended by a few days to keep participants spread out and minimise night activities.
The exercises usually begin in August and involve tens of thousands of soldiers from both sides.
01:48 GMT – Argentina death toll tops 5,000
Argentina’s death toll from the coronavirus reached 5,004 on Tuesday amid a surge in cases despite months of lockdown since March 20.
Officials had previously relaxed restrictions in many parts of Argentine, a move blamed for the recent spike.
The country recorded 7,043 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, pushing the total confirmed infections to 260,911, surpassing the total caseload in Italy.
Argentinian dentists work as volunteers to detect cases of COVID-19 in La Boca neighbourhood, Buenos Aires [Ronaldo Schemidt/ AFP]
01:01 GMT – Mexico sees near-record deaths
Mexico reported a near-record 926 confirmed COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, bringing the country’s accumulated total to 53,929.
The Health Department reported 6,686 new coronavirus infections, bringing the country’s total confirmed cases so far to 492,522.
00:28 GMT – New Zealand defers dissolution of parliament
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern deferred the dissolution of parliament to make way for a general election until Monday, following the latest outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.
Parliament was due to be dissolved on Wednesday morning – the first step towards holding the general election scheduled for September 19.
Ardern said no decision had been made yet on postponing the election.
00:19 GMT – Australia’s Victoria logs deadliest day of pandemic
Australia’s second-most populous state of Victoria reported its deadliest day of the coronavirus pandemic with 21 fatalities in the last 24 hours and 410 new cases.
The state reported 19 deaths from the coronavirus, its previous one-day high in casualties, on Tuesday and Monday. It logged 331 cases a day earlier.
Victoria last week imposed a night curfew, tightened restrictions on people’s daily movements and ordered large parts of the local economy to close to slow the spread of coronavirus.
00:04 GMT – US inks $1.5bn vaccine deal with Moderna
The US entered an agreement with drugmaker Moderna Inc to acquire 100 million doses of its potential COVID-19 vaccine for approximately $1.5bn, the company and the White House said.
Moderna’s price comes out to about $30.50 per person for a two-dose regimen, its vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, is one of the few that have already advanced to final-stage testing.
The US government has allocated a total of at least $10.9bn for the development and manufacturing of a coronavirus vaccine and has already ordered 100 million vaccine doses from Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, Pfizer and Sanofi and 300 million from AstraZeneca.
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 11, go here.
Spain, Germany eye lockdown as coronavirus returns
A host of countries around the world that were hailed for their responses to the coronavirus are now dealing with new outbreaks of COVID-19, calling into question their early successes and moves to reopen their economies. Vietnam and Australia, which were praised for taking severe early steps to block the virus’ spread, are dealing with…
A host of countries around the world that were hailed for their responses to the coronavirus are now dealing with new outbreaks of COVID-19, calling into question their early successes and moves to reopen their economies.
Vietnam and Australia, which were praised for taking severe early steps to block the virus’ spread, are dealing with notable new outbreaks. In Europe, Spain and other EU countries that outpaced the U.S. in flattening the curve of COVID-19 cases this summer are facing pressure to clamp down again as they tentatively reopen public life.
“Contagion has fallen, but the numbers show that the virus continues to circulate, giving rise to outbreaks at local level, which have been identified and contained,” Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told lawmakers in Rome on Tuesday as he announced that the country’s COVID-19 state of emergency would be extended into October.
“The international situation remains worrying, and what is happening in countries close to us obliges us to be watchful,” Mr. Conte said.
Japanese health officials are pressing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to consider reinstating tougher measures as the country experiences its worst infection rates since mid-April. They say it is far too early to declare victory.
“If the situation changes, the government may change its approach, and it’s vital to explain to the public the rationale behind any twists in its response to the pandemic,” Shigeru Omi, who heads a government subcommittee on COVID-19 measures, told the NHK network.
Over 16.5 million people around the world have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. Of those, 655,300 have died as of Tuesday evening and 9.6 million have recovered.
The U.S. leads the case number statistics by a wide margin, having reported over 4.3 million cases and 148,298 deaths. These numbers are nearly double those in Brazil, which has reported the second-highest number of cases at 2.4 million.
Critics of the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak have repeatedly pointed to other governments that apparently proved far more effective in keeping infection rates and death totals low.
But the persistence of the virus and the rising fear of complacency in some capitals are forcing another look at the supposed success stories.
Despite an extended travel ban on the U.S. and other COVID-19 hot spots, European countries such as Spain, Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom are reporting new increases in cases. They began to tentatively reopen their economies and cities weeks ago after claiming to have a hold on the outbreaks.
Germany’s foreign ministry issued a notice Tuesday cautioning against travel to three regions in Spain because of “renewed high levels of infections and local lockdowns.”
Spain emerged as an early epicenter of COVID-19. It has reported 278,782 confirmed cases, 28,434 deaths and 150,376 recoveries. In June, it ended a state of emergency that had been declared because of the pandemic.
About the same time, Germany lifted its travel warning for the popular tourist destination after showing a decline in infections, but Spain has reported a spike in infection rates in the northern regions of Catalonia, Aragon and Navarre.
Catalonia’s government rejected Germany’s advisory and said it is “responsible” and “working to protect the life and health of people who live here or are visiting us.” Aragon’s regional office called the recommendation “discriminatory.”
Germany is facing its own struggles to contain a recent surge in new cases.
The country received international praise for its quick response to the health crisis and the relatively low death toll for its large population. However, Germany has reported over 3,600 coronavirus infections in the past week.
The head of Germany’s public health system said Tuesday that he is “very concerned” about the rising statistics.
“The rise has to do with the fact that we have become negligent,” Lothar Wieler, head of Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases, told reporters.
“The new developments in Germany make me very worried,” he said. He urged people to abide by social distancing rules.
Summer travelers quickly took advantage of Europe’s reopening of borders, a move experts fear will cause a second wave of COVID-19.
“It is irrelevant if you are on holiday or at home,” Mr. Wieler said. “The holiday is as much a part of the precautions against the spread of COVID-19 as your work and home life. The setting is irrelevant.”
Asia on edge
In Asia, several countries that appeared to have a handle on the virus are returning to a state of lockdown after new cases spiked.
Vietnamese authorities this week rushed to evacuate 80,000 people, mostly local tourists, from its popular tourist destination of Da Nang after three residents tested positive for COVID-19.
The latest outbreak marks the first time in 100 days that Vietnam has recorded its first locally transmitted COVID-19 case.
Vietnam has also been hailed for implementing an aggressive strategy, including early testing and quarantining for travelers, to curb the virus’ spread. The country sealed off most of its borders to foreign travelers in March and still does not allow most international visitors.
Life has begun to return to normal in China, where the outbreak began late last year, but authorities have declared a “wartime” state in the northwestern region of Xinjiang and a lockdown after 47 new cases were found in one week in Urumqi. Before the current outbreak, the city had not reported any COVID-19 cases in almost five months, health authorities said.
Australian officials are fighting a particularly virulent wave of infections in Melbourne and have issued orders for a second lockdown after a new outbreak in its suburban regions.
Countries whose leaders decided to fight the pandemic their own way or denied that the coronavirus represented a threat are also being forced to recalculate.
North Korea, whose claims that it did not have a single COVID-19 case were widely disbelieved by epidemiologists, has just acknowledged its first case. The regime in Pyongyang blamed the transmission on a defector who had been in South Korea but returned home.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un convened an emergency meeting of government experts over the weekend. Outside experts warned that a major outbreak could easily overwhelm the North’s bare-bones health care system.
Alexander Lukashenko, the authoritarian leader of Belarus, has likewise resisted the need for a strict response and has suggested that drinking vodka, using a sauna and playing ice hockey can curb the outbreak.
But Mr. Lukashenko’s suggestions appear to have failed him as he acknowledged Tuesday that he had been infected with the coronavirus and has since recovered.
“Today you are meeting a man who managed to survive the coronavirus on his feet,” he said. “This is what doctors concluded yesterday. Asymptomatic,” he said.
He added that 97% of the Belarusian population carries the virus asymptomatically, though he didn’t provide a source for the statistic.
As countries struggle to end COVID-19 outbreaks within their borders, the World Health Organization warned Tuesday that it was no time for any nation — regardless of the severity of their outbreaks — to be complacent.
“It’s going to go up and down a bit,” WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters.
“What we all need to get our heads around is this is a new virus and … this one is behaving differently,” she said. “The best thing is to flatten it and turn it into just something lapping at your feet.”
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