Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.
- Brazil has expressed cautious optimism that the country’s coronavirus outbreak could be about to slow, with cases and deaths on a weekly basis falling from their late July peaks.
- Kamala Harris accuses US President Donald Trump of a “failure of leadership” for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
- More than 22 million people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 around the world, and at least 14 million have recovered. Nearly 784,000 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Here are the latest updates:
Thursday, August 20
01:55 GMT – South Korea reports seventh day of triple digit cases
South Korea has reported its seventh consecutive day of triple digit cases, with the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirming 288 cases – 276 locally acquired – in the past 24 hours.
Many of the cases have been traced to churches in Seoul, but an increasing number are appearing elsewhere in the country including the cities of Busan, Daejeon and Gwangju.
The largest cluster is linked to the Sarang Jeil Church in northern Seoul.
01:40 GMT – China state media defends Wuhan pool party
China’s state media has come to the defence of a theme park in Wuhan which hosted a massive music festival and pool party over the weekend and raised concern about COVID-19 when pictures and videos were widely shared overseas.
The Global Times said the packed event was a sign of life returning to normal in a city that spent 76 days in lockdown and accused critics of “sour grapes”. The virus first appeared in Wuhan late last year.
Criticizing #Wuhan residents for having fun at water park music festival shows foreign sour grapes. People should reflect on why their countries’ epidemic control failed rather than smear Wuhan people and their hard-won victory over #coronavirus https://t.co/NJVBmxLiHk https://t.co/BRQBJvZtoe
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) August 19, 2020
VIDEO: 🇨🇳 Crowds packed out a water park over the weekend in the central Chinese city of #Wuhan, where the #coronavirus first emerged late last year, keen to party as the city edges back to normal life pic.twitter.com/SJFBmx5sU8
— AFP news agency (@AFP) August 17, 2020
01:15 GMT – Qantas posts $1.4b loss amid pandemic restructuring
Australian airline Qantas says it had a loss of 1.96 billion Australian dollars ($1.4 billion) in the financial year ended June 30, as a result of restructuring and accounting charges linked to the pandemic.
Chief executive Alan Joyce said business conditions were the worst in the carrier’s 100 year history with international flights suspended and domestic routes hampered by border closures within Australia.
Joyce added that international flights were unlikely to resume until a vaccine was widely available, which might not be until late next year.
00:30 GMT – Harris says Trump ‘failure’ on coronavirus cost US lives
Kamala Harris will accuse US President Donald Trump of a “failure of leadership” during the coronavirus pandemic that has cost countless lives and jobs, when she accepts the Democratic Party’s nomination to be their candidate for vice president at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday night (US time).
Harris will also attack Trump’s abilities and character, according to excerpts released to news agencies.
Trump’s “incompetence makes us feel afraid [and] the callousness makes us feel alone.”
The US has recorded the most cases and the most deaths from coronavirus of any country in the world.
You can keep up-to-date with all the developments from the convention, which is being held online, here.
00:15 GMT – Trump touts convalescent plasma as coronavirus treatment
US President Donald Trump is touting the use of convalescent plasma as a treatment for coronavirus, saying he’s “heard fantastic things” about it.
Trump made his comments after the New York Times reported that the Food and Drug Administration had put on hold emergency approval for the treatment because of concerns the data on plasma use was too weak.
The president, who is facing reelection in November, claimed the decision could be political.
“You have a lot of people over there that don’t want to rush things because they want to do it after November 3,” Trump said, referring to the election.
“I’ve heard numbers way over 50 percent success. And people are dying and we should have it approved if it’s good and I’m hearing it’s good. I hear from people at the FDA it’s good.”
The blood plasma of people who recover from COVID-19 contains antibodies that were created to fight off the infection. It has been used in some countries including China to help other patients battling the disease.
00:00 GMT – Cautious optimism in Brazil as study shows transmission rate below one
Brazil’s Health Ministry says there are signs the coronavirus outbreak in the country – the world’s second-worst – could be about to slow.
The number of confirmed cases dropped to 304,684 last week, compared with a peak of 319,653 in the week ending July 25. The number of deaths reported on a weekly basis has also fallen to 6,755 from a peak of 7,677 in the last week of July.
A study by Imperial College London also shows Brazil’s transmission rate has fallen below one, according to local media. That means each person diagnosed with the disease will infect fewer than one person, which will slow the outbreak.
“In a way, it is a trend. We have to see how the disease behaves in the next two weeks to see if there is a significant drop,” Arnaldo Medeiros, Secretary of Health Surveillance, told reporters on Wednesday.
Daily figures continue to show a steady rise in cases and deaths with the country registering a total of 3,456,652 cases of the disease and 111,100 deaths.
Read all the updates from yesterday (August 19) here.