In shadow of coronavirus, Muslims pray on peak day of Hajj: Live

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  • The coronavirus seems to be accelerating in countries across the world with Australia the latest to announce a record number of daily cases – 723.
  • The world’s two worst-affected countries – the United States and Brazil – have also reported new highs for coronavirus deaths and cases. In the US the death toll has surpassed 150,000, with Florida, California and Texas among a number of states reporting record daily fatalities.
  • Nearly 17 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus. Some 9.9 million patients have recovered, and more than 666,000 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Here are the latest updates:

Thursday, July 30

11:35 GMT – Philippines confirms nearly 4,000 new coronavirus cases, highest single-day increase

The Philippine government’s COVID-19 task force confirmed 3,954 new infections, the country’s largest single-day increase in new coronavirus cases.

The information on the surge in infections, which was a sharp increase from the record 2,539 cases confirmed on July 8, was mentioned in a regular circular issued by the inter-agency task force.

The health ministry was expected to release further details later on Thursday.

11:25 GMT – Nepal reopens Mount Everest for climbers amid COVID-19

Nepal started issuing climbing permits for Mount Everest and other Himalayan peaks, a Tourism Ministry spokesman said, four and a half months after it halted expeditions amid the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

The government also reopened hotels, restaurants and casinos in line with the Cabinet decision of July 21, said Kamal Prasad Bhattarai, a Tourism Ministry spokesman.

Last week, the government lifted a four-month nationwide lockdown to lessen the economic fallout from the pandemic.

The decision came amid the rising number of coronavirus infections in the country.

In mid-March, the government suspended expeditions for the commercial climbing season, which runs from April to May.

10:30 GMT – China’s Urumqi imposes COVID-19 restrictions

Authorities imposed travel restictions on people coming in and out of Urumqi, the capital of China’s western Xinjiang region, seeking to contain an outbreak of the coronavirus there.

The city has been at the centre of the new wave of infections in mainland China, accounting for 96 of 105 confirmed COVID-19 cases reported on July 29.

Non-residents seeking to leave the city will have to test negative in both nucleic acid and antibody tests before they can leave if they have been in the city for 14 days or more, Vice Mayor Song Yajun said during a daily briefing.

A worker in protective suit measures the body temperature of a woman at the entrance to a residential compound in Urumqi [Reuters]

He added that residents should not leave Urumqi unless necessary.

Urumqi will also mandate 14-day quarantine for people arriving in the city from high-risk COVID-19 areas, Song said.

Others entering the city will need to show proof of a negative test within the past seven days, among other requirements, which vary depending on where they are coming from.

10:25 GMT – Number of coronavirus cases in Iran passes 300,000

The number of infections from the new coronavirus in Iran has reached 301,530, according to official Health Ministry figures announced on state TV.

Iran corona

The alarming surge in daily fatalities has sent shockwaves across Iran as the health care system is already overwhelmed [EPA]

Iran has the Middle East’s highest number of recorded COVID-19 cases and infections and deaths have risen sharply since restrictions on movement began to be eased in mid-April.

There were 226 deaths from the new coronavirus in the past 24 hours taking the total number of deaths from the pandemic to 16,569.

10:20 GMT – Czech coronavirus spike continues as cases top 16,000

Cases of the new coronavirus in the Czech Republic have surpassed 16,000 as a recent spike in infections continues, Health Ministry data showed.

The central European country of 10.7 million has faced a rise in cases in July in several hot spots, including in an eastern mining region and more recently in the capital Prague, which reported a daily record of 101 cases on Tuesday.

The ministry recorded 278 cases nationwide on Wednesday, the second highest daily rise in July. The seven-day average reached 216, the highest since April 10.

In total, the country has seen 16,093 cases since the outbreak started in March, with 11,429 recoveries so far and 374 deaths from the COVID-19 illness.

09:24 GMT – Pakistan’s downward trajectory of active coronavirus cases continued

Pakistan’s downward trajectory of active cases of the coronavirus continued, with the number of such cases dropping to 25,253, the lowest since May 12.

Overall, there were 1,114 new cases registered on Wednesday, taking the countrywide total tally of cases since the outbreak began in late February to 277,402.

Pakistan denies reports funds for fighting COVID-19 misused

At least 36 patients died in the last 24 hours, official data shows, bringing the total death toll to 6,018.

Pakistani authorities have been upbeat about the country’s trajectory of cases, but the government’s efforts received a potential blow on Wednesday when Dr Zafar Mirza, the state minister for health, abruptly resigned from his post, citing criticism by the political opposition of the unelected nature of his post.

With the Muslim festival of Eid-ul-Adha to be held over the weekend, authorities in Pakistan are continuing to ask citizens to maintain strict social distancing guidelines, to avoid a repeat of an explosion of cases over Eid-ul-Fitr, just over two months ago.

09:16 GMT – Pilgrims pray on peak day of hajj in shadow of coronavirus

The global coronavirus pandemic has cast a shadow over every aspect of this year’s pilgrimage, which last year drew 2.5 million Muslims from across the world to Mount Arafat, where the Prophet Muhammad delivered his final sermon nearly 1,400 years ago.

Only a very limited number of pilgrims were allowed to take part in the hajj amid numerous restrictions to limit the potential spread of the coronavirus.

mega image - Hajj

Muslim pilgrims circumambulate around the Kaaba as they maintain social distancing [AP]

The Saudi government has not released a final figure on the number of hajj pilgrims this year, but has said anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 would be taking part.

Pilgrims are traveling in small groups of 20, following strict guidelines around social distancing, have undergone tests for the COVID-19 disease and were in quarantine before the hajj.

08:23 GMT – Daily coronavirus cases in India top 50,000 for first time

India has reported more than 50,000 daily coronavirus cases for the first time.

There were 52,123 new cases in the previous 24 hours, according to federal health data, taking the total number of infections to almost 1.6 million.

Some 775 people died of COVID-related conditions over the same period, raising total deaths now just under 35,000 – low compared to the total number of cases, but showing little sign of slowing.

While major cities like New Delhi and Mumbai have seen their cases ease, infections in rural areas are continuing to rise sharply, alarming experts who fear weak healthcare systems there will be unable to cope.

India has the third highest number of infections globally, behind the United States and Brazil.

07:45 GMT – Russia reports more than 5,500 new coronavirus cases

Russia reported 5,509 new cases of the novel coronavirus, pushing its national tally to 834,499, the world’s fourth largest caseload.

Officials said 129 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 13,802

07:25 GMT – Hong Kong reverses virus ban on restaurant dining

Hong Kong reversed a day-old ban on restaurants serving dine-in customers – introduced to control the spread of coronavirus – following widespread public anger.

All restaurants in the city of 7.5 million were ordered to only serve takeaways as part of a raft of ramped-up social distancing measures aimed at combating a fresh wave of virus cases.

But social media was quickly swamped by photos of primarily blue-collar workers forced to eat on pavements and parks – and even inside public toilets to escape a torrential downpour.

On Thursday city authorities published new guidelines saying restaurants could operate dine-in facilities – but only during the day, at half capacity, and with no more than two people to a table.

06:35 GMT – Poland may quarantine returnees from some EU, non-EU states

Poland may reinstate quarantine measures for people returning home from some countries, a government spokesman said, after recent data showing a spike in coronavirus infections.

Citing Spain and France as countries triggering concerns about the coronavirus, he said the government may announce its decision within days if the epidemic spikes in a particular country.

Poland street

People cross the city bridge between Frankfurt (Oder) and Slubice, after Poland reopened the borders with the European Union countries [Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters]

Poland is also experiencing a resurgence in the number of coronavirus infections. On Saturday the number hit 584, the second-highest daily tally since the beginning of the pandemic.

On Wednesday the ministry reported 512 new cases bringing the total number to 44,416. So far there have been 1,694 documented deaths from COVID-19 in the country of 38 million

06:15 GMT – Afghans prepare for Eid-al-Adha despite virus risk

People are crowding in markets, ignoring social distancing orders and rarely wearing masks to prepare for Eid-al-Adah celebration in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan has eased its lockdown, allowing small business and daily workers to move on with their daily lives, while educational institutes and schools remain closed.

Downsized Hajj begins amid coronavirus restrictions

The country’s health ministry has reported over 36,400 cases of the virus, and over 1,250 deaths.

Saudi Arabia’s decision to drastically scale down the hajj season due to the virus has brought sadness to many Muslims from around the world, including Afghanistan, who had intended to travel to Mecca.

Afghan Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs said 30,000 Afghan pilgrims who were registered for the trip had to postpone their trips until next year.

Eid-al-Adah or “Feast of Sacrifice,” commemorates Ibrahim’s test of faith, Muslims slaughter livestock and distribute the meat to the poor. 

06:10 GMT – Ukraine sees record daily high of 1,197 new coronavirus cases

Ukraine reported a record daily high of 1,197 new coronavirus cases on July 30, the country’s council of security and defense said.

The number of new daily infections has increased sharply in the past two months following the gradual lifting of restrictions that began in late-May.

The total number of cases rose to 68,794, including 1,673 deaths and 38,154 recovered as of July 30.

06:01 GMT – Japan braces for spike in coronavirus cases

Japan is bracing for a surge in the number of coronavirus infection after fresh cases exceeded the 1,000 mark for the first time.

Tokyo confirmed 367 new coronavirus infections, national broadcaster NHK said, topping the previous record of 366 cases on July 23.

COVID-19 spreads in Vietnam after outbreak at tourist spot

Japan had 1,264 new cases on Wednesday, according to NHK, surpassing the previous record of 981, with infections spreading rapidly not only in Tokyo, but also in other regions, including remote islands.

Northern Japan’s Iwate prefecture, which had been the last-remaining prefecture free from coronavirus infection, had its first cases on Wednesday, while the southern island of Okinawa had 44 infections, hitting a record for the third day in a row.

05:00 GMT – Johns Hopkins researchers call for ‘reset’ in US pandemic response

With US cases and deaths continuing to climb, researchers at Johns Hopkins University are calling for a “reset” of the country’s coronavirus response.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge far beyond what any one state, territory or community can handle alone,” they said. “It is only our collective action that will generate the change necessary to regain control of this epidemic, avoid cascading crises in our healthcare system and economy and save great numbers of lives throughout the United States.” 

04:30 GMT – Hanoi plans mass testing in wake of Danang outbreak

Authorities in Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital, say they will test some 21,000 people who recently returned from Danang where an outbreak of coronavirus was confirmed last weekend.

Vietnam recorded nine new cases on Thursday morning, one of which was in Hanoi and the rest in the central city of Danang – a popular holiday destination.

The 76-year-old man who tested positive for COVID-19 had recently returned to Hanoi after three weeks in Danang. 

Authorities in Hanoi have also imposed a ban on mass gatherings and the closure of all bars and nightclubs. 

03:30 GMT – ‘Today is not a good day’: Australia reports number of cases

Australia has reported the highest number of confirmed cases since the coronavirus pandemic began.

The state of Victoria is the worst-hit with outbreaks centred around care homes and workplaces in Melbourne and its sprawling suburbs.

State authorities reported 723 new cases on Thursday and 13 deaths.

“Today is not a good day,” Victoria state Premier Dan Andrews said in a statement. 

He noted that while most cases in the state were in Melbourne and the suburbs there had been a “significant jump” in cases in regional communities, which warranted additional measures to curb the disease’s spread. 

Mandatory mask wearing extended across the state from Sunday, and in some areas residents will not be allowed to go to other people’s houses or have visitors to their own home.

Internal borders have been closed to help curb the spread of the virus beyond Victoria. The state of Queensland in the northeast earlier announced three new cases – two of the people are thought to have been exposed to the virus in Sydney.

03:20 GMT – Coronavirus situation in PNG worsening

An Australian medical emergencies team has been deployed to Papua New Guinea where the outbreak has deteriorated in recent days.

AFP news agency says the country’s pandemic response centre was closed yesterday after a senior adviser was diagnosed with the virus, and the health minister is also being tested.

02:50 GMT – China expert says virus thrives in colder, humid environments

China’s top epidemiologist has been talking to state media.

Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told local journalists the virus seems to like colder, humid environments.  

He pointed to the country’s COVID-19 outbreaks – from the original source in Wuhan – to Beijing and Dalian, which have been traced to seafood markets or seafood companies.

China seafood market

China’s top epidemiologist believes the virus likes the kind of cool, humid environment associated with seafood markets [Stringer/EPA]

02:40 GMT – Talks over latest US coronavirus relief package stalled as clock ticks

It seems talks between United States congressional leaders and the White House on a next round of coronavirus spending have stalled as the clock ticks down on measures that banned evictions and boosted unemployment benefit payments.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has suggested a short-term extension for those programmes, but Democrats have rejected the idea.

Al Jazeera’s William Roberts has been following the negotiations. You can read his story here

02:10 GMT – Pelosi to US Congress: Mask up!

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says members and staff in the House of Representatives must wear masks while the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The move came after Republican Representative Louie Gohmert, who refused to wear a mask, revealed he had tested positive for COVID-19, leading at least three of his colleagues to say they would self-quarantine.

Pelosi warned that she had the authority to ask the House sergeant at arms to remove a member from the floor for violating decorum, and “the chair views the failure to wear a mask as a serious breach of decorum.”

Members will be allowed to remove their masks when addressing the chamber.

You can read more on Gohmert’s diagnosis here.

People and Power - Trump v California feature

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said masks must be worn in Congress and can only be removed when a member is addressing the House [File: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

01:50 GMT – Guatemala buries dozens of unidentified COVID-19 fatalities

Guatemalan hospital officials say they’ve had to bury dozens of COVID-19 victims who have never been identified, according to AP news agency.

The agency says workers at one of the country’s largest public hospitals have begun photographing patients who arrive alone and too ill to give their personal details. Those who die without being identified are placed in body bags with transparent windows over their faces in case relatives come looking for them.

Officials says protocols to rapidly bury the dead during a pandemic only make the situation more difficult.

Guatemala has confirmed more than 47,000 confirmed infections and more 1,800 deaths nationwide. 

01:35 GMT – US records a coronavirus death every minute as total surpasses 150,000

Coronavirus - Florida

Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) leave with a patient at Hialeah Hospital in Florida, one of the states with the highest number of cases and fatalities [Marco Bello/Reuters]

One person in the United States died about every minute from COVID-19 as the national death toll surpassed 150,000, the highest in the world, according to Reuters.

US coronavirus deaths are rising at their fastest rate in two months and have increased by 10,000 in the past 11 days.

01:20 GMT – Mainland China reports 105 new COVID-19 cases, including 96 in Xinjiang

China has reported 105 new coronavirus cases in the mainland, up from 101 cases a day earlier.

The National Health Commission says 96 of the new cases were confirmed in the far western region of Xinjiang, while five were in the northeastern province of Liaoning, one in Beijing, and three imported cases.


As of the end of Wednesday, mainland China had 84,165 confirmed coronavirus cases, the health authority said on Thursday. The COVID-19 death toll remained at 4,634 [Mark Schiefelbein/AP]

00:45 GMT – Vietnam outbreak that started in Danang continues to grow

Vietnam’s health ministry has reported an additional nine cases of coronavirus, as an outbreak that started in the popular tourist town of Danang continues to expand.

Reuters says some 81,000 people are now in quarantine as a result of the outbreak, which has spread to six cities and provinces in six days. 

Al Jazeera’s Scott Heidler has also filed this report on the unfolding situation in Vietnam.

COVID-19 spreads in Vietnam after outbreak at tourist spot

00:15 GMT – Australia’s Victoria state to report more than 700 cases, 13 deaths

The local media in Australia is reporting that the state of Victoria, the epicentre of a new wave of coronavirus in the country, will report more than 700 cases and 13 deaths on Thursday morning.

00:00 GMT – Brazil reports record numbers of coronavirus deaths, cases 

Brazil’s Health Ministry has just confirmed a record of 1,595 daily deaths from coronavirus. Taken on a weekly basis (7,677 this week), deaths are also at their highest since the pandemic began.

The authorities also reported a record number of cases for a single day (69,074), partly as a result of working through a backlog of previously unregistered cases.

Despite the accelerating pandemic, the government of President Jair Bolsonaro has moved to ease restrictions to boost the economy, and on Wednesday said a ban on foreign travellers to the country would be lifted. 

Brazil commuters

Commuters at a public transport hub in Sao Paolo, one of Brazil’s virus hotspots [Fernando Bizerra/EPA]

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 (July 29) here

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