Beijing officials declare outbreak ‘under control’: Live updates | News


  • To date, more than nine million people have been infected, and over 470,000 have died from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

  • Top US medical expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, is warning that the country, already “hit badly” by the coronavirus, is facing a dangerous surge in new cases. Arizona, Texas and Nevada all reported a record number of daily cases.

  • EU countries are considering banning entry to Americans as the US has failed in controlling the spread of the coronavirus, according to the New York Times.

Here are the latest updates:

Wednesday, June 24

11:43 GMT – Beijing officials declare outbreak ‘under control’

The new coronavirus outbreak that has infected 256 people in Beijing since early June is “under control”, officials in the Chinese capital said Wednesday, but fears still remain over the risk of community transmission.
Authorities have raced to contain the outbreak linked to the largest wholesale food market in Beijing after the first case was announced on June 11, leading to a partial lockdown of the city.
“The Beijing epidemic directly linked to Xinfadi (market) is basically under control, but at the same time we have discovered household and workplace cluster infections and cases of community transmission,” said Beijing municipal government spokesman Xu Hejian at a briefing. 

11:00 GMT – Scarce medical oxygen worldwide leaves many gasping for life

As the coronavirus spreads, soaring demand for oxygen is bringing out a stark global truth: Even the right to breathe depends on money. In much of the world, oxygen is expensive and hard to get – a basic marker of inequality both between and within countries.

In wealthy Europe and North America, hospitals treat oxygen as a fundamental need, much like water or electricity. But in poor countries, from Peru to Bangladesh, it is in lethally short supply. 

Read more here.

10:30 GMT – Philippines plans record $86bn 2021 budget for post-pandemic recovery

The Philippine government is seeking a record 4.3 trillion peso ($85.89bn) budget for 2021 focused on reviving a coronavirus-hit economy expected this year to shrink for the first time in two decades, a top official has said.

The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte faces the enormous task of resuscitating growth and creating jobs in 2021, before his six-year term ends in June of the following year.

The budget proposal, set to be submitted to Congress when it resumes session next month, is 5 percent higher than this year’s 4.1 trillion pesos ($81bn).

10:15 GMT – UK airports warn 20,000 jobs at risk as travel slump continues

Up to 20,000 jobs could go at Britain’s airports, an industry group warned, calling on the government to do more to help an aviation industry that was shut down by the COVID pandemic and is now struggling to restart due to quarantine rules.

The Airport Operators Association (AOA), which represents more than 50 airports, said future passenger numbers at UK airports were expected to be significantly lower, and analysis of its members suggested up to 20,000 jobs were at risk.

“These jobs figures clearly show that a key component of the UK’s infrastructure is on its knees, with no relief to the current crisis expected,” said AOA chief executive Karen Dee. “Government needs to recognise the immense crisis facing the country’s airport communities and take action to support UK aviation and protect livelihoods.”

09:50 GMT – Coronavirus testing may not reach women in conflict zones: IRC

Big gaps between the number of male and female coronavirus cases in parts of Africa and the Middle East suggest that women may be struggling to access testing or care, an aid agency has said.

In Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen, more than 70 percent of reported cases were male, compared with a global average of 51 percent, and the same was true in the Central African Republic, Chad and Somalia, said the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

“What we are seeing is a situation in which women are potentially being left out of testing and their health deprioritised,” Stacey Mearns, senior technical adviser of emergency health at the IRC, said in a press release.

Read more here.

09:00 GMT – Indonesia reports 1,113 new coronavirus infections, 38 new deaths

Indonesia has reported 1,113 new coronavirus infections, taking its total number of cases to 49,009.

Health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said there were 38 more deaths reported, with total fatalities now at 2,573.

Indonesia’s coronavirus death toll is the highest in East Asia outside of China. 

08:45 GMT – Bulgaria to extend coronavirus state of emergency until mid-July

Bulgaria will extend a state of emergency declared in response to the coronavirus outbreak until July 15 after another jump in new registered cases, Health Minister Kiril Ananiev has said.

Bulgaria began to relax restrictions to stop the spread of the virus earlier this month, but last week it reported 606 new COVID-19 cases, its highest weekly rise since the epidemic.

Some 130 new cases were reported on Wednesday, bringing the total to date to 4,114, with 208 deaths. 

08:30 GMT – Russia’s coronavirus case tally passes 600,000

Russia has reported 7,176 new cases of the novel coronavirus, pushing its nationwide case total to 606,881, the world’s third highest tally.

The country’s coronavirus crisis response centre said 154 people had died in the past 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 8,513. 

08:15 GMT – Kazakhstan locks down two towns over coronavirus

Kazakhstan has locked down two towns near its capital Nur-Sultan to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the surrounding province, authorities have said.

Roads leading to the towns of Kokshetau and Stepnogorsk will be blocked by checkpoints and a 10 pm to 6 am curfew has been imposed in both, the chief sanitary doctor of Akmola province said in a statement.

The authorities have also closed all entertainment venues and barred mass public gatherings throughout the province and restricted access to hospitals and institutions such as orphanages and retirement homes.

08:05 GMT – Emirates suspends flights from Pakistan after passengers test positive for coronavirus

Emirates has suspended flights from Pakistan after passengers tested positive for coronavirus in Hong Kong.

The Dubai state carrier, which is operating limited services due to the coronavirus pandemic, said the temporary suspension was effective June 24.

“We are co-ordinating closely with the various authorities and will review and implement any required additional measures to satisfy all parties before we resume services from Pakistan,” a spokeswoman told Reuters.

07:50 GMT – Israel, Palestinians tighten restrictions as coronavirus reemerges

Israeli and Palestinian authorities have brought back some coronavirus restrictions after the number of new cases jumped in what officials fear could herald a “second wave” of infections.

A partial lockdown went into effect in a town in central Israel and several neighborhoods in the city of Tiberias where infection rates were particularly high. The Palestinian Authority put the West Bank city of Hebron on lockdown as well.

Israel was one of the first countries to close its borders and impose restrictions when the global pandemic first emerged and the Palestinians quickly followed suit.

Palestine COVID

Israel was one of the first countries to close its borders and impose restrictions when the global pandemic first emerged and the Palestinians quickly followed suit [File: Reuters]

07:35 GMT – Austria warns against travel to German state after outbreak

Austria has issued a warning against travel to the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia after a coronavirus outbreak at a meatpacking plant there, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has said.

The move puts the state in the same category as the Italian region of Lombardy, the epicentre of Italy’s coronavirus outbreak, which was one of the worst in Europe.


German Health Minister Jens Spahn stressed that the coronavirus remains a risk after the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia put two municipalities back into lockdown [AFP]

07:20 GMT – India reports highest spike of 16,000 cases

India has recorded the highest spike of 15,968 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total to to 456,183, with Mumbai and New Delhi as the worst-hit cities in the country.

The Health Ministry also reported a record 24-hour increase of 465 deaths due to COVID-19, driving fatalities to 14,476.

Coronavirus India

New Delhi is emerging a cause of concern for the federal government and is being criticised for its poor contact tracing and a lack of hospital beds [Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters]

Hi, this is Elizabeth Melimopoulos in Doha taking over the live updates from my colleague  Kate Mayberry  in Kuala Lumpur.

06:21 GMT – Hong Kong dismisses privacy concerns in China travel scheme

Sophia Chan, Hong Kong’s secretary for food and health, defended a planned travel scheme requiring residents of the city to share their coronavirus test results with authorities in Guangdong province in mainland China, dismissing concerns that residents’ sensitive personal data, such as medical records, could be transferred to mainland security authorities. 

Hong Kong will develop a “Health Code” system to enable “the virus test results of participants of the pilot scheme in Hong Kong to be uploaded onto the code” and shared with mainland authorities, she said. Travellers will not be required to install a mobile application, she said. 

“The … computer system will only collect basic personal information and nucleic acid test results from applicants for the purpose of applying for the ‘Hong Kong Health Code’. The development process is premised on the protection of personal privacy and the code exchange procedures must also be explicitly initiated and agreed by the applicant,” she added.

05:30 GMT – Maldives to open borders to all tourists on July 15

Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, president of the Maldives, says the island nation is opening its borders on July 15 to tourist arrivals from all countries.

The Indian Ocean archipelago’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism, and arrivals will not be subject to quarantine measures with only symptomatic travellers required to undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing at the airport, according to the tourism ministry.

Testing will be made available for travellers who require it to return to their countries or continue on their onward journeys, the ministry added.

05:08 GMT – Indonesia volunteers launch ‘alertness index’

Volunteers in Indonesia introduced an “alertness index” mapping coronavirus cases in every city and regency in the country, with the worst-affected places marked in deep red.

“At the end of the day, the public needs transparent data about their risks. With reliable and open data, they can cautiously decide whether to carry out an activity in the public sphere,” Ronald Bessie, coordinator for the KawalCOVID-9 database, was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Post.

04:59 GMT – Virus deaths surpass 100,000 in Latin America

More than 100,000 people had died from COVID-19 in Latin American by the end of Tuesday, with more than half of confirmed deaths logged in Brazil, according to tallies by Reuters and AFP news agencies.

Here is a breakdown of case-loads and death tolls in the worst affected countries:

  • Brazil – 52,960 deaths and 1,145,906 cases
  • Mexico – 23,377 deaths and 191,410 cases
  • Peru – 8,404 deaths and 260,810 cases
  • Chile – 4,505 deaths and 250,767 cases

04:23 GMT – In conflict-hit countries, coronavirus testing may not reach women

Big gaps between the number of male and female coronavirus cases in parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East suggest that women may be struggling to access testing or care, an aid agency told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

In Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen, more than 70 percent of reported cases were male, compared with a global average of 51 percent, the same in the Central African Republic, Chad and Somalia, said the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

Studies in China, Europe and the US have shown that men are more likely than women to be hospitalised and die of coronavirus, but they have not shown the same gender gap in cases as elsewhere. In most of Europe, the numbers of cases are roughly equal between men and women.

04:13 GMT – Beijing’s outbreak appears to be firmly waning

Health authorities in China reported 12 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with seven in the country’s capital, Beijing, indicating that a spike in the city appears to be on the wane.

Beijing’s outbreak saw a total of 249 people infected since June 11, most cases linked to the city’s biggest wholesale market, and led to new lockdowns and the cancellation of classes.

Since then, three million test samples have been taken from 2.43 million people in the city, a senior municipal health official said on Tuesday. The city can now conduct more than 300,000 nucleic acid tests per day, compared with 40,000 in March, said Zhang Hua, deputy director of the Beijing Health Commission.

People receive nucleic acid tests, during a government-organised visit to a testing site, following a new outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Beijing

A worker in protective suit sprays disinfectant as medical workers conduct nucleic acid tests at a testing site in Beijing [Carlos Garcia Rawlins/ Reuters]

03:00 GMT – Washington state makes face masks mandatory

Jay Inslee, the governor of the US state of Washington, ordered residents to wear face masks in public after the region saw its positive tests rise by 35 percent last week.

“This is about saving lives. It’s about reopening our businesses. And it’s about showing respect and care for one another,” Inslee said.

The states of Arizona, California, Mississippi and Nevada have reported record numbers of new cases of COVID-19 while Texas set a record on Monday. 

02:42 GMT – Mexico logs another record rise in cases

Mexico posted another record one-day increase in coronavirus cases: 6,288 confirmed infections on Tuesday and 793 more deaths, according to the Health Department. That brought Mexico’s total case-load to 191,410 and death toll to 23,377.

Officials acknowledge both are undercounts due to extremely low testing rates. Mexico has performed only about half a million tests, roughly one for every 250 inhabitants.

Mexico has also had an extremely high rate of infections among healthcare professionals. About 39,000 – 20 percent – of the country’s confirmed cases are healthcare workers. There have been 584 deaths among doctors, nurses, technicians and hospital workers.


A man has his temperature checked at Iztapalapa market in Mexico City on June 22, 2020 [Pedro Pardo/ AFP]

02:00 GMT – MSF calls on GAVI to get drugs companies to sell vaccine at cost

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and 40 civil society groups are calling on GAVI to review its pricing for future coronavirus vaccines, ahead of a Gavi board meeting due to start in Geneva later on Wednesday.

At issue is the COVAX Facility, a new mechanism Gavi developed to pay pharmaceutical companies up front for potential COVID-19 vaccines.

Among MSF’s concerns was the lack of transparency on how pricing is set by drug firms as well as the two-tier system of access to future COVID-19 vaccines bought through the COVAX Facility. Countries financed through donor assistance will only receive enough vaccines for the most vulnerable populations while wealthier nations will receive enough for a set percentage of their entire population, MSF said.

01:30 GMT – Australia records first coronavirus death in more than a month

Australia has recorded its first death from coronavirus in more than a month, as new cases continue to spike in the southern state of Victoria.

The man who died was in his 80s, health authorities said.

Victoria recorded 20 new cases overnight, taking the state’s total to 1,900.

23:45 GMT – Trump claims border wall ‘stopped’ virus

US President Donald Trump visited the border with Mexico on Tuesday and claimed it had stopped both undocumented immigration and the coronavirus.

In the blazing heat, Trump briefly stopped to inspect a new section of the wall and scrawled his signature on the concrete and rebar structure.

Trump is looking to regain campaign momentum after a poor turnout for a weekend rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

23:00 GMT (Tuesday) – ‘We’ve been hit badly’: Fauci warns US on coronavirus surge

Dr Anthony Fauci has warned that the next few weeks will be critical in stamping out coronavirus hotspots around the US.

“We’ve been hit badly,” Fauci told a House committee, adding he was “really quite concerned” about rising community spread in some states, including Arizona, where US President Donald Trump was holding a rally on Tuesday and viewing the construction of a border wall.

Fauci, who also stressed that testing would be stepped up, was speaking at the committee along with the heads of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and a top official at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Find out more about what they had to say here.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

You can read all the updates from yesterday (June 23) here.


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