• EU leaders have reached a pre-dawn agreement on a massive post-pandemic economic recovery plan.

  • The Australian state of Victoria reported 374 new cases of coronavirus and three deaths on Tuesday as it prepares to make mask-wearing mandatory.

  • Scientists at the University of Oxford say their experimental coronavirus vaccine prompted a protective immune response in an early trial involving hundreds of people.

  • More than 14.7 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. More than 7.5 million have recovered while nearly 610,000 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The US has recorded nearly 141,000 deaths, the most in the world.

Here are the latest updates.

Tuesday, July 21 

I’ll be handing over this blog shortly to another colleague in Doha.  

12:40 GMT – Spain to give 1.7 billion euros in coronavirus aid to developing countries

Spain will send 1.7 billion euros in aid to developing countries to help them deal with coronavirus pandemic, Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said after a cabinet meeting.

Spain aims to help save lives and strengthen public health systems and also protect and restore rights and capacities, among other goals, Gonzalez Laya told a news conference.

12:00 GMT – Australia’s irus outbreak raises alarm over online child sex abuse

Australian police has warned “insidious” online predators were targeting new child victims after a surge in coronavirus infections put the country’s second-largest city under partial lockdown.

Australian health authorities said it could take weeks to tame the COVID-19 outbreak after hundreds of new cases reported in the state of Victoria, whose capital Melbourne is in partial lockdown.

The measures prompted the Australian federal police to urge parents to ensure their children do not fall victim to “insidious online predators”, after abuse cases spiked during a national lockdown in March.

Traffic to websites hosting online child sexual abuse content skyrocketed during the earlier lockdown and such material posted to the dark web doubled, police said.

11:30 GMT – Russia, hit by coronavirus crisis, considers military spending cuts

Russia is considering cutting spending on the military as low oil prices and the coronavirus crisis have pummelled its economy, a document published by the finance ministry shows.

The ministry has proposed the government cut state spending on the military by 5 percent between 2021 and 2023. The proposal, published on Monday, also includes budget spending cuts of 10 percent for the court system, the servicing of Russia’s debt and wages for civil servants.

Russia, which flexed its military muscle with its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and intervention in the Syrian conflict, dropped out of the list of the top five biggest military spenders in 2018 after its spending fell 3.5 percent.

10:45 GMT – Iran hits record 229 deaths from coronavirus in past 24 hours 

Iran has seen a record 229 deaths from the new coronavirus in the past 24 hours, health ministry figures showed.

Iran, the Middle East country hardest hit by the pandemic, began relaxing its lockdown in mid-April.

outside image - Iran headline

Iranians wearing face masks go shopping around Tehran’s grand bazaar in Tehran [File: EPA]

10:20 GMT – Two South African ministers hospitalised with coronavirus

Two South African cabinet ministers have been hospitalised with coronavirus, the government announced.

Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi, 61, and Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe, 65, were separately admitted to hospital on Monday.

Cabinet spokeswoman Phumla Williams said in a statement that they were hospitalised on the advice of their doctors for “better medical attention” and monitoring.

They both tested positive for coronavirus around a week ago and had been in self-quarantine at home.

10:00 GMT – Oman to implement night curfew, travel bans for Eid period 

Oman will ban travel between all provinces from July 25 to Aug. 8 to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, state news agency ONA.

The Gulf state will also implement a daily 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew during that same period, which includes the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. Shops and public spaces will be closed during the curfew hours.

09:30 GMT – Philippines reports two new coronavirus deaths, 1,951 infections

The Philippines’ health ministry has reported two more novel coronavirus deaths and 1,951 additional infections.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total deaths had increased to 1,837, while confirmed cases had reached 70,764.

President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to arrest anyone not wearing a face mask or breaching social distancing guidelines amid a sharp rise in infections and deaths since a lockdown was eased in June.

FILE PHOTO: Ninoy Aquino International Airport amid the coronavirus outbreak

Authorities say total deaths increased to 1,837, while confirmed cases had reached 70,764 [File: Reuters] 

09:00 GMT – Serbia’s Vojvodina region reports repidly increasing number of cases 

Vojvodina region in Serbia is becoming the new hotbed of coronavirus in the country, authorities say.

Serbian government warned of a possible collapse if the situation does not improve over the next few days, saying they will likely face Italy’s scenario.

Close to 300 patients are currently being treated at the Clinical Center of Vojvodina in Novi Sad, and the city administration is appealing to the citizens to adhere to the prescribed measures.

08:40 GMT – Pakistan reports over 1,000 new cases 

In Pakistan, at least 1,013 new cases of the virus were registered on Monday, taking the countrywide tally to 266,096, according to government data.

Active cases of the virus, however, continued to fall, with 1,128 fewer active cases on Monday compared to the day before. At least 52,337 active cases of the virus remain in the country, according to official data.

Testing levels have also continued to drop, with Monday seeing 17,783 tests conducted, the lowest in a single day since June 2. The test-positive rate was 5.7 percent. Pakistani authorities say testing is dropping because fewer patients are seeking treatment or a diagnosis at hospitals.

 A woman rides on a motor bike as she wears a protective face mask amid the rush of people outside a market as the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues,

A woman rides on a motor bike as she wears a protective face mask amid the rush of people in Karachi, Pakistan [Akhtar Soomro/Reuters]

08:15 GMT – Nepal to resume international flights after long halt due to coronavirus

Nepal will allow regular international airline flights from August 17, a minister said, nearly four months after suspending them to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Wedged between China and India, Nepal enforced a nationwide lockdown, halting scheduled flights, in March, when reported its first confirmed cases of COVID-19. So far, Nepal has reported 17,844 infections with 40 deaths from the disease. 

Nepal, home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains including Mount Everest, is dependent on tourism including mountain climbing.

07:45 GMT – Russia reports fewer than 6,000 new coronavirus cases

Russia reported 5,842 new cases of the novel coronavirus, pushing its total infection tally to 783,328, the fourth largest in the world. 

The country’s coronavirus response centre said 153 people had died in the past 24 hours, bringing Russia’s overall death toll from the virus to 12,580.

Russia's coronavirus cases rise to 687,862

Russia’s overall death toll from the new coronavirus stands at 12,580 [File: Reuters]

07:10 GMT – Possible COVID-19 vaccine rolled out this year: Oxford developer

The University of Oxford’s possible COVID-19 vaccine could be rolled out by the end of the year but there is no certainty that will happen, the lead developer of the vaccine said.

The experimental vaccine, which has been licensed to AstraZeneca produced an immune response in early-stage clinical trials, data showed on Monday, preserving hopes it could be in use by the end of the year.

“The end of the year target for getting vaccine rollout, it’s a possibility but there’s absolutely no certainty about that because we need three things to happen,” Sarah Gilbert told BBC Radio, saying it needed to be shown to work in late stage trials, there needed to be large quantities manufactured and regulators had to agree quickly to licence it for emergency use. 

06:30 GMT – China: negative COVID-19 tests required for arriving air passengers

Passengers on flights arriving in China must provide negative COVID-19 test results before they board, the aviation authority said.

The nucleic acid tests must be completed five days before embarking, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said in a statement on its website. 

China virus shop

China says the nucleic acid tests must be completed five days before embarking [File: Reuters] 

06:00 GMT – Ukraine coronavirus cases exceed 60,000

The total number of coronavirus cases in Ukraine has reached 60,166 and 1,518 people died as of July 21, Ukrainian health minister Maksym Stepanov said.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said last week Ukrainians were fed up with the coronavirus lockdown and the government should be cautious about extending it. 


Hello, this is Umut Uras in Doha taking over from my colleague Kate Mayberry.

04:35 GMT – Tokyo Games organisers prepare for one-year countdown

The organisers of the Tokyo Olympic Games are preparing a day of celebrations to mark a year to the start of the Games, which are now due to be held in July 2021 after a year-long delay because of the coronavirus. 

The postponement has raised concerns about cost, as well as the safety of athletes and spectators; a recent poll conducted by Kyodo News found that fewer than one in four favoured holding the Games as scheduled next year.

One-third believed the Olympics should be postponed again and another third wanted the Games cancelled outright.

You can read more on the story here.

epa08389035 (FILE) - A giant Olympic rings monument is illuminated at dusk at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo, Japan, 25 March 2020 (issued 28 April 2020). According to local media reports, during an inte

A giant Olympic rings monument illuminated at dusk at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo in March. The Games are now scheduled for July 2021 [Franck Robichon/ EPA]

03:50 GMT – EU deal at pre-dawn meeting follows marathon summit

The EU managed to reach a deal to boost the bloc’s post-pandemic economies after Charles Michel, president of the European Council and chair of the summit, offered compromises over a 750 billion-euro ($860 billion) recovery fund.

Some countries, dubbed the “frugals”, had been concerned about the proportion of grants under the fund. Non-repayable grants will total 390 billion euros compared with the 500 billion euros originally proposed. Disbursements will also be linked to governments observing the rule of law.

EU Summit

Dutch PM Mark Rutte, centre left, with European Council President Charles Michel, centre right, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, as EU leaders met to thrash out a plan to help economies ravaged by the coronavirus [Stephanie Lecocq/Pool Photo via AP Photo]

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said the talks took “four long days and nights of negotiation … but it was worth it,” she said. “This is a sign that Europe is able to act. Before Europe was often accused of being too slow to act. In this case, it is the opposite.” 

You can read more on that story here.

03:32 GMT – EU leaders reach deal on COVID-19 support package

Charles Michel has tweeted that the leaders of the 27 countries making up the EU have reached a deal. No details yet, just a very enthusiastic tweet.

03:15 GMT – EU leaders resume talks on COVID-19 recovery plan

European Union leaders are resuming discussions on a proposed post-pandemic economic recovery plan.

Leaders seem close to a deal after four days of difficult negotiations.

02:25 GMT – Nursing home cluster boosts coronavirus cases in South Korea 

South Korea has reported 45 new cases of coronavirus.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 20 of the cases were locally acquired, and nine of them came from a nursing home in western Seoul.

Imported cases have been growing by the double digits for 26 days, according to Yonhap news agency. The latest were found mostly in workers returning from Iraq as well as among sailors on Russian-flagged ships docked in Busan. 

01:50 GMT – Brazil to start advance testing of vaccine being developed by China

Brazil is to start mass testing of a vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac on medical workers from six states, starting at the Clinical Hospital of Sao Paolo. 

Initial results are expected in 90 days.

Sinovac is working with the Butantan Institute, a public health research centre, on the trials and the institute will have the right to produce 120 million doses if the trial is a success.

01:15 GMT – Australian state of Victoria report 374 new cases, three deaths

The coronavirus outbreak in the Australian state of Victoria continues to grow as state Premier Daniel Andrews announced there had been 374 new cases and three deaths.

He urged people to get tested – noting there are 160 testing sites across the state – and said that while the number of cases was higher than the previous day, measures to address the outbreak were having an impact. 

Masks will be mandatory from midnight (14:00 GMT) on Wednesday.

00:15 GMT – China offers free testing to all residents of Urumqi

China is providing free COVID-19 tests to residents of Urumqi in the far western region of Xinjiang after a sudden spike in coronavirus cases there, according to state media. 

The testing is designed to “effectively lower the risk of the virus spreading,” the Global Times reported the city’s anti-epidemic group as saying. 

Urumqi has a population of about 3.5 million people, and the outbreak has been linked to group activity, the paper said. The actual origin of the infection remains unknown, it added.

23:45 GMT (Monday) – Christopher Nolan’s Tenet delayed again as coronavirus rages

The release of Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi epic Tenet is being delayed again.

After twice being delayed, Tenet was slated to come out on August 12, but Warner Bros told AFP news agency that it had to reconsider because “the coronavirus continues to proliferate”.

Many cinemas in the US and other parts of the world remain closed.


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 20) here.

Two South African ministers hospitalised with coronavirusTwo South African cabinet ministers have been hospitalised with coronavirus, the government announced on Tuesday.Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi, 61, and Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe, 65, were separately admitted to hospital on Monday.Cabinet spokeswoman Phumla Williams said in a statement that they were hospitalised on the advice of their doctors for “better medical attention” and monitoring.They both tested positive for coronavirus around a week ago and had been in self-quarantine at home.


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