South Korea has reported the highest number of daily coronavirus cases since March, and parliament has been forced to close amid increasing expectations that the authorities will impose tougher restrictions to control the disease.
The u-turn by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US on testing of close contacts of people with COVID-19 has raised concern among experts about the asymptomatic spread of the disease.
The Australian state of Victoria has reported its lowest number of coronavirus cases in nearly two months.
More than 24 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, and 15.7 million have recovered, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than 822,000 have died.
Here are the latest updates:
Thursday, August 27
04:40 GMT – Online schooling excludes 463 million children: UN
The UN Children’s Fund says 463 million children can’t access the virtual schooling that has become widespread as a result of the coronavirus pandemic because they don’t have the necessary equipment or access to the internet.
After gathering data from 100 countries, the UN said children in South Asia, Africa and the Pacific and East Asia were most seriously affected.
“The sheer number of children whose education was completely disrupted for months on end is a global education emergency,’ said Henrietta Fore, executive director of the fund. “The repercussions could be felt in economies and societies for decades to come.”
Millions of children missing school in India COVID outbreak
03:50 GMT – South Korean parliament closed; lawmakers in self-quarantine
South Korea’s parliament has been closed after a photo-journalist covering the ruling party tested postive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, according to Yonhap news agency.
Parliament said more than 50 people, including 14 senior members of the Democratic Party, had been in contact with the journalist and would need to go into self-quarantine and get tested.
The journalist was screened for COVID-19 after he learned a relative had been diagnosed with the virus and they had eaten dinner together last Saturday.
Several government offices have also been forced to close because of reported cases, Yonhap said.
03:40 GMT – South Korea urges people to work from home
South Korea is urging employers to allow their staff to work from home.
The country’s battling a surge in new cases, which are mostly linked to churches and an anti-government rally earlier this month, but are worried offices could become hotspots.
“Please carry out thorough checks of risk factors at workplaces, where the work environment is especially vulnerable to infection, such as call centres and logistics warehouses,” said Health Minister Park Neung-hoo as he reminded businesses of the need to adopt flexible working practices, and staggered hours to reduce the number of people in each office.
02:30 GMT – Hong Kong moves to relax some coronavirus restrictions
Hong Kong is moving to relax some of its rules on social distancing measures from midnight (16:00 GMT) on Thursday for a period of seven days.
The Food and Health Bureau says while sporadic cases and clusters were to be expected and that the government would take a “refined and sophisticated approach” to the relaxation of measures.
The first phase of relaxation includes the re-opening of indoor premises such as cafes and restaurants for limited hours, as as well as outdoor sports premises where activities involve little physical contact.
Gatherings of more than two people will remain banned.
02:10 GMT – Urumqi begins new round of testing: state media
The People’s Daily says the city of Urumqi in the far western region of Xinjiang, has begun nucleic acid testing of “key communities” as part of measures to “gradually restore normality”.
The city has not reported no new infections for 11 days.
Urumqi in NW China’s Xinjiang on Wed started to conduct a new round of nucleic acid tests among key communities and later adjust its current prevention measures for #COVID19 to gradually restore normality. The city has reported ZERO new infections for 11 consecutive days. pic.twitter.com/wQIo6HLeYD
— People’s Daily, China (@PDChina) August 27, 2020
01:35 GMT – South Korea reports biggest jump in cases since March
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the country recorded 441 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, the highest daily number since March.
It’s the first time the number has been above 400 since March 7, and raises the prospect of tighter restrictions to curb the spread of the disease. Cases have been in triple digits since August 14.
Tougher restrictions would include a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people, while cinemas, cafes and wedding venues might also have to close.
00:00 GMT – Victoria reports lowest number of daily cases in two months
The Australian state of Victoria reported 23 deaths, and 113 new coronavirus cases – the lowest in nearly two months – helped by a strict lockdown.
The state’s battling a second wave of the virus thought to have emerged from a breach in quarantine rules for returning travellers.
23:00 GMT (Wednesday) – Air New Zealand posts $300m loss as pandemic bites
Air New Zealand has posted a net loss of 454 million New Zealand dollars ($300m) for the financial year ended June 30.
Like many airlines around the world, the closing of borders has led to a collapse in passenger traffic leaving planes on the ground.
About one-third of Air New Zealand’s 12,500 employees are expected to lose their jobs as a result.
22:30 GMT (Wednesday) – Concern at US testing U-turn
Health experts are concerned a sudden US decision to change testing guidance for people who have been exposed to COVID-19 patients but have not developed symptoms risks spreading the virus further.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now says so-called “close contacts” of people with COVID-19 do not “necessarily need” to be tested if they do not have symptoms.
The CDC has not explained the decision.
We can’t control #covid19 if we can’t identify asymptomatic cases. We need MORE testing, not less.
— Leana Wen, M.D. (@DrLeanaWen) August 26, 2020
At what point does society rise up?
We have a Trump administration apparently placing politics and image over American lives. At every turn, the administration has afforded #COVID19 every opportunity to spread further. This is a national travesty and should be called out as such https://t.co/VUVpVhCfaw
— Michael Mina (@michaelmina_lab) August 26, 2020
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 (August 26) here.