July 29 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Adam Renton, Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:40 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020
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7:12 a.m. ET, July 29, 2020

Iran reports 2,636 new cases of coronavirus in one day  

From CNN's Ramin Mostaghim

Medical professionals work at a coronavirus testing laboratory in Tehran, Iran, on July 14.
Medical professionals work at a coronavirus testing laboratory in Tehran, Iran, on July 14. Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Iran has recorded 2,636 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 298,909. 

Health Ministry spokesman Sima Sadat Lari said Wednesday that among the cases,1,604 people have been hospitalized. 

Lari said there were 196 additional coronavirus-related deaths, bringing Iran's total death toll to 16,343. 

The country was badly hit by the virus earlier this year, with 23 members of its parliament testing positive.

Iran's government temporarily released 54,000 prisoners in an effort to curb Covid-19's spread and earlier this month President Hassan Rouhani ordered the mandatory wearing of face masks in public, after cases continued to rise.

6:35 a.m. ET, July 29, 2020

More than half of India's Mumbai slum residents may have been infected with Covid-19 -- study

From CNN's Julia Hollingsworth and Esha Mitra

A health care worker walks through an alley of a Mumbai slum during a medical check-up on July 20.
A health care worker walks through an alley of a Mumbai slum during a medical check-up on July 20. Himanshu Bhatt/NurPhoto/Getty Images

More than half of residents living in Mumbai's crowded slums may have contracted coronavirus and are likely being infected at a much higher rate than those not living in slum areas, a new study has found.

The study released Tuesday raises questions over the level of testing in India, which has the third highest number of confirmed cases in the world after the United States and Brazil.

On Wednesday, India reported it had crossed 1.5 million reported coronavirus cases after more than half a million infections were recorded in just 12 days. It took nearly six months for India to reach its first 1 million confirmed cases.

Mumbai, India's financial capital with a population of more than 12 million, has confirmed more than 110,000 cases, including at least 6,180 deaths, according to official statistics. The city is in Maharashtra, the worst-hit state in India with more than 377,000 confirmed cases and at least 14,000 deaths.

The study -- a collaboration between local authorities and medical institutions -- found that 57% of the samples collected from slum residents tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, while only 16% of those living outside of slums tested positive, according to a news release Tuesday.

Read more here.

6:26 a.m. ET, July 29, 2020

Indian state extends lockdown to end of August

From CNN's Esha Mitra 

A municipal health worker walks past a police van during a swab collection campaign at Alipore Police Station in Kolkata, West Bengal, on July 28.
A municipal health worker walks past a police van during a swab collection campaign at Alipore Police Station in Kolkata, West Bengal, on July 28. Samir Jana/Hindustan Times/Getty Images

The Indian state of West Bengal has extended its lockdown until August 31, its Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said at a news conference on Tuesday.

The lockdown will largely be a "general" one, meaning essential services will run and industrial activity will be allowed.

But in nine days in August, the east Indian state will go into a "complete" lockdown, with everyone required to stay indoors.

West Bengal has 60,830 cases of coronavirus including 1,411 deaths and 39,917 recoveries, according to the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, as of Wednesday.

"We need to break the chain...If we can block the virus even to a certain extent we should take whatever steps we can," Banerjee said.

"A lot of people think that the numbers are too high, but earlier we had one lab for tests, now we have 56," she said.

Banerjee added that the state's health infrastructure had improved significantly in the last eight to nine years.

India has more than 1.5 million coronavirus cases, the third highest tally in the world according to Johns Hopkins University.

6:11 a.m. ET, July 29, 2020

Hong Kong reports over 100 local Covid-19 cases for eighth straight day

From CNN's Chermaine Lee

Residents are given free Covid-19 test kits by workers at a government clinic in Hong Kong on Wednesday, July 29, 2020, as part of a city-wide testing initiative.
Residents are given free Covid-19 test kits by workers at a government clinic in Hong Kong on Wednesday, July 29, 2020, as part of a city-wide testing initiative. Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

Hong Kong continues to struggle with a fresh coronavirus outbreak, as officials reported 118 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours.

The data marks the eighth straight day of total cases surpassing the 100 mark, according to the head of communicable disease branch of the Department of Health, Chuang Shuk-kwan. 

Out of the fresh cases five are imported and 113 are locally transmitted.

Among the local cases, 67 are related to previous patients and 46 are currently under investigation. Kwan added that out of the 67 related cases, 54 contracted the virus in social gatherings.

Hong Kong's coronavirus death toll rose to 24 as of Wednesday morning, after an 85-year-old man died on Tuesday and a 76-year-old woman died on Wednesday.

The city has imposed its the strictest social distancing measures so far starting Wednesday, in response to the fresh outbreak.

The new restrictions include tightening gatherings from up to four people to only two, expanding mandatory mask-wearing from all indoor public places to including outdoor public places, and a complete suspension of restaurant dine-ins.

5:43 a.m. ET, July 29, 2020

Covid-19 pandemic is "one big wave," WHO says

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy

Covid-19 is spreading in "one big wave" and is not affected by seasonal trends, according to World Health Organization (WHO) spokesperson Margaret Harris.

Coronavirus spikes recorded in European countries recently have typically been described as second waves.

But Harris characterised the virus as "one big wave" that "is going to go up and down a bit," while addressing a virtual press briefing in Geneva Tuesday.

She also said Covid-19 did not appear to follow the seasonal trends of viruses such as influenza.

"The season does not seem to be affecting the transmission of this virus currently. What is affecting the transmission of this virus is mass gatherings, is people coming together and people not social distancing, not taking the precautions to ensure they're not in close contact," Harris said.
“People are still thinking about seasons. What we all need to get our heads around is this is a new virus and…this one is behaving differently."

The WHO spokesperson also warned against complacency, while speaking to Irish radio station Newstalk Tuesday.

"People unfortunately interpreted the ending of lockdowns as the ending of outbreaks," she said, adding that the easing of lockdown was "the time when you really have to be most vigilant."

"People relaxed and we're seeing these upticks," Harris said.

Coronavirus cases are rising in Germany, France and Spain, while spikes in Hong Kong and Australia have also been recorded.

Harris said the message to stay vigilant was a difficult one to deliver, especially to young people "in the middle of a lovely summer."

"You're only young once. It's easy for oldies like me to say stay at home. You've also only got one life and you've also only got one family," she said.

“What we do see is that in the European region there has been a slight uptick in new cases in the past couple of weeks," WHO regional director for Europe Hans Kluge, said during an interview with BBC Radio 4 Wednesday.

“Whether this is a first wave or a second wave -- what we do know is that it’s a consequence of change in human behavior.”

The official also noted that the WHO had received reports "from civil and health authorities of a higher proportion of new infections among young people."

Kluge said he was "cautiously optimistic" about the virus but warned that the pandemic was "not going to fade away anytime soon."

5:14 a.m. ET, July 29, 2020

UK minister says there is "no silver bullet" for testing to allow quarantine-free travel

From CNN's Nada Bashir in London

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden departs 10 Downing Street, in London, England, on July 15.
Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden departs 10 Downing Street, in London, England, on July 15.

There is no "silver bullet" on testing to allow British citizens to travel without potentially having to quarantine on return, UK Culture Minister Oliver Dowden said Wednesday.   

“There is not a silver bullet of testing immediately at the border. Of course, we are looking at reviewing other measures that we could take to address this but, at this stage, it’s not the case that we can simply test at the border and give people that assurance,” Dowden told the BBC.   
“We want to keep our economy open, we want to keep the disease under control -- we have to take these measures,” he added.  

Dowden’s remarks come days after the UK government announced that it would remove Spain from its list of countries that residents can safely visit, sparking criticism from both the Spanish government and British travelers.  

“We have to act in a way to keep the virus under control in this country. It was rising in Spain, and we had to ensure that we didn’t import cases,” Dowden said.   

“If there are ways in which we can ease the burdens, we will do that, but at the moment the safest thing to do is for people to quarantine for 14 days if they are returning from Spain,” he added. 

4:08 a.m. ET, July 29, 2020

It's just past 9 a.m. in London and 1:30 p.m. in New Delhi. Here's the latest headlines

Nearly 16.8 million cases of the novel coronavirus have been recorded worldwide, including more than 660,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Here's the latest updates on the Covid-19 pandemic from around the globe:

  • India cases surge: The total number of coronavirus cases in India has surpassed 1.5 million, after more than half a million new infections were recorded in just 12 days. Only the United States and Brazil have reported more cases than India.
  • Rising US death toll: More than 1,200 virus-related deaths were recorded in the United States on Tuesday. Nearly 150,000 people have died of Covid-19 in the US, according to Johns Hopkins University.
  • UK vaccine deal: Britain has signed an agreement to secure up to 60 million doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine currently being developed by pharmaceutical giants Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline. The UK has now signed deals to secure access to four potential vaccines being developed, totaling 250 million doses. 
  • Japan sees highest daily spike: Some 981 new cases were recorded on Tuesday, eclipsing the previous high of 966 set on July 23.
  • China records over 100 new cases: Fresh outbreaks in China's far western region of Xinjiang and northeastern province of Liaoning have continued to spread. The country recorded 101 new infections for Tuesday, its highest daily increase since April 12.

This post was updated to reflect the US death count.

3:30 a.m. ET, July 29, 2020

South Korea will impose strict control measures on Russian crew members from August

From CNN's Gawon Bae in Seoul

South Korea is imposing tighter controls on Russian crew members intending to dock in its ports from August 3, according to the country's Ministry of Health and Welfare.

Starting from the beginning of August, Russian crew members will have to submit coronavirus test results to Korean authorities 48 hours before departing for South Korea. 

In July, 44 crew members of a Russian vessel tested positive in South Korea's southeastern port of Busan. An additional 10 local infections were linked to the cluster, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

South Korea detected 48 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, including 14 local infections, increasing the total to 14,251, according to the health ministry. The death toll remained at 300.

A total of 882 people are in active quarantine, while 13,069 have recovered so far.

3:17 a.m. ET, July 29, 2020

UK signs deal to secure 60 million doses of potential coronavirus vaccine

Britain's Business Secretary Alok Sharma arrives in Downing Street in London, England on June 2.
Britain's Business Secretary Alok Sharma arrives in Downing Street in London, England on June 2. Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

The British government has signed a supply deal to secure up to 60 million doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine currently being developed by pharmaceutical giants Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline. 

“A deal to secure early access to a promising new coronavirus vaccine has been announced by the government today (29 July), enhancing the UK’s growing portfolio of vaccine candidates to protect the public and to save lives,” the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said Wednesday in a statement. 
“The agreement with GSK and Sanofi Pasteur, which combined have the largest vaccine manufacturing capability in the world, will supply the UK with 60 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine, which is based on existing DNA-based technology used to produce Sanofi’s flu vaccine,” the statement added. 

According to the government, this latest deal could allow priority groups to be vaccinated as early as summer 2021, should the Sanofi and GSK vaccine candidate prove effective in human studies. 

“Our scientists and researchers are racing to find a safe and effective vaccine at a speed and scale never seen before. While this progress is truly remarkable, the fact remains that there are no guarantees,” Business Secretary Alok Sharma said Wednesday. 

“In the meantime, it is important that we secure early access to a diverse range of promising vaccine candidates, like GSK and Sanofi, to increase our chances of finding one that works so we can protect the public and save lives,” he added. 

Diversified access: The UK government has now signed deals to secure access to four potential vaccines being developed, totaling 250 million doses. 

“Through this agreement with GSK and Sanofi, the Vaccine Taskforce can add another type of vaccine to the three different types of vaccine we have already secured,” the chair of the government’s vaccines task force, Kate Bingham, said. 

“This diversity of vaccine types is important because we do not yet know which, if any, of the different types of vaccine will prove to generate a safe and protective response to Covid-19,” she added, cautioning that the UK must not be complacent or overly optimistic.