August 18 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Amy Woodyatt and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, August 19, 2020
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3:45 a.m. ET, August 18, 2020

New Zealand prime minister hits back at Trump calling the country's coronavirus surge "terrible"

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern attends a news conference in the parliament building Beehive, on August 17, in Wellington, New Zealand.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern attends a news conference in the parliament building Beehive, on August 17, in Wellington, New Zealand. Xinhua/Guo Lei via Getty Images

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday hit back at US President Donald Trump's comments calling the country's surge in Covid-19 cases "terrible."

"I don't think there's any comparison between New Zealand's current cluster and the tens of thousands of cases that are being seen daily in the United States," Ardern told reporters. "Obviously, every country is experiencing its own fight with Covid-19; it is a tricky virus, but not one where I would compare New Zealand's current status to the United States."

"New Zealand's nine cases in a day does not compare to the United States' tens of thousands, and in fact does not compare to most countries in the world. I'm not concerned about people misinterpreting our status," she added.

Trump's comments: Speaking in Minnesota on Monday, Trump said: "Even New Zealand, did you see what's going on in New Zealand? 'They beat it, they beat it.' It was like front page, they beat it, because they wanted to show me something."

"The problem is, big surge in New Zealand ... it's terrible," he added.

Some context: New Zealand is currently grappling with a reemergence of cases, which came shortly after the country went 100 days with no local transmissions.

Ardern announced Monday that the country’s election would be delayed by four weeks, to October 17, due to concern over the spread of coronavirus.

New Zealand confirmed 13 new cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday, all locally transmitted.

3:18 a.m. ET, August 18, 2020

This week is "critical" for whether Seoul's outbreak becomes a national epidemic, minister says

From CNN's Gawon Bae in Seoul, South Korea 

Sarang-jeil Church pastor Jun Kwang-hun's lawyer, Kang Yeon-jae, top center, speaks during a news conference near the church in Seoul, South Korea, on Monday, August 17.
Sarang-jeil Church pastor Jun Kwang-hun's lawyer, Kang Yeon-jae, top center, speaks during a news conference near the church in Seoul, South Korea, on Monday, August 17. Lim Hwa-young/Yonhap via AP

South Korea registered 246 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) announced on Tuesday. 

That raises the country's total to 15,761 confirmed cases. Among the new cases, 235 were locally transmitted. 

Seoul church cluster: Yesterday, Seoul's government reported a cluster of cases related to a church in the city. More than 450 people linked to the Sarang-jeil church have tested positive for the virus, authorities said. 

Vice Health Minister Kim Ganglip said on Tuesday that the Seoul metropolitan area is now experiencing "early stages of massive recurrence" of the virus, as the church cluster spreads to locations including other churches, medical facilities and call centers. 

This week could be the "critical turning point" of whether the Seoul cluster becomes a nationwide epidemic, Kim added.

The cluster is already spreading beyond the city; 75 cases have been found outside Seoul that are linked to the church. At least 10 church congregations attended either of their two rallies on August 8 and 15 in Seoul.  

2:59 a.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Indigenous community ordered to clear roadblocks as they demand government help against Covid-19

From CNN's Eduardo Duwe and Marcia Reverdosa in Sao Paulo, and Tatiana Arias in Atlanta

A Brazilian federal judge has ordered members of the Kayapó Mekrãgnotire indigenous community to clear roadblocks off a major interstate highway, which they had set to demand greater government assistance in the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

On Monday, dozens of indigenous protesters carrying sticks, arrows and machetes, built two barricades on the highway near Novo Progresso, in the northern state of Para.

They demanded health assistance, food and medical supplies. They also protested deforestation and illegal activities in their territories, according to a statement from the Kabu Institute, an NGO created to manage indigenous villages and inspect the region's forests.

"Covid-19 has already reached our villages, there is only one doctor and the quick tests only arrived in June," the statement said. "Officially, 403 indigenous people have already been infected and four have died - all of them, elders.
"The Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health (SESAI) in Novo Progresso has taken up to three days to successfully remove patients from the villages and there is no ICU in the municipality." 

Federal police have been tasked to enforce the clearing of the highway while respecting the rights of the indigenous people, according to the judge's order. If the protesters fail to remove the barricades, they face a daily fine of 10,000 reais ($1,800).

Why they chose the highway: Indigenous leaders argue that proximity to the road brought coronavirus to their villages, the Kabu Institute told CNN Monday.

The first coronavirus cases among the Kayapó Mekrãgnotire occurred as a result of their contact with urban populations and the presence of illegal miners in their reserves. 

So far, 21,000 indigenous people in Brazil have been infected with Covid-19 and 618 have died, according to the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB).

2:44 a.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Wuhan hosts massive water park party as coronavirus concerns recede

From CNN's Nectar Gan

It was ground zero in the coronavirus pandemic and underwent the world's first -- and arguably strictest -- lockdown.

Now, the central Chinese city of Wuhan appears to have moved on from the virus, as thousands of revelers gathered in an open air water park for an electronic music festival -- without any masks or social distancing measures in sight.

Over the weekend, the Wuhan Maya Beach Water Park was filled with partygoers in swimsuits bunched together shoulder to shoulder, waving to the beat of the music while cooling down in hip-high water; others relaxed on inflatable rubber tubes that packed the pool to the brim, with little space to float around.

The crowded party scene remains unthinkable in many parts of the world still grappling with the deadly virus. More than 21 million people have been infected across the globe, with tens of thousands of new cases reported every day in the United States, Brazil and India.

But in Wuhan, life has gradually returned to normal since the metropolis of 11 million people in Hubei province lifted a stringent 76-day lockdown in early April. The city hasn't reported any new cases since mid-May.

Read more:

2:42 a.m. ET, August 18, 2020

South Korean military bans off-base travel and suspends leave as coronavirus cases rise

From CNN's Jake Kwon in Seoul, South Korea

South Korea is suspending leave for all of its military personnel for two weeks starting Wednesday after a recent uptick in new coronavirus cases, the country's defense ministry announced today. 

All service members will also be prohibited from leaving their bases or receiving visitors for two weeks. 

A defense ministry official said that any group meals between service members or private gatherings must be postponed or cancelled. 

Religious gatherings held at military bases can only be attended by service members, and all the military’s religious facilities outside the bases will also move to online services, the official said.

New cases within the military: The defense ministry said that two more service members had tested positive for the virus, raising the total number of active cases within the South Korean military to 10. 

 

1:49 a.m. ET, August 18, 2020

US reports more than 35,000 new Covid-19 cases

The United States reported 35,112 new cases of Covid-19 and 445 virus-related deaths on Monday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

These figures raise the national total to at least 5,438,325 cases and 170,497 fatalities.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

Follow CNN's live tracker of US cases:

1:35 a.m. ET, August 18, 2020

FDA issues warning letter to company selling fake coronavirus treatments and cures

From CNN's Shelby Lin Erdman

A sign for the Food And Drug Administration is seen outside of its headquarters on July 20, in White Oak, Maryland.
A sign for the Food And Drug Administration is seen outside of its headquarters on July 20, in White Oak, Maryland. Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

The US Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter to a website for marketing colloidal silver products as a cure for the coronavirus.

The SilverGuy, which is also part of an Amazon marketing program or Amazon Associates program, is accused of “selling fraudulent COVID-19 related products,” the FDA said Monday. It gave the company 48 hours to correct the violations

The FDA determined that colloidal silver products sold by SilverGuy fall under the category of “an unapproved new drug” and a “misbranded drug,” a violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. 

The company's claims: The company claimed on its website and product pages that colloidal silver, which contains tiny bits of silver in a liquid, can be atomized using a humidifier, then breathed in to line the lungs and "inhibit the virus from replicating too quickly.” 

The SilverGuy also claimed on its website that “Silver particles may reduce your body’s overreaction to the virus" and can "disable" coronaviruses.

Fact check: None of these statements are true. In fact, the National Institutes of Health warns that colloidal silver can pose a danger to people’s health and can cause serious side effects, including argyria, a usually permanent bluish-gray discoloration of the skin.

There is currently no cure or vaccine for Covid-19.

1:05 a.m. ET, August 18, 2020

If New Zealand's outbreak is "terrible" like Trump says, then how bad is the rest of the world?

Analysis from CNN's James Griffiths

Speaking in Minnesota on Monday, United States President Donald Trump was apparently feeling vindicated.

Referring to some nations now seeing a new wave of coronavirus cases, Trump said "they were holding up names of countries and now they're saying 'whoops'."

"Even New Zealand, did you see what's going on in New Zealand? 'They beat it, they beat it.' It was like front page, they beat it, because they wanted to show me something," he added. "The problem is, big surge in New Zealand ... it's terrible."

Some perspective: New Zealand reported nine new cases on Monday. The US reported tens of thousands. Only one state, Vermont, has fewer total cases than New Zealand, and could yet overtake it given the comparative stage of the two countries' outbreaks.

While a new wave of cases has caused some alarm in New Zealand, after the country went over 100 days without any community infections, it has already been largely brought under control.

Asia-Pacific's third wave may look dire in headlines. New Zealand has postponed its election and ramped up restrictions. Australia has locked parts of the country down and even declared a "state of disaster" in one state. South Korea is ordering thousands of new tests and imposing social distancing measures. Hong Kong has introduced its strongest restrictions yet.

Meanwhile in Europe, people are going on holiday. Across the UK, people are gathering on beaches and in parks, while England is preparing to send children back to school. In the US, focus is increasingly shifting to November's election, which there is no chance of postponing, and states are increasingly reopening and going back to normal.

But the statistics do not support this bizarro world situation. The US is the worst-hit country globally, and the UK is the second worst-hit country in Europe. In Asia, only India makes it into the top 10, according to a tally of cases by Johns Hopkins University, while none of the four places where recent waves have attracted so much media coverage even break the top 60.

Read the full analysis:

12:34 a.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Students from 3 Florida school districts are in quarantine after one week of in-person classes

From CNN's Rosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt 

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Students from at least three Florida school districts have been placed under quarantine during the first week of in-person instruction due to reports of Covid-19.

At least three positive cases have been identified in the Baker County School District.

Citing privacy, Florida's Department of Health (FLDOH) would not tell CNN how many individuals are currently under quarantine due to contact with these three individuals.

School districts in Martin and Bradford counties have also reported having to quarantine nearly 260 students.