August 25 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Amy Woodyatt, Ed Upright, Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, August 26, 2020
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2:26 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020

US reports more than 38,000 new Covid-19 cases

The United States reported 38,949 new cases of Covid-19 and 474 virus-related deaths on Monday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

That brings the country's total to at least 5,740,628 cases and 177,276 related deaths.

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

Update: This post was updated to accurately reflect Monday's figures.

Follow CNN's live tracker of US cases here:

1:59 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Schools in Seoul will shift to online classes until September 11 due to coronavirus outbreaks

From CNN's Yoonjung Seo and Gawon Bae in Seoul

Schools in the greater Seoul area will suspend in-person classes starting Wednesday due to a surge in coronavirus infections, according to the country's education ministry.

All kindergartens, elementary, middle, and high schools in the greater Seoul area will hold online classes until September 11, Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae announced in a news release on Tuesday.

The measure will apply to schools in Seoul City, Incheon City and Gyeonggi Province, except students in their third year of high school.

There are more than 7,500 schools in Seoul and its surrounding areas, according to the latest statistics by the Education Ministry from 2019.

The decision came after the Education Ministry and superintendents of the metropolitan area agreed that more preemptive and intensive measures were necessary to prevent further spread of infection.

Some 150 students and 43 faculty members in the metropolitan area have tested positive since cluster infections in the area began on August 11, the release said.

Students normally go back to school at the beginning of March in South Korea, but the start of the spring semester was delayed this year due to the pandemic. South Korea began its phased return of students to the classroom in May. 

1:30 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Pakistan records lowest daily cases since April, as country slowly reopens

From CNN's Sophia Saifi in Islamabad

Tourists visit the Lake View Park after the government recently eased Covid-19 restrictions in Islamabad, Pakistan, on August 23.
Tourists visit the Lake View Park after the government recently eased Covid-19 restrictions in Islamabad, Pakistan, on August 23. Ahmad Kamal/Xinhua/Getty Images

Pakistan recorded 346 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, according to the country's Health Ministry -- the lowest daily figure since April.

Infections were still surging earlier this summer, reaching more than 6,000 cases a day in June.

The government announced reopening plans two weeks ago as cases began to drop; cinemas, hotels, restaurants and the tourism sector have all since reopened. The Ministry of Education will conduct a final review of the situation in early September, and has scheduled for schools to reopen later that month.

Restrictions on transport and airlines are expected to lift in October, officials said.

1:01 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020

South Korea reports 280 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Gawon Bae in Seoul

Workers and volunteers disinfect as a precaution against the coronavirus on a street in Goyang, South Korea, on August 25.
Workers and volunteers disinfect as a precaution against the coronavirus on a street in Goyang, South Korea, on August 25. Ahn Young-joon/AP

South Korea confirmed 280 new coronavirus cases on Monday, according to the country's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of these cases, 264 were local transmissions. The country also reported one new virus-related death.

Monday's figures raise the national total to 17,945 cases and 310 deaths. Some 14,286 patients have recovered so far. Among the remaining active cases, 3,349 remain in quarantine and 38 patients are in critical condition.

Crucial time: Senior Health Ministry official Yoon Tae-ho said this week is a critical period to combat the spread of Covid-19.

Social distancing Level 3 requirements will be reviewed depending on this week’s numbers, he said.

This autumn presents a threat; the national holiday Chuseok takes place during the first week of October, and is often referred to as "Korean Thanksgiving" -- a time when people travel across the country to spend time celebrating with their families.

The government is now reviewing strategies to minimize the spread of the virus during this period.

12:32 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Brazilian government approves Doctors Without Borders medical assistance to Indigenous people 

From CNN's Rodrigo Pedroso in São Paulo

Brazil's federal government agency has approved the humanitarian non-profit Doctors Without Borders (MSF) to enter indigenous communities and assist with the coronavirus surge there.

The approval came Monday for select MSF teams to enter seven Terena people villages of the Aquidauana region, in the midwestern Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, according to the official Brazilian gazette. 

Some context: Last week, the indigenous association reported that the government didn’t give permission for the MSF teams to enter Terena's villages, where more than 6,000 people live, according to the organization.

The agency said that the plan presented by the organization needed to be evaluated in order to not interfere with their own work.

Covid has devastated Indigenous communities: By early August, more than 22,000 Brazilian indigenous people had been diagnosed with the coronavirus, and at least 631 had died from it, according to indigenous group APIB. But due to limited testing, the real toll could be higher.

The deaths included prominent indigenous leader Chief Aritana Yawalapiti of the Upper Xingu territory.

These indigenous communities are often far from hospitals, in areas which often lack basic infrastructure. Those who move to towns or cities can end up in precarious living conditions with few public services, increasing their vulnerability to health issues.

12:01 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Japan's new daily cases fall below 500 for the first time in more than a month

From journalist Kaori Enjoji in Tokyo

Japan recorded 495 new Covid-19 cases nationwide on Monday -- the first time since July 20 that figure has dipped below 500, according to the country’s Health Ministry.

Of those cases, 95 were from the Tokyo metropolitan area -- the capital's lowest daily number since July 8.

Japan recorded 15 virus-related deaths on Monday.

The new figures raise the country's total to 63,833 cases and 1,209 related deaths since the pandemic began, according to the Health Ministry. 

Extended restrictions: Despite the slight decrease, the government announced on Monday that restrictions capping gatherings to 5,000 people will be extended through the end of September. They had previously been scheduled to expire on August 31.  

“It is unclear whether the number of new positives will continue to decline. The burden on the medical care provision system continues," Yasutoshi Nishimura, Japan’s minister in charge of the pandemic, said on Monday.
12:43 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020

FDA commissioner defends authorization of convalescent plasma

From CNN’s Jason Hoffman and Maggie Fox

Dr. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, speaks during a media briefing at the White House in Washington, DC on August 23.
Dr. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, speaks during a media briefing at the White House in Washington, DC on August 23. Alex Brandon/AP

US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn denied again on Monday that his agency had been pressured to authorize the use of plasma from coronavirus survivors as a Covid-19 treatment, but apologized for how he characterized data used in the decision. 

Some context: The White House announced the emergency authorization at a news briefing on Sunday, where President Donald Trump called the decision “historic.”

But Trump also suggested he pressured the agency. "I think there might have been a holdup, but we broke the logjam over the last week, to be honest," Trump said at the briefing.

FDA's response: Hahn told CNN Sunday he had not been pressured. In a series of tweets Monday, he repeated that assertion.

“Media coverage of FDA’s decision to issue emergency authorization for convalescent plasma has questioned whether this was a politically motivated decision. The decision was made by FDA career scientists based on data submitted a few weeks ago,” Hahn tweeted.

“They had confidence that convalescent plasma has potential to benefit many sick patients and the safety profile is well defined," he added. "The decision was based on significant data from the Mayo Clinic and other reliable sources plus a century of experience with convalescent plasma."

“We at FDA do not permit politics to enter into our scientific decisions. This happens to be a political season but FDA will remain data driven. On behalf of FDA‘s 18,000 career employees, I want to reassure the American public about this commitment. The convalescent plasma decision was made entirely by FDA scientists.”

But Hahn apologized for how he presented the data. He had previously said that the Mayo Clinic data showed use of convalescent plasma reduced the risk of death by 35%, and said that meant if 100 people got coronavirus, 35 would survive because of the treatment. 

But this was inaccurate; the study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, showed that 8.7% of patients who were treated within three days of diagnosis died, compared to 11.9% of patients who were treated four days or more after their diagnosis -- a difference of about 37%.

Those treated with plasma containing the highest levels of antibodies had a 35% lower risk of dying within a week compared to those treated with less-rich plasma. The study did not show the use of plasma reduced the overall death rate by 35%.  

“I have been criticized for remarks I made Sunday night about the benefits of convalescent plasma. The criticism is entirely justified. What I should have said better is that the data show a relative risk reduction not an absolute risk reduction,” Hahn acknowledged.
12:24 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Colombia joins a clinical study alongside US and Belgium to develop a coronavirus vaccine

From CNN's Stefano Pozzebon in Bogota, Colombia

Colombian Health Minister Fernando Ruiz seen during a news conference in Bogota, Colombia, on March 4.
Colombian Health Minister Fernando Ruiz seen during a news conference in Bogota, Colombia, on March 4. Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images

Colombia announced Monday it is joining a clinical study to develop a vaccine against coronavirus. 

The study will be conducted by multinational pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson across Colombia, the United States, and Belgium, according to Health Minister Fernando Ruiz.

About 60,000 volunteers between 18 and 60 years old in these three countries will take part in the study, which will consist of a single dose of the vaccine candidate. 

“We have been having conversations (with Johnson & Johnson) for weeks, and we are also speaking with other pharmaceuticals at this moment,” Ruiz said.  

Earlier this month, Colombian President Ivan Duque announced the country would not reach out to Russia for a vaccine, opting instead to work with the World Health Organization to secure as many vaccine doses as possible.

12:44 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Fauci warns against early authorization of a coronavirus vaccine

From CNN’s Jim Acosta

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing in Washington, DC on July 31.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing in Washington, DC on July 31. Erin Scott/Pool/Getty Images

Any effort to authorize and distribute a coronavirus vaccine before it has been proven safe and effective in large trials could damage efforts to develop other vaccines, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Reuters Monday. 

Two sources have told CNN that White House officials have raised the possibility of an early emergency use authorization of a vaccine -- before late-stage trials are finished. Michael Caputo, the assistant secretary for public affairs at the US Department of Health and Human Services, denied that there was any effort to fast-track vaccine development for political purposes. 

And Fauci said it would be a bad idea. “The one thing that you would not want to see with a vaccine is getting an EUA before you have a signal of efficacy,” Reuters quoted Fauci as saying. “One of the potential dangers if you prematurely let a vaccine out is that it would make it difficult, if not impossible, for the other vaccines to enroll people in their trial.” 

Several vaccines are being tested in the US and companies are working to ramp up production while testing is going on, so that if a vaccine is proven safe and effective it could be distributed immediately.

“To me, it's absolutely paramount that you definitively show that a vaccine is safe and effective, both,” Fauci told Reuters. “We would hope that nothing interferes with the full demonstration that a vaccine is safe and effective.”