• This daily round-up brings you a selection of the latest news updates on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, as well as tips and tools to help you stay informed and protected.
  • Top stories: Recession hits South Korean economy; South Africa's death toll could be higher than previously thought; and the WHO warns patience needed for vaccines.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

The total number of confirmed cases around the world has surpassed another grim milestone, breaching the 15 million mark in the past 24 hours. Data from the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine show the death toll has now passed 623,000.

Switzerland has added more countries to its coronavirus hot-spot list, bringing the number to 42. Visitors from listed countries must go into quarantine for 10-days or face a fine of over $10,000.

Jair Bolsonaro, President of Brazil has tested positive for the coronavirus for the third time this month.

Hong Kong has made face masks compulsory in all indoor spaces and on public transport. It reported 113 new coronavirus cases on 22 July, a single-day record.

COVID-19 has caused the UK to shrink its international aid budget by $3.7 billion. The country’s foreign minister said the UK would still meet its international development commitments.

The South Korean economy is in recession. GDP fell by 2.9% year-on-year, while exports sank to a 57-year low, the BBC reports.

In India, the annual Shri Amarnathji Yatra pilgrimage has been cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. The Hindustan Times describes the Amarnath cave temple as “one of the holiest shrines in Hinduism.”

From 1 August, travel restrictions are being eased in Qatar. Visitors, citizens and permanent residents will be able to travel in and out of the country, Al Jazeera says.

2. Report: True COVID-19 death toll in South Africa could be greater

South Africa has been hit harder by the pandemic than any other African country. It has recorded 394,948 confirmed cases and 5,940 deaths.

But a new report suggests the death toll from COVID-19 could be even higher.

The South African Medical Research Council found by the second week of July, there were 59% more deaths from natural causes than would have been expected based on historical data.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in South Africa as of July 20, 2020, by region Published by Lars Kamer, Jul 21, 2020  As of July 20, 2020, overall cases reached its highest at over 373,628 coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, the highest volume of confirmed cases compared to other African countries. Gauteng (Johannesburg) was hit hardest and registered 136,879 cases, whereas Western Cape (Cape Town) and Eastern Cape counted 85,772 and 65,316 coronavirus cases, respectively. In total 2,505,646 tests were conducted. Total recoveries amounted to 194,865. On July 9, 2020, the highest daily increase in cases was recorded in South Africa. Economic impact on businesses in South Africa The coronavirus pandemic is not only causing a health crisis but influences the economy heavily as well. According to a survey on the financial impact of COVID-19 on various industries in South Africa, 89.6 percent of businesses indicated to see a turnover below the normal range. Mining and quarrying industry was hit hardest with nearly 95 percent of all companies seeing a decrease in turnover, whereas the largest share of businesses experiencing no economic impact are working within the real estate sector and other business services. As a response to the coronavirus, laying off workers in the short term was the most common workforce measure that businesses in South Africa implemented. 36.4 percent of businesses indicated to have laid of staff temporarily, and roughly 25 percent decreased the working hours. Approximately 20 percent of the surveyed companies, on the other hand, said no measures have been taken. Business survivability without any revenue Due to the measures taken by the government to prevent the coronavirus from spreading too fast, many businesses had to close its doors temporarily. However, if the coronavirus would leave them without any form of revenue for up to three months, eight out of ten businesses in South Africa predicted (in April 2020) they will go bankrupt. Just 6.7 percent said to survive for longer than three months without any turnover. Read more Confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in South Africa as of July 20, 2020, by region
South Africa has had the most cases of COVID-19 in Africa.
Image: Statista

3. WHO: Don't expect first COVID-19 vaccinations until early 2021

Early indications from coronavirus vaccine trials are broadly positive. But Dr Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, has urged caution.

Don’t expect a vaccine to become widely available until 2021, he warned during an event broadcast on social media. “Realistically it is going to be the first part of next year before we start seeing people getting vaccinated,” he said.

He’s not alone in warning that the world may have to be patient. Thomas Lingelbach, chief executive of the biotech company Valneva, told Sky News: "We are trying to bring a 10-year development cycle into 10 months. I hope that some will be faster but… I don't expect personally that we're going to see major supplies before the middle of next year.”

The US government has pledged to spend $1.95 billion buying 100 million doses of a potential vaccine being jointly developed by the US and Germany. The doses will be given to US citizens free-of-charge, the Financial Times reports.