August 15 coronavirus news

By Tara John, Melissa Macaya, Zamira Rahim, Laura Smith-Spark, Alaa Elassar and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 12:20 a.m. ET, August 16, 2020
3 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
2:50 a.m. ET, August 15, 2020

Places of worship face restrictions in Seoul and neighboring province as South Korea battles fresh cases

From CNN's Yoonjung Seo in Seoul

South Korea reported 166 new coronavirus cases on Friday -- 155 of which were as a result of community transmission, according to a press release from the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

Churches in Seoul and neighboring Gyeonggi province, as well as fast-food restaurants and a market in Seoul, have been identified as clusters in the fresh outbreak.

In an emergency briefing on Saturday, Park Yoo-mi, Seoul City’s top health official, said so far 12 infections in the region are linked to a fast-food burger chain Lotteria, 12 to a church in Gyeonggi province and Seoul’s Namdaemun market, and 44 cases to Sarang-jeil Church in Seoul.

Seoul issued an executive order Friday for all 7,560 religious facilities in the city, ordering them to restrict group events except the main service.

The 4,000-strong congregation of Seoul’s Sarang-jeil Church are subject to self-quarantine and must be tested, Park said.

Religious gatherings are also being restricted in Gyeonggi, according to an order issued by Gov. Lee Jae-myung on Friday.

Park, the Seoul health official, warned that attendees at an anti-government rally scheduled for Saturday could face prosecution under a protest ban. She said those who flout the ban could be subject to legal action -- and if a confirmed virus case is reported from a protest, organizers could face a fine.

South Korea's total number of confirmed cases stands at 15,039, of which 833 are active. The country's death toll remains at 305.

12:39 a.m. ET, August 15, 2020

New Zealand records seven new locally transmitted cases as latest outbreak continues

From CNN's Sol Han

A nurse completes a Covid-19 test at a testing centre in Auckland, New Zealand, on August 14.
A nurse completes a Covid-19 test at a testing centre in Auckland, New Zealand, on August 14. Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

Seven new locally transmitted coronavirus cases have been recorded in New Zealand, as the country attempts to contain a new outbreak after weeks of being virus free.

According to Ashley Bloomfield, the country's Director-General of Health, six of the new cases were related to a known cluster in Auckland, while the origins of one case remain under investigation -- although he was confident that case would also linked to the same cluster.

The total number of cases related to the Auckland cluster stands at 37, Bloomfield said.

Fifty-four close contacts of those infected have been moved to quarantine centers. So far, 24 of them have tested positive for the coronavirus.

It remains unclear where the latest outbreak originated. New Zealand Minister of Health Chris Hipkins said the country has not seen "any positive tests from our border and managed isolation facilities over the last few days, and genome sequencing does not match any of the known cases in these facilities."

Testing of borders staff -- those who work at managed isolation centers, airports, and maritime staff -- has been carried out in a bid to find out where the virus may have come from, after local transmission was stamped out for 102 days earlier this year.

Since August 12, New Zealand has implemented an aggressive testing policy, completing 49,780 tests in three days. On Friday alone, 23,846 tests were processed.

12:38 a.m. ET, August 15, 2020

Expert says human challenge trials are "unethical" -- and treat people "like laboratory animals"

From CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas

Human challenge trials are “unnecessary, uninformative and unethical,” a former professor at Harvard Medical School said Friday.

Also known as controlled infection trials, human challenge involves the intentional exposure of participants to a virus to allow more rapid assessment of a vaccine’s efficacy.

“Basically, it's treating (people) like laboratory animals,” William Haseltine told CNN.

The United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is working to create a strain of coronavirus that could be used in human challenge trials of a Covid-19 vaccine, although there are no plans to do so, NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said earlier Friday.

Haseltine said such trials are typically only necessary when a virus is not “raging,” and the coronavirus is currently in widespread circulation.

He added that participants would likely be mainly healthy, young people, so the trials would not yield information about those most at risk for serious illness.

“Are we really ready to infect people with live virus that can kill them?” Haseltine said.