August 25 coronavirus news

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3:43 p.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Patients were infected twice with the coronavirus, say virologists

From CNN's Mick Krever and Jacqueline Howard

Two European patients, one in Belgium and one in the Netherlands, have been infected twice by the coronavirus, virologists say.

Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst told VRT News that a Belgian woman was infected first in mid-March, then again in June. Her symptoms were mild enough to avoid hospitalization, he said.

“We were able to genetically sequence the virus in the two cases,” Van Ranst said in a television interview on Monday night. “And there is indeed enough difference to be able to say that this is another strain, a second infection.”

“Good news, it is not,” he said. “Because you hope of course that when you’re infected, that you’re then out of the danger zone for a long while. And hopefully that is so in most cases. At the very least, there appear now to be exceptions.”

Meanwhile, a patient was infected twice in the Netherlands, virologist Marion Koopmans told NOS, the Dutch national broadcaster.

Koopmans said it was an “older patient with a compromised immune system,” according to NOS. Koopmans confirmed to NOS that the RNA profiles of the two viruses that infected this patient differed.

The news comes after a 33-year-old man living in Hong Kong was reported to have had Covid-19 twice this year, according to preliminary research.

The pre-print study -- which the University of Hong Kong said on Monday has been accepted to publish in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases -- found that the man’s second case of Covid-19 occurred 142 days after the first.

The study also noted that in the first case, the man showed symptoms but in the second case he was asymptomatic, in that he did not show any noticeable symptoms. 

The genetic analysis showed that the first infection was from a strain of the coronavirus most closely related to strains from the US or England, which were collected in the spring, and the second was most closely related to strains from Switzerland and England, which were collected in July and August.

“This case illustrates that re-infection can occur even just after a few months of recovery from the first infection. Our findings suggest that SARS-CoV-2 may persist in humans as is the case for other common-cold associated human coronaviruses, even if patients have acquired immunity via natural infection or via vaccination,” the researchers wrote in their study.

The researchers called this the “first case” of re-infection of Covid-19 in their paper, but other experts are calling for more research before naming this case truly the world’s first. 

Hong Kong researchers say man got Covid-19 twice:

8:09 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Here's the latest on Covid-19 cases in Europe

Bicycle police patrol on the Trocadero esplanade, near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, on August 24.
Bicycle police patrol on the Trocadero esplanade, near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, on August 24. Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

As European authorities battle to control further waves of the pandemic, Covid-19 infections are rising across the continent. Here are the latest developments:

France: French health authorities are warning of a strong increase in coronavirus circulation, specifically among young adults. On Monday, its health ministry said 3.6% of tests for Covid-19 came back positive in the week of August 15-21, compared to 1.4% at the start of the summer.

France has recorded 244,854 cases and 30,528 deaths, including 1,955 cases and 15 deaths in the past 24 hours, Monday figures showed.

Meanwhile, nearly one-third (30%) of vacationers tested at a nudist village in southern France's Cap d'Agde municipality have tested positive, according to local health authorities. Occitanie Regional Health Authorities conducted three days of testing last week in Cap d'Agde, a locality known for nudist beaches and resorts The two first rounds of testing found 95 people positive among 490 people tested, and additional tests are being analyzed. Authorities report 50 additional positive cases among vacationers who went through Cap d'Agde and were tested upon their return home.

Germany: A further 1,278 new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Germany since Monday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) revealed Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases nationwide to 234,853. 

According to the RKI, the number of cases in Germany has “risen markedly” in recent weeks and demonstrates a “very concerning” trend in the national infection rate. 

On Monday, Germany issued a travel warning for Paris and the Cote d'Azur region of southeastern France due to high levels of coronavirus infection. Travelers returning from these regions will be required to get a free coronavirus PCR test upon arrival in Germany and could be obligated to quarantine for 14 days, the government said. 

Spain: Spain has recorded 19,382 new coronavirus cases since Friday, according to health ministry data on Monday.

Some of the 17 Spanish regions have decided to tighten safety measures as the number of infections continues to climb. Madrid's regional government Justice Secretary, Enrique López, asked citizens on Monday to "avoid unnecessary gatherings." Catalan President, Quim Torra, announced that Catalonia is banning gatherings of over 10 people, given that "70% of the contagions happen during social gatherings,” adding that "the next three weeks are decisive."

UK: A potential coronavirus vaccine being jointly developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca could be put before regulators by the end of this year, the director of the Oxford Vaccine Group said Tuesday. “It is just possible that, if the cases accrue rapidly in the clinical trials, we could have that data before regulators this year, and then there would be a process that they go through in order to make a full assessment of the data,” Professor Andrew Pollard said. However, speaking to BBC Radio 4, Pollard cautioned that the process could take longer depending on how much data scientists are able to gather. 

The Scottish government announced on Tuesday that students over the age of 12 will be advised to wear face coverings at school. This comes after an outbreak at a school in Dundee, which saw 22 people test positive for Covid-19.

Italy: Italy registered 953 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Civil Protection on Monday. In the past week the country has seen an increase of over 6,000 cases, the highest since May 11-17. It has had a total of 260,298 cases and 35,441 deaths. 

Belarus: Belarus will become the first country to receive doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine being developed in Russia as part of a new agreement reached by President Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko on Monday.

According to the state-owned Belarusian Telegraph Agency (BeITA), the two leaders agreed that Belarusian citizens will participate in the third stage of Russian vaccine trials, on a voluntary basis.

7:57 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020

The office, as you know it, is dead

From CNN' Business' Matt Egan

Empty desks are pictured at Cushman & Wakefield Plc's offices during the first phase of the reoccupation of their headquarters in London, on June 24.
Empty desks are pictured at Cushman & Wakefield Plc's offices during the first phase of the reoccupation of their headquarters in London, on June 24. Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Bustling skyscrapers and office parks packed with workers could be a relic of the pre-pandemic world.

The health crisis has forced millions of Americans to abandon their offices in favor of working from home, for better or worse. Now there are signs this may not be a short-term phenomenon, but more of a permanent shift in favor of remote work even after a Covid-19 vaccine is in place.

More than two-thirds (68%) of large company CEOs plan to downsize their office space, according to a survey released Tuesday by KPMG.

The pandemic is proving employees don't need to work in cubicles to be successful. And that in turn raises questions about the value of expensive office space, especially in high-priced cities like New York and San Francisco.

The survey, which captured responses mostly from companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenue, suggests that even if a vaccine were to be approved tomorrow, the shift to a more nimble virtual work model is not going away. Corporate America is accelerating its investments in digital transformation.

Read the full story here.

7:23 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Belarus to become first country to receive Russian coronavirus vaccine

From CNN’s Mary Ilyushina in Minsk 

Belarus will become the first country to receive doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine being developed in Russia as part of a new agreement reached by Presidents Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko on Monday. 

According to the state-owned Belarusian Telegraph Agency (BeITA), the two leaders agreed that Belarusian citizens will participate in the third stage of Russian vaccine trials, on a voluntary basis.

In a press release, the Kremlin added that the telephone call between Putin and Lukashenko focused on “bilateral cooperation” between the two states, as well as the situation in Belarus. 

Mass demonstrations over August's disputed presidential election are now entering a third week in Belarus.

“Alexander Lukashenko informed [Putin] about the measures being taken to normalize the situation in the country,” the Kremlin statement added.

7:05 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Mass testing underway in Spain as country sees a "U-shaped" curve in cases

Atika Shubert

Spain has launched mass coronavirus testing in a bid to get a snapshot of how infections are spreading as cases in the country continue to rise. Journalist Atika Shubert reports from Madrid.

WATCH:

6:54 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020

South Korea says 66 virus cases linked to cluster at Starbucks store

From CNN’s Jake Kwon, Yoonjung Seo and Gawon Bae in Seoul and Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

Some 66 Covid-19 cases in South Korea are linked to a cluster at a Starbucks store in Paju city, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said on Tuesday.  

Health officials said the cases mainly occurred among customers who did not wear face masks inside the café, adding the location was poorly ventilated.

Among the 66 infections, 25 were visitors to the café, 37 were linked contacts, while four others were related to the initial patient, the KCDC said in a statement.

“One certain fact seems to be that the core of anti-virus measures for people working at cafés or restaurants is wearing face masks. Employees are at the highest risk for staying the longest time at [infected] locations but no infection case has been reported among employees who wore masks,” said Kwon Joon-wook, an official at the KCDC.

On August 20, the KCDC said that the patron who authorities identified as the "first identified patient" stayed for two hours, and was sitting and talking without wearing a mask.

More cases linked to church cluster: In its latest update on Tuesday, the KCDC also linked 915 coronavirus cases to the Sarang-jeil church cluster. Among these, 564 are congregation members and visitors, 237 are close contacts and 114 are still being traced. 

6:59 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Students over 12 will be advised to wear masks in Scottish schools

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in Dublin

Pupils return to St Paul's High School in Glasgow, Scotland, on August 12, for the first time since the start of the coronavirus lockdown.
Pupils return to St Paul's High School in Glasgow, Scotland, on August 12, for the first time since the start of the coronavirus lockdown. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Students over the age of 12 will be advised to use face coverings at schools in Scotland as part of new guidelines set to be issued by the Scottish government on Tuesday.

Scottish Education Secretary John Swinney told BBC Radio Scotland on Tuesday that "from August 31 young people over the age of 12 at secondary schools should be habitually wearing face coverings when they are moving around schools and corridors and in communal spaces."

This comes after an outbreak at a school in Dundee, eastern Scotland, which saw 22 people test positive for Covid-19.

Swinney said that the new guidelines were influenced by World Health Organization (WHO) updated guidance.

On Monday, WHO and UNICEF released new mask guidance divided by age groups, and said children 12 and older should be treated like adults, and follow WHO or national mask guidance as such.

Swinney said analysis from Scotland's own scientific advisors had also concluded that there "was a place for the use of face coverings at different stages within the education system."

He said that what the Scottish government had done was "essentially strengthen" WHO guidelines by expanding them to include the use of face coverings in communal areas and on school transport.

The Education Secretary stressed that it "is not a key and single measure that we are taking," saying a range of mitigations were being put in place to facilitate a safe return to school. Whilst the new measures are not mandatory, Swinney said that when he spoke to Scottish principals last week "they were very clear with me that they felt this would be a beneficial move if this was undertaken."

6:08 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020

It's just past 11 a.m. in London and 7 p.m. in Seoul. Here's the latest on the pandemic

There have been more than 23.6 million cases of coronavirus globally, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. More than 813,000 people have died.

Here's the latest from around the world:

Oxford vaccine could go before regulators by end of 2020: A potential coronavirus vaccine being jointly developed by the University of Oxford and drugmaker AstraZeneca could be put before regulators by the end of this year, the director of the Oxford Vaccine Group said Tuesday. However, Professor Andrew Pollard cautioned that the process could take longer depending on how much data scientists are able to gather.

Recovery "doesn't mean you are immunized for life,": Preliminary research has found that a 33-year-old man in Hong Kong had contracted Covid-19 twice this year, having fallen ill 142 days after being infected the first time. "Even if you have recovered from a natural infection, it doesn’t mean you are immunized for life," said Ivan Hung, part of the research team at the University of Hong Kong. "This virus is very smart, it keeps on mutating. So that means even though you recovered from a natural infection, you still need vaccination, need a mask, and keep your social distancing."

US racial inequality may be just as deadly as Covid-19, if not more: Even amid a pandemic, life expectancy among Whites in the US far exceeds what Blacks experience every year, according to a new study. Researcher Elizabeth Wrigley-Field of the University of Minnesota said it was plausible "even in the Covid-19 pandemic, White mortality will remain lower than the lowest recorded Black mortality in the United States." 

Japan's daily cases fall below 500 for first time in a month: Japan recorded 495 new infections on Monday -- the first time since July 20 that figure has dipped below 500, according to the country’s Health Ministry. But despite the slight decrease, the government announced Monday that restrictions capping gatherings to 5,000 people will be extended through the end of September. 

Hong Kong to loosen some rules: Hong Kong will relax some coronavirus restrictions starting Friday, as daily new cases begin to drop after several weeks of combating a third wave of infection. Current social distancing measures will be extended for two more days. Then dine-in services at restaurants will be extended until 9 p.m. instead of 6 p.m., cinemas, beauty parlors and some outdoor sports premises will reopen, and face masks will also no longer be mandatory when exercising or in country parks.

Schools in South Korea capital stop in-person classes: Schools in the greater Seoul area will suspend in-person classes starting Wednesday due to a surge in coronavirus infections. All kindergartens, elementary, middle, and high schools in the area will hold online classes until September 11, Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae announced Tuesday.

FDA defends authorization of convalescent plasma: 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. The White House announced the emergency authorization at a news briefing on Sunday -- but President Trump had suggested he pressured the agency ahead of its announcement.

Fauci warns against early authorization of vaccine: 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, said Monday. 

5:29 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020

The University of Alabama started class less than a week ago. It now has 566 coronavirus cases

The University of Alabama has reported 566 cases of coronavirus infections among students and staff since classes began last Wednesday, according to the university's Covid-19 dashboard. 

Of these cases, 531 are on the university's main campus in Tuscaloosa. The remaining campuses in Birmingham and Huntsville, along with the University's clinical enterprise employees, have recorded 35 total cases. 

On Sunday, University of Alabama President Stuart R. Bell called on all students, faculty and staff to work together after what he says is an "unacceptable rise" of Covid-19 cases on campus.