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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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. 

4:31 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Gaza imposes 48-hour closure after family in refugee camp tests positive for coronavirus

From CNN's Oren Liebermann, Abeer Salman, and Ibrahim Dahman

Authorities in Gaza have imposed a 48-hour closure on the coastal enclave after four members of the same family tested positive for coronavirus in the al-Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza.

These are the first cases of community spread in Gaza, according to the Ministry of Health.  

"This is the first time (authorities have identified) Gazans who contracted Covid-19 outside the quarantine centers since the outbreak of the pandemic in December 2019," Hamas said in a statement online.

All of the other cases have been brought in from outside of Gaza.

The closure comes during a period of heightened tensions between Gaza and Israel. After months of relative calm, groups in Gaza have resumed launching explosive and arson balloons, while militants have fired rockets into southern Israel. The Israeli military has struck Hamas infrastructure and military posts with aircraft and tank fire.

4:03 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Oxford coronavirus vaccine could be put before regulators by end of 2020

From CNN's Nada Bashir

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. 

“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,” said Professor Andrew Pollard. 

However, speaking to BBC Radio 4, Pollard cautioned that the process could take longer depending on how much data scientists are able to gather. 

“I think in time, because the virus is going to continue to transmit in our communities, we will, even with a thousand people, eventually have enough information to know whether or not the vaccine works -- but that could take years,” Pollard said. 

“Having 20,000 people in our trials already means that that period of time will be shorter, but unfortunately I can’t quite predict the future about how many cases are going to occur in the next few months,” he added. 

4:29 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Hong Kong to relax some social distancing rules as virus cases drop

From CNN's Vanesse Chan in Hong Kong

Couples sit and enjoy the view of he Victoria harbor as public benches are seen with orange tape to block access to them in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, China, on August 24.
Couples sit and enjoy the view of he Victoria harbor as public benches are seen with orange tape to block access to them in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, China, on August 24. Miguel Candela/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

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 before loosening, Hong Kong Secretary of Food and Health Sophia Chan announced today.

Dine-in services at restaurants will be extended until 9 p.m. instead of the current 6 p.m., while cinemas, beauty parlors and some outdoor sports premises will reopen, Chan said.

Face masks will also no longer be mandatory when exercising or in country parks.

Third wave: Hong Kong recorded nine new cases of Covid-19 on Monday, marking the lowest daily number of cases since July 3.

The past month has seen a third wave of infections sweep the city; daily case counts skyrocketed from single to triple digits.

The third wave saw restrictions, which had been gradually lifting, slam back down. No more than two people are allowed to gather in public, and restaurants can only seat a maximum of two people at one table.

But it's still too early to relax: Hong Kong Director of Health Constance Chan added that the community infection chain has not been completely cut off, as around 30-40% of cases are from unknown sources.

“While the number of daily new cases has been gradually declining, the epidemic situation has still not stabilized totally,” she warned. “Under the new normal, it is almost not possible for us to wait until there are no more local cases before relaxing the social distancing measures.”
3:10 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020

US racial inequality may be just as deadly as Covid-19, if not more, new research says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Even amid a pandemic, life expectancy among Whites in the United States far exceeds what Blacks experience every year, according to a new study.

The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, uses national life expectancy data and demographic models to estimate how many White deaths from Covid-19 would be needed for the White death rate in 2020 to reach the levels of the year with the lowest Black death rate ever recorded, which was in 2014. 

That year, the rate of Black mortality was about 1,061 per 100,000, said Elizabeth Wrigley-Field of the University of Minnesota, who led this research.

For perspective, the most recent White mortality rate, in 2017, was about 899 deaths per 100,000.

Currently, the White Covid-19 age-adjusted mortality is about 28 deaths per 100,000 -- meaning "US white deaths including Covid are still well below the best that Black mortality has ever been," Wrigley-Field wrote in an email.

"These estimates make it plausible that, even in the Covid-19 pandemic, White mortality will remain lower than the lowest recorded Black mortality in the United States," Wrigley-Field wrote in the paper. "In reality, COVID-19 deaths themselves are highly disproportionately experienced by Black Americans and will almost certainly further widen the racial mortality gap."

"If Black disadvantage operates every year on the scale of Whites' experience of COVID-19, then so too should the tools we deploy to fight it," she added.

3:03 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Recovering from Covid-19 "doesn't mean you are immunized for life," researcher warns

Yesterday, preliminary research 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.

Ivan Hung, part of the research team at the University of Hong Kong, said the study "underscores the importance of having an annual coronavirus vaccine to boost immunity even if you recovered from a natural infection."

The second or third infection will likely be less severe than the first, unless the patient is elderly or immunocompromised, he added.

"Even if you have recovered from a natural infection, it doesn’t mean you are immunized for life," he said. "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."

Vaccine development: More than 30 vaccine candidates are now in varying stages of clinical development and Phase 1, 2 or 3 clinical trials, according to the World Health Organization.

The race to find an effective vaccine has global implications, not just for the health of billions of people, but potential billions in revenue for the successful developer and manufacturer.

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.