August 28 coronavirus news

By Adam Renton, Steve George, Tara John and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 8:11 a.m. ET, August 29, 2020
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5:34 a.m. ET, August 28, 2020

British government says it is "safe to return to work" despite surging cases

From CNN's Nada Bashir in London

The UK government is telling people to go back to their workplaces, just a day after the country registered its highest daily increase in new coronavirus cases in months. 

“Our central message is pretty straightforward: we’re saying to people it is now safe to return to work,” UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said during an interview on Friday. 

Your employer will have, or should have, carried out work to make your employment place Covid-secure."

Speaking to the BBC, the government minister asserted that the UK has “got the rate of infection down” and encouraged citizens to return to their offices. 

However, his comments come a day after the UK reported 1,522 new cases, and the highest daily increase in new infections since June 12.

According to government data, a further 12 deaths were recorded on Thursday, bringing the UK's official coronavirus death toll to 41,477.

5:07 a.m. ET, August 28, 2020

Germany announces tougher coronavirus measures amid continued rise in cases

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to the media following a virtual meeting with governors of Germany's 16 states at the Chancellery during the coronavirus pandemic in Berlin, on August 27
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to the media following a virtual meeting with governors of Germany's 16 states at the Chancellery during the coronavirus pandemic in Berlin, on August 27 Omer Messinger/Pool/Getty Images

Germany will introduce tougher measures to curb the spread of coronavirus in the country ahead of the autumn and winter season, including new travel regulations, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on Thursday.

"We can see that the number of infections has risen in recent weeks … we take this increase in the summer months very seriously," Merkel said. 

Speaking during a news conference after a meeting with federal and state government leaders, Merkel added that Germany has ''come through this pandemic well" so far, but cautioned that new measures would be needed to tackle the rise in the infection rate.

The new restrictions include:

  • In most states, a fine of 50 euros ($59) for people who fail to wear face coverings in public spaces.
  • A ban on large-scale gatherings, including concerts and sporting events, has been extended until the end of the year.
  • Travelers have been advised to avoid all non-essential travel to high-risk areas.
  • Those returning from such areas will now be required to self-isolate for at least five days before being permitted to take a coronavirus test. 

Latest numbers: Confirmed Covid-19 cases have, over recent weeks, risen to levels not seen since the end of April in Germany. On Friday, the country's public health agency, the Robert Koch Institute, confirmed that at least 1,571 new infections had been recorded, bringing the total to 239,507 cases and 9,288 deaths since the beginning of the outbreak.

Concerns over the spike in cases have also led authorities in Berlin to ban a protest planned to take place this weekend against the German government's coronavirus restrictions, citing concerns over hygiene regulations; organizers, however, say they will continue to demonstrate, in defiance of the ban. 

7:48 a.m. ET, August 28, 2020

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe resigns for health reasons

From CNN's Kaori Enjoji in Tokyo and James Griffiths in Hong Kong

Shinzo Abe, the longest-serving Japanese prime minister in history, has resigned, citing health reasons.

"Even though there is one year to go in my tenure and there are challenges to be met, I have decided to stand down as prime minister," Abe said at a news conference in Tokyo on Friday.

Abe suffers from colitis, a non-curable inflammatory bowel disease, which was also a factor in his sudden resignation as prime minister in 2007, ending his first term after just over a year in office. On Monday morning, Abe visited Keio University Hospital in Tokyo for what was his second hospital visit in a week.

"For almost eight years I controlled my chronic disease, however, this year in June I had a regular check-up and there was a sign of the disease," Abe said. "I made a judgment that I should not continue my job as prime minister" he said. "I need to fight against the disease and need to be treated."

Abe had been expected to hold a news conference on Friday to update on the coronavirus situation in Japan.

See a lookback at Shinzo Abe's political career:

Read the full story:

4:14 a.m. ET, August 28, 2020

Hong Kong prepares to start mass voluntary Covid-19 testing drive

From journalist Vanessa Yung in Hong Kong

The voluntary mass testing of citizens for coronavirus in Hong Kong will begin on September 1, the city's top official said on Friday.

Tests will be free of charge for residents of the city, home to around 7.5 million people, which has been grappling in recent weeks with a third wave of Covid-19 infections, said Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

Any Hong Kong resident with no symptoms, except children under the age of 6 and people with bad throat or nasal conditions, can join the testing program, Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip said. The testing will last for seven days, after which the government will review the program and announce whether to extend it for another week.

“We believe that the testing can find out the hidden patients and give them treatment,” Lam said. “Hong Kong will be much better equipped to deal with the possible next virus wave now.”

Community testing centers will be set up across 18 city districts to collect samples, Nip explained. Residents will have to register online before getting tested.

Lam added that China’s central government helped in launching the mass testing program, providing extra laboratories and staff.

Hong Kong confirmed 27 new cases of Covid-19 on Friday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases identified in the city to 4,631.

4:10 a.m. ET, August 28, 2020

South Korea imposes tougher Covid-19 restrictions in Seoul

From CNN's Yoonjung Seo in Seoul

People walk through the Myeongdong shopping district in Seoul, South Korea, on August 27.
People walk through the Myeongdong shopping district in Seoul, South Korea, on August 27. Jung Yeon-je/AFP/Getty Images

South Korea tightened its coronavirus restrictions in the greater Seoul metropolitan area on Friday in an effort to curb a resurgence of the epidemic.

Starting from August 30, franchise cafes will be able to provide takeout service only, while restaurants and bakeries must stop eat-in service in between 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said in a briefing on Friday. 

Gyms and indoor sporting facilities will be shuttered, according to Park. The measure will be effective from August 30 until September 6.

Earlier on Friday, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said the second-highest level of social distancing measures will be maintained in greater Seoul for one more week.

Under these measures, now due to expire September 6, indoor gatherings are limited to 50 and outdoor gatherings to 100. 

The latest outbreak in the country has been linked to churches in Seoul and the neighboring provinces. Members of religious groups have been criticized for withholding key information and obstructing public health authorities in their fight against the pandemic.

Chung said enacting the highest social distancing level 3 measures would be a last resort for the country, considering the strong impact that would have on society.

Latest numbers: South Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 371 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, 359 of which were locally transmitted.

Among the new cases, 145 are from Seoul, 112 from its surrounding Gyeonggi province and 27 from nearby Incheon City.

South Korea has recorded a total of 19,077 Covid-19 cases, including 316 deaths, according to the KCDC.

This post has been updated to reflect that the new measures apply to the greater Seoul metropolitan area.

4:29 a.m. ET, August 28, 2020

Tokyo surpasses 20,000 Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Kaori Enjoji in Tokyo

Tokyo's total number of confirmed coronavirus cases topped 20,000 on Thursday after the Japanese capital recorded a further 250 infections, according to the metropolitan government.

In response, the local government said Thursday that it would extend an appeal to restaurants serving alcohol and bars to voluntarily shorten their hours until September 15. The request to close by 10 p.m. was set to end August 31.

The government will pay a cash handout of 150,000 yen ($1,410) to businesses that comply, according to Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.

Growing caseload: The new Tokyo cases were among 872 new infections and 12 virus-related deaths recorded nationwide on Thursday, according to Japan's Health Ministry.

That takes the nationwide total to 66,285 confirmed cases, including 1,251 fatalities.

3:56 a.m. ET, August 28, 2020

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to resign for health reasons: NHK

From CNN's Kaori Enjoji in Tokyo

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wearing a face mask arrives at the prime minister's office in Tokyo, on August 28.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wearing a face mask arrives at the prime minister's office in Tokyo, on August 28.  Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intends to resign due to health issues, according to Japan's public broadcaster NHK, citing sources close to Abe.

A government aide told CNN he heard that Abe has conveyed his desire to resign. Abe had been expected to hold a news conference later on Friday to update on the coronavirus situation in Japan.

On Monday morning, Abe visited Keio University Hospital in Tokyo for what was his second hospital visit in a week. Abe suffers from colitis, a non-curable inflammatory bowel disease, which forced him to resign during his first stint as the country's leader from 2006 to 2007. He became Prime Minister again in 2012.

Abe is Japan's longest-serving head of government in terms of consecutive days in office.

Coronavirus criticism: Japan has recorded more than 66,000 Covid-19 cases, and has struggled to get the pandemic under control despite being among the very first countries to be hit by the virus. Throughout the summer, as the rest of East Asia has moved to control the pace of infections, Japan's outbreak has spiked, with more than half of all cases being recorded since July.

Many people have expressed dissatisfaction with the government's handling of the virus, from a slow initial response and refusal to acknowledge the crisis, which many saw as linked to a desire to avoid canceling or postponing the Tokyo 2020 Olympics (since pushed to next year), to the ongoing failure to take sufficient action to rein in cases.

This is a developing story. Read more updates here:

2:18 a.m. ET, August 28, 2020

Iran reports nearly 2,200 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Hande Atay Alam in Atlanta

Iran's Health Ministry reported 2,190 new coronavirus cases and 117 new deaths on Thursday, according to state-run news agency IRNA.

Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said the total number of confirmed cases in the country had reached 367,796, including 21,137 deaths, IRNA reported. 

Lari said 3,822 Covid-19 patients are in critical condition and being treated in intensive care units. 

Iran, the original epicenter of the outbreak in the Middle East, has recorded more coronavirus cases and deaths than any other country in the region.

1:20 a.m. ET, August 28, 2020

US records nearly 46,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Joe Sutton in Atlanta

A further 45,966 new coronavirus cases and 1,116 virus-related fatalities were recorded in the United States on Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

That brings the nationwide total to at least 5,867,785 confirmed Covid-19 infections, including 180,824 deaths.

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

CNN is tracking US coronavirus cases: