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Coronavirus: What's happening around the world on July 27

The White House pushed ahead with Monday's planned rollout of the Senate Republicans' $1 trillion US pandemic relief package, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi assailed the GOP 'disarray' as time-wasting during the crisis. Here's what's happening with the novel coronavirus around the world on Monday.

Republicans try again on $1 trillion US coronavirus aid; world's biggest vaccine test begins in U.S.

Pedestrians wearing face masks cross a road in Hong Kong, where everyone will have to wear masks in public after authorities on Monday unveiled the city's toughest physical distancing measures yet to combat a new wave of coronavirus infections. (Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images)

The latest:

  • White House, Senate Republicans try again on $1 trillion US coronavirus aid.
  • Hong Kong bans public gatherings of more than two people.
  • WHO cites doubling of cases over the past six weeks as sign the pandemic "continues to accelerate."
  • U.S. national security adviser becomes the highest-ranked White House official to test positive.
  • Indonesia passes 100,000 cases, the highest count in Southeast Asia.
  • MLB postpones two games after Miami Marlins players test positive
  • Belgium introduces drastic physical-distancing measures after infection surge.
  • Anti-masking groups are using anti-vaccination tactics to misinform the public.
  • Families reunite in N.W.T. seniors' homes after months of seclusion.
  • The world's biggest coronavirus vaccine test began Monday, with first of 30,000 volunteers.
  • A pet cat tests positive for coronavirus in the U.K.

U.S. Senate Republicans announced a $1 trillion coronavirus aid package on Monday, that they worked on with the White House, paving the way for negotiations with Democrats on a plan to help Americans as expanded unemployment benefits for millions expire this week.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell announced what he called a "tailored and targeted" plan focused on getting children back to school, employees back to work and support for a health-care system grappling with an illness that has killed 150,000 Americans.

McConnell said the plan would include some additional unemployment benefits, but did not say how much, and direct payments to Americans of $1,200 each, as well as incentives for manufacturing personal protective equipment for health-care workers in the United States, rather than China.

McConnell urged Democrats to compromise with Republicans on the plan, called the "HEALS Act."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, right, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell talk prior to a service for the late Rep. John Lewis, a key figure in the civil rights movement and a 17-term congressman from Georgia, at the Capitol in Washington on Monday. (J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press)

With deadlines looming, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi implored Republicans and the White House on Monday to come quickly to the negotiating table with Democrats over the next coronavirus relief package to prevent unemployment assistance and an eviction moratorium from expiring for millions of Americans.

"Time is running out," Pelosi said. 

She invited Republican leaders and White House negotiators to her office after McConnell's Monday afternoon release of the Republicans' $1 trillion US proposal. 

"If Republicans care about working families, this won't take long," Pelosi said.

The Republican leader's latest plan comes after last week's effort came to an abrupt halt amid infighting with the White House. It's a long-awaited Republican counter-offer to Pelosi's $3 trillion effort passed in May. 

The Washington Post reported that Republicans wanted to reduce the expanded unemployment benefit from the current $600 per week, which expires on Friday, to $200. The supplemental unemployment benefit has been a financial lifeline for laid-off workers and a key support for consumer spending.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said the Republican plan was too narrow, and did too little, too slowly to help Americans facing eviction from their homes because the pandemic has made it impossible for them to go to work.
 
"The Republican plan is weak tea, when our problems need a much stronger brew," Schumer said in the Senate, shortly after McConnell announced the plan.

Meanwhile in the U.S House of Representatives, a majority of lawmakers signed a letter made public on Monday calling for a six-month extension of a $32 billion payroll aid program that they argue is crucial to keeping hundreds of thousands of aviation workers employed.

The lawmakers said that without action the layoffs "will eclipse those of any furloughs the industry has ever seen."

The payroll program is set to expire Sept. 30.

A nurse gives volunteer trial participant Melissa Harting an experimental vaccine for COVID-19 developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., Monday in Binghamton, N.Y. (Hans Pennink/The Associated Press)

The world's biggest coronavirus vaccine study got underway Monday with the first of 30,000 planned volunteers helping to test shots created by the U.S. government — one of several candidates in the global vaccine race.

It will be months before results trickle in, and there is no guarantee the vaccine will ultimately work against the disease that has killed about 650,000 people around the world, including almost 150,000 in the U.S.

German biotech BioNTech and U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc said on Monday they would also begin a pivotal global study to evaluate their lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

If the study is successful, BioNTech and Pfizer could submit the vaccine for regulatory approval as early as October, putting them on track to supply up to 100 million doses by the end of 2020 and 1.3 billion by the end of 2021.

Other vaccines made by China and Britain's Oxford University earlier this month began smaller final-stage tests in Brazil and other hard-hit countries. 

But the U.S. requires its own tests of any vaccine that might be used in the country and has set a high bar: Every month through fall, the government-funded COVID-19 Prevention Network will roll out a new study of a leading candidate — each one with 30,000 newly recruited volunteers. 

Also Monday, U.S. national security adviser Robert O'Brien tested positive for the coronavirus. He is the most senior White House official to test positive during the pandemic.

"He has mild symptoms and has been self-isolating and working from a secure location off site," the White House said in a statement. "There is no risk of exposure to the president or the vice-president. The work of the National Security Council continues uninterrupted."

Elsewhere, two Major League Baseball games scheduled for Monday have been postponed as the Miami Marlins deal with a coronavirus outbreak that stranded them in Philadelphia.

The Marlins' home opener against Baltimore was called off, as was the New York Yankees' game at Philadelphia. The Yankees would have been in the same clubhouse the Marlins used last weekend.

This has raised doubts about MLB's ability to finish the season at all during the pandemic. 

In the Marlins' home state of Florida, a judge has upheld a county's coronavirus ordinance that requires masks be worn in public places, saying government officials have the authority to protect their residents from the spread of infectious diseases.

The judge rejected the challengers' claim which said the recently enacted ordinance violates their rights to privacy and personal autonomy.

Citing a century-old U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said a state can mandate vaccinations, the judge said county commissioners came to "a reasonable and logical conclusion that mandating the wearing of facial coverings best serves their constituents."

WATCHTensions rise over COVID-19 outbreak in Haida Gwaii:

A COVID-19 outbreak in Haida Gwaii has led to at least 13 new cases as well as a spike in tensions over how the virus got into the isolated First Nations community. 2:11

What's happening with coronavirus in Canada

As of 1:00 p.m. ET on Monday, Canada had 114,175 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 99,531 of the cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC's reporting indicates that 8,919 Canadians have died.

WATCH | Doug Ford airs his frustration with Brampton party-goers:

Calling them 'a bunch of yahoos,' Ontario Premier Doug Ford lashed out at the nearly 200 young people who attended a house party in Brampton over the weekend. 3:08

Some anti-masking groups are joining forces with anti-vaccination proponents and adopting their techniques to spread misinformation and amplify their message.

At least one anti-masking group, Hugs Over Masks, actively partners with Vaccine Choice Canada, one of the country's most prominent anti-vaccination organizations.

Although many Canadians who don't want to wear masks aren't opposed to vaccines, the fact that anti-vaccination groups are involved in the relatively new anti-masking movement is concerning to many health experts.  

WATCH | Infectious disease specialist on house parties, U.S. coronavirus surge and risks around travel:

Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti 'alarmed' by possible consequences of giant house party in Brampton, Ont. 5:16

Despite well-established evidence that vaccines are safe and effective, anti-vaccination groups have become savvy at spreading misinformation that leads people to distrust medical guidance — something that can have dire consequences during a pandemic.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford lashed out at a news conference on Monday at Brampton party-goers who were caught breaking provincial rules against large gatherings over the weekend.

According to police, the house party was attended by as many as 200 people, with the organizers trying to keep the gathering off social media and hide the event from their neighbours.

Alberta is reporting 304 new cases of COVID-19 over the past three days and has added eight more deaths to a growing total that has now reached 186.

Five of the most recent deaths were linked to an outbreak at the Good Samaritan Southgate Care Centre in Edmonton, four were women in their 90s and one was a woman in her 80s. In all,12 residents of that facility have died.

There are now 1,430 active cases of coronavirus in the province.


What's happening in the rest of the world

The coronavirus pandemic "continues to accelerate," with a doubling of cases over the last six weeks, the World Health Organization (WHO) chief said Monday.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said nearly 16 million cases have now been reported to the UN health agency, with more than 640,000 deaths worldwide.

Belgium's prime minister has unveiled a set of drastic physical distancing measures aimed at avoiding a new general lockdown amid a surge of COVID-19 infections.

Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes said that from next Wednesday contacts outside family circles will be limited to the same five people over the next four weeks. The new measures also include lowering crowd limits at public events to 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors.

People in the city of Antwerp, Belgium wear protective face masks. On Monday, the country announced new physical distancing rules as it tries to stem a worrying flare-up of coronavirus cases in the port city of Antwerp. (John Thys/AFP/Getty Images)

Belgian residents are currently allowed to meet with 15 different people. The measures don't apply to children under the age of 12.

Wilmes said the new measures — which also include lowering crowd limits at public events to 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors — could be sufficient to avoid further restrictions and to ensure children can return to school en masse in September. 

Hong Kong will ban dining at restaurants completely and mandate masks in all public places, as the region battles a worsening coronavirus outbreak that has infected more than 1,000 people in the last two weeks.

The tightened measures will be effective for one week from Wednesday. They are an extension of a previous ban on eating at restaurants and eateries after 6 p.m., as well as making it mandatory by law to wear masks on public transport.

A ban on public gatherings of more than four people has also been further tightened, with gatherings limited to two people.

WATCH | Vietnam moves swiftly to contain limited outbreak of COVID-19:

The city of Danang, Vietnam, is undergoing mass cleanings and sending 80,000 tourists home after about a dozen cases of coronavirus were discovered. 0:57

The airport in the central Vietnamese tourism hotspot of Danang was packed after about 80,000 people, mostly local tourists, had to be evacuated from the popular Vietnamese beach city. More than a dozen people there were confirmed to have COVID-19, the government said Monday.

Vietnam, widely seen as a success in dealing with the coronavirus, reimposed a physical distancing order in Danang following the confirmation of the cases, the first known to be locally transmitted in the country in over three months.

The evacuations of mostly local tourists will take at least four days with domestic airlines operating approximately 100 flights daily from Danang to 11 Vietnamese cities, the government said.

Indonesia announced Monday that its confirmed coronavirus cases have surpassed 100,000, the highest amount in Southeast Asia.

Cases continue to rise across the world's fourth-most populous nation as testing remains sharply limited and businesses continue to reopen.

The health ministry announced 1,525 more cases on Monday, bringing the country's confirmed total to 100,303. The actual number is thought to be considerably higher because of the low testing and other factors.

Morocco is banning all travel to and from some of its major cities to try to stem a small spike in coronavirus cases, even though the North African country has remained less impacted than its European neighbours to the north.

As of Monday morning, a joint statement from the Moroccan health and interior ministries quoted by the MAP state news agency said that there is a "ban" on travel affecting the cities of Tangier, Tetouan, Fez, Meknes, Casablanca, Berrechid, Settat, as well as the popular tourist destination of Marrakech.

The ministries said the decision was made because many Moroccans were not complying with measures encouraged by the government to fight the spread of the coronavirus, such as physical distancing, the wearing of masks and the use of disinfectants.

Passengers and luggage are screened for travel at Mohammed V International Airport in Casablanca, Morocco. The country is banning all travel to some major cities after a spike in coronavirus cases. (Abdeljalil Bounhar/The Associated Press)

In Saudi Arabia, Muslim pilgrims have started arriving in Mecca for a drastically scaled-down hajj, as Saudi authorities balance the kingdom's oversight of one of Islam's key pillars and the safety of visitors in the face of a global pandemic.

The hajj, which begins on Wednesday, normally draws around 2.5 million people for five intense days of worship in one of the world's largest gatherings of people from around the world.

The kingdom has one of the Mideast's largest outbreaks of the coronavirus, with nearly 269,000 reported infections, including 2,760 deaths.

As India recorded nearly 50,000 fresh cases of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi prepared to launch facilities in three major cities to significantly ramp up testing capacity.

The 49,931 cases reported on Monday brought India's tally to beyond 1.4 million. India has the world's third-highest caseload after the United States and Brazil. The 32,771 reported deaths from the disease in India, however, mark a far lower fatality rate than in the other two countries.

Modi's office says the testing facilities that will begin operating on Monday will help authorities track the virus. They will be put in Noida, a suburb of the capital New Delhi, and in the cities of Mumbai and Kolkata. Each is capable of analyzing as many as 10,000 tests per day.

A resident prepares for a nasal swab at a medical screening facility in Mumbai on Monday. (Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images)

South Africa is reporting more than 11,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases as the country now has more than 445,000 in all, including more than 6,700 deaths. 

South Africa has the world's fifth-largest caseload and makes up more than half the cases across the African continent. President Cyril Ramaphosa says the recovery from the pandemic will be "long and difficult," but experts say the worst is yet to come. 

A growing concern is poorly resourced Eastern Cape province, which makes up 16 per cent of the country's cases but more than 20 per cent of deaths. South Africa's public labs continue to face testing delays, with the average turnaround time for results at just over a week.

Relatives and an undertaker wearing personal protective equipment escort a coffin with the remains of a man who died from COVID-19 at a funeral home in Johannesburg on Sunday. South Africa has the highest numbers of diagnosed infections in Africa and ranks fifth in the world after the U.S., Brazil, India and Russia. (Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images)

Australia's hard-hit Victoria state on Monday posted a new daily record of 532 new coronavirus cases, and the government leader warned that a lockdown in the city of Melbourne would continue while infected people continue to go to work.

Melbourne is almost halfway through a six-week lockdown aimed at curbing community spread of coronavirus. Mask-wearing in Australia's second-largest city became compulsory last week.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said the biggest driver of the new infections was people continuing to go to work after showing symptoms.

"This is what is driving these numbers up and the lockdown will not end until people stop going to work with symptoms and instead go and get tested," Andrews said.

Professor Brett Sutton, Victoria's chief health officer, looks on during a press conference on Monday in Melbourne, Australia. Victoria has recorded 532 new cases of coronavirus and six more deaths. (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

In England, a pet cat has tested positive for coronavirus, the British government said on Monday in the first confirmed case of an animal being infected with the virus in that country.

The British Environment Ministry said "all available evidence" suggested the cat had contracted the coronavirus from its owners, who had both tested positive.

Both the cat and the humans made a full recovery and there was no transmission to any other animals or people in the household, the ministry said.

Larry the cat is seen in Downing Street in London July 3. A cat that does not reside at 10 Downing Street has tested positive for coronavirus, the first confirmed feline case of COVID-19 in Britain. (Simon Dawson/Reuters)

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says Britain made a mistake when it decided to slap a quarantine on people traveling from Spain, saying much of the Mediterranean country had a lower coronavirus infection rate than the U.K.

"In most of Spain, the incidence (of the disease) is very much inferior to even the numbers registered in the United Kingdom," Sanchez said.

The move is a new blow to any hopes of reviving Spain's tourism industry by extending guidance advising against all non-essential travel — which already applied to mainland Spain — to include the Balearic and Canary Islands.

Last year, Britons made up over a fifth of foreign visitors to Spain, which relies heavily on tourism.

With files from CBC News and Reuters

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