Published: 10:00, June 26, 2020 | Updated: 23:44, June 5, 2023
WHO-led coalition needs US$31.3b to fight COVID-19
By Agencies

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, without wearing a face mask (center), greets supporters upon arrival at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, on May 24, 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (EVARISTO SA / AFP)

BRASILIA / MEXICO CITY / BOGOTA / KIEV / ABIDJAN / CAIRO / PARIS / BRUSSELS / MADRID / KIGALI / BERLIN / LONDON / LISBON / MOSCOW /GENEVA / MINSK - The World Health Organization-led coalition fighting the coronavirus needs US$31.3 billion over the next 12 months to develop and roll out tests, treatments and vaccines, it said on Friday.

It said US$3.4 billion had been contributed to date, leaving a funding gap of US$27.9 billion, of which US$13.7 billion was “urgently needed”.

The WHO initiative aims to scale up delivery of 500 million tests and 245 million courses of treatments to low- and middle-income countries by mid-2021, it said in a statement.

It also aims to scale up delivery of 2 billion vaccines doses, including 1 billion to be bought by low- and middle-income countries, by the end of 2021.

The WHO is working with a large coalition of drug-development, funding and distribution organisations under what it is calling the ACT-Accelerator Hub.

In an update on the ACT-Accelerator initiative, launched in April to speed up research and development for the new disease, the WHO and global health groups said the coronavirus pandemic is still threatening millions of lives and scores of economies.


Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro said on Thursday that he might have contracted the novel coronavirus previously and he may do another test for the disease, having already tested negative for the virus multiple times weeks earlier.

Bolsonaro had said he tested negative twice but fought a court battle to stop the release of the hospital test results, raising questions over whether he may have been infected or not.

Brazil recorded 39,483 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours as well as 1,141 deaths, the Health Ministry said on Thursday.

Brazil has registered more than 1.2 million cases since the pandemic began, while cumulative deaths total 54,971, according to the ministry.

ALSO READ: Bolsonaro threatens to withdraw Brazil from WHO

COVID-19 vaccine

It is not certain that scientists will be able to create an effective vaccine against the coronavirus that has caused the COVID-19 pandemic, but it could take a year before one were to be invented, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

Speaking by video-conference to deputies from the European Parliament's health committee, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that if such a vaccine became a reality, it should become a public good available to all.

He said the WHO had already more than a 100 candidates for a vaccine of which one was at an advanced stage of development.

"Hoping that there will be a vaccine, the estimate is we may have a vaccine within one year. If accelerated, it could be even less than that, but by a couple of months. That's what scientists are saying," he said.

Global tally

Global COVID-19 cases topped 9.6 million Friday while the global death toll surpassed 489,000, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

The United States is the worst-hit country, with more 2.4 million confirmed cases and more than 124,000 deaths. 

Countries with over 200,000 cases also include Brazil, Russia, India, Britain, Peru, Chile, Spain, Italy, Iran and Mexico.

As of Thursday afternoon, Africa's confirmed cases has surpassed 336,000 and the death toll topped 8,800, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said. 

'Very significant' COVID-19 resurgence in Europe

The WHO's repeated warning of a possible resurgence of COVID-19 in the European region has now become a reality, WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge said Thursday.

"Last week, Europe saw an increase in weekly cases for the first time in months," Kluge said at a press conference in Brussels.

The WHO official noted that 30 countries in the region had seen increases in new cumulative cases over the past two weeks, and "in 11 of these countries, the accelerated transmission has led to a very significant resurgence".

Poland, Germany, and Spain recently saw a resurgence of COVID-19 clusters at schools, coal mines, and food production facilities, according to Kluge.

Kluge warned that health systems are being brought to "the brink once again in Europe".

A member of the German armed forces takes a swab sample from a woman from Warendorf at a testing site in Oelde, Germany, June 25, 2020. (GUIDO KIRCHNER / DPA VIA AP)


Benin's total number of COVID-19 confirmed cases increased to 1,017 after the country reported 115 more infections on Thursday, according to official data.

The country also reported an additional COVID-19 related death case, taking the death toll to 14.

As of Wednesday, Benin had registered 715 COVID-19 confirmed patients under treatment, 288 patients have recovered.


The Bulgarian health authorities on Friday reported a record 166 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking its nationwide tally to 4,408.

Another 107 recoveries were also reported in the same period, raising the total number of recoveries to 2,370, according to the country's health ministry.

The death toll rose by two to 211, said the ministry, adding that 384 patients were currently hospitalized, including 16 in intensive care.


Colombia's first confirmed death from COVID-19 occurred in late February, more than a week before the Andean country originally reported its first case of the coronavirus, the government's statistics agency said Thursday.

The country had reported its first case on March 6 and what was thought to be its first death on March 21. 

But death figures published by the statistics agency show the first suspected death from COVID-19 occurred on Feb 15, while the first confirmed death took place Feb 26.

Colombia has now reported more than 77,100 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 2,491 deaths.


The Democratic Republic of Congo’s main copper and cobalt-producing province halted trade in hand-dug minerals through June 29 in order to improve controls on the industry, amid concerns that COVID-19 could hit the mineral-rich region.

Mines Minister Willy Kitobo Samsoni said Lualaba Governor Richard Muyej implemented the measure to “bring order” to the artisanal trade. Lualaba registered its first two positive COVID-19 tests on June 22, the same day Muyej announced the seven-day suspension in a letter sent to artisanal and semi-industrial mine operators seen by Bloomberg. The two people infected with the coronavirus were from the town of Fungurume.

The governor announced a lockdown in Fungurume except for mining vehicles starting June 27, Radio Okapi said. 

Congo has so far reported 6,411 confirmed cases and 142 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. There have been no known cases of COVID-19 at any of Congo’s large mines. 


Egypt confirmed on Thursday 1,569 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the country's tally to 61,130, said the Health Ministry.

Another 83 deaths were reported, raising the death toll to 2,533, while 403 more patients were discharged from hospitals after recovery, increasing the number of recoveries to 16,338,  the ministry's spokesman Khaled Megahed said in a statement.

Starting Saturday, the government will lift a partial nighttime curfew that has been imposed in the country for three months, amid a coexistence plan to maintain anti-coronavirus precautionary measures while resuming economic activities.

The decision includes the reopening of restaurants, cafes, theaters and cinemas with 25 percent of their capacity, while public beaches and parks will remain closed. Mosques and churches will also be reopened for daily prayers but weekly mass prayers will remain suspended.

Meanwhile, Egypt's national carrier EgyptAir Airlines said Thursday that it will resume flights to 24 destinations from the first week of July and will add more in the following weeks.


France is launching a "large scale" coronavirus testing campaign to identify any "dormant clusters" and to get ready for a potential resurgence of the epidemic, Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Thursday.

Speaking to Le Monde newspaper, Veran said the massive testing campaign will target people who live near previous COVID-19 risk zones and will aim to detect asymptomatic individuals who may be transmitting the virus without knowing it.

Veran said that 250,000-odd tests have already been carried out this week and 99 percent were negative.

France's COVID-19 death toll rose by 21 from the previous day to stand at 29,752, the country's health department said on Thursday.

The Eiffel Tower, France's landmark monument, reopened on Thursday with strict virus restrictions, after a shutdown of more than three months.

People queue up to visit the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, June 25, 2020 as the Eiffel Tower reopens after the coronavirus pandemic led to the iconic Paris landmark's longest closure since World War II. (THIBAULT CAMUS / AP)


Germany’s coronavirus infection rate fell to the lowest in three weeks, while the number of new cases remained well below the level at the height of the outbreak.

The reproduction factor - or R value - dropped to 0.59 on Thursday from 0.72 the previous day, according to the latest estimate by the country’s health body, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

There were 500 new cases in the 24 hours through Friday morning, up from 391 the previous day and bringing the total to 193,371, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Fatalities increased by 12 to 8,940.

According to data from RKI on Friday, the number of confirmed cases increased by 477 to 192,556, and the reported death toll rose by 21 to 8,948.

RKI announced via Twitter Thursday that Germany's official COVID-19 warning app would be "gradually" made available in international app stores. The app would also be available for download in ten European countries such as the Netherlands, France, Austria, Poland, Denmark and Bulgaria, according to RKI.


Ghana confirmed 460 cases of the novel coronavirus on Thursday, bringing the number of infections in the country to 15,473, said the Ghana Health Service (GHS).

Director-General of the GHS Patrick Kuma-Aboagye said the number of recoveries had increased to 11,431, with the addition of 353 more recoveries while the death toll remained at 95.

"We currently have 22 people who are severely ill; six of them are critical, and 3,947 active cases," Kuma-Aboagye said at the bi-weekly COVID-19 press briefing.


Ireland moves to the third stage of reopening on Monday, with domestic travel resuming, most businesses able to operate and sports restarting, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said in Dublin. 

Face coverings will be mandatory on public transport. Some restrictions on international travel will ease July 9, he said.

While warning of a possible second wave, Ireland has “prevailed,” Varadkar said. 

There have been 25,406 virus cases, with 1,727 deaths in the country.


Italy recorded 296 fresh cases of infection from the new coronavirus in the past 24 hours across the country, but total active infections decreased to 18,303 on Thursday from 18,655 on Wednesday, said the Ministry of Health in a statement.

The agency reported 37 deaths in the past 24 hours, compared with 30 Wednesday, raising the death toll to 34,678.

The overall number of COVID-19 infections, fatalities and recoveries rose to 239,706 over the past 24 hours, against a total of 239,410 cases on Wednesday, the ministry said.

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast will open its airports to international flights on July 1 after allowing domestic flights from June 26, its National Security Council said on Thursday, as it seeks to relax measures to contain the new coronavirus.

"All passengers arriving on flights will be subject to health checks and systematic follow-up during their stay in Ivory Coast," the council said in a statement.

Ivory Coast is home to Abidjan airport, one of West Africa's busiest hubs that connects flights across the region.

The country has so far reported 8,334 confirmed cases and 60 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins Univeristy.


Latvia has not reported any new COVID-19 cases for the fifth day in a row, the country's Center for Disease Prevention and Control said Thursday.

Out of the 142,794 COVID-19 tests performed so far in Latvia, 1,111 infections were confirmed. Statistics show that 903 patients have recovered and 30 have died.

Eight patients, including one severe case, are currently in hospital.

In this file photo taken on July 9, 2019, Mexican Finance Minister Arturo Herrera speaks during a press conference at the National Palace in Mexico City. (PHOTO / STR / AFP)


Mexico's Finance Ministry said on Thursday it has initiated epidemiological contact tracing after Finance Minister Arturo Herrera tested positive for the coronavirus.

Herrera, the most high-profile member of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's cabinet to test positive for the virus, said he had only "minor" symptoms.

Herrera was seen in a video standing next to his boss on Monday at the National Palace in central Mexico City where both have their offices. A photo from a week ago showed them standing close to each other and talking outside. Neither was wearing a mask to cover the mouth and nose as recommended by public health experts to limit the spread of the virus.

The president's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mexico's healthy ministry on Thursday reported 6,104 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 736 deaths, bringing the nation's total known infections to 202,951 and 25,060 deaths.


A month after it was declared coronavirus-free, Montenegro reintroduced restrictions late on Thursday, including a ban on sports events and outdoor political rallies, to try to contain a spike of new cases.

Montenegro, a tiny Adriatic nation of just 620,000 people and heavily reliant on tourism, had declared itself coronavirus-free, but has reported about 100 new cases in the past 10 days, bringing the total to 424, with nine deaths.

Its national body tasked with combating COVID-19 said it had banned religious gatherings outside places of worship, though indoor church services are still allowed.

“Funerals will be performed exclusively within family circles,” it added.

Authorities have also imposed a night-time curfew from 6 pm to 5 am in two municipalities in northern Montenegro hardest hit by COVID-19.


Morocco on Thursday announced 431 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the North African country to 11,338.

The number of recoveries rose to 8,500 after the addition of 32 new such cases while the death toll rose to 217 after one more death was recorded in the last 24 hours, said Hind Ezzine, head of the Department of Epidemic Diseases of the Ministry of Health.

Also on Thursday, Morocco began relaxing pandemic restrictions by allowing travel inside the country and reopening cafes and restaurants.


Norway will lift travel restrictions to and from European countries that meet criteria regarding their COVID-19 situation from July 15, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said on Thursday.

From mid-July Norwegians will be able to travel to all countries in the European Economic Area or Schengen without undergoing a ten-day quarantine upon return - but only if these countries respect certain criteria set by Norwegian health authorities. They include that the number of positive COVID-19 tests done in a country in the last 14 days is below 5 percent of total tests.

Likewise, European nationals will be able to travel to Norway without undergoing a ten-day quarantine, excluding Sweden.

People from mainland Sweden are not allowed into the country given the higher number of infections there. On Thursday, the whole of Sweden, including Gotland, is now restricted for travel from Norway, an updated map by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health showed.

Norway had confirmed a total of 8,793 COVID-19 cases, with 249 deaths, as of Thursday.


Portugal is set to further downgrade its coronavirus response on July 1 to a "state of alert", the lowest of three emergency levels, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Thursday.

Costa said the downgrade was possible as Portugal is experiencing a "stable scenario" in the rate of COVID-19 transmission and "there was no significant increase in new cases".

The exception will be the Metropolitan Area of Lisbon, which will move to the "state of contingency", an alternative level generally used in cities level, which is an intermediate state prescribed by the Basic Law of Civil Protection. Those living in the affected areas of the capital - a total of 19 civil parishes that do not include downtown Lisbon - will be allowed to leave home only to buy essential goods such as food or medication, and to travel to and from work.

Portugal registered six more deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, taking the death toll to 1,549, in addition to 311 new infections, bringing the country's tally of infections to 40,415.


Russia on Friday reported 6,800 new coronavirus cases, the first daily rise below 7,000 since late April, taking its nationwide tally to 620,794.

The country's coronavirus response centre said 176 people had died of the virus in the last 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 8,781.


Belarus reported 331 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Friday, taking its total to 60,713, according to the country's health ministry.

The country also reported 1,241 new recoveries in the past 24 hours, taking its total to 42,689, while 373 people with chronic diseases have died, including six over the past 24 hours, said the ministry.

As of Friday, over 939,000 tests for COVID-19 have been conducted across the country, the ministry said. 


The Rwandan Ministry of Local Government has ordered residents in some parts of the capital Kigali to stay at home during a 15-day lockdown starting from Thursday evening to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the city.

Only people who seek health services or move for other urgent reasons can go out, and workers in both government and private institutions in the affected areas were asked to work from home, the ministry said Thursday in a statement.

The ministry warned that the lockdown could be reinstated in other areas of Kigali if it was required based on health assessments.

The country has reported new COVID-19 cases for days. The health ministry reported 20 new cases on Thursday, including four in Kigali, bringing the national tally to 850.


The Senegalese Ministry of Health and Social Action announced on Thursday 104 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 6,233.

The death toll rose to 94 after one additional death was reported while the number of recoveries increased by 90 to 4,162, the ministry's spokesman Dr. Alyose Waly Diouf said.

Dr. Abdoulaye Bousso, director of the Health Emergency Operation Center of Senegal, told local media, "we are almost reaching a plateau. We are reporting around 100 cases per day, it's been almost two weeks since it lasts. This plateau can be a peak."

However, he admitted that Senegal does not have the means to "test all Senegalese", but rather targets "people with symptoms and vulnerable groups".

South Africa

South Africa’s government announced new regulations allowing the reopening of eat-in restaurants, cinemas and beauty salons, but failed to provide the health protocols they need to restart their businesses.

The amended rules, signed by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, permit the reopening of hotels, lodges, libraries, tattoo parlors and some sporting activities under strict conditions. These include limiting numbers to 50 percent of available floor space at casinos, no more than 50 people at cinemas, and less than 15 crew and performers at theaters.

The Health Ministry will publish the required safety and social-distancing measures that must be adhered to, after consultations with the cabinet, according to the regulations published on the ministry’s website on Thursday. The ban on home-sharing services, bars and nightclubs remain in force.

As of Thursday, South Africa has reported 118,375 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 6,579 new cases recorded in the previous 24 hours, the highest single-day surge since early March, according to the latest official figures. Another 87 deaths were reported in the same period, bringing the death toll to 2,292.  


Spain is set to extend until Sept 30 national furlough schemes aimed at mitigating the effect of the coronavirus lockdown under a government agreement with labour unions and the main employers' association, the labour ministry said on Thursday.

Hard-hit sectors like hospitality will receive the most support, though other industries not yet able to return to normal activity will also be included.

The extension will be approved at a cabinet meeting on Friday.

Spain's economy is reeling from the pandemic, and the country has recorded more than 28,000 confirmed deaths and nearly 250,000 confirmed cases.


The Tunisian Ministry of Health reported on Thursday two new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 1,162.

A total of 1,023 patients have recovered in Tunisia and 50 deaths have been reported, said the ministry in a statement.


Britain is working on an a plan to relax its quarantine for international travellers with some countries where there is a lower risk of contracting the novel coronavirus, Environment Secretary George Eustice said on Friday.

Another 149 COVID-19 patients have died in Britain as of Wednesday afternoon, bringing the death toll in the country to 43,230, the British Department of Health and Social Care said Thursday. As of Thursday morning, 307,980 people have tested positive for the disease in Britain, a daily increase of 1,118, according to the department.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that he could close beaches to head off any potential new round of coronavirus cases, after summer heat saw crowds of daytrippers descend on UK coastal locations.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council said emergency services had been overstretched after thousands of people flocked to Bournemouth’s beaches, gridlocking roads. Images posted on social media Thursday showed crowds filling the coastal town to enjoy the hottest day of the year so far.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay, a member of Johnson’s government, said on BBC TV’s “Question Time” program that the scenes from the coastal resort were “very disappointing,” and he urged people to show “common sense” and stay 2 meters apart. Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty also showed his concern, warning that cases of the virus may tick upwards again.

Meanwhile, earlier on Thursday, the Department of Health said England's COVID-19 test and trace system could not reach a quarter of people who had their cases transferred to the system after a positive test for the new coronavirus.

Crowds gather on a beach in Brighton, England, on June 25, 2020 as a heat wave sweeps across the United Kingdom. (GARETH FULLER / PA VIA AP)


Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Thursday that the spread of COVID-19 has entered a more serious stage, with nearly 1,000 new cases reported over the past 24 hours, according to Ukrinform news agency.

"Growth continues from week to week. We got a wave of coronavirus," said Shmyhal during an extraordinary meeting, adding that the workload of hospitals has increased significantly, with hospitals in some areas more than 50 percent full.

A total of 41,117 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 1,086 deaths were reported in Ukraine on Friday, while 18,299 patients have recovered, the country's health ministry has said.

As of Friday, 1,109 new patients tested positive for the coronavirus in Ukraine in the last 24 hours, setting a record in the country.


The resurgent coronavirus produced a record number of new cases in the US, topping the peak seen in April during the initial outbreak, after many Americans let down their guard on social distancing.

State health departments reported more than 37,000 new cases on Thursday, led by Florida, Texas, California and Arizona, surpassing the 36,188 level from April 24. Total cases in the US exceeded 2,418,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The death toll is now more than 122,000.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday reported 2,374,282 cases of the new coronavirus, an increase of 37,667 cases from its previous count, and said that the number of deaths had risen by 692 to 121,809.

The surge is particularly acute in the Sunbelt states that were among the first to ease social distancing requirements imposed to slow the spread of the virus. Vice-President Mike Pence said the administration was working closely with those states, but emphasized “in some 38 states across the country, cases are stable or even declining.”

Deaths haven’t climbed at the same rate as new cases, though. Houston-area intensive care units reached full capacity on Thursday and Governor Greg Abbott suspended elective surgeries in Texas’s biggest cities to expand hospital capacity for COVID-19 cases.

Abbott also halted the phased reopening of the state’s economy, whereas in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city will start the third phase of reopening on July 6 to add indoor dining and personal-care services, and access to basketball and tennis courts and dog runs.

READ MORE: Virus: 3 US states to quarantine arrivals from 8 hotspot states

In California, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a budget emergency in the most populous US state, blaming expenses and the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Zambian President Edgar Lungu on Thursday announced that the country will further ease its COVID-19 restrictions to spur economic growth.

Lungu said during a national address on the COVID-19 pandemic that international airports will be reopened.

Bars and night clubs will remain closed until the country starts experiencing favorable weather, Lungu said, adding that the remaining classes in schools and colleges will reopen once the cold season was over.

Zambia recorded eight new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours out of 569 tests conducted, bringing the cumulative total to 1,497 cases, 1,223 recoveries., Lungu said.