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WHO reports record global daily coronavirus cases increase: Live | News

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  • The World Health Organization reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases, with the total rising by 228,102 in 24 hours.

  • Iraqi lawmaker Ghida Kambash has died after contracting the novel coronavirus, parliament announced, its first member to succumb to the virus as its spread ramps up across the country.

  • The first coronavirus case has been confirmed in northwest Syria, aid workers have said.

Here are the latest updates.

Friday, July 10

20:13 GMT – Venezuela oil minister tests positive for COVID-19

Venezuelan oil minister Tareck El Aissami has tested positive for COVID-19, he said on Twitter, a day after the leader of the socialist party, Diosdado Cabello, tested positive for the virus as well.

“A new battle that I will take on, clinging to God and to life,” wrote El Aissami, who is also the country’s economic vice president.

Venezuela has reported 8,010 cases of the novel coronavirus so far, far fewer than other Latin American neighbors like Brazil, but its cases have risen at a brisker pace in recent weeks.

A worker of the state-oil company Pdvsa greets Venezuela's Oil Minister Tarek El Aissami during the arrival of the Iranian tanker ship

Venezuela’s Oil Minister Tarek El Aissami during the arrival of the Iranian tanker ship in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela [File: Miraflores Palace/Reuters]

19:58 GMT – Coronavirus takes greater toll on nonwhite Americans 65 and under

Coronavirus deaths among Americans ages 65 and younger are more common among nonwhites than among whites, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in a publication.

Overall, 34.9 percent of Hispanic patients who died were younger than 65, while 29.5 percent of nonwhites who died were under 65, compared to only 13.2 percent of white, non-Hispanic decedents.

Researchers analyzed 10,647 COVID-19 deaths between February 12 and April 24 from 16 public health departments in 15 states. Most of the deaths were in New York City, New Jersey and Washington state – three areas hit by the pandemic early on.

19:45 GMT – Trump postpones rally, warns China ties ‘severely damaged’ over virus

President Donald Trump was forced to cancel an election rally, further darkening his mood as he lashed out at China over the coronavirus pandemic while visiting one of the worst-hit US states.

As he jetted into Florida for a campaign fundraiser – ignoring health advice about the dangers of large gatherings – Trump warned of frayed ties with the Asian nation where the virus emerged late last year.

“(The) relationship with China has been severely damaged. They could have stopped the plague… They didn’t stop it,” he told reporters on Air Force One.

TRump

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Tulsa [File: Sue Ogrocki/The Associated Press]

19:22 GMT – Colombian capital raises coronavirus alert level after spike

Colombia’s capital Bogota, the South American country’s coronavirus epicenter, will raise its health alert level and impose a “strict quarantine,” the city’s mayor.    

From Monday the city “will begin an orange alert with the intensive care system on red alert,” said mayor Claudia Lopez.

The capital city of eight million people has recorded 42,000 coronavirus cases, amounting to 32 percent of Colombia’s 134,000 infections, and 950 deaths.

19:03 GMT – Kuwait advises against travelling abroad due to coronavirus pandemic

Kuwait advised its citizens and residents against travelling abroad at the moment due to the instability of the coronavirus pandemic, and the spread of the virus despite strict measures applied worldwide, the health ministry announced in a statement on Twitter.

Last month, Kuwait’s communications office said that commercial flights at Kuwait International Airport will resume from Aug 1, after being suspended in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

18:52 GMT – Disney World prepares to reopen as Florida posts another daily surge in COVID-19 cases

Florida confirmed its place as an emerging epicenter of the COVID pandemic in the United States by reporting its second sharpest daily rise in cases, while Walt Disney Co. prepared to reopen its flagship theme park in Orlando to the chagrin of some employees.

Florida recorded 11,433 new coronavirus cases, the state health department said, more evidence that the virus is still spreading largely unchecked throughout parts of the country.

The state experienced the surge after initially avoiding the worst of the outbreak that hit New York and other northeastern US states. 

Disney World Opens On Limited Basis To Pass Holders In Lake Buena Vista

Walt Disney World theme park is scheduled to reopen on Saturday despite a surge in new Covid-19 infections throughout Florida [File: Octavio Jones/AFP]

18:31 GMT – French coronavirus death toll rises above 30,000

France became the sixth country to report a total coronavirus death toll of more than 30,000, with the number of new confirmed cases above 600 for the third day in a row.

The health ministry said in a statement that 25 people had died from coronavirus infection in the past 24 hours, boosting the cumulative total since early March to 30,004.

Friday’s increase compares to an average increase of 15 in the previous seven days. In June, France counted on average 34 new deaths per day, in May 143 and in April 695.

17:51 GMT – Serbia reports record daily virus death toll

Serbia announced a record coronavirus death toll for a single day, as the government hit back at protests over its handling of the pandemic.

Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said the Balkan state recorded 18 fatalities and 386 new cases over 24 hours in what she described as a “dramatic increase.”

At the same time, Brnabic slammed as “irresponsible” protests held for a third straight day in Belgrade and other cities on Thursday, after demonstrations in the capital on the previous two days had spilled over into violence. 

17:25 GMT – Czech coronavirus cases top 13,000 after recent uptick

The Czech Republic reported 82 new cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing its total since the start of the pandemic above 13,000, after a recent uptick in infections caused by local outbreaks.

The country of 10.7 million has reported 352 deaths from COVID-19, far fewer than its Western European neighbours. It was one of the first European countries to impose drastic lockdown measures to fight the pandemic in March, but has lifted many restrictions since May.

Since June 18, it has reported at least 100 new cases a day 14 times, most recently on Thursday when the total was 105. The largest spike came on June 28 when 305 new cases were reported.

16:58 GMT – WHO reports record daily increase in global coronavirus cases

The World Health Organization reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases, with the total rising by 228,102 in 24 hours.

The biggest increases were from the United States, Brazil, India and South Africa, according to a daily report.

Global coronavirus cases exceeded 12 million on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally, marking another milestone in the spread of the disease that has killed more than 555,000 people in seven months.

World Health Organization (WHO) Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan attends a news conference in Geneva

World Health Organization (WHO) Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan attends a press conference amid the COVID-19 outbreak [File: Fabrice Coffrini/Reuters]

16:20 GMT – Lebanon records highest single day increase in coronavirus cases

Lebanon has recorded its highest single day increase in new COVID-19 cases for the second day in a row, with 71 cases in 24 hours.

It had confirmed a previous record 66 new infections the day before, some four-and-a-half months after the first case was reported in February.

Firas Abiad, the head of the country’s leading COVID-19 hospital, has warned of a “worrisome” trend that could overwhelm the country’s fragile health sector, which is suffering from funding shortages due to the country’s unprecedented economic crisis.

Al Jazeera’s Timour Azhari in Beirut

Lebanon resume international flights

Two-way scheduled flights resumed at Beirut’s Rafic Hariri Airport on July 1 [Anadolu]

15:56 GMT – Johnson says England may need stricter face mask rules

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said stricter rules on wearing face coverings may be needed and that he would like to see them worn more frequently in shops in England, where – unlike in Scotland – they are optional.

“I do think we need to be stricter in insisting that people wear face coverings in confined places where they are meeting people that they don’t normally meet,” Johnson said in a pre-recorded question-and-answer session with the public.

“So that’s why it’s mandatory already on public transport, and we’re looking at ways of making sure that people really do observe when you do have face coverings in shops for instance where … there is a risk of transmission,” he added.

Boris Johnson

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he delivers a speech [Paul Ellis/Reuters]

15:33 GMT – Iraqi MP dies of COVID-19 as cases jump 600 percent

Iraqi lawmaker Ghida Kambash has died after contracting the novel coronavirus, parliament announced, its first member to succumb to the virus as its spread ramps up across the country.

The 46-year-old was a three-time MP from Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, and helped pass laws on education reform and social welfare. 

After seeing a relatively slow spread in the first five months of 2020, cases spiked 600 percent in June alone, according to the International Rescue Committee.

Hospital built by benefactors in fighting Covid-19 in Sulaymaniyah

Health workers at a hospital in Kelar district of Sulaymaniyah, Iraq [Anadolu]

15:01 GMT – Russian Deputy PM proposes resuming international flights from June 15

Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova proposed that Russia resume international flights to and from the country from July 15, two weeks earlier than the scheduled date of August 1 for resuming international air travel.

Golikova said foreigners travelling to Russia would have to have proof of a negative test for COVID-19, taken in the last three days before their arrival, in order to enter the country.

14:35 GMT – Russia registers 18,375 more deaths in May 2020 than previous year

Russia registered 172,914 deaths in May, up by 18,375 or 11.9 percent from the same month the previous year, data from the state statistics service Rosstat showed.

This included 12,452 deaths of people suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, Rosstat data showed. Of these, COVID-19 was registered as the primary cause of death in 7,444 cases. 

An Orthodox Christian attends a service in a church in Moscow

An Orthodox Christian reflected in an icon during a service inside a church in Moscow, Russia [File: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters]

14:05 GMT – UK deaths from confirmed COVID-19 cases rise by 48 to 44,650

The United Kingdom’s death toll from confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose to 44,650, up 48 on the previous day, the government said. 

13:50 GMT – China suspends imports of Ecuador shrimps on coronavirus risk

China’s customs authority said it was suspending imports from three shrimp producers in Ecuador after detecting the new coronavirus in recent shipments.

It said samples taken from shipments from Industrial Pesquera Santa Priscila SA, Empacreci SA and Empacadora Del Pacifico Sociedad Anonima Edpacif had produced six positive results. However, tests on the frozen shrimp and inner packaging were negative.

Frozen seafood products made of imported shrimps are seen inside a sealed freezer at a supermarket in Beijing

Frozen seafood products made of imported shrimps inside a sealed freezer at a supermarket following a new outbreak of the coronavirus disease in Beijing [File: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters]

13:30 GMT – Finland objects to EU council’s recovery plan

Finland expressed reservations to a revised budget proposal by European Council President Charles Michel, and the massive COVID-19 recovery fund plan being debated at a special meeting next week.

Michel presented an update to a proposal for a 750-billion-euro pandemic recovery fund on Friday in the hope of winning over more frugal member states.

However, Michel did not cede ground on the main point of contention: whether aid from the recovery fund should take the form of grants or loans.

Hello, this is Arwa Ibrahim in Doha, taking over from my colleague Farah Najar. 

— 

11:56 GMT – Britain to set out its position on EU vaccine scheme later on Friday 

Britain will set out its position on the European Union coronavirus vaccine scheme later on Friday, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, adding any decision would be based on what is deemed to be in the country’s interests.

11:32 GMT – EU says UK’s refusal to join vaccine scheme not to affect talks with drugmakers

The European Commission said that a possible decision by the United Kingdom not to join an EU scheme to buy potential COVID-19 vaccines up front will not affect ongoing talks the bloc is carrying out with several drugmakers.

On Thursday, British newspaper The Telegraph reported that the UK government had decided not to join the EU scheme because of concerns there could be costly delays in securing the shots .

“The fact that the UK has apparently said they would not join up to whatever contract we are able to negotiate with producers is definitely not something that is going to influence our own negotiations with the producers,” the EU executive’s leading spokesman told a news conference.

10:20 GMT – Norway lifts many European travel curbs, including parts of Sweden

Norway will lift travel restrictions to and from more than 20 European countries from July 15, including France, Germany and Britain as well as some provinces of neighbouring Sweden, the government said.

Norway, which is not a member of the European Union but belongs to the passport-free Schengen travel zone, currently has some of Europe’s strictest limitations on travel due to the pandemic. 

09:48 GMT – WHO advance team on way to China to set up probe into virus origin 

An advance team from the World Health Organization (WHO) has left for China to organise an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, a spokeswoman said.

The two WHO experts, specialists in animal science and epidemiology, will work with Chinese scientists to determine the scope and itinerary of the investigation, WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told a UN briefing.

“They are gone, they are in the air now, they are the advance party to work out the scope,” she said.

The WHO will have no role in an independent panel, announced on Thursday, to review the global handling of pandemic, Harris said, adding: “From now on it is completely hands off”. 

09:25 GMT – Britain’s coronavirus quarantine rules end for many destinations

Quarantine measures for those travelling to Britain from around 70 countries and overseas territories, including France and Italy, no longer apply from Friday in a boost to the ailing aviation and travel industries hit by COVID-19.

Those arriving from higher risk countries will still have to self-quarantine for 14 days but many popular destinations are now exempt, meaning millions of Britons are able to take summer holidays without having to stay at home when they return.

The boss of Heathrow, Britain’s biggest airport, welcomed the move but said more was needed to facilitate travel from other low-risk countries and areas.

“There are some important long-haul markets that aren’t included, places like Canada and Singapore, which are low-risk, and we’d like to see those being included in the next review,” John Holland-Kaye told Sky News.

“We also need to think about how are we going to connect some of our really important trading partners such as the United States, which are high risk as a nation but some parts of the country are low risk.”

09:12 GMT – New Hong Kong cases stay high for third day

Hong Kong reported 38 new cases, edging down from Thursday’s 42 but broadly in line with a sharp increase that the city has registered over the past three days.

Amid concerns of a renewed community spread it had reported mostly imported cases for months, authorities said 32 of the new cases were locally transmitted, little changed from Thursday’s 34.

The total number of cases in the global financial hub since late January stands at 1,404, of whom seven have died.

08:56 GMT – Premier of South Africa’s Gauteng province tests positive  

The Premier of South Africa’s financial-hub and most populous province Gauteng, David Makhura, said he has tested positive for COVID-19, as infections in the country continue to soar.

South Africa’s confirmed cases increased by their most in a single day on Thursday, rising by more than 13,000 to 238,339 cases. Gauteng, which includes Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria, is now the epicentre of the virus with nearly 82,000 cases. 

A volunteer receives an injection from a medical worker during the country's first human clinical trial for a potential vaccine against the novel coronavirus, in Soweto

A volunteer receives an injection from a medical worker during the country’s first human clinical trial for a potential vaccine against the novel coronavirus, at the Baragwanath hospital in Soweto, South Africa [File: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters]

08:49 GMT – Indonesia reports 1,611 new infections 

Indonesia reported 1,611 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total count to 72,347, its health ministry said.

Deaths related to COVID-19 rose by 52, taking fatalities to 3,469, ministry official Achmad Yurianto told a televised news briefing. There are 33,529 people who have recovered. 

08:32 GMT – India sees more local coronavirus lockdowns as cases near 800,000

India reported a record 26,506 new coronavirus cases as authorities re-imposed lockdowns in its most populous state and in an industrial hub, home to automakers, drug factories and brewers.

The new cases pushed India’s tally to nearly 800,000 cases, the world’s third-biggest outbreak, behind only the United States and Brazil in confirmed infections.

There have been more than 21,000 deaths in India since the first case was detected there in January, federal health ministry data showed.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, anxious to jump-start an economy crippled by the epidemic and put millions of people back to work, in early June eased an initial lockdown of the 1.3 billion population imposed in March.

But rising new flare-ups of the virus has been forcing some major industrial towns and states to impose localised restrictions.

08:04 GMT – Russia’s coronavirus death toll passes 11,000 

Russia’s death toll from the coronavirus edged past 11,000, as the country reported 174 new deaths in the past 24 hours.

The country’s coronavirus crisis response centre reported 6,635 new cases, bringing its nationwide tally of infections to 713,936, the world’s fourth highest caseload.

The death toll now stands at 11,017. Russia says 489,068 people have recovered.

07:14 GMT – Kazakh president threatens to sack cabinet if COVID-19 efforts fail

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said that if the coronavirus situation in the Central Asian country does not improve by the end of its second lockdown, it would raise questions about the cabinet’s ability to work in its current composition.

Tokayev said the government would allocate an additional 150bn tenge ($363m) towards combating the outbreak and urged the central bank to lower its inflation target to 8.0-8.5 percent from 9.0-11.0 percent this year. 

07:03 GMT – Vietnam says 31 million workers impacted by pandemic, risk of rising unemployment

The economic fallout from the pandemic has negatively impacted about 31 million workers in Vietnam, with 900,000 out of work and nearly 18 million people receiving less income than before, a government agency said.

If solutions to drive business activity were not immediately implemented, there could be 5 million more people out of work by the end the year, the General Statistics Office (GSO) said.

The country’s economy has suffered, with second quarter growth at its slowest pace in at least 30 years due to the impact of the pandemic, putting the government’s 2020 economic targets well out of reach.

“Workers are being negatively impacted by being laid off or having had their working hours reduced. The number of affected workers will continue to climb in the upcoming quarters,” the GSO said in a statement.

“Urban unemployment rate in the second quarter hit the highest in 10 years, at 4.46 percent mostly because of the social distancing measure in April.” 

06:46 GMT – Bulgarian Football Union could delay next season’s start

The Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) may delay the start of the next domestic season, scheduled for July 24, after coronavirus infections at several clubs surged, its medical commission said.

More than half of top-flight clubs as well as second-tier teams have been hit by the virus, with Cherno More Varna reporting 16 cases and Cup winners Lokomotiv Plovdiv nine.

“The medical commission made a proposal for the championship to start one or two weeks later than planned,” commission secretary Mihail Iliev told Reuters news agency. “We believe it’s a reasonable step in view of the complicated epidemiological situation.”

Iliev, a former Bulgarian national team doctor, said the BFU’s executive committee would take the final decision in coming days.

06:34 GMT – Hong Kong to suspend all schools due to spike in cases

Hong Kong’s Education Bureau announced the suspension of all schools from Monday after a spike in locally transmitted coronavirus cases that has fuelled fears of a renewed community spread in the city.

Schools in the Asian financial hub have been mostly shut since February with many having switched to online learning and lessons by conference call. Many international schools are already on summer break.

The city reported 42 new cases on Thursday, of which 34 were locally transmitted, marking the second consecutive day of rising local infections.

Some of the recent cases involved students and parents, said Education Secretary Kevin Yeung.

Hong Kong Students Sit For Public Exam Amid The Coronavirus Pandemic

Temperature checks and social distancing measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19 had been put in place in schools across Hong Kong [File: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images]

06:30 GMT – Fujifilm’s Avigan inconclusive in COVID-19 patients in Japan trial

A clinical trial of Fujifilm Holdings Corp’s Avigan drug yielded inconclusive results as a treatment of COVID-19, Japanese researchers said.

Although patients given the drug early in the trial showed more improvement than those who got delayed doses, the results did not reach statistical significance, Fujita Health University researcher Yohei Doi said.

The results, announced at a news conference, followed the completion of a clinical trial conducted between March and May on 89 patients across Japan.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had said he hoped the drug would be approved as a COVID-19 treatment in May, but a shortage of patients in Japan delayed the progress of clinical trials. It has been approved as a COVID-19 treatment in Russia and India.

Hello, this is Farah Najjar taking over from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed.

05:14 GMT – Hong Kong ‘to suspend all schools’

Hong Kong is set to announce the suspension of all schools after a spike in locally transmitted coronavirus cases, the South China Morning Post reported.

The newspaper cited a medical source as saying that at least 30 more people had tested positive for the virus on Friday. Eleven of the new cases were at a public housing estate. 

The city had reported 42 new cases on Thursday, of which 34 were locally transmitted.

05:03 GMT – Australia cuts citizen returns as virus surge worsens

Australia will halve the number of citizens allowed to return home from overseas each week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, as authorities struggle to contain a COVID-19 outbreak in the country’s second-largest city.

From Monday, only 4,000 Australian citizens or permanent residents will be allowed back into the country each day, down from about 8,000 currently, Morrison said.

Those who return will also have to pay for their quarantine stays.

“The decision that we took … was to ensure that we could put our focus on the resources needed to do the testing and tracing and not have to have resources diverted to other tasks,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra after a meeting of the national cabinet.  

04:41 GMT – Pneumonia deadlier than COVID-19 in Kazakhstan, warns China

China’s embassy in Kazakhstan has warned its citizens to take precautions against an outbreak of pneumonia in the country that it says is more lethal than COVID-19.

In a statement on its official WeChat account, the embassy said there had been a “significant increase” in cases in the cities of Atyrau, Aktobe and Shymkent since mid-June. 

The disease’s mortality rate “is much higher than that of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus”, it said, noting pneumonia in Kazakhstan had killed 1,772 people in the first half of the year, with 628 deaths in June alone. The deaths included that of Chinese citizens.

Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Almaty

People queue outside a pharmacy in Almaty, Kazakhstan on June 29, 2020 [File: Mariya Gordeyeva/ Reuters]

It remains unclear whether it is caused by a virus related to coronavirus or by a different strain. The embassy said Kazakhstan’s health ministry and other health institutions were now carrying out a “comparative study”, but no conclusions had yet been made.

Kazakhstan has recorded more than 50,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 264 deaths.

04:32 GMT – California lawsuit against Trump order revoking foreign student visas

The US state of California filed a lawsuit seeking to block a Trump administration rule that could force tens of thousands of international students to leave the country if their schools hold all classes online amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Trump Administration’s unlawful policy … threatens to exacerbate the spread of COVID-19 and exile hundreds of thousands of college students studying in the United States,” a statement announcing the lawsuit said.

03:46 GMT – US posts new daily record for infections

The United States on Thursday posted 65,551 new coronavirus cases, a record for a 24-hour period, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The previous daily record was on Tuesday, with more than 60,200 cases in one day.

02:21 GMT – Algeria tightens travel restrictions

Algeria will reimpose travel restrictions on Friday and increase testing in a bid to stop a rise in coronavirus infections, the government said.

Under the measure, citizens will be barred from travelling to and from 29 provinces including the capital, Algiers, for a week starting on Friday, the government said in a statement.

The authorities last month eased restrictions, shortening a curfew – from 7pm to 7am to 8pm to 5am – in those provinces and ending it in the remaining 19.

02:12 GMT – Venezuelan socialist party leader tests positive

Diosdado Cabello, leader of the Venezuelan socialist party, said he has tested positive for COVID-19.

Cabello is considered the second-most powerful person in Venezuela after President Nicolas Maduro and made the announcement on Twitter, stating that he is isolated, getting treatment and will overcome the illness.

“We will win!” he wrote in conclusion.

VENEZUELA-CARACAZO-ANNIVERSARY

Diosdado Cabello gestures during a rally commemorating the 31st anniversary of a deadly popular revolt in Caracas on February 27, 2020 [File: Federico Parra/AFP]

01:24 GMT – Singaporeans begin voting with masks and gloves

Wearing masks and gloves, Singaporeans began casting their ballots under the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is pushing the city-state’s economy towards its deepest recession and has made concerns over jobs the focus of the election.

“I think it’s ok to vote during a pandemic because the conditions aren’t that severe at this point and all necessary precautions are being taken,” said Malini Nathan, 42, a communications executive.

“Issues I am concerned about are healthcare, job security and retirement,” Nathan said.

People vote in Singapore's general election amid Covid-19

Singapore’s President Halimah Yacob (in green) joins a queue of voters at a polling station in Singapore [Edgar Su/Reuters]

Citizens have each been given a recommended voting window.

Wearing masks is compulsory in public. And voters are expected to spend no more than five minutes in a polling station, where they will self-scan identity cards, sanitise their hands and pull on disposable gloves before receiving a ballot paper.

COVID-19 patients and those under quarantine cannot vote, but a mobile polling team will bring the ballot box to the rooms of Singaporeans who have recently returned from overseas and are being isolated at hotels.

People vote in Singapore's general election amid Covid-19

A relative helps a voter put on plastic gloves, as part of preventive measures against COVID-19 at a Singapore polling station [Edgar Su/ Reuters] 

People vote in Singapore's general election amid Covid-19

Voters sanitise their hands at a polling station during Singapore’s general election [Edgar Su/ Reuters]

Sample counts are expected soon after the close of polls at 8pm (12:00 GMT) with final results due in the early hours of Saturday.

In power since independence in 1965, the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) is expected to carry Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to another comfortable victory.

01:08 GMT – Bolsonaro ‘in good health’ after positive test

Another update on the Brazilian president – Jair Bolsonaro’s press office is saying he is in good health after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this week. 

“President Jair Bolsonaro, diagnosed with COVID-19 on [July] 7, is getting on well, without complications,” the statement says.

“He is in good health and continues to be monitored routinely by the medical team of the Presidency of the Republic.”

00:54 GMT – Bolsonaro again urges reopening of Brazil              

Two days after being diagnosed with COVID-19, Bolsonaro repeated his view that the looming economic crisis from the pandemic is more dangerous than the virus for Brazil.

In an online broadcast from the presidential residence, the Brazilian president said mayors and governors need to reopen the country for business. “Otherwise the consequences will be harmful for Brazil,” he said.

00:40 GMT – South Africa reports highest daily rise in new infections

South Africa announced on Thursday its highest daily number of confirmed coronavirus cases with 13,674.

Africa’s most developed country is now a hot spot in the global pandemic with 238,339 total confirmed cases. Gauteng province, which contains Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria, is home to more than a third of the total cases.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said South Africa could run out of available hospital beds within a month.

00:18 GMT – Mexico posts record single-day rise in cases

Mexico on Thursday posted a fresh record for new coronavirus cases reported on a single day, with 7,280 cases, bringing its overall tally of infections to 282,283, health ministry data showed.

The country also recorded 730 additional deaths, bringing its overall death toll to 33,526.

Mexico’s previous one-day record was posted a day earlier on Wednesday, when 6,995 new cases were registered.


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives.

You can find all the key developments from yesterday, July 9, here.



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The Latest: Africa CDC begins study into virus antibodies | World News

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JOHANNESBURG — The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a continent-wide study has begun into antibodies to the coronavirus after evidence indicated that more people have been infected than official numbers show.

Director John Nkengasong told reporters the study will include all African countries, but the ones showing interest to start in the coming weeks are Liberia, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Nigeria and Morocco.

That’s after surveys in Mozambique found antibodies in 5% of households in the city of Nampula and 2.5% in the city of Pemba. And yet Mozambique has just 2,481 confirmed cases.

Nkengasong says, “What is important is far fewer people are coming down with the disease. How many people are infected and asymptomatic on our continent? We don’t know that.”

Africa’s young population, with a median age of 19, has been called a possible factor.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Virus exposes economic, racial divide in French health care

— ‘Impossible’: School boards are at heart of reopening debate

— Experts warn Spain is losing the 2nd round in virus fight

— Like many countries, Rwanda is finding it impossible to test each of its citizens for the coronavirus amid shortages of supplies. But researchers there have created an approach that’s drawing attention beyond the African continent.

German authorities worked through the night to clear a backlog of coronavirus tests from travelers after it emerged 900 people who were positive for COVID-19 had yet to be informed.

— A puzzling new outbreak of the coronavirus in New Zealand’s largest city has grown to 17 cases, with officials saying the number will likely increase further. And a lockdown in Auckland designed to extinguish the outbreak could be extended well beyond an initial three days.

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— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

THESSALONIKI, Greece – A Greek prosecutor has ordered an investigation into a string of infections at a retirement home in northern Greece, where 33 of the 150 residents and three staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.

Authorities say 20 people from the home at Asvestochori, a village outside the northern city of Thessaloniki, were taken to a hospital Wednesday with mild symptoms. The disease is believed to have been spread by a staff member who caught it from a relative who had visited a popular holiday resort.

The investigation was ordered Thursday.

Greece has seen a major rise in COVID-19 infections, which reached 262 on Wednesday — the highest since the virus outbreak.

The country of 11 million has registered about 6,200 confirmed cases, and 216 deaths.

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THIMPU, Bhutan — The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has imposed its first nationwide lockdown due to a virus infection in a returning traveler who had been released from quarantine.

The government issued a stay-at-home order for its approximately 750,000 people, and all schools, offices and commercial establishments were closed.

The government’s statement said the lockdown would be enforced from five to 21 days “to identify and isolate all positive cases, immediately breaking the chain of transmission.”

The 27-year-old Bhutanese woman returning from Kuwait tested negative in mandatory quarantine for arriving travelers. But between her discharge from quarantine and her positive test result Monday, she is believed to have traveled extensively in Bhutan.

The tourism-dependent country closed its borders to foreign travelers in March after an American tourist was hospitalized with COVID-19. Bhutan’s 113 reported infections were all quarantined travelers, except for one with conflicting test results.

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MELBOURNE, Australia — The coronavirus outbreak centered in Australia’s second-largest city showed a decline in new infections Thursday, though the state’s leader urged continued vigilance.

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said there were 278 new infections and eight new deaths, down from around 700 daily at the peak of the outbreak.

Daniels said the lower numbers indicate the lockdown restrictions in Melbourne are working but urged people to stay the course.

“We would just caution against any Victorian thinking that we aren’t in the midst of a real marathon,” Daniels said. “This is an endurance race, and we need to stay the course on this. We need to be as vigilant each and every day.”

Meanwhile, neighboring New South Wales state, which includes Australia’s largest city Sydney, recorded 12 new cases and one death.

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SEATTLE — The Seattle school board has voted unanimously to begin the academic year with remote teaching only.

The Seattle Times reports the state’s largest school district approved the plan Wednesday.

The remote learning plan passed with a wide-ranging amendment from school board members that directs the superintendent to explore creating outdoor classes. It also reinforces teaching of Black studies and curricula developed by Indigenous communities.

But the district’s plans are far from set because it is still bargaining with the teachers union. Those discussions will set the parameters for how teachers spend their time and for the support the district will provide in an online learning environment.

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BEIJING — New locally transmitted cases of the coronavirus reported in China have fallen into the single digits, but Hong Kong is seeing another rise in hospitalizations and deaths.

China’s National Health Commission said Thursday that eight new cases were registered in the last 24 hours in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, whose main city of Urumqi has enacted lockdown measures and travel restrictions. An additional 11 cases were brought by Chinese returning from overseas.

Hong Kong, meanwhile, has 62 new cases, up from 33 on Wednesday, along with an additional five deaths.

The semi-autonomous southern Chinese city has required masks be worn in all public settings and limited indoor dining among other measures to curb a new outbreak.

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 56 new cases of the coronavirus as clusters continue to pop up in cities.

The figures announced by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday brought the caseload to 14,770 infections, including 305 deaths. Forty-three of the new cases were from the Seoul area and two were from Busan, the country’s second-largest city, where infections have been reported at schools and among foreign cargo ship workers.

South Korean authorities have employed an aggressive test-and-quarantine campaign against COVID-19, using mobile-phone location data and credit-card records to trace contacts and smartphone tracking apps to monitor tens of thousands quarantined at home.

Visitors at nightclubs, baseball stadiums and other facilities deemed as “high-risk” must register with smartphone QR codes so they can be easily located when needed.

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UNITED NATIONS — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the cordonavirus pandemic not only threatens gains in fighting poverty and building peace but risks exacerbating existing conflicts and generating new ones.

The U.N. chief told a Security Council meeting Wednesday that his March 23 call for an immediate cease-fire in conflicts to tackle the virus led a number of warring parties to deescalate or stop fighting. But, he added, “regrettably, in many instances, the pandemic did not move the parties to suspend hostilities or agree to a permanent ceasefire.”

Guterres predecessor as secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, told the council it is astonishing that the world has locked down billions of people, closed borders and suspended trade, but has failed to put conflicts on hold.

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British holiday home owners in France tell of quarantine worries | World news

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British tourists cancelling trips to France because they may have to quarantine for 14 days on their return might be upset, but the owners – often British too – of the places they had booked to stay are losing more than just a holiday.

“For every potential visitor, there’s an owner who depends on that rental for their livelihood,” said Gavin Quinney, who runs a large farmhouse gîte in Créon near Bordeaux and is now staring at a blank late August and a very shaky September.

“You can understand people hesitating, for all sorts of reasons. But we’re going to have to work out what the rules are, what’s fair, because there are people who are really suffering from the permanent stop-start uncertainty of this summer.”

France is reportedly “on the cliff-edge” of being removed from the British government’s list of quarantine-exempt destinations amid a continuing rise in infections, with a decision expected by the end of the week.

The country, visited by 12 million Britons a year, has a rolling weekly average of nearly 1,700 new infections a day and an infection rate of 30.4 per 100,000 inhabitants. Boris Johnson has said the UK will “not hesitate” to impose fresh quarantine restrictions if the government deems them necessary.

In its latest update on Tuesday, the French national health agency said the circulation of the virus was “progressing and intensifying in mainland France”, with infections “affecting all age groups, particularly young adults”. The prime minister, Jean Castex, said the country had to “get a grip of itself again”.

Quinney, who with his wife, Angela, runs a successful vineyard producing red and white wines also mainly for the UK market, had “as good as written off” the 2020 season but has been fully booked since early July when the UK lifted its previous quarantine requirement for travellers returning from France.

Coronavirus deaths in France – graph

“There was massive demand,” Quinney said. “But the possibility of a new quarantine is a real issue. It clearly doesn’t bother some – they work from home, or don’t believe it will be enforced. But for many others it’s a major concern. And everyone’s rolling their eyes at what people definitely see as government ineptitude.”

Several late summer and early autumn bookings have been cancelled, he said, or people are holding off making the final payment. “We’re having to call up, ask them to commit, and return their money if they can’t,” he said. “If there’s a possibility of replacing a booking we can’t afford a last-minute no-show.”

Many owners have no alternative source of income. Phil Davies runs a small, specialist complex of six apartments near Perpignan aimed at families with young children. Despite the fact a proportion of his bookings are from continental European customers, he reckons earnings are at least 50% down.

“Our customers tend to be quite careful people,” he said. “So this year has been specially hard. Among British customers at least, there’s a real ‘once bitten, twice shy’ mentality. A feeling that the government did it before with quarantine, with very little notice, so it can do it again.”

Davies said the British government’s communication had been neither clear, reassuring nor timely. “People are confused, some are frightened, and many are ashamed,” he said, adding that rather than a blanket quarantine the government should consider the regional approach to infection risk adopted, for example, by Germany.

“That would make a really massive difference,” he said. “The Germans say: ‘Avoid Brittany’, and they test people on the day they come back then again six days later. That way your family life isn’t ruined; your work life isn’t ruined. Where we are here – the Pyrénées-Orientales – has been very little affected.”


Davies said customers had pulled out, or tried to put off paying the balance of their bill until the last possible moment. “For a small business, that can cause real cashflow problems,” he said. “Even if they postpone and move their deposit on to next year, that’s income lost for this year. It’s made customer relations very hard.”

For some families, he said, the possibility of having to quarantine was not as alarming as a potential Foreign Office warning against all but essential travel to France, which would invalidate their travel insurance. “But in general, the list of worries is really quite extensive,” he said.

“People are concerned about their travel insurance; about whether their kids will be able to go back to school on time; about having to take annual holiday or unpaid leave to cover any quarantine … You can understand. But for us, it’s really not easy.”

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US Commander: Islamic State Threat in West Syria Growing | World News

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By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Elements of the Islamic State group are working to rebuild in western Syria, where the U.S. has little visibility or presence, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East warned on Wednesday.

In the region west of the Euphrates River where the Syrian regime is in control “conditions are as bad or worse” than they were leading up to the rise of the Islamic State, said Gen. Frank McKenzie. “We should all be concerned about that.”

McKenzie said insurgents are operating with some degree of freedom, and he said the U.S. and its allies have little hope the Syrian regime will do anything to tamp down the group there.

Speaking online to a United States Institute of Peace from his U.S. Central Command office in Tampa, McKenzie said that the slow-moving effort to transfer people out of Syrian refugee camps has been further complicated and delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. And that, he said, fuels concerns about the radicalization of people — particularly the youth — in the camps, which officials worry are breeding grounds for IS insurgents.

The al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria is home to as many as 70,000 people — mostly women and children — who were displaced by the ongoing civil war in Syria and the battle against IS. Many fled as the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces cleared out the last pockets of land held by IS last year.

Leanne Erdberg Steadman, the USIP director for countering violent extremism, said getting people out of the camps is key to having them abandon violence and secure a new future. Officials said that there have now been the first few reported cases of COVID-19 at al-Hol.

McKenzie said concerns about blocking the spread of the virus among European allies and other nations in the region has complicated efforts to repatriate camp residents to their home nations.

Repatriation is the key to clearing out the refugee camps, and the U.S. has aggressively pushed to get allies to take their own citizens back. Most nations, however, are reluctant to take in potential IS insurgents. And the potential spread of COVID-19 is now an added fear.

Humanitarian groups say many of the women and children are not risks, but officials also note that there are a lot of women who were radicalized and active in the insurgency.

McKenzie said that unless political leaders find a way to deradicalize and repatriate the displaced people in the camps, there will be another IS resurgence in the future.

“As young people grow up, we’re going to see them again unless we can turn them in a way to make them productive members of society,” he said. “We can either deal with this problem now or deal with it exponentially worse a few years down the road.”

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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