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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 18th Jun 2020

News Highlights

Common drug shows treatment promise as pandemic rages on

WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a briefing that encouraging results from recent drug trials pointed towards 'green shots of hope,' even as the total number of deaths around the world reached close to half a million. Trial results announced by British researchers showed dexamethasone, an inexpensive steroid commonly used since the 1960s, cut death rates by a third among the most severely ill COVID-19 patients admitted to hospital.

Bicycles set to feature prominently in new normal of cities

Several countries are reimagining their attitudes towards transportation in the wake of the pandemic, with cycling emerging as a possible alternative. India wants to make its cities more livable and authorities are being told to begin implementing measures to make its streets more bicycle and pedestrian friendly. In France, vendors and repair shops are seeing high demand as the number of cylists has increased dramatically since lockdown ended.

Colombia projects over 41,000 Covid-19 deaths by end of year

An estimated 41,500 citizens would have died from Covid-19 by the end of the year, said the Colombian government to its Constitutional Court, far fewer than the 220,000 deaths that were estimated if lockdown had not been imposed by President Ivan Duque. Colombia confirmed 1,801 coronavirus deaths since March 6, though actual numbers are suspected to be much higher.

Safety in full focus as airlines resume operations

Airlines are focusing on safety precautions above all else as passengers tentatively take to the skies with restrictions easing around the world. Most airlines are advertising their High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters that are supposed to eliminate 99.9% of viral contaminants, while others have introduced safety measures such as contactless check-in and boarding.

Lockdown Exit
Brazil records its biggest ever jump in coronavirus cases and 1,282 deaths in a day
Brazil recorded 34,918 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday and 1,292 new deaths. The figures came the same day as officials said the outbreak was under control. Some Amazonian villagers are drinking tea of jambú as a treatment for Covid-19. Protests have broken out in Sau Paulo over the death of a 15-year-old body
Italy, battered by Covid-19, slowly emerges from lockdown despite deaths
Italy entered Phase 3 of its gradual release from lockdown this week as the number of deaths from coronavirus hit 26 on Monday, the lowest recorded since March 2. The number of new cases registered was 303 with 256 recorded in the hardest affected region of Lombardy. As the downward trend for both fatalities and new cases continues, nearly all businesses have gone back to work, operating in a new manner and with restrictions and what authorities insist are necessary precautions still.
Moscow Flocks to Reopened Restaurant Patios After Virus Lockdown
Moscow's outdoor restaurant verandas opened to diners Tuesday as the Russian capital continues to gradually reopen following a two-and-a-half-month coronavirus lockdown. While the patios packed with people dining in the sunshine might look like a sign that the coronavirus pandemic is grinding to a halt in Russia, cases have continued to rise in the thousands across the country. Here's a look at Moscow's first day back to dining out....
Australia’s State Borders Slowly Begin to Reopen After COVID-19
South Australia has become the first state in the country to relax its border controls imposed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. From Wednesday, travellers from Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania are allowed to enter South Australia without going into quarantine. Australia has had 7,300 confirmed coronavirus cases. 102 people have died. South Australia closed its borders to other parts of the country in March when the COVID-19 crisis was intensifying. It was an attempt to stop the spread of the disease.
Fifteen friends get coronavirus on first night out at bar after lockdown
A group of 15 friends have fallen ill with coronavirus after meeting up for a drink for the first time since lockdown restrictions were eased. Erika Crisp, 40, who lives in Florida, US, fell ill after going for a drink with friends at a bar ten days ago. So far, 10 of her friends have tested positive with four more waiting for their test results. She said she was suffering from the ‘classic’ symptoms including shortness of breath before she got her positive test result. Erika identified where and when she caught the virus, pinning it down to Lynch’s Irish Pub in Jacksonville Beach, on June 6. She has been sick for well over a week after showing symptoms just three days after the bar visit.
India to 'reimagine' streets for walkers, cyclists after coronavirus
India will make its streets and markets more accessible to pedestrians and cyclists as it emerges from one of the world’s strictest coronavirus lockdowns, a move urgently needed to curb pollution and improve liveability, urban experts said. An advisory issued by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs recommended the pedestrianisation of up to three markets in each city, and adding more bicycle lanes. City authorities must select the markets by June 30, and begin implementing short-term measures from Oct. 1, it said. “COVID-19 presents us with an opportunity to reimagine streets for people,” Durga Shanker Mishra, the ministry’s secretary, said in a statement last week.
Covid-19: Transmission fears spark bicycle frenzy in post-lockdown Paris
While Paris has long yearned to become the world’s No. 1 biking capital, it wasn’t until the coronavirus prompted widespread fears of transmission on public transport that Parisians really started to pedal. Since France began to lift its lockdown measures on May 11, the number of cyclists has exploded – and both vendors and repair shops are struggling to keep up with demand.
Exit Strategies
ITV News investigation finds majority of NHS Trusts have not completed full risk assessment on BAME staff
Back in April, the head of the NHS Sir Simon Stevens wrote to all hospital Trusts advising them to risk assess all their BAME staff. So far, so good. It's now mid-June, and we have discovered a tiny proportion of those Trusts have actually carried out all the assessments. In fact, only 14 of the 80 NHS Acute Hospital Trusts in England that replied to ITV News' inquiry have completed risk assessments of all BAME staff. And that's not all.
Coronavirus: Health minister says app should roll out by winter
Lord Bethell, the Minister for Innovation at the Department of Health and Social Care, said he was unable to give a date for its launch. But he insisted that the trial "has gone very well indeed". He was responding to questions at the Science and Technology Committee on Wednesday afternoon. "We are seeking to get something going for the winter, but it isn't the priority for us at the moment," Lord Bethell said in answer to a question about the app. He admitted that was "an expectation of management answer, saying I can't give you a date".
EU to Host Global COVID-19 Vaccine Summit
The European Union called on the international community Wednesday to ensure potential coronavirus vaccines are equally available to all nations. In a video statement, EU Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen called a global vaccine summit on June 27 at which the EU and its partners will solicit countries to pool their resources and reserve future vaccines for low- and middle-income countries.
German govt seeks ban on big events until October
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government is seeking to ban big events until at least the end of October over fears of renewed transmission of the coronavirus, according to an official draft seen by AFP. Berlin also plans for schools to return to normal operations after the summer holidays. However, recommendations for social distancing and mask wearing in shops and on public transport will stay, according to the document to be discussed by Chancellor Merkel and premiers of Germany's 16 states later today.
Spain will do PCR tests on all close contacts of Covid-19 cases
Spain’s Health Ministry and the regional governments have agreed to a stricter protocol for coronavirus testing. From now on, all close contacts of a positive case will undergo PCR testing, regardless of whether they show symptoms or not, healthcare sources told EL PAÍS. These sources said that the new document is being finalized and has been sent to the relevant health authorities: “It’s just a matter of days before it goes into effect.” Scientific groups have expressed satisfaction at the change. In recent days, several experts had voiced concerns about what they’d described as “an open crack” in the Covid-19 containment effort.
How major airlines are ramping up safety precautions so you can travel again post-lockdown
Most airlines advertise their use of High Efficiency Particulate Air or HEPA filters, which eliminate approximately 99.9% of viral contaminants in recirculated air. Some have swapped cabin crew uniforms for PPEs; while others have introduced contactless check-in and boarding procedures. Passengers can expect adapted inflight food services, prolonged airport waiting times as well as the mandatory use of face masks from take-off until landing.
Disinfection tunnels installed to protect Russia’s Vladimir Putin from pandemic
A special disinfection tunnel has been installed in the residence of Russian President Vladimir Putin outside Moscow and two more in the Kremlin, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. Reports about the tunnel spraying anyone passing through it with disinfectants appeared in Russian state media on Tuesday night.
Putin has a 'disinfection tunnel' to protect him from the coronavirus
Russian President Vladimir Putin has a “disinfection tunnel” installed at his residence to protect him from contracting the coronavirus, Russian news agency Ria Novosti reported Tuesday.
Macron Address on Phase Three of the Lockdown
President Macron tried to be very positive on his way to handle the pandemic, but his address also showed that he wasn't listening to the difficulties regarding racism issues and police violence, says Andrew Smith from the University of Chichester.
Partisan Exits
UK readers find the government's COVID-19 messages more misleading than actual fake news
Studies have suggested social media is rife with disinformation, with surveys showing a high proportion of people have been exposed to false or misleading claims about COVID-19, fueling dramatic headlines. But our six-week diary study of news audiences between April 16 and May 27 found that the vast majority of our panel of 200 participants could easily spot fake news. They found stories such as the conspiracy theory that 5G is responsible for the spread of COVID-19 or the quack remedy that gargling with saltwater cures coronavirus immediately suspect. So it wasn’t fake news being peddled on social media or conspiracy websites that was of most concern. When we asked them about what false or misleading information about COVID-19 they had encountered, many instead referenced examples of what they saw as government or media misinformation.
Coronavirus lockdown in Wales: Where do the parties stand?
Cabinet members will meet later to discuss what, if any, changes can be made to the lockdown rules in Wales. The first minister will announce their decision at a press conference on Friday. The Welsh Government's handling of the pandemic, lockdown and economic recovery is likely to feature heavily in the campaigning ahead of next May's election to the Senedd. So where do the parties stand on what should happen next?
Spain's COVID-19 Lockdown Prompts Political Backlash Over Freedom
Supporters of right-wing parties were rebelling over the way the Socialist government had imposed a state of emergency on a country unaccustomed to being told what to do. The conservative People's Party and far-right Vox party asserted that the government used the excuse COVID-19 to ride roughshod the rights enshrined in Spain’s 1978 constitution, the first since democracy returned after the death of longtime ruler General Francisco Franco three years before. One of the nations worst hit by COVID-19, Spain in March imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe to contain the epidemic. Some 47 million Spaniards could only leave their homes to buy food, for medical help or for essential work. As Spain prepared to end the state of emergency on June 21, critics said questions remain over how the minority government ran the country in the face of extraordinary circumstances.
Coronavirus: Lawyers' groups want to join lockdown legality case
A court case about the legal basis for the Alert Level 3 and 4 coronavirus lockdowns could be expanded to allow three lawyers' groups to take part. A decision is pending on whether the Auckland District Law Society, the Criminal Bar Association, and the New Zealand Law Society, will be allowed to take part in the case lawyer Andrew Borrowdale has personally taken. At the High Court in Wellington on Wednesday, Chief High Court Judge, Justice Susan Thomas, reserved her decision on the lawyers' groups application to "intervene". It appeared that the Auckland District Law Society and the Criminal Bar Association would support Borrowdale's claim that early lockdown measures were made without legal authority.
England’s ‘World Beating’ System to Track the Virus Is Anything But
Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain unveiled last month a “world beating” operation to track down people who had been exposed to the coronavirus, giving the country a chance to climb out of lockdown without losing sight of where infections were spreading. As with much of the government’s response to the pandemic, however, the results have fallen short of the promises, jeopardizing the reopening of Britain’s hobbled economy and risking a second wave of death in one of the countries most debilitated by the virus. In almost three weeks since the start of the system in England, called N.H.S. Test and Trace, some contact tracers have failed to reach a single person, filling their days instead with internet exercise classes and bookshelf organizing. Some call handlers, scattered in offices and homes far from the people they speak with, have mistakenly tried to send patients in England to testing sites across the sea in Northern Ireland
Pence Tells Governors to Repeat Misleading Claim on Outbreaks
Vice President Mike Pence encouraged governors on Monday to adopt the administration’s claim that increased testing helps account for the new coronavirus outbreak reports, even though evidence has shown that the explanation is misleading. On a call with the governors, audio of which was obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Pence urged them “to continue to explain to your citizens the magnitude of the increase in testing” in addressing the new outbreaks. And he asked them to “encourage people with the news that we’re safely reopening the country.”
Pressure piling on PM to ease lockdown amid more evidence of economic ‘disaster’
The Government is facing further pressure to cut lockdown restrictions as new figures laid bare the damage being caused to the labour market. The latest unemployment data was published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Tuesday just hours before the Prime Minister meets with his Cabinet. New figures suggested the down turn had yet to feed through fully into unemployment thanks to the job retention scheme but there was a sharp drop in the number of paid employees, down by 2.1% or 612,000 in May compared with March, and a huge increase in benefit claims. The ONS said there was a decline in hours worked by people in jobs, while jobless claims under Universal Credit jumped 23.3% month-on-month in May to 2.8 million and soared 125.9% or 1.6 million since March when the UK was placed in lockdown.
Continued Lockdown
Colombia projects 41,000 coronavirus deaths before end of 2020
Colombia’s government informed the Constitutional Court that it expects the coronavirus to kill more than 41,500 citizens before the end of the year, local media reported Tuesday. Between March 6 and Tuesday, the National Health Institute (INS) had registered 1,801 confirmed deaths of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. The real number of deaths is believed to be much higher and, according to the Health Ministry, is projected to reach 41,500 by the end of December. The number is considerably lower than the 220,000 and 310,000 who the INS in March projected to have died before mid-June had the government of President Ivan Duque not imposed a lockdown.
Colombian government aid during the coronavirus pandemic
Like many countries, Colombia has set up a system of subsidies for those who are worst off. However – and perhaps unsurprisingly given the scale of the problem – distributing aid has not been straightforward. Announced in April, the Ingreso Solidario aims to give over 3 million families three payments of COP$160,000, a total of COP$480,000 per family. The idea is to reach people who are not covered by existing programs such as Familias en Acción, Protección Social al Adulto Mayor, and Jóvenes en Acción. Given the lockdown will soon enter its third month, COP$480,000 is a little over half the monthly minimum salary of COP$877,803 and comes to about COP$5,000 per day.
Peruvians strive to make a living amid lockdown
The government established one of the first and strictest lockdown measures in the region, but desperation for food and money is forcing people to risk their lives.
Police in England and Wales far more likely to fine BAME people in lockdown
Police enforcing the coronavirus lockdown in England and Wales were almost up to seven times more likely to issue fines to black, Asian and minority ethnic people than white people, figures show. Data from police forces shows 17 were more likely to issue a penalty notice to BAME people than to white people. Two forces, Northumbria and Merseyside, were not. One senior chief constable said bias and lack of trust from certain communities may have played a role, as well as demographics. Officers had discretion on when to issue fines, and police said they followed an approach of trying to avoid enforcement, known as the four Es – engaging, explaining and encouraging, before considering enforcement. Figures obtained by Liberty Investigates, part of the civil liberties group Liberty, and the Guardian, give a force-by-force breakdown. The figures are yet to be officially released and had been requested by the home affairs committee investigation into race and policing, which met on Wednesday.
More than 100,000 carers 'forced to use food banks in UK lockdown'
Elderly spouses caring for each other and parents caring for disabled children are twice as likely as the general public to have used a food bank since lockdown, research has shown. The report, which experts said should “shock the nation”, found that more than 100,000 people doing unpaid caring for older, disabled or seriously ill relatives had been forced to use food banks since start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The figures paint a worrying picture of carers, especially those aged between 17 and 30, being under intolerable pressure. Almost 229,000 told researchers they have had someone in their household go hungry during lockdown.
Tension in Peru amid coronavirus lockdown
Tension on the streets of Lima, Tuesday, as riot police tried to remove hundreds of street vendors. Many vendors fought back… but were pulled away despite their efforts. Authorities took the forceful approach amid a nationwide lockdown to combat the country’s coronavirus outbreak. With over 230,000 cases of the virus and over 6,500 deaths in Peru, President Martin Vizcarra on Monday said the crisis was unprecedented. ''We knew this disease was going to generate a most serious crisis in our history, never before seen and that it was going to affect health, economy, employment, that is to say, the whole of society.”
Virus-hit Peru GDP plummets 40 percent
Before March, the Andean country registered 127 months of consecutive growth. Despite a lockdown in place since March 16, Peru is the second worst-hit country in Latin America after Brazil, with nearly 230,000 cases and almost 7,000 deaths from COVID-19. The centrist government of President Martin Vizcarra rolled out a series of economic measures including an aid package to more than 6.5 million homes. However, Vizcarra was later forced to extend the current quarantine until June 30, making Peru's one of the world's longest lockdowns.
Syrian refugees profoundly hit by COVID-19 economic downturn
The number of vulnerable refugees who lack the basic resources to survive in exile has dramatically surged as a result of the public health emergency. The refugee hosting communities in countries in Syria’s neighbourhood experience similar hardships. Many refugees have lost what were already meager incomes, forcing them to cut down on the most basic needs, including food and medication. Refugee households are taking on additional debt and are not able to pay their rent anymore., Serious protection risks are growing, including risks of child labour, gender-based violence, early marriage and other forms of exploitation.
Scientific Viewpoint
Brazil expected to surpass US COVID-19 cases and deaths by end of July
Brazil could surpass the US in coronavirus cases and deaths by the end of July, according to estimates from the University of Washington. The country recorded a daily record of 34,918 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, according to Reuters. Despite the growing number of cases, the country has not created a plan to tackle the outbreak.
Peru's coronavirus deaths surge past 7,000
Peru's health ministry said Tuesday that the hard-hit nation's coronavirus death toll had reached 7,056, the third-highest in Latin America after Brazil and Mexico. Officials said the number of confirmed cases is now beyond 237,000 in Peru, which has been under a nationwide lockdown for three months. With a population of 33 million, Peru has the second-highest number of confirmed cases in Latin America after Brazil.
How Trump's missteps undermined the US's recovery from pandemic
Situation could have been somewhat rescued if president backed his own administration’s efforts, experts say, but instead he has shown little leadership
UK ministers order urgent vitamin D coronavirus review
Public health officials are urgently reviewing the potential ability of vitamin D to reduce the risk of coronavirus. It comes amid growing concern over the disproportionate number of black, Asian and minority ethnic people contracting and dying from the disease, including a reported 94% of all doctors killed by the virus. A delayed Public Health England review into the reasons why BAME people are disproportionately affected, which pointed to historical racism, did not review the role of diet and vitamin D. The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) began this work last month and is considering recent evidence on vitamin D and acute respiratory tract infection in the general population. Evidence will be considered on specific population groups, including those of different ages and BAME groups.
Germany has its Covid-19 app, so where's the UK's?
Around the world, major countries are unveiling new contact-tracing apps as they emerge from lockdown. Germany has just launched a decentralised app based on the Apple and Google platform. Switzerland, Ireland and Austria are testing theirs. And Japan is said to be unveiling something similar, with the help of Microsoft, later this week. So the inhabitants of an island just off the south coast of England could be forgiven for asking - has everybody forgotten about us? Six weeks ago, a trial of the NHS contact-tracing app was launched on the Isle of Wight with great fanfare. Islanders were urged to download it, almost as a patriotic duty - with the prospect that successful testing would lead to a national rollout, at least across England, a couple of weeks later.
Mass testing is the safest way to reopen the economy and society and will cost much less than a hard lockdown, research reveals
Implementing a mass testing policy is the safest way to reopen the economy and society and has much less of a damaging impact on the economy than a hard lockdown, reveals new research from Durham University Business School. Billions of people globally have been called to stay at home. This has reduced the transmission of Covid-19 and saved lives, but brought economies to a standstill. Now countries must provide an exit roadmap that balances reopening the economy and controlling infection.
Second wave of COVID-19 a concern, experts say
Australian healthcare workers are being warned about the prospect of another spike in coronavirus cases after a second black lives matter protester in Melbourne tested positive for the virus on Monday. In recent weeks, thousands of people have defied court orders to attend the protests throughout Australia’s major cities and it is not yet known how many people may have contracted the virus as a result. The fears of a second COVID-19 outbreak come as China reports its highest virus tally in months, approximately two months after its strict lockdown measures were eased on 8 April this year.
Covid-19 immunity may last just six months, study finds
Amsterdam University researchers followed 10 people for an average 35 years Infected patients enjoyed an 'alarmingly short duration of protective immunity' Antibody levels plummeted by 50% after half a year and 75% after nine months
Coronavirus: 45% of asymptomatic patients may have lung damage
Researchers looked at studies from 16 different groups including prison inmates, cruise ship passengers and nursing home residents. About 45% of people infected with COVID-19 may never have traditional signs such as coughing, fever or shortness of breath. Among the cruise ship passengers, 54% of the 76 those who were asymptomatic had lung damage indicated on CT scans. Specifically that lad hazy, white clouds in their lungs, meaning the organs were full of fluid, bacteria or immune system cells
Pandemics result from destruction of nature, say UN and WHO
A WWF report, also published on Wednesday, warns: “The risk of a new [wildlife-to-human] disease emerging in the future is higher than ever, with the potential to wreak havoc on health, economies and global security.” WWF’s head in the UK said post-Brexit trade deals that fail to protect nature would leave Britain “complicit in increasing the risk of the next pandemic”. High-level figures have issued a series of warnings since March, with the world’s leading biodiversity experts saying even more deadly disease outbreaks are likely in future unless the rampant destruction of the natural world is rapidly halted. Earlier in June, the UN environment chief and a leading economist said Covid-19 was an “SOS signal for the human enterprise” and that current economic thinking did not recognise that human wealth depends on nature’s health.
Show me the data: US doctors skeptical of reported COVID breakthrough - The Jakarta Post
"We have been burned before, not just during the coronavirus pandemic but even pre-COVID, with exciting results that when we have access to the data are not as convincing," said Dr. Kathryn Hibbert, director of the medical intensive care unit at Harvard's Massachusetts General Hospital. Hibbert said published data would help her evaluate the findings and see which patients benefited the most and at what dose. "I am very hopeful this is true because it would be a huge step forward in being able to help our patients," she said, but added she would not change practice at this point. Steroids can suppress immune systems, warned Dr. Thomas McGinn, deputy physician-in-chief at New York's largest healthcare system, Northwell Health where, he told Reuters, physicians are using steroids on a case-by-case basis.
WHO Sees 'Green Shoots of Hope' Though Pandemic Still Rages
At its regular briefing in Geneva, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said as of Wednesday there have been more than 435,000 deaths in the Americas, Africa and South Asia, with cases still rapidly rising in some areas. But he pointed to encouraging results from drug trials this week as “green shoots of hope” amidst the ongoing pandemic. Trial results announced on Tuesday by British researchers showed dexamethasone, an inexpensive steroid commonly used since the 1960s to reduce inflammation, cut death rates by around a third among the most severely ill COVID-19 patients admitted to hospital.
Don't blame public for Covid-19 spread, says UK scientist
Prof John Drury, a member of a subgroup to the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said evidence shows that rather than mass panic or selfishness in times of emergency, people actually tend to show solidarity and cooperation. “All the government evidence shows widespread adherence to the public health measures [for Covid-19],” said the University of Sussex professor. Images of people crammed into underground trains was not down to psychological factors, Drury said, but because they had to go to work. The findings of surveys suggesting that adherence to lockdown measures in the UK is falling, particularly among younger adults, were unlikely to be down to selfishness, said Drury, noting the drop coincided with a decline in confidence in the government. Drury told the Guardian that public behaviour had often been misrepresented. “It is implicit in some politicians comments, but it was more often commentators, journalistic commentators, saying these kinds of things,” said Drury.
Coronavirus Resurgence
China's capital city has raised its alert level amid fears of a second wave
Millions of people in Beijing are now living under restrictions once again thanks to a spike in new coronavirus infections. The first new cases of coronavirus were reported in the capital on Saturday, June 13, after two men who had visited the city's large Xinfadi wholesale market reported having symptoms of the virus. It's believed that the cases are linked to the market, with the virus found in several places, including on chopping boards used to cut imported salmon.
China curtails movement, closes schools, cancels flights to contain resurgent Covid-19
Beijing has cancelled more than a thousand flights and shut its schools again after the city reported 31 new cases of coronavirus. France described the upsurge as ‘worrying’. Health officials in Beijing reported 31 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of new infections over the last six days to 137, the worst resurgence of the disease in the capital since early February. There were six new asymptomatic cases and three suspected cases, according to the city's health commission. An additional two domestic cases, one in neighbouring Hebei province and another in Zhejiang, were reported by national authorities on Wednesday, while there were 11 imported cases.
China tightens restrictions as Beijing outbreak widens
China has tightened coronavirus restrictions in Beijing, cancelling flights and closing schools in a bid to stem the outbreak in the capital. Officials said on Wednesday that 31 new cases were discovered on Tuesday, bringing the total number of infections detected in the city over the past six days to 137. The increase in the number of cases has slowed over the past four days and areas outside of the city have not yet seen a sharp uptick of infections. The Beijing outbreak has been linked to the sprawling Xinfadi market in the west of the city, which supplies most of the city’s fresh produce. The market has been shut down and several residential compounds in the same district put under lockdown.
Spotlight: COVID-19 cases surge in South Asia as countries gradually exit lockdown to reopen economies
South Asia has recently become a new hotspot of the COVID-19 pandemic with a sharp surge in confirmed cases after a number of countries started to ease restrictions this month for reopening the economy. In Bangladesh, amid a rapid increase of infections, the government was forced to reimpose a zone-based lockdown earlier this month, a few days after businesses were allowed to resume. The South Asian country initially imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 26 to curb the spread of the virus, and later extended it for several times until May 30. The government then decided to relax the restrictions starting May 31, citing the lockdown's impact on the economy and people's lives. However, as it slowly hit the economic restart button, a spurt of cases was seen with the daily caseload hovering around 3,000 and total cases almost doubling since June 1. On Tuesday, total cases in the country exceeded 94,000 after a record 3,862 new cases were detected in the last 24 hours.
Coronavirus cases in Victoria rise by 21, including 15 returned travellers
Victoria has seen its largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases in over a month, with 21 new infections recorded in the state overnight. Fifteen of the new cases were returned travellers in mandatory hotel quarantine across Melbourne, health authorities said. Of the other six cases, one was a resident at the Rosstown nursing home in Carnegie, in Melbourne's south-east, and another was a contractor working at the Stamford Plaza Hotel. One case has been linked to a staff member at an animal hospital in Sunbury, north-west of Melbourne.
New Zealand puts Covid-19 quarantine in hands of military after border fiasco
Health officials in New Zealand have made an embarrassing U-turn in the case of two women recently arrived from Britain who were infected with Covid-19 and allowed to leave quarantine without being tested – admitting the pair met up with friends when they should not have done. The initial blunder by officials who failed to test the women for the virus before they were released early from quarantine on compassionate grounds was labelled an “unacceptable failure” by the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, on Wednesday. She added that New Zealand’s defence force would now oversee the quarantine of new arrivals and audit the quarantine process. “It should never have happened and it cannot be repeated,” Ardern said.
Post-lockdown jump in coronavirus cases rattles Turkish officials
Turkey may have to adopt a harder line on social interactions following a worrying jump in coronavirus infections but it has no plans to reverse an easing of lockdown restrictions aimed at reviving the economy, officials say. This month restaurants and cafes reopened, intercity flights and car travel resumed and weekend stay-home orders were lifted. However, new COVID-19 cases have roughly doubled to 1,600 per day since June 1, official data shows. As Turks have poured into the streets, malls and parks or taken vacations - often without face masks - authorities have urged caution and said new cases are emerging in more rural central and southeastern provinces. One senior government official called the new infections a “a serious problem” and said steps may be taken after President Tayyip Erdogan chairs a cabinet meeting this week.
Months Into Virus, Biggest One-Day Case Spike Worries Iran
Months into Iran's fight against the coronavirus, doctors and nurses at Tehran's Shohadaye Tajrish Hospital still don a mask, a disposable hazmat suit and a double layer of latex gloves every day to attempt to contain a pandemic that shows no signs of slowing. The hiss of high-flow oxygen to wheezing patients, the beeps of equipment monitoring vital signs and the crinkling rustle of passing medics have become a daily symphony here and in other hospitals across the Islamic Republic. Iran reported its first coronavirus cases and deaths on the same day in February — the Middle East's first and biggest outbreak of the virus — yet it only recently saw its highest single-day spike in reported cases, followed soon by the highest daily death toll in months.
New Lockdown
Coronavirus: Berlin households in lockdown after positive tests
Authorities in Berlin have placed 369 households under quarantine after dozens of people tested positive for coronavirus. Officials in the southern district of Neukoelln said the outbreak involved homes in seven different locations and in some cases with 10 people living together. Berlin's top health official, Dilek Kalayci, urged those residing in the German capital to use a new government-backed contact tracing app, rolled out today, to help limit the spread of the virus.
Fresh lockdown in Beijing after coronavirus outbreak spreads
Beijing has imposed lockdown rules on its 21 million residents and urged them not to travel outside the capital after a coronavirus outbreak spread to four other Chinese provinces. The city recorded 31 new cases overnight, bringing the total to 137 since the first new case was identified and linked to the huge Xinfadi food market last week. Authorities in Zhejiang province said that a man who runs a business at the market had returned home with symptoms and multiple cases linked to Xinfadi have been reported in Hebei, Liaoning and Sichuan. Several other provinces are now quarantining travellers from Beijing and residents wishing to travel outside the city must now have tested negative for the virus in the previous seven days.
Beijing under partial lockdown, raises alarm level amid latest Covid-19 outbreak
Beijing on Tuesday announced a partial lockdown for the capital city and elevated its emergency response for the coronavirus to the second-highest level after reporting a cluster of infections tied to a food market. Chen Bei, deputy secretary general of the Beijing Municipal Government, said at a televised press conference on Tuesday evening that all neighbourhoods in districts that have been classified as high- and medium-risk areas will be closed immediately and all residents must stay home and take nucleic acid tests to confirm if they have been infected. No visitors will be allowed into these areas. In addition, all primary and secondary schools will switch to online learning and all universities will be closed. Entertainment venues will shut down as well.
Coronavirus in Beijing: Lockdown extended citywide as outbreak grows
Beijing's municipal government on Wednesday imposed citywide movement restrictions in an attempt to curb a fresh outbreak of coronavirus, Chinese state media reported. The "closed management" orders require that entry points to all residential communities be guarded 24 hours a day, with strict registration measures enforced and controls on movement of people. The local government also raised its COVID-19 alert level, as the outbreak has spread to multiple districts in the city. China's capital had downgraded its alert level just 10 days ago.
Beijing Returns to Lockdown After 106 COVID-19 Cases Reported in Recent Days
Beijing is reintroducing strict lockdown measures and conducting mass testing of residents after a fresh cluster of COVID-19 cases emerged in one of its largest wholesale food markets. The Chinese capital went into what state media calls “wartime mode” after 106 new cases were reported around the Xinfadi wholesale food market in Beijing’s southwestern Fengtai District. The city has deployed 100,000 epidemic control workers, put at least 28 local communities under strict lockdown, and kept closed schools, sports and entertainment facilities that were scheduled to reopen. Officials in Beijing are barring residents who live in high-risk areas from leaving the capital, and taxis and ride-sharing services have been banned from taking people outside the city.
Congo mining provinces impose new COVID-19 lockdowns
Authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo’s southeastern mining heartland announced temporary lockdowns on Tuesday in an effort to widen coronavirus testing and prevent a worrying situation from worsening, governors said. Cases have multiplied in the central African nation despite the imposition of short-term lockdowns in some urban centres and restrictions on movement. A lack of local testing has fanned fears the virus is spreading undetected.
Japan PM Abe says punishable stay-at-home orders an option if 'absolutely necessary'
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged during a parliamentary committee meeting on June 15 that the Japanese government could consider punishable stay-at-home orders to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Responding to a question asked in a House of Councillors Audit Committee meeting by Makoto Nagamine, a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Abe said, "If we were in a situation where it was absolutely necessary, we would of course look into (punishable stay-at-home measures)." But he followed the comments by saying, "It would come with wide controls on people's private rights, so we'd have to think carefully about it."