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Australia to put 300,000 under lockdown: Coronavirus live updates | News

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  • Authorities in Australia will lockdown more than 300,000 people in suburbs north of Melbourne, for a month, in a bid to contain the risk of infection after two weeks of double-digit rises in new cases. 

  • Top US infectious diseases expert Dr Anthony Fauci has warned the country could see 100,000 new coronavirus cases a day and a “disturbing” number of deaths if Americans do not start following public health recommendations.

  • More than 10.5 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, at least 5.3 million have recovered, and more than 511,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Here are the latest updates.

Wednesday, July 1

12:05 GMT – Dutch brothels reopen after virus shutdown

Dutch brothels including Amsterdam’s famed red light district reopened after a long coronavirus shutdown, with sex workers and clients having to observe new rules to prevent infection.

The Netherlands ordered all sex clubs closed in mid-March and had originally planned to keep them closed until September, but recently brought the date forward as COVID-19 cases dropped.

“I’m totally booked” for Wednesday, Foxxy, a sex worker and activist at the Prostitution Information Center (PIC) in Amsterdam, told AFP news agency, using her professional pseudonym.

11:50 GMT – Spain and Portugal reopen their shared border

Spain and Portugal reopened their shared border, which has been closed since March 16 as Lisbon sought to protect itself from new cases that were exploding across Spain.

With its only land border closed for more than three months, Portugal has weathered the epidemic better than its neighbour – 1,576 deaths from 42,141 cases compared with Spain’s 28,355 deaths from almost 250,000 cases.

11:30 GMT – Qatar eases more coronavirus restrictions as ‘peak passes’

Qatar is further easing its coronavirus restrictions, allowing a partial reopening of restaurants, mosques, beaches and parks.

Starting Wednesday, museums and libraries will also be permitted to operate in a limited capacity and under limited working hours, the country’s Supreme Committee for Crisis Management said in a statement.

Doha skyline, Qatar [Sorin/ Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

Qatar has allowed people to exercise outdoors without a face mask [File: Sorin/ Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

11:10 GMT – Infographic: How coronavirus spread across India

The number of new coronavirus cases in India has more than doubled over the past 20 days, with more than two-thirds of total cases reported in June alone.

This sharp increase has taken India from seventh-highest most affected country in the world at the end of May to fourth-highest today. Only Russia (653,479), Brazil (1.4 million) and the US (2.6 million) have more confirmed cases.

Read more here.

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10:45 GMT – EU reopens its borders to outside visitors 

The European Union has reopened its borders to visitors from 15 countries but excluded the United States, where deaths are spiking once again and a top health official warned the country was heading in the “wrong direction”.

The final list of nations safe enough to allow residents to enter the EU did not include Russia, Brazil or the US, where the daily death toll passed 1,000 on Tuesday for the first time since June 10.

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Source: Al Jazeera

10:30 GMT – Egypt reopens airports, museums, Giza Pyramids

Egypt has reopened its airports, the Egyptian museum and the famed Giza Pyramids in Cairo, for the first time in more than three months since the coronavirus closure.

The national carrier, EgyptAir, said around 2,000 passengers left Cairo’s international airport on 14 international flights on Wednesday.

Two flights carrying over 350 Ukrainian tourists landed in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada and the major resort and beach destination of Sharm el Sheikh in the southern part of Sinai Peninsula.

Egypt

Egypt has reopened its airports, the Egyptian museum and the famed Giza Pyramids in Cairo [File: Emilio Morenatti/ The Associated Press]

10:15 GMT – N. Korea reopens schools, but stays on guard against COVID-19 threat: WHO

North Korea has reopened schools, but has kept a ban on public gatherings and made it mandatory for people to wear masks in public places as part of its response to the coronavirus threat, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said. 

While North Korea has not confirmed any infections, its Ministry of Public Health has been sharing weekly updates with the WHO on steps it is taking to ward off the pandemic, said Edwin Salvador, the agency’s representative to the reclusive country.

In the latest update provided on June 19, the ministry said all educational institutions are now open, with children required to wear masks and washing stations installed.

Coronavirus North Korea

Primary school children wearing face masks as a protective measure against the COVID-19 attend a class at Hasin Primary School [FIle: Kim Won Jin / AFP]

10:00 GMT – Slovakia’s daily coronavirus cases jump back to 20

The number of new coronavirus infections in Slovakia have jumped back up to 20, the highest daily figure since a week ago and the second highest since late April.

The country was among the first to implement strict measures against the COVID-19 illness in March, which helped it to keep case numbers low. Most of those measures have now been eased.

 

09:45 GMT – Airbus to cut 15,000 jobs to survive coronavirus crisis

Airbus is cutting 15,000 jobs within a year, including 900 already earmarked in Germany, saying its future is at stake after the coronavirus outbreak paralysed air travel.

Airbus is moving swiftly to counter damage caused by a 40 percent slump in its 55-billion-euro ($61.8bn) jet business following the pandemic, balancing belt-tightening against aid offered by European governments and future priorities.

09:30 GMT – Erdogan says EU’s treatment of Turkey over coronavirus is political

President Tayyip Erdogan has said that the EU treated Turkey in a restrictive way over the coronavirus pandemic in what he said was a political stance.

He did not provide further details but his comments came after the EU excluded Turkey, along with the United States and other countries, from its initial “safe list” of countries from which the bloc will allow non-essential travel from Wednesday.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference in Istanbul

Turkey has reopened restaurants and cafes in addition to many other public areas, as the government eases coronavirus restrictions [File: Reuters]

09:15 GMT – Austria issues travel warnings for Western Balkan countries

Austria has issued travel warnings for Western Balkan countries that are not part of the EU because of an increase in coronavirus infections there, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg and his ministry said. 

Schallenberg said the measure applied to six countries. His ministry said on Twitter those are Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. 

09:00 GMT – Australia to lock down 300,000 in Melbourne suburbs 

Australia has fared better than many countries in the pandemic, with around 7,920 cases, 104 deaths and fewer than 400 active cases, but the recent jump has stoked fears of a second wave of COVID-19, echoing concerns expressed in other countries.

Globally, coronavirus cases exceeded 10 million on Sunday, a major milestone in the spread of a disease that has killed more than half a million people in seven months.

Melbourne

 Victorian premier Daniel Andrews announced lockdowns for residents of Melbourne suburbs identified as COVID-19 hotspots following a spike in new cases [Daniel Pockett/Getty Images]

08:45 GMT – Beirut airport reopens to overseas flights

Lebanon’s only international airport has reopened following a more than three-month shutdown as part of the country’s lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The airport will operate at 10 percent capacity at first, bringing in around 2,000 travelers a day.

The first flight to arrive was Emirates from Dubai. Others scheduled on Wednesday are from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, London and Paris.

Lebanon

A passenger wearing a protective face mask pushes a trolley at Beirut international airport on its re-opening day [Aziz Taher/ Reuters]

08:30 GMT – Greece reopens islands to flights in bid to save tourism season

Greece has prepared to welcome tourist flights to its island destinations for the first time in months, as it raced to salvage a tourism season shredded by the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 100 flights from other EU nations and a select group of non-EU countries are expected at 14 regional airports including Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes and Crete, airport operator Fraport said.

Flights from the United Kingdom, one of its most lucrative travel markets, are not due to restart until July 15 at the earliest, in line with EU recommendations. The same applies to the United States, Russia, Turkey and Sweden.

Greece

Mykonos hopes to Save its tourist season as Greece eases travel restrictions [Getty Images]

08:15 GMT – Russia reports 6,556 coronavirus cases 

Russia has reported 6,556 new cases of the novel coronavirus, taking its nationwide tally to 654,405.

The country’s coronavirus response centre said 216 people had died of the virus in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 9,536.

08:00 GMT – Burundi changes tack as president declares COVID-19 ‘biggest enemy’

Burundi’s new President Evariste Ndayishimiye has declared the coronavirus the country’s “biggest enemy”, in a major about-turn for a nation which has largely ignored the dangers of the virus.

Former president Pierre Nkurunziza, who died last month, and even Ndayishimiye himself, had until now downplayed the gravity of the pandemic, saying God had spared Burundi from its ravages.

Burundi held a full-blown campaign ahead of a May election, and unlike its neighbours has taken few measures to combat the spread of the virus.

Burundi

A Red Cross worker stands among supporters of Burundi’s President elect Evariste Ndayishimiye as they attend his inauguration ceremony [File: Reuters]

07:45 GMT – Beijing lifts some lockdowns as virus cases drop

Beijing has lifted several lockdowns imposed to control a fresh coronavirus outbreak and reported just three new cases in the city, raising hopes that the cluster had been brought under control.

The Chinese capital had closed off dozens of residential compounds and carried out mass testing last month after hundreds of infections raised fears of a virus resurgence.

But five residential communities that have had no new virus cases during a control period were released from lockdown on Tuesday, state media reported, as the city relaxed curbs.

07:30 GMT – Thailand eases restrictions, reopens schools

Thailand has further eased COVID-19 restrictions, allowing the reopening of schools and entertainment venues such as restaurants and massage parlors that had been shut since mid-March.

It also is allowing in foreign visitors on a controlled basis, limiting entry to those with existing family or work ties, students, technical experts, and investors. Scheduled passenger flights to Thailand were suspended in early April.

The number of foreign visitors allowed into the country each day is limited to 200, and they are supposed to travel on repatriation flights bringing Thai citizens home. 

Schools in Thailand reopen amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Students of Sam Khok school in Thailand wearing face masks and face shields sit inside old ballot boxes repurposed into partitions as they attend a class [Reuters]

07:15 GMT – Tokyo Disneyland reopens

Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea have reopened after being closed for four months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The two parks have new guidelines, including limiting the number of entrants in three shifts to maintain social distancing. No handshakes, hugging or photos taken with Mickey Mouse and other characters are allowed.

Disney Tokyo

Visitors take a photo after the reopening of Tokyo Disneyland along with Tokyo DisneySea [Reuters]

07:00 GMT – El Al Airlines hit hard in first quarter by coronavirus crisis

El Al Israel Airlines has reported a first quarter loss on a steep drop in revenue and said it has had to give up some of its fleet and release most of its workforce on unpaid leave to contend with the coronavirus outbreak.

Israel’s flag carrier is seeking state-backed loans to help it through the crisis, as foreigners are barred from entering the country and incoming Israelis must enter quarantine.

The government argues that the airline’s problems, including a bloated workforce, high salaries and a weak balance sheet, began well before the pandemic.

06:00 GMT – Tokyo confirms 67 new cases

Tokyo has confirmed 67 new cases of coronavirus infection, the highest daily tally in the Japanese capital since the state of emergency was lifted in late May, public broadcaster NHK reported.


Hi, this is Elizabeth Melimopoulos in Doha taking over the live updates from my colleague Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.


05:00 GMT – Brazil coronavirus deaths reach nearly 60,000

Brazil has reported 1,271 coronavirus deaths in 24 hours, bringing its total since the start of the pandemic to 59,656.

The country is the worst-affected in the world after the US, with more than 1.4 million confirmed cases of the virus to date.

04:15 GMT – Google delays reopening of offices in the US

Google has said it will postpone the opening of its offices in the US because of the surge in coronavirus cases there.

Spokeswoman Katherine Williams told Reuters the tech giant’s offices would remain closed until at least September 7, with staff continuing to work from home.

Google had planned to open at 10-percent capacity from July 6, rising to 30 percent in September depending on conditions.

04:00 GMT – Saudi Arabia tripling VAT as part of coronavirus-austerity drive

People in Saudi Arabia have been on a shopping spree in the run-up to a tripling in VAT on Wednesday.

Retailers say sales of electronics, gold, cars and building materials have risen noticeably.

The kingdom announced in May it would triple the VAT rate to 15 percent and halve the cost-of-living allowance given to citizens as part of a package of austerity measures as it feels the squeeze of sliding oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic.

03:20 GMT – Judge in Brazil dismisses order for Bolsonaro to wear mask

A judge in Brazil has dismissed a court ruling that requires President Jair Bolsonaro to wear a mask when out in public.

Judge Daniele Maranhao Costa said the ruling was not necessary because masks are already mandatory in Brasilia, the federal capital.

Bolsonaro, who has been dismissive of the virus, even as the toll climbed, has regularly broken physical distancing measures, shaking hands, taking selfies and hugging supporters during rallies.

02:30 GMT – US records biggest one-day rise in cases

The US recorded more than 47,000 cases of coronavirus on Tuesday – the biggest one-day spike since the pandemic began – according to a Reuters count.

Some 1,199 people also died from COVID-19 on Tuesday, the first time the death toll has exceeded 1,000 since June 10.

01:30 GMT – Cases in 14 US states more than double in June

Alarming data from the US shows that coronavirus cases in 14 states more than doubled in June, with Arizona reporting a 294-percent increase.

Arizona also has the highest rate of people testing positive for the virus – at 24 percent during the past week. The WHO considers positive testing rates of above 5 percent a concern.

US case increases in June:

  • Arizona – 294 percent
  • South Carolina – 200 percent
  • Arkansas – 179 percent

01:15 GMT – South Korea begins using remdesivir treatment

South Korea has started using remdesivir, an experimental drug originally developed for Ebola, to treat its seriously ill COVID-19 patients.

Yonhap news agency says the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed an agreement with Gilead Sciences, which holds a patent for the drug. It did not disclose the amount of remdesivir it would buy or the price.

01:00 GMT – North Korea has tested 922 people

The WHO has told NK News that North Korea has tested just 922 people for COVID-19.

This is the first update on the coronavirus situation in North Korea for two months.

“As per the update received on June 19, 922 people have been tested for COVID-19 and all tested negative,” WHO Representative to the DPRK Edwin Salvador told the publication.

He added that 443 people had been quarantined since May 7 and that as many as 255 remain under quarantine. All are reportedly North Korean nationals.

—-

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

Read all the updates from yesterday (June 30) here.



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COVID: How has the UK managed to master the vaccine roll-out? | Coronavirus pandemic News

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London, United Kingdom – When Ayesha Sharieff, a general practitioner in a south London surgery, administered the first COVID vaccines to her patients earlier this month, she was overjoyed.

“It was the best afternoon I’ve spent for a long time,” said Sharieff, who has been a doctor for 20 years. “After all these tough times we’ve been through recently, it was such a pleasure. I wanted to jump on top of my car and honk the horn.”

Each day, Sharieff and her team vaccinate up to 300 patients, currently focusing on elderly people from the area’s diverse urban population as a priority, as part of the United Kingdom’s rapid vaccine roll-out.

“I recently vaccinated a Caribbean nurse working in infectious diseases who must have been 88,” said Sharieff. “It just felt like such an honour to be doing that for her. I had tears in my eyes.”

The UK has earned cautious early praise for its vaccine roll-out, which has seen it produce double the number of vaccinations per person per day of any other European country.

This marks a significant turnaround because with the highest COVID-19 death toll in Europe, the UK government faces high levels of criticism for failing to contain the virus.

The UK became the first Western country to license a COVID-19 vaccine on December 2 when the medicines regulator approved the Pfizer-BioNTech jab [File: Phil Noble/Reuters]

More than six million people in the UK have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to date, as part of the largest vaccination programme in British history. The National Health Service (NHS) has vaccinated more than half of those aged 80 and over and more than half of elderly care home residents, both considered priorities, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.

Once those priorities have been treated, the UK will offer the vaccine to everyone over 50 and then everyone aged over 18.

‘Flexible, scalable system’

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has said it plans to offer a first dose of vaccine to every adult in Britain, who make up 51 million of its total 67.5 million population, by September.

It will soon begin a trial of 24-hour injections as it continues to add more vaccination sites to increase the pace of delivery.

Good logistics planning and significant financial investment have underpinned the early positive vaccination numbers, according to Sarah Schiffling, a supply chains expert at Liverpool John Moores University.

“We can’t underestimate the fact the UK is devoting nearly £12 billion to the purchase, manufacture and roll-out of the vaccine,” she told Al Jazeera. “But the UK is seeing the benefit of having a coordinated approach. It’s started out really well and gotten up to quite a volume of patients vaccinated very quickly and that is very promising.”

Schiffling believes the centralised nature of the NHS as well the UK’s “far-reaching delivery network” – which spans from local GPs to mass vaccination centres – has also played a key role. “It’s a flexible, scalable system and that’s been working really well so far,” she explained.

The NHS, unlike some countries that have a federal approach, has departments already in place for bulk purchasing, says Schiffling, and the UK invested quickly into materials such as syringes that are now in high demand.

“One system can work along the supply chain, and that’s worked to the UK’s advantage here,” she said.

UK adopts first dose strategy

The UK became the first Western country to license a COVID-19 vaccine on December 2 when the medicines regulator approved the Pfizer-BioNTech jab. Since then, it has also approved vaccines produced by Oxford-AstraZeneca and Moderna, but doses of the latter are not expected for months.

But unlike other nations, the UK has decided to increase the time between vaccine doses given to people from 21 days to up to 12 weeks, a decision that is thought to mean more people will get their first dose more quickly.

“The UK has prioritised getting people the first doses,” said Mark Jit, a professor of vaccine epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “This has enabled more people to be vaccinated quickly. From what we know about vaccines, the first dose gives quite good protection, especially with the Astra-Zeneca vaccine. It’s not that the second dose will be dropped entirely.”

Professor Jit says the UK’s history of previous successful campaigns has also helped the rapid roll-out.

“The UK has an advantage because it has a long history of successful vaccine introductions,” he said, pointing to the introduction of the Shingles vaccine to adults in 2013, the HPV vaccine for adolescents in 2008 and national flu campaigns. “Part of it is also good communication, so there is good public confidence in vaccines.”

Johnson poses for a photograph with a vial of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca COVID-19 candidate vaccine in Wrexham, Wales, on November 30, 2020 [File: Paul Ellis/Pool via Reuters]

But Jit added that while success in the UK’s vaccine roll-out is good news, the issue will persist while all countries still need vaccine supplies.

“This is a global issue and the pandemic won’t be solved until we address those worldwide concerns,” he said.

With England in a third national lockdown since January 2 after a highly transmissible variant helped push the number of people hospitalised with COVID-19 to record highs, for some, vaccination can’t come any sooner.

The UK is now rapidly approaching 100,000 coronavirus-related deaths, marking the worst death toll in Europe and the fifth-highest number worldwide, and some 50,000 health workers are off work due to COVID-19 infections and exposure quarantines.

“This vaccine roll-out has been one of the most uplifting things in my career,” said Sharieff, the GP. “But as it continues we will have to vaccinate larger, more diverse patient groups. We need to make sure everyone is protected equally.”



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