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Fauci warns US on coronavirus as cases surge: Live updates | News



  • Top US medical expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, is warning that the country, already “hit badly” by the coronavirus, is facing a dangerous surge in new cases. Arizona, Texas and Nevada all reported a record number of daily cases.
  • EU countries are considering banning entry to Americans as the US has failed in controlling the spread of the coronavirus, according to the New York Times.
  • Worldwide, nearly 9.2 million people have been confirmed to have the coronavirus. More than 4.6 million have recovered, while more than 474,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Here are the latest updates:

Wednesday, June 24

08:05 GMT – Emirates suspends flights from Pakistan after passengers test positive for coronavirus

Emirates has suspended flights from Pakistan after passengers tested positive for coronavirus in Hong Kong.

The Dubai state carrier, which is operating limited services due to the coronavirus pandemic, said the temporary suspension was effective June 24.

“We are co-ordinating closely with the various authorities and will review and implement any required additional measures to satisfy all parties before we resume services from Pakistan,” a spokeswoman told Reuters.

07:50 GMT – Israel, Palestinians tighten restrictions as coronavirus reemerges

Israeli and Palestinian authorities have brought back some coronavirus restrictions after the number of new cases jumped in what officials fear could herald a “second wave” of infections.

A partial lockdown went into effect in a town in central Israel and several neighborhoods in the city of Tiberias where infection rates were particularly high. The Palestinian Authority put the West Bank city of Hebron on lockdown as well.

Israel was one of the first countries to close its borders and impose restrictions when the global pandemic first emerged and the Palestinians quickly followed suit.

Palestine COVID

Israel was one of the first countries to close its borders and impose restrictions when the global pandemic first emerged and the Palestinians quickly followed suit [File: Reuters]

07:35 GMT – Austria warns against travel to German state after outbreak

Austria has issued a warning against travel to the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia after a coronavirus outbreak at a meatpacking plant there, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has said.

The move puts the state in the same category as the Italian region of Lombardy, the epicentre of Italy’s coronavirus outbreak, which was one of the worst in Europe.


German Health Minister Jens Spahn stressed that the coronavirus remains a risk after the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia put two municipalities back into lockdown [AFP]

07:20 GMT – India reports highest spike of 16,000 cases

India has recorded the highest spike of 15,968 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total to to 456,183, with Mumbai and New Delhi as the worst-hit cities in the country.

The Health Ministry also reported a record 24-hour increase of 465 deaths due to COVID-19, driving fatalities to 14,476.

Coronavirus India

New Delhi is emerging a cause of concern for the federal government and is being criticised for its poor contact tracing and a lack of hospital beds [Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters]

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

06:21 GMT – Hong Kong dismisses privacy concerns in China travel scheme

Sophia Chan, Hong Kong’s secretary for food and health, defended a planned travel scheme requiring residents of the city to share their coronavirus test results with authorities in Guangdong province in mainland China, dismissing concerns that residents’ sensitive personal data, such as medical records, could be transferred to mainland security authorities. 

Hong Kong will develop a “Health Code” system to enable “the virus test results of participants of the pilot scheme in Hong Kong to be uploaded onto the code” and shared with mainland authorities, she said. Travellers will not be required to install a mobile application, she said. 

“The … computer system will only collect basic personal information and nucleic acid test results from applicants for the purpose of applying for the ‘Hong Kong Health Code’. The development process is premised on the protection of personal privacy and the code exchange procedures must also be explicitly initiated and agreed by the applicant,” she added.

05:30 GMT – Maldives to open borders to all tourists on July 15

Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, president of the Maldives, says the island nation is opening its borders on July 15 to tourist arrivals from all countries.

The Indian Ocean archipelago’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism, and arrivals will not be subject to quarantine measures with only symptomatic travellers required to undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing at the airport, according to the tourism ministry.

Testing will be made available for travellers who require it to return to their countries or continue on their onward journeys, the ministry added.

05:08 GMT – Indonesia volunteers launch ‘alertness index’

Volunteers in Indonesia introduced an “alertness index” mapping coronavirus cases in every city and regency in the country, with the worst-affected places marked in deep red.

“At the end of the day, the public needs transparent data about their risks. With reliable and open data, they can cautiously decide whether to carry out an activity in the public sphere,” Ronald Bessie, coordinator for the KawalCOVID-9 database, was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Post.

04:59 GMT – Virus deaths surpass 100,000 in Latin America

More than 100,000 people had died from COVID-19 in Latin American by the end of Tuesday, with more than half of confirmed deaths logged in Brazil, according to tallies by Reuters and AFP news agencies.

Here is a breakdown of case-loads and death tolls in the worst affected countries:

  • Brazil – 52,960 deaths and 1,145,906 cases
  • Mexico – 23,377 deaths and 191,410 cases
  • Peru – 8,404 deaths and 260,810 cases
  • Chile – 4,505 deaths and 250,767 cases

04:23 GMT – In conflict-hit countries, coronavirus testing may not reach women

Big gaps between the number of male and female coronavirus cases in parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East suggest that women may be struggling to access testing or care, an aid agency told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

In Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen, more than 70 percent of reported cases were male, compared with a global average of 51 percent, the same in the Central African Republic, Chad and Somalia, said the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

Studies in China, Europe and the US have shown that men are more likely than women to be hospitalised and die of coronavirus, but they have not shown the same gender gap in cases as elsewhere. In most of Europe, the numbers of cases are roughly equal between men and women.

04:13 GMT – Beijing’s outbreak appears to be firmly waning

Health authorities in China reported 12 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with seven in the country’s capital, Beijing, indicating that a spike in the city appears to be on the wane.

Beijing’s outbreak saw a total of 249 people infected since June 11, most cases linked to the city’s biggest wholesale market, and led to new lockdowns and the cancellation of classes.

Since then, three million test samples have been taken from 2.43 million people in the city, a senior municipal health official said on Tuesday. The city can now conduct more than 300,000 nucleic acid tests per day, compared with 40,000 in March, said Zhang Hua, deputy director of the Beijing Health Commission.

People receive nucleic acid tests, during a government-organised visit to a testing site, following a new outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Beijing

A worker in protective suit sprays disinfectant as medical workers conduct nucleic acid tests at a testing site in Beijing [Carlos Garcia Rawlins/ Reuters]

03:00 GMT – Washington state makes face masks mandatory

Jay Inslee, the governor of the US state of Washington, ordered residents to wear face masks in public after the region saw its positive tests rise by 35 percent last week.

“This is about saving lives. It’s about reopening our businesses. And it’s about showing respect and care for one another,” Inslee said.

The states of Arizona, California, Mississippi and Nevada have reported record numbers of new cases of COVID-19 while Texas set a record on Monday. 

02:42 GMT – Mexico logs another record rise in cases

Mexico posted another record one-day increase in coronavirus cases: 6,288 confirmed infections on Tuesday and 793 more deaths, according to the Health Department. That brought Mexico’s total case-load to 191,410 and death toll to 23,377.

Officials acknowledge both are undercounts due to extremely low testing rates. Mexico has performed only about half a million tests, roughly one for every 250 inhabitants.

Mexico has also had an extremely high rate of infections among healthcare professionals. About 39,000 – 20 percent – of the country’s confirmed cases are healthcare workers. There have been 584 deaths among doctors, nurses, technicians and hospital workers.


A man has his temperature checked at Iztapalapa market in Mexico City on June 22, 2020 [Pedro Pardo/ AFP]

02:00 GMT – MSF calls on GAVI to get drugs companies to sell vaccine at cost

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and 40 civil society groups are calling on GAVI to review its pricing for future coronavirus vaccines, ahead of a Gavi board meeting due to start in Geneva later on Wednesday.

At issue is the COVAX Facility, a new mechanism Gavi developed to pay pharmaceutical companies up front for potential COVID-19 vaccines.

Among MSF’s concerns was the lack of transparency on how pricing is set by drug firms as well as the two-tier system of access to future COVID-19 vaccines bought through the COVAX Facility. Countries financed through donor assistance will only receive enough vaccines for the most vulnerable populations while wealthier nations will receive enough for a set percentage of their entire population, MSF said.

01:30 GMT – Australia records first coronavirus death in more than a month

Australia has recorded its first death from coronavirus in more than a month, as new cases continue to spike in the southern state of Victoria.

The man who died was in his 80s, health authorities said.

Victoria recorded 20 new cases overnight, taking the state’s total to 1,900.

23:45 GMT – Trump claims border wall ‘stopped’ virus

US President Donald Trump visited the border with Mexico on Tuesday and claimed it had stopped both undocumented immigration and the coronavirus.

In the blazing heat, Trump briefly stopped to inspect a new section of the wall and scrawled his signature on the concrete and rebar structure.

Trump is looking to regain campaign momentum after a poor turnout for a weekend rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

23:00 GMT (Tuesday) – ‘We’ve been hit badly’: Fauci warns US on coronavirus surge

Dr Anthony Fauci has warned that the next few weeks will be critical in stamping out coronavirus hotspots around the US.

“We’ve been hit badly,” Fauci told a House committee, adding he was “really quite concerned” about rising community spread in some states, including Arizona, where US President Donald Trump was holding a rally on Tuesday and viewing the construction of a border wall.

Fauci, who also stressed that testing would be stepped up, was speaking at the committee along with the heads of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and a top official at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Find out more about what they had to say here.

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

You can read all the updates from yesterday (June 23) here.

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‘Chilling’ crackdown on dissent in Vietnam ahead of key congress | Vietnam News



As Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party gears up for its most important meeting in years, its leadership has presided over an intensified crackdown on dissent, according to rights groups, activists and data collated by Reuters news agency.

A record number of political prisoners, longer jail terms, and increased harassment of activists in recent years have contributed to the crackdown ahead of this week’s Communist Party congress, a gathering to determine national leadership and policy that takes place once every five years.

The crackdown has left some international human rights groups and legislators questioning whether Vietnam has breached the spirit of trade agreements with Western countries – accords that have helped propel the country to a position of economic strength in Southeast Asia.

“I have been summoned by the police several times since December 9, 2020,” said Nguyen Quang A, a veteran activist in Hanoi, declining to detail the circumstances saying he was subject to an ongoing investigation. He told Reuters Vietnam’s security ministry had in recent weeks rounded up other government critics without saying why, citing his contacts with activists.

“They [the police] summon them and find reasons to convict them under those very fuzzy articles of criminal law. It completely violates the law but they use it very regularly,” said Quang A. “I’ve told them they can’t shut me up.”

Vietnam’s foreign ministry, which handles inquiries from foreign media, did not respond to Reuters’s request for comment on activist detentions.


Despite reforms and increasing openness to social change, the Communist Party of Vietnam, led by 76-year-old Nguyen Phu Trong, tolerates little criticism and controls domestic media tightly.

Vietnam drew international condemnation this month when it sentenced three freelance journalists known for criticism of the government to between 11 and 15 years in prison, finding them guilty of spreading anti-state propaganda.

Journalists Pham Chi Dung, right, Le Huu Minh Tuan, centre, and Nguyen Tuong Thuy, left, stand between police during their trial at a court in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam January 5, 2021 [VNA/Handout via Reuters]

The country’s constitution says it protects “freedom of opinion and speech, freedom of the press, access to information, to assemble, form associations and hold demonstrations”.

In reality, public criticism of the party is not tolerated, and groups which promote democratisation are targeted by the authorities in a battle playing out online on platforms like Facebook, Vietnam’s premier platform for both e-commerce and dissent.

A Reuters tally based on state media reports found 280 people were arrested for “anti-state” activities over the five years since the last party congress: 260 were convicted, many being sentenced to more than 10 years in jail. In the five years leading up to the 2016 congress, there were 68 arrests and 58 convictions.

‘Force 47’

Last year, Amnesty International said it had recorded the most “prisoners of conscience” in Vietnam since it began publishing figures in 1996 – 170, close to double the 97 recorded in 2018. Of the 170, some 70 were arrested for online activism, Amnesty said.

In late 2017, Vietnam unveiled a 10,000-strong military cyber-unit, Force 47, to counter what it said were “wrong” views on the internet. According to rights groups, the unit also recruits volunteers online to target dissidents and activists.

Reuters reviewed dozens of posts across multiple Facebook groups and pages from December and January that claimed links with Force 47. Many attacked prominent activists, including Quang A, accused by one group of creating anti-state propaganda.

A woman wearing a traditional conical hat walks past a poster for the upcoming 13th national congress of Vietnam Communist Party on a street in Hanoi, Vietnam, January 18, 2021 [Kham/Reuters]

Some group moderators were dressed in military uniform in their profile photos while others ran pages for official local branches of Communist Party organisations.

Last November, Vietnam threatened to shut Facebook down if it did not toughen rules on local political content on the platform.

Facebook’s local servers were taken offline by the government earlier last year until it agreed to significantly increase policing of “anti-state” posts by local users, a request with which Facebook previously said it complied.

A Facebook spokesman said the company faced “additional pressure” from Vietnam to restrict content last year.

‘Driver’s seat’

For some, the crackdown has a connection with fluctuations in global trade ties with Vietnam.

“During the [former US President Barack] Obama administration, pressure on rights connected with TPP [trade] negotiations helped the cause of human rights activists and political dissidents,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“The early visit of Prime Minister [Nguyen Xuan] Phuc in 2017 to the Trump White House saw human rights completely dropped from the agenda,” he said.

Robertson said trade tensions with China have also left Vietnam “in the driver’s seat” as US and European Union companies look for alternative supply chains, helping the Vietnamese economy thrive.

“The EU had an important opportunity to make real changes through the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement,” said Robertson, referring to a pact that has been a boon for Vietnam. Instead, he said, the EU “fell short, settling for vague promises … instead of substantive changes”.

EU officials did not immediately respond to Reuters’s request for comment.

After the jailing of the three journalists earlier this month, the United Nations human rights office said: “Coming just weeks ahead [of the party congress], the convictions and long sentences are not only a blatant suppression of independent journalism but also a clear attempt to create a chilling effect among those willing to criticise the government.”

The United States described the sentences as the “latest in a troubling and accelerating trend of arrests and convictions of Vietnamese citizens exercising rights enshrined in Vietnam’s constitution”.

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