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Italy extends state of emergency over coronavirus: Live updates | News

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  • Italy’s upper house of parliament has approved a request by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to extend a state of emergency until October 15.
  • Lebanon has agreed to reinforce a nationwide lockdown from July 30 until August 3 after a spike in new cases threatens to overwhelm its healthcare system.
  • Germany‘s foreign ministry has advised holidaymakers not to travel to several Spanish regions – including Catalonia, home to Barcelona – that have seen  coronavirus  infection rates rise.
  • More than 16.5 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. Some 9.6 million patients have recovered, and more than 655,000 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Here are the latest updates:

Tuesday, July 28

20:45 GMT – US teacher’s union backs strikes to ensure schools reopen safely

One of the largest United States teachers’ union is authorising its members to strike if their schools plan to reopen without proper safety measures in the middle of the global pandemic.

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which represents 1.7 million school employees, issued a resolution on Tuesday saying it will support any local chapter that decides to strike over reopening plans.

The group says school buildings should open only in areas where coronavirus infections are low enough and if schools enact certain safety measures.

Read more here.

Teachers

A high school teacher holding a sign during a protest calling for schools to enforce mask wearing and to implement other safety measures ahead of schools reopening in Salt Lake City, Utah [AP Photo/Rick Bowmer]

20:15 GMT – Donald Trump Jr’s Twitter account locked over COVID-19 video

Twitter Inc has said that it has reined in access to Donald Trump Jr’ s account for 12 hours because a tweet he had posted violated the social media site’s misinformation policy on COVID-19.

The eldest son of US President Donald Trump had posted a video on Monday of doctors talking about the drug hydroxychloroquine, that was removed by Twitter.

The video was also taken down by Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc-owned YouTube after racking up millions of views, for breaking their rules on COVID-19 misinformation.

Read more here.

Don Jr.

Twitter suspended the account of Donald Trump Jr for 12 hours because of violations to the platform’s misinformation policy [File: Carlos Barria/Reuters]

19:32 GMT – Major League Baseball postpones Marlins games through Sunday

Major League Baseball (MLB) has postponed all Miami Marlins games through Sunday due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the team, it has said in a statement.

17 members of the organisation have tested positive over the last five days, according to multiple reports.

“Given the current circumstances, MLB believes that it is most prudent to allow the Marlins time to focus on providing care for their players and planning their Baseball Operations for a resumption early next week,” the league said in a statement.

19:15 GMT – Italian PM Conte wins backing to extend emergency period

Italy’s upper house of parliament has approved a request by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to extend until October 15 a state of emergency, expanding his government’s powers.

Opposition parties had objected, accusing Conte of trying to keep too much power in his own hands despite a dramatic fall in the rate of contagion. However, the upper house Senate passed the measure by 157 votes to 125 in the 319-seat chamber.

19:00 GMT – Florida deaths surpass 6,000 with single-day record

Florida has reported 191 coronavirus-related deaths in the past 24 hours, the highest single-day rise since the start of the epidemic, the state health department has said.

Florida’s total death toll has now surpassed 6,000. The US’ third most populous state is now second only to California in total number of COVID-19 cases with 441,997, an increase of 9,230 from the day before.




Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate moves into late-stage trial

18:28 GMT – Ecuador opens mobile testing centres as hospitals fill up

Authorities in Ecuador are deploying new sanitary mobile centers to ramp up testing and ease pressure on the health system.

Quito has become Ecuador’s COVID-19 hotspot, with total cases recently overtaking those in Guayaquil, the country’s second-largest city, which in March and April suffered one of Latin America’s worst outbreaks.

Quito now has 12,747 cases, with Ecuador’s total case count exceeding 82,000, according to figures released by the Health Ministry on Tuesday. Some 600 people have died in the capital, out of 5,584 deaths across the Andean nation.

18:15 GMT – NY’s Cuomo to investigate crowded Chainsmokers concert

New York’s governor says he is “appalled” by videos showing crowds standing close together at a Hamptons concert featuring electronic music duo The Chainsmokers over the weekend.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state Department of Health will investigate “egregious social distancing violations”.

Read more here.

Andrew Cuomo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to investigate whether the concert caused ‘illegal reckless endangerment of public health’ [File: Mike Segar/Reuters]

17:45 GMT – Portugal’s popular Madeira makes masks compulsory in public

Wearing masks in public will be compulsory at all times on the popular Portuguese island of Madeira from August 1, the local government has announced on Tuesday, making it the first region in the country to adopt such a measure.

Madeira, popular for its wine and green landscape, has managed to keep its tally of coronavirus cases low since the pandemic started. It has reported 105 infections, with no new cases since Saturday.

“The use of the mask is exactly to show those who visit us the reason why we have these results,” said the region’s general health secretary, Pedro Ramos.

The use of masks in closed spaces and public transport is already compulsory in Madeira but now those on the streets must wear masks too.

A woman wearing a protective face mask walks at Comercio square, as the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Lisbon, Portugal, June 26, 2020. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

A woman walks at Comercio square in Lisbon, Portugal [File: Rafael Marchante/Reuters]

17:19 GMT – France reports 14 more deaths, raising total to 30,223

French health authorities have reported 14 new deaths, taking the total to 30,223, a figure twice as high as the daily average increase of seven seen over the last week.

In a statement, authorities said the number of people in hospital for COVID-19 went down again, pursuing a two-month downward trend.

17:03 GMT – Georgia governor withdraws emergency request to stop Atlanta mask mandate

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has withdrawn his emergency request for a court to stop enforcement of Atlanta’s requirement that faces masks be worn in all public places, while mediation over the state’s legal effort to block the mandate proceeds.

Kemp sued Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the city two weeks ago to stop enforcement of the local mandate, aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. The governor argued that the city lacks the authority to override his order encouraging but not requiring face coverings.

16:50 GMT – Italian PM seeks to extend emergency period

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has asked parliament to extend a state of emergency, which expands his government’s powers.

Opposition parties objected that Conte was trying to keep too much power in his own hands despite a dramatic fall in the rate of contagion.

“The virus continues to evolve and has not run its course. It would be incongruous to abruptly suspend such an effective measure,” Conte told the upper house, the Senate.

However, he drew back from requesting an extension until the end of the year, saying he only wanted a renewal until October.

16:46 GMT – Malta says 65 rescued migrants test positive

Sixty-five migrants who were in a group of 94 people rescued at sea and brought to Malta on Monday have tested positive for COVID-19, Malta’s health ministry has said.

It was the single largest cluster of positive cases detected on the Mediterranean island since the first case came to light in the country on March 7.
The health ministry said 85 of the migrants had been tested so far, with a further nine still awaiting a test.




Hundreds of rescued migrants arrive in Italy

16:44 GMT – Pfizer CEO says negotiating with EU on contract for vaccine: interview

Drugmaker Pfizer Inc is in concurrent talks with the European Union as well as several of its member states to sell them the COVID-19 vaccine candidate it is developing, Chief Executive Albert Bourla has said in an interview.

“We are negotiating with the EU because that would be much easier. But also we are having extensive discussions with several member states, just in case we can’t find agreement with the EU,” Bourla said.

16:33 GMT – Trump pushes anti-malaria drug, Fauci checks him

A week after appearing to project a more serious tone about the coronavirus, President Donald Trump is back to pushing unproven claims that an anti-malaria drug is an effective treatment and challenging the credibility of the nation’s leading infectious disease expert.

Dr Anthony Fauci pushed back Tuesday, saying he will keep doing his job.

Read more here.

Fauci Trump side eye

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, disagrees with the US president on the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine [File: Leah Millis/Reuters]

15:12 GMT – Belarus president says he had asymptomatic coronavirus

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has said he has had the coronavirus without any symptoms and had already recovered from it, the BelTA news agency has quoted him as saying.

“Today, you are meeting a man who managed to survive the coronavirus on his feet. Doctors came to such a conclusion yesterday. Asymptomatic,” Lukashenko said during a meeting with the military.

The 65-year-old leader has resisted calls to impose lockdown measures or close the borders to contain the spread of the pandemic in the eastern European country.

14:38 GMT – Lebanon reinstates lockdown measures after virus rebound

Lebanon has agreed to reinforce nationwide lockdown measures after a spike in new cases threatens to overwhelm its healthcare system.

On Saturday, Lebanon recorded 175 new cases, its highest daily number of infections.

To stem a larger outbreak, the government ordered a lockdown from July 30 until August 3, Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad said after a cabinet meeting.

The lockdown will be suspended from August 3 until August 6, with restaurants and cafes allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity while nightclubs, bars, indoor pools and public parks remain closed.

Lebanon, a country of some six million people, has recorded a total of 3,879 cases of COVID-19, including 51 deaths.

14:28 GMT – Fauci: Marlins’ outbreak endangers 2020 season

Dr Anthony Fauci fears the growing outbreak of the coronavirus within the Miami Marlins could threaten the 2020 baseball season.

Fauci said on ABC’s Good Morning America programme that Major League Baseball still has time to curb the spread of the pandemic.

“This could put it in danger,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“I don’t believe they need to stop, but we just need to follow this and see what happens with other teams on a day-by-day basis.”

The Marlins completed a three-game series in Philadelphia on Sunday but opted not to fly back to Miami after more than a dozen cases of COVID-19 were confirmed by positive tests.

14:24 GMT – Phillies baseball game postponed as players await COVID-19 test results

The Philadelphia Phillies game against the visiting New York Yankees on Tuesday has been postponed as some members of the home team await COVID-19 test results following their weekend series versus the Miami Marlins, a source has told Reuters.

The decision to postpone the second Phillies game in as many days follows their three-game season-opening series versus Miami, who have had a number of players test positive for the coronavirus.

14:08 GMT – Spain ‘safe’ for tourists despite virus spike: government

Spain remains a “safe” destination for tourists despite a rise in coronavirus infections in some parts of the country, the government has insisted.

The remarks came after the UK reimposed a 14-day quarantine on anyone arriving from Spain, and France and Germany warned against travel to certain parts of the country following a spike in cases.

“We want to send a clear message of confidence in our country,” said government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero after the weekly cabinet meeting.

“We are a secure destination that has made preparations and strengthened itself to deal with the virus and any outbreaks.”

14:03 GMT – Turkey plans to reopen all schools as long as virus keeps receding

Turkey plans to reopen schools nationwide on August 31, to get students back into classrooms and free up working parents, assuming a recent stabilisation in coronavirus cases holds.

Teachers and administrators are preparing on-site health precautions, but two government sources told Reuters that the daily infection rate may need to dip below the more than 900 seen recently to allow them to execute what they called Plan A.

Schools shifted to distance education in March, when Turkey identified its first case and began restricting movement.

13:50 GMT – Global air traffic won’t return to pre-crisis level before 2024: IATA

World air traffic will not return to levels seen before the coronavirus pandemic until at least 2024, the   International Air Transport Association has said.

Uncertainty about the timing of border reopenings is the main factor weighing on international traffic, IATA’s finance chief Brian Pearce told a news conference.

13:46 GMT – Spain approves new funding lines for companies, first tranche of 8 billion euros

The Spanish government has approved a new set of state-backed credit lines of up to 40 billion euros ($46.9bn) to help mitigate the effects of the coronavirus, Spain’s economy minister, Nadia Calvino, has said.

Speaking after the weekly cabinet meeting, Calvino said that the first tranche of this new aid package would amount to around eight billion euros, of which five billion euros would go mainly to small and mid-sized companies.

13:40

Hello, this is Mersiha Gadzo in Toronto, Canada taking over the live updates from my colleague Elizabeth Melimopoulos in Doha, Qatar.

12:30 GMT – Real Madrid’s Diaz tests positive

Real Madrid forward Mariano Diaz has tested positive for COVID-19, the Spanish champions said, casting doubt on his participation in their Champions League tie at Manchester City next week.

Real said tests were conducted on the squad on Monday and that although Diaz was in “perfect health”, he would be self-isolating at home.

12:00 GMT – Coronavirus sharpening hunger in southern Africa, says bloc

Nearly 45 million people in 13 countries in southern Africa are food-insecure as a result of drought and flood and the impact of coronavirus, the region’s bloc has said.

The tally has risen almost 10 percent over last year, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) said in a report.

“Common climate-induced shocks … economic challenges and poverty have been further exacerbated by the devastating impact of COVID-19 on communities,” it said. Coronavirus restrictions have badly affected business activity, jobs and remittances.

11:45 GMT – Madrid tightens coronavirus restrictions

The Madrid regional government is making the wearing of face masks mandatory in all public areas, limiting how many people can gather in one place and targeting young people in a drive to stamp out new outbreaks of the coronavirus.

Regional government head Isabel Diaz Ayuso announced that no more than 10 people can be present at private gatherings.

Ayuso also said an information campaign will focus on young people, who are largely blamed for spreading the coronavirus through their social lives. She said young people “have it in their hands to reverse the trend”.

11:30 GMT – Greece to open ports to cruise ships on Saturday

Greece has announced it will open six of its big ports to tourist cruise ships starting on Saturday, after they were banned because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“All cruisers are welcome in Greece,” Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis said on Tuesday. The country is to open the ports in Athens, Rhodes, Heraklion on Crete, Volos, Corfu and Katakolon, he added.

11:15 GMT – No indication new coronavirus is seasonal: WHO

The spread of the novel coronavirus does not appear to be impacted by seasonality, the World Health Organization has said, warning against false beliefs that summer is safer.

“Season does not seem to be affecting the transmission of this virus,” WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters in a virtual briefing.

She pointed out that some of the hardest-hit countries are currently in the middle of different seasons.

11:00 GMT – Barcelona’s soaring COVID-19 cases cause concern

Infection rates have been soaring in Spain with more than one thousand new cases reported on a daily basis in Catalonia.

It is feared the regional capital, Barcelona, will become the epicentre of the virus.

Al Jazeera’s Marta Herrero reports from Barcelona:

10:45 GMT – South Asian animal sellers go online for Eid al-Adha

Millions of goats, sheep and cattle are slaughtered annually during Eid al-Adha – the festival of sacrifice – one of two major holy days observed by Muslims across the world, including some 600 million in South Asia.

The pandemic has, however, badly hit India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, which have shut or heavily restricted major markets, while fears of catching the virus are keeping customers away ahead of the main festival on Saturday.

Faced with deserted markets, livestock breeders and traders have turned to websites, apps and social media to showcase their animals.

Read more here. 

animal sellers online

Muhammad Naeem uploads a picture of goats on his website ahead of Eid al-Adha in Islamabad, Pakistan [Aamir Qureshi/AFP]

10:30 GMT – Iran registers a record 235 coronavirus deaths in 24-hour period

Iran has reported 235 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, a record toll for a single day in the Middle East’s hardest-hit country.

“We have lost 235 of our compatriots due to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours,” taking the overall toll to 16,147, said health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari.

10:15 GMT – PM Khan warns of possible Eid al-Adha coronavirus spike

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has warned citizens to continue to strictly follow government guidelines on limiting interactions, warning of a possible new surge in cases after the Islamic holy day of Eid al-Adha later this week.

Khan’s warning came as the country registered its lowest single-day rise in cases in almost three months, according to the latest government data.

Read more here. 

Pakistan Eid coronavirus

People wear protective masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus at a cattle market set up for Eid al-Adha in Peshawar, Pakistan [Muhammad Sajjad/AP]

10:00 GMT – Australia sends medical team to Papua New Guinea as cases rise

Australia said it was sending a medical team to help Papua New Guinea fight an outbreak of coronavirus after the neighbouring country experienced a rise in infections.

The Pacific nation, which had escaped the infection levels of its neighbours since the crisis escalated in March, has recorded an increase in new cases in the past week, according to data analysis firm Worldometer.

There were 62 confirmed virus cases as of late Tuesday, up from just eight infections 11 days ago.

09:30 GMT – Spain lockdown leaves one million jobless

The coronavirus epidemic has destroyed the jobs of over a million Spaniards, but with lockdowns preventing them from looking for work, they were excluded from the unemployment count, data showed. 

Figures published by the National Statistics Institute (INE) showed the number of unemployed rose by only 55,000 between April and June to 3.4 million.

That pushed the unemployment rate to 15.3 percent from 14.4 percent in the first quarter.

Spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Barcelona

The number of unemployed rose by only 55,000 between April and June to 3.4 million [File: Reuters]

09:15 GMT – IMF approves $4.3bn emergency loan to South Africa

The International Monetary Fund has approved a $4.3bn emergency loan to South Africa as it reels under the coronavirus pandemic.

The country has the world’s fifth-largest virus caseload, and confirmed cases are approaching half a million.

The IMF said South Africa was seeing a “sharp economic contraction,” though authorities responded swiftly to this latest crisis. The government weeks ago announced an historic $26bn economic relief package.

 

09:00 GMT – Rise in German virus numbers of ‘great concern’: health agency

The rapid rise in Germany’s coronavirus numbers is very worrying, the country’s Robert Koch Institute for disease control said on Tuesday, urging citizens to keep their distance and wear face masks.

“We must prevent that the virus once again spreads rapidly and uncontrollably,” RKI head Lothar Wieler told reporters.

“The latest developments in the number of COVID-19 cases is of great concern to me and all of us at the RKI,” he said.

Separately, Germany’s foreign ministry updated its travel advisory, recommending against travel to three regions in northern Spain grappling with renewed outbreaks.

Germany

The head of Germany’s Robert Koch Institute, Lothar Wieler, addresses a news conference on the country’s situation amid the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, in Berlin.[AFP]

08:45 GMT – Kenya extends coronavirus curfew, restricts alcohol sales

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has extended a nightly curfew and banned alcohol sales in restaurants as part of a bid to halt a steep rise in coronavirus cases.

In a stern televised address to the nation on Monday, Kenyatta said a countrywide curfew from 9pm to 4am will remain in place for another 30 days and that “there shall be no sale of alcoholic beverages or drinks in eateries and restaurants” over the same period.

Read more here. 

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Nairobi

Kenyatta asked police to enforce the curfew rule regardless of who was found breaking it [Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters]

08:30 GMT – Nissan forecasts $6.4bn annual net loss as virus bites

Crisis-hit Japanese automaker Nissan has warned of a massive $6.4bn net loss for the current fiscal year as it reels from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Nissan, which had delayed an annual forecast because of ongoing uncertainty, issued the warning as it reported a first-quarter net loss of 285.6 billion yen ($2.7bn) on plunging sales.

08:15 GMT – Indonesia reports 1,748 new infections

Indonesia has reported 1,748 new coronavirus infections, bringing its tally to 102,051 confirmed cases overall, health ministry data showed.

The number of deaths in the Southeast Asian nation related to COVID-19 rose by 63, bringing the total to 4,901.

08:00 GMT – Taiwan probes possible first local virus case in one month as imported cases rise

Taiwan is investigating its first possible local coronavirus infection in more than a month, a Thai man who tested positive last week, as the island also faces a rise in cases brought from overseas.

Taiwan’s early response was effective in keeping the pandemic at bay, with just 467 infections and seven deaths. Most of the cases have been imported and have recovered.

Until the Thai man’s positive test, the island had not seen a local case of coronavirus infection since June 24.

07:45 GMT – Pakistan’s daily COVID-19 infections drop below 1,000

The number of infections has dropped below 1,000 for the first time in three months in Pakistan.

The country counted 936 new cases reported in the last 24 hours throughout the country of 220 million people.

Dr Zafar Mirza, special assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan, tweeted praise for Khan, urging Pakistanis to wear masks as the “most effective practice to reduce the transmission of the disease”.

07:30 GMT – Russia’s coronavirus cases surpass 820,000

Russia has reported 5,395 new cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing its nationwide tally to 823,515, the fourth largest in the world.

Russia’s coronavirus taskforce said 150 people had died over the last 24 hours, pushing the official death toll in the country of around 145 million people to 13,504.

07:15 GMT – South Africa nearing half-million virus cases

South Africa is closing in on a half-million confirmed coronavirus cases as the country posted nearly 300 deaths in a single day.

South Africa now has 452,529 cases and 7,067 deaths, making up more than half the reported cases on the African continent. It has the fifth-highest caseload in the world.

Like many others, the country has struggled with trying to ease lockdown restrictions and then seeing cases rise. But businesses have expressed frustration as unemployment is now above 30 percent and likely to keep increasing.

07:00 GMT – France to reconsider plans to build fourth terminal at Paris airport

The French government will reconsider plans to build a fourth terminal at the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport because of the impact of the coronavirus crisis, Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari has said.

“The project to receive 40 million more passengers by 2030 is probably no longer justified as it was planned,” Djebbari said on Europe 1 radio.

He said French airports would still need investment for upgrades and would have to make sure that new types of planes, such as hydrogen-powered planes, can land.

06:45 GMT – Police arrest leader of Sydney protests against racism

Police officers in Sydney have arrested a leader of an anti-racism protest and shut down the demonstration before it started after courts ruled the gathering in the city centre was illegal due to the coronavirus pandemic threat.

Organiser Paddy Gibson was among six people arrested in a park known as The Domain before the rally was due to start at noon. Two police officers were photographed leading a defiant Gibson away.

Police outnumbered protesters. Officers told demonstrators to move on as they arrived and the area was cleared 15 minutes before the scheduled start. 

06:30 GMT – Vietnam locks down its 3rd-largest city as virus cases grow

Vietnam has locked down its third-largest city for two weeks after 15 cases of COVID-19 were found in a hospital, the government said.

Public transport into and out of the central city of Da Nang was cancelled. Over the weekend, thousands of mostly Vietnamese tourists had to end their summer holidays in the popular beach destination. The lockdown has dealt a hard blow to the tourism industry, which was just being revived after earlier coronavirus cases mostly subsided at the end of April.


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


05:15 GMT – Najib crowd raises concerns about social distancing in Malaysia

Hundreds of people turned out at the Kuala Lumpur court on Tuesday, as a judge prepared to deliver his verdict in the 1MDB-corruption case involving former prime minister Najib Razak.

While many were wearing masks, not all were, and there was no physical distancing despite police announcements urging people to keep their distance.

05:00 GMT – Red Cross urges vigilance in the Philippines 

The Red Cross in the Philippines is urging people to be more vigilant as COVID-19 cases in the country jump by more than a thousand each day, and an increasing number of hospitals are reporting they can no longer accommodate more patients

More than 80,000 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19, with more than 42,000 cases confirmed in July. 

“The biggest threat is complacency as we are far from being out of the woods,” Philippine Red Chairman Richard Gordon said in a statement. “We need to act like we already have the virus and keep wearing face masks and practising proper handwashing and physical distancing.”

04:10 GMT – Japan ignores ridicule to press ahead with ‘Abenomask’

They might have been widely ridiculed as ineffective and a waste of money when first announced, but Japan is pushing ahead with plans to give 80 million “Abenomasks” to nursing homes and daycare centres.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters: “The masks are relatively low cost and help curb demand.”

Commercially-made masks are now readily available, even as cases climb, in Japan. 

02:50 GMT – Australia’s Morrison cuts short interstate tour because of coronavirus

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has cut short an interstate tour because of what he says is a “very complex” outbreak of coronavirus in nursing homes in the southern city of Melbourne, likely transmitted to them through the people working in the facilities.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has said 769 cases have been linked to nursing homes.

“I cannot stand here and tell you that I have confidence that staff and management across a number of private-sector aged care facilities are able to provide the care that is appropriate to keep their residents safe,” Andrews told reporters. 

02:30 GMT – Vietnam suspends Danang flights

Vietnam has suspended all flights in and out of the central city of Danang after a sudden spike in coronavirus cases there, the first community infections since April.

Flights will be suspended for 15 days, and train services have also been halted.

An evacuation plan for local visitors to the popular tourist destination was announced yesterday.

Vietnam Danang

A staff member from Vietnam’s Centre of Disease Control assists passengers at Danang international airport on July 27 2020 [Hoang Khanh/AFP]

02:15 GMT – China reports 68 new cases, all but four locally transmitted

Mainland China has reported 68 new cases of coronavirus, 64 of them locally transmitted.

Fifty-seven of the local cases were diagnosed in the far western region of Xinjiang, according to state media.

No deaths from COVID-19 were reported anywhere in the country. 

02:05 GMT – Australia’s Victoria reports 384 new cases

The Australian state of Victoria has reported 384 new cases of coronavirus and six deaths in the past 24 hours.

On Monday, the state reported a record 532 cases.

00:30 GMT – Peru says more than 900 women, girls feared dead 

Peru says more than 900 girls and women are feared to have died as a result of domestic violence during the country’s extended coronavirus lockdown; some 70 percent of those missing were under the age of 18.

“During the quarantine from March 16 to June 30, 915 women in Peru were reported missing,” and feared dead, Elionar Revollar, the head of the women’s rights office of the National Ombudsman was quoted as saying by AFP.

The number of women reported missing each day has risen to eight compared with five before the pandemic.

00:15 GMT – UN warns on wasting, stunting 

The UN says nearly seven million more children will suffer stunting as a result of the coronavirus pandemic affecting food supplies.

Writing in The Lancet, a team of experts modelled the impact on 118 poor and middle-income countries and found the prevalence of moderate or severe wasting among children under five would increase by 14.3 percent, or an extra 6.7 million cases.

Wasting occurs when the body is so malnourished that muscles and fat begin to disappear.

—-

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 (July 27) here.



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Indigenous man faces up to 10 years in prison for Facebook posts | Black Lives Matter News

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An Indigenous man faces up to 10 years in prison over “threats” allegedly made on social media at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests that swept across the United States last year, drawing outrage from activists and observers who say the case is part of a “heavy-handed” law enforcement response to the protest movement.

Loren Reed, 26, of Page, Arizona, was arrested on June 2, after the FBI and the Page Police Department (PPD) investigated comments on public social media and in a private group chat surveilled by police.

The complaint against Reed, filed on June 2, outlines the case and accuses him of making “a threat to unlawfully damage or destroy” the Page Magistrate Court Building by “fire”.

Facebook post

The arrest stemmed from a Facebook status posted on Reed’s account on May 30 asking people to “React to my status if you didn’t get my invite to the Page riot happening tomorrow”.

Someone responded asking him not to “torch the bars”, to which he replied: “nah. Just the courthouse”.

Following the post, a “Concerned Citizen” alerted the police about Reed’s public comments on the “Page riot” on May 30, according to documents obtained by Al Jazeera through a public information request, leading to a PPD officer to go undercover and join a private Facebook group, wherein Reed allegedly stated a desire to burn the Page courthouse, “riot” and “loot”.

Reed has been in pretrial detention since June 2. The court ruled he was a flight risk on July 14, citing the length of his possible sentence, his previous non-violent criminal history of failure to comply with court orders and providing false information to law enforcement, and his “unknown” social history.

He was formally indicted on September 29, after prosecutors filed two extensions to indict due to the coronavirus pandemic. Grassroots activist groups have urged for Reed’s release. The Tucson Anti-Repression Crew said his arrest for “organizing a protest” means his “repression is a political act”. Illinois’s Flyover Social Center urged people to “[f]ight for his release, and the release of all political prisoners.”

The conversation in the Facebook group is documented in more than 90 pages attached to the criminal complaint. It is peppered with memes and apparent humour and covers topics like systemic racism in the US, police violence, and comments by Page’s mayor about alcoholism among Indigenous communities, for which he later apologised.

Michael German, a fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty & National Security Program and former FBI agent, reviewed the Facebook conversation referenced in the indictment and said law enforcement took “an overwrought response to” what appears as “a private group of people engaging in shock talk”.

Private chat

The complaint says an undercover police officer received a private message from Reed that read: “I wanna burn down the courthouse” before inviting the officer to the private group. Throughout the chat, Reed expressed a desire to burn down the courthouse, the complaint says.

The publicly available documents do not show that Reed was in possession of fuel or supplies necessary to burn the courthouse.

Hoax threats are also illegal, German noted, “but … this is a private group, so it’s not as if they were articulating a threat that the public could have been alarmed by.”

The complaint says members of the private group also expressed “dislike for police and their willingness to engage in violence” towards police and mentions a “photograph of a box of rocks with anti-law enforcement messages painted on the rocks”.

The document further alleges that a similarly painted rock was found by PPD after being “thrown” at an officer’s house on June 2. Neither the PPD incident report nor officer body camera footage of the rock being collected obtained by Al Jazeera show allegations of it being thrown.

The complaint also mentions Reed going to a bar and yelling anti-police slogans. German noted this and other allegations of anti-police attitudes have “nothing to do with the charge of burning down the courthouse”.

The arrest and investigation came as US President Donald Trump and then-Attorney General William Barr were adopting tough, “law and order” rhetoric against sometimes violent racial justice protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis police custody. Trump vowed to designate Antifa – a decentralised movement of far-left protesters – as a “terror” organisation.

German said he feared the “hyperbolic” rhetoric surrounding “so-called ‘Antifa’” from Trump and Barr “would spark an over-aggressive police response, and this case seems to be an example of that”.

Reed’s lawyer, Doug Passon, declined to comment on the case and said he instructed Reed to do the same.

Al Jazeera spoke with several of Reed’s friends and coworkers, none of whom said Reed posed a serious threat.

One of the allegations included in the complaint covers plans to “loot” during the riot and appears to stem from this exchange in the private chat. A member writes: “people ask, why do they drink? can’t they just go home … it’s trauma at a young age that’s causing these sorts of problems”.

Another member – not Reed – responds “What pharmacies we looting tho?”, to which people responded with laughing face emojis. Reed responds: “There’s only safeway and walmart”, with more laughing reactions.

Johnathan Michael Yellick, 24, has known Reed for 10 years and described him as “spontaneous”, “open” and “talkative”. They bonded through their teen years as parts of a friend’s group, worrying about relationships and school, and going on impromptu hiking trips.

Yellick said Reed was a reliable friend and recalled driving with him for up to four hours to visit sites in Arizona and Utah like Hite Marina and Lake Powell, talking for hours about issues in their personal lives.

He said that Reed “loves making people laugh” and that dark humour was a part of Reed’s sense of humour.

Loren Reed is seen during a hiking trip in this undated photo [Al Jazeera courtesy of Johnathan Yellick]

When portions of the chat included in the complaint were described to Yellick, including the section about “looting” a pharmacy, Yelick said “that was definitely dark humour.”

Yellick was not involved in the Facebook conversation, but from his experience speaking to Reed, when serious topics arose, Reed was “talking with emotion more than anything”.

When asked if he thought Reed would engage in “terroristic threats”, Yellick replied: “Absolutely not. It would come down to the dark humour kind of thing. Never have I thought Loren would do that kind of thing.”

Reed was quoted by Forgive Everyone, an artists’ collective that does advocacy work for prisoners, as saying that the summer’s uprising opened the door to discussing issues around race and policing.

“It gave me an opportunity to say what I’ve wanted to say for years … If I tried to have these arguments beforehand, I would immediately get shut down. These things never really got brought to light until recently,” he reportedly said.

Other threats

Reed is not the only person to be arrested for comments made on social media during the racial justice protests that swept the US last year.

In July, Ebon Ellis, 25, an organiser in Evansville, Indiana, was arrested after posting a video on Facebook threatening the lives of local police and elected officials, motioning with his hand as if it were a gun and pulling the trigger.

Ellis, who is Black, was sentenced to two years’ probation and a psychiatric evaluation on November 13 after pleading guilty to three counts of felony intimidation.

Samuel Mara, a Black man reportedly commonly seen at Black Lives Matter protests in Buffalo, New York, was arrested on July 11 and accused of threatening to kill a person related to a rumoured racist counterprotest during a live video on social media. He faces a maximum of five years in prison if convicted.

When compared to other charges related to making threats and their maximum sentences, including the five-year penalty for mailing the US president a threat, Reed faces “really serious charges, a potential 10-year sentence for essentially mouthing off on the internet”, James Clark, a member the progressive National Lawyers Guild, told Al Jazeera.

Clark noted the statute under which Reed is charged, colloquially known as the federal arson statute, “is one of a series of federal criminal statutes that came out of the civil rights movement in the 1960s” used to discourage protests.

“The Federal Riot Act was passed in 1968, as part of the Civil Rights Act, after [Martin Luther King Jr] was assassinated. The civil disorder statute was passed in 1968,” Clark said. “Then the federal arson statute was passed in 1970.”

The civil disorder statute was cited in dozens of cases against protesters over the summer.

The federal riot act, informally known as the “H Rap Brown law” in reference to a then-non-violent Black activist who led the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, was cited by Barr over the summer when he promised to arrest “instigators” during the wave of unrest.

A man takes part in a march with veterans to Backwater Bridge just outside of the Oceti Sakowin camp during a snowfall as ‘water protectors’ continue to demonstrate against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline adjacent to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in 2016 [Lucas Jackson/Reuters]

Four Indigenous protesters at Standing Rock Sioux Reservation were charged with civil disorder and use of fire to commit a federal felony offense, under the federal arson statute. They all agreed to non-cooperating plea deal, which dropped the use of fire charges.

Clark said it appears these laws “sit idle until there’s another really serious … Black and Indigenous protest movement, and then they get weaponised against those movements.”

Courts have recently ruled that portions of the federal riot act, formally called the Anti-Riot Act of 1968, are unconstitutional, including those that make it a crime to “encourage” or “promote” riots, as this is protected speech.

German, who has studied far-right militancy within police forces, raised the example of social media groups on the far right, such as the “Boogaloo bois” where “you’d hear hot political rhetoric like this” with little reaction from the FBI.

German described law enforcement’s response to the summer protests as “heavy-handed”. Regarding Reed’s case, only the discovery of an “actual weapon” could “alter [his] perception”, German concluded.

When asked for comment, PPD said it acted in a “supporting role” to the FBI and directed Al Jazeera to “contact the United States Attorney’s Public Information Office for any questions you have regarding this case”.

Esther Winne, a spokeswoman for the US attorney’s office handling the case, declined to comment due to it being an ongoing case and referred Al Jazeera to a press release and public documents.

Reed’s trial is scheduled for April 6, 2021, following a January 12 continuance filed by Passon to review documents. He will have been in pretrial detention for 10 months.



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