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Coronavirus around the globe

Started by thaiga, March 25, 2020, 12:51:08 PM

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Australia suffers 'disturbing' COVID-19 surge, state curbs wedding parties

(Reuters) - Australia's Victoria state reported a record daily increase in COVID-19 cases on Friday while neighbouring New South Wales said it was banning dancing, singing and mingling at weddings as authorities struggle to contain a new wave of infections.

Victoria, which has forced nearly 5 million people in the country's second most populous state into a partial lockdown for more than a week, said it has found 428 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, most from community transmission.

The Victoria outbreak led to Australia posting its second biggest one-day rise in new COVID-19 infections, with 438 cases on Friday. It was largest 24-hour spike since late March, when most cases detected in Australia were people returning from overseas.

"These are large numbers today, that is disturbing," Australia's acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly told reporters in Canberra before striking a more upbeat note.

"Be patient... we are starting to get on top of the situation in Victoria."

The surge in new cases reinforced expectations that Victoria will implement tougher restrictions on residents.

"We are in the fight of our lives," Victoria state's Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos told reporters in Melbourne.

The state has already extended a ban on international arrivals by three weeks to at least Aug. 8, Melbourne Airport said.

Stricter restrictions would inevitably crimp economic activity in a country facing its first recession in nearly three decades. Data released on Thursday showed unemployment at a 22-year high.

Australia has recorded just over 11,000 cases of COVID-19.

The death toll rose to 116 after the death of three people in Victoria on Friday, still well below many other countries.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government will provide any assistance needed, as he urged against panic.

"We would not have expected to see the results of the lockdown measures put in place in Victoria as yet," Morrison told reporters.

Australia and New Zealand had hoped to open their borders to each other in September, but the start of any "travel bubble" appears to be delayed.Amid fears of a national second wave, Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews urged residents to wear masks when outside, having previously only asked those around Melbourne, the state capital, to cover their face.

Victoria's neighbours have closed inter-state borders and renewed social distancing restrictions.

New South Wales (NSW), Australia's most populous state, said it has found eight cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, mostly from community transmissions believed to have emanated from Victoria.

NSW state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said new restrictions will be imposed from next week.

Funerals and places of worship will be allowed no more than 100 people. Venues must also ensure they have 4 square metres of space per patron.

Weddings in the state will be capped at 150 people, Berejiklian said, and they must remain seated.

"No dancing, no singing, no mingling," Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.

Less than a month ago, Australia was widely heralded as a global leader in combating COVID-19.

But security lapses in Victoria led to people returning from overseas spreading the virus, prompting an inquiry into how the state went from the brink of eradicating the virus to soaring infection numbers.

State Premier Andrews is under mounting pressure, with one of Australia's biggest selling tabloid newspapers running a front page with the headline: "Dan-made disaster."

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Rouhani says 25 million Iranians may have been infected with coronavirus

The figure, from a report Rouhani cited in a televised speech, was far higher than Saturday's official figure for infections of 271,606, and corresponds to more than 30% of Iran's 80 million population.

Rouhani's office said the number of infections was based on an "estimated scenario" from a health ministry research report.

Iran has been the Middle East country hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with infections and deaths rising sharply since restrictions were eased, beginning in mid-April.

"Our estimate is that so far 25 million Iranians have been infected with this virus and about 14,000 have lost their lives," Rouhani said.

He added that "there is the possibility that between 30 and 35 million more people will be at risk", but did not elaborate on what he meant.

More than 200,000 people have been hospitalised, he said, adding the ministry expected that another 200,000 might need hospital treatment in the coming months.

An official at the government's coronavirus task force said the 25 million people mentioned by Rouhani were "mildly affected patients who ... did not need to seek medical advice", the semi-official news agency ISNA reported.

The Health Ministry reported 188 deaths in the previous 24 hours to take Iran's total to 13,979.

Authorities on Saturday reimposed restrictions for a week in the capital Tehran, including banning religious and cultural functions, closing boarding schools, cafes, indoor pools, amusement parks and zoos.

From Sunday, 22 cities and towns in the southwestern Khuzestan province will be under a three-day lockdown, the province's governorate announced on Saturday.

That will include Behbahan, where police on Thursday fired tear gas into a crowd protesting over economic hardships.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


U.S. coronavirus deaths surpass 140,000 as outbreak worsens
(Reuters) - U.S. deaths from the novel coronavirus topped 140,000 on Saturday as cases continued to rise in 42 out of 50 states over the past two weeks, according to a Reuters tally.

Since late June, the United States has seen a resurgence in new cases and now, six weeks later, deaths have also begun rising, according to a weekly Reuters analysis of state and county data.

America is losing about 5,000 people to the virus every week. By contrast, neighboring Canada has reported total deaths of 8,800 since the pandemic started.  full article  reuters.com

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Australia warns coronavirus outbreak will take weeks to tame

(Reuters) - A surge in COVID-19 cases in Australia's second-biggest city could take weeks to subside despite a lockdown and orders to wear masks, Australia's acting chief medical officer said on Monday as the country braces for a second wave of infection.

Authorities in the state of Victoria, whose capital Melbourne is in partial lockdown amid a new outbreak, reported 275 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, down from a daily record of 438 three days earlier.

Australia's Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said it would take "weeks" to slow the outbreak to levels seen as recently as June, when Victoria and the rest of Australia reported single or double-digit daily infections.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Sun-seekers crowd Barcelona beaches, defying Covid-19 stay-at-home advice

People sit on La Barceloneta beach in Barcelona, on July 19, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

(REUTERS) - People sunbathed and played in the sea along Barcelona's beaches on Sunday (July 19), ignoring pleas from Catalan authorities for area residents to stay at home as coronavirus cases continued to rise in one of Spain's worst-hit regions.

As police patrolled in masks to ensure social distancing, Barceloneta beach, a favourite with tourists, reached capacity and had to be closed to new bathers on Sunday afternoon. People were queueing to access the beach.

Earlier in the day, authorities urged the more than 96,000 residents of three Catalan towns to stay home as part of a toughened response to the crisis. On Friday, some four million people, including in Barcelona, were advised to leave their home only for essential trips.

"Staying at home in the summer is stifling and stressful," said Felipe, when asked why he had come to the beach despite the advice.

"I work five days a week and can't spend every day at home. My mental health comes first," said the 24-year-old, who was wearing a mask.

The latest figures from Catalonia's regional health ministry on Sunday showed a daily increase of 944 cases.

The stay-home call stops short of imposing a mandatory lockdown, but is the strongest measure taken to returning people to home confinement since Spain emerged from a nationwide lockdown on June 21.

The new measures also include a ban on meetings of over 10 people. Bars and restaurants will be allowed to open, but at 50% capacity inside and with a 2-metre distance between tables outside.

Spain was one of Europe's hardest-hit countries by Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, with more than 28,000 deaths.

Since the national lockdown ended, more than 170 infection clusters have sprung up, prompting regional authorities to impose a patchwork of local restrictions.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


When the U.S. sneezes, the world catches a cold. What happens when it has severe COVID-19?
During a blue-sky moment in 2018 near the end of a decade-long economic expansion, it was the United States that helped pull the world along as the extra cash from tax cuts and government spending flowed through domestic and global markets.

But if it was U.S. policy that pushed the world higher then, it is U.S. policy that threatens to pull the world under now as the country's troubled response to the coronavirus pandemic emerges as a chief risk to any sustained global recovery.

Officials from Mexico to Japan are already on edge. Exports have taken a hit in Germany, and Canada looks south warily knowing that any further hit to U.S. growth will undoubtedly spill over.

"Globally there will be difficult months and years ahead and it is of particular concern that the number of COVID-19 cases is still rising," the International Monetary Fund said in a review of the U.S. economy that cited "social unrest" due to rising poverty as one of the risks to economic growth.

"The risk ahead is that a large share of the U.S. population will have to contend with an important deterioration of living standards and significant economic hardship for several years. This, in turn, can further weaken demand and exacerbate longer-term headwinds to growth."

It was a clinical description of a grim set of facts: After the U.S. government committed roughly $3 trillion to support the economy through a round of restrictions on activity imposed to curb the virus in April and May, the disease is surging in the United States to record levels just as those support programs are due to expire. More than 3.6 million people have been infected and 140,000 killed. Daily growth in cases has tripled to more than 70,000 since mid-May, and the 7-day moving average of deaths, after falling steadily from April to July, has turned higher.

Meanwhile the country has fractured over issues like mask-wearing that in other parts of the world were adopted readily as a matter of common courtesy. With some key states like Texas and California now reimposing restrictions, analysts have already noted a possible plateau to the U.S. recovery with the country still 13.3 million jobs shy of the number in February.


For other major economic powers, that is a weight added to their own struggles with the virus and the economic fallout.

The U.S. economy accounts for ...

full article  reuters.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


U.S. records 1,000 deaths in one day from COVID-19, California passes 400,000 cases
(Reuters) - The United States reported more than 1,000 deaths from COVID-19 on Tuesday, according to a Reuters tally, marking the first time since June 10 the nation has surpassed that grim milestone, as California closed in on passing New York in total infections.

Nearly 142,000 Americans have now died from the illness caused by the coronavirus, a toll that experts warn will likely surge following recent record spikes in case numbers and an alarming rise in hospitalizations in many states.

But in some states, governors and local officials continued to bicker over the best way to respond to the crisis.

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott said Hidalgo county could not order residents to stay home and said mask and social distancing rules were sufficient to keep businesses open in the Rio Grande Valley, on the U.S. border with Mexico.

In Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp has sought to prevent Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms from enforcing an order that residents wear masks in public.

A court hearing on Kemp's lawsuit against Bottoms, a Democrat who has been mentioned as a possible running mate for presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden, was postponed after two judges recused themselves.

In Florida, the state teachers' union has sued Governor Ron DeSantis and other officials in an attempt to halt his plans to reopen school classrooms as the state suffered a surge of more than 10,000 daily new COVID-19 cases for six out of the last seven days.

On average last week, 19% of Florida's tests for the virus came back positive, indicating widespread community transmission. Deaths have climbed 45% week-over-week.

"I think it's much better today than it was two weeks ago. And I think it will continue to improve," DeSantis said at a briefing on Tuesday, adding that hospitals were seeing plateaus in patient numbers.

About 20% of Florida's intensive care unit beds are available, 5% more than two weeks ago, after hospitals expanded capacity. The number of currently hospitalized coronavirus patients fell on Tuesday after rising to record highs at least nine days in a row, state data showed.

Neither Florida nor Georgia have issued statewide mask mandates. In Texas, Abbott initially resisted such an order but earlier this month agreed to require face coverings in most counties.

In Hidalgo County, cases have risen 59% in the last week to nearly 13,000 total. In just one week, deaths have doubled to over 300, according to a Reuters tally.


California on Tuesday became the second U.S. state after New York to report more than 400,000 COVID-19 cases since the outbreak was first detected in the United States in January, according to a Reuters tally of county data.

New York - the epicenter of the pandemic earlier this year - has recorded by far the most deaths of any U.S. state at 32,218. California has reported more than 7,700 deaths.

But New York now has one of the nation's lowest infection rates and reported just two coronavirus-related deaths on Tuesday. It has eased its once strict lockdown restrictions.

Mandatory mask wearing, which public health officials say can slow the spread of the virus, has become a political issue among Americans, with many conservatives calling such rules a violation of their Constitutional rights.

President Donald Trump has been reluctant to wear a mask himself in public, but encouraged Americans on Tuesday to wear one if they cannot maintain social distance, and avoid crowded

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Record Number Of New Virus Cases As Public Loses Faith In Govts  ibtimes.com
The world has set a new record for the highest daily increase in coronavirus infections, as a survey released Saturday showed governments are fast losing support for their handling of the pandemic.

There were more than 280,000 new cases recorded globally on both Thursday and Friday, the highest daily rises since the virus emerged in China late last year.

Friday's tally of 282,042 was marginally down on Thursday's single-day record 284,661, according to an AFP count based on official sources, but still marks an alarming uptick in the spread of the virus.

Nearly a third of the world's 15.8 million infections have been registered since July 1, while the total death toll nears 640,000.

The World Health Organization said that more than a million cases had been recorded in each of the last five weeks, "with over 280,000 being reported on July 24 alone".

"While no country is unaffected, this rise is driven by high transmission in large and populous countries in the Americas and South Asia," it said in a statement on Saturday.

It added that Brazil and India had recently reported their highest daily increases, while the figures remained worryingly high in the United States and South Africa.

The US, still the hardest-hit nation, on Friday reported its second straight day of more than 70,000 new cases and over 1,000 deaths as the virus takes hold in the south and west.

Governments worldwide have struggled to contain the virus despite long and economically-crippling lockdowns imposed on millions of people, and a new survey showed that faith in authorities is dwindling in six rich nations.

Populations in France, Germany, Britain, Japan, Sweden and the US widely believed death and infection figures to be higher than recorded, according to the study, which polled 1,000 people in each nation.

"In most countries this month, support for national governments is falling," the report by the Kekst CNC communications consulting group said.

One world leader widely criticised over his handling of the pandemic is Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who was diagnosed with coronavirus on July 7.

Bolsonaro, who has downplayed what he calls "a little flu", announced on Saturday that he had finally tested negative.

Despite his diagnosis, Bolsonaro has appeared to continue flouting virus precautions, being spotted riding his motorcycle and chatting maskless with presidential palace groundskeepers on Thursday.

Brazil's biggest city Sao Paulo on Saturday said it was indefinitely postponing its 2021 carnival, while Rio de Janeiro was considering a similar move.

New outbreaks continue to wreak havoc elsewhere around the world, with fresh clusters emerging across Asia.

South Korea on Saturday reported its highest infections figure in nearly four months, and in Vietnam the first locally-transmitted case in nearly 100 days was detected.

Authorities in China said they would introduce a new wave of measures and testing in the port city of Dalian, home to about six million people, after fresh infections were detected there.

That did not prevent the Chinese Super League kicking off behind closed doors on Saturday with the players of Guangzhou Evergrande and Shanghai Shenhua holding a minute's silence for the victims of the pandemic.

Europe remains the hardest-hit continent, accounting for a fifth of the world's case count.

Belgium said Saturday it could further tighten its restrictions following the death of a three-year-old girl, the country's youngest victim of the virus.

There have been recent outbreaks in the Spanish regions of Aragon and Catalonia where officials have reintroduced fresh curbs on daily life.

However with experts fearing a spike in COVID-19 infections linked to the European summer holiday season, many tourists are reticent to cancel their plans.

Fanny Lievens said she and her family had no choice but to continue on their holiday trip to Catalonia from the southern French city of Montpellier.

"If we cancelled our holiday, which has been planned since February, we would lose the rental money," she said.

In France, where infections have been rising, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on-the-spot testing would be rolled out for travellers arriving from 16 high-risk nations.

Britain meanwhile has made it compulsory to wear a face covering in shopping centres, banks, takeaway outlets, sandwich shops and supermarkets.

The virus has overwhelmed health systems and devastated families across Latin America, where nearly 180,000 people have died.
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Coronavirus: US sees second-highest daily record as death toll exceeds 1,000 for fourth straight day
(BLOOMBERG) - The US recorded two sobering milstones on Saturday (July 26), with its coronavirus cases increasing by 77,848, the second-highest daily count on record, and deaths rising by more than 1,000 for the fourth day in a row, according to data from Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.

There were 1,297 fatalities recorded on Saturday (July 26) in the US, with the states of California, Texas and Florida hit particularly hard by the outbreak.

Florida passed New York as the state with the second-highest number of total virus cases behind California.

It reported 414,511 total positive tests on Saturday compared with 402,312 a day earlier, an increase of 12,199.

Meanwhile, New York added 750 positive tests for a total of 411,200. Hospitalisations in the state also fell slightly to 646.

Deaths among Florida residents was 124, for a total of 5,777, while New York recorded only 10 deaths.

California reported 10,066 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, higher than the 14-day average of 9,407, according to the health department's website. The death toll fell slightly to 151 after two consecutive days of record fatalities, raising the total to 8,337.

There have been 445,400 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state, which has the country's highest case count.

South Carolina reported a record daily jump in the number of deaths.

It recorded a record 74 more deaths, at the end of a week when it also reported a record number of new cases.

The previous record was 72 deaths, on July 16, according to data from Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.

The state reported 1,368 new cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 79,674. The total number of confirmed deaths is 1,412.

Kentucky reported836 additional cases on Saturday, its second-highest daily record. There were at least 26,764 coronavirus cases reported in the state so far as deaths blamed on the virus rose by five to 696.

Governor Andy Beshear forecast "additional steps next week if the case numbers don't stabilise."

The state's positive-test rate is 5.4 per cent, the highest in recent months, according to a statement on the governor's website that cited New York's success in bringing its rate down to "1 per cent or less."

Texas reported 6,020 new cases, a drop from 8,701 new cases the previous day.

The state now has a total to 375,846 confirmed cases of the virus. Another 168 deaths were reported, a decline from the day before, for a total of 4,885, the Department of State Health Services said on its website.

Arizona reported 3,748 new cases, a rise of 2.4 per cent from the previous day that's higher than the average increase of 1.7 per cent over the previous seven days.

The state now has a total of 160,041 cases.

Deaths rose by 144, compared with 80 the day before. The number neared the record of 147 set on July 18. Total deaths are now 3,286.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Australia reports jump in daily new cases, record deaths
(Reuters) – Australia's second-most populous state, Victoria, recorded 459 cases of the new coronavirus, the second-highest daily total and up from 357 cases the previous day, the state's leader said on Sunday.

Premier Daniel Andrews also told a press briefing that Victoria had reported 10 COVID-19 deaths in past 24 hours, Australia's highest ever daily number.

The state's second wave is being driven by workplace infections, including at aged-care and healthcare facilities, big distribution centres, slaughterhouses, cold-storage facilities and warehouses, Andrews said.

"What that tells you is that some people... are feeling sick, they have symptoms and they are still going to work," he said. "If that continues, then we will just continue to see more and more cases."

The cases were found on the day with the highest number of coronavirus tests, at more than 45,000.

Australia has avoided the worst of coronavirus crisis seen in other countries, but authorities are struggling to contain an outbreak in Victoria. It has recorded more than 14,400 cases so far.

Victorians are subject to a six week lockdown, border closures with other states and mandatory face mask wearing.

The country's most populous state of New South Wales recorded 14 new cases overnight, with almost half connected to a known outbreak at a restaurant on the outskirts of Sydney.

"Ten families are currently planning funerals. And the youngest among them have lost someone in their forties. Please wear a mask everyone. And if you don't you will get fined," Andrews said.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


North Korea puts Kaesong city in lockdown over suspected outbreak
(AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un placed the city of Kaesong near the border with South Korea under total lockdown after a person was found with suspected COVID-19 symptoms, saying he believes "the vicious virus" may have entered the country, state media reported Sunday.

If the person is officially declared a virus patient, he or she would be the North's first confirmed coronavirus case. North Korea has steadfastly said it has no single virus case on its territory, a claim questioned by outside experts.

The lockdown was declared Friday afternoon. The Korean Central News Agency said the suspected case is a runaway who had fled to South Korea years ago before illegally crossing the border into the North early last week.

KCNA said respiratory secretion and blood tests showed the person "is suspected to have been infected" with the virus. It said the suspected case and others who were in contact as well as those who have been to Kaesong in the last five days were placed under quarantine.

Describing its anti-virus efforts as a "matter of national existence," North Korea earlier this year shut down nearly all cross-border traffic, banned foreign tourists and mobilized health workers to quarantine anyone with symptoms. But the Kaesong lockdown is the first such known measure taken in a North Korean city to stem the pandemic.

Foreign experts say a coronavirus outbreak in North Korea could cause dire consequences because of its poor public health care infrastructure and chronic lack of medical supplies.

Kaesong, a city with an estimated 200,000 people, is located just north of the heavily fortified land border with South Korea. It once hosted the Koreas' jointly run industrial complex, which remains stalled since 2016 amid nuclear tensions. Last month, North Korea blew up an inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong to protest a campaign by South Korean activists who have been sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border.

During an emergency Politburo meeting Saturday, Kim also declared a state of emergency in the Kaesong area and "clarified the determination of the Party Central Committee to shift from the state emergency anti-epidemic system to the maximum emergency system and issue a top-class alert," KCNA said.

It quoted Kim as saying that there was "a critical situation in which the vicious virus could be said to have entered the country." Kim said he took "the preemptive measure of totally blocking Kaesong City and isolating each district and region from the other within July 24 afternoon just after receiving the report on it," according to KCNA.

The Politburo meeting also discussed the "loose guard performance" at the border area where the suspected case crossed over to North Korea.

KCNA said that Kim and other leaders were briefed on the results of an intensive investigation of a military unit responsible for the border crossing case and discussed administering "a severe punishment."

More than 33,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea over the past 20 years to avoid poverty and political suppression, mostly via the long, porous border with China. Buy it's rare for North Korean refugees to return to their homeland by crossing the mine-strewn inter-Korean border.

The South Korean government has no immediate comments on the North Korean announcement.

"Blaming an alleged return defector for bringing COVID-19 into the country is likely intended to shift blame for spread of the virus away from China and Pyongyang and on to Seoul," Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said.

"This may also be a tactic for ratcheting up diplomatic pressure on (South Korea) and trying to further dissuade North Koreans from defecting to the South," he said.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Florida records 9,300 new coronavirus cases, blows past New York
(Reuters) - Florida on Sunday became the second state after California to overtake New York, the worst-hit state at the start of the U.S. novel coronavirus outbreak, according to a Reuters tally.

Total COVID-19 cases in the Sunshine State rose by 9,300 to 423,855 on Sunday, just one place behind California, which now leads the country with 448,497 cases. New York is in third place with 415,827 cases.

Still, New York has recorded the most deaths of any U.S. state at more than 32,000 with Florida in eighth place with nearly 6,000 deaths.

On average, Florida has added more than 10,000 cases a day in July while California has been adding 8,300 cases a day and New York has been adding 700 cases.

The surge in Florida has continued as the state's Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has repeatedly said he will not make mask-wearing mandatory and that schools must reopen in August.

On the contrary, New York state has managed to get the virus under control, with stores and restaurants shuttered and the wearing of masks mandatory.

The rise in cases also comes as President Donald Trump is pushing to re-open U.S. schools in the fall, despite teachers' and families' concerns that children could contract or transmit the disease should they return to the classroom.

After New York, Texas has the most total coronavirus cases at 391,000. Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Tropical Storm Hanna, which made landfall on Saturday as a Category 1 hurricane, was especially challenging as it was sweeping through an area of the state that has been the worst hit by the coronavirus.

For the tenth time in July, Alaska set a record for a one-day rise in cases, with 234 new infections on Sunday, bringing the state's total to 3,100. Oklahoma hit a record for new cases five times in July, with 1,204 new infections on Sunday bringing the state's total to 31,285.

More than 146,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 - nearly a quarter of the global total -- and there are nearly 4.2 million confirmed cases in the country, or at least 1 in 79 people have been infected.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


The WHO wasn't kidding when they said it's far from over, it's never ending. keep that door shut Thailand  :-[ As

Vietnam to evacuate 80,000 people from Danang after virus outbreak  arabnews.com

China reports virus spike as global cases pass 16 mn
(AFP) – China on Monday reported its highest number of coronavirus cases in three months, part of a worrying swell of second and third-wave infections that are hitting Asia and Europe.

Australia has been rocked by its deadliest surge since the start of the pandemic, Hong Kong is experiencing record daily numbers and Spain's caseload has tripled in the last fortnight.

Meanwhile, other regions are still battling their first waves after never getting the virus under control: the US alone has recorded almost 4.23 million cases of COVID-19, while infections in Latin America and the Caribbean surged on Sunday to briefly overtake North America's total for the first time.

Worldwide the confirmed case count has passed 16 million, although experts believe that figure is vastly short of the true number. One study in New Delhi found a quarter of people tested had contracted the virus, amounting to 4.7 million in the Indian capital alone.

China — where the coronavirus was first reported in December last year — recorded 61 cases on Monday, the highest daily figure since April.

The second-wave surge was propelled by clusters in separate regions, and authorities have declared "wartime mode" lockdown measures to combat the spread of the deadly contagion.

Most of the 57 new domestic cases were in the far northwestern Xinjiang region, where an outbreak in the regional capital Urumqi occurred in mid-July.

A second programme of mass testing was launched Sunday in the city of 3.5 million people to check residents who had previously tested negative, with 2.3 million people screened so far.

Chinese authorities have also rolled out mass testing for hundreds of thousands in the northeast port city of Dalian where a fresh cluster broke out last week.
Deadly new waves

Australia on Sunday suffered its deadliest day since the pandemic began, with 10 fatalities and a rise in new infections despite an intense lockdown effort.

And on Monday the country recorded its highest number of daily cases of at least 549, more than Wednesday's high of 501 with some states still to report their numbers.

Daniel Andrews, premier of Victoria state where the latest outbreak is centred, begged anyone sick to stay at home.

In Hong Kong, which seemingly had a lid on local transmissions for weeks, new infections have snowballed sparking fears the latest outbreak is spreading out of control.

More than 1,000 infections have been confirmed since early July — more than 40 percent of the total since the virus first hit the city in late January. Eighteen people have died.

The city said it will stop most ships from changing crews in the densely populated territory from Wednesday to cut back on quarantine exemptions blamed for causing a third wave of cases.

And Spain, where more than 28,400 have lost their lives, has also witnessed a recent surge in cases with nearly 1,000 on both Thursday and Friday, although the government insisted the country was safe to visit and was not experiencing a second wave.

"Like other European countries, Spain has new outbreaks," Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya told reporters on Sunday, adding: "It's not unusual."

London sparked a spat with the Iberian country, hugely popular with British holidaymakers, after it announced passengers arriving from Spain should spend a fortnight in isolation.

However, Britain defended its decision with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab telling Sky News: "We can't make apologies for doing so... We must be able to take swift, decisive action."
Cases pass 16 million

As worldwide infections passed 16 million, Latin America and the Caribbean totalled more than 4.34 million, according to an AFP tally, briefly surpassing North America, where the United States remains the hardest-hit country in terms of both caseload and death toll.

But North America soon moved ahead again, as the US recorded more than 55,000 new cases in 24 hours for a total of nearly 4.23 million.

Combined with Canada's 116,000 cases, North America now has more than 4.34 million infections.

In Latin America, Brazil is the worst-hit country with almost 2.42 million cases and more than 87,000 deaths.

There have also been increases in infections in Mexico, Peru, Colombia and Argentina, all of which are trying to resume economic activities.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Chile hospitals ensure patients do not die alone despite pandemic

Dr Moyra Lopez holds the hand of a terminally ill patient at the Barros Luco hospital ward in Santiago where loved ones are able to see dying patients even if they have contracted the coronavirus

All over the world, people are dying alone as relatives are barred from visiting them in hospital for fear of catching and spreading the coronavirus. But not in Chile.

Here, special units have been set up where family members and loved ones are able to say their goodbyes even inside public hospitals where the virus is rife.

"Everyone leaves behind a family and we tried to get to know every person in the time we had," Natalia Ojeda, a doctor specializing in palliative care at the Barros Luco hospital in Santiago, told AFP.

This hospital has been one of the most affected in a country where more than 9,000 people have died with COVID-19 and which has seen over 340,000 cases amongst the 18 million population.

For two months now, the intense work routine has pushed Ojeda and her colleague Moyra Lopez to their limits.

"Before the pandemic we were used to patients dying but in their homes, surrounded by their families -- very different deaths to what we are seeing with COVID," said Lopez.

Around 60 people have died in the unit set up in the Barros Luco hospital where the two doctors work.

More than half were visited by family members and others died after a video call with those close to them.

Lopez carries around a tablet with which she can pass on audio or video messages like "thank you daddy for everything, rest now," or "dear grandad, listen to this song you love so much."

The unit is in a ward with windows that allow in natural light and the murmur of nature. It was set up amidst the panic of soaring coronavirus cases.

Both Ojeda and Lopez say that after hearing about the coronavirus patients dying alone in Europe and China, the hospital management made a priority of providing staff specialized in easing pain and terminal patients.

"The last week of June was the peak week, our ward was constantly full," said a tearful Ojeda, 37.

"Every death is unique and is a different experience."

- 'Gratitude' -

"We were afraid before we got into this for several reasons: facing death, the fear of infection and an illness that had nothing to do with what we're used to," said Lopez, 44, as medical personnel behind her took care of the body of a man who had just died.

"But the most amazing thing, which got us through it, has been the gratitude," added the mother of three.

"Such positive feedback from families, those that could come and those that sensed the patient went calmly."

Those who benefited from the unit had to abide by strict protocols and wear protective clothing.

Meanwhile, the unit's team -- mostly women -- have built a bond, crying together and overcoming the fear of infection through the satisfaction of passing on music, audio messages and the affection of loved ones.

- 'Patients always react' -

Lopez approaches "Don Manuel" with a message from his son.

They were "words of gratitude but also encouragement to rest in peace," said Lopez, who added that it's important not to stress patients in their final days with messages of false hope.

This man's life seems about to ebb away but just as Lopez plays the message, he moves his head and makes a noise, although without opening his eyes.

"Patients, even those in a deep coma, always react; they breathe quicker, their pulse accelerates, they move; hence it confirms that hearing is the last sense that you lose before dying," said Lopez.

Part of the job sometimes involves searching for music on YouTube to play to a patient because a family member said they liked it.

Two weeks ago, 94-year-old patient Enrique Boudon, who was suffering from a pneumonia brought on by COVID-19, continued to fight on despite his 10 children having already said their goodbyes.

His granddaughter called the unit and told them he used to be a trumpet player in Chile's Philharmonic Orchestra, and was a jazz fan.

"We looked on the tablet, put Miles Davis on the speaker and automatically he moved his hands as if conducting an orchestra. It was very moving. Two hours later he died," said Lopez.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Several countries tighten COVID-19 curbs over fears of a second wave
Spain and Germany were among the countries tightening restrictions on Tuesday (Jul 28) in a bid to cool coronavirus hotspots that have sparked fears of a second wave.

The World Health Organization warned that the virus did not appear to be affected by seasonality, as the global death toll from the pandemic passed 654,000 Tuesday - nearly a third of the dead in Europe, according to an AFP tally.

More than 100,000 deaths have been recorded since Jul 9 and the global toll has doubled in just over two months.

The UN's World Tourism Organization said the sector lost US$320 billion in revenue globally during the first five months of 2020, threatening millions of livelihoods.

This is "more than three times the loss during the Global Financial Crisis of 2009", the Madrid-based body said in a statement.

The International Air Transport Association meanwhile warned that global air traffic would not return to levels seen before the coronavirus pandemic until at least 2024.

Spain, one of the countries hit hardest by the pandemic, insisted it was still a safe destination for tourists despite tackling 361 active outbreaks and more than 4,000 new cases.

Several countries have nonetheless imposed quarantines on people returning from Spain, including its biggest tourist market, Britain.

The strict lockdown in Spain destroyed more than a million jobs during the second quarter of the year, the National Statistics Institute (INE) reported Tuesday - mainly in tourism.

Germany, which has registered an average of 557 new cases a day over the past week, tweaked its mask rules, saying they must be worn outdoors wherever social distancing was not possible.

"We must prevent that the virus once again spreads rapidly and uncontrollably," its disease control agency said Tuesday.


Iran suffered its worst day yet of the pandemic, reporting 235 new deaths on Tuesday, a record toll for a single day in the Middle East's hardest-hit country.

"The situation is worrying," health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said, with Tehran, the most populous province, hitting the highest category on the country's coronavirus risk scale.

Officials have made masks mandatory in enclosed public spaces and allowed Tehran and other hard-hit provinces to reimpose the restrictions progressively lifted since April to reopen Iran's sanctions-hit economy.

Lebanon also raised fears for its crisis-hit health sector after recording 175 cases on Saturday, its highest daily tally.

On Tuesday, it announced a full lockdown over the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha from Jul 30 until Aug 3, and limits on bar and restaurant capacity.

full article  channelnewsasia.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Heathrow tells UK: do passenger testing or lose 'quarantine roulette'
(Reuters) - Heathrow Airport, once Europe's busiest airport, called on Britain to urgently back a passenger testing regime, warning that without one, the country's strict quarantine rules will stop travel, stall the economy and lead to more job losses.

Heathrow said that to avoid losing a game of global "quarantine roulette", the government should change its rules to cut quarantine from 14 days to around eight days for passengers who take two tests over the course of a week.

The worst public health crisis since the 1918 influenza outbreak has wrought economic turmoil across the world and just as the travel industry restarted there are now fears of a second wave of shutdowns after Britain hastily imposed a quarantine on travellers from Spain.

"The UK needs a passenger testing regime and fast," Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said. "Without it, Britain is just playing a game of quarantine roulette."

The cost of having a coronavirus test at the airport would be about 150 pounds ($195) per person and the passenger would be expected to pay, Holland-Kaye told Reuters on Wednesday.

While he conceded that it was not cheap, he said consumers and business travellers would be prepared to pay, and it would help Britain protect its aviation industry, which has already announced over 20,000 job cuts, and facilitate trade.

"We are an island nation - we cannot cut ourselves off from the world for the foreseeable future," Holland-Kaye told the BBC. "We've got to find a way of keeping people safe from a second wave but also getting the economy going again."

Quarantine rules are in place for arrivals to Britain from the United States, a lucrative market for Heathrow accounting for 20% of its traffic, as well as other countries such as India and Spain.


Responding to Heathrow's criticism, a minister said there was no easy solution to allow quarantine-free travel from countries with higher infection rates.

"It can incubate over a period of time so there's not a silver bullet of just testing immediately at the border," Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told the BBC.

But Holland-Kaye said the government was receptive to Heathrow's double testing plan, which needs agreement that two tests, one on arrival and one either five or eight days later, can reduce the number of days a person spends quarantining.

"They've certainly come alive to that in the last few days following the Spain experience with the realisation that there needs to be an alternative," he said.

Heathrow said it was trialling testing with companies Swissport and Collinson Group and the system could be up and running within two weeks.

The test would add a significant cost to the cost of travel, with Heathrow's biggest operator British Airways selling European tickets from about 50 pounds and tickets to the United States from about 400 pounds.

The potential extra cost illustrates the challenge to airlines desperate to fill planes and start generating profits again after the pandemic wiped out air travel for months.

Airports are also suffering. Heathrow passenger numbers fell 96% in the second quarter on revenue which was down 85% pushing the airport to a 1.1 billion pound loss for the first six months of the year. Despite the loss, the airport said its finances remained robust.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Vietnam says every city, province now at risk of virus infection
(Reuters) – Vietnam, virus-free for months, was bracing for another wave of COVID-19 infections on Wednesday after state media reported new cases in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and the Central Highlands linked to a recent outbreak in the central city of Danang.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said the current wave of infections was different to a second wave Vietnam fought in March, and every province and city in the country was at risk, state broadcaster Vietnam Television (VTV) reported.

Thanks to a centralised quarantine programme and an aggressive contact-tracing system, Vietnam had managed to keep its coronavirus tally to just 450 cases, despite sharing a border with China.

With over 95 million people, Vietnam is the most populous country in the world to have recorded no deaths from the virus, and until now no locally transmitted infections had been reported for months.

That record is now under threat following an outbreak last weekend in Danang, where tens of thousands of domestic tourists were vacationing thanks to discounted travel deals.

The government on Tuesday suspended all flights to and from Danang for 15 days. At least 30 cases of the novel coronavirus have been detected in or around the city.

About 18,000 tourists who had been in Danang have returned to the southern business hub Ho Chi Minh City, authorities said on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Phuc said tourist hubs throughout the country had to step up vigilance, and that Danang must go under "strict lockdown", VTV said.

In Hanoi, a worker at a pizza restaurant who had recently returned from Danang had tested positive for the coronavirus and authorities had closed the business for disinfection, state media reported.

Vietnam's health ministry confirmed that case late on Wednesday, as well as an additional two cases in Ho Chi Minh City and another in the Central Highlands.


The source of the infection in Danang, origin of the current wave, remains unclear.

One of the cases, now in Ho Chi Minh City, first developed symptoms in Danang as early as June 26, the health ministry said.

Vietnamese scientists have said the strain of the coronavirus found there was more infectious than the earlier strain, and this latest strain had also been previously detected in Bangladesh, Britain and Ireland.

The government has not officially linked the new cases to illegal immigration, but Prime Minister Phuc has ordered police to strengthen a crackdown on illegal entries.

State media on Sunday said police in Danang had arrested a 42-year-old Chinese man suspected of heading a criminal group engaged in smuggling people across the border from China.

Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh paid a rare visit to Vietnam's mountainous northern border with China on Wednesday where he asked authorities to "enhance border management", a government statement said, without elaborating.

In a rare rescue flight, Vietnam repatriated 140 construction workers infected with COVID-19 from Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday, a state medical official told Reuters. The workers will be treated at a hospital outside Hanoi, the official said.

The health ministry has yet to add the cases from Africa to its coronavirus tally.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Singapore battling third wave of imported Covid-19 cases
Singapore is now seeing a third wave of imported Covid-19 cases, with more than 100 such cases confirmed in the past month.

These make up about 15.5 per cent of the total number of imported cases here since the start of the outbreak in January.

As of Tuesday, a total of 688 imported cases of Covid-19 had been confirmed in Singapore.

The number of daily imported cases had earlier dropped to zero as travel restrictions tightened here and around the world.

But on June 15, the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19 here announced that more long-term pass holders would be able to return to Singapore during phase two of the country's reopening, which began on June 19.

On June 30, the Republic saw its first imported case in more than two weeks.

Another 106 cases followed up until Tuesday, and they were imported from nine different countries, with more than half - 62 cases - coming from India.

India has seen a rapid rise in Covid-19 infections, with more than 1.5 million confirmed cases, and nearly 35,000 fatalities.

Another 23 cases were imported from the Philippines, which also saw a recent coronavirus surge, while the rest came from countries such as Indonesia, Pakistan and the United States.

Most of the imported cases - 27 - are work pass holders, while 23 of them are Singaporeans.

There were 20 permanent residents and 19 dependant's pass holders among the imported cases.

The increase in cases has prompted some Straits Times readers to ask why travellers entering Singapore are not tested for Covid-19 upon arrival.

Currently, travellers have to get approval before entering Singapore, serve a 14-day stay-home notice (SHN) upon arrival, and are swabbed for the coronavirus a few days before their SHN period ends.

They should travel from their place of residence to the designated testing facility, and return immediately after the test, using a private vehicle. They are also advised to avoid taking public transport.

Some experts had earlier said people who are infected may not test positive during the early stages of their illness due to a low viral load.

Associate Professor Alex Cook, vice-dean of research at the National University of Singapore's Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, suggested yesterday that countries such as Singapore may consider swabbing travellers on arrival instead of quarantining them.

He told The Straits Times: "This would still help filter out the majority of infected travellers, save money and inconvenience related to quarantine, and could potentially lower the risk of spread to the general population, since those testing positive could then be isolated at hospital or a facility."

However, he added that quarantine is an effective way of combating the spread caused by imported cases. He noted that Singapore went through two waves of imported cases before the current one - an initial wave of cases from Wuhan, and a larger one in March from areas like Europe and countries like the US that preceded a wave of community cases which led to the circuit breaker.

"The lesson we learnt from that second wave was that it is vital to ensure that infected cases are quarantined in a way that minimises the risk of spillover. As long as we continue to keep new arrivals separated from the community, then it's not a concern," he said, adding that any home-based quarantine regime would need to be rigorously enforced.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Coronavirus spikes in Asia spur warnings against complacency
(Reuters) - Spikes in novel coronavirus infections in Asia have dispelled any notion the region may be over the worst, with Australia, India and Hong Kong reporting record daily cases, Vietnam testing thousands and North Korea urging vigilance.

Asian governments had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the virus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency.

"We've got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there's some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus," Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters.

Australia recorded its deadliest day with at least 13 deaths and more than 700 new infections, mostly in the second-most populous state of Victoria, where the government ordered all residents to wear face-coverings outside.

The country has confirmed a total of 16,298 cases since the pandemic began, with 189 fatalities, more than half in Victoria and its capital Melbourne, which is under a new lockdown.

Victoria's new infections have seeded outbreaks in other areas, including Australia's most populous state, New South Wales, which reported 18 new cases.

Further restrictions on movement would deal a blow to the economy, already in its first recession for 30 years, but failure to control the outbreaks would do more economic harm in the long run, Morrison said.


Vietnam, virus-free for months, has also had a harsh reminder of the dangers with a new surge spreading to six cities and provinces in six days, linked to an outbreak in the central city of Danang.

Authorities told tens of thousands of people who visited Danang to report to disease control centres, as nine new cases were confirmed, taking total infections to 42 since the virus resurfaced at the weekend.

Cases have also appeared in the capital, Hanoi, the southern commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City and in the Central Highlands.

Thanks to a centralised quarantine programme and aggressive contact-tracing, Vietnam has registered a total of only 459 cases, with no deaths.

But now more than 81,000 people are in quarantine and authorities in Hanoi said the more than 20,000 residents who recently returned from Danang, a holiday getaway that has been a big draw since restrictions were eased, would be tested.

Hanoi also banned big gatherings and ordered bars closed while its chairman, Nguyen Duc Chung, declared the city must "act now and act fast".

"We have to use full force to test all 21,063 returnees," Chung said. "All must be done in three days."

India reported more than 52,000 new cases over the previous 24 hours, its highest in a single day and taking its tally to almost 1.6 million.

India has the third highest number of infections globally, and while its major cities like New Delhi and Mumbai have seen their case-loads ease, infections are increasing sharply in rural areas.

Hong Kong also reported a daily record with 149 new cases, including 145 that were locally transmitted, as authorities warned that the global financial hub faced a critical period.

The Chinese territory reported 118 new cases on Wednesday. More than 3,000 people have been infected in Hong Kong, 24 of whom have died.

China reported 105 new coronavirus cases on the mainland, up from 101 the previous day, with 96 of them in the far western region of Xinjiang, five in the northeastern province of Liaoning, one was in Beijing and three imported cases.

As of Wednesday, China had 84,165 confirmed cases, with 4,634 deaths.

Isolated North Korea was on alert after a defector suspected of having the virus sneaked back in from South Korea.

North Korea, which says it has had no domestic cases, imposed strict quarantine and screening in Kaesong, just north of the border with South Korea, where the suspected infection was reported in a 24-year-old man who defected to South Korea in 2017 and slipped back in to the North this month.

North Korea has not confirmed the man tested positive for the virus but said he was showing symptoms.

The Rodong Sinmun newspaper, a ruling Workers' Party mouthpiece, warned against carelessness.

"A moment of inattention could cause a fatal crisis," it said.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


UK COVID-19 infections rise as ministers fret over second wave in Europe
(Reuters) – Britain reported its highest number of new COVID-19 infections in more than a month on Thursday, as ministers fretted about a second wave of cases in Europe and warned more quarantine restrictions were possible.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said COVID-19 was under some measure of control in Britain, but a resurgence in some European countries showed the pandemic was not over.

"It is absolutely vital as a country that we continue to keep our focus and our discipline, and that we don't delude ourselves that somehow we are out of the woods or that that is all over, because it isn't all over," he said.

Hours later, official data showed 846 new positive tests in Britain – the highest number of daily infections since June 28.

Reflecting rising cases in some European countries, Britain has already reimposed a 14-day quarantine period on people arriving from Spain, a move that caused havoc with the reopening of the continent for tourism in the summer high season.

Luxembourg was added to the quarantine list on Thursday, with all arrivals ordered to self-isolate for 14 days, starting at 1100 GMT.

Earlier, British health minister Matt Hancock stopped short of saying which European countries might end up back on the quarantine list, but cited France as an example of one where infections have lately risen.

"I am worried about a second wave. I think you can see a second wave starting to roll across Europe, and we've got to do everything we can to prevent it from reaching these shores, and to tackle it," Hancock said during an interview on Sky News.

When asked whether Britons should be prepared for more measures to be announced within the next few days, he said yes.

"The number of cases have gone up sharply in some countries in Europe ... France now has more cases than we do, per day, and in Spain we saw the numbers shoot up which is why we had to take the rapid action that we did," Hancock said on Talk Radio.

France reported almost 1,400 new cases on Wednesday, the highest daily increase in more than a month.

Hancock said the authorities were working on possible ways to shorten the quarantine period for people coming from Spain, such as by testing them during the quarantine period.

"But we are not imminently making an announcement on it," he said in a BBC television interview.

An analysis from Britain's statistics office showed on Thursday that the country has suffered the highest rate of excess deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic in a comparison of 21 European countries.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


New restrictions see 4,500,000 banned from meeting indoors in northern England
People from separate households in Greater Manchester, parts of West Yorkshire and East Lancashire were banned from meeting each other indoors at midnight amid a surge in new coronavirus cases.

Matt Hancock announced new restrictions that are set to impact an estimated 4.5 million people on Thursday night, confirming that they also apply to Leicester – despite hopes the city may be given the green light to fully come out of lockdown. The northern areas hit with tighter restrictions are Greater Manchester, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale, Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees.

The new rules will be reviewed on a weekly basis. It comes after 846 new Covid-19 cases were reported across the UK – the highest number of cases in a day for a month. The health secretary has blamed the spike on people flouting social distancing rules when they meet others from different households.

He said tonight the government had been forced to 'take immediate action to keep people safe'. Mr Hancock wrote on Twitter: 'We're constantly looking at the latest data on the spread of coronavirus, and unfortunately we've seen an increasing rate of transmission in parts of Northern England. 'We've been working with local leaders across the region, and today I chaired a meeting of the Local Action Gold Committee.

'Based on the data, we decided that in Greater Manchester, parts of West Yorkshire & East Lancashire we need to take immediate action to keep people safe. 'The spread is largely due to households meeting and not abiding to social distancing. So from midnight tonight, people from different households will not be allowed to meet each other indoors in these areas. 'We take this action with a heavy heart, but we can see increasing rates of covid across Europe and are determined to do whatever is neccessary [sic] to keep people safe.'

more @ metro.co.uk
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Hong Kong opens makeshift hospital for COVID-19 patients

The makeshift hospital at the city's Asia World Expo exhibition centre will take in COVID-19 patients aged from 18 to 60. (AFP/ISAAC LAWRENCE)

Hong Kong opened a temporary field hospital with 500 beds on Saturday (Aug 1) to house stable COVID-19 patients as the city battles a new wave of virus infections.

The financial hub had been a poster child for tackling the coronavirus, with local transmissions all but ended by early summer.

But since July the pathogen has returned, with some cases brought in by the tens of thousands of people who were exempted from a mandatory quarantine imposed on most arrivals.

The city recorded 125 new cases on Saturday, the eleventh day in a row above 100, with total infection numbers rising to 3,396. The death toll has risen from seven to 31 since July.

The opening of the hospital comes a day after city leader Carrie Lam announced the postponement of upcoming legislative elections for a year, saying that the decision is purely to protect public health and has "nothing to do with politics".

More than 2,000 new infections have been detected since the start of July - 60 per cent of the total since the virus first hit the city in late January.

The new makeshift hospital set up at the city's AsiaWorld-Expo exhibition centre near the airport, will take in COVID-19 patients aged from 18 to 60.

"Our goal is to triage the patients from the community and provide them with appropriate treatment and hospitalisation arrangement," Dr Larry Lee from the Hospital Authority told media, adding that around 20 to 30 patients are expected to be admitted on the first day.

More than 2,000 new infections have been detected in Hong Kong since the start of July. (AFP/ISAAC LAWRENCE)

Lee said that arriving patients will go through X-rays as well as blood, saliva and heart tests. If found unstable, patients will be sent to hospitals while stable ones will get treatment and put under medical observation at the facility.

China has offered to send mainland testing staff to the city to carry out "large scale nucleic acid testing".

In a Saturday statement, the National Health Commission of China (NHC) said it has set up a team comprised of 60 clinical laboratory staff and an "advance unit" will arrive in the city on Sunday.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


With coronavirus cases rising, Britain imposes new restrictions and slows reopening
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told England on Friday that it must "squeeze that brake pedal" and postpone easing some coronavirus restrictions for at least two weeks, amid a worrying uptick in infections.

The British are moving two steps forward, one step back, essentially, like other countries in Europe now. All are trying to revive their economies and give citizens back their freedoms, while defending themselves against a full-blown resurgence of the virus.

In response to outbreaks, the British government on Thursday night announced new restrictions affecting 4 million people in north England. A ban on gatherings of any size at private homes applies to greater Manchester and parts of Lancashire and West Yorkshire. That means people can't visit friends' houses - or even have a one-on-one chat in a friend's backyard. They can still go to pubs and restaurants, but only with members of their own households.

The prime minister has said he is trying hard to avoid another national lockdown.

But the slowdown announced Friday applies across all of England. The main thrust is that casinos and bowling alleys, shuttered since late March, will have to wait longer before customers are allowed back in. Wedding receptions of up to 30 people and indoor performances will remain banned, despite earlier plans for them to restart on Saturday.

Face masks will also now be mandatory in more indoor settings, such as movie theaters, museums and places of worship beginning Aug. 8. Masks are already mandatory for people in shops and on public transportation.

The British government - along with much of Europe - is worrying aloud about a possible second wave of infections that could overwhelm hospitals during flu season.

Britain reported 846 new positive coronavirus cases Thursday, its highest daily count since June 28. More than 46,000 people have died.

In his remarks Friday, Johnson said, "Our assessment is that we should now squeeze that brake pedal in order to keep the virus under control."

The prime minister added, "The prevalence of the virus in the community, in England, is likely to be rising for the first time since May."

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC that the rising number of cases in north England was due to people visiting friends and relatives.

He emphasized that the new rules on gatherings were not meant to target British Muslims, who awoke Friday to news of the restrictions a day before the annual Eid al-Adha holiday. Traditionally, families and friends gather for large meals during several days of festivities.

The ever-shifting list of government-ordered do's and don'ts has become somewhat dizzying for Britons. The pubs are open, gyms are not. People can go to the movies, even as the government's health advisers caution that indoor spaces should be avoided. Schools are still scheduled to reopen here in the fall.

A just-released study by University College London found that fewer than half of 70,000 respondents understood England's lockdown rules.

In an apparent attempt to simplify, Johnson launched another new public health messaging campaign Friday.

The slimmed-down, catchy new slogan from the prime minister is: "Wash your hands, cover your face & make space." Alongside the obligatory hashtag, #HandsFaceSpace. This replaces an earlier message to "be alert," which was confusing to many - be alert to what?

In addition to confusing messaging, Johnson's government has been criticized for a late lockdown on March 23, and over failures to protect people in nursing homes, provide protective gear to front-line medical workers and operate an efficient test, trace and isolate program.

The prime minister's pullback on reopening comes a day after Britain's Office for National Statistics reported that England topped Europe's grim league table for highest levels of excess deaths during the coronavirus pandemic.

That analysis of more than 20 European countries - including the four nations of the United Kingdom - found that England's death rate was 7.55% higher this year through the end of May, compared with its five-year average. Spain was next, followed by Scotland and Belgium.

A few days ago, after outbreaks in Catalonia, Britain reimposed a 14-day quarantine for all travelers from Spain - dashing the plans of many Britons for a holiday in the south.

Several European countries that have had their coronavirus outbreaks under control have begun to see a rise in cases that is feeding fears of a second wave.

A spike in infections led Belgium to ramp up restrictions on social contact, while Spain closed gyms and nightclubs in Barcelona.

France reported a 54% rise in new coronavirus cases over the past week, calling it a "marked increase." German health officials have described new infections there as deeply concerning.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


South Africa's COVID-19 cases surpass half a million
(Reuters) - South Africa's confirmed cases of COVID-19 have crossed half a million, its health ministry said on Saturday, while cases in Africa as a whole approached a million.

Africa's most industrialised nation recorded 10,107 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus, pushing the total to 503,290, the ministry said.

Just over 3 million people have so far been tested for the virus in South Africa, which confirmed its first case five months ago, and 8,153 deaths have been recorded. Africa has recorded 934,558 cases, 19,752 deaths and 585,567 recoveries, according to a Reuters tally.

South Africa imposed a nationwide lockdown at the end of March to curb the spread of the virus, but it has now eased many restrictions to boost economic activity - as have other countries across the continent, a large chunk of whose populations are poor and face hunger.

"The lockdown succeeded in delaying the spread of the virus by more than two months, preventing a sudden and uncontrolled increase in infections in late March," South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a separate statement.

As restrictions have eased, infections have spiked over the last two months.

However, the daily increase in infections appears to be stabilising, particularly in the worst-hit Western Cape, Gauteng and Eastern Cape provinces, Ramaphosa added.

The World Health Organisation's top emergencies expert Mike Ryan last week warned that South Africa's experience was a precursor for what was likely to happen across the continent.

The difficulty - if not outright impossibility - of socially distancing in Africa's poor, tightly packed urban areas, has also been an enabler for the spread of the virus.

Cases in South Africa, which has the fifth highest total in the world, have overwhelmed an already stretched healthcare system.

That presents a cautionary tale to the other African countries, whose health services are for the most part even more stretched.

During August, the National Ventilator Project will deliver 20,000 locally-produced, non-invasive ventilators to where they are most needed, Ramaphosa said, as the government continues to mobilise additional facilities, equipment and personnel in provinces still experiencing an increase in infections.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Philippines to update Covid-19 strategy as healthcare workers seek 'timeout'
The Philippines' health department vowed on Sunday to update its game plan against Covid-19 within a week and sought to beef up the healthcare workforce in the capital Manila, where medical frontliners are calling for reviving strict lockdowns.

The Southeast Asian country on Saturday reported 4,963 additional coronavirus infections, the largest single-day jump on record, bringing its total confirmed cases to 98,232, while its death toll had climbed to 2,039.

It has the second-highest number of coronavirus infections and Covid-19 deaths in the region, behind Indonesia.

In the largest call yet from medical experts to contain the virus, 80 groups representing 80,000 doctors and a million nurses, on Saturday said the Philippines was losing the fight against the disease and warned of a collapse of the healthcare system from soaring infections without tighter controls.

In a statement issued following an unscheduled meeting late on Saturday of the government's coronavirus task force to address the concerns of doctors and nurses, the Department of Health said it would come up with an updated Covid-19 strategy within seven days.

It appealed to healthcare workers in the provinces and those returning from abroad to help beef up the frontline workforce in the capital, and sought help from universities and medical groups in hiring more doctors, nurses and other medical staff.

The government appears reluctant to revive strict curbs on movement in the capital, saying there are other ways to control the spread of the disease.

Still, the health department said it supports the healthcare workers' call for a "timeout" and would "proactively lead the implementation of effective localised lockdowns".

"The battle is not over, and it will not be for a long time yet," the department said in a statement. But "we will marshal all our efforts to turn the tide."


Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Vietnam closes Danang airport after virus outbreak

Tourists wear protective masks as they wait to check-in for departure at Da Nang Airport, Vietnam on Sunday. (Photo: VNA/Reuters)

Vietnam has suspended all flights to and from Danang for 15 days after at least 14 cases of the novel coronavirus were detected in the city, the government said on Tuesday.

The Southeast Asian country is back on high alert after authorities on Saturday confirmed the first community infections since April, and another three cases on Sunday, all in or around Danang.

A further 11 cases linked to a Danang hospital were reported late on Monday.

All bus and train services to and from Danang have also been suspended from Tuesday, the statement said. The city, a tourism hot spot, had reintroduced social distancing measures over the weekend after the government confirmed the first domestically-transmitted cases of coronavirus in more than three months.

With over 95 million people, Vietnam is the most populous country in the world to have recorded no Covid-19 fatalities. Thanks to strict quarantine measures and an aggressive and widespread testing programme, Vietnam has kept its virus total to an impressively low 431 cases.

Two of the Danang cases were in critical condition, Vietnam's health ministry said.

Vietnam is still closed to foreign tourism, but there had been a surge in domestic travellers looking to take advantage of discounted flights and holiday packages to local resorts.

On Monday, the government said it had requested the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) to allow domestic airlines to significantly increase the number of flights from Danang to 11 Vietnamese cities in order to help evacuate 80,000 people, mostly tourists.

"All evacuation flights now are cancelled," CAAV deputy director Vo Huy Cuong told Reuters by phone on Tuesday.

"We operated 90 flights to evacuate tourists stranded in Danang yesterday but most tourists had already left Danang on Sunday, mostly by coach or train to nearby provinces," Cuong said.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


'Major incident' declared in British city of Manchester to tackle COVID-19
(Reuters) - A major incident has been declared in the Manchester area of Britain, allowing the creation of a "central command structure" to help tackle the rising number of coronavirus cases, a local official was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Health minister Matt Hancock said on Thursday the COVID-19 lockdown in parts of northern England - including Greater Manchester, parts of West Yorkshire and East Lancashire - would be tightened because of an increasing rate of transmission.

"Although the council and partner organisations have been working closely to tackle the impacts of the pandemic since early this year, declaring a major incident means we can ramp this up further," the Leader of Manchester City Council Richard Leese said in the Manchester Evening News.

"It allows the establishment of a central command structure to oversee the response and enables agencies involved to draw on extra resources."

The city council did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment from Reuters.

The pandemic has killed more than 46,000 people in Britain, the fourth highest toll in the world, according to a Reuters tally collated on Sunday.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Norway cruise ship passengers with coronavirus reach 43
(AP) — The number of passengers on a Norwegian cruise ship who have tested positive for the coronavirus has reached 43, authorities said Tuesday.

Provided by Associated Press Norwegian cruise ship MS Roald Amundsen moored in Tromso, Norway, Monday Aug. 3, 2020. After 40 people, including four passengers and 26 crew members on the Norwegian cruise ship have been tested positive for the coronavirus, the operator says it was stopping for all cruises with its three vessels. The 40 people were admitted to the University Hospital of North Norway in Tromsoe, north of the Arctic Circle,  where the empty ship has docked. (Terje Pedersen/NTB Scanpix via AP)

The outbreak on the MS Roald Amundsen raised new questions about safety on cruise ships during the pandemic even as the industry is pressing to resume sailings after shutting down in March.

The ship's owner on Monday halted all trips and Norway closed its ports to cruise ships for two weeks.

The city of Trondheim reported the two new cases — a man in his 70s with light symptoms and a child under age 10 with no symptoms — saying both had been passengers on the ship. They were not identified.

A third passenger will be tested Tuesday, the city said. Trondheim sits about halfway to Tromsoe, north of the Arctic Circle, where the empty ship is docked.

But since the cruise line often acts like a local ferry, traveling from port to port along Norway's west coast, some passengers disembarked along the route and may have spread the virus to local communities.

A total of 69 municipalities in Norway could have been affected, Norwegian news agency NTB reported on Monday.

The Hurtigruten cruise line was one of the first companies to resume sailing during the pandemic, starting cruises to Norway out of northern Germany in June with a single ship, then adding cruises in July to the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard that is part of the Scandinavian country.

In Tromsoe, 41 passengers who had tested positive have been admitted to a hospital. The cruise line said it suspended the ship and two others — the MS Fridtjof Nansen and the MS Spitsbergen — from operating for an indefinite period.

It's not clear how the MS Roald Amundsen outbreak began. NTB reported that 33 of the infected crew members came from the Philippines and the others were from Norway, France and Germany. The passengers were from all over the world.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Brazil adrift as death toll from Covid-19 nears 100,000, number of cases approaching 3 million

Brazil has registered an average of around 1,000 deaths per day for more than a month.PHOTO: AFP

(AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE) - Five months after confirming its first case of the new coronavirus, Brazil is fast approaching the bleak milestone of 100,000 deaths from Covid-19, a tragedy that experts blame on the country's lack of coherent response.

It will be just the second country to cross that grim threshold, after the United States, where the death toll is now more than 150,000.

"It's a tragedy, one of the worst Brazil has ever seen," said sociologist Celso Rocha de Barros, as the number of infections in the sprawling South American country approached three million - also the second-highest in the world, after the US.

Brazil confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus on Feb 26: a Sao Paulo businessman returning from a trip to Italy.

The country of 212 million people registered its first death on March 16.

"At that point, Brazil was more or less getting organised to deal with the pandemic," said Dr Paulo Lotufo, an epidemiologist at the University of Sao Paulo.

But then, political chaos ensued.

Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro condemned the "hysteria" around the virus and railed against decisions by state and local authorities to impose stay-at-home measures to contain it, arguing that the economic damage would be worse than the disease.

Meanwhile, the country's infection curve exploded.

Chilling images emerged from Sao Paulo of six-minute speed burials by grave-diggers clad head-to-toe in protective gear and mass plots excavated by bulldozers in the Amazon city of Manaus.

The curve has plateaued in recent weeks, but at a high level: Brazil has registered an average of around 1,000 deaths per day for more than a month.

The toll stood at 2.9 million infections and 97,256 deaths late on Wednesday. The country appeared to be on track to record its 100,000th death at the weekend.

A fervent advocate of the drug hydroxychloroquine against Covid-19 - despite a lack of evidence for its effectiveness - President Bolsonaro churned through two health ministers in less than a month, after falling out with them over the response to the pandemic.

The post is now held on an interim basis by an army general with no prior medical experience.

The president, meanwhile, has continued to downplay the virus, even after catching it himself last month. He was forced into quarantine for three weeks.

"Nearly everyone here is going to catch it eventually. What are you afraid of? Face up to it," he said after emerging from isolation.

The message from the Bolsonaro government has been "the exact opposite" of what it should have been, said Mr Barros.

"Lockdown is difficult. It has to be coordinated by a leader with political credibility," he told AFP. "You have to explain to people that it's hard, but necessary to avoid a massacre."

Instead, most Brazilian states started exiting lockdown in June, under pressure from Mr Bolsonaro and despite warnings from experts that it was too soon.

Beaches, bars and restaurants were soon packed, even as the death toll continued to soar.

The virus has hit hardest among poor and black Brazilians, especially in the favelas - slums where crowded living conditions and lack of clean, running water make social distancing and hand-washing difficult.

The Amazon region has also been devastated, particularly indigenous peoples, who have a history of vulnerability to outside diseases.

As states now start to consider reopening schools, "the way people behave in the coming weeks will be decisive", said Dr Lotufo.

The country is in a strange grey zone between crisis mode and normality.

"It's shocking to see some people partying while so many others are dying," said Mr Andre Rezende, a driver for a ride-hailing service whose mother-in-law died of Covid-19 and whose brother just came out of 30 days in intensive care with the virus.

"A lot of people are getting back to normal life. The feeling of powerlessness makes some people think, 'might as well try to live normally, because there's no solution to this'," said Mr Barros.

Some are putting their faith in one of the two vaccines that are currently in advanced clinical trials in Brazil - an ideal testing ground because the virus is still spreading so fast.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

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