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Coronavirus latest: Spain imposes second local lockdown

Some 70,000 people in Spain’s northwestern Galicia region have been given new stay-at-home orders following a surge in cases. Infections have also been reported at slaughterhouses in Austria.

  • Hundreds of scientists urge the WHO to change stance on how the virus is spread
  • Spain puts part of its Galicia region in a new local lockdown
  • Mexico surpasses France’s death toll
  • Nearly 11.32 million confirmed cases reported globally

All updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT) 

19:00 Here’s the latest on the coronavirus in the United States:

COVID-19 cases in Florida have risen by over 10,000 for three out of the last four days. The state recorded 10,059 confirmed cases on Sunday, surpassing the highest daily cases reported by any European country during the height of the coronavirus outbreak there.

Amid a massive surge in coronavirus cases, “Sunbelt” state mayors have pushed back against President Donald Trump’s attempt to downplay the seriousness of the virus.

On Saturday, Texas reported 8,258 confirmed coronavirus cases, its highest daily increase. In an interview with CNN, Austin Mayor Steve Adler, a Democrat, urged Texas’ Republican Governor Gregg Abbott to empower local governments to deal with the pandemic.

In Houston, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, who is also a Democrat, has said a stay-at-home order is needed.

The state of Arizona has also seen record hospitalizations as authorities say the intensive care units there are operating near maximum capacity.

“Mixed messages” from US leaders have been a problem, Mayor Kate Gallego of Phoenix, Arizona told ABC’s “This Week” program.

The COVID-19 death toll in Arizona has surpassed the 1,800-death mark, which is more than six times the overall toll in South Korea.

Meanwhile, residents of the Mexican town of Sonoyta, across from Lukeville, Arizona, briefly blocked the main road leading south from the US border over coronavirus fears.

Jose Ramos Arzate, the mayor of Sonoyta, issued a statement Saturday telling US tourists not to visit Mexico.

18:17 The northwestern Spanish region of Galicia has imposed fresh restrictions on about 70,000 people following a new COVID-19 outbreak.

The decision comes a day after Catalonia introduced a local lockdown for 200,000 people west of the regional capital Barcelona to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

People living in A Marina along Spain’s northern coast in the region of Lugo will not be able to leave the area from midnight on Sunday until Friday, two days before regional elections on July 12.

The regional government said people will be allowed to move around but only those who need to travel for work will be allowed to leave or enter the area.

Regional Health minister Jesus Vazquez Almuina told a news conference that the biggest outbreaks were linked to several bars in the area. Regional health authorities said there were now 258 cases in Galicia, of which 117 were in Lugo.

Capacity in bars and restaurants will be reduced to 50% and people will have to wear a face mask, even if outdoors on beaches or at swimming pools, the authorities said.

Spaniards endured one of the world’s toughest lockdowns for three months from March as the country suffered one of Europe’s worst coronavirus death tolls — at least 28,385 — and more than 250,000 cases.

17:41 The Indian government has decided not to reopen the historic Taj Mahal site, citing the risk of coronavirus infections spreading in Agra city.

On Sunday, local authorities issued a new advisory, ordering an extension of lockdown restrictions on monuments in and around the northern city. The monuments in Agra, including the Taj Mahal, have been closed to the public since March.

“In the interest of the public, it has been decided that opening monuments in Agra will not be advisable as of now,” district authorities said in a notice.

Agra, in Uttar Pradesh — the country’s most populous state — remains the worst-affected city by COVID-19.

India’s coronavirus infections have risen manifold in the past three months. On Sunday, the health ministry reported a record single-day spike of 24,850 new cases and more than 600 deaths.

So far, India has registered over 673,000 coronavirus cases, closing in on Russia, the third-most affected country globally. Over 19,000 people have died of the virus.

16:44 Hundreds of scientists say there is evidence that the coronavirus in smaller particles in the air can infect people and are calling for the World Health Organization to revise recommendations, the New York Times has reported.

The WHO has said the coronavirus disease spreads primarily from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, which are expelled when a person with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes or speaks.

In an open letter to the agency, which the researchers plan to publish in a scientific journal next week, 239 scientists in 32 countries outlined the evidence showing smaller particles can infect people, the NYT said. 

Whether carried by large droplets that zoom through the air after a sneeze, or by much smaller exhaled droplets that may glide the length of a room, the coronavirus is borne through the air and can infect people when inhaled, the scientists said.

However, the health agency has said the evidence for the virus being airborne was not convincing, according to the NYT.

“Especially in the last couple of months, we have been stating several times that we consider airborne transmission as possible but certainly not supported by solid or even clear evidence,” Dr. Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO’s technical lead of infection prevention and control, was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

16:08 South Africa has deployed dozens of military doctors to deal with a surge in coronavirus infections in East Cape, the country’s third-most affected province by COVID-19.

The move comes a day after South Africa recorded more than 10,800 new coronavirus cases, its biggest single-day jump since the COVID-19 outbreak arrived. So far the country has registered 187,977 coronavirus cases with over 3,000 related deaths.

“The province is not coping. They have personnel and equipment problems,” defense force spokesman Thabo Sello told AFP news agency.

“The situation in Eastern Cape is really bad with infections increasing and spreading rapidly,” he added.

South Africa has imposed some of the strictest lockdown measures in the world since March 27 in a bid to contain the COVID-19 spread.

However, since the easing of lockdown rules, the number of daily infections has been rising by the thousands.

15:30 Kazakhstan has imposed a second nationwide lockdown to counter a massive surge in coronavirus cases.

The government has closed down shopping centers, gyms, swimming pools, hairdressers and beauty salons for the next two weeks.

In March, the government imposed a strict lockdown that saw important sectors of the economy grind to a halt and stopped most travel. Kazakhstan, however, was one of the first Central Asian countries to lift restrictions in late May, when it had recorded less than 9,000 cases.

Since then, however, COVID-19 cases have spiked more than five-fold, reaching over 47,000 with 188 deaths.

The new restrictions are not as stringent as during the first lockdown — travel within the country is allowed and citizens can also fly in and out of the country.

15:02 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that his government could impose more wide-ranging measures to slow the coronavirus spread in the country. 

“We are in the midst of a renewed attack of the coronavirus, a very strong attack that is increasing and spreading both around the world and here as well,” Netanyahu said at a weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.

The prime minister said ministers would meet again on Monday to consider reimposing national anti-virus restrictions.

On Friday, Israel recorded over 1,000 new infections over a 24-hour period — the first time in the country since the COVID-19 outbreak. According to official figures, nearly 30,000 people have been infected and 330 have died of the coronavirus.

Authorities have already reimposed restrictions on larger gatherings.

Netanyahu said the “emergency situation” required a new way of approaching decision-making in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

“We cannot approach Knesset legislation … as if everything was normal,” he said. “We want to advance both the means to make decisions and decision-making on a different scale and magnitude” in order to combat the virus, he said without specifying any details of what this would involve.

14:34 Croatians are going to the polls to elect a new government amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Adriatic country’s tourism-dependent economy has suffered badly due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party, which has led Croatia for most of its nearly 30-year  independence, is hopeful to win the vote as a result of its relatively successful efforts to contain the COVID-19 spread.

Croatia has so far registered 3,000 infections and 110 related deaths, however, the country has seen an uptick in coronavirus cases in recent weeks.

The left-leaning Social Democrats (SDP) accused the government of endangering citizens by “rushing” to hold the elections early, instead of their initial plans for autumn. But Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic defended the move, saying the “sooner the better” for safety reasons.

“All recommendations of all experts were that it (virus) can be more dangerous in autumn than it is now, that is why the elections are today,” the 50-year-old told reporters after casting his ballot.

12:54 Revelers who packed central London pubs have made it “crystal clear” that drunk people cannot socially distance in the wake of England’s bars and restaurants reopening on Saturday, the head of the country’s police federation said.

The hospitality sector was told it could reopen after a three-month hiatus on condition that clients were seated and social distancing measures were adhered to. However, the decision to pick Saturday as a reopening day has been called into question.

Suggestions that a less-busy day, such as a Monday, would have been more appropriate were rebuffed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday. Johnson said it didn’t matter which day of the week the doors of England’s pubs were flung open.

The head of the Police Federation of England and Wales said he had to deal with “naked men, happy drunks, angry drunks, fights and more angry drunks” while on shift on Saturday. “What was crystal clear is that drunk people can’t/won’t socially distance,” John Apter told London radio.

He said his own police department in the southern city of Southampton “managed to cope” but that “other areas had issues with officers being assaulted.”

12:28 Morocco has recorded an additional 698 cases, its highest one-day rise since the outbreak first emerged in March.

The new figures mean the official total now stands at 14,132 infections with 234 fatalities as a result of COVID-19, according to the health ministry.
 
Most of the new cases were found at a fish canning factory in the southern port city of Safi. The city has since been quarantined and its 300,000 inhabitants placed under a total lockdown, media reports quoted local authorities as saying.
 
Morocco, which has a population of roughly 35 million people, reopened cafes, restaurants, hotels and sports halls on June 25. Domestic tourism and inter-city travel also resumed the same day.
 
However, a public health state of emergency has now been extended until July 10. The wearing of face masks remains mandatory while borders will be shut until further notice.

12:04 In Madagascar, a new lockdown has been implemented in Antananarivo after a surge in cases, two months after the restrictions were eased, the presidency said.

“The Analamanga region (under which the capital is situated) is returning to full lockdown,” the presidency announced in a statement.

No traffic will be allowed in or out of the region. The limitation will be imposed from tomorrow until July 20.

In addition, a strict curfew will be imposed on the movement of people on the streets.

12:00 Here is a round-up of all the latest news around Asia:

JapanYuriko Koike has secured a second term as governor of Tokyo, public broadcaster NHK reported, citing its exit poll, as the Japanese capital grapples with the pandemic and prepares for next year’s postponed Olympics.

Koike’s reelection had been expected after she was widely praised for her handling of the virus outbreak in the city.

ChinaEight new cases have been reported, an increase of five on Saturday’s figure, according to the national health authority.

Meanwhile, city officials in Beijing said almost all the infections in a recent outbreak in the capital were mild.

Beijing has been fighting to quash an outbreak traced to a sprawling wholesale market in the city early last month.

Of the 334 confirmed cases since June 11 in the capital, 47% were staff at the Xinfadi market, Pang Xinghuo, a senior Beijing disease control official, told the media.

South Korea: More than 60 cases have been recorded for the third day in a row as the virus continues to spread
beyond the greater Seoul area.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it had confirmed 61 additional cases, bringing the nationwide total to 13,091. It said there had been no more fatalities from COVID-19, meaning the country’s death toll remained at 283.

Indonesia: The people of Bali have been conducting mass prayers as the idyllic island prepares to reopen to tourists.

More than a thousand locals attended a prayer session at Besakih Hindu temple in the town of Karangasem, expressing gratitude for the handling of the outbreak on the island and seeking blessings for the emergence of a “new normal.”

Bali has reported 1,849 cases and 20 deaths so far from the coronavirus, while Indonesia as a whole has recorded 63,749 infections and its death toll currently stands at 3,171.

The resort island of Bali will slowly reopen this month for domestic arrivals, while keeping a “strict health protocol” to prevent the spread of the virus, Bali provincial secretary Dewa Made Indra said.

The local government expects to reopen Bali to foreign tourists sometime in September.

10:50 Coronavirus cases have been reported at three meat-processing facilities in Austria, two of which are near the German border.

In total, 12 employees have tested positive for COVID-19, the crisis team of the federal state of Upper Austria confirmed to the APA news agency. Austrian media have also reported the infections.

At a slaughterhouse in the district of Ried im Innkreis, near the border with Germany, there have been seven confirmed cases, while in the district of Braunau there were two. An additional three have been reported in Wels-Land, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) southeast of Ried.

More tests were being carried out on other employees and these figures may rise.

The meat industry has become synonymous with the coronavirus in recent weeks after Tönnies in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, had more than 1,500 employees test positive.

A lot of criticism has been aimed at the slaughterhouse firm as a result, particularly over poor working environments for employees, as well as bad conditions for the animals.

10:07 Iran has recorded its highest ever daily death toll from the coronavirus.

An official confirmed that 163 people had died from the virus over a 24-hour period, surpassing the previous daily high of 162, recorded a week ago.

In total, Iran has registered almost 238,000 cases and 11,408 deaths from COVID-19.

09:33 The number of coronavirus infections in Saudi Arabia has passed 200,000 amid a rise in cases following the lifting of curfews last month.

Authorities in the country, the worst-hit of the six Gulf states, reported more than 4,100 cases on Friday and on Saturday, bringing the total to 205,929. There have been 1,858 confirmed deaths from COVID-19.

Neighboring United Arab Emirates also passed a coronavirus milestone, with more than 1,300 cases on Friday and Saturday taking its tally to 50,857. The death toll is 321. UAE has also lifted curfews, with commercial businesses and public venues reopening.

Of the other Gulf states, Kuwait has maintained a partial curfew, while Qatar — which has the second-highest regional infection rate at nearly 100,000 cases —, Bahrain and Oman never imposed one.

08:42 The German Football League (DFL) is working together with the Health Ministry as part of plans to allow football fans to watch matches in stadiums next season.

DFL chief Christian Seifert told the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung that “establishing normal operations will be the next big challenge.”

Mass gatherings remain prohibited in Germany until at least October 31, unless every person in attendance can be traced. Seifert said options are being explored on this basis, with the next season due to start in mid-September.

“We are working on such guidelines, there are first ideas which we are exchanging with the Health Ministry,” Seifert said.

He said it doesn’t matter “whether you bring 200 people into a theater or 5,000 into the Dortmund stadium you will always have to find individual solutions, based on the infrastructure and possibly the epidemiological situation in the area as well.”

The DFL chief added: “We will have to learn to incorporate uncertainty into our considerations. We just have to stop feeling unsafe – otherwise it will be difficult in Germany.”

08:10 The rate of new coronavirus infections in Germany’s western district of Gütersloh after an outbreak at a meat-processing factory continues to fall, according to data provided on Sunday by the country’s infectious disease agency.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) put the number of infections per 100,000 inhabitants over the past seven days at 56, a drop from 66.5 on Saturday and 76.6 on Friday.

For the current lockdown in the district to be lifted, the figure must fall to 50. At the height of the outbreak, it reached 270.2.

The district was forced to impose the regional lockdown after more than 1,500 workers, mostly from eastern European countries, became infected at a factory run by giant meat producer Tönnies in the city of Rheda-Wiedenbrück. The outbreak has focused public attention on the exploitation of workers in the German meat industry, who are often forced to endure long hours and live in deplorable conditions.

Another district, Warendorf, that is also home to Tönnies workers has in recent days already seen its rate of infections fall below the level needed for its lockdown to be lifted.

08:05 The premier of the Australian state of Victoria has defended his decision to put nine public housing towers in a complete lockdown as cases continue to plague Melbourne’s suburbs.

An additional 74 new cases have been reported, after Saturday’s 108 infections prompted Premier Daniel Andrews to order some 3,000 citizens to stay at home for at least five days and to put police on guard outside the buildings.

“This is not going to be a pleasant experience for those residents, but I have a message for those residents: this is not about punishment but protection,” Andrews said in a televised conference.

Promising two weeks of free rent and hardship payments to the those who have to abide by the new rules, Andrews said every resident under the new lockdown would be tested for COVID-19, except those who have already tested positive.

The communal nature of the towers, which are home to people on low incomes, has “genuinely explosive potential for the spread of the virus,” said Victoria Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.

07:25 Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo has gone into self-isolation for two weeks, as a precautionary measure, despite testing negative for the coronavirus, the government said. His decision was prompted after learning he had contact with a person who tested positive.

Akufo-Addo began his period of quarantine on Saturday and will be working from the presidential villa in the capital, Accra, the information minister said in a statement.

“The president has elected to do so after at least one person within his close circle tested positive for COVID-19,” the minister said.

“[The president] has, as [of] today, tested negative, but has elected to take this measure out of the abundance of caution.”

Ghana has recorded almost 20,000 cases, while its COVID-19 death toll currently stands at 117. In addition, Ghana has lifted its stringent lockdown, although social distancing measures are still in place.

The announcement of the president’s self-isolation came a day after a junior minister resigned for not self-isolating after testing positive for the coronavirus.

06:50 India’s number of confirmed coronavirus infections took another record leap on Sunday. The Health Ministry reported 24,850 new cases to bring the total to 673,165. The death toll rose to 19,268.

India is now the fourth hardest-hit country in the world behind the US, Brazil and Russia.

More than 400,000 people in the country have so far recovered from coronavirus infections.

06:41 Greece will reject stringent European Union conditions on the use of the coronavirus emergency aid package, the country’s prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, told the Financial Times newspaper.

“Greeks have matured a lot. And we want to do our own reforms,” he said.

An economic performance review conducted by the European Commission every six months was enough and there was no need for any “additional strict conditionality,” the PM told the newspaper.

Mitsotakis added that Greece had a very “aggressive reform agenda” that would concentrate on “the green transition” and “the digital transition.”

05:09 Germany on Sunday reported an increase of 239 confirmed coronavirus cases. That brings the number of infections in the country to 196,335, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the country’s infectious disease agency.

The reported death toll rose by two to 9,012.

Sunday’s figures are down from the day before, when there were 422 reported new cases and seven deaths. Fatalities passed the 9,000 mark on Friday. According to RKI estimates, some 181,700 people have recovered from the infection.

02:39 Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said Germany’s economy will start growing again in just a few months.

“I am certain that we can stop the downward turn of our economy after the summer holidays and the German economy will grow again by October at the latest,” the conservative politician told the mass-circulation Bild am Sonntag.

While the nation’s gross domestic product is set to shrink by 6% this year, the minister said he expected growth of over 5% in 2021. Altmaier was nearly equally optimistic when discussing Germany’s labor market.

“I assume that we would see the peak of coronavirus-related unemployment this year, somewhere around October,” he said. The numbers “could start coming back in November.”

Altmaier’s claims are close to recent projections released by the Munich-based Ifo economic institute. The reputable think tank believes that Germany’s economy would shrink by 6.7% this year and then grow 6.4% in 2021.

However, the veteran politician also warned of the dangers presented by the rapid spread of the coronavirus in the US.

“I am very concerned by the rising number of new infections in the US,” Altmaier told the paper. “An out-of-control pandemic over there would have big consequences for the global economy.”

02:37 Beijing’s recent surge in coronavirus cases appears to have been brought under control with only two new infections reported on Saturday. China has reported eight new cases, up from three infections a day earlier.

Six of the new cases were imported, bringing the total number of infections in China to 83,553. No new deaths have been reported since May as the death toll remains at 4,634.

China also reported a slight increase in the number of asymptomatic patients — seven, as compared to the four reported a day earlier.

01:07 Mexico has now registered over 30,000 coronavirus deaths, surpassing France to become the country with the fifth-biggest coronavirus death toll. On Saturday, Mexican officials reported 523 fatalities for a total of 30,366, as well as 6,000 new infections for a total of over 251,000.

The government has warned that the real number of infections is likely much higher. Health authorities have struggled to limit the spread of the pandemic, with Mexico City officials loosening lockdown measures earlier this week but changing course on Friday.

The Latin American nation of some 129 million is currently listed as eight by the number cases on the global ranking provided by the US Johns Hopkins Institute. Mexico now has about as many coronavirus cases than Spain, but the EU country has a much smaller population of 47 million.

The US, Brazil and Russia, remain at the top of the list.

00:12 German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has called for nationwide free coronavirus testing for all, departing from the targeted testing approach preferred by Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn.

In an interview with the newspaper Welt am Sonntag, the politician backed fellow conservative CSU party member and Bavaria State Premier Markus Söder’s approach. Bavaria is currently the only German state to order free tests for the entire population.

“We have to be consistent in fighting a potentially life-threatening infection,” Seehofer said. “So far, we have no clarity about the actual occurrence of infection in the state.”

In practice, this would mean paying for the tests in cases where it is not covered by health insurance. Seehofer also said that the cost of conducting widespread mass testing “can only be primarily covered by the federal government.”

Spahn has voiced concerns over mass tests as it may result in false positives.

00:05 South Africa has reported its highest daily spike with 10,853 new infections, according to data released by the Health Ministry on Saturday. The country has reported a total of 187,977 confirmed cases of the virus.

With 74 fatalities reported, the death toll has risen to 3,026.

The surge comes as the country eases coronavirus restrictions to help save the economy, which is facing its worst slump in close to 90 years.

“What we have been seeking to do is to balance … saving lives of our people and also preserving livelihoods, and it’s a delicate balance,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday.

00:00 Catch up on yesterday’s coronavirus news here: Coronavirus latest: England eases COVID-19 lockdown

see,tj,js/dr (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa) (DW)