09 December 2022

Israel closes bars, gyms after surge in Covid-19 cases – latest updates

The global coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 11.5 million people and claimed over 535,000 lives. Here are updates for July 6
A bartender and customers wear face masks to fight the spread of the coronavirus at a bar in Tel Aviv, Israel, June 4, 2020. - (Reuters)

Israel reimposed a series of restrictions to fight a spike in coronavirus infections, including the immediate closure of bars, night clubs, gyms and event halls.

In public remarks at a special cabinet session on the health crisis, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had to reverse course to avoid a wider lockdown that could paralyse its economy, where unemployment is just above 20 percent.

"The pandemic is spreading – that's as clear as day. It is rising steeping daily and it is dragging with it, contrary to what we had been told, a trail of critically ill patients," Netanyahu said.

A government announcement said that in addition to the immediate shuttering of bars, night clubs, gyms, event halls and cultural events, the number of diners in restaurants would be limited to 20 indoors and 30 outdoors.


Qatar coronavirus cases exceed 100,000 virus cases

The number of confirmed virus cases in Qatar exceeded 100,000.

Qatar, which has seen its daily case numbers fall from a peak of 2,355 in late May, added 546 new cases and five deaths in the past 24 hours to give a total of 133 deaths and 100,345 cases in total.

Only about 12 percent of Qatar's population are Qatari nationals and, as in other Gulf states, Qatar saw Covid-19 spread among low-income migrant workers living in crowded quarters.

Qatar, which did not impose curfews, began a four-phase lifting of restrictions on June 15. The second phase began on July 1, allowing the limited reopening of restaurants, beaches and parks.


Kuwait virus cases top 50,000

Kuwait reported 538 new infections to bring its total tally to 50,644 and 373 deaths.

Kuwait initiated a five-phase plan at the start of June to gradually lift coronavirus restrictions, including partially restarting commercial flights from Aug 1. A partial curfew remains in place.


Greece to resume direct flights with Britain 

Greece is allowing direct flights from Britain on July 15, the Greek government said, as Athens tries to salvage its all-important summer tourist season.

Greece lifted restrictions on flights from EU countries to its two main airports on June 15 and the rest on July 1 - but had kept a ban in place on fellow member Sweden and former member Britain, as well as several other countries with large coronavirus caseloads.

The government is still monitoring the situation with Covid-19 in Sweden, government spokesman Stelios Petsas told a news briefing.


Spanish antibody study shows 5 percent of population exposed to virus

Results from the final stage of a nationwide antibody study show some 5.2 percent of Spain's population has been exposed to the virus, health officials said, confirming findings from earlier stages.

The study, which tested nearly 70,000 people across Spain three times over the past three months, found the virus' prevalence had not altered significantly since preliminary results were published in May.

It also suggested that immunity to the virus can be short-lived, with 14 percent of participants who tested positive for antibodies in the first stage subsequently testing negative in the last stage.

"Immunity can be incomplete, it can be transitory, it can last for just a short time and then disappear," said Dr Raquel Yotti, director of Spain's Carlos III Health Institute, which co-led the study.


Switzerland awash with ventilators after coronavirus buying spree

Swiss authorities are trying to figure out what to do with a potential surplus of ventilators which they snapped up in the scramble for equipment to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The Swiss stockpile of hygienic masks has also swollen to more than 200 million, with more on the way, the defence ministry said, confirming a SonntagsZeitung newspaper report.

The paper cited minutes from a government coronavirus task force as saying that cantonal authorities were sending excess ventilators back to the federal government, which did not have the resources to store and maintain them.

That meant cantons could keep them, sell them to other countries or donate them, perhaps to developing countries, the paper said.


Iran records highest daily death toll 

Iran recorded its highest number of virus deaths from within a 24-hour period, official Health Ministry figures showed on Sunday.

The 163 deaths reported exceed the previous record from last Monday, when the Health Ministry reported 162 deaths in a day.

The Islamic Republic has recorded a total of 11,571 deaths and 240,438 infections from the coronavirus, Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said in a statement on state TV.


Bulgaria to tighten coronavirus controls after surge in cases

Bulgaria will clamp down on people who fail to observe obligatory social distancing in public spaces or wear protective masks indoors as new cases of the coronavirus surged, Health Minister Kiril Ananiev.

The Balkan country of 7 million people has registered 5,740 cases and 246 deaths. New cases in the past week alone totalled 1,049.

Ananiev said he would extend the state of epidemic emergency in the country until the end of July to allow him to be more flexible and issue special orders if needed.

He urged local authorities to enforce compliance with anti-infection measures and limit large public events. Fines for failing to comply with distancing and other measures would be more strictly imposed.

Health officials in central city of Veliko Tarnovo said 23 out of 42 people who attended a school prom at the end of June tested positive for the infection.


Austria numbers rise

The Austrian government says the number of people with active cases of Covid-19 has risen above 1,000 for the first time since mid-May.

The Health Ministry’s official dashboard listed 1,012 people “currently ill” on Monday and a total of 18,279 positive cases since the start of the pandemic.

The Alpine country was one of the first in Europe to order a swift lockdown, but has gradually reopened again in recent months.

Over the weekend, Austrian media reported small outbreaks of coronavirus cases at three slaughterhouses.


Africa starts opening airspace 

African nations face a difficult choice as infections are rapidly rising: Welcome the international flights that originally brought Covid-19 to the ill-prepared continent, or further hurt their economies and restrict a lifeline for badly needed humanitarian aid.

Kenya Airways wants to resume international flights.

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta announced a phased reopening of the country from a lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the virus, lifting restrictions in and out of the capital Nairobi and the coastal city of Mombasa.

Other countries are preparing to follow. That’s even as Africa had more than 463,000 confirmed virus cases as of Sunday and South Africa, its most developed economy, already struggles to care for virus patients.

South Africa and Somalia are open for domestic ones, and Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Tanzania and Zambia now have commercial flights. Tanzania opened its skies weeks ago, hoping for a tourism boost despite widespread concern it’s hiding the extent of infections. It hasn’t updated case numbers since April.


South Africa begins second phase of reopening of schools

Thousands of South African students are returning to school after nearly four months when their classes were closed to combat the spread of Covid-19.

Students in grades 6 and 11 are starting classes, as the second stage of a phased reopening of schools. The first group of pupils, from grades 7 and 12, returned to classes last month.

Returning learners were required to produce indemnity forms signed by their parents granting them permission to resume classes.

South Africa's government last week won a legal challenge permitting it to proceed with reopening schools.

However, in recent days the government has postponed plans for further grades to return to class amid a quickening speed in the rise of confirmed cases. South Africa has 196,750 cases as, more than 40 percent of all the cases reported by Africa's 54 countries. South Africa has recorded 3,199 deaths.


Kosovo imposes curfew

Kosovo's government re-imposed nightly curfews in the capital Pristina and three other towns in a bid to curb an increase of infections in the Balkan nation.

The country of 1.8 million people has registered around 3,500 known infections and 75 deaths from the respiratory disease.

"Any movement of people outside their homes is banned" due to the curfew introduced in towns with the highest number of infections, a government statement said.

People will not be allowed to go outside between 9:00 pm to 5:00 am next day, it said.


Madagascar imposes lockdown amid rise 

Madagascar authorities have imposed a total lockdown in the Analamanga region due to the rise in cases, the presidency said in a statement.

Analamanga is a region in central Madagascar, containing the capital Antananarivo and its surrounding metropolitan area.

The lockdown measures will be effective for a period of 15 days, starting from Monday July 6 to last until July 20.


Indonesia logs 70 deaths

Indonesia reported 1,209 infections and 70 new deaths, its health ministry said.

The case total is currently 64,958 and number of fatalities 3,241, said Achmad Yurianto, a ministry official. 


Fiji reports first case in 78 days

Fiji's 78-day run without virus is over, with Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama confirming a 66-year-old man tested positive after returning from India.

It is the 19th case in the small South Pacific island nation, and more are now expected.

"We've confirmed a border case of Covid-19 among a returning citizen while he was securely in the confines of government-funded quarantine," Bainimarama said.


Louvre reopens after 16-week shutdown

The Louvre, the world's most visited museum, reopens after its closure, but with nearly a third of its galleries still shut.

The vast former palace of France's kings has lost more than $45 million in ticket sales during the near-four-month lockdown, and director Jean-Luc Martinez admitted it could have a few more lean years ahead as the world adapts to the virus.

Although most of the museum's most popular draws, like the "Mona Lisa" and its vast antiquities collection will be accessible, other galleries where social distancing is more difficult will remain closed.


Pakistan's health minister tests positive

Adviser to the Prime Minister for Health Zafar Mirza, who effectively acts as the health minister, has tested positive for Covid-19, joining a long list of lawmakers and politicians who have recently contracted the virus.

"I have tested positive for Covid-19. Under med advice I have isolated myself at home, and taking all precautions," Mirza, who has been on the forefront in the country's battle against the pandemic, tweeted on Monday.

"I have mild symptoms. Please keep me in your kind prayers. Colleagues, keep up the good work! You are making a big difference, and I am proud of you," he added.


Russia reports more than 6,600 cases

Russia's official case tally, the fourth largest in the world, rose to 687,862 after officials reported 6,611 new infections in the last 24 hours.
Authorities also said 135 people had died overnight, bringing Russia's official death toll to 10,296.
India overtook Russia over the weekend as the country with the third- highest number of infections behind the United States and Brazil, which have the largest reported caseloads.


India becomes the third-worst affected country

India has overtaken Russia to become the third worst-affected nation by virus after reporting 24,248 new cases.

India has now confirmed 697,413 cases, including 19,693 deaths. Russia has 680,283 cases.

The US has had the most cases, with nearly 2.9 million. Brazil is second, with over 1.6 million.

Indian authorities earlier also withdrew a planned reopening of the famed Taj Mahal monument after new cases were detected in the area. 


Philippines reports spike in cases

The Philippines has reported its biggest spike in infections in recent days as the government eases quarantine restrictions to revive the economy, raising the possibility its crowded capital may be placed back under a strict lockdown.

The Department of Health reported a total of 2,434 cases in recent days, most of them in metropolitan Manila, raising the number of confirmed cases nationwide to more than 44,250, including 1,297 deaths. The infections and deaths are among the highest in Southeast Asia.


Broadway actor dies in the US

Broadway and TV actor Nick Cordero, who spent months in intensive care being treated for the coronavirus and lost his leg from complications has died , his wife said.

He was 41 years old.

He had been awaiting a double lung transplant when he died.

Cordero was known for his roles in the musicals "Waitress," "A Bronx Tale" and "Bullets Over Broadway," for which he was nominated for a Tony award


Australia to seal off virus-hit state

Australia will effectively seal off the state of Victoria from the rest of the country, authorities said, announcing unprecedented measures to tackle a worrying surge in cases.

For the first time since the pandemic began, the border between Australia's two most populous states – Victoria and New South Wales – will be closed from midnight Tuesday, officials from both states said.

Victoria – home to more than 6.6 million people – announced a record 127 new cases, as the virus spread through Melbourne, including a cluster in several densely populated apartment blocks.


China reports four new cases

China reported four new cases, three from outside the country and one transmitted locally in Beijing, the National Health Commission reported. Another 106 people were in isolation as suspected cases or for testing positive for the virus without showing symptoms. 

China has recorded 4,634 deaths among 83,557 cases since the virus was detected in the central city of Wuhan late last year.


Germany's cases rise by 219

The number of cases in Germany increased by 219 to 196,554, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 4 to 9,016, the tally showed.

Germany recently reopened its borders to most EU members as well as a slew of other countries, with more to follow depending on how the pandemic evolves.


Brazil registers 26,051 new cases, 602 deaths

Brazil recorded 26,051 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus during the past 24 hours as well as 602 deaths, the Health Ministry said.

Brazil has registered more than 1.6 million cases since the pandemic began, while cumulative deaths total 64,867, according to the ministry.


Mexico's cases rise by 4,683 to 256,848

Mexican health authorities reported 4,683 confirmed new infections of the novel coronavirus, pushing its tally to a total of 256,848, and 273 more deaths to a total of 30,639.

Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez Gatell has repeatedly said that the actual number of both infections and associated death is probably significantly higher.


US House Speaker tests positive for coronavirus

Philip Gunn, Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, says he has tested positive for the coronavirus as state health officials report more than 200 new infections and five deaths linked to the pandemic.

Gunn, a Republican, said in a video posted Sunday to Facebook that he got tested because he had been in close proximity to another member of the House who tested positive.

“I felt like I needed to go get myself tested just because I had been with this person and this morning was informed that I too have tested positive for Covid,” Gunn said. 

“I feel very fortunate that I don’t really have very many symptoms and feel fine.”

Gunn said he called everyone that he had been in close proximity to recently to let them know of his diagnosis and planned to self-quarantine.

Mississippi recorded 226 new cases through Saturday, bringing the total number of confirmed and probable infections to 30,900 across the state. Five more people also died from Covid-19.


Chechen city Grozny reopens

The buzz of city life has returned to the Chechen city of Grozny after coronavirus restrictions were eased.

Residents in the capital were seen at cafes and businesses and enjoying amusements parks in recent days.

The region has also reopened to tourists.

Ahead of an expected influx of visitors, Chechnya's leader Ramzan Kadyrov visited a lakeside hotel in Grozny.


Kazakhstan reimposes lockdown

Authorities in Kazakhstan have re-imposed a countrywide lockdown amid a spike in coronavirus cases.

Public transport, non-food stores, sports centres, and beauty salons have been closed.

However, parks remain open in the central Asian nation.

Walks with up to three people and individual exercise are also permitted.


Chile announces new $1.5B stimulus for middle class

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera announced on Sunday a new $1.5 billion package of measures to help keep the country's ailing middle class afloat as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the economy of the world's top copper producer.

The measures include access to zero-interest loans, subsidized rent and the ability to defer mortgage loan payments for up to six months, Pinera said in a televised speech.

"The coronavirus pandemic...is hitting our middle class hard," Pinera said, touting the fresh round of stimulus as a bailout for at least 1 million families.

Pinera's centre-right administration has already announced two sprawling stimulus packages worth nearly 12 percent of gross domestic product, aimed primarily at protecting small business, the poor and the unemployed.

Chile has reported more than 295,000 cases of coronavirus, surpassing the tally in crisis-racked Italy, and 6,308 deaths from the disease. [Source: TRT World]

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