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Tuesday, June 30, 2020, 22:34
Johnson demands UK 'Build, build, build' to beat virus slump
By Agencies
Tuesday, June 30, 2020, 22:34 By Agencies

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the Speller Metcalfe's building site at The Dudley Institute of Technology in Dudley, central England on June 30, 2020, ahead of a speech he is due to make on the economy. (PHOTO / AFP)

MEXICO CITY / LOS ANGELES / SAO PAULO / CAIRO / ROME / OTTAWA / LONDON / UNITED NATIONS -  UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to shake Britain’s economy out of its coronavirus-induced crisis on Tuesday by fast-tracking infrastructure investment and slashing property planning rules.

As Britain emerges from lockdown, Johnson is looking to move past criticism of his government’s handling of the pandemic with a plan to repair the economic damage and reshape the country.

“We cannot continue simply to be prisoners of the crisis,” Johnson said. “We must work fast because we’ve already seen the vertiginous drop in GDP and we know that people are worried now about their jobs and their businesses.”

Nevertheless, with an exhortation to “build, build, build”, Johnson announced plans to speed up government infrastructure spending and cut through the red tape around planning to make property development easier.

His message, delivered at a college in the central English town of Dudley, was overshadowed by the announcement of a new lockdown in Leicester, just 50 miles away, where COVID-19 infections are surging.

Britain has imposed a stringent lockdown on the English city of Leicester following a local flare-up of the novel coronavirus just as Johnson attempts to nudge the United Kingdom back to normality.

Leicester accounted for 10 percent of all positive cases in England in the past week, the government said.

Another 25 COVID-19 deaths were reported in the country, bringing the death toll to 43,575, the British Department of Health and Social Care said Monday. The number of confirmed cases rose by 815 to 311,965, according to the department.

This April 6, 2020 file photo shows an arrangement of hydroxychloroquine tablets in Las Vegas. (JOHN LOCHER / AP)

Hydroxychloroquine trial

A global trial designed to test whether the anti-malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine can prevent infection with COVID-19 is to restart after being approved by British regulators.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) took its decision on what is known as the COPCOV trial after hydroxychloroquine was found in another British trial to have no benefit as a treatment for patients already infected with COVID-19.

The COPCOV study was paused pending review after the treatment trial results.

The study is a randomized, placebo-controlled trial that is aiming to enrol 40,000 healthcare workers and other at-risk staff around the world, and is being led by the Oxford University's Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) in the Thai capital, Bangkok.

The team said recruitment of British health workers would resume this week, and said plans were under way for new sites in Thailand and Southeast Asia, Africa and South America. Results are expected by the end of this year.

ALSO READ: Gilead prices remdesivir at US$2,340 per patient

UN

The United Nations (UN) is rolling out a campaign to fight misinformation, particularly that on COVID-19, telling people who are about to share social media content to pause, a senior UN official said on Monday.

The idea of the initiative, dubbed Pause, is for people to "take care before you share," said Undersecretary-General Melissa Fleming, head of the UN Department of Global Communications.

"We hope that take-care-before-you-share starts to become a kind of social norm that people have in the back of their head and that will enable a personal behavior change that will help - I'm just saying help - stop the spread of misinformation."

She said the United Nations will work with social media platforms and technology companies to address the issue.

The Pause initiative will be launched on Tuesday to coincide with Social Media Day. 

Global tally

Global COVID-19 cases surpassed 10.3 million while the global death toll topped 505,000 on Tuesday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The United States is the worst-hit country, with more than 2.5 million confirmed cases and over 126,000 deaths. 

Countries with over 200,000 cases also include Brazil, Russia, India, the United Kingdom, Peru, Chile, Spain, Italy, Iran and Mexico.

Albania

Albanian President Ilir Meta on Monday called for a concrete long-term strategy in coping with the COVID-19 situation in view of the increase in the number of confirmed cases in June.

"The alarming increase in the number of the citizens affected by COVID-19, especially the number of victims, compared to the period of the onset of pandemic and quarantine time, asks urgently for serious, responsible and transparent reflection," Meta said in a Facebook post.

For the fourth week in a row, according to the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, Albania has seen an increase in the number of confirmed cases and the number of patients who required hospitalization or intensive care treatment, as well as a growing trend in the number of deaths.

On Monday, the health authorities reported 64 new confirmed cases, bringing the tally to 2,466, with 1,438 recoveries and 58 fatalities.

People line up to get their temperature checked before entering a store in downtown Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 29, 2020. (SILVIA IZQUIERDO / AP)

Brazil

Brazil registered 692 additional coronavirus deaths on Monday, bringing the overall death toll in the country to 58,314, the Ministry of Health said.

Total confirmed cases rose by 24,052 to reach 1,368,195, the second worst outbreak in the world behind the United States.

Brazil still faces a "big challenge" to curb the coronavirus pandemic and should do more to integrate its efforts at different levels of government, a top World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Monday.

"We would encourage once more that Brazil continues to fight against the disease, that Brazil links the efforts at federal and at state level in a much more systematic way," said Michael Ryan, head of the WHO emergencies programme.

Meanwhile, the southeast state of Sao Paulo, which is hardest hit by the pandemic, on Monday announced fines for failing to wear a face mask in public. The new regulation, which takes effect July 1, calls for a fine of 500 reals (US$92) for individuals not wearing a face mask in a public space, and a steeper fine of 5,000 reals (US$920 ) for commercial establishments that do not enforce the rule.

Separately, Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria said he expected this week to receive federal regulatory approval to start trials of a potential coronavirus vaccine developed by China's Sinovac in the state.

Canada

Canada is over the worst of the coronavirus outbreak but a spike in cases in the United States and elsewhere shows Canadians must remain vigilant as the economy reopens, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday.

Canadian medical officials released their latest forecasts on Monday, showing the number of overall deaths could be between 8,545 and 8,865 by July 12. The current toll is 8,522.

Trudeau said Ottawa had the fiscal room to respond if a second wave of the coronavirus struck later this year. The Liberal government has so far unveiled measures worth more than C$160 billion (US$117 billion) in direct spending, or around 7 percent of gross domestic product.

Chile

Chile on Monday said that a total of 275,999 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since the outbreak began.

The death toll climbed to 5,575 after 66 more deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said.

In the same period, 4,017 new cases were confirmed.

Currently, there are 34,270 active cases in the country.

Cyprus

Cyprus on Monday added Japan and Serbia to the lists of countries where travelers are allowed to travel to the eastern Mediterranean island, either with or without health-related preconditions, the Health Ministry said.

According to a ministry statement, Japan was added to Group A, under which travelers are allowed entry without any conditions.

Meanwhile, Serbia was added to Group B, under which travelers will be required to present a health certificate carried out at least 72 hours before their departure, proving negative for the virus.

Cyprus has reported 996 confirmed cases and 19 deaths so far.

A worker disinfect cars before they pass a drive-through coronavirus screening centre at the Ain Shams field hospital in Cairo, Egypt, on June 29, 2020. (KHALED DESOUKI / AFP)

Egypt

Egypt registered on Monday 1,566 new COVID-19 infections, raising the tally in the country to 66,754, said the Health Ministry.

Another 83 deaths were reported, bringing the death toll to 2,872, the ministry's spokesman Khaled Megahed said in a statement.

According to the spokesman, 412 more patients have completely cured and were discharged from hospitals in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of recoveries to 17,951.

France

The number of people who died from coronavirus infection in France rose by 35 to 29,813 over the last three days, health authorities announced Monday and hospitalizations for the disease have followed their long-running downward trend.

For the first time since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, no daily figures were given over the weekend by the authorities, who said that would now be the new procedure.

Germany

Germany’s coronavirus infection rate held below the key threshold of 1.0 for a sixth day, and the number of new cases remained far fewer than the level at the height of the outbreak.

The reproduction factor - or R value - edged up to 0.74 on Monday, from 0.71 the previous day, according to the latest estimate by the country’s health body, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). 

There were 349 new cases in the 24 hours through Tuesday morning, up from 235 the previous day and bringing the total to 195,042, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Fatalities rose by eight to 8,976.

According to data from RKI on Tuesday, the number of confirmed cases increased by 498 to 194,259, and the death toll rose by 12 to 8,973.

Greece

Direct flights from Britain and Sweden to Greece will not be allowed until July 15, Greek authorities said on Monday, adding that they would use EU guidelines to determine which countries were considered at high risk of spreading the novel coronavirus.

Greece has managed to contain the spread of the virus to 3,376 cases so far, performing better than other EU countries mainly due to its early lockdown. It has been lifting travel restrictions gradually since May.

The country reopened its main airports in Athens and Thessaloniki to more international flights on June 15, and will reopen all others on July 1.

Authorities said that from July 1, all persons travelling to Greece would be obliged to fill in a passenger locator form at least 48 hours before entering the country.

Italy

Italy registered a record low of just six COVID-19 fatalities over the past 24 hours, national health authorities reported on Monday.

It was the lowest daily toll since Feb 24, when the country registered five deaths among a total of 219 cases assessed.

Monday's daily toll pushed the country's overall death toll to 34,744.

Active infections dropped to 16,496 cases, down by 185 compared to Sunday, according to the Health Ministry.

Overall, the total number of assessed cases, including active infections, fatalities, and recoveries, stood at 240,436 on Monday, up from 240,310 a day earlier, according to the latest data.

Libya

The National Center for Disease Control of Libya on Tuesday reported 40 new COVID-19 cases, bringing its national count to 802, with 206 recoveries and 23 deaths.

Morocco

Morocco registered 238 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, raising the tally in the country to 12,290, the Ministry of Health said.

The death toll rose to 225 as five more fatalities were recorded in the last 24 hours, said Hind Ezzine, head of the department of epidemic diseases of the Ministry of Health, at a regular press briefing.

The number of recoveries increased to 8,833 after 93 new recoveries were reported, she added.

Mexico

Mexico's Health Ministry on Monday reported 3,805 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 473 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 220,657 cases and 27,121 deaths.

That’s the lowest daily increase in confirmed cases since June 15.

Nigeria

Nigeria will let people travel between its states outside curfew hours from July 1, a senior official said on Monday as authorities moved to relax some coronavirus restrictions.

Students due to graduate this year will also be able to go back to school to prepare for exams, though other children are still barred from attending, said Boss Mustapha, chair of the presidential taskforce on the infection.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous country with around 200 million people, has reported 24,000 cases of the virus and 565 deaths as of Sunday.

Panama

Panama registered a record 1,099 new cases of coronavirus infection on Monday, taking the total number in the country to 32,785, while deaths climbed by 16 to 620 overall, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

The record number surpassed a previous high of 1,028 new cases reported by the Panamanian government on Sunday.

Russia

Russia on Tuesday reported 6,693 new cases of the novel coronavirus, taking its nationwide tally to 647,849.

The country's coronavirus response centre said 154 people had died of the virus in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 9,320.

Rwanda

Rwanda on Monday reported 101 new confirmed COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, a record single-day increase of more than 100 cases in the central African country.

The increase brought the national tally to 1,001, according to the daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic issued by the Health Ministry.

Among all the cases in Rwanda, there were 443 recoveries and two deaths, according to the ministry. 

Senegal

Senegalese President Makcy Sall said Monday night that starting from 11 pm Tuesday, the state of emergency and the related curfew will be lifted across the country.

Due to the high risk of COVID-19 spreading, enclosed places hosting leisure activities will remain closed, Sall said during his televised address.

Sall's decision to lift the state of emergency is seen as part of the government's effort to relaunch the economy that has been dramatically affected by the pandemic.

Senegal has so far reported 6,698 confirmed cases, including 108 deaths and 4,341 recoveries.

Tunisia

Tunisia reported on Monday three new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 1,172, two days after the reopening of its air, land and maritime borders.

According to a Health Ministry statement, a total of 1,029 patients have recovered in Tunisia while 50 deaths had been reported.

Ukraine

Ukraine reported on Tuesday 706 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the national tally to 44,334.

A total of 19,115 have recovered and 1,159 have died, the National Security and Defense Council said.

As of Tuesday morning, 3,238 children and 6,721 physicians had been confirmed as having been infected with the virus.

US

California and Texas both marked record spikes in new COVID-19 infections on Monday, a Reuters tally showed, as Los Angeles reported an "alarming" rise that put it over 100,000 cases.

Statewide positive tests for COVID-19 rose by at least 7,418 in California on Monday to nearly 223,000, the biggest one-day increase since tracking began. COVID-19 infections in Texas rose by 6,545 on Monday to nearly 160,000, also setting a record for a one-day increase.

Nationally, cases rose by more than 40,000, for the fourth time in the past five days.

READ MORE: US reports biggest daily spike of over 40,000 COVID-19 cases

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey ordered the closure of bars, nightclubs, gyms, movie theaters and water parks for at least 30 days. Ducey also delayed the start of public schools until at least Aug 17.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said indoor dining will no longer resume on Thursday as planned and would be postponed indefinitely.

In Kansas, Governor Laura Kelly imposed a statewide mandate requiring residents to wear masks in public spaces, a move she said was necessary to avoid another shutdown.

Meanwhile, nearly 300 cases of a rare, life-threatening syndrome in children and adolescents - the Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) - associated with the novel coronavirus have been identified in the United States in two studies in The New England Journal of Medicine. The MIS-C shares symptoms with toxic shock and Kawasaki disease, including fever, rashes, swollen glands and, in severe cases, heart inflammation.

Belarus 

Belarus reported 328 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, taking its total to 62,118, according to the country's health ministry.

There have been 841 new recoveries in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 46,054, the ministry added.

So far, 392 people have died of the disease in the country, including five over the past 24 hours, it said.

As of Tuesday, over 1,000,000 tests for the virus have been conducted across the country, according to official figures.

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