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Live updates: WHO chief says COVID-19 pandemic still accelerating




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WHO says 183,000 cases- a new daily record – added worldwide with the biggest increase from North and South America.

  • The novel coronavirus pandemic is still accelerating and its effects will be felt for decades, the World Health Organization’s director-general said.

  • The WHO reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases as the total rose by 183,020 in a 24-hour period. The biggest increase was from the Americas, with more than 116,000 new cases.

  • Brazil officially passed the 50,000 marks, with 50,617 coronavirus deaths as of Sunday. It has recorded 1,085,038 cases to date, according to the country’s health ministry.

  • Worldwide, at least 8.9 million people have been confirmed to have the coronavirus, At least 4.4 million have recovered, while more than 467,000 people have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Here are the latest updates:

Monday, June 22

10:45 GMT – Bulgaria makes face masks compulsory again as cases rise

Bulgaria has ordered residents to wear face masks again in indoor public places after its highest weekly rise in coronavirus cases.

The order by Health Minister Kiril Ananiev came 10 days after he made masks indoors “highly recommended” but not mandatory, apart from on public transport, in pharmacies and medical establishments.

Bulgaria, which has registered 3,905 cases and 199 deaths from the coronavirus, recorded 606 new COVID-19 cases last week, the country’s highest weekly rise.

10:30 GMT – Kazakhstan to lock down the city at the weekend as cases jump

Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Almaty
A woman wearing a face mask and gloves at a mobile coronavirus testing station in Almaty, Kazakhstan [File: Pavel Mikheyev/Reuters]

Kazakhstan will impose a two-day lockdown in the northern city of Kostanay and four nearby towns next weekend after a jump in fresh COVID-19 cases, local newspaper Kostanayskiye Novosti reported.

Residents of Kostanay and the four towns, including Rudny and Lisakovsk, will be barred from leaving their houses except for work or urgent necessities on June 27-28, the newspaper reported, citing local authorities.

Kazakhstan has favored weekend restrictions as the number of cases more than quintupled to about 28,000 since lifting a nationwide lockdown in mid-May. It temporarily closed shopping malls, markets, parks, and public transit in major cities last weekend.

10:15 GMT – Coronavirus cases in the Balkans region

North Macedonia’s Institute of Public Health announced 101 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours. Five people died, and the number of active cases is 2,942.

In Serbia, 91 people tested positive for COVID-19, with one death reported, bringing the death toll to 261.

Three new cases were registered in Montenegro, bringing the total number of active cases to 38.

10:00 GMT – Pakistan among countries hardest hit by COVID-19

Pakistan continues in the top 10 countries for daily coronavirus case increases, 4,471 new cases on Sunday taking its tally to 181,088, according to government data. At least 89 people died of coronavirus on Sunday, taking its death toll to 3,661.

On June 20, Pakistan resumed limited commercial international flights into and out of the country, a first since March 21. Domestic commercial flight operations resumed on May 16.

Testing in Pakistan continues at around 30,000 tests a day, well below the 50,000 recommended by the WHO. The government enforces “smart lockdown” on infection hotspots, rather than entire cities. However, local newspaper Dawn quoted officials in the northern city of Rawalpindi saying they did not have enough police personnel to enforce lockdowns in identified hotspots, raising fears the new approach may not work.

09:45 GMT – Indonesia’s death toll reaches 2,500, with over 46,000 infections

Indonesia reported 954 new coronavirus infections, taking its total number of cases to 46,845.

Health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said 35 more deaths were reported, with total fatalities now at 2,500, the highest coronavirus death toll in East Asia outside of China.

09:00 GMT – Spain to decide this week which non-European tourists can visit

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Valencia
Women wearing face masks sunbathe at the Malvarrosa beach in Valencia, Spain [File: Nacho Doce/Reuters]

Spain may decide this week on allowing visitors from non-European countries, as it welcomes back European travelers in an effort to revive its tourism industry, a minister said.

Health Minister Salvador Illa told Cadena SER radio station that Madrid would discuss with EU partners whether to also let in travelers coming from outside the continent.

One of the worst-hit nations, Spain has registered 246,272 cases and 28,323 deaths from COVID-19.

08:45 GMT – Serbian champions Red Star say five players positive for coronavirus

Partizan Belgrade vs Red Star Belgrade
Red Star Belgrade footballers pose for a team photo before the Serbian SuperLiga soccer match against Partizan in Belgrade, Serbia last year [File: Anadolu Agency]

Serbian football champions Red Star Belgrade said five of their players have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Marko Gobeljic, Njegos Petrovic, Dusan Jovancic, Marko Konatar, and all felt unwell ahead of the final Serbian Superleague round against Proleter on Saturday and did not appear. Branko Jovicic showed no symptoms but returned a positive test, Red Star said on its website. The remaining players and the management were tested and none were positive, it added.

Red Star celebrated the third consecutive championship after the win against Proleter at home. About 18,000 fans, many packed closely together, attended the match and celebration afterward.

08:30 GMT – ‘No-swab’ saliva test for coronavirus piloted in the UK

A weekly coronavirus testing regime using a “no-swab” saliva test is being trialed in Southampton, England, and could offer a simpler and quicker way to detect outbreaks, the UK government said.

More than 14,000 doctors and health workers, other essential workers, university staff, and their households will participate in the trial, which uses an Optigene test.

Rather than taking a swab, which some find uncomfortable, participants will deposit a saliva sample and receive test results within 48 hours, the government said.

08:00 GMT – Russia reports 7,600 new coronavirus infections

Moscow accounts for about half of all of Russia's coronavirus cases, a deluge that strains the city's hospitals and has forced Osmanov to to work every day for the past two months, sometimes for 24
Moscow accounts for about half of Russia’s coronavirus cases, a deluge that strains the city’s hospitals [File: Pavel Golovkin/Reuters]

Russia has reported 7,600 new cases of the coronavirus, pushing its nationwide case total to 592,280, the world’s third-largest tally.

The coronavirus task force said 95 people died in the past 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 8,206.

07:45 GMT – Dimitrov gets coronavirus after ‘reckless’ tennis charity event

Adria Tour
Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in action during his match against Croatia’s Borna Coric [File:Antonio Bronic/Reuters]

Bulgarian tennis player Grigor Dimitrov has tested positive for the coronavirus after taking part in a charity event organized by men’s top-ranked player Novak Djokovic.

Dimitrov pulled out of the regional exhibition tournament – which had sparked criticism for its lack of safety precautions – in Croatia on Saturday following his opening singles match, after feeling unwell.

07:30 GMT – Beijing COVID-19 cases to see ‘cliff-like’ drop this week, says expert

Beijing will see a “cliff-like” drop in new coronavirus cases by the end of this week as efforts to control the spread of infections in the Chinese capital continue, said an expert at the national health authority. Beijing reported nine new cases for June 21, sharply down from 22 a day earlier.

The city reported its first case in the latest wave – linked to a wholesale food market – on June 11. So far, 236 people have been infected in the worst outbreak in Beijing since COVID-19 was identified in Wuhan late last year.

Wu Hao, a disease control expert from the National Health Commission, told state television in on Sunday that Beijing would have targeted lockdowns, unlike in Wuhan when little was known about the virus.

07:15 GMT – Fears of South Korea losing control over second wave

Spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Seoul, South Korea
Pedestrians in face masks cross a street amid the spread of the coronavirus in Seoul, South Korea [File: Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters]

The mayor of South Korea’s capital fears the country is losing control over a virus resurgence and said Seoul will reimpose stronger measures if the daily jump in infections does not drop below 30 over the next three days.

“If Seoul is penetrated (by the virus), the entire Republic of Korea gets penetrated,” Park Won-soon said in a televised briefing. He also lamented what he described as the complacency of citizens on physical distancing, citing an increase in public transportation usage approaching last year’s levels in recent weeks.

Citing research, Park said the country could see as many as 800 new cases a day by mid-July if it fails to stem current transmission trends, which show the basic reproduction number – the number of infections caused by an infected individual – reaching nearly 1.8 for between April 30 and June 11. Any number above 1 indicates a growing epidemic.

07:00 GMT – Abu Dhabi eases movement restrictions within emirate

The UAE Adjusts To Life Under The Coronavirus Pandemic
A man waits at a coronavirus drive-through screening center in Abu Dhabi [Filre: Francois Nel/Getty Images]

Abu Dhabi has eased restrictions to allow movement between its cities for all residents starting Tuesday, but extended restrictions on entry by non-residents who do not have a permit for another week, its media office said.

Residents can exit the emirate freely.

06:45 GMT – As virus surges, Pakistan says there is no choice but to open

Pakistan has one of the world’s highest infection rates, and overwhelmed hospitals are turning patients away. But the government is pushing to open the country, trying to salvage a near-collapsed economy where millions have already slid into poverty from pandemic restrictions.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said avoiding a complete lockdown had saved the country from economic collapse. In televised speeches, he has taken to pleading with Pakistanis to wear masks, ignore conspiracy theories and take the virus seriously.

As cases spiraled, the government last week shut down some districts in Islamabad and other cities where new outbreaks have been identified, but otherwise, it has continued lifting restrictions, which were imposed in mid-March and started being lifted gradually within weeks.

06:20 GMT – Brazil’s death toll tops 50,000

brazil blog entry
Aerial view showing graves in the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery in Manaus on June 21, 2020 [Michael Dantas/AFP]

Brazil reported 641 more deaths from coronavirus over the past day and now trails only the US in the death toll.

The country’s health ministry said overall fatalities have mounted to 50,617, according to public news agency Agencia Brasil.

Meanwhile, 17,000 new infections were reported, taking the nationwide case-count to more than 1.08 million.

05:52 GMT – India’s infections soar in rural areas

A woman watches as healthcare workers check the temperature of residents of a slum, in Mumbai
A woman watches as healthcare workers wearing personal protective equipment check the temperature of residents of a slum during a check-up camp for coronavirus in Mumbai, India [File: Francis Mascarenhas/ Reuters]

India’s coronavirus caseload has risen to 425,282 as infections soar in rural areas where migrant workers fleeing major cities have returned in recent weeks.

India’s health ministry on Monday reported 14,821 new cases and about 300 new deaths, bringing the fatalities to more than 13,000. The coastal state of Goa reported its first COVID-19 death.

India’s government planning body Niti Aayog says infections have emerged in 98 of 112 of the country’s poorest districts, although about 60 percent of India’s cases have been reported in the states of Delhi, which includes the national capital of New Delhi, Maharashtra, home to India’s financial capital Mumbai and Tamil Nadu, where manufacturing hub Chennai is located.

05:12 GMT – New Zealand to extend ban on cruise ship arrivals

New Zealand has announced that it is extending a ban on cruise ships arriving in the country to safeguard borders as new cases emerge of infected people arriving in the country.

“We are extending the current cruise ship ban which was due to expire on the 30th of June,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a news conference.

Cargo vessels will still be allowed to load and unload, fishing vessels to unload and resupply, and vessels can come to New Zealand to undertake repairs and refitting, Ardern said, although some quarantine rules would be tightened.

05:00 GMT – Thailand reports three new imported cases

Thailand on Monday reported three new coronavirus cases, all imported, marking 28 days without local transmission, Reuters news agency reported, quoting a senior official.

The three new cases were Thai nationals returning from India and were detected in state quarantine, said a spokesman for the government’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration, Taweesin Visanuyothin.

Thailand has so far recorded 58 deaths related to COVID-19 among 3,151 infections, of which 3,022 patients have recovered.

Thailand - Bangkok
Daily life in Bangkok resumes to normal as the Thai government continues to ease restrictions on business and activities that were imposed weeks ago to combat the spread of the coronavirus [Sakchai Lalit/AP]

04:48 GMT – Greece reports 10 new cases

Authorities say Greece had 10 new COVID-19 cases and no virus-related deaths between Saturday and Sunday, according to the Associated Press.

The daily update brought the country’s total confirmed cases to 3,266, including 190 deaths.

Greek authorities say the median age of the infected people who died is 76 and all of those under age 70 had suffered from serious conditions unrelated to the virus.

04:20 GMT – Two coronavirus cases reported in New Zealand

New Zealand has reported two new cases of the coronavirus as a trickle of infected people continue to arrive at the border, according to the Associated Press.

The country of five million now has nine active cases after having none at all earlier this month, although health officials maintain that those cases involve people who have recently arrived and are in quarantine, and there is no evidence of community transmission.

Still, many are anxious community transmission could return, especially after health officials admitted allowing two women who had arrived from London to leave quarantine before they had been tested because a parent was dying. The women later tested positive and have since isolated themselves.

04:00 GMT – Germany’s cases rise to 190,359

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 537 to 190,359, Reuters news agency reported on Monday, quoting the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.

The reported death toll rose by 3 to 8,885, the tally showed.

03:47 GMT – Barber offers hope in Peruvian barrios devastated by virus

Amid the coronavirus lockdown in Peru, barber Josue Yacahuanca is offering some hope to residents of some of the poorest neighborhoods in the capital, Lima.

Once a week, Yacahuanca seeks out clients devastated by the pandemic and the nearly 100 days of lockdown, giving haircuts for free.

“I want them to look in the mirror and see a bit of hope,” Yacahuanca told the Associated Press news agency. Twenty-one years old, he is already a veteran barber, having started cutting hair at 13.

Barber Josue Yacahuanca
Barber Josue Yacahuanca fastens a haircutting apron emblazoned with an image of salsa singer Hector Lavoe on a resident on the top of a hill in the San Juan de Lurigancho neighborhood of Lima, Peru on Friday [Martin Mejia/AP]

03:25 GMT – 150 cannery workers forced into quarantine without pay in Los Angeles

About 150 seasonal workers hired by a salmon cannery in Alaska are in forced quarantine without pay at a hotel in Los Angeles after three of them tested positive for the coronavirus, AP news agency reported.

The workers, most of them from Mexico and Southern California, were hired on June 2 by North Pacific Seafoods to work at its Red Salmon Cannery in Alaska through August, according to the lawsuit filed on Friday in San Francisco Superior Court, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Instead, they have been stuck at the Crowne Plaza LAX Hotel since June 10, attorney Jonathan Davis said.

Leauri Moore, vice president of human resources for North Pacific Seafoods, told the newspaper in an email that she had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment.

02:45 GMT – Mongolians cite Genghis Khan for success in dealing with pandemic

Mongolia - coronavirus
All 206 coronavirus cases reported in Mongolia were imported, with zero deaths [Byambasuren Byamba-Ochir/EPA]

Fresh air, a diet of free-range milk and meat, and Genghis Khan’s fighting spirit are among reasons cited by Mongolians for why they managed to fight off the coronavirus pandemic, according to a South China Morning Post report.

In a series of interviews with the Hong Kong-based publication, an historian, a shaman, a monk and a doctor all referenced Genghis Khan, leader of the Mongolian Empire during the 12th and 13th centuries, saying they learned to live simply like him, avoiding “the stress and consumerism” people from other countries suffered.

Dr. Chinburen Jigjidsuren, the special health adviser to the prime minister, was quoted as saying the government learned from Genghis Khan the art of clear communication, keeping the public informed and preventing panic.

As of Monday, Mongolia has at least 206 coronavirus cases, all imported, and zero deaths.

02:31 GMT – Report: Malaysians complain of weight gain during the lockdown

More and more Malaysians are complaining about weight gain during the coronavirus lockdown that started in mid-March, the Kuala Lumpur-based Star newspaper reported.

Obesity was already a health concern in Malaysia. According to the World Population Review 2019, Malaysia has the highest prevalence of obesity among adults in Southeast Asia at 15.6 percent.

The National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2019 findings, meanwhile, showed that 50.1 percent of adults in Malaysia were either overweight or obese.

02:04 GMT – China reports 25 new cases

Coronavirus - China
People wearing face masks take photos of a partial solar eclipse near the Forbidden City in Beijing on Sunday [Mark Schiefelbein/AP]

China reported 18 new coronavirus cases for June 21, nine of which were in the capital Beijing, Reuters reported on Monday quoting the National Health Commission. Another seven cases are asymptomatic.

This compared with 26 confirmed cases a day earlier, 22 in Beijing. Local authorities are restricting the movement of people in the capital and stepping measures to prevent the virus from spreading following a series of local infections.

01:40 GMT – South Korea cases dip to a nearly one-month low

New coronavirus cases in South Korea dipped to a nearly one-month low on Monday due mainly to less testing over the weekend, Yonhap news agency reported, quoting health officials.

The country added 17 new cases, including 11 local infections, raising the total to 12,438, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There were also six additional imported cases.

This marks a sharp drop from 67 cases on Saturday and 48 cases on Sunday, KCDC added. There were no additional deaths, keeping the total death toll to 280.

01:31 GMT – Beijing reports 9 new COVID-19 cases

Beijing’s municipal health authority reported on Monday nine new cases of the coronavirus in the city for June 21, down from 22 a day earlier.

The city of more than 20 million people reported its first case in the latest wave on June 11.

The resurgence has been linked to a wholesale food center in the southwest of Beijing. So far, 236 people in the city have been infected in the outbreak.

01:19 GMT – New York City coronavirus tracing off to a bumpy start: report

New York - Coronavirus
Musicians from New York’s Ditmas Park neighbourhood perform during a fundraising drive on Sunday for businesses that have been shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic [Kathy Willens/AP]

New York City’s effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus through contact tracing has been hampered by the reluctance of many people who are infected with the virus to provide information to tracers, according to a report in The New York Times.

The Times report said just 35 percent of the 5,347 city residents who tested positive or were presumed positive for COVID-19 in the first two weeks of the contact tracing programme gave information about their close contacts.

Perry N Halkitis, dean of the School of Public Health at Rutgers University, called the 35 percent rate for eliciting contacts “very bad”, adding that it should be closer to 75 percent.

Dr Ted Long, head of New York City’s new Test and Trace Corps, defended the programme and said 69 percent of the people who complete an interview provide contacts. “We think that’s a strong start but we also do want to get that number up,” Long told The Associated Press news agency.

00:51 GMT – Report: 40 US baseball players, staff positive for COVID-19

As a vote by Major League Baseball players on whether to accept the owners’ latest proposal to play the 2020 season continues to be delayed, a USA Today report surfaced that a large of positive COVID-19 tests is the main reason for the delay.

Citing two sources close to the situation, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported that 40 MLB players and staff members tested positive for COVID-19 in the last week.

According to Nightengale, the recent uptick in COVID-19 infections will push the start of the season back to July 26 at the earliest, with spring training resuming no earlier than June 29. The owners and players had previously agreed to restart the season on July 19, according to Reuters News Agency.

00:32 GMT – Mexico reports 5,343 new coronavirus infections, 1,044 deaths

Mexico has reported 5,343 new infections and 1,044 additional deaths from the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, the health ministry said, bringing the totals for the country to 180,545 cases and 21,825 deaths.

The government has said the actual number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases, Reuters News Agency said.

Mexico - Lopez-Obrador
Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador attended a coronavirus hospital simulation at a new medical facility in Cuernavaca on Friday [Mexico’s Presidency/Handout via Reuters]

00:01 GMT – Mexico to resume sending farm workers to Canada after safety deal

Mexico will resume sending temporary farm workers to Canada after the two countries reached a deal on improved safety protections for laborers on Canadian farms during the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters News Agency reported.

Mexico’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the Temporary Agricultural Workers Program (PTAT) had “entered into operation once again after a temporary pause”.

Mexico said last Tuesday it would pause sending workers to farms with coronavirus infections after at least two of its nationals died from COVID-19 after outbreaks on 17 Canadian farms.

Canadian farmers rely on 60,000 short-term foreign workers, predominantly from Latin America and the Caribbean, to plant and harvest crops.


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