Anti-lockdown protesters storm Serbian Parliament – Live updates

Serbian president says Belgrade may be locked down because of the rising number of coronavirus cases in the country.

  • The United States has officially notified the UN secretary-general of the country’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization.

  • Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro tests positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying its severity.

  • A top Israeli health official resigns saying her guidance on combatting coronavirus was being disregarded and containment efforts were “disoriented”.
  • Nearly 11.6 million people around the world have now been diagnosed with COVID-19, and more than 537,000 have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The United States and Brazil have reported the most cases and the highest death tolls.

Here are the latest updates.

Tuesday, July 7

23:20 GMT – Palestinian Authority extends lockdown in effort to slow virus spread

The Palestinian Authority has extended a lockdown in the West Bank for another five days in hopes of slowing a new outbreak of the coronavirus.

The stay-at-home orders allow people to go out only for food or medicine and prohibit most intercity travel in Palestinian areas of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The lockdown was imposed last Friday and had been set to be lifted on Wednesday.

After the authority largely contained a first wave of cases, infections have skyrocketed in recent weeks, with more than 4,600 cases in the West Bank.

Neighbouring Israel is also experiencing a new outbreak, reporting record levels of new cases in recent days.

22:25 GMT – Serbian protesters storm parliament to protest coronavirus lockdown 

A group of opposition supporters stormed the Serbian parliament building in Belgrade on Tuesday night in a protest against a lockdown planned for the capital this weekend to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Tuesday evening that stricter measures including the lockdown of Belgrade over the weekend would be introduced because of the rising number of coronavirus infections.

16:15 GMT – WHO wishes Bolsonaro swift recovery from coronavirus

The World Health Organization sent its best wishes to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro after he was diagnosed Tuesday with the coronavirus, saying it “brings home the reality of this virus.

“No-one is special in that regard: we are all potentially exposed,” WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan told a virtual press conference, adding: “We wish Mr Bolsonaro and his family the best.”

The 65-year-old populist has often appeared in public to shake hands with supporters and mingle with crowds, at times without a mask. He has said his history as an athlete would protect him from the virus, and it would be nothing more than a “little flu” were he to contract it.

15:50 GMT – Brazil’s Bolsonaro tests positive for coronavirus

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he has tested positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying its severity. He confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and speaking to reporters in the capital, Brasilia.

“I’m well, normal. I even want to take a walk around here, but I can’t due to medical recommendations,” Bolsonaro said.

The president has often appeared in public to shake hands with supporters and mingle with crowds, at times without a mask. He has said his history as an athlete would protect him from the virus, and it would be nothing more than a “little flu” were he to contract it.

Bolsonaro tested negative three times in March after meeting with US President Donald Trump in Florida. Multiple members of his delegation to the US were later reported to be infected with the virus.

15:30 GMT – Americas’ cases hit 5.9 million: WHO director

Latin America and the Caribbean now account for 50 percent of the COVID-19 cases in the Americas, and the number of infections continues to accelerate.

“This is a pandemic of staggering proportions and we have no option but to continue to put all our energy into controlling it,” the World Health Organization’s regional director Carissa Etienne said.

Two months ago, the United States accounted for 75 percent of the COVID-19 cases in the Americas, she said, warning the WHO sees acceleration of cases in several US states, most of Central America, and most of South America.

15:00 GMT – Israeli health official resigns blasting ‘disoriented’ virus response

A top Israeli health official resigned saying her guidance on combatting the coronavirus was being disregarded and the country’s containment efforts were “disoriented” as it faced a surging caseload.

The resignation of Siegal Sadetzki, the health ministry’s director of public health services, came after Israel re-imposed several lockdown measures in an effort to curb the virus’ spread.

“For a few weeks now, our compass for dealing with the pandemic has become disoriented,” Sadetzki said. “Despite repeated warnings in different forums, we are watching with frustration as our window of opportunity [to contain the virus] is running out.

“I’ve reached the conclusion that, in a new context where my professional opinion is not being accepted, it is no longer in my capacity to help prevent the pandemic’s spread.”

Israel had earned praise in March and April for its fast action against the virus, including the imposition of early travel restrictions. But its re-opening strategy has faced criticism as cases have shot up.

14:50 GMT – Still ‘knee-deep’ in coronavirus’ 1st wave: top US scientist

The United States is still dealing with its first coronavirus wave, warned Anthony Fauci, its top infectious disease expert.

“We are still knee-deep in the first wave of this,” warned Fauci, saying the US never managed to suppress infections to a manageable level before reopening like some European nations.

“We went up, never came down to baseline, and now we’re surging back up. So it’s a serious situation that we have to address immediately.”

Officials have warned that hospitals in some parts of the country are in danger of being overwhelmed, with many states hit particularly hard after they eased virus restrictions.

14:40 GMT – Outrage at British PM comments on virus-hit care homes

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was accused of trying to rewrite history for appearing to blame the deadly spread of coronavirus in care homes on the institutions themselves.

Britain has suffered the worst death toll in Europe from the outbreak, with more than 44,000 confirmed deaths, and care homes have suffered badly.

The government initially said it did not believe care homes were at particular risk, but it has been slow to roll out testing of both staff and patients, and many homes struggled to access protective equipment.

Critics also say the rapid transfer of elderly patients from hospitals to care homes in a bid to free up beds at the start of the pandemic helped spread the disease.

“We discovered too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have, but we’re learning lessons the whole time,” Johnson said.

The comments caused outrage among care providers, and one accused the Conservative leader of an “appalling” attempt to deflect from “an absolute travesty of leadership from the government”.

14:30 GMT – Sierra Leone doctors threaten to expand strike amid COVID-19 crisis

Doctors in Sierra Leone refusing to treat COVID-19 patients to press demands for bonus payments and more protective equipment threatened to suspend care for other patients too if the dispute is not resolved.

The doctors stopped handling coronavirus cases last Thursday after a more than month-long stand-off with the West African government over what they say is a misuse of funds for the COVID-19 response.

“We had a meeting with [the] government yesterday but their interest in resolving this did not appear significant,” said Dr Samba Jalloh, secretary general of Sierra Leone’s Medical and Dental Association.

“We plan to expand the strike to include treatment for general patients if a solution cannot be met by the end of this week.” Government officials were not immediately available for comment.

14:20 GMT – New platform to monitor COVID-19 rights abuses launched

A new platform will keep track of rights abuses under the guise of COVID-19 containment measures worldwide, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) announced.

The Global Monitor platform flags coronavirus measures that the organisation views as concerning. In the European Union, this for example includes Hungary for declaring a “state of danger” in March in response to the pandemic, which rights groups claim gave sweeping powers to the government for an unlimited period.

“It has already dawned on all of us that this global emergency will almost certainly have – it is already having – profound political implications. The risks for democracy are clear and pressing,” IDEA’s Secretary General Kevin Casas-Zamora said.

14:15 GMT – Football: Fewer fans, increased costs ‘new normal’ for clubs

Reduction in stadium capacities, improved ventilation systems, and mobile payment for tickets and drinks are some of the measures football clubs may have to implement while designing stadiums in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A study conducted by architecture studio Fenwick Iribarren said the design of stadiums in the future will be influenced by the outbreak and clubs will need to embrace solutions that promote social distancing in venues.

In order to enforce social distancing, clubs would need to either develop bigger venues with the same number of seats or reduce the capacity, with the latter the more likely solution, leading to a decline in matchday revenue, the study said.

“No touch” solutions, including automatic doors, activation of lights by infrared detection and mobile payment for tickets and drinks are already available but implementing them would be expensive, increasing the cost of hosting matches.

Europe’s top clubs suffered an estimated 15-30 percent loss in matchday revenue in the 2019-20 campaign with their home games being played behind closed doors.

14:00 GMT – Italy orders suspension of Bangladesh flights over virus fears

Italy has ordered a one-week suspension of incoming flights from Bangladesh after a spate of coronavirus cases near Rome were traced to members of the Bangladeshi community who had recently returned to Italy.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza said beyond the dozen or so infections registered in recent days, more positive cases were traced to passengers on the latest flight that arrived in Rome on Monday.

The Rome area is home to some 20,000 immigrants from Bangladesh. A new COVID-19 cluster broke out near Rome after a worker recently returning from Bangladesh infected the owner and fellow workers at a restaurant outside the city. Based on that cluster, public health authorities urged members of the Bangladeshi community to get tested.

13:55 GMT – ‘At wartime speed’: China leads COVID-19 vaccine race

China is forging ahead in the race to develop a vaccine to help control the COVID-19 pandemic, with Sinovac Biotech’s experimental vaccine set to become the country’s second and the world’s third to enter final stage testing later this month.

While a laggard in the global vaccine industry, China has brought state, military and private sectors together in a quest to combat a disease that has killed over 500,000 people worldwide.

Challenging the West’s traditional dominance of the industry, China is behind eight of the 19 vaccine candidates in human trials, with Sinovac’s experimental shot and one jointly developed by the military and CanSino among the front runners.

13:45 GMT – Republican Party mandatory testing at Florida national convention

The Republican Party will provide mandatory coronavirus testing at its August national convention in Jacksonville.

The plan to require thousands of attendees to get tested for the coronavirus before entering the convention site illustrates the efforts the party is undertaking to ensure President Donald Trump speaks to a packed house when he accepts the nomination.

The Jacksonville Host Committee has not provided details on the logistics or how the cost will be covered.

“Everyone attending the convention within the perimeter will be tested and temperature checked each day,” Erin Isaac, communications director for the host committee, said in a memo to reporters.

13:20 GMT – WHO warns travellers to take virus precautions

The World Health Organization urged travellers to wear masks on planes and keep themselves informed as COVID-19 cases surge again in some countries.

WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris urged people not to be caught off guard by resurgent local epidemics and quarantine measures, saying: “If it’s anywhere, it’s everywhere and people travelling have to understand that.”

13:10 GMT – Protective equipment for US medical workers runs low again

Personal protective gear that was in dangerously short supply during the early weeks of the coronavirus crisis in the US is running low again as the virus resumes its rapid spread and the number of hospitalised patients climbs.

A national nursing union is concerned that PPE will have to be reused. A doctors association warns that physicians’ offices are closed because they cannot get masks and other supplies. Members of Congress are pushing the Trump administration to devise a national strategy to acquire and distribute gear in anticipation of the crisis worsening into the fall.

“We’re five months into this and there are still shortages of gowns, hair covers, shoe covers, masks, N95 masks,” said Deborah Burger, president of National Nurses United, who cited results from a survey of the union’s members. “They’re being doled out and we’re still being told to reuse them.”

12:25 GMT – German state of Saxony to allow events with more than 1,000 from September

Germany’s eastern state of Saxony plans to allow large-scale events with more than 1,000 visitors from September 1, Bild newspaper cited the state’s health minister as saying, adding this would include football games.

Petra Koepping, Saxony’s health minister, said there would not be an upper limit to the number of guests allowed at large events but said it would need to be possible to trace them later if necessary, Bild reported.

It said that fairs would be allowed in Saxony from 18 July. Large-scale events have been called off for several months in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

12:20 GMT – Spain to disburse $2bn in aid for transport companies 

Spain’s government will disburse 1.8 billion euros ($2bn) in aid to support transport companies hit by the coronavirus pandemic, transport minister Jose Luis Abalos has announced.

State-owned rail operator Renfe will receive 1 billion euros of the funds via an increase in its debt capacity, while 673 million will be for private transport companies, Abalos said after the weekly cabinet meeting.

Infrastructure operator Seipsa will receive a one-off loan of 110 million euros, he said.

12:00 GMT – Spanish PM to discuss EU recovery fund with Germany’s Merkel

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel ahead of a July 17-18 summit to discuss a planned European Union recovery fund, government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero said.

“Spain’s future is at stake in the coming days,” Montero said regarding the negotiations over the fund, from which Spain hopes to receive around 140 billion euros.

11:40 GMT – Spain extends coronavirus aid for tenants, homeowners 

Spain’s cabinet is expected to approve the extension of measures aimed at easing the financial burden on rental tenants and homeowners hit by the coronavirus, government sources told Reuters news agency.

With the new measures, tenants will be able to renew their existing contracts for six months under the same conditions, while a ban on utility companies cutting gas, electricity and water supplies will remain in place until September 30, the sources said.

For qualifying homeowners, the deadline to apply for a holiday on mortgage payments will be pushed back until the end of September from July 20. Battered by the pandemic lockdown and travel restrictions, Spain’s economic output is likely to have shrunk 20 percent in the second quarter, according to the central bank.

In March, the government approved a 700-million euro aid package to help vulnerable households and later introduced a minimum income programme to reach around 2.3 million people.

But a UN report published on Monday criticised Spain’s social protection net as insufficient and said the COVID-19 crisis had exacerbated the situation for its poorest citizens.

11:00 GMT – Iran records highest daily death toll from COVID-19 

Iran reported 200 new deaths from the coronavirus, the most in a single day since the Middle East’s deadliest outbreak began in February. The previous record was Sunday’s toll of 163 deaths.

“Unfortunately in the past 24 hours we have lost 200 of our compatriots, bringing the total number of victims to 11,931,” health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said on state television. 

“The increase in the number of deaths is very painful for all of us,” she said, adding that it was “the result of all of our behaviour and actions”.    

Another 2,637 people have tested positive for the virus, taking the total official number of cases to 245,688, Lari said.

State TV showed disturbing images of dead bodies and families mourning at a Tehran cemetery in an effort to encourage people to use face masks.

“Last month we experienced two days with single-digit deaths, we were so happy… But unfortunately as you can see we are in a bad situation now,” said Saeed Khal, head of Tehran’s Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

Officially recorded deaths and infections from the virus have been steadily rising since Iran reported a near-two-month low in daily recorded cases in early May. The uptick has prompted the government to make it mandatory to wear masks in enclosed public spaces.

10:40 GMT – Sandzak residents warn of ‘apocalypse’ over coronavirus

Residents of Serbia’s Sandzak have raised alarm over the number of coronavirus patients in the southwestern region’s hospitals amid a rising death toll, appealing for urgent help from the authorities.

Local media and social media users published videos and photos online last month, showing patients in the region’s central town of Novi Pazar lying on blankets on the floor of a hospital due to overcrowding.

Over the last few weeks, medical staff and patients in the towns of Novi Pazar, Sjenica and Tutin have reported shortages of necessary equipment and personnel.

Read more here. 

10:00 GMT – Israeli parliament passes bill to allow gov’t to bypass it on coronavirus regulations

The Israeli parliament has passed an emergency bill allowing the government to bypass it in making immediate decisions on combating a renewed outbreak of the coronavirus.

Parliament voted early Tuesday to sidestep its own committees so that government decisions could go into immediate effect. The argument was quick implementation was essential given the fast-spreading nature of the virus. But some opposition lawmakers decried the sidelining of the legislature, saying it marked another step in undermining the foundations of Israeli democracy.

It comes a day after the government reimposed new restrictions on the public to quell spread of the virus.

09:55 GMT – South Africa coronavirus cases surge past 200,000

South Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases have surpassed 200,000 as the country continues to post some of the highest daily numbers in the world.

The health ministry reports 8,971 new cases, bringing the total to 205,721. Nearly one third are in the new hot spot of Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria.

The African continent overall has more than 477,000 confirmed cases.

09:00 GMT – Indonesia reports 1,268 new coronavirus infections, 68 deaths 

Indonesia has reported 1,268 new coronavirus infections, bringing the total number of cases to 66,226, Health Ministry official Achmad Yurianto told a televised briefing.

The official also announced 68 additional deaths due to the virus, bringing the total number of fatalities to 3,309, while 30,785 people have recovered. 

08:45 GMT – UK coronavirus death toll passes 55,000 

The United Kingdom’s suspected COVID-19 death toll has hit 55,398, according to a Reuters new agency tally of official data sources that underline the country’s status as one of the worst hit in the world.

The Reuters tally comprises fatalities where COVID-19 was mentioned on death certificates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland up to June 26, and up to June 28 in Scotland. It also includes more recent hospital deaths.

The Office for National Statistics said total deaths in England and Wales in the week to June 26 had now fallen below the five-year average for the second week running. 

08:00 GMT – Armenia will not send athletes to CIS Games in Russia 

Armenia will not send athletes to the first Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Games in the Russian city of Kazan in September due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

The landlocked South Caucasus country, which has recorded more than 29,000 cases of the virus and over 500 deaths, became the first nation to withdraw from the Games which will feature competition in 22 sports for athletes aged between 14 and 23.

“We deeply regret to say that due to the current situation in the world our country will be unable to participate in the CIS Games,” Armenia’s Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport Artur Martirosyan said.

The inaugural Games of the CIS – a grouping of former Soviet Republics – was scheduled to be held in Kazan from Aug. 20-27 but organisers pushed the event back to Sept. 4-11 due to the health situation. Belarus, another ex-Soviet country, said it will send a 390-member delegation to Kazan.

“Athletes miss competitions,” Belarusian Sport and Tourism Minister Sergei Kovalchuk said. “They all dream of meeting their peers and competing. The CIS Games will give them a great opportunity to do so.”

07:30 GMT – Russia reports more than 6,500 new coronavirus cases

Russia has reported 6,368 new coronavirus cases, taking its nationwide tally of infections to 694,230.

The country’s coronavirus crisis response centre said 198 people had died from the virus in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 10,494. Russia said 463,880 people have recovered from the virus

05:00 GMT – Police, soldiers deployed at NSW-Victoria border ahead of closure

Hundreds of police and soldiers have been sent to the border between the Australian states of New South Wales and Victoria ahead of its closure at 11:59pm (13:59 GMT).

“There will be a significant military and police operation going on to monitor all cross-border activity,” NSW Police Minister David Elliott said. “There’s serious fines and indeed, a jail sentence, to anyone that wants to push that envelope.”

The border is hundreds of kilometres long and daily travel permits will be issued to people in border areas who commute across state lines for school, work and other activities.  

It’s the first time the border has been closed since 1919 when the country was hit by the Spanish flu. 

04:20 GMT – India death tolls exceeds 20,000

India’s death toll has surpassed 20,000 as the country moves ahead with plans to relax its nationwide lockdown.

On Tuesday, the country reported 467 new deaths from coronavirus, bringing the total death toll to 20,160. It also recorded 22,252 new confirmed cases.

New cases and deaths are both rising at their fastest pace in three months, according to Reuters.

04:00 GMT – Beijing reports zero new cases for first time since market outbreak

Beijing has reported no new cases of coronavirus for the first time since an outbreak emerged at the Chinese capital’s main wholesale market last month.

City authorities say they have tested more than 11 million people for COVID-19 since June 11.

Pang Xinghuo, deputy director of Beijing’s centre for disease control, said the outbreak was “stabilising and improving”. 

03:55 GMT – Australia’s Victoria state considering four-week lockdown

The state of Victoria is considering the introduction of a four-week lockdown after recording its biggest-ever daily surge in cases, according to the Australian newspaper.

The paper said the state recorded 191 new cases on Tuesday. State Premier Daniel Andrews is due to speak to the media soon.

Victoria’s border with neighbouring New South Wales is due to close at midnight local time on Tuesday. It’s the first time that’s happened in 100 years.

01:35 GMT – Mexico outbreak could last until April

A top health official in Mexico says the outbreak there could last until next April.

Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell told Radio Formula, a local channel, that cases could persist throughout the winter.

“Flu season begins in October and there are some reasonable assumptions that we could also have a spike in COVID-19 along with the flu throughout the fall-to-winter season,” he said. 

Mexico has recorded 31,119 deaths from the disease, the fifth-highest number in the world.

00:00 GMT – New Zealand to limit citizens’ return in quarantine squeeze

New Zealand citizens who want to return home may have to wait longer than anticipated after the government moved to limit arrivals from overseas to ease pressure on mandatory quarantine facilities.

Officials said they had reached an agreement with Air New Zealand to put a hold on inbound bookings for the next three weeks and were talking to other airlines. 

“The last thing we need are hastily set up facilities to meet demand, so we must have a manageable number of fit-for-purpose, safe facilities that do the job of stopping COVID-19 at the border,” Housing Minister Megan Woods said in a statement.

There are currently nearly 6,000 people in quarantine at 28 facilities. 

23:30 GMT – Bolsonaro tested after showing COVID-19 symptoms

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has had another coronavirus test, after reporting symptoms associated with the respiratory disease, including a fever.

Bolsonaro told supporters outside the presidential palace that he had just been tested for the virus, and that a medical examination had shown his lungs were “clean”. The results are due on Tuesday.

The right-wing populist has repeatedly played down the impact of the virus, even though Brazil now has the second-highest number of cases, and deaths, in the world.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

Read all the updates from yesterday here.


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