Covid spreading through Brazil’s interior
The novel coronavirus, now spreading through the smaller towns of Brazil’s interior, risks returning to major cities in a so-called “boomerang effect,” as a lack of specialised medical treatment forces patients into larger urban centres.
Reuters reports that impact of a potential second wave of new cases in urban centres could complicate attempts to reopen businesses and get the economy going again, experts said.
“The boomerang of cases that will return to the (state) capitals will be a tsunami,” said Miguel Nicolelis, a leading medical neuroscientist at Duke University who is coordinating a coronavirus task force advising the state governments of Brazil’s northeast.
Brazil, home to the world’s second worst coronavirus outbreak behind the United States, has over 1.2 million cases of the virus, which has killed nearly 55,000 people. On most days, it is spreading faster in Brazil than in the United States, the top country by cases.
The virus initially came to Brazil through airports and spread mostly in its largest cities, but since late May it has been spreading faster in the interior of the country.
Last week, 60% of new cases were registered in smaller cities, according to health ministry data. Deaths are also rising outside of the major cities, and now account for about half of all daily deaths in Brazil.
Luke Henriques-Gomes here, taking over again from Graham Readfearn. We expect within the hour an update on the situation in Victoria, where there is a concerning increase in Covid-19 cases.
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Victoria seeks legal advice to force returned travellers to take test
The Victorian state government in Australia is getting legal advice to see if it can force travellers returning from overseas to have a coronavirus test.
The state’s capital, Melbourne, is currently dealing with an outbreak across several clusters and is on day two of a 10-day testing blitz across several suburbs.
AAP reports the state government has confirmed it is seeking legal advice for those travellers returning from overseas and entering the state’s hotel quarantine scheme.
Victoria’s hotel quarantine program tests travellers on arrival and the 11th day, the government said. On Friday the state’s deputy chief health officer, Annaliese van Diemen, revealed about 30% of travellers refuse to be tested during their 14-day quarantine.
Over the border in New South Wales, returned international travellers who refuse to have the test on day 10 must stay an extra 10 days in quarantine.
A Victoria government spokesperson said:
It’s the government’s view that all returned travellers should be tested.
Australia’s chief medical officer, Brendan Murphy, has said people in hotel quarantine need to be tested at the start and end of their stint, and states had powers to make it happen.
On Friday Victoria recorded 30 new cases of coronavirus with a 10th day of new cases in double digits – the highest levels of new cases in the country.
Of the state’s 1,947 total cases, 183 are active including six people in hospital. More than 1,700 people have recovered from the virus in Victoria while 20 have died.
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Australia’s treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, has told reporters the country’s banks have offered assurances they won’t abandon customers currently relying on government support.
AAP reports the prime minister, Scott Morrison, and Frydenberg met with the banks on Friday as concerns grow about the impact of the withdrawal of a suite of support mechanisms that are due to end in September.
Wage subsidies, extra unemployment benefits and deferrals of mortgage repayments have been supporting people who have lost work due to the coronavirus.
Frydenberg said banks were working with regulators to make sure people who could not restart payments got extra support. Some 20% of bank customers had restarted loan payments. He said:
The banks were very clear. They supported their customers on the way in to this crisis and they will be supporting their customers on the way out.
This is how it should be, all Australians working together to get through this crisis.
We are going to continue to see some sectors really struggle as the international borders remain closed … there is still some very challenging tough days ahead.
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My colleague Graham Readfearn is going to take over for the next short while.
Argentina ramps up quarantine measures
The Argentine government said on Friday night it would reintroduce strict quarantine measures in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area.
The measures would last 17 days and begin 1 July, said the president, Alberto Fernández.
Fernández said the government would ask its citizens to isolate at home and only go out to buy essential items, Spanish-language media reported.
Argentina reported a record a daily record of 2,886 infections and 34 deaths.
Court orders release of children in immigration detention, citing Covid-19
A United States federal judge on Friday ordered the release of children held with their parents in immigration jails and denounced the Trump administration’s prolonged detention of families during the coronavirus pandemic, the AP reports.
US district judge Dolly Gee’s order applies to children held for more than 20 days at three family detention centres in Texas and Pennsylvania operated by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Some have been detained since last year.
Citing the recent spread of the virus in two of the three facilities, Gee set a deadline of 17 July for children to either be released with their parents or sent to family sponsors.
“The family detention centres are on fire and there is no more time for half measures,” she wrote.
Gee’s order said ICE was detaining 124 children in its centres, which are separate from US Department of Health and Human Services facilities for unaccompanied children that were holding around 1,000 children in early June.
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US records 45,000 new cases: reports
The United States recorded 45,242 new cases of Covid-19 on Friday, the largest single-day increase of the pandemic, according to a Reuters tally, bringing the total number of Americans who have tested positive to at least 2.48 million.
It is an increase from an earlier figure we reported of at least 40,870 new cases. John Hopkins University, however, still has the daily figure at about 40,000 cases.
The new record for positive Covid-19 tests comes as several states at the center of a new surge in infections took steps back from efforts to ease restrictions on businesses. COVID-19 is the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.
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South Korea records 51 new cases
South Korean authorities said the country had 51 new cases of coronavirus over the past 24 hours, the Korea Herald reported Saturday.
The paper said 31 cases were via community spread, while 20 cases were imported, according to Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
They included 15 in Seoul, 12 in nearby Gyeonggi province and two in Daejeon, some 160km south of the capital.
A new cluster has been traced to a major church in Seoul, the Herald said.
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Queensland, Australia’s third-most populous state and home to the city of Brisbane, has recorded no new cases of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, a day after the state reported its first transmission in more than a week.
A total of 1,067 cases have now been recorded in Queensland, with six people having died from the virus, AAP reports.
There are currently two active cases of Covid-19 in Queensland, according to health department statistics.
The case reported on Friday was a traveller returning from overseas.
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Passengers travelling to or from Italy by air will no longer be able to use the overhead baggage lockers in planes after the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (Enac) decided they were a health risk, Agence France-Presse reported.
The new rule results from a government decree, prompted by fears of further spreading the novel coronavirus, that specifies travellers may only board with a bag small enough to slide under the seat in front.
The intention is to prevent close contact between passengers and limit movement in aircraft cabins.
Enac said that passengers would not need to pay a supplement to put their suitcases in the hold.
An Italian consumer association, Codacons, welcomed the decision on Friday, saying it would “avoid the chaos” which sometimes occurs in the cabins “when passengers place their luggage in the overhead compartments”.
“In this area, the Italians are among the most unruly travellers in Europe, causing delays and queues which today would fuel the risk of contagion,” the association said.
Italy was the first country in Europe to be hit by the coronavirus, which has so far killed more than 34,600 people in the country.
Separately, the Trump White House has declined to agree to enforce mandatory temperature tests for airline passengers, a key demand of US-based airlines who met with Mike Pence on Friday.
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Make Covid-19 tests mandatory for returned travellers: Liberal MP
Recapping some comments from the Australian government MP Trent Zimmerman from earlier today. The Liberal politician suggested returned travellers should be required to get a Covid-19 test before they were allowed back into the country.
Frankly, I think it’s recklessly indifferent for people not to have a test because we’ve seen the number of people who are testing positive is a lot higher than the rest of the population. I think it’s time that if people are going to be so indifferent to their fellow citizens, not only do we make testing compulsory in those hotel rooms, we even make it mandatory before people get on a plane coming back to Australia. That they sign an agreement saying they will be tested. If they are not prepared to do that, they shouldn’t be coming back.
Victorian authorities admitted on Friday 30% of returned travellers had declined a coronavirus test.
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IMF approves loan to Egypt
The IMF board on Friday approved a one-year, $5.2bn financing package for Egypt to help the country alleviate the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The new funding under a standby arrangement comes on top of $2.8bn in emergency aid the IMF board approved a month ago, although at the time officials acknowledged that more help would be needed, Agence France-Presse reported.
The IMF noted Cairo had “a strong track record” of implementing economic reforms under fund-supported programs over the past four years, and the new loan will help put it on strong footing for a recovery.
“Egypt was one of the fastest-growing emerging markets prior to the Covid-19 outbreak,” the IMF said in a statement. “However, the significant domestic and global disruptions from the pandemic have worsened the economic outlook and reshuffled policy priorities.”
The aid will focus first on health and social spending, as well as financial stability to keep a lid on inflation.
Fund staff agreed with authorities on the terms of the loan in early June, and said the funds also will open the doors to financing from other lenders and help support job creation by the private sector.
Egypt has suffered more than 2,500 Covid-19 fatalities with over 61,000 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tally.
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Former top Argentine football coach tests positive
Carlos Bilardo, the man who coached Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup, has tested positive for coronavirus, a source close to his family told Reuters on Friday.
“They carried out a test and it was positive, although he has not shown symptoms and he is good,” said the source.
His former club Estudiantes tweeted in support of Bilardo, their 82-year-old former player and manager, who has been living in a nursing home in Buenos Aires since 2018.
Estudiantes de La Plata
❤️?? ¡Este partido lo jugamos con vos, Carlos! #FuerzaBilardo ? pic.twitter.com/4zb3gj8jj3
June 27, 2020
He coached a team led by Diego Maradona to the World Cup in Mexico in 1986 and the final four years later and also won three Copa Libertadores titles as a player with Estudiantes between 1968 and 1970.
Argentina has reported 1,184 deaths from Covid-19, according to health ministry numbers.
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IMF approves emergency funding for pandemic-hit Myanmar
The International Monetary Fund says it will provide Myanmar with $356.5m in emergency funding, as the south-east Asian country battles an economic slump due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Myanmar economy is being impacted by the outbreak of Covid-19 through a sharp decline in tourism and remittances and supply chain disruptions,” Mitsuhiro Furusawa, the IMF deputy managing director, said in a statement.
The fund “will help address Myanmar’s urgent financing needs related to Covid-19 shock, and catalyse support from development partners.”
The money comes from two programs put into place to ensure rapid disbursement of funding without the need for lengthy negotiations over a reform program by Myanmar.
Some $118.8m will come from the Rapid Credit Facility and the remaining $237.7m will draw from the Rapid Financing Instrument.
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Journalist who attended Trump’s Tulsa rally tests positive
A journalist who attended Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa last week says he has tested positive for Covid-19, AP reports.
The Oklahoma Watch reporter Paul Monies said he was notified on Friday of his positive diagnosis.
“I’m pretty surprised,” Monies wrote on Twitter. “I have zero symptoms (so far) and I feel fine. In fact, I ran 5 miles this morning.”
Monies said he was inside the rally for about six hours on Saturday at the BOK Center and that he wore a mask and mostly practiced social distancing, except for when he went to the concourse to get a snack. He said he was never close to the president.
Friends, I tested positive for #COVID19. I’m pretty surprised. I have zero symptoms (so far) and I feel fine. In fact, I ran 5 miles this morning. I spent the last few hours calling people I know I’ve been in contact with in the last 14 days. Be safe out there. ? https://t.co/oGpKsGs5u0
June 26, 2020
An epidemiologist at the Oklahoma City-County Health Department who notified Monies of his positive result said it’s difficult to determine if he contracted the coronavirus at the rally.
“I can’t say definitively that I got it at the rally,” Monies said. “But it’s someone I’ve been in contact with in the last two weeks.”
Monies said he hasn’t yet been contacted by contact tracers to try to determine everyone he’s been in contact with, but he has taken it upon himself to reach out to anyone he has been close to in the last two weeks.
Six of Trump’s campaign staffers and two members of the Secret Service working in advance of the Oklahoma rally also have tested positive for Covid-19.
Dr Bruce Dart, the executive director of Tulsa City-County Health Department, had recommended that the rally be postponed because of a surge in reported positive cases of coronavirus linked to large indoor gatherings.
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