The United Kingdom’s death toll from confirmed cases of coronavirus has risen by 67 to 44,198 in the last 24 hours, the government said on Saturday.
For the first time in 105 days, people across the UK flocked to pubs, beer gardens and other licensed premises today.
My colleague Mattha Busby has more on people’s experiences and perceptions in East London:
The British prime minister, Boris Johnson, is likely to face further questions after his own father refused to refute whether he had acted improperly flouting UK travel advice to visit his villa in Greece.
At the centre of the commotion since his arrival in the country – via Bulgaria – on Wednesday, Stanley Johnson was asked, directly, whether he regretted the decision. “I’m not going to say whether my actions are correct or not – in any case, what happened, happened,” he told reporters who tracked him down to his mountain villa in Pelion overlooking the Aegean sea.
“I’ll go back on the 10th but people are longing to get here. And this is a country which has everything. But here I am, how could you be here and not look around at this fantastic place?”
The 79-year-old, who was caught on camera with a towel thrown over his left shoulder after clearly having been for a swim, said it was vital that an air bridge was created “as quick as we can” to facilitate travel between the two nations. “How wonderful it would be, if quite quickly, the two governments could come to some arrangement.”
The high incidence of coronavirus cases in Britain spurred Athens earlier this week to announce it would extend the suspension of direct flights from the UK until July 15th. Those bent on getting to Greece are currently forced to come via third countries but it is not encouraged. The British government has urged citizens against all but essential travel.
Explaining his trip earlier as “essential business” Johnson senior said his visit had been motivated by the need to “Covid-proof my property in view of the upcoming letting season.”
The former euro MP, who now supports his son’s Brexit policies, has long rented out the two-story Villa Irene to UK holidaymakers in what has become a nice little earner for his family as we explain our story today.
Jordan on Saturday began putting electronic bracelets on travellers who have recently arrived in the kingdom to ensure that they observe home-quarantine against the spread of coronavirus, an official said, according to Agence France-Presse.
People arriving in Jordan must isolate for 14 days at hotels designated by the authorities on the shores of the Dead Sea, west of the capital Amman.
After that period, they must self-isolate for an additional 14 days at home, according to Nizar Obeidat, spokesman for Jordan’s virus task force.
Jordan imposed tough measures, including curfews and the deployment of drones, to curb the spread of Covid-19, before easing policies in early June.
Portugal on Saturday denounced as “absurd” Britain’s decision to exclude it from the list of countries to which Britons can travel without having to observe quarantine restrictions on their return.
The row comes as both countries record a coronavirus infections rate of 4,000 cases per million inhabitants, according to an AFP tally compiled from national data, although Britain registers a significantly higher death rate.
“The question of quarantine is absurd,” said foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva in an interview with state television station RTP.
“It’s always horrible to compare the figures of an illness, and deaths,” he said.
“But it’s absurd that the United Kingdom is imposing a quarantine on passengers returning from a country that, with regard to all the indicators for the pandemic, has better results than the United Kingdom itself,” he said.
British visitors are the biggest part of Portugal’s tourism market, with 2.1 million visitors in 2019 generating 3.3 billion euros.
Portugal’s death rate for the coronavirus is at 156 per million inhabitants, while Britain’s is at 650 – with some observers arguing the real death rate is higher.
But on Friday, when Britain announced a list of more than 70 countries or territories that would be exempt from quarantine measures from 10 July, Portugal was one of the few EU countries not on the list.
Santos Silva acknowledged there was concern about a spike in infections in districts just north of Lisbon where lockdown measures have been reimposed.
People wear protective masks while walking on Rua Frederico Arouca during the Covid-19 pandemic on 3 July 2020 in Cascais, Portugal. Photograph: Horacio Villalobos#Corbis/Corbis/Getty Images
Malawi’s new president Lazarus Chakwera on Saturday ordered his inauguration ceremony be scaled down amid a surge of coronavirus cases, dampening excitement around his election win.
Chakwera was sworn in last Sunday for a five-year term, hours after unseating Peter Mutharika in a re-run election, and this Monday the country is holding a formal celebration.
Chakwera said capacity at the national stadium would be halved to 20,000 and at least 100,000 face masks would be distributed in the capital Lilongwe.
“We’re in a worse situation today than we were three months ago. Coronavirus is spreading everywhere in Malawi and it’s spreading to kill,” he said in a televised address.
Covid-19 cases have more than doubled in the past two weeks to reach nearly 1,500, with 16 deaths.
Opposition politicians and activists had criticized Mutharika’s response to the pandemic, calling it inadequate and aimed at keeping him in power, Reuters reports.
Opposition Malawi Congress Party leader Lazarus Chakwera addresses supporters after a court annulled the May 2019 presidential vote in Lilongwe, Malawi, on 4 February, 2020. Photograph: Eldson Chagara/Reuters
As coronavirus cases spike, US public health officials are pleading with Americans to avoid large crowds and hold more muted Independence Day celebrations, the Associated Press reports.
But subdued is not president Donald Trump’s style, and he aimed to go big, promising a special evening in Washington that could bring tens of thousands to the National Mall.
Trump’s Salute for America celebration on Saturday evening was to include a speech from the White House South Lawn that he said would celebrate American heritage, as well as a military flyover over the city and an enormous fireworks display that could pack people downtown.
The president kicked off the holiday weekend by traveling to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota for a fireworks display Friday night near the mountain carvings of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.
In his remarks, he accused protesters who have pushed for racial justice of engaging in a merciless campaign to wipe out our history.
In a presidential message Saturday on the 244th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, Trump acknowledged that over the past months, the American spirit has undoubtedly been tested by many challenges.
His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, said in a statement that the US never lived up to its founding principle that all men are created equal, but that today “we have a chance to rip the roots of systemic racism out of this country.’’
His participation in big gatherings comes as many communities have decided to scrap fireworks, parades and other holiday traditions in attempts to prevent further spread of coronavirus, with confirmed cases climbing in 40 states.
Fireworks flare up in the sky over Mt. Rushmore National Monument in Keystone, South Dakota, USA, on 04 July 2020. US President Donald J. Trump visited Mt. Rushmore to celebrate the Independence Day holiday at an event that included a spectacular fireworks display. Photograph: Tannen Maury/EPA
Thai boxing matches resumed on Saturday after more than three months as the nation eases its coronavirus lockdown, but fans of the popular sport will have to make do with watching on television for now.
Leaders of the sport hailed the return to the ring after the shutdown, which left hundreds of boxers and referees without work, and said they hoped spectators would be allowed to attend matches again soon.
“I’m very happy and excited to get back to the ring […] But I feel a bit strange. I was used to the sounds of crowds cheering, but there’s no audience,” Khathawut Tumthong, a 21-year-old boxer, told Reuters.
Thailand’s government has eased most curbs to try to revive an economy badly hit by the pandemic, with sports competitions among the latest activities to resume. No local transmissions of the virus have been reported for 40 days.
However, authorities have yet to issue rules on when and how audiences will be allowed at sports venues.
In March, a spike in virus cases was linked to a boxing match in Bangkok.
“Today is a good start for the boxing industry,” said Viboon Jampa-nguern, head of Thailand’s boxing committee.
“Boxers are in jeopardy, they don’t have alternative jobs. The same goes for those who work as boxing referees, they don’t have second jobs to support them,” he said.
Thailand’s tourism-driven economy could contract a record 8.1% this year, with the number of foreign tourists expected to tumble 80%, the central bank has forecast.
Muaythai boxers return to fight for the first time after temporary suspend due to the spread of coronavirus in Thailand. Photograph: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters
Record hospital admissions in Arizona
The US state of Arizona reported 2,695 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, bringing its total to 94,553. The number of hospital admissions for Covid-19 by 100 to a record high of 3,113 on Friday, the state health department said.
Ninety per cent of all adult intensive care beds were in use as of Friday, which is one percentage point lower than the day before.
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Tunisia’s tourism sector has experienced a sharp slump as a result of the pandemic, the country’s central bank said on Saturday, reporting that revenues had fallen by 47% in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2019.
Tourism is one of the most important economic sectors in Tunisia, but the government imposed strict lockdown restrictions.
It declared the pandemic defeated in mid-June, but few tourists have visited the country since, the DPA reports.
Tunisia has reported almost 1,200 cases and 50 deaths, significantly lower figures than for other north African countries. Recently there were officially fewer than 15 new infections every day.
People out shopping in the old city of Tunis. Photograph: Mohamed Messara/EPA
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The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Florida increased by a record 11,458 on Saturday, the state’s health department said.
This is the second time in three days that the figure has increased by more than 10,000.
The US has the highest number of both confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths in the world, at 2,795,437 and 129,476 respectively, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.
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Summary of key events
If you’re just joining us, here’s a summary of key developments in the coronavirus pandemic from around the world:
Catalonia has put more than 200,000 people in the north-eastern Spanish region back into lockdown after more than 350 cases of coronavirus were detected in the area.
Pubs and hair salons have reopened in England, along with cultural landmarks and some cinemas and galleries. You can read more on our UK live blog
Iran will enforce the wearing of masks in enclosed public spaces and deny public services to those who refuse. It comes after a week-long campaign by state television to encourage the use of masks, which told viewers that “coronavirus is not a joke”.
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Fans have gathered to mark the closure of much-lovedScala cinema in Bangkok, Thailand.
The cinema in the heart of the Thai capital has struggled for years to stay profitable as costs and competition have grown. The coronavirus pandemic appears to have dealt the final blow.
“I’m so sad I have no words. It is heartbreaking,” said Nanta Tansasha, whose family runs the venue, which was built by her father. “When we look toward the future, I don’t know if it will pick up … so I decided to stop the business now.”
Movie fans gather to bid farewell to the Scala, Bangkok’s last stand-alone cinema. Photograph: Chalinee Thirasupa/Reuters
The Scala is the last cinema of its kind in Bangkok, where most others are housed in large shopping centres.
The final screenings include Italian films and Thai documentaries, and 3,000 tickets have been sold to fans who want to pay a last visit.
In its heyday, the Scala rolled out the red carpet for celebrities including Jean-Claude Van Damme at the Bangkok film festival in 2013.
Fans pose outside the Scala. Photograph: Chalinee Thirasupa/Reuters
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Mexico has increased its border checks for the 4 July holiday weekend in an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Officials will install health checkpoints at various entry points along its northern border, as US and Mexican officials fear there could be a surge in crossings and subsequent spread of the virus.
Mexican consulates in the US urged people to refrain from crossing the border for recreation or tourism.
A ban on non-essential cross-border travel has been in place since March in an attempt by both governments to limit coronavirus infections, but traffic has still been busy.
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Masks to be mandatory in Iran
The Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, talks to officials at a cabinet meeting in Tehran. Photograph: President Office Handout/EPA
Iran will enforce the wearing of masks in enclosed public spaces and deny public services to those who refuse, the government has announced among a serieds of new measures to counter Covid-19.
The country’s president, Hassan Rouhani, outlined the new measures in an address to the nation on Saturday. “Government employees should not serve people who do not wear masks and employees who do not wear them should be considered absentees and sent home,” he said.
Those infected have a “religious duty” to notify others, Rouhani said. “Keeping your infection a secret violates the rights of other people”.
The government has been trying to convince a reluctant public to accept masks, and a week-long campaign by state television has been telling viewers that “Coronavirus is not a joke”.
On Saturday a government website published photos of Rouhani, who is rarely seen wearing a mask, with a face covering.
The total number of coronavirus cases in Iran hasreached 237,878 and the number of deaths 11,408, the health ministry said.
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China’s agriculture ministry has pushed back on a study into the G4 strain of swine flu, claiming it is not new and does not infect or sicken humans easily.
A study published earlier this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) said the G4 strain had the potential to become a pandemic virus.
China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, however, said in a statement that the study has been interpreted by the media “in an exaggerated and nonfactual way”.
The ministry’s analysis concluded that the study’s sampling was too small to be representative, and that the article lacked adequate evidence to show the G4 virus has become the dominant strain among pigs.
The ministry said it drew its conclusions after holding a seminar on the G4 virus’s impact on the pig industry and public health. Participants included Chinese veterinarians and virologists and the leading authors of the PNAS study.
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