Italy bans entry from 13 countries over coronavirus fears: Live

Countries including Bangladesh, Brazil and Chile present an excessive rate of COVID-19 infections, health ministry says.

Customers enjoy a drink and the sunshine at the terrace of Cafe Quadri on St. Mark''s Square by the basilica in Venice on June 12, 2020 as the country eases its lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of
Customers enjoy a drink and the sunshine at the terrace of Cafe Quadri on St. Mark''s Square by the basilica in Venice on June 12, 2020 as the country eases its lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. ANDREA PATTARO / AFP [AFP]
  • Italy has banned entry to people coming from 13 countries that it said presented an excessive rate of COVID-19 infections.
  • The first coronavirus case has been confirmed in northwest Syria, aid workers have said.
  • Greek authorities say they are ready to re-impose public and travel restrictions next week, warning that safety guidance for the coronavirus is being frequently ignored.

Here are the latest updates.

Thursday, July 9

22:50 GMT – Bolivian President tests positive for coronavirus

Bolivia’s President Jeanine Anez said on Thursday that she has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Anez said in a tweet she was “well” and continuing to work while in isolation. “Together, we will come out of this,” she said.

The confirmation came a week after Bolivia’s Health Minister Maria Eidy Roca said she too had tested positive for the coronavirus.

The landlocked Andean nation of over 11.5 million people has registered more than 42,000 confirmed cases of the disease and 1,500 deaths and is one of the worst affected countries per capita in the world.

22:25 GMT – Nearly 1 in 7 Mississippi state legislators test positive for coronavirus

At least 26 lawmakers in the state of Mississippi have been diagnosed with the coronavirus in the biggest known outbreak in any state legislature in the United States. That works out to about 1 in 7 Mississippi legislators.

The spike comes after a busy June in the state Capitol – a month that saw a historic vote to remove the Confederate emblem from the state flag – when elevators and committee rooms were packed and legislators sat shoulder-to-shoulder on the House and Senate floor, all without a mask in sight.

Among those testing positive in the heavily Republican body are the GOP presiding officers, House Speaker Philip Gunn and Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann.

None of the lawmakers has been hospitalized, according to state officials.

20:35 GMT – Rio de Janeiro will reopen beaches when there is a vaccine: mayor

The famous beaches in Brazil’s tourist hot spot of Rio de Janeiro will only reopen officially for sun bathers and swimmers once there is a vaccine for COVID-19, Mayor Marcelo Crivella has said.

Currently, the city of Rio’s beaches are open for exercise and water sports, although casual beachgoers regularly break those rules to pack the sand on recent weekends, with many not using masks or following social distancing guidelines.

“Where you can’t use masks, the inclination is to only return when there is a vaccine, which is being tested, or when contamination is close to zero,” Crivella told reporters.

“On the beach, you don’t use a mask and the level of infection goes up.”

20:15 GMT – Serbia backpedals from planned weekend lockdown after protests

Thousands have staged a sit-down rally in Belgrade to object to any reimposition of coronavirus curbs and to voice opposition to the government, an even-tempered protest that contrasted sharply with riots in the past two days.

Similar protests were also held in several Serbian cities and came hours after authorities dropped plans for a weekend lockdown in the capital to curb a new spread of the coronavirus.

A government crisis group decided instead on a more limited ban on outdoor and indoor public gatherings of more than 10 people. It also shortened working hours at indoor restaurants and cafes.

Protests amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Belgrade
People attend a rally against the government’s lockdown measures in front of the parliament in Belgrade, Serbia [Marko Djurica/Reuters]

19:25 GMT – First coronavirus case confirmed in Syria’s northwest: aid groups

The first coronavirus case has been confirmed in northwest Syria, aid workers have said, raising fears for a region where hospitals lie in ruins and camps overflow with people after nearly a decade of war.

The person infected is a physician at Bab al-Hawa hospital near the Turkish border, said a report from the Assistance Coordination Unit (ACU), a group which delivers aid and belongs to the Syrian opposition.

Syria’s healthcare system in shambles due to war

19:07 GMT – Italy bans entry from 13 countries

Italy has banned entry to people coming from 13 countries that it said presented an excessive rate of COVID-19 infections.

The list compiled by the health ministry comprises Armenia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chile, Kuwait, North Macedonia, Moldova, Oman, Panama, Peru and Dominican Republic.

The ban affects anyone who has stayed in or travelled through these countries in the last 14 days, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said in a statement.

18:50 GMT – Ireland’s virus contagion ‘R’ number inches up to 1

Ireland’s COVID-19 reproduction number, which measures the number of people who become infected from each positive case, has increased in the past week and is now around 1, a senior Irish health official has said.

“We are seeing an increase in the number of reported cases over the last two weeks and the R-number is now at or above 1,” up from between 0.6 and 1.0 a week ago, Philip Nolan, Chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, told journalists.

18:40 GMT – Trump continues to see hydroxychloroquine as promising: White House

US President Donald Trump continues to see a malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, as a promising drug to be used to prevent coronavirus infection, the White House has said, though the US Food and Drug Administration has said its efficacy and safety were unproven.

“The president has always said that he sees hydroxychloroquine as a very promising prophylactic but that every person should not take it unless they get a prescription from their doctor,” White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said at a news conference.

Trump Huawei ban
US President Donald Trump continues to see hydroxychloroquine as a promising drug to prevent coronavirus infection [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

18:00 GMT – WHO sets up panel to review handling of pandemic

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said it is setting up an independent panel to review its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the response by governments worldwide.

The announcement on Thursday follows strong criticism by US President Donald Trump’s administration, which accused the WHO of being “China-centric”, and US formal notification on Tuesday that it was withdrawing from the United Nations’s agency in a year’s time.

Read more here.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference in Geneva
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has called the Trump administration allegations that he pro-China “untrue and unacceptable” [File: Fabrice Coffrini/Reuters]

17:53 GMT – Starbucks makes face masks mandatory at all company-owned US outlets

Starbucks Corp has said customers would have to wear face coverings at all company-owned US stores, starting July 15.

The coffee chain said certain locations where there was no local government mandate to wear face masks, customers would have other options including drive-through and curbside pickups.

COVID-19 cases in the United States are on the rise with federal health officials recommending that all Americans over the age of two wear cloth face coverings in public.

16:55 GMT – Northern Ireland to drop quarantine for same countries as England

Northern Ireland is to drop quarantine requirements for people travelling to it from the same list of about 50 countries that England published earlier this week, a spokesman for Northern Ireland’s health department has said.

The restrictions are to come into effect on Friday in the British region, the spokesman said.

The Republic of Ireland, which has an open border with Northern Ireland, has indicated it is likely to be cautious in dropping quarantine restrictions and is due to publish a list of exempt countries in the coming days to come into effect on July 20.

16:45 GMT – Gyms, theatres and beauticians set to reopen in England: Minister

Theatres in England will be able to hold outdoor performances from this weekend and beauticians can reopen next week, a minister has said.

Indoor gyms and swimming pools in England will also be able to reopen from July 25, culture minister Oliver Dowden said at a news conference from Downing Street.

15:52 GMT – Brazilian press group files criminal complaint against Bolsonaro

The Brazilian Press Association has filed a criminal complaint to the Supreme Court against President Jair Bolsonaro after he took off his mask in a televised interview in which he announced he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Bolsonaro made his announcement on Tuesday. Brazilian broadcasters pulled journalists off the job after they were exposed to Bolsonaro in the interview, quarantining them until they test negative for the disease.

In its complaint, the press association alleged that Bolsonaro had committed at least two crimes related to putting someone’s life or health at imminent risk and failing to prevent the spread of an infectious disease.

15:40 GMT – Airborne transmission can occur during medical procedures: WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said airborne transmission of the coronavirus can occur during medical procedures that generate aerosols.

The agency said some outbreak reports related to indoor crowded spaces have suggested the possibility of aerosol transmission, combined with droplet transmission, such as during choir practice, in restaurants or in fitness classes.

The WHO on Tuesday acknowledged “emerging evidence” of the airborne spread of the coronavirus, after a group of scientists urged the global body to update its guidance on how the respiratory disease spread.

15:27 GMT – Qatar’s coronavirus cases increase by 557

Qatar’s coronavirus cases has risen by 557 and the number of coronavirus-related deaths has increased by four in the past 24 hours, according to Qatar’s Ministry of Health.

According to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, there are a total of 102,110 coronavirus cases and 142 related deaths in Qatar.

15:08 GMT – Spain’s Balearic Islands to make masks mandatory everywhere

The Balearic Islands, one of Spain’s top tourist destinations, will make it compulsory to wear a face mask in public at all times from Monday even when it is possible to keep a safe distance from others, regional leader Francina Armengol has said.

Catalonia introduced a similar rule on Wednesday, going further than a national directive that only mandates mask use when in close proximity to others.

14:00 GMT – UK death toll rises by 85 to 44,602

The United Kingdom’s death toll from confirmed cases of coronavirus has risen by 85 to 44,602 from the previous day, the government said.

13:55 GMT

Hello, this is Mersiha Gadzo in Toronto taking over the live updates from my colleague Usaid Siddiqui in Doha.

12:59 GMT – In Pictures: Belgrade protest over COVID-19 curfew turns violent

Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, has been rocked by protests for a second straight day as police clashed with opposition supporters angry over the planned return of a weekend lockdown due to a spike in new coronavirus cases.

Critics blame the increase on the government, which they accuse of rapidly lifting initial restrictions before an election in June, and say people should not have to pay the price for another lockdown.

View gallery here.

Protesters clash with police in front of Serbia's National Assembly building in Belgrade on July 8, 2020 during a demonstration against a weekend curfew announced to combat a resurgence of COVID-19 in
Protesters clash with police in front of Serbia’s National Assembly building in Belgrade on July 8, 2020 during a demonstration against a weekend curfew announced to combat a resurgence of COVID-19 infections [Andrej Isakovic/AFP]

12:40 GMT – Another 1.3 million workers file for US jobless benefits

Around 1.3 million US workers filed for unemployment benefits last week, continuing the slowdown in the pace of layoffs, the government reported.

The four-week moving average slowed to 1.44 million in the week ended July 4, the Labor Department reported, showing a steady decline as the economy reopens from the coronavirus-imposed shutdowns, but still far higher than any pre-pandemic week.

However, nearly 19 million remain on the jobless rolls, according to the data through June 27.


12:15 GMT – China cancels all international sports events for the year

China says it will not stage any international sports for the rest of the year, apart from trials for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing and the neighbouring city of Zhangjiakou.

The order from the General Administration of Sports affects at least six WTA tennis events, including the WTA Finals in Shenzhen in November. China also has four ATP tournaments lined up.

China has largely contained local transmission of the coronavirus but remains on guard for imported cases.

11:48 GMT – Pakistan to reopen education institutions from Sept. 15

All education institutions in Pakistan will reopen from September 15, the country’s education minister has announced.

Addressing a press conference in the capital Islamabad, Shafqat Mahmood said all schools, colleges and universities, which were closed on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic, will strictly follow health guidelines formulated by the federal government.

“Provinces are authorised to close those institutions which do not follow the Standard Operating Procedures,” he added.

11:25 GMT – India reports highest daily cases with nearly 25,000 infections

India has reported the biggest single-day jump in coronavirus cases with 24,879 new infections in the last 24 hours, the health ministry said.

The total tally of COVID-19 cases stands at 767,296 and death toll rose to 21,129 with 487 new deaths, according to the ministry data.

India testing
People in Mumbai queue to have their temperatures checked in Mumbai [Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters]

10:58 GMT – Greece says its ready to reimpose restrictions

Greek authorities say they are ready to reimpose public and travel restrictions next week, warning that safety guidance for the coronavirus is being frequently ignored.

Stelios Petsas, the government spokesman, said authorities were “determined to protect the majority from the frivolous few”, adding that the government was likely to announce new restrictions if needed on Monday.

10:32 GMT – Proportion of COVID-19 contacts reached by English tracing scheme falls again

The proportion of the contacts of positive COVID-19 cases reached by England’s test and trace system has fallen again in its fifth week of operation, figures from the health ministry showed.

The Department of Health said 4,347 people had their cases transferred to the system between June 25 and July 1. There were 14,892 people identified as close contacts, and 70.8 percent were reached and asked to self isolate.

Last week, 73 percent were reported to have been reached in the fourth week, and 82.4 percent reached in the third week.

10:09 GMT – Africa’s CDC urges more COVID-19 tests, masks, as continent’s cases top 500,000

African countries urgently need to scale up coronavirus testing and the use of face masks, a regional disease control body said, as the epidemic gains traction across the continent with confirmed cases topping half a million.

Dr John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said new cases were up 24 percent in Africa in the past week.

“The pandemic is gaining full momentum,” he told a virtual news conference from Addis Ababa.

09:45 GMT – With new record daily high, Indonesia reports more than 70,000 coronavirus infections

Indonesia reported its biggest single-day increase in new coronavirus cases with 2,657 infections, taking the case total to 70,736.

There were 58 new coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities in the country to 3,417, health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said.

09:15 GMT – Serbia mulls anti-virus rules as clashes erupt over lockdown

Serbia’s authorities are pondering what measures to impose to curb a surging spread of the new coronavirus, in the wake of two nights of clashes between police and anti-lockdown demonstrators.

Serbia’s crisis team is expected to ban gatherings in the capital, Belgrade, and limit the operations of cafes and nightclubs following a huge spike in infections that they say threatens the health system.

It is not clear if officials will reintroduce a weekend curfew, the initial announcement of which triggered the violent protests in Belgrade and three other cities.

08:51 GMT – Hong Kong reports jump in local coronavirus infections for second day

Hong Kong has reported 42 new coronavirus cases, of which 34 were locally transmitted, marking the second consecutive day of a jump in local infections and fuelling fears of renewed community spread.

The total number of cases in the global financial hub since late January now stands at 1,366. Seven people have died.

Hong Kong stock exchange
A pedestrian wearing a protective mask walks past a stock ticker at the Exchange Square complex, which houses the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, in Hong Kong [Lam Yik/Bloomberg]

08:28 GMT – China executes man in coronavirus-rage killing case

A Chinese man who stabbed to death two people at a coronavirus travel checkpoint has been executed, the Supreme People’s Court said.

Ma Jianguo was driving with friends to a village in rural Yunnan for a karaoke party when he came to a barricade blocking his path.

One member of the group tried to remove the barrier, sparking a dispute with people manning it. Ma, aged 24, then stabbed two checkpoint volunteers several times in the abdomen, killing them, the court said in a posting on its official social media account.

08:05 GMT – Slovakia reports biggest daily rise in coronavirus cases since April

Slovakia has reported its biggest daily jump in new coronavirus cases since April 22 as infections rose again.

The Central European country has one of Europe’s lowest death tolls from COVID-19 and has avoided a surge in cases like its western neighbours since the pandemic struck in March.

On Wednesday, it recorded 53 new cases, according to health ministry data, which was the seventh day since June 30 the daily rise had been in double digits.

07:40 GMT – Emirates lays off more pilots, crew in latest round of job cuts – sources

Emirates has laid off more pilots and cabin crew this week in another round of job cuts as the Gulf airline shrinks its workforce due to the coronavirus pandemic, four sources said, according to Reuters.

The Dubai state-owned carrier is cutting thousands of jobs, including pilots and cabin crew, as it manages a cash crunch caused by the pandemic, sources have said.

A handout image provided by Emirates airlines on March 8, 2020 in Dubai shows a member of the cleaning staff disinfecting seat screens aboard an Emirates Airbus A380-800 aircraft for sterilisation eff
The International Air Transport Association has said airlines are in line to make a combined net loss of more than $84bn this year in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, the biggest in the industry’s history [File: Emirates Airlines /AFP]

07:15 GMT – UK’s Sunak says will start to fix budget deficit once outlook clearer

British finance minister Rishi Sunak has said he would act to put public finances back on a sustainable footing in the medium term, when he has a clearer view of the economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

Sunak said that interventions to support the economy would cost an extraordinary amount of money, but the cost of not acting would have been far greater in the long run.

“We can’t sustainably live like this, of course we can’t, and over the medium term we can and we will return our public finances to a sustainable position,” Sunak told the BBC.

06:50 GMT – Five million begin lockdown in Australian city

Five million people in Australia’s second-biggest city have begun a new lockdown, returning to tough restrictions just weeks after they ended, as Melbourne grapples with a resurgence of coronavirus cases.

Residents have been told to stay at home for six weeks after other measures to contain a spike in COVID-19 failed to prevent the virus from spreading.

The state of Victoria, which announced a further 165 new cases, has been effectively sealed off in an effort to preserve the rest of Australia’s success in curbing the virus.

Australia NSW VIctoria border
Police in the southern New South Wales city of Albury check cars crossing the state border from Victoria after a sudden spike in coronavirus cases in the southern Australian state [William West/AFP/AFP]

06:22 GMT – ‘Gut punch’: 36,000 United Airlines jobs at risk as US aid ends

United Airlines Holdings Inc has notified 36,000 employees, or 45 percent of its US workforce, that their jobs are at risk after federal payroll aid expires at the end of September.

The final layoff tally has not been finalised and may be smaller as workers weigh offers to leave voluntarily, United told employees on Wednesday.

Read more here.

Hello, this is Usaid Siddiqui in Doha taking over from my colleague Ted Regencia.


05:25 GMT – Tokyo coronavirus cases hit record daily high of 224, NHK says

Tokyo has recorded 224 new cases of coronavirus infection on Thursday, according to the public broadcaster NHK, surpassing the Japanese capital’s previous record of 206 infections on April 17.

Japan has a total of 20,261 cases and 982 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.

05:15 GMT – Nigeria’s confirmed coronavirus cases pass 30,000

Abuja, Nigeria
People wearing face masks walk inside Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja on its reopening day for domestic operations on Wednesday [Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters]

Nigeria’s confirmed coronavirus cases have surpassed 30,000, Reuters news agency reported, quoting the country’s disease control centre, as the virus spreads in Africa’s most populous country amid an easing of restrictions put in place to curb the disease.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), in its daily update posted on its website, said there were 460 new cases, taking the total number of recorded cases to 30,249. NCDC said these had led to 684 deaths.

The country of 200 million people has, like many other African nations, so far avoided the high death rates of the United States, Brazil and parts of Europe. But health experts fear a lack of reliable data means the virus could be spreading unchecked in Africa. Fearing the economic toll of the pandemic, Nigerian authorities have in recent weeks relaxed restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the virus.

The resumption of domestic flights on Wednesday was the latest step and came a week after a ban on interstate travel was lifted.

05:00 GMT – Argentina posts record 3,604 daily COVID-19 cases

Argentina has posted a record 3,604 daily cases of COVID-19 as the South American country grapples with rising infections that are threatening its early success in stalling the spread of the virus.

The sharp rise, the first time daily cases topped 3,000, took the total number to 87,030, five times the number at the start of June, though still well below caseloads in hard-hit neighbours Brazil, Chile and Peru.

Argentina’s centre-left government imposed a strict lockdown in mid-March, which has been loosened in most of the country but was extended and reinforced late last month in and around Buenos Aires, the capital, due to a spike in cases.

Argentina’s death toll from the pandemic stands at 1,694.

The impact of the virus has hammered the South American country’s economy, already in recession for two years and grappling to solve a painful debt crisis. Economists forecast a 12 percent economic contraction for 2020.

Buenos Aires, Argentina
Economists forecast a 12 percent economic contraction in Argentina for 2020 [File: Agustin Marcarian/Reuters]

04:38 GMT – Australia’s Queensland closes borders for people escaping Melbourne 

An Australian state has closed its doors to people fleeing the second lockdown in Australia’s second-largest city, AP news agency reported.

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said on Thursday many people were willing to pay for their own 14-day hotel quarantine to be allowed to escape Melbourne and other parts of Victoria state, where a six-week lockdown began on Wednesday night because of spreading coronavirus infections.

Miles said beginning on Friday, anyone who has been in Victoria in the previous two weeks will be barred from entering Queensland. However, the state will let in residents of Queensland who are coming home and a few other exceptions.

“We need to reserve hotel accommodation for people who need to be quarantined,” Miles said.

04:24 GMT – South Korea reports 50 new cases

South Korea has reported 50 new cases of the coronavirus as new clusters continue to emerge across the country, AP news agency reported.

The figures announced by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday brought the national total to 13,293 cases, including 287 deaths.

Nineteen of the new cases came from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, which has been at the centre of a virus resurgence since late May. Fifteen were reported from the southern city of Gwangju, where infections have been tied to various places, including a Buddhist temple, Christian churches and office buildings.

Twenty-two of the new cases were linked to international arrivals as the virus continues to spread in southern Asia, the US and elsewhere.

04:01 GMT – China eases into reopening as local cases wane

Commuters wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus walk through a subway station in Beijing on Thursday [Mark Schiefelbein/AP]

China says it has nine new confirmed coronavirus cases, all of them brought from outside the country, and no new deaths, the AP reported.

Thursday’s report buttresses growing signs the virus has been essentially contained inside the nation in which it first appeared late last year.

The near elimination of local virus transmission has allowed the reopening of most businesses and resumption of some social activities, including the holding of the crucial annual college entrance exams. Sport, tourism and cultural activities are also slowly starting to return.

The wearing of masks remains obligatory in most indoor spaces and a proof of health is required for entry to many venues.

China has reported a total of 4,641 deaths among 84,910 cases of COVID-19 during the pandemic.

03:44 GMT – Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases rise to 197,783

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany rose by 442 to 197,783, Reuters news agency reported on Thursday, quoting data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.

RKI also reported 12 new deaths, pushing the death toll to 9,048.

03:14 GMT – China seeks joint COVID-19 research

The Chinese government has announced that it is seeking international cooperation to conduct research projects on drugs, vaccines, test kits and even traditional Chinese medicine to fight the coronavirus. 

In a statement issued on Thursday, the Ministry of Science and Technology said the aim of the programme is to test and develop new technologies to quickly detect and cure the disease.

Research on a vaccine that has completed the first two phases of clinical trials will get priority support, according to the statement.

With most of the 84,900 cases in the country already cured, China has trained its sight on strengthening and expanding its influence abroad, extending assistance to countries that are struggling to contain the pandemic. 

02:48 GMT – Mexico posts new case record to overtake Spain

Coronavirus - Mexico
Mexico’s overall tally of infections has reached 275,003 cases and almost 33,000 deaths [Rebecca Blackwell/AP]

Mexico has posted a fresh record for new coronavirus cases reported in a single day, with 6,995 infections, overtaking Spain to register the world’s eighth-highest case count, according to a Reuters tally.

Despite the soaring figures, Mexico’s coronavirus chief, Hugo Lopez-Gatell, said the pandemic was “slowing”.

The figures pushed Mexico’s overall tally of infections to 275,003 cases. Mexico on Wednesday also recorded 782 additional deaths, bringing its overall death toll to 32,796, the world’s fifth-highest total.

The government has said the real number of infected people and deaths is likely significantly higher than the confirmed numbers due to low levels of testing.

02:28 GMT – Turkey wants strict social distancing rules at weddings, engagements

Turkey is preparing to appoint “observers” at weddings and engagement parties to ensure that social distancing practices are adhered to.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told reporters following a weekly meeting of the country’s scientific advisory council on Wednesday that the decision was reached after several recent COVID-19 outbreaks were traced back to weddings.

Authorities in eight provinces have banned traditional send-off ceremonies for young men starting their military service – considered another source for coronavirus infections.

Meanwhile, religious authorities were considering measures to ensure social distancing at funeral gatherings, Koca said.

Turkey saw an uptick in daily confirmed infections and deaths in mid-June, after it eased restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

On Wednesday, the total number of infections in Turkey rose to 208,938. The death toll now stands at 5,282.

Turkey - lawyers
Amid the coronavirus restrictions, Turkish lawyers protest in Ankara on Friday against the proposed changes to the associations’ election system [Stringer/EPA]

02:08 GMT – MSF warns of consequences after US withdrawal from WHO

The Trump administration’s decision to withdraw US membership from the World Health Organization (WHO) could have life-threatening consequences for people around the globe, said the international medical humanitarian organisation Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF).

“The WHO, while in need of reforms, plays a vital role in coordinating global medical research, producing evidence-based guidelines, and supporting national governments to respond to urgent public health crises,” MSF said in a statement late on Thursday.

“The COVID-19 global pandemic is certainly no time to walk away from this global health agency, of which the US is a founding member,” it added.

01:48 GMT – South Africa prepares 1.5 million graves as cases rise

A health official in South Africa’s new coronavirus hotspot of Gauteng province says authorities are preparing more than 1.5 million graves as confirmed cases rise, the AP reported.

Bandile Masuku, a doctor and member of the province’s executive council, said it was the public’s responsibility to make sure the graves were not needed.

“It’s an uncomfortable discussion,” he said. Gauteng province includes Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria.

The number of confirmed virus cases in Gauteng is now more than 71,000, or 33 percent of South Africa’s cases. The country has more than 224,000 confirmed cases and is posting some of the world’s highest daily totals of newly reported cases.

01:25 GMT – Chile to ease lockdown in two southern regions

Chile will begin easing lockdown measures in two southern regions on Monday with 800,000 people able to resume some of their activities and those above 75 will be able to go out once a day.

Restaurants, cinemas, theatres and cafes will be allowed to open at 25 percent capacity. Sporting activities can be carried out without an audience and can include up to 10 people in enclosed spaces and 50 in the open.

The new measures will apply in the Los Rios and Aysen regions in the country’s south. If a new outbreak occurs in either region, the government said tighter restrictions will be considered.

The number of people with confirmed infections of the new coronavirus surpassed 300,000 in the South American country, the sixth-highest figure in the world.


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Read all the updates from yesterday here.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies