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Coronavirus - 11th June


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Coronavirus - 11th June Empty Coronavirus - 11th June

Post by Kitkat on Thu Jun 11 2020, 08:48

Summary for Thursday, 11th June

  • US cases pass the two million mark, according to Johns Hopkins University
  • The US has the most recorded cases in the world, followed by Brazil and Russia
  • Infections are still rising in 20 US states even as restrictions continue to be relaxed
  • A former adviser to the British government says an earlier lockdown could have halved the UK death toll
  • Mexico City will start large-scale testing, diverging from the federal government
  • Disneyland announces phased reopening in July
  • Coachella music festival, originally rescheduled to October, has been cancelled
  • There have been more than 7.3 million infections globally and more than 416,000 deaths

Welcome back to our coverage of the pandemic. We’ll keep you posted on all developments as the day shifts from Asia, across Europe and Africa, to the Americas.
Here's what you need to know this morning.

  • The number of confirmed infections in the US alone is nearing the 2 million mark, data from the Johns Hopkins University shows
  • Infections are still rising in more than 20 states, as restrictions are eased
  • Mexico City will begin large scale testing as it plans to reopen its economy
  • The Disneyland theme park in California plans to open in July with a "significantly limited" capacity
  • Worldwide, there have been more than 7.3 million confirmed infections since the outbreak began and around 416,000 deaths

US infections about to pass 2 million

The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the US since the outbreak began is 1,999,392 according to data collected by the Johns Hopkins University .
The United States has by far the overall highest infections - almost three times the number of Brazil (772,416).
The US also carries out the most tests, with around half a million performed per day. That partly explains the high infection figure, with around 20,000 new cases added each day.
The US also has the highest death toll, at 112,878, ahead of the UK (41,213) and Brazil (39,680). Again, it's worth stressing that different countries record Covid-19 deaths in different ways.

New Zealand goes 20 days with no new cases

New Zealand has now gone 20 days with no new virus cases, even after the country lifted almost all of its restrictions.
The country is at Level 1, which allows all schools and workplaces to open. Weddings, funerals and public transport can resume without any restrictions. Social distancing is no longer required but is encouraged.
And following the recovery of an Auckland woman on Monday, the country has no known active cases of Covid-19.
New Zealand has recorded 1,154 confirmed cases and 22 deaths from Covid-19 since the virus arrived in late February.

Has a second wave of infections hit Iran?

Reality Check
Iran has seen a surge in the number of cases in recent weeks, sparking fears it might be facing a second wave of the pandemic.
The country started to relax its lockdown in mid-April, after the number of infections declined, so is it paying the price?
New infections have been averaging more than 3,000 a day in the first week of June - a 50% increase on the previous week.
Officials say the increase is largely down to an increase in testing - and that there is no spike in daily deaths.

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'Earlier lockdown would have halved UK death toll'

The number of virus deaths in the UK would have been halved if lockdown had started a week earlier, a former government adviser has said.
Prof Neil Ferguson - whose advice was crucial to the decision to go into lockdown - said the outbreak had been doubling in size every three or four days before measures were taken.
The UK lockdown began on 23 March. Records from meetings show the UK's advisers were not recommending a lockdown in early March.
One of them, Prof John Edmund, recently told the BBC : "I think the data that we were dealing with in the early part of March and our situational awareness was really quite poor.
"So I think it would've been very hard to pull the trigger at that point, but I wish we had."

Australian BLM protester tests positive

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Huge crowds protested against racism and black deaths in custody in Australia at the weekend

One of the Australia's new cases is a Black Lives Matter protester who attended Melbourne's rally with thousands of other people.
Health officials said the man, in his 30s, had worn a mask but was potentially infectious. He fell sick a day after the rally, meaning it was unlikely he acquired it at the march.
Australia's government has strongly criticised the protests for the health risks, and this morning Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for people who attend demonstrations this weekend to be arrested and charged.
He said the protesters were pushing a "double standard” in how public health orders were applied. He said if a second wave arose, it would be the fault of the anti-racism protesters.

Mexico death toll climbs beyond 15,000

Mexico's Covid-19 death toll now stands at 15,357, after another 708 fatalities were recorded in the past 24 hours.
The country also saw a record number of new infections, with 4,833 taking the total to just under 130,000.
The capital Mexico City meanwhile plans to increase testing as the city is looking at reopening its economy soon.
Latin America is now the epicentre of the pandemic, with cases continuing to grow in various countries.

Australia calls itself economic recovery 'leader'
Australia's government has seized on new global economy predictions to declare the nation is doing far better than others.
The world economy is set to shrink 6% this year - or 7.6% if there's a second virus wave, says the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
"But the positive news for Australia in this report is that Australia stands out as a leader in the economic recovery," said Treasurer Josh Frydenberg this morning.

Australia's economy is predicted to drop 5% this year, but grow 4% next year (helped by a reliance on China's recovering economy).
The government said its massive welfare and stimulus measures had helped cushion the blow, but many of these are due to expire in July and September.
There's also been criticism of the government's boosted support for some areas - like home construction - over others including childcare.

California Disneyland to reopen in July

The US theme park Disneyland in California has said it plans to reopen in July . Capacity will be "significantly limited" though and visitors won't be allowed to get hugs from Mickey or Donald.
The reopening is still pending government approval but the park's sister attraction Disney World in Florida has already received said approval .
The Disney parks are among the world's most-visited theme parks and would usually see tens of thousands of visitors each day. They closed in March due to the pandemic.
“Any further action on this front would be absolutely unacceptable," he said.

More than 30,000 people - including opposition lawmakers - turned up to huge rallies across Australia's cities last weekend. Activists have defended their right to protest against racism and black deaths in custody.
They have also pointed out that Australia is one of the safest countries for the virus - a fact also regularly cited by the government in promoting Australia in other areas.

Recovered cases surpass active infections in India

The number of cured or discharged Covid-19 patients in India is higher than active cases for the first time.
On Wednesday, the health ministry said 135,205 people had recovered in comparison to the 133,632 active cases in the country.
But infections in India have been on the rise for weeks now, and experts are especially worried about surges after the country eased out of its harsh lockdown this week.
Hotspots include big cities like the national capital, Delhi, and the financial capital, Mumbai, which have more than 30,000 and 50,000 cases respectively.
Delhi's deputy chief minister earlier warned that infections could by the end of July cross half a million in the city, where hospitals are already struggling to cope.
India has more than 275,000 cases, including nearly 7,500 deaths.

Miami beach reopens after weeks of closure

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After weeks of closure, the famous Miami beach reopened for the first time since early May on Wednesday.
"I almost started crying as soon as I came out onto the beach," local Julie Isaacson told news agency AFP.
Restaurants on the promenade famous for its art deco buildings and buzzing night life, reopened two weeks ago, although at half capacity.
States across the US are gradually reopening businesses and attractions after weeks of lockdown closure.

Bollywood superstar charters flights for migrants

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One of Bollywood's biggest names, Amitabh Bachchan, has organised flights to take home some 700 Indian migrant workers stranded in Mumbai due to the lockdown, reported PTI news agency.
Four flights took off on Wednesday and two more are scheduled to fly on Thursday , the agency reported, quoting sources close to Bachchan.
The plight of migrant workers, who were stuck in cities away from their homes when India enforced its lockdown overnight in March, prompted outrage across the country.
Hundreds of thousands walked hundreds of miles - in the blazing heat with little access to food and water - to get home.
The Indian government has organised trains to take home migrants and other Bollywood stars like Shah Rukh Khan and Sonu Sood have also organised efforts to take home stranded workers.

Ginger exports jump 150%

Peru says exports of ginger have almost tripled during the coronavirus pandemic - because the root is seen as a natural immune system booster.
Officials said shipments had increased by over 150% in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2019.
Most of the exports went to Spain, the Netherlands and the United States. Ginger and lemon juice in a hot drink is seen as a traditional cold and flu remedy in many countries.
While ginger is a healthy food, it does not prevent you from catching the virus though.

Cases per capita around the world

As the US exceeds two million cases, it's worth remembering that its high total is partly down to widespread testing and a large population.
Using data from the WHO dashboard. the worst-affected countries relative to population size are as follows (note that many in the list have tiny populations, with only small outbreaks in total terms):
1. Qatar - 24,949 cases per million people
2. San Marino - 20,441
3. Vatican City - 14,545
4. Andorra - 11,065
5. Bahrain - 9,518
6. Kuwait - 7,759
7. Chile - 7,468
8. Singapore - 6,584
9. Luxembourg - 6,463
10. Peru - 6,057
11. US - 5,894

Deaths per capita around the world

Following on from our post on the countries with the highest number of cases per capita, here are the countries with the highest numbers of deaths, relative to population size.
Not all countries record deaths in the same way. The data comes from the WHO dashboard.
1. San Marino - 1,235 deaths per million people
2. Belgium - 830
3. Andorra - 662
4. UK - 601
5. Spain - 580
6. Italy - 563
7. Sweden - 467
8. France - 448
9. Netherlands - 352
10. Ireland - 342
11. US - 335

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Jun 11 2020, 10:53

First European face-to-face summit

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Political summits and meetings are usually little to rave about - but now the mere fact that leaders are meeting in person is a story in itself.
The leaders of four European countries will meet on Thursday in the Czech Lednice Palace to hold the first face-to-face meeting of European leaders since the coronavirus hit the continent.
The Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Slovak leaders are scheduled to discuss the European Union's 750bn euro ($850bn, £670bn) post-virus recovery fund.
Czech government spokeswoman Jana Adamcova said the politicians would still have to observe the health guidance.
"They will have to wear masks and observe the usual measures, just like everybody else," she said.

Where is the worst-affected state in the US?

As the US passes two million confirmed cases, here are the worst-affected states, via the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Not all states report cases in the same way, and the data counts New York City separately from the wider New York state.
1. New York City - 209,716
2. New York - 171,789
3. New Jersey - 164,796
4. California - 133,489
5. Illinois - 129,936
6. Massachusetts - 103,889
7. Texas - 77,253
8. Pennsylvania - 76,846
9. Michigan- 64,998
10. Florida - 64,448

'Growing calls' to scrap 2m rule in England

The government is facing calls from Conservative backbenchers to drop the 2m (6ft) social distancing rule in England.
Government MPs, including former cabinet ministers Sir Iain Duncan Smith and Damian Green, say it is essential for the economy.
Sir Iain has warned of "dire economic consequences", with public transport running quieter than necessary and pubs, restaurants and cafes unable to stage a proper recovery - or even open at all.
The government has said it is constantly reviewing its coronavirus lockdown guidance.
It follows the announcement of a further easing of restrictions in England, allowing single adults to stay at one other household from Saturday .

Could social distancing under 2m work?

David Shukman - Science editor, BBC News
The simple answer is that the nearer you are to someone who is infected, the greater the risk of catching the virus.
The World Health Organization says that a distance of 1m is safe. Some countries have adopted this guidance, while others, including the UK, have gone further:

  • 1m distancing rule - China, Denmark, France, Hong Kong, Lithuania, Singapore
  • 1.4m - South Korea
  • 1.5m - Australia, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal
  • 1.8m - US
  • 2m - Canada, Spain, UK

Trump plans to kick off rallies next Friday in Tulsa

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President Trump has said he will start election campaigning next week, with his first rally scheduled for next Friday in Oklahoma.
"We're going to be starting our rallies. We believe the first one will probably be in Oklahoma, Tulsa, Oklahoma," he told reporters. "They're all going to be big."
Trump hopes to be reelected for a second term in November - but his poll numbers see him trailing behind Democrat opponent Joe Biden.
Both the handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and the Black Lives Matters movement, seem to have dented his popularity.
Due to virus restrictions, political rallies - which were key to his 2016 campaigning - had been impossible in recent weeks.

What's the latest sports news?

  • A group of major sports has "started working" with UK government experts on how the return of fans after the lockdown might work. No timescale has yet been set for crowds being allowed, but representatives of football, cricket, rugby and horse racing have been part of discussions
  • West Indies captain Jason Holder says his players feel safe after arriving in England and "at some point", some kind of normal must return. West Indies landed in the UK on Tuesday for their three-match Test series which begins on 8 July at bio-secure venues
  • A game in Spain which started last December before being stopped because of offensive chanting was finally completed on Wednesday as the country's football season restarted. The concluding 45 minutes of the second-tier match between Rayo Vallecano and Albacete were played without fans, with Rayo winning 1-0 as fans in surrounding flats celebrated on balconies
  • Holders Bayern Munich beat Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday to set up a German Cup final against Bayer Leverkusen, in Berlin's Olympic Stadium on 4 July

Thailand reports zero cases, zero deaths over the past day

Thailand says it had no new virus infections or deaths over the past day - the first time in almost three weeks there were no new cases.
It's also been 17 days since a local transmission was recorded. All other recent cases had been imported by people returning from abroad.
The country's total stands at 3,125 confirmed infections, while 58 deaths have been linked to Covid-19.

Spain's La Liga resumes with Seville derby

Second-tier football returned in Spain on Wednesday. Now the top flight is set to resume, with Sevilla hosting Real Betis in the Seville derby on Thursday (21:00 BST).
There is plenty at stake in the remaining 11 rounds of this season's La Liga with the title race, European places and the battle to avoid relegation all wide open.
Games will be played behind closed doors every single day so the pace will be frantic, and there are a host of compelling storylines, such as Uruguay's Luis Suarez returning from injury for leaders Barcelona, who are two points clear of Real Madrid.
Click here to read more on the remainder of the Spanish season.

The 20 states where confirmed cases are increasing

Although the daily number of new cases has declined sharply in some parts of the the US, including in New York, the figure is increasing in 20 states.
New York Times data shows the seven-day rolling average of new cases is up across the past two weeks in:
California; Texas; Florida; North Carolina; Arizona; Tennessee; Washington; South Carolina; Missouri; Utah; Kentucky; Arkansas; Nevada; New Mexico; Oregon; Idaho; Vermont; Hawaii; Alaska; and Montana.
The NYT says the increases are "in part because some [states] have recently ramped up their testing capacity".

Pakistan defends 'holistic' approach against the WHO

Pakistan says it is following a "holistic" strategy when it comes to battling coronavirus in response to the WHO's recommended that it reimpose a strict, intermittent lockdown.
The comments from the country's top medical expert, Dr Zafar Mirza, came on Wednesday - a day after Pakistan recorded its highest daily spike with more than 5,300 new infections. Total cases have crossed 113,000 with the death toll at 2,255.
“We have to make tough policy choices to strike a balance between lives and livelihoods,” Mirza added.
Earlier, the WHO said that Pakistan did not meet any of its six criteria for easing a lockdown, which the country did in May. Prime Minister Imran Khan had removed restrictions at various points throughout May, but eased most of them at the end of the month, saying Pakistan would have to "live with the virus" as the lockdown was devastating its economy.
The global body also urged Pakistan to increase daily testing to at least more than 50,000 a day . It is currently testing around half of this figure - 23,799 people were tested on Tuesday, Al Jazeera reported, quoting government data.

Heathrow launches voluntary redundancy scheme

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Heathrow Airport has launched a voluntary redundancy scheme, but warned it cannot rule out further job cuts as it battles to recover from the coronavirus crisis.
The company said it had agreed the scheme with unions, which comes just days after it cautioned around 25,000 jobs - about a third of all staff - could be at risk.
Chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: "Throughout this crisis we have tried to protect frontline jobs but this is no longer sustainable, and we have now agreed a voluntary severance scheme with our union partners.
"While we cannot rule out further job reductions, we will continue to explore options to minimise the number of job losses."
Passenger numbers were down 97% in May, news agency Reuters reports.

Nigeria hit by 'rape epidemic' in lockdown

Nigeria's Minister of Women's Affairs Pauline Tallen has called on law enforcement agencies to speed up investigations of rape after an "alarming" spike in such cases during the lockdown regime in the country.
“There has been an outcry against rape epidemic because of the lockdown," the minister said at a government meeting on Wednesday.
She said that rape cases had recently increased by a factor of three, noting that "women and children are locked down with their abusers".
All 36 states in Nigeria were affected, Ms Tallen said.
Nigerian police said on Wednesday they had arrested a man after 40 people were raped in one town over the period of a year .

Coronavirus bubbles: How do they work?

Michelle Roberts - Health editor, BBC News online
As lockdown restrictions are eased, the government has announced a new plan for people in England to set up "support bubbles".
The scheme, aimed at people who've been cut off from friends and family during the coronavirus pandemic, is also referred to as "bubbling".
In England from 13 June a single adult living alone (or with children under the age of 18) will be able to form a "support bubble" with one other household (of any size). This means they can act as if they are one household - for instance, they can go into each other's houses, stay the night and don't have to maintain social distancing.

India lifts export ban on hydroxychloroquine

India has lifted its export ban on hydroxychloroquine, the drug that US President Donald Trump called a "game-changer" in the fight against Covid-19.
India's minister for chemicals and fertilisers tweeted the news on Wednesday night.
Hydroxychloroquine is very similar to chloroquine, one of the oldest and best-known anti-malarial drugs.
But the drug has also attracted attention over the past few decades as a potential antiviral agent.
Trump has repeatedly touted the drug as a possible cure for Covid-19, despite a lack of proof and reservations from medical experts.
India, one of the world's largest manufacturers of hydroxychloroquine, banned exports in March when its lockdown disrupted supply chains. However, the country did ease some restrictions and shipped 50 million tablets of the drug to the US in April , Reuters reported.

Pandemic set to cost Premier League clubs £1bn in 2019-20 - Deloitte

Premier League clubs face a £1bn ($1.2bn) reduction in their revenues in 2019-20 because of the pandemic, says financial services firm Deloitte.
The 20 English top-flight clubs had a combined revenue of more than £5bn for the first time in 2018-19, but this season has been on hold since March and the 92 remaining matches will be held behind closed doors.
Deloitte's Dan Jones expects "significant revenue reduction and operating losses" in European football, with £500m of the reduction for Premier League clubs - in rebates to broadcasters and a loss of matchday revenue - being "permanently lost". The remainder will be "deferred" until 2020-21 if this season and next are completed.
Manchester United said last month that the pandemic had already cost them £28m - but they expect the final figure to be far higher.

Australia rejects Chinese 'coercion'

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said he will never trade national values in response to what he described as "coercion".
Morrison's comments come after Beijing urged Chinese students to not study in Australia, citing the risk of Covid-19 and of racist attacks. The Australian government has rejected the accusations.
Relations have soured since Australia echoed the US in calling for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus, which was first detected in China late last year.
China is Australia’s largest trading partner but in recent weeks Beijing has banned Australian beef imports and imposed steep tariffs on barley from the country. International education is Australia's fourth-largest export industry, worth A$38bn ($26bn; £20bn) annually.

What's happening in the UK?

If you're just joining us this morning, here are the latest headlines from the UK:

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Jun 11 2020, 11:11

Marmite shortage linked to UK pubs being shut

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The shutting of British pubs during the lockdown has had a knock-on effect for lovers of Marmite.
Shoppers can't currently find larger jars of the spread on supermarket shelves and the makers of Marmite, founded in Staffordshire in 1902, have explained why on Twitter. Replying to a customer's query about which retailers currently stock the 400g jars, the company revealed that their product relies on repurposed brewers' yeast, which is in short supply because beer production has been cut back while pubs remain closed.
Love it or hate it, Marmite is only available in 250g jars at present. And fans of the divisive spread are now among those yearning for pubs to reopen.

Russia passes 500,000 coronavirus cases

A further 8,779 cases of coronavirus have been reported in Russia, bringing the country's total above 500,000.
The official national death toll rose to 6,532, after a further 174 Covid-19 deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours.
According to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, Russia now has the third highest number of infections worldwide, behind only the US and Brazil.
But it has recorded lower numbers of deaths than a dozen other countries.

Kenya faces tough economic decisions amid virus

Ferdinand Omondi - BBC News, Nairobi
The Kenyan government faces tough decisions in opening up the economy while keeping Covid-19 under control and avoiding a collapse of its health system.
This year’s budget is expected to focus on turning around the economy, which the World Bank expects will slow down from from 5% growth to just 1%.
Recently President Uhuru Kenyatta said relaxing restrictions by only a fifth could lead to 30,000 deaths by December. He added that up to half a million jobs could be lost in the next six months if the country did not get back on track.
Small businesses here are struggling because many of their main clients, the slum dwellers themselves, lost their income as casual workers in companies which have closed down due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Tony Watima, an economist based in Nairobi, says the journey to full recovery will take years.
"For now, it’s about stabilisation... We cannot talk about stimulating the economy at this time when you still have lockdown effects," he says.
Kenya remains under a countrywide overnight curfew and movement in and out of its two largest cities of Nairobi and Mombasa is restricted until at least the first week of July.

What's going on around Europe?

There's bad news on the jobs front in France and Germany. A collapse in temporary work in France is largely responsible for the loss of half a million jobs in the first quarter of 2020. The private sector has been hit hardest. Meanwhile, troubled German airline Lufthansa says 22,000 jobs could go as it restructures as part of a €9bn ($10bn; £8bn) state bailout. In other news:

  • A French family is launching a legal case after a refuse collector took his own life shortly after being sacked. The man, a key worker from Normandy, lost his job for drinking a beer he'd been given by a grateful member of the public
  • Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has confirmed he'll give evidence on Friday to an inquiry on why an early lockdown was not imposed in the Bergamo area, the epicentre of Italy's pandemic
  • The Bosnian city of Tuzla is preparing to declare a second epidemic following a steep rise in cases
  • If you've missed Spanish football, you'll be thrilled to learn that La Liga is back on Thursday night with Sevilla entertaining local rivals Real Betis at 22:00 (20:00 GMT).

UK ministers 'not seeking to hide' over lockdown decision

Today Programme - BBC Radio 4
After former government adviser Prof Neil Ferguson said going into lockdown a week earlier could have halved the UK's death toll , ministers are coming under pressure from those who argued for quicker action in March.
But Minister for Regional Growth Simon Clarke told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the government was "not seeking to hide" from scrutiny.
"We’ve made decisions in good faith based on the available evidence," he said, adding that the government faced "unenviable political choices based on fast-emerging scientific data".
Critics such as former Tory MP Rory Stewart and Labour's shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth were being "wise after the fact", he said.
Asked about pressure from his party to relax the 2m social distancing rule to help hospitality businesses and schools, Clarke said the government is "not blind to the very severe challenges" it creates but said it is supported by the best available guidance.

Ukraine's president fined for violating lockdown rules

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President Zelensky (second right) was pictured sipping coffee in a cafe

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says he has been fined for violating the country's lockdown rules.
Zelensky said this happened after he visited a cafe in the central city of Khmelnytsky on 3 June.
His office later released a photo of Zelensky sipping coffee in the cafe - although a ban on catering services indoors was still in effect at the time. The president was also without a face mask.
"They did the right thing," the president said, referring to the fine - but without revealing how much he had to pay.
Zelensky also said he had even considered at one point getting deliberately infected with Covid-19 to show Ukrainians that the danger was real.

Amazon and eBay must stop selling unsafe Covid-19 products

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered e-commerce giants Amazon and eBay to stop selling a number of unsafe or unproven pesticides and disinfectants, including products falsely marketed as anti-Covid-19.
The "stop sale" orders mention more than 70 products, which must now be taken off the companies' platforms. Failure to comply could result in big fines.
“We are removing the products in question and are taking action against the bad actors who listed them,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement, Reuters reports.
Ashley Settle, an eBay representative, said the company was supportive of the EPA’s “efforts to prohibit the sale of items making fraudulent health claims", according to Bloomberg.
“Since the outbreak we have been employing a combination of digital and manual surveillance tools to remove products like those marketed with the term ‘coronavirus’, which violates our policies regarding making unsubstantiated health claims," the representative said.

UK government should have challenged advice harder - Stewart

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Former Conservative leadership contender Rory Stewart began calling for a lockdown in late February and still feels UK government ministers could have handled the pandemic differently.
"The tendency in government is always to ask for more information, always to move more slowly than you might, particularly in a very difficult, uncertain situation," he told the BBC.
"So I think it's right that they did follow the scientific advice, but it's also true, I believe, that from the end of February they should have been challenging it harder, on the basis of what they could see was happening elsewhere in the world."
On Wednesday, former government adviser Prof Neil Ferguson said if the UK had locked down a week earlier the number of deaths could have been halved.

Brazil governors accused of Covid corruption

Two Brazilian state governors have been accused of corruption related to spending on medical equipment in the fight against Covid-19.
In Rio de Janeiro the legislative assembly voted to open impeachment proceedings against the governor, Wilson Witzel, for alleged corruption. In the northern state of Pará, federal police raided offices and the home of the governor, Helder Barbalho.
Both governors deny any wrongdoing and both have clashed with President Jair Bolsonaro over his handling of the pandemic and his opposition to introducing lockdowns.
Brazil is the epicentre of the pandemic in Latin America with more than 770,000 confirmed cases and almost 40,000 fatalities.

Schools delay in UK means 'inequality will go up'

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Mr Starmer said there needed to be a “clear plan” for schools to reopen

Labour leader Keir Starmer has told BBC Radio London that the government's proposal for pupils returning to school is “completely in tatters”.
Starmer said ministers should have built a consensus and listened to the "common sense" concerns of headteachers. He accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of making an announcement about the reopening without consulting schools.
Now, after the government abandoned plans for all primary schools to return before the summer break , Starmer says many children face a six-month absence from school, meaning "inequality will go up".
Taking questions from listeners, he said “we want to support the government where we can” but Labour does “have to challenge” it on issues such as the lack of protective equipment in care homes.

Premier League plans pre-match tributes to virus victims

A minute's silence to remember those who have died with coronavirus is likely to take place before the first games after the Premier League restart.
The acknowledgement of the impact of the pandemic and the efforts of frontline workers is expected at the opening two games on 17 June and the first full round of fixtures.
Heart-shaped badges in tribute to the NHS are also set to be worn on kits.

First case in Beijing for nearly two months

A new coronavirus case has been confirmed in Beijing - the first in the Chinese capital in nearly two months.
A 52-year-old man checked into a clinic on Wednesday suffering from a fever, according to the People's Daily, the official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party.
The patient said he had not left Beijing or been in contact with anyone who travelled from overseas in the last two weeks, the report said.

Pandemic 'accelerating' in Africa - WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the spread of the coronavirus pandemic is "accelerating" in Africa, which has so far been the least affected continent.
The outbreak is being driven by 10 countries, which accounted for two thirds of about 200,000 confirmed cases on the continent, WHO Africa head Dr Matshidiso Moeti said.
South Africa was the worst hit, with the situation in the Western Cape looking similar to Europe.
Most of the continent's Covid-19 cases are concentrated in and around capital cities, but infections are now also spreading outside major urban areas, Dr Moeti added.
She warned that the availability of key supplies, particularly test kits, remained one of the biggest challenges for the region.

Huge disruption to cancer care in England from coronavirus

There have been big drops in the number of patients in England seen by cancer doctors after urgent referrals from their GP during the pandemic, new figures show.
In April, the numbers being assessed by a cancer specialist within two weeks of referral fell by 60%.
And the number of patients who started treatment that month fell by 20% compared with the previous year.
One cancer charity said it is "extremely concerning" and they have been flooded with calls from worried patients, but NHS England said it was using innovative approaches such as home chemotherapy to keep cancer care going during the pandemic.
Read the full story

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Jun 11 2020, 13:24

Foreign firms 'putting Congo miners at risk'

Mary Harper - Africa editor, BBC World Service
Activists have accused foreign mining companies in the Democratic Republic of Congo of abusing the rights of workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Rights groups say workers have been told to stay on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week or lose their jobs.
In six mines, they have been confined for the past two months. Photos show crowded dormitories where it is impossible for workers to keep at a safe distance from each other. Poor sanitation also raises the risk of coronavirus infection.
The abuse of the Congolese by foreigners stretches far back in history; they were sold as slaves by the Europeans, then rounded up to work in slave-like conditions in the mines and rubber plantations during the brutal colonial rule of the Belgian king, Leopold II.
The DR Congo is a major source of minerals, supplying about 70% of the world's cobalt, which is critical for rechargeable batteries.

Pakistan infections surge after lockdown

Pakistan has reported its highest daily number of confirmed coronavirus cases so far, as infections rise sharply following its controversial decision to lift lockdown.
Another 5,834 new cases were confirmed in the last 24 hours. Total cases now stand at nearly 120,000, with the most populous provinces, Sindh and Punjab, reporting the biggest numbers. The mortality rate in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the north-west is highest at 4.9%.
The World Health Organization has recommended a strict, intermittent lockdown be reimposed but Pakistan's government says it is trying "to strike a balance between lives and livelihoods". Elsewhere in Asia:

  • India says the number of cured or discharged Covid-19 patients (135,205) is higher than active cases (133,632) for the first time. But testing is in the spotlight as infections rise , and there are fears they could surge after lockdown was lifted this week
  • Nepal's coronavirus lockdown has delayed repatriating the bodies of more than 200 migrant workers, who lost their lives abroad. Their families want the government to help them bring their loved ones home
  • Thailand says it had no new virus infections or deaths over the past day - the first time in almost three weeks there were no new cases

Germany's Lufthansa to cut 22,000 jobs

German airline Lufthansa has said it will cut 22,000 jobs as it struggles to deal with the slump in air travel caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The carrier predicted a slow recovery in demand and expected to have about 100 fewer aircraft after the crisis.
Lufthansa said half the job cuts would be in Germany. It hopes to agree the measures with unions by 22 June.
It added that it hoped to minimise redundancies through short-time working and crisis agreements.
"The aim is to pave the way for the preservation of as many jobs as possible in the Lufthansa Group," the company said.
The airline employs more than 135,000 people worldwide. About half of them are in Germany.
Read more here

Rohingya refugee boat turned back from Malaysian waters

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A boat carrying up to 300 Rohingya refugees tried to land in Malaysia this week but turned back after spotting patrol vessels seeking to prevent migrants entering over virus fears, an official says.
The boat is believed to have been at sea for three to four months and tried several times to enter the country's waters on Monday before giving up, said Malaysian coastguard chief Zubil Mat Som.
The vessel was originally part of another group of Rohingya refugees which was allowed to land in northwest Malaysia on Monday after officials discovered their boat was too badly damaged to be turned back.
Malaysia has long been a favoured destination for the persecuted Muslim minority from mostly Buddhist Myanmar, with thousands undertaking perilous sea crossings each year.
They usually travel from Myanmar or Bangladesh, where many live in squalid refugee camps, but Malaysia has strengthened maritime patrols in recent months.

Rugby scrums may be scrapped to reduce risk

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Scrums could be banned temporarily when rugby league makes its expected return in the UK in August.
Super League clubs have been advised that stopping scrums for the rest of 2020 may help dramatically reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus in games.
Medical experts told the Rugby Football League's Laws Committee that scrums were responsible for a large proportion of face-to-face interactions in matches.
How a game would restart in their absence has not yet been resolved.

'Full of holes': China rejects study about virus in Wuhan

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The first cases of Covid-19 were reported in Wuhan, which is slowly recovering from the outbreak

China's government has strongly rejected a preliminary study by US researchers suggesting the coronavirus may have been circulating in the city of Wuhan, where the first cases where reported, since August 2019.
The new paper by experts at Boston University and Harvard, which has not been peer-reviewed, is based on photos of parking lots at Wuhan hospitals and search trends on Baidu, the Chinese search engine.
It says that while they cannot definitively affirm the data found was linked to the virus, it supports conclusions by other studies suggesting that the virus began circulating earlier than the first reported cases, which were late last year.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying dismissed the study as "full of holes" and "crudely manufactured", saying it was evidence of coordinated efforts in the US to "deliberately create and disseminate disinformation against China".
"Some US politicians and media acted like they found buried treasure and wantonly spread [the study], treating it like new proof that China concealed the epidemic," Hua was quoted by AFP news agency as saying.
The US and others have repeatedly accused China of a lack of transparency about the outbreak and its origins.

When will England's pubs reopen?

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Pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants in England may soon be able to reopen their doors for the first time since lockdown began in March.
But a trip to a local bar or restaurant is likely to be a very different experience from how it was before coronavirus.
The government has previously said the hospitality sector could start to reopen "no earlier than 4 July" - provided it adheres to safety guidelines. Those guidelines have yet to be clarified.
The chief worry for many people in England's hospitality industry is the issue of social distancing, with many arguing that the government's current 2m rule makes it impossible for venues to turn a profit.
Many other countries around the world, such as France and Italy, have successfully reopened restaurants, bars and cafes - but lower social distancing recommendations means customers are only required to sit 1m or 1.5m apart.
So what's next for England's much-loved pubs and tea shops?

Virus continues to take its toll on UK jobs

The coronavirus pandemic continues to take its toll on the UK economy, with two major employers announcing substantial job cuts.
Up to 1,800 jobs are under threat at the Macdonald Hotels chain , which has 31 properties across the UK.
The company, which employs about 2,300 people, said it had hoped to avoid this "very unwelcome step", but was "simply left with no choice".
Deputy chairman Gordon Fraser said there was "no realistic prospect" of returning to normal trading in the foreseeable future as the tourism and leisure industry continues to lobby for a greater easing of lockdown measures.
In Northern Ireland, Canadian firm Bombardier Aerospace said it would be cutting 600 jobs - as part of 2,500 redundancies across its global operation.
Bombadier cited the "unprecedented circumstances" and said it "deeply regretted the impact on our workforce and their families".
It is the second big round of redundancies in the Northern Ireland aerospace sector in a matter of days.
Last week Thompson Aero Seating in Portadown said it was cutting as many as 500 jobs as the sector battles to survive the impact of coronavirus.

Scathing criticism of Trump in China as US reaches 2m cases

Kerry Allen - BBC Monitoring, Chinese Media Analyst
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Thousands of Chinese social media users are mocking and criticising US President Donald Trump for his leadership during the fight against coronavirus, as the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the US passed two million.
Users of the popular Sina Weibo microblog are making sarcastic comments, noting how this is a “historic breakthrough” for the US and repeating Trump’s original campaign slogan “Make America Great Again”.
Many are saying “congratulations” to the US “superpower”. “Trump has not tweeted yet to celebrate,” one user quips.
Chinese users have repeatedly criticised the US president’s responses to the number of those infected with the virus - which is higher by hundreds of thousands than anywhere else in the world.
Despite all the mockery, however, some also say it’s “depressing” that the “American people are suffering”. “Does the United States want to perish?” one asks.

Finland to reopen borders to neighbours - but not Sweden

Finland's government says restrictions on leisure travelling to and from neighbouring Baltic and Nordic countries will be lifted from Monday, but Sweden is not included.
Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo said the situation in Sweden, which has adopted fewer restriction measures to contain the spread of Covid-19, did not "enable giving up the restrictions yet".
The country's borders will be reopened for people travelling to and from Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania but restrictions will remain on the western border with Sweden as well as on the eastern border with Russia.
The government says public gatherings of more than 500 people will be allowed from the beginning of July if social distancing can be enforced.

Russia insists low number of deaths is accurate

Moscow has denied there is anything "strange" with Russia's official coronavirus death figures.
"No," was all President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov had to say when asked by reporters.
Peskov earlier said the low mortality rate was due to a highly efficient Russian healthcare system rather than statistical manipulation as some experts in Russia and abroad have suggested.
Russia has so far reported more than 500,000 cases, the world's third-largest number, and 6,532 deaths - a tally that is significantly lower than in many other countries with serious outbreaks.
The World Health Organization said this week that Russia's low death rate was "difficult to understand".
Last month, Moscow's authorities more than doubled the official death toll from Covid-19 in the Russian capital for April.
They said the new tally included even the most "controversial, debatable" cases.

Egypt set to reopen some tourist destinations

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Egypt's Red Sea resorts are expected to be among the first to reopen

Egypt will allow international flights and foreign tourists to travel to some of its coastal areas that have been least affected by coronavirus from 1 July.
Red Sea resorts including in South Sinai are expected to be among the first to open along with Mediterranean beaches west of the coastal city of Alexandria.
Egypt closed its airports in March as part of its measures to curb the spread of the disease.

31,000 contacts found by test and trace in England

More than 31,000 close contacts were identified during the first week of the test and trace system in England.
Out of 8,000 people testing positive for coronavirus, two-thirds provided details of who they had been close to - mostly within 24 hours.
About 25,000 contact tracers were recruited in England and started work at the end of May.
Read more here

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Jun 11 2020, 15:15

Scotland's R rate falls as positive case numbers plummet

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said the reproduction rate of the virus - known as the R number - has fallen to between 0.6 and 0.8 in Scotland, as of last Friday, 5 June.
In addition, recent data revealed positive cases of coronavirus in Scotland have fallen from 11,500 a week ago to 4,500.
But the first minister cautioned that the number of cases previously calculated was probably inflated - and the number of cases had not halved in a week, as figures suggested.
Nonetheless, Sturgeon called the data "encouraging", adding "there is no doubt we are making very real progress in combating and suppressing the virus".
She said she was hopeful that next week the Scottish government would be able to lift more restrictions as the country moves to the next phase of its reopening plan.
"We want to move to greater normality as quickly as possible," she said.
Among the immediate restrictions lifted are changes to the construction industry in Scotland, with workers allowed to return to sites "gradually".
"We still have a long way to go before the construction industry will be working at full capacity," Sturgeon warned.
Asked whether the Scottish government might review the 2m social distancing rule , Sturgeon said there were no current plans to change the guidance but she would continue to heed the scientific advice.

US reports 1.5 million new jobless claims

The US Labor Department reports more than 1.5 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in the last week.
It's a drop from the week before, when 1.8m claims were filed, but remains high. It marks the second week to see less than 2m jobless applications since mid-March.
More than 40 million Americans lost their jobs over the last few months, as areas shutdown seeking to stop the spread of coronavirus.
In May, the market improved unexpectedly , with businesses beginning to rehire as states started to roll back some of the tough measures put in place to control the virus' spread.

Post-lockdown party infects 180 in India

By Pravin Mudholkar, for BBC Marathi, from Nagpur
Some 180 people have been infected with the virus after a gathering celebrating the end of lockdown measures in the central Indian city of Nagpur.
Municipal Commissioner Tukaram Mundhe told BBC Marathi that the person who had organised the party infected 180 people, including 16 from a single family. He says 700 others who had come in contact with those infected have now been quarantined.
A young person organised the gathering for five friends and bought meat from a nearby district where there has been a high level of infections. Afterwards, the host's health deteriorated and he was admitted to hospital.
He initially said he had contracted the virus while out for a walk in a park but later admitted visiting the virus-hit neighbourhood to buy meat.
Officials told the BBC that people routinely conceal activities that could lead to the virus spreading and this represented the biggest risk to the community.

Protests 'illegal' under UK social distancing rules

The UK prime minister's official spokesman has been giving his lunchtime update to reporters. Here's what we learned:

  • Any gathering of more than six people is illegal. Boris Johnson will encourage people not to take part in protests if they cannot do so within social distancing rules. But it would be an operational decision of the police on how to respond to each circumstance
  • As of midnight last night, no-one had been fined for any breach of quarantine rules. The regulations, which came into effect on Monday, require anyone entering the UK from abroad to isolate for 14 days
  • The prime minister does not feel the incidence of disease is as low as he would like it to be before the government can consider relaxing the rule that people must stay 2m away from anyone who is not part of their household. Asked how low the infection rate had to go to allow a change, the spokesman said there is no specific figure

China offers trial vaccines to workers going abroad

Workers at Chinese state-owned firms are being offered unproven coronavirus vaccines to test their effectiveness, state media reported.
No proven vaccine for the virus has yet been developed but clinical trials of "candidate vaccines" are due to take place around the world.
State newspaper Global Times said employees who were travelling overseas for work could volunteer to take one of two vaccine candidates being developed by affiliates of the state-owned China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm).
A written notice sent to state-run firms said Sinopharm "has given priority to supporting workers intending to go overseas to vaccinate for urgent needs".

UK death toll rises by 151

The latest government figures show that 151 people in the UK who tested positive with coronavirus have died over the past 24 hours.
It means as of 17:00 BST on 10 June the total death toll from coronavirus, across all settings, has risen to 41,279.
As of 09:00 BST on 11 June, there have been 6,240,801 tests, with 197,007 tests undertakes on 10 June - 291,409 people have tested positive.

'Track and trace not at gold standard'

The new test, track and trace scheme in England is "not at the gold standard of where we want it to be", says the person in charge of the system.
Asked about an apparent shortfall between the 8,117 who had been identified as testing positive in the first week of the new system and the estimated 5,500 new infections a day, Dido Harding said there had to be more targeted testing of those at most risk of contracting Covid-19 to "hunt out the virus".
Baroness Harding added the system is "fit for purpose from where we stand today" and it "will get better through the summer".
Read how contact tracing works here.

Famed Thai temple shuts doors to foreigners

A famed Buddhist temple in Thailand has shut its doors to foreigners, amid fears they could spread Covid-19.
Signs at the main gate of Wat Pho in Bangkok read "Only Thai people, now not open for foreigners".
Wat Pho is one of the grandest temples in Thailand, probably best known for housing the giant figure of Reclining Buddha, which is covered in gold leaf.
The temple is a major tourist attraction in the country.

UAE urged to tackle 'virus outbreaks' at prisons

A rights group has called on the United Arab Emirates to urgently tackle reported outbreaks of coronavirus at three detention facilities.
Human Rights Watch said they had received complaints from relatives of inmates at al-Wathba prison near Abu Dhabi, as well as in al-Awir prison and al-Barsha detention centre in Dubai.
Prisoners had shown Covid-19 symptoms or tested positive for the virus, the relatives said, but were being denied adequate health care.
Michael Page, HRW Middle East deputy director, said crowded and unsanitary prison conditions and widespread denial of adequate medical care were "nothing new in the UAE's notorious detention facilities".
But he said the pandemic was an additional threat to prisoners' well-being.
"The best way for UAE authorities to allay concerns of prisoners' family members is to allow inspection by independent, international monitors," he said.
UAE authorities have not yet responded. The country has confirmed more than 40,000 cases of Covid-19 and 286 deaths.

One more coronavirus-linked death in Northern Ireland

There has been one more coronavirus-related death recorded by Northern Ireland's health service.
Their total now stands at 538. These are mostly focused on hospital deaths.
Yesterday was the fourth day in a row that no new coronavirus-related deaths were recorded by NI's health service in a 24-hour period.
A total of 4,822 people have tested positive for Covid-19 - which means there have been four new cases in the last 24 hours.
The results are updated on a daily basis on the Department of Health's Covid-19 dashboard

White House fears rise in Covid-19 due to massive protests

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The White House Coronavirus Task Force cautioned governors this week that the massive protests sparked by George Floyd's death could cause a rise in Covid-19 cases.
"We respect the right of every American to exercise their First Amendment rights, but we want to encourage them to do so safely," Vice-President Mike Pence said in a conference call with state leaders, according to an audio recording obtained by CBS News .
Task force expert Dr Deborah Birx noted during the call that most major cities were seeing declines in new Covid-19 cases in recent weeks, but that it was unclear whether the masks used by some protesters were effective in preventing any additional spread - especially as higher-risk groups joined peaceful demonstrations.
She also said around 70 urban testing sites were damaged in some of the more violent protests.
The US is not the only nation concerned by the effect these protests may have on the pandemic. As we reported earlier, a Black Lives Matter protester in Australia has also fallen ill - a day after he attended a rally with thousands of other people in Melbourne.
The man had worn a mask, but was still potentially infectious, health officials there said.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Jun 11 2020, 16:27

If you're just joining us...

Welcome to our live updates on the coronavirus pandemic. In some of the latest developments:

  • 151 people in the UK who tested positive died over the past 24 hours
  • More than 31,000 close contacts were identified during the first week of the test and trace system in England, figures show
  • The UK government is facing calls from Tory backbenchers to drop the 2m (6ft) social distancing rule in England
  • The number of confirmed cases in the US is now over two million, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University
  • The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating in Africa, the World Health Organization says

US treasury secretary: We can't shut down economy again

Shutting down the US economy for a second time to slow the spread of coronavirus is not a viable option, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said.
"We can't shut down the economy again. I think we've learned that if you shut down the economy, you're going to create more damage," Mnuchin told CNBC .
"And not just economic damage. There are other areas and we've talked about this - medical problems and everything else that get put on hold."
Mnuchin said he thought President Donald Trump's actions had been "very prudent", adding: "But I think we've learned a lot."
Latest US unemployment figures show that a further 1.5 million people lost their jobs in the past week. It brings the total number of unemployment benefit claims since mid-March to 44.2 million.

EU economic relaunch package must be fair - Hungary

Tom Mulligan - BBC Monitoring
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The Visegrad Group met in person rather than by video conference, which has been the way for the majority of meetings during the pandemic

Hungary wants a fair EU economic relaunch package, and the current proposal must be stripped of discriminatory elements, the Hungarian prime minister has said.
"Hungary has a fundamentally positive attitude towards the proposal on the recovery fund, but there is still a lot of work to be done on it, the absurd elements must be removed from it," Viktor Orban was quoted by MTI news agency as saying.
"It's a moral problem that, on the whole, rich countries would receive more money than poorer ones, that cannot remain the case."
The prime ministers of the Visegrad Group, also known as V4 - Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia - met in the Czech city of Lednice to discuss the EU Recovery Fund, the next multi-annual EU budget, border openings, tourism and migration, MTI reported.

Sevilla boss hopes fans stay away as La Liga resumes

La Liga returns to action later as third-placed Sevilla host their city rivals Real Betis at 20:00 GMT (21:00 BST) in Spain's first top-flight game since 10 March.
There are 11 rounds of fixtures remaining and all games will be played behind closed doors, with a minute's silence taking place in memory of the victims of the pandemic.
The Seville derby would normally attract a 40,000-plus crowd to Sevilla's ground but their coach Julen Lopetegui hopes fans stay away and ensure safety outside the venue.
"I hope people do what law enforcement forces are telling them to do," said the former Spain and Real Madrid boss. "The measures are for the common good. The message is one of responsibility."
We have everything you need to know about La Liga's return.

Premier League clubs agree medical and operational restart plans

Premier League clubs have agreed to a range of medical and operational protocols for the restart of the 2019-20 season on 17 June.
There will be strict limits on those allowed into stadiums on matchdays, and grounds will be split up into zones including the tunnel and pitchside.
There will be deep cleaning of corner flags, goalposts and match balls before and after each fixture.
Some extra disinfection, such as of the substitution board after it is used, is likely to take place during matches and at half-time, while other work will be carried out during drinks breaks if they are permitted by the league.

England footballer Alli gets one-game suspension for Snapchat post

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Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli has been suspended for one match by the Football Association over a social media post about coronavirus.
The England international, 24, put a video on Snapchat in February in which he joked about the outbreak and appeared to mock an Asian man.
Alli has been fined £50,000, ordered to undertake an education course, and will miss Spurs' match at home to Manchester United on 19 June.
"In response to the FA decision, I would like to apologise again for any offence caused by my behaviour," he said. "It was an extremely poorly judged joke about a virus that has now affected us more than we could ever have imagined.
"I'm grateful that The FA has confirmed that my actions were not racist because I despise racism of any kind. We all need to be mindful of the words and actions we use and how they can be perceived by others."

Famous UK soap resumes filming - two metres apart

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Coronation Street is filmed at ITV Studios in Salford

Filming on the famous cobbles of Coronation Street has resumed, 11 weeks after lockdown measures called a halt to shooting on set.
A scaled-down cast and crew have returned to film new episodes of Britain's most iconic soap - but the Rovers and Roy's Rolls remain closed, with filming focused on "brilliant dialogue being played brilliantly by an extremely talented set of cast".
"What we've done is pushed the writing and pushed the performance to the fore," says Iain MacLeod, series producer.
Actors must do their own make-up and hair, while "Dave the security guard" wields a two-metre pole to ensure the cast respects the social-distancing guidelines while on set.
The soap opera, which has been screened three days a week throughout the lockdown, will continue to focus on key storylines with only passing references to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic
The new episodes will be on screen in July. You can see them in action here.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Jun 11 2020, 22:11

What did we learn from today's UK briefing?

Today's government news conference was held by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, joined by Dido Harding, who is chairing the NHS test and trace programme in England.
Here's what they told us:

  • Anyone who has coronavirus symptoms can get a test by calling 119. The test and trace scheme relies on people reporting their symptoms and following instructions from the NHS
  • In the first week of the test and trace programme, more than 8,000 people had their contacts traced. More than 31,000 contacts were traced, and nearly 27,000 of them (85%) agreed to self-isolate. The government is not planning an enforcement mechanism for people who do not follow an instruction to self-isolate but is not ruling it out
  • If businesses follow the government's Covid-secure guidelines, it may help employees avoid having to self-isolate if one of the employees tests positive. Social distancing is crucial to this
  • Contact tracers are adapting to make the scheme more effective, for example by changing what time of day they get in touch with the public. The tracing app is still being tested on the Isle of Wright and will be rolled out when human contact tracers are at their most effective
  • ONS survey data suggests 70-80% of people who have coronavirus antibodies - indicating they have had the disease - did not have symptoms. This is why people are being told to isolate for the full 14 days

IMF chief: 100 million face extreme poverty

Andrew Walker - World Service economics correspondent
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More people around the world could be reliant on food aid, the IMF warned

The managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says that governments around the world have spent $10tn (£8tn) tackling the pandemic and its economic consequences.
But Kristalina Georgieva said they needed to do more, and she warned that up to 100 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty.
In a blog, the IMF's top official said it was good news that governments had taken what she called "extraordinary policy measures" to save lives and protect livelihoods. But she said the crisis was inflicting most pain on those who were already most vulnerable.
Further stimulus from government budgets would be needed during the recovery, she argued, including on healthcare to minimise the risks from future epidemics.
She also called for more investment in education, warning about children whose education had been disrupted by the virus and who were at risk of what she called "learning poverty".

The UK app isn't happening, yet

Chris Mason - Political Correspondent
Not long ago, there was no end of talk of the National Health Service contact tracing app.
It would be no less than "world beating" - ambitious, undoubtedly, but leaving little headroom for surprise in the upside and the potential for plenty in the opposite direction.
So far, there's a website and there's a trial on the Isle of Wight.
But not much else.
It's crossed the Solent once but it is yet to cross back.
A week ago, Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi told the BBC the app should be in place by the end of this month.
But asked by BBC Health Editor Hugh Pym today, the Health Secretary for England, Matt Hancock, offered no detail whatsoever on the timeframe for its roll-out.

Analysis: Only time will tell if test and trace is really working

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
Not surprisingly lots of questions about test and trace at the UK's daily government briefing
It is very early days to judge the service - and the officials themselves acknowledge it will improve.
At the end of the day, there are really two crucial numbers to keep an eye on in coming weeks.
Firstly, the number of new cases diagnosed each day.
And secondly, the surveillance screening carried out by the Office for National Statistics.
Both show infections are continuing to fall.
These measures will only just have started picking up some of the impact of the relaxation in restrictions.
The coming weeks will be crucial – and will be the true test of the test and trace system, not only in England, but those being rolled out across the other UK nations too.

Under-30s hit hardest by fall in income during lockdown

Kevin Peachey - Personal finance reporter
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has calculated , for the first time, the effect of the coronavirus outbreak on household spending.
It found that a typical household in the UK normally spent an average of £182 a week on activities, such as travel, holidays and meals out, which have been mostly curtailed during the virus outbreak.
Many households have been saving that money or using it to cover any loss of income - but there remains the need for about 53% of income to be spent on essentials, such as food and housing.
For young people, as well as renters and those living in London, a greater proportion of their income goes on essentials than other groups.
With little in savings and less chance to cut spending, the under-30s are likely to be hit the hardest if their income drops.
Read more

Latest news from Latin America

Many countries in Latin America have not yet reached the peak of the outbreak, but cases continue to rise rapidly across the region. Here are some of the latest updates:

  • Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been criticised for his handling of the outbreak, has created a new government department - the Ministry of Communications. It follows a Supreme Court ruling forcing the government to publish official coronavirus figures on the health ministry's website. The country has recorded almost 40,000 deaths and more than 750,000 confirmed infections
  • Mexico's death toll has surpassed 15,000 deaths and a government official has warned that case predictions for the country have been revised upwards. The capital, Mexico City, plans to increase testing to a target of 100,000 tests a month in an effort to start reopening the economy
  • Peru's exports of ginger root have increased almost threefold during the pandemic. Ginger is seen as an immune-system booster but there is no evidence to suggest it protects against coronavirus

Doctor in Brazil: Reopening of shops 'irrational'

Lockdown measures are being relaxed in parts of Brazil, and stores and shopping centres are reopening in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
The country has the second-highest number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the world - more than 700,000 - but the number is thought to be much higher because of insufficient testing.
Dr Gerson Salvador works in the emergency department and intensive care unit at São Paulo University Hospital.
He said the reopening of shops was an "irrational" measure and he could not support it.
"We have a lot of people coming in every day with very severe symptoms. Our hospital has the resources but this isn't the reality in the whole of Brazil."
He links the spread to the attitude of President Jair Bolsonaro who dismissed the threat posed by the virus, having previously described it as "a little flu".
"Assisting patients with Covid-19 is challenging for any doctor in the world but in Brazil it's a big challenge. People don't know whether to listen to the president or to health authorities. They don't respect our advice."

Isle of Man drops social distancing

The Isle of Man has become the first place in the British Isles to drop social distancing.
Social distancing measures for the general public will be scrapped from Monday - but rules will remain in place for those working in health care and care homes for the elderly.
Chief minister Howard Quayle said the decision had been taken to "get society back to normal".
Quayle described it as a "bold move", but stressed the decision could be reversed should new cases of the virus emerge.
Twenty-four people have died from coronavirus on the island, but there have been no new cases for 22 days.
The island's border will remain closed, pending a decision by the Council of Ministers at a later stage.

Virgin pilots 'await redundancy email'

Tom Burridge - Transport correspondent
Virgin Atlantic has confirmed that it will be making staff redundant this week, including around 300 of its 1,050 pilots.
The redundancies are part of the job cuts announced by the airline in early May. Back then the airline announced that around 3,150 jobs were at risk.
A source at the airline said pilots were expecting to receive emails by Friday confirming whether they were being made redundant or not.
Virgin Atlantic requested a bailout from the government several weeks ago. The Treasury has still not confirmed whether it is providing the airline with emergency loans.
Most of the staff who will be issued with redundancy notices this week are UK-based.

Americans fear surge after protests - poll

A new Axios-Ipsos poll found one in 10 Americans said they had an immediate family member or close friend who had attended a protest within the last week, even as most of the country feared a rise in coronavirus cases.
Americans in the 18 to 29 age range, those who identified as Democrats and people in urban areas were the groups more likely to say they knew protest attendees.
The majority of those polled - 86% - see the demonstrations as a moderate or large health risk. Half of those interviewed said they were either extremely or very concerned about the virus in the wake of these protests, including 60% of Democrats.
Overall, the poll found Americans were feeling that gatherings with friends, eating at restaurants and shopping were less risky than before, though more than half still said these posed a large or moderate risk.

Toronto to make masks on public transport mandatory

Officials in Canada's largest city say masks will be made mandatory on public transport by 2 July, as soon as the city's transport agency approves the measure.
Mayor John Tory said the mandate would help prevent the spread of Covid-19 as more people use the transport system as businesses reopen. Transport officials will also distribute one million masks to residents, particularly those in low-income areas.
Similar policies have been put in place in other Canadian cities.

Texas reports highest daily number of new cases

Texas, the second-most populous state in the US, reported 2,504 new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday.
It is the most reported in a day in the state since the pandemic began and marks a spike following the US Memorial Day holiday weekend at the end of May.
The state's previous record-high was 1,949 new cases on 31 May, the Texas Tribune reports. Wednesday was also the third consecutive day that the number of Texans sent to hospital for Covid-19 rose, with over 2,100 people requiring hospital care.
Texas had one of the quickest reopening policies in the nation: stores, restaurants and theatres reopened, albeit with limited capacity, on 1 May, even though the state had seen rising case counts at the time.
Since then, bars, aquariums, rodeos, bingo halls and bowling alleys have also been allowed to open.
Businesses continue to reopen in the state, and on Friday, as phase three begins, restaurants will be able to operate at 75% capacity.

Open schools did not create outbreaks, Sweden says

Maddy Savage - BBC News, Stockholm
Sweden's decision to leave schools open for under-16s during the pandemic did not lead to any major outbreaks of Covid 19, according to the country's education minister.
Anna Ekstrom said research by the Swedish Public Health Agency showed that Swedes working in education - including teachers, daycare staff and teaching assistants - had not been more likely to be diagnosed with coronavirus than those in other occupational groups.
Schools for older pupils and universities have been given the go-ahead to reopen from 15 June - but for summer schools and courses only.
Sweden is set to relax a number of other national recommendations in the coming days.
From Saturday, Swedes without any Covid-19 symptoms can travel freely within the country. And on Sunday elite sports can start up again, although no fans will be allowed to watch events.

BBC launches tool to tackle fake news in Africa

Hugo Williams - BBC News
Whether it is people sharing conspiracy theories about 5G or unfounded "cures" for coronavirus, misinformation has spread far and wide during this pandemic, sometimes with deadly consequences .
To combat what the World Health Organization has called an "infodemic" around Covid-19, we have launched a searchable library of fact-checks debunking popular myths and misinformation about coronavirus in Africa.
The fact-checks are designed for mobile and made to be easily shareable on WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter, the same platforms which have been awash with fake news about Covid-19.

Pakistan quarantine closures fuel virus fears

Tarhub Asghar - BBC Urdu, Lahore
The government of Punjab has started closing quarantine centres across Pakistan's most populous province, despite a rapidly rising number of coronavirus cases.
Lahore Deputy Commissioner Danish Afzal told BBC Urdu that no-one suspected of having coronavirus was left in the centres.
"According to new policies we're focusing more on keeping asymptomatic patients in home isolation," he added.
Travellers from abroad are now being tested for Covid-19 at the airport and sent directly to their homes instead of to quarantine centres, as had previously been required.
Six such centres are being closed in Lahore, along with others in different cities in Punjab.
The move comes amid concern as cases in Punjab and other parts of Pakistan are rapidly increasing after measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus were eased.

The latest from the US

If you're just joining us, here are some of the day's key developments from the US:

  • Financial markets slumped amid fears that an uptick in coronavirus cases would hurt the economic recovery
  • The number of confirmed coronavirus infections surpassed 2,011,000, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University; the country's high case count is partly explained by its high levels of testing

  • The latest unemployment numbers from the Labor Department show 1.5 million more people applied for jobless benefits last week, bringing the total number of Americans who lost their jobs since mid-March to 44.2 million
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said shutting down the economy once more to slow Covid-19's spread was not possible; he warned it would cause more than just economic damage, citing other medical problems and "everything else that gets put on hold"
  • On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve Chair noted there would be an extended time period where it would be "difficult for many people to find work"
  • The White House coronavirus task force expressed concerns over a surge in cases amid national protests against the death of George Floyd
  • President Donald Trump meanwhile is to hold his first re-election campaign rally in months in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on 19 June - a date African Americans celebrate the end of slavery. You can read more here

Brazilian beach memorial attacked by 'Bolsonaro supporters'

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The Rio de Paz group dug 100 symbolic "graves"

A memorial to victims of the coronavirus in Brazil has been vandalised by supporters of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, activists say.
Members of the Rio de Paz civil society group had dug 100 symbolic shallow graves in Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach to represent those killed in the pandemic. Each grave was marked by a cross.
Brazil has recorded more than 772,000 cases - the world's second-highest number - and nearly 40,000 deaths.
Later, a group of people opposed to the tribute gathered nearby and mocked the activists. Rio de Paz said they were supporters of Bolsonaro.
One of the group then began knocking down the crosses.
Adding to the confusion, a passer-by who said his son had died from Covid-19 then began replacing the crosses.
Mr Bolsonaro has opposed lockdown measures and downplayed the virus as "a little flu".
Read more
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UK 'abandons full EU Brexit border checks' - FT

The UK has abandoned plans for full border checks with the EU on 1 January amid pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Financial Times reports .
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has accepted that businesses cannot cope with problems stemming from the outbreak and at the same time deal with post-Brexit disruption at the border, the FT says.
Instead, the government will bring in a temporary light-touch system at ports, the paper reports.

UK sets guidelines for air travel

The UK government has issued guidelines designed to minimise the risk of spreading Covid-19 while flying.
The recommendations say:

  • All luggage should be checked in
  • Face-to-face contact with staff should be minimal
  • Passengers should wear face coverings in the airport
  • Passengers should wash their hands regularly after touching surfaces
  • In flight, passengers should remain seated as much as possible

The Department of Transport's advice remains that people should avoid non-essential travel.
The guidelines have been criticised as "nonsensical" by the airline industry which has been hit hard by Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Read the full story here

Why litter is surging as lockdowns ease

Coronavirus - 11th June Bdd83f10
Rubbish on the Summerleaze Beach in Bude, Cornwall

Recent visitors have left mounds of rubbish left in their wake in public spaces and beauty spots across the UK and beyond.
This has made headlines, sparked outrage and resulted in pleas by local government officials for visitors to stay away.
"We fear a littering epidemic as lockdown eases," warns the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy.
Research suggests that littering can be challenging to eradicate in the best of times - and these clearly aren't the best of times.
So what is it about current circumstances that's driving this surge, and is there anything we can do to contain the problem?
Read the full article here

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Jun 11 2020, 22:34

Live page team - who we are

Today's live updates have been brought to you by our journalists in Australia, Asia, the UK and North America: Flora Drury, Patrick Jackson, Rob Corp, Victoria Lindrea, Emma Harrison, Lucy Webster, Paul Seddon, Ritu Prasad, Emlyn Begley, Gary Rose, David Walker, Hugo Bachega, Thomas Spender, Yaroslav Lukov, Ben Collins, Andreas Illmer, Joseph Lee, Owen Amos, Krutika Pathi, Yvette Tan and Frances Mao.

Like many of you, we are often working from home because of lockdown restrictions. David sent this selfie from his desk in England.
Coronavirus - 11th June Cc3fd610

We're pausing our live coverage

That's it from us for today - thank you very much for your company.
Our colleagues in Sydney and Singapore will be resuming live coverage soon. In the meantime here are some key developments:

  • UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Test and Trace system was "critical" to control the virus. He said it was the public's "civic duty" to follow instructions given by contact tracers
  • US stock markets saw dramatic falls amid fears of a second wave of coronavirus and dire predictions about the economy
  • The number of confirmed cases in Russia passed 500,000. It is now the third highest in the world, behind the US and Brazil

    Current date/time is Sat Nov 28 2020, 08:11