Coronavirus live news: Brazil records more than 500,000 deaths from Covid; US has given more than 317,100,000 jabs – as it happened

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Coronavirus live news: Brazil records more than 500,000 deaths from Covid; US has given more than 317,100,000 jabs – as it happened ” was written by Nadeem Badshah (now) and Kevin Rawlinson and Jedidajah Otte (earlier), for theguardian.com on Saturday 19th June 2021 23.00 UTC

A summary of today’s developments

  • Brazil surpassed 500,000 deaths from Covid-19 on Saturday, the Health Ministry said, registering 2,301 new fatalities in the past 24 hours.
  • Belgium will ban entry to non-EU travellers from Britain in order to limit the spread of the Delta variant. Britain is on a list of 27 nations that will also face the order which will take effect by June 27 at the latest, Jan Eyckmans, the spokesman for health minister Frank Vandenbroucke, told AFP.
  • Thousands took to the streets across Brazil to protest against President Jair Bolsonaro’s pandemic response, including his not acquiring vaccines fast enough and for questioning the need for mask-wearing, Reuters reports.
  • The UK has recorded 10,321 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, compared to 10,476 on Friday, bringing the total to 4,620,968. A further 14 deaths were recorded, bringing the total to 127,970.
  • Mexico City schools that had just gone back to in-person classes will be closed again starting on Monday as the capital climbs into a higher tier of coronavirus risk, education authorities said. Mexico City officials had loosened restrictions on gatherings in schools, hotels, stores and restaurants just two weeks ago as the dense urban zone moved into the lowest risk tier of the government’s four-level “traffic light” model, Reuters said. But the federal health ministry put Mexico City a step higher on the scale for 21 June to 4 July.
  • Cambodia reported 20 deaths – its worst one-day death toll. The southeast Asian nation detected its first Delta variant cases and authorities urged people to be vigilant. Cambodia has recorded one of the world’s smallest caseloads thus far, but the outbreak that was first detected in late February has caused infections to climb to 42,052 cases with 414 deaths.
  • A third wave “is definitely under way” in the UK, according to a government scientific adviser. Prof Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said: “It’s going up, perhaps we can be a little bit optimistic it’s not going up any faster, but nevertheless it’s going up, so this third wave is definitely under way.”
  • Surge testing is to begin in two parts of England, the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care said. The county of Cumbria, in the north-west, and the south London borough of Lambeth will see intensive testing and genomic sequencing from Saturday.
  • Several English football grounds were being used as vaccination centres, including the London Stadium and Stamford Bridge. Long queues formed as the UK government pushes everyone aged 18 or older to start getting jabs.

Mexico’s health ministry reported 3,964 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country and 192 more fatalities, bringing the total figures to 2,475,705 infections and 231,151 deaths.

The government has said the real number of cases is likely significantly higher, and separate data published in March suggested the actual death toll is at least 60% above the confirmed figure, Reuters reports.

Protest against Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration in Rio de Janeiro.
Protest against Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration in Rio de Janeiro. Photograph: Pilar Olivares/Reuters

Belgium to ban non-EU travellers from Britain

Belgium will ban entry to non-EU travellers from Britain in order to limit the spread of the Delta variant.
Britain is on a list of 27 nations that will also face the order which will take effect by June 27 at the latest, Jan Eyckmans, the spokesman for health minister Frank Vandenbroucke, told AFP. With Belgium’s restrictions, which already apply to South Africa, India and Brazil, only EU citizens or residents of Belgium will be able to enter the country. Those travellers will still have to meet tight quarantine rules as well as take Covid tests before being free to move in Europe. The only exceptions for British or other non-EU travellers coming from a banned country will be diplomats on essential work and transport personnel, the government said.

Experts see the death toll in Brazil, already the highest in Latin America, climbing far higher, Reuters reports.

“I think we are going to reach 700,000 or 800,000 deaths before we get to see the effects of vaccination,” said Gonzalo Vecina, former head of Brazilian health regulator Anvisa, predicting a near-term acceleration in fatalities.

“We are experiencing the arrival of these new variants and the Indian variant will send us for a loop.”

Raphael Guimaraes, a researcher at Brazilian biomedical center Fiocruz, said delays in the vaccination program in Latin America’s most populous nation meant its full effects would not be felt until September or later.

Guimaraes warned Brazil could revisit scenes from the worst of its March-April peak, when the country averaged 3,000 deaths per day.

“We are still in an extremely critical situation, with very high transmission rates and hospital bed occupancy that is still critical in many places,” he said.

Brazil surpasses half a million Covid-19 deaths

Brazil surpassed 500,000 deaths from Covid-19 on Saturday, the Health Ministry said, registering 2,301 new fatalities in the past 24 hours.

The country recorded an additional 82,288 cases of coronavirus on Saturday, with nearly 17.9 million cases of the disease registered since the pandemic began, Reuters reports.

When the panic set in at the start of the pandemic, Australians rushed out and bought a whole lot of carbs, new food sales data reveals.

Sales of cereals – which include pasta, rice and flour – spiked by 40% in March 2020 compared with the month prior as people stocked up for the first of the Covid-19 lockdowns, the figures show.

The total amount of food scanned at supermarket checkouts rose by 4.5% that month compared with the year before. The year-on-year spike was even higher in Victoria at 8.4% in March 2020 and it jumped to more than 14% in September as the lockdowns dragged on.

The new research from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that cereals, as well as other long-life categories of foods, were especially popular at the start of the pandemic. The purchase of condiments, spreads and pantry staples like oils, coffee and tea also surged.

Dubai’s supreme committee of crisis and disaster management said it would allow travellers from South Africa who have received two doses of a UAE-approved vaccine to enter Dubai starting from 23 June, Reuters reports.

Travellers from India who have valid residence visas and have received two doses of a UAE-approved vaccine will also be allowed into the emirate.

Meanwhile, travellers from Nigeria must only present a negative PCR test taken 48 hours before departure and will also undergo another PCR test on arrival in Dubai.

Updated

A summary of today’s developments

  • Thousands took to the streets across Brazil to protest against President Jair Bolsonaro’s pandemic response, including his not acquiring vaccines fast enough and for questioning the need for mask-wearing, Reuters reports. Brazil is expected to surpass 500,000 deaths from Covid-19 when official figures are released later on Saturday, the world’s highest death toll after the US.
  • The UK has recorded 10,321 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, compared to 10,476 on Friday, bringing the total to 4,620,968. A further 14 deaths were recorded, bringing the total to 127,970.
  • Mexico City schools that had just gone back to in-person classes will be closed again starting on Monday as the capital climbs into a higher tier of coronavirus risk, education authorities said. Mexico City officials had loosened restrictions on gatherings in schools, hotels, stores and restaurants just two weeks ago as the dense urban zone moved into the lowest risk tier of the government’s four-level “traffic light” model, Reuters said. But the federal health ministry put Mexico City a step higher on the scale for 21 June to 4 July.
  • Cambodia reported 20 deaths – its worst one-day death toll. The southeast Asian nation detected its first Delta variant cases and authorities urged people to be vigilant. Cambodia has recorded one of the world’s smallest caseloads thus far, but the outbreak that was first detected in late February has caused infections to climb to 42,052 cases with 414 deaths.
  • A third wave “is definitely under way” in the UK, according to a government scientific adviser. Prof Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said: “It’s going up, perhaps we can be a little bit optimistic it’s not going up any faster, but nevertheless it’s going up, so this third wave is definitely under way.”
  • Surge testing is to begin in two parts of England, the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care said. The county of Cumbria, in the north-west, and the south London borough of Lambeth will see intensive testing and genomic sequencing from Saturday.
  • Several English football grounds were being used as vaccination centres, including the London Stadium and Stamford Bridge. Long queues formed as the UK government pushes everyone aged 18 or older to start getting jabs.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will suspend travellers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Namibia from entering the country on national and foreign flights, effective from 23.59 on 21 June, Reuters reports.

Restrictions would also include transit passengers, with the exception of transit flights travelling to the UAE and bound for those countries.

Cargo flights between those countries and the UAE will continue, as usual, a statement added.

It said the restrictions were being introduced to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Updated

The joint covid-19 supervisory officer makes an appeal to residents who gathered and places of culinary business around the Duren Sawit area, East Jakarta, Indonesia. It was carried out due to the case of the transmission of Covid-19 increased and tightened all activities were limited to 9pm.
Joint Covid-19 supervisory officers patrolling Duren Sawit area, East Jakarta, Indonesia. Photograph: Dasril Roszandi/NurPhoto/Rex/Shutterstock

Updated

Thousands took to the streets across Brazil on Saturday to protest against President Jair Bolsonaro’s pandemic response, including his not acquiring vaccines fast enough and for questioning the need for mask-wearing, Reuters reports.

Brazil is expected to surpass 500,000 deaths from Covid-19 when official figures are released later on Saturday, the world’s highest death toll after the US.

“We are protesting against the genocidal Bolsonaro government that did not buy vaccines and has done nothing to take care of its people in the last year,” said 36-year-old Aline Rabelo, while protesting on the national mall in Brasilia.

Only 11% of Brazilians are fully vaccinated and 29% have received a first dose, health ministry data shows.

The country’s largest broadcaster, Globo, reported that by early afternoon, protests had been held in at least 44 cities in 20 states.

Here is more on today’s rallies:

Updated

More than 75% of Canadians aged 12 and older have received at least one Covid-19 vaccine and more than 20% have received both doses, broadcaster CBC News reported.

Updated

The US administered 317,117,797 doses of Covid-19 vaccines in the country as of Saturday morning and distributed 379,003,410 doses, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Those figures are up from the 316,048,776 vaccine doses the CDC said had gone into arms by 18 June out of 377,935,390 doses delivered.

The agency said 176,737,141 people had received at least one dose while 149,125,164 people are fully vaccinated as of Saturday.

Updated

Mexico City schools to be closed again from Monday

Mexico City schools that had just gone back to in-person classes will be closed again starting on Monday as the capital climbs into a higher tier of coronavirus risk, education authorities said.

Mexico City officials had loosened restrictions on gatherings in schools, hotels, stores and restaurants just two weeks ago as the dense urban zone moved into the lowest risk tier of the government’s four-level “traffic light” model, Reuters said.

But the federal health ministry put Mexico City a step higher on the scale for 21 June to 4 July.

Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said the city’s Epidemiological Traffic Light, a calculation of risk factors, has climbed to nine points from eight points, putting the capital into the more restrictive tier.

Mexico City’s Federal Educational Authority said in a statement the suspension of classes applied to both private and public schools.

Mexico reported more than 230,959 deaths from the coronavirus and 2,471,741 confirmed infections.

Updated

Women hold up placards with a message that reads in Portuguese; “500K deaths! His fault!” during a demonstration against Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and economic policies protesters say harm the interests of the poor and working class, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Brazil is approaching an official COVID-19 death toll of 500,000 — second-highest in the world.
Women hold up placards with a message that reads in Portuguese ‘500K deaths! His fault!’ during a demonstration against Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Photograph: Bruna Prado/AP

Updated

Israel’s health ministry insisted a shipment of Covid-19 vaccine doses the Palestinians rejected as about to expire were “completely valid”.

The Palestinian Authority on Friday called off a deal that would have seen Israel provide it with one million jabs in exchange for doses from Pfizer that the Palestinians are scheduled to receive later this year.

PA spokesman Ibrahim Melhem said an initial delivery of some 90,000 Pfizer doses failed to conform “to the specifications contained in the agreement, and accordingly prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh instructed the minister of health to cancel the agreement”.

“The government refuses to receive vaccines that are about to expire,” Melhem said, in a statement carried by the official WAFA news agency.

The Israeli health ministry said the vaccines it delivered were “completely valid”, although the prime minister’s office acknowledged Friday that they were “about to expire”, without specifying the use-by date.

“The Palestinian health ministry received Pfizer vaccines that were valid, with expiration dates that were known, agreed on and that matched the agreement between the two sides,” the ministry said.

Updated

Five police officers were injured overnight in western France as they broke up a 1,500-strong illegal rave, authorities said on Saturday, with one party-goer losing a hand in the clashes.

Police fired teargas to disperse the crowd, who defied an 11pm coronavirus curfew on Friday and stayed on into Saturday afternoon at a racecourse near Redon in Brittany, AFP reports.

There were “very violent clashes” when 400 police intervened, local prefect Emmanuel Berthier said, adding the violence lasted more than seven hours through the night.

Police detained five men on Saturday and opened an inquiry into violence against people in positions of public authority.

Two of the five injured police officers had to be taken to the hospital in Redon, Berthier said.

Updated

This year’s World Refugee Day offers a chance to reflect on the uncertainty faced by those forced to flee their homes, actor Cate Blanchett said as the world grapples with the unpredictability of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Oscar winner and UNHCR goodwill ambassador said the annual 20 June event came during a time of “challenge and reflection”.

“We’ve been forced to confront what uncertainty feels like and of course that is the situation that the majority of refugees live with, year in, year out,” Blanchett told Reuters.

“There’s a kind of an opportunity … to think about how we have dealt with uncertainty and perhaps place ourselves in the shoes of mothers and fathers and doctors and lawyers who have been, through no fault of their own, displaced and have been living with, often for upwards of 18, 19 years, in that state that we have been dealing with for 18 months.”

Updated

Turkey has received five million more doses of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac, Reuters reports.

Turkey’s vaccination programme has accelerated this week, with more than one million injections a day being administered since Monday.

Turkey’s tourism sector is facing a second summer in the doldrums because of international travel restrictions, but could get a late boost if the vaccination pace continues and Covid-19 cases, now around 6,000 a day, are contained.

The president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, told members of his ruling AK party in the summer resort of Antalya on Saturday that an easing of restrictions in countries like Germany and Russia could provide a major boost.

“Countries that are critical for our tourism sector have started easing travel restrictions. As of Tuesday, God willing, Russia is lifting the ban,” Erdoğan said, referring to Russia’s decision to resume flights to Turkey.

Updated

People hold a banner during a demonstration against Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic and to impeach him, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,. The banner reads: “Take Bolsonaro down in fights and on the streets”.
People demonstrating against Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic and calling for his impeachment in Rio de Janeiro. The banner reads: ‘Take Bolsonaro down in fights and on the streets’. Photograph: Pilar Olivares/Reuters

Updated

Delays in coronavirus vaccine shipments to Malawi have caused health facilities to run out of doses as hundreds are due to receive a second shot, the health minister said.

The southern African country has so far received 300,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the United Nations, 102,000 from the African Union and 50,000 donated by India.

Inoculations started in April and the country was expecting a second UN shipment of 900,000 by the end of May, four weeks before the first vaccinated Malawians would be due a second dose.
But health minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda said that batch had been delayed by a recent surge in coronavirus cases in India, the world’s main AstraZeneca supplier, which forced the country to temporarily halt major vaccine exports to meet local demand.

“The situation in India has delayed the supply,” Kandodo told AFP, adding the vaccines would arrive in July or August.

Updated

Afghanistan is ramping up supplies of oxygen as a deadly third surge of Covid-19 worsens, a senior health official told the Associated Press.

The government is installing oxygen supply plants in 10 provinces where up to 65% of those tested in some areas are Covid positive, health ministry spokesman Ghulam Dastigir Nazari said.

By WHO recommendations, anything higher than 5% shows officials are not testing widely enough, allowing the virus to spread unchecked.

Updated

Italy reported 28 coronavirus-related deaths on Saturday, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections was up to 1,197 from 1,147.

Italy has registered 127,253 deaths linked to Covid-19 since its outbreak in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the eighth-highest in the world.

The country has reported 4.25 million cases to date, Reuters reports.

Patients in hospital with Covid-19 – not including those in intensive care – at 2,504 on Saturday, down from 2,680 a day earlier.

There were 10 new admissions to intensive care units, down from 11 on Friday. The total number of intensive care patients fell to 394 from 416.

Updated

In the UK, 218,636 first doses were given yesterday and 188,858 second jabs. It was the second day in a row more first doses were administered than second.

Government data up to 18 June shows that of the 73,766,593 jabs administered so far, 42,679,268 were first doses and 31,087,325 were second doses.

Updated

The US will ship 2.5m Covid-19 vaccine doses to Taiwan on Saturday, a senior administration official told Reuters, more than tripling Washington’s previous allocation of shots for the island.
Washington, competing with Beijing to deepen geopolitical clout through so-called “vaccine diplomacy,” had initially promised to donate 750,000 doses to Taiwan but is increasing that number as President Joe Biden’s administration advances its pledge to send 80m US-made shots around the world. China has repeatedly offered to send coronavirus vaccines to the island, which has been battling a spike in domestic infections. Taipei has expressed concern about the safety of Chinese doses.

Updated

Queues have formed at pop-up vaccination centres at football grounds in London.

Giant jab clinics have been set up at the Olympic Stadium, Stamford Bridge, Tottenham Hotspur FC, Charlton Athletic FC, Selhurst Park and Crystal Palace Athletics Centre.

Smaller events are also taking place in local community venues in a drive to vaccinate as many people in the capital as possible.

Chelsea FC had 6,000 Pfizer vaccines to administer on Saturday, with the jab being offered to all adults over the age of 18 yet to receive a first dose, as well as those awaiting a second Pfizer dose.

UK death toll rises by 14

The UK has recorded 10,321 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, compared to 10,476 on Friday, bringing the total to 4,620,968.

A further 14 deaths were recorded, bringing the total to 127,970.

Summary

Here’s a summary of the most recent developments:

  • Cambodia reported 20 deaths – its worst one-day death toll. The southeast Asian nation detected its first Delta variant cases and authorities urged people to be vigilant. Cambodia has recorded one of the world’s smallest caseloads thus far, but the outbreak that was first detected in late February has caused infections to climb to 42,052 cases with 414 deaths.
  • A third wave “is definitely under way” in the UK, according to a government scientific adviser. Prof Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said: “It’s going up, perhaps we can be a little bit optimistic it’s not going up any faster, but nevertheless it’s going up, so this third wave is definitely under way.”
  • Surge testing is to begin in two parts of England, the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care said. The county of Cumbria, in the north-west, and the south London borough of Lambeth will see intensive testing and genomic sequencing from Saturday.
  • Several English football grounds were being used as vaccination centres, including the London Stadium and Stamford Bridge. Long queues formed as the UK government pushes everyone aged 18 or older to start getting jabs.

I’m now handing over to my colleague, Nadeem Badshah.

Brazil’s death toll is expected to pass 500,000 on Saturday, Reuters reports, as experts warn that the world’s second-deadliest outbreak may worsen due to delayed vaccinations and the government’s refusal to back social distancing measures.

Only 11% of Brazilians have been fully vaccinated and epidemiologists warn that, with winter arriving in the southern hemisphere and new variants of the coronavirus circulating, deaths will continue to mount even if immunisations gain steam.

Brazil has registered 498,499 deaths from 17,801,462 confirmed cases, according to health ministry data on Friday, the worst official death toll outside the United States. Over the past week, Brazil has averaged 2,000 deaths per day.

Updated

Music fans attend day 2 of Download PILOT at Donington Park
Music fans attend day 2 of Download PILOT at Donington Park Photograph: Katja Ogrin/Getty Images

Thousands of heavy metal fans are camping, singing and even moshing in the rain at Britain’s first full music festival since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The Associated Press reports:

The three-day Download Festival, taking place at Donington Park in central England, is one of a series of test events to see whether mass gatherings can resume without triggering outbreaks.

About 10,000 fans, a tenth of the festival’s pre-pandemic attendance, have tickets to watch more than 40 bands including Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes and Bullet for My Valentine.

Attendees all took Covid tests before the event, and don’t have to wear masks or follow social distancing rules during the festival.

Promoter Andy Copping said there was a “real sense of euphoria” at the event, which runs through Sunday, despite the wet weather. He said: “It wouldn’t be Download unless there was a bit of rain.”

Britain has recorded almost 128,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest toll in Europe. The government has delayed the planned lifting of remaining social and economic restrictions until 19 July amid a rise in cases driven by the highly contagious delta variant.

Updated

The former business secretary Andrea Leadsom has warned that some people are reluctant to return to work because furlough has been “great” for them while others were “terrified” of going back to the office, sparking criticism from workers and business-owners.

The Conservative MP said some businesses in her South Northamptonshire constituency were struggling to get employees to go back to work because “people have, to be perfectly frank, become used to being on furlough”.

Vaccination queues form at football grounds

Several English football grounds are being used as vaccination centres, including the London Stadium, where long queues have formed as the UK government pushes everyone aged 18 or older to start getting jabs:

Updated

We reported earlier that a government scientific adviser had said a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic is “definitely under way” as the vaccine programme races to outpace the Delta variant’s spread across the UK. Here’s the full story from my colleague Miranda Bryant:

On Friday morning, Leyla Çelik woke up with butterflies in her stomach. For weeks, the 22-year-old student at the Free University of Berlin had tried in vain to get an appointment for her first Covid-19 vaccine shot so she could volunteer as a polling station administrator at federal elections in September. “I’d basically given up hope.”

But last week her university got in touch via email, offering her a chance to get a first dose of Moderna vaccine on campus within a few days. By 9am on Friday, the anxiety had turned into euphoria. “It’s such a relief,” said the native Berliner, nursing her achey shoulder at the university’s biology institute, which was converted into a vaccine delivery point this week. “At last I can catch a train or a bus without feeling anxious.”

Millions of continental Europeans are currently experiencing similar thrills at the end of an emotional rollercoaster journey. In the spring, they had stared enviously at countries such as Britain and the US, where officials were administering vaccines at remarkable speed, while their own governments couldn’t shift out of first gear. Foreign Policy magazine wrote of “Europe’s vaccine disaster”.

But since then, EU member states have done a remarkable job of catching up. Since the start of this month, Germany, France and Italy have all administered more doses of vaccine on a seven-day average than Britain, Philip Oltermann, Angela Giuffrida and Kim Willsher write.

Updated

This year’s World Refugee Day offers a chance to reflect on the uncertainty faced by those forced to flee their homes, Oscar winner Cate Blanchett says as the world grapples with the unpredictability of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Australian actor, a goodwill ambassador for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said the annual 20 June event came during a time of “challenge and reflection”.

She told Reuters:

We’ve been forced to confront what uncertainty feels like and of course that is the situation that the majority of refugees live with, year in, year out.

There’s a kind of an opportunity … to think about how we have dealt with uncertainty and perhaps place ourselves in the shoes of mothers and fathers and doctors and lawyers who have been, through no fault of their own, displaced and have been living with, for often for upwards of 18, 19 years, in that state that we have been dealing with for 18 months.

World Refugee Day honours those who have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict or persecution. This year’s theme calls for greater inclusion of refugees in health systems, education and sport.

Gillian Triggs, UNHCR’s assistant high commissioner for protection, said in the joint interview:

Sadly, even in Covid [times], conflicts have continued around the world.

What we’re trying to talk about … is to support the host countries to enable people to be included in access to education, children to school, family members to work, but of course, most particularly in this time of Covid, access to health and to vaccines.

In its annual report released on Friday, UNHCR said the number of people forced to flee their homes due to conflict, persecution and human rights abuses had doubled in the past decade to reach 82.4 million at the end of 2020.

In her UNHCR role, Blanchett has travelled to Lebanon, Jordan and Bangladesh, and has addressed the UN security council on the Rohingya refugee crisis.

Updated

After a pandemic-induced break, Warsaw is set to hold the largest gay pride parade in the region on Saturday amid an intensifying campaign in Poland and Hungary against LGBT rights.

Euronews reports:

What is usually a joyful celebration is also tinged with fear of what the future holds for the rights of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people after setbacks first in Russia and Poland, now in Hungary.

“On the one hand we are united and we stand in solidarity with each other, and we get much joy and happiness in knowing we are strong,” said Ola Kaczorek, a co-president of the LGBT rights group Love Does Not Exclude. “Yet we are afraid of what could happen next.”

The parade comes days after Hungary’s parliament — with an election planned next year — passed a law that makes it illegal to show any materials about LGBT issues to people under 18.

Kaczorek said some participants Saturday would show gestures of solidarity with the LGBT community in Hungary.

“We are scared that this will happen in Poland,” Kaczorek said.

Participants of the Equality Jog hold rainbow flags while running on 19 June, 2021 in Warsaw, Poland.
Participants of the Equality Jog hold rainbow flags while running on 19 June 2021 in Warsaw, Poland. Photograph: Aleksander Kalka/Zuma Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

Updated

The Tokyo governor, Yuriko Koike, on Saturday cancelled all public viewing sites for the summer Olympics, diverting some venues to be Covid-19 vaccinations centres instead.

Reuters reports:

Foreign spectators are banned from attended the Games, delayed by a year due to the pandemic, but the government and Tokyo 2020 organisers have for months held off on deciding whether to allow Japanese spectators into the stadiums.

The ban on public viewing follows the metropolitan government’s decision this month to scrap plans for a public viewing site in Yoyogi Park in central Tokyo, converting the venue to a vaccination centre.

“I believe these are necessary measures, when looking from various perspectives, for a successful Olympic and Paralympic Games,” Koike told reporters after meeting with the prime minister, Yoshihide Suga.

They are to talk on Monday with the International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee.

Japanese medical experts said on Friday that banning spectators at the Olympics was the least risky option for going ahead with the event, while floating the possibility that venues could hold up to 10,000 fans in areas where “quasi-emergency” measures, such as shorter restaurant hours, have been lifted.

Demonstrators protest against hosting the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Demonstrators protest against hosting the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Photograph: Kimimasa Mayama/EPA

Updated

Covid restrictions in German schools must remain in place for some time to come, according to the health minister, Jens Spahn.

“We will not be able to go back to school completely without protective measures,” he said on Saturday at an online conference of the Evangelical Academy in Tutzing about the time after the summer holidays.

He suggested that measures such as compulsory face masks in classrooms or rotational teaching will probably still be necessary in autumn and winter, despite the currently very low incidences of the virus in Germany.

“We should make better use of the summer time this time,” Spahn added.

Updated

Plans to vaccinate teenagers in Japan have prompted an angry backlash from the public.

The Japan Times reports:

As municipalities prepare to inoculate adolescents against Covid-19, some have been inundated with calls and emails from irate people opposed to the young people getting the shots.

Officials say many of those opposed to the move seem averse to the coronavirus vaccine, and are particularly sensitive about the prospect of teenagers being vaccinated. The high volume of calls and emails as part of the anti-vaccination campaign have almost crippled service lines, and in some cases have included death threats, prompting some municipalities to dial back their commitment to getting youngsters in full-time education vaccinated.

Pediatricians have recommended Covid-19 shots for teens, although they say they need to be conducted with caution.

According to municipalities, it wasn’t until they announced their plans to vaccinate schoolchildren — following the central government’s decision last month to approve Pfizer Inc shots for those as young as 12 — that they became the target of a flurry of calls from across the nation.

One such municipality is the city of Komaki, in Aichi Prefecture. Earlier this month, the city said it was considering prioritizing middle and high school students for vaccinations so they could get the shots during their upcoming summer vacations, which typically start in late July.

The idea was to help restore normalcy as soon as possible so that schools could go ahead with a series of “once-in-a-lifetime” school trips and other events, many of which have been downsized or cancelled due to the pandemic, said a Komaki city official who asked not to be named.

But soon after, the city faced a barrage of phone calls and emails urging it to rethink the decision.

“Many of them were voicing concerns about long-term side-effects the vaccine could have on children. Others also said children shouldn’t be used as guinea pigs and that their future shouldn’t be ruined,” the official said. The city took about 100 such calls and emails, which at one point hampered its ability to accommodate other vaccine-related inquiries and reservation requests, he said.

Japan’s prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, announced on Thursday the country’s state of emergency would be lifted on Sunday except in Okinawa prefecture, as cases continue to decline nationwide and the fourth wave of the pandemic appears to have ebbed.

Japan has to date recorded 14,352 deaths from Covid-19.

I’m Jedidajah Otte and will be taking over for a bit. If you have anything you’d like to flag, you can get in touch on Twitter @JedySays.

Updated

Milkha Singh, one of India’s first sport superstars, has died of Covid-related complications at the age of 91.

Singh, who was popularly known as the Flying Sikh, died late on Friday in a hospital in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh, his family said. He tested positive for Covid on 20 May. His wife, Nirmal Kaur, a former volleyball captain, had died of the virus days earlier. She was 85.

“He fought hard, but God has his ways,” Singh’s family said.

JCR had been a cook for 15 years, never struggling to find a job in New York city, where his friends would always find a place for him in a restaurant’s kitchen, writes Aldana Vales of Documented.

But when Covid-19 hit the city in March last year, work that immigrants had relied on vanished seemingly overnight, especially jobs in hospitality, events and cleaning.

While the restaurant industry in the city is now in recovery and struggling to re-employ workers it had laid off, jobs were extremely hard to find last year, JCR says.

After he lost his job he could not find another one in the food industry as the city became the global centre of the disease. “Only essential or very experienced workers were being hired,” he realized.

Many of his friends in the restaurant industry moved to construction, and there he finally got a part-time gig after months of searching.

JCR’s experiences are similar to thousands of immigrants from Latin America – and one that Documented, a local newsroom that covers immigration in the area, was able to quickly identify via its WhatsApp service, a Spanish-language channel that provides undocumented New Yorkers with valuable information.

Updated

The airport in China’s southern city of Shenzhen has cancelled hundreds of flights and tightened entry controls after a restaurant employee tested positive for the Delta variant. Agence France-Presse reports:

Anyone entering the facility must show a negative virus test from the last 48 hours, Shenzhen Airport Group said in a statement on its official WeChat social media account.

City health officials said a 21-year-old waitress at Shenzhen Baoan international airport had been infected with the Delta variant of the virus.

The woman tested positive during a routine test for airport staff conducted Thursday, they said.

Shenzhen, a mainland Chinese city neighbouring Hong Kong, is home to some of Asia’s biggest tech companies including telecoms equipment maker Huawei and gaming giant Tencent.

China reported 30 new cases on Friday, including six local transmissions in the southern province of Guangdong where Shenzhen is located.

The airport entry restrictions came into effect from 1pm local time on Saturday (5am GMT).

Nearly 400 flights to and from the airport were cancelled on Friday, data from flight tracker VariFlight showed. Dozens of flights scheduled for Saturday morning were also dropped.

Passengers would receive refunds on their tickets without penalty, the airport authority said.

Millions of Shenzhen residents have been tested for the virus in recent weeks after a small outbreak at the city’s port earlier this month.

Updated

Surge testing to begin in Cumbria and south London

Surge testing is to begin in two parts of England, the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care has said. The county of Cumbria, in the north-west, and the south London borough of Lambeth will see intensive testing and genomic sequencing from Saturday.

Everyone who lives or works in Clapham, Brixton or Stockwell, as well as West Norwood or Vauxhall in the capital is strongly encouraged to take a PCR test, whether they are showing symptoms of not. At the same time, everyone aged between 12 and 30 years who lives, works or studies in Cumbria is being encouraged to get tested.

The NHS said that, in all of the areas, adults over the age of 18 should also come forward for a vaccine if they haven’t already.

Updated

Russia has reported 17,906 new cases, including a record 9,120 in Moscow, pushing the national infection tally up to 5,299,215 since the pandemic began.

Reuters reports that the government taskforce confirmed 466 deaths in the past 24 hours, raising the death toll to 128,911. The state statistics agency, which keeps separate figures, has said Russia recorded around 270,000 deaths in the year to April.

Updated

Australia’s largest state, New South Wales (NSW), has recorded two locally acquired cases on Saturday, as concerns grow over the further spread of infections amid an increase in exposure sites, Reuters reports

The agency says the point of transmission of the new infections hasn’t been determined, but authorities believed they are linked to the first case of the Sydney cluster of the highly-infectious coronavirus Delta variant, which now stands at six cases.

“This Delta virus would appear to be a near and present danger to anybody who is in the vicinity,” NSW’s health minister, Brad Hazzard, said. The list of exposure sites has been updated to now include 20 venues across Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

The latest cluster in NSW, which is home to more than 8 million people, is the state’s first in more than a month. It was traced back to a driver who occasionally used to transport overseas airline crew.

Updated

In Germany, the number of confirmed cases has increased by 1,108 to 3,721,139, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases shows. The reported death toll rose by 99 to 90,369, the tally shows.

China has reported 30 new confirmed cases in the mainland for Friday 18 June; up from 23 infections a day earlier, the country’s health authority have said.

Of the new cases, six were local infections in southern Guangdong province, while the rest were imported cases, Reuters reports, citing the National Health Commission.

The number of new asymptomatic infections rose to 42 from 25 a day earlier. China does not classify these as confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases in mainland China stood at 91,564 at the end of 18 June, with the death toll unchanged at 4,636.

Updated

Authorities in the Mexican border state of Baja California say they will include migrants in the new vaccination plan for border cities, which is aimed at accelerating the reopening of the shared land border with the United States. Reuters reports:

The state, which lies just across from California, began vaccinating adults over the age of 18 this week as part of a new mass vaccination push across northern Mexico, which relies on more than 1m Johnson & Johnson doses donated by the United States.

Baja California’s health secretary, Alonso Óscar Pérez, told Reuters on Friday that the agency had a plan to vaccinate migrants as part of this new border vaccination initiative. He added that the agency had allocated specific days for migrants, without providing additional details.

Mexico is rolling out its border initiative first in Baja California, home to one of the busiest land border crossings in the world, then plans to move west state-by-state until reaching Mexico’s eastern seaboard.

The decision to include migrants in Baja California may mean migrants will be included across Mexico’s border, where thousands of mostly Central American migrants wait, often for months, in hopes of being able to cross into the United States.

Migrant advocates have been pushing the state for information about how this vaccination drive will include the estimated 4,000 migrants living in Baja California, according to data provided by local shelters.

At least 1,000 migrants are camped at the base of an international bridge in the city of Tijuana.

Mexico has also reported 4,098 new confirmed cases and an additional 167 deaths, according to health ministry data, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 2,471,741 and the overall death toll to 230,959.

Updated

In Argentina, the laboratory Richmond has said it has produced almost half a million doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine – the first to be made in the South American country.

The vaccines await approval from the National Administration of Medicines, Food and Medical Technology (ANMAT) and Russia’s Gamaleya Institute for their release, Richmond said in a tweet.

We appreciate the hard work it took our staff to achieve this first objective, and continue with our commitment to have local vaccine production.

Reuters reports that Argentina has had a slow rollout of its inoculation programme with about 18m doses applied so far. But only a little more than 3.5m people have had both doses. The vaccines being applied in Argentina are Sputnik V, AstraZeneca , Sinopharm and previously CoviShield.

To date, Argentina has had 88,247 deaths. “Today we celebrate this new milestone in the production of Sputnik V,” Reuters quoted the Argentine production minister Matias Kulfas as saying.

Updated

Prof Finn was also asked if he feels confident the UK will outpace the Delta variant with the current rate of vaccination. He told Times Radio:

No, I don’t feel confident. But I think there’s some grounds for optimism.

The latest ONS figures continue to show a rise, but that rise has not accelerated quite as much as I’d feared over the last week.

So, the race is on. The sooner we can get, particularly second doses, into older people, the less of a hospitalisation wave we’ll see this time around.

That’s the critical thing, that’s what’s grounded us all in the past, and if we’ve managed to protect enough older people that we can avoid a great big surge of hospitalisations and deaths, then things will be able to move back towards normal.

We reported earlier that the prospect of people who have had two jabs no longer needing to adhere to self-isolation rules had been raised. Prof Finn of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), called it an “interesting” proposal. He has told Times Radio:

We know that the vaccine, particularly after two doses, is highly effective at stopping you from getting seriously ill. [You are] 20 times less likely to end up in hospital.

We also know that it will reduce your chances of getting milder illness and infecting other people. But it’s probably less good at doing that than it is preventing you getting seriously ill, so it’s a kind of balance of risk thing.

Asked if it would be safer to properly support people as they self-isolate rather than reduce the quarantine time, he said:

Yeah, difficult calculation because I think in practice, for whatever reason, that doesn’t happen reliably, so that people are being penalised by self-isolating and that probably results in some people not self-isolating and others suffering financial hardship as a result.

This is one way to avoid that, and presumably at somewhat lower risk than just letting everybody circulate when they potentially may have been exposed.

Updated

Dr Tildesley said those being hospitalised in the UK at the moment tend to be slightly younger and “slightly less sick” than in previous waves. He told BBC Breakfast:

Currently, we’re seeing slightly younger people are becoming infected and, actually, the people going to hospital tend to be slightly younger and, therefore, also slightly less sick, which is again quite a good sign that, even if we’re starting to see more people going into hospital, they tend to be younger people who have higher likelihood of recovering successfully.

I realise I’m being slightly cautious here. All of these are cautiously good signs. But, of course, we do need to keep an eye on this over the next couple of weeks so that we can give as much information as we can to the government prior to the 19 July reopening.

Dr Mike Tildesley, an epidemiologist and a member of the UK’s SPI-M modelling group, said he was “cautiously hopeful” the number of hospital admissions over the next few weeks would not be on the same scale as what happened in January. He has told BBC Breakfast:

We are now in a situation where if we sort of wind back a month ago we were starting to see signs of cases creeping up, and they have been creeping steadily for the last four weeks, but we haven’t yet seen that reflected in hospital admissions and deaths, which makes me sort of cautiously optimistic about the situation.

Hospital admissions are starting to rise a little bit, and of course there’s always a lag when cases rise that we see any signal in hospital admissions, but of course the vaccination campaign is doing very, very well, and so we’re not in the same situation we were back in October when cases were rising, we then got a big wave of hospital admissions and deaths.

There’s still a little bit of work to do for us over the next couple of weeks to really firm up the link between cases and hospital admissions, but I’m, I suppose at the moment, cautiously hopeful that whilst we probably will expect some sort of wave of hospital admissions over the next few weeks, it won’t be the same scale that we saw back in January.

Updated

Asked if double-vaccinated people would take other variants from abroad to the UK, Prof Bauld told Times Radio:

I think the chances of that are not zero, but they’re greatly reduced.

What we see from some well-conducted studies, including one in Scotland here where they looked at people who had both doses of the vaccine, they were healthcare workers, and then did they infect other people in their household? That was greatly reduced amongst those with both doses of the vaccine.

So, I think we can also say that people who are fully protected with vaccines are less likely to transmit, but the risk is not zero. That’s why I think we’re going have to continue to monitor this.

But, certainly, more evidence will come out on that, and it’s good news for the vaccines because, as I said, transmission was an area we were just very uncertain about.

Updated

Prof Bauld said countries need to reach agreement on rules about vaccinated people being allowed entry. She told Times Radio that having both doses of the vaccine is “not a free pass to everything”.

But we have to make these changes because in order to get back to some kind of normal life – or more normal than we have now – vaccines are going to be that protection.

And that means that showing, particularly for international travel, evidence of a vaccine. And I think that you know that’s uncontroversial compared to, remember, those discussions about vaccine passports to go to the pub, which are just not a runner. But, for travel, I think all countries need to reach agreement on this.

We need to have a common standard the way we do for yellow fever and that will really help with international travel in the future.

Prof Bauld said there would be discussions on moving away from large numbers of children self-isolating and instead carrying out regular testing.

She had been asked if she thinks any move away from 10 days of self-isolation for people who are double vaccinated could be the government’s way of getting out of properly supporting those who are self-isolating. She told Times Radio:

I hadn’t actually thought of it that way, to be perfectly frank. Is this a sort of a reason not to support self-isolation? That may be part of it.

I think it’s more that, as we move ahead and learn to live alongside this virus, we have to recognise – not just for adults actually around self-isolation – but there will also be a debate about school pupils and whether we could offer regular testing as an alternative to large groups of children having to stay at home and not have face-to-face education, which of course has been happening quite a bit as infection rates rise and it’s really unfortunate and should be avoidable.

Updated

People in the UK who have had two jabs and come into contact with someone infected with the virus may soon be spared 10 days of self-isolating, according to Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh. She told Times Radio:

It’s already in place in the US. The Centres for Disease Control changed their guidance a while ago to say that people who had had both doses of the vaccine and about 10 to 14 days after the second dose didn’t have to self-isolate, so I think we are moving in that direction.

As we’ve heard repeatedly from Chris Whitty and others, this virus isn’t going to disappear.

We’re going to have to live alongside it, means we are going to have infections in future, so being a contact of someone infected will always be a possibility.

Updated

Cambodia suffers worst day and UK ‘in third wave’

The south-east Asian nation reported 20 deaths on Saturday – its worst one-day death toll, as it detected its first Delta variant cases and authorities urged people to be vigilant.

According to Reuters, Cambodia has recorded one of the world’s smallest caseloads thus far, but the outbreak that was first detected in late February has caused infections to climb to 42,052 cases with 414 deaths. Its Communicable Disease Control Department said:

Please continue to be vigilant by practising hygiene, social distancing and not leaving your homes unnecessarily. Our country and the world continue to be plagued by the Covid 19 pandemic.

The ministry of health also reported seven cases of the Delta variant among travellers by land from neighbouring Thailand. “Every one must continue to be vigilant,” said Or Vandine, secretary of state and health ministry spokeswoman.

In the UK, a government scientific adviser has said a “third wave” of infections “is definitely under way”. Prof Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

It’s going up, perhaps we can be a little bit optimistic it’s not going up any faster, but nevertheless it’s going up, so this third wave is definitely under way. We can conclude that the race is firmly on between the vaccine programme, particularly getting older people’s second doses done, and the Delta variant third wave.

The University of Bristol academic said the JCVI is still working to decide whether children should be vaccinated but said that effort would not be the immediate priority if it was approved.

Even if some decision were made to immunise children it wouldn’t be appropriate right now, either here or anywhere else in Europe, to give our doses predominantly to children because it’s adults that get sick, so vaccinating adults is clearly the priority right now.

Updated

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