Coronavirus live news: global Covid-19 death toll passes 500,000

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Global Covid-19 cases pass 10m – as it happened” was written by Clea Skopeliti (now), Aaron Walawalkar, Helen Sullivan (earlier), for theguardian.com on Sunday 28th June 2020 23.14 UTC

12.10am BST

We’ve fired up a brand new blog at the link below – head there for the latest:

12.01am BST

Hi, Helen Sullivan with you now. I’ll be bringing you the latest for the next few hours – please do get in touch with any news, tips, comments or questions of your own.

Twitter: @helenrsullivan
Email: helen.sullivan@theguardian.com

11.57pm BST

Summary

It’s time for me to hand over to my colleague Helen Sullivan in Sydney. Thanks for following along and writing in. I’ll leave you with a round-up of recent key developments:

  • The coronavirus death toll has passed the grim milestone of half a million deaths. The number of people who have died in the outbreak stands at 500,321, according to John Hopkins University tracker. It’s important to note the actual number of deaths is likely to be significantly higher than the tally compiled from government figures.
  • US health secretary Alex Azar has warned that “the window is closing” on the country’s chance to take action to effectively curb the coronavirus, as the number of confirmed cases surpassed 2.5m.
  • The mayor of Leicester has argued more coronavirus testing data is needed before deciding whether to implement a local lockdown in the UK city.
  • Brazil has recorded 30,476 new cases of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours and 552 additional deaths, the health ministry said on Sunday.
  • Sudan is extending a lockdown in the state of Khartoum aimed at curbing the spread of the new coronavirus by one week until 7 July, the government spokesman said on Sunday.
  • The United Arab Emirates will not receive passengers coming from Pakistan as of 29 June until a special Covid-19 lab is set up to test them, the civil aviation authority has said.

11.27pm BST

Brazil registers 552 new coronavirus deaths

Brazil recorded 30,476 new cases of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours and 552 additional deaths, the health ministry said on Sunday.

The country has now registered a total of 1,344,143 confirmed cases and 57,622 deaths.

Updated at 11.28pm BST

11.06pm BST

The mayor of Leicester has argued more coronavirus testing data is needed before deciding whether to implement a local lockdown in the UK city.

Peter Soulsby said the information was “key to determining what intervention is needed” to respond to a recent spike in cases.

This follows a report that Leicester could be subject to Britain’s first local lockdown this week.

The city’s mayor said: “More testing and immediate access to the data is key to determining what intervention is needed. Whether that intervention is giving more advice or something more dramatic we don’t yet know.

“If it is decided that a local lockdown is needed the city council currently has no powers to implement this, and there would need to be extensive discussion around the area to be locked down, including whether this extends beyond the city boundaries.”

Soulsby and Leicester city council’s director of public health are due to meet with government officials on Monday morning to discuss the latest data.

Updated at 11.07pm BST

10.46pm BST

The UK prime minister will attempt to kickstart the economy after Covid-19 with a decade-long schools rebuilding plan, PA Media reports.

Boris Johnson is expected to announce the spending plans on Tuesday as he lays the groundwork for the UK to spend its way out of the coronavirus downturn by undertaking a vast building programme. Part of the plans will include a 10-year undertaking to improve school facilities, along with sprucing up classrooms currently in use.

A £1bn cash injection will see construction work start on the first 50 projects as soon as September 2021, Downing Street said. Another £560m will go towards school repairs in this financial year while further education colleges will see £200m of the £1.5bn promised by the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, at the spring budget to transform college estates over the next five years fast tracked so work can be brought forward.

However, Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Layla Moran called the announcement “spin over substance”, saying: “The funding is nowhere near the 7bn the National Audit Office has said is needed to repair our schools.”

The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, said the PM would have to ensure the programme reversed a “lost decade” of low investment in many regions.

Updated at 11.01pm BST

10.18pm BST

Global coronavirus death toll passes 500,000

The coronavirus death toll has passed the grim milestone of half a million deaths.

The number of people who have died in the outbreak stands at 500,108 according to John Hopkins University tracker.

The actual number of deaths is likely to be significantly higher than the tally compiled from government figures.

The US has the highest death toll at 125,747, followed by Brazil at 57,070. Some 43,634 people have died in the UK.

Updated at 10.31pm BST

9.52pm BST

Sudan extends lockdown in Khartoum

Sudan is extending a lockdown in the state of Khartoum aimed at curbing the spread of the new coronavirus by one week until 7 July, the government spokesman said on Sunday.

From 8 July there will be a gradual return to normal, though a night curfew will be imposed from 6 pm until 5 am, Faisal Salih told Reuters. Sudan has confirmed 9,258 cases of the coronavirus, including 572 deaths.

Authorities have extended the closure of Khartoum’s international airport until 12 July.

Updated at 9.53pm BST

9.34pm BST

In England, parents and school leaders have criticised the government’s free school meals scheme for being hard to use, with many having difficulties buying food with the vouchers and others complaining about a helpline that costs £21 an hour.

While the government’s U-turn over extending free school meals in England over the summer holiday has been widely welcomed after the intervention of Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford, many school leaders said their trust in the system has already collapsed.

Read Mattha Busby’s full report here.

9.02pm BST

Summary

Here’s a round-up of the key developments for those of you just joining us.

  • The total number of people to test positive for Covid-19 worldwide has exceeded 10 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. It stands at 10,057,300, while the number of global deaths is at 499,967.
  • The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States has passed 2.5 million. More than 125,000 Americans have died of Covid-19, the highest known death toll from the disease in the world.
  • The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, has said the state will consider potential stay-at-home orders and suburban lockdowns to contain several coronavirus clusters in Melbourne, after another 49 cases of coronavirus were detected on Saturday – the highest daily number since April.
  • Mask-wearing will be mandatory in certain areas of Iran as of next week and virus-hit provinces can reimpose restrictive measures, president Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday.
  • LGBT+ Brazilians are being disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 job losses, a survey has found. A report by advocacy group #VoteLGBT has found that one in four unemployed gay and trans Brazilians has lost their job recently during the coronavirus outbreak – almost double the nation’s overall rate.
  • Sri Lanka officially lifted its nationwide lockdown on Sunday, after a selective curfew was reimposed a month ago during a surge in coronavirus infections. The island nation imposed the lockdown on March 20 and lifted it gradually over the past two months, although a nighttime curfew remained in place.

A quick reminder you can get in touch with me on Twitter @cleaskopeliti.

8.32pm BST

The United Arab Emirates will not receive passengers coming from Pakistan as of 29 June until a special Covid-19 lab is set up to test them, the civil aviation authority has said.

The decision also applies to transit flights originating from Pakistan, where the number of cases is rising rapidly, the General Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement carried on state media.

Dubai state carrier Emirates had already said it was suspending flights from Pakistan effective 24 June.

8.10pm BST

Polish president Andrzej Duda won the most votes in the first round of Poland’s presidential election on Sunday, an exit poll found, and will face a run-off vote in two weeks’ time against Warsaw mayor Rafal Trzaskowski.

Duda, an ally of the ruling nationalists Law and Justice (PiS), got 41.8% of the vote, according to the exit poll, falling short of the 50% needed to claim victory in the first round.

Trzaskowski, who is standing for the largest opposition party, the centrist Civic Platform (PO) got 30.4% of votes, the poll showed.

8.04pm BST

US health secretary Alex Azar has warned that “the window is closing” on the country’s chance to take action to effectively curb the coronavirus, as the number of confirmed cases surpassed 2.5m.

The Health and Human Services secretary pointed to a recent spike in infections, particularly in the south and said people have “to act responsibly” by social distancing and wearing face masks especially “in these hot zones”.

For a third consecutive day on Saturday, the number of confirmed US cases rose by more than 40,000. In Arizona, cases have risen by 267% so far in June and jumped by a record 3,857 cases on Sunday, the eighth record-breaking increase this month. Overall, US deaths from Covid-19 have surpassed 125,000 with more than 2.5m confirmed cases, according to compiled by Johns Hopkins University, far more than any other country in the world.

Bryan Armen Graham has more on the situation in the US here.

7.29pm BST

French prime minister Edouard Philippe claimed victory in the race to become mayor of Le Havre in Sunday’s municipal elections.

He won with 58.8% of the vote, according to TF1/LCI TV.

“We’re happy in Le Havre, we will celebrate this victory,” Philippe said.

France’s constitution allows Philippe to nominate a deputy to his mayoral seat while he remains prime minister, but his victory will raise questions over a possible government reshuffle. Philippe will meet with president Emmanuel Macron on Monday morning for a one-to-one meeting.

The result comes in municipal elections where amid persistent fears of coronavirus contagion, just over a third of voters had turned out by 5pm, three hours before polling stations close, according to the interior ministry.

6.53pm BST

Polish presidential election sees ‘record high’ turnout despite coronavirus

AFP has the latest on Poland’s presidential election, in which polls indicate that incumbent Andrzej Duda will fall short of a majority and there will need to be a run-off on 12 July.

Turnout was at a record high by 5pm with almost 48% having voted compared to about 34% by the same time in the last presidential election in 2015, the national election commission said.

“This is a decisive time. A lot will really depend on this decision,” anti-communist icon Lech Walesa said as he cast his vote in the northern port of Gdansk wearing a transparent plastic visor over his face.

Walesa, who was elected Poland’s first democratic president after communism’s demise three decades ago, has been a trenchant critic of the current government.

Updated at 6.56pm BST

6.26pm BST

Latin America has just 8% of the world’s population but it currently accounts for 45% of daily deaths, according to Carlos del Rio, a Mexican-born infectious disease expert with Emory University.

Given the very low levels of testing across the region, the most worrying aspect was not the number of confirmed cases but the levels of mortality, del Rio said.

Reuters has this report on the situation in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas. While only 100 deaths have been officially registered in the country of around 11 million, many believe the number is far higher.

Berthony Clermont shares a two-room flat without running water with 10 relatives in the Haitian capital’s Cite Soleil slum, so when he fell ill with the novel coronavirus, they all did.

“I tried staying at home at the beginning but it was difficult to isolate myself as the house is too small,” said the 45-year old. Mistrustful of the dilapidated public healthcare in Haiti – the poorest country in the Americas – Clermont and his family treated themselves at home with herbal teas.

Clermont’s plight is shared by many in Haiti and, more broadly, across the Caribbean and Latin America. Home to 654 million people, it is the most unequal region in the world, according to the United Nations.

As governments in Europe and some parts of Asia have managed to stem the spread of coronavirus, Latin America and the Caribbean have emerged as one of the epicenters of the pandemic.

With confirmed cases globally hitting the 10 million mark on Sunday, the region accounts for around a quarter of those.

From Argentina to Mexico, nearly one in five of Latin America’s urban population lives in crowded slums, like Cite de Soleil. In such poor, densely-packed neighbourhoods – with little or no access to running water, sanitation and health facilities – residents struggle to follow even the basic hygiene guidelines that experts recommend to prevent contagion with the highly infectious virus.

And, given a large informal labor sector and insufficient government welfare, many people cannot afford to quarantine – even when they are ill.

Sauveur Desroches, 55, said that even after he started feeling sick with the virus, he kept working for four days at a construction site in Port au Prince.

“But then my body just gave way and I had to stay in bed,” said Desroches, receiving treatment at an emergency COVID-19 facility set up in Cite Soleil by medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

6.04pm BST

Summary

Here’s a round up of the key developments over the last few hours:

  • A total of 10,039,286 coronavirus cases have been confirmed around the world, according to Johns Hopkins University tracker. The global death toll stands at 499,664.
  • Police in The Hague, in the Netherlands, have detained 37 protesters who ignored a court ban and held a demonstration against social distancing rules on Sunday, they said.
  • The UK’s death toll from confirmed cases of Covid-19 has risen by 36 to 43,550, government figures showed on Sunday.
  • For the first time in months, Madrid, Spain’s hardest-hit region, has registered zero deaths from the coronavirus.
  • In the US, the number of coronavirus cases in Florida rose by 8,530 to 141,075 on Sunday, according to the state health department.
  • No new coronavirus deaths were recorded in Scotland for a third day in a row.
  • Care home residents were more likely to die of Covid-19 in the UK than in any of the major European countries apart from Spain, analysis of global data has revealed.
  • Tens of thousands of Covid-19 survivors in the UK should be screened for post-traumatic stress disorder because of their experiences in fighting for their lives, mental health experts have urged.
  • The Greek island of Kos will host 170 German doctors for free from Monday, “in recognition and gratitude for their contribution in combating the coronavirus in Germany,” the Greek tourism ministry said on Sunday.
  • Thousands of transgender people and their supporters donned masks to march through central London to Parliament Square on Saturday to celebrate the black transgender community, and protest against potential amendments to the Gender Recognition Act.
  • UK prime minister Boris Johnson has promised to spend billions of pounds to rescue the economy as he warned the country faces the looming “thunderclap of economic consequences” of Covid-19.

Updated at 6.12pm BST

5.36pm BST

In the UK, more than 200 people have been caught wild camping in the Lake District, with 20 people fined for having a party on one of the fells and others lighting fires on summits.

The party took place on Saturday night on Catbells, one of the most popular hills in the Lakes, which offers panoramic views over Keswick, Derwent Water and Borrowdale.

It came after weeks of complaints from residents about rubbish left behind by visitors, including wheelie suitcases and tents abandoned on the fells.

Officials from the Lake District national park, the National Trust, Forestry England and Cumbria county council and police spent Saturday night “educating” those breaking lockdown rules, prohibiting overnight stays and fining those who refused to pack up and go home.

North of England editor Helen Pidd has the full report here.

4.55pm BST

Police in The Hague detained 37 protesters who ignored a court ban and held a demonstration against social distancing rules on Sunday, they said.

Around 200 protesters took part in Sunday’s demonstration, far fewer than a week ago when several thousand attended a similar protest. Organisers had called on people to stay home this week in view of Friday’s court ruling that the protest violated restrictions on public gatherings.

The protesters say a policy of requiring people to stand 1.5 metres (about four feet) apart is undemocratic and should be lifted.

The Netherlands has recorded more than 50,000 Covid-19 infections and more than 6,000 deaths since mid-March. Restrictions are being lifted after a steep decline in new cases and deaths in recent weeks.

4.45pm BST

French voters went to the polls in face masks on Sunday in the last round of municipal elections, with analysts predicting a shift away from president Emmanuel Macron’s party on the local level.

Amid persistent fears of coronavirus contagion, just over 15 % of voters had turned out by midday – fewer even than four hours into the first election round on 15 March marked by a record 55 % abstention rate.

Polls opened for 12 hours for some 16.5 million eligible voters at 8:00 am in nearly 5,000 cities and towns, about 15% of the country’s municipal councils, where the first election round did not yield a decisive outcome.

Power remains up for grabs in the key cities of Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, and Strasbourg.

Scrutineers wearing protective face masks and shields work during the second round of the French municipal elections at a polling station in Marseille, southern France, on 28 June, 2020. (Photo by CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
Scrutineers wearing protective face masks and shields work during the second round of the French municipal elections at a polling station in Marseille, southern France, on 28 June, 2020. (Photo by CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU/AFP via Getty Images) Photograph: Clement Mahoudeau/AFP/Getty Images

The opening round was held just as the Covid-19 pandemic was gaining deadly momentum, but the second phase, scheduled for 22 March, was put off after France went into lockdown.

A new date was set after the government’s scientific council said it was possible to hold another round safely, but voters are required to wear face masks and were urged to bring their own pens.

Many voters and election officials sported germ-blocking plastic visors, and plexiglass screens were erected between them at several polling stations, which also provided sanitising hand gel.

4.26pm BST

Meanwhile, in UK football news:

Andre Gray is one of three players to be left out of the Watford squad for the team’s vital match against Southampton on Sunday after the striker reportedly hosted a party in contravention of government lockdown rules. Domingos Quina and Nathaniel Chalobah were the other two players reported to be in attendance.

A news item on Watford’s official website says that all three “have all been omitted from the squad by Nigel Pearson to ensure the health and safety of all players, staff and officials at today’s game”.

Read the full report here.

4.20pm BST

As UK mental health experts urge post-traumatic stress disorder screening for Covid-19 survivors, do read this report by my colleague Jessica Murray.

“You are so busy concentrating on trying to get your next breath, you’re not even aware that you’re in shock,” the 59-year-old mother of two said. “It has a really profound effect on you if you’re aware of your circumstances. I must have seen at least eight people die.

“And the fear in people’s eyes is shocking. Everyone – consultants, nurses, anyone who was allowed in there – you could see how frightened they were.”

Updated at 4.20pm BST

4.02pm BST

Hello, I’m Clea Skopeliti and I’ll be bringing you the latest for the next few hours.

You can reach me by Twitter DM or by email if you spot a story you think I’ve missed, or have a suggestion for coverage. I won’t always be able to reply, but will read all your messages. Thanks in advance.

3.56pm BST

Virgin Atlantic seeks urgent rescue package worth up to £900m

Virgin Atlantic is attempting to secure a privately funded rescue deal worth up to £900m by the end of this week as it fights to survive after the slump in international travel during the coronavirus pandemic.

The airline is in talks with hedge funds about borrowing about £250m and is lining up more than £200m from shareholders including founder Sir Richard Branson and Delta Airlines, which owns 49% of the company.

My colleague Sarah Butler has the full report:

3.50pm BST

The number of coronavirus cases in Florida rose by 8,530 to 141,075 on Sunday, according to the state health department.

3.41pm BST

People living in the UK can see how Covid-19 has progressed in their local area using our interactive map:

Earlier today the home secretary, Priti Patel confirmed, Leicester could be the first place in England to face local lockdown amid a rise in coronavirus cases. Read more on that here:

Updated at 3.42pm BST

3.22pm BST

UK’s Covid-19 death toll rises by 36 to 43,550

Britain’s death toll from confirmed cases of Covid-19 has risen by 36 to 43,550, government figures showed on Sunday:

3.17pm BST

Madrid records first day with no Covid-19 deaths

For the first time in months, Spain’s hardest-hit region has registered zero deaths from the coronavirus.

“Great news,” regional leader Isabel Ayuso wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “Yesterday marked the first day that Madrid did not register any deaths due to Covid-19. Together we can make sure this nightmare doesn’t happen again.”

Across Spain 28,341 lives have been claimed by the virus, with more than 8,400 in Madrid, according to the health ministry.

The figure, however, includes only those who tested positive, meaning that the thousands of excess deaths recorded in the same time period are not counted, even when the cause of death is suspected to be Covid-19.

With the number of deaths across Spain dropping to a handful each day, health officials say the focus is now on monitoring 25 active outbreaks across the country. The largest is in the northeastern province of Huesca, where 290 people have tested positive.

The localised outbreaks comes as Spain scrambles to salvage its tourist industry, which accounts for 12% of the country’s GDP.

While Spain opened its doors to EU and Schengen tourists last week, it has decided to extend a ban on cruise ships docking at its ports, according to a ministerial order published on Saturday. Prior to the crisis, cruise ships regularly ferried thousands of passengers to ports in Barcelona and Malaga as well as in the Balearic and Canary Islands.

3.13pm BST

Scotland records third day with zero Covid-19 deaths

Nicola Sturgeon has said she feels “enormous” relief after no new coronavirus deaths were recorded in Scotland for a third day in a row.

Covid-19 figures released on Sunday showed no new deaths of people who had tested positive within the previous 24 hours.

The total number of people who have died under the measurement remains at 2,482, unchanged from Friday.

Eight more people tested positive for the virus and 452 people are in Scottish hospitals with confirmed or suspected cases.

There were five people in intensive care with confirmed cases of Covid-19 and eight with suspected cases.

The first minister tweeted her response to the figures on Sunday afternoon, saying it was vital that people continued to follow the rules as the figures improved.

3.05pm BST

Risk of death in UK care homes 13 times higher than in Germany

Care home residents were more likely to die of Covid-19 in the UK than in any of the major European countries apart from Spain, analysis of global data has revealed.

The proportion of residents dying in UK homes was a third higher than in Ireland and Italy, about double that in France and Sweden and 13 times higher than Germany.

The analysis of official statistics was carried out by academics at the London School of Economics as part of the International Long Term Care Policy Network.

My colleague Robert Booth has the full report:

2.59pm BST

Iceland’s President Gudni Johannesson has been re-elected with a whopping 92% of the vote, according to results released on Sunday.

The former history professor won his second four-year term in the largely symbolic position in Saturday’s vote, the second election held by a European country after coronavirus lockdowns were lifted.

Since suffering spectacular bank failures in 2008, the volcanic North Atlantic island of 365,000 inhabitants has recovered some economic and political stability, which worked in the 52-year-old independent’s favour.

The final results showed he took 92.2% of the 168,821 votes cast, crushing rightwing challenger Gudmundur Franklin Jonsson.

“I am honoured and proud,” the president told AFP in Reykjavik on election night.

“This result of this election is, to me, proof of the fact that my fellow Icelanders… have approved of how I have approached this office.”

President of Iceland, Gudni Johannesson (R) and first lady of Iceland Eliza Reid arrive to celebrate his re-election at a hotel in the Icelandic capital Reykjavik on June 27, 2020. Credit: Photo by Halldor KOLBEINS / AFP
President of Iceland, Gudni Johannesson (R) and first lady of Iceland Eliza Reid arrive to celebrate his re-election at a hotel in the Icelandic capital Reykjavik on June 27, 2020. Credit: Photo by Halldor KOLBEINS / AFP Photograph: Halldor Kolbeins/AFP/Getty Images

The dominant win had been predicted by opinion polls, which had shown the president winning between 90 to 94%.

It is the second-highest margin of victory in the history of Iceland’s presidential elections.

Vigdis Finnbogadottir, the first woman in the world to be democratically elected as head of state, holds the record, winning re-election in 1988 with 94.6 percent of the vote.

In this parliamentary republic, the president is largely symbolic, but he or she does have the power to veto legislation or submit it to a referendum.

There are no term limits – Johannesson’s predecessor Olafur Ragnar Grimsson served for five terms.

Turnout for Saturday’s vote was 66.9%, dropping from 75.7% during Johannesson’s first election victory in 2016, when he became the country’s youngest president since independence in 1944.

Challenger Jonsson is a former Wall Street broker close to Icelandic nationalists and a vocal fan of US President Donald Trump.

He campaigned on wanting Iceland’s president to play a more active role by exercising the right to veto legislation campaigns, but struggled to gain traction with voters.

“I send my congratulations to Gudni and his family,” Jonsson told public broadcaster RUV.

The coronavirus pandemic had not been expected to affect voting, as the country has been only mildly infected. It has reported 10 deaths, and currently has around 11 active cases.

2.43pm BST

The coronavirus ‘long-haulers’ show how little we still know

Infectious disease expert professor Debbie Bogaert describes herself as a Covid-19 “long-hauler” – someone who initially had mild symptoms of the disease but went on to experience a range of sometimes severe symptoms for weeks or even months.

Here she describes how this condition has been the ultimate challenge of both her career and her personal life – and also shows how much more we need to learn:

2.27pm BST

Screen survivors of Covid-19 for PTSD, say mental health experts

Tens of thousands of Covid-19 survivors in the UK should be screened for post-traumatic stress disorder because of their experiences in fighting for their lives, mental health experts have urged.

Leading psychiatrists and psychologists want NHS bosses to ensure that all those who were admitted to hospital when they became seriously ill with the disease is assessed and checked regularly.

Survivors showing signs of PTSD would undergo treatment to prevent nightmares and flashbacks that could blight the rest of their lives.

My colleague Denis Campbell has the full report:

1.41pm BST

The Greek island of Kos will host dozens of German doctors for free from Monday, AFP reports.

This announcement from the tourism ministry comes as the country prepares to reopen its regional airports to passenger flights.

The visiting 170 doctors will be hosted for free “in recognition and gratitude for their contribution in combating the coronavirus in Germany,” the Greek tourism ministry said on Sunday.

Officials from German tour operator TUI will be among the passengers and will meet with tourism minister Harry Theoharis on the island, the ministry said.

Greek minister of tourism Harry Theoharis. Credit: Dimitrios Karvountzis/Pacific Press/REX/Shutterstock
Greek minister of tourism Harry Theoharis. Credit: Dimitrios Karvountzis/Pacific Press/REX/Shutterstock Photograph: Dimitrios Karvountzis/Pacific Press/REX/Shutterstock

The flight from Germany will land two days before Greece is officially scheduled to open its regional airports to passenger traffic on July 1.

Greece has registered fewer than 200 deaths attributed to Covid-19.

With a quarter of the nation’s economy dependent on tourism, the government seeks to reassure potential visitors they can safely vacation in Greece as Europe begins to open back up to travel.

Nearly 80 hotels nationwide have been set aside to exclusively accommodate Covid-19 cases, state TV ERT said.

Hundreds of tests are to be conducted daily at regional and island airports around the country, according to the civil protection authority.

Passengers will have to fill out locator forms, including their address of stay, at least 48 hours before entering the country.

The EU has yet to determine a list of ‘safe’ countries allowed to visit Europe.

The proposed list so far includes Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

1.33pm BST

Black Trans Lives Matter Protest Takes Place In Central London. Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images.
Black Trans Lives Matter Protest Takes Place In Central London. Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images. Photograph: Hollie Adams/Getty Images,

Thousands of transgender people and their supporters marched through central London to Parliament Square on Saturday to celebrate the black transgender community, and protest against potential amendments to the Gender Recognition Act.

Check out this photo gallery, showing protesters carrying creative placards and donning masks as the UK continues to grapple with the Covid-19 crisis.

1.12pm BST

Riot police ask people to leave to avoid mass gathering during a silent protest against the looming national security legislation in Hong Kong, China June 28, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Riot police ask people to leave to avoid mass gathering during a silent protest against the looming national security legislation in Hong Kong, China June 28, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu Photograph: Tyrone Siu/Reuters

Hong Kong police arrested at least 53 people on Sunday after scuffles erupted during a relatively peaceful protest against planned national security legislation to be implemented by the mainland Chinese government.

The protest came a day after Hong Kong police refused permission for an annual march usually held on July 1 to mark the 1997 handover, citing a ban on large gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Armed riot police were present as a crowd of several hundred moved from Jordan to Mong Kok in the Kowloon district, staging what was intended as a “silent protest” against the planned law.

However, chanting and slogans were shouted towards police and later scuffles broke out in Mong Kok, prompting police to use pepper spray to subdue parts of the crowd.

Hong Kong Police said on Facebook that 53 people had been arrested and charged with unlawful assembly, adding that earlier some protesters tried to blockade roads in the area.

Pro-democracy protesters raise their hands up as a symbol of the “Five demands, not one less” during a march against the looming national security legislation in Hong Kong, China June 28, 2020. Credit: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Pro-democracy protesters raise their hands up as a symbol of the “Five demands, not one less” during a march against the looming national security legislation in Hong Kong, China June 28, 2020. Credit: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu Photograph: Tyrone Siu/Reuters

The proposed national security law has raised concerns among Hong Kong democracy activists and some foreign governments that Beijing is further eroding the extensive autonomy promised when Britain handed the territory back to China in 1997.

“The governments wants to shut us up and to kick us out,” one protester, Roy Chan, 44, said.

“We must stand up and strike down all those people who deprive Hong Kong people’s freedom.”

China has said the law will target only a small group of troublemakers as it tackles separatism, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in Hong Kong.

China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee reviewed a draft of the bill on Sunday, according to state media Xinhua.

China has said it is determined to enact the law, and its passage is expected by Tuesday.

Updated at 1.13pm BST

12.50pm BST

PM promises to spend big to ‘build UK back to health’

Boris Johnson has promised to spend billions of pounds to rescue the economy as he warned the country faces the looming “thunderclap of economic consequences” of Covid-19.

The prime minister tweeted: “We want to build our way back to health.

“If covid was a lightning flash, we’re about to have the thunderclap of the economic consequences. We’re going to be ready.”

In an earlier interview with the Mail on Sunday he recommitted to his general election promise of a “levelling up” agenda, saying new schools, hospitals and homes would be built, infrastructure projects completed and employment created for people whose “old jobs” would not be there any more.

My colleague Kate Proctor and Jamie Grierson have the full report:

Updated at 12.50pm BST

12.36pm BST

Lunchtime summary

This is Aaron Walawalkar in London here, bringing you the latest global developments in the coronavirus pandemic. As always, please drop me a line with any updates via DM on Twitter @AaronWala.

Here are the major developments as of lunchtime today:

  • The total number of people to test positive for Covid-19 worldwide has exceeded 10million, according to Johns Hopkins university. Meanwhile, the number of global deaths stands at 499,296.
  • Leicester may be the first city in the UK to face a localised lockdown following a rise in Covid-19 cases, home secretary Priti Patel has confirmed.
  • South Korea is to begin allowing limited number of spectators at sports games, as it seeks to return to normal after months of strict social distancing rules to combat the coronavirus.
  • LGBT+ Brazilians are being disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 job losses, a survey has found. A report by advocacy group #VoteLGBT has found that one in four unemployed gay and trans Brazilians has lost their job recently during the coronavirus outbreak – almost double the nation’s overall rate.
  • The number of confirmed deaths from Covid-19 in Afghanistan has risen by 34 to 737.
  • Mask-wearing will be mandatory in certain areas of Iran as of next week and virus-hit provinces can reimpose restrictive measures, President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday.
  • Pride parades have gone head in the Taiwanese capital, placing it among only a handful of places to do so in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Those who joined the crowds in Taipei said it was a testament both to nation’s ability to contain the pandemic and its commitment to rights for people of all sexual orientations.
  • Sri Lanka officially lifted its nationwide lockdown on Sunday, after a selective curfew was reimposed a month ago during a surge in coronavirus infections. The island nation imposed the lockdown on March 20 and lifted it gradually over the past two months, although a nighttime curfew remained in place.

12.23pm BST

Sri Lanka lifts virus lockdown, says ‘no community spread’

Sri Lanka’s nationwide lockdown was lifted on Sunday after a selective curfew a month ago was reimposed during a surge in coronavirus infections, the country’s president said.

The island nation imposed the lockdown on March 20 and lifted it gradually over the past two months, although a nighttime curfew remained in place.

It reintroduced tighter restrictions in late May and early June to curb large gatherings for the funeral of a popular government minister and for a religious festival.

“The curfew has completely been lifted effective from today,” President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s office said in a statement.

Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa sings the national anthem during National War Heroes Day in Colombo. Credit: Sri Lankan Presidential Media Division / AFP
Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa sings the national anthem during National War Heroes Day in Colombo. Credit: Sri Lankan Presidential Media Division / AFP Photograph: Sri Lankan Presidential Media Di/AFP via Getty Images

Health officials said new infections reported since April 30 were from Sri Lankans stranded in the Middle East who were brought home on special flights and quarantined.

A cluster in a navy camp was controlled with the facility still in lock down, they said.

“There has been no community spread of the virus and the infections at the Welisara navy camp are now contained,” a health official told AFP.

Air and sea borders remained closed, with international flights suspended.

Authorities plan to reopen Sri Lanka’s borders on August 1, but the date could be reviewed due to the imported cases, the official added.

Sri Lanka will also hold its parliamentary elections at the start of August after they were postponed due to the pandemic.

Around 2,000 infections including 11 deaths have been recorded in the South Asian nation so far, according to government figures.

Updated at 12.24pm BST

12.11pm BST

Pride parades go on in Taiwan amid pandemic

Members of the LGBT community hoist a rainbow flag as they march to celebrate the Pride month at the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan, 28 June 2020. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Taiwan is one of the few countries to hold this year’s 50th anniversary Pride March. Credit: EPA/RITCHIE B. TONGO
Members of the LGBT community hoist a rainbow flag as they march to celebrate the Pride month at the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan, 28 June 2020. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Taiwan is one of the few countries to hold this year’s 50th anniversary Pride March. Credit: EPA/RITCHIE B. TONGO Photograph: Ritchie B Tongo/EPA

The Taiwanese capital held its annual LGBT pride parade on Sunday, making it one of the few places in the world to proceed with such an event in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The parade in Taipei has drawn tens of thousands of people in the past, but participant numbers Sunday were reduced by both virus concerns and heavy rain.

Still, those who did take part said it was a testament both to Taiwan’s ability to contain the pandemic and its commitment to rights for people of all sexual orientations.

Taiwan is the only place in Asia where same-sex marriage is legal, and its liberal political system has long promoted human rights, free speech and freedom of assembly.

American student Loren Couse, 28, said Taipei’s ability to put on the parade was “really impressive”.

“I think Taiwan has done a really good job so far, and I am really proud of living here, not only because its so open to people like myself, the gay community, but also because I think its such an example for the world and how to handle the pandemic so far,” Couse said.

Members of the LGBT community join a march to celebrate the Pride month at the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan, 28 June 2020. Credit: EPA/RITCHIE B. TONGO
Members of the LGBT community join a march to celebrate the Pride month at the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan, 28 June 2020. Credit: EPA/RITCHIE B. TONGO Photograph: Ritchie B Tongo/EPA

New York was among the cities compelled to cancel its gay pride parade this year to comply with social distancing measures.

Taiwan has largely dropped such restrictions after quarantines and case tracing helped bring the coronavirus infection rate down radically.

In all, the island of 23.7 million people has confirmed 447 cases, including seven deaths.

12.02pm BST

Patel confirms Leicester may face local lockdown

Leicester may be the first city in the UK to face a localised lockdown following a rise in Covid-19 cases, Home Secretary Priti Patel has confirmed.

Patel on Sunday told BBC’s Andrew Marr Show it was “correct” that the government was considering the move, first reported in the Sunday Times. “We have seen flare-ups across the country in recent weeks, in just the last three or four weeks in particular,” she said.

She added:

There will be support going into Leicester and in fact the Health Secretary (Matthew Hancock) was in touch with many of us over the weekend explaining some of the measures, the support on testing, resources that will go into the local authority as well.

With local flare-ups it is right we have a localised solution in terms of infection control, social distancing, testing and many of the tools actually within the Public Health England space which will come together to control the virus, to stop the spread so obviously we can get on top of the infection.

11.34am BST

LGBT+ Brazilians disproportionately hit by Covid-19 job losses

One in four unemployed gay and trans Brazilians has lost their job recently during the coronavirus outbreak, a survey released on Sunday found, showing the joblessness among LGBT+ Brazilians almost double the nation’s overall rate.

Four in 10 LGBT+ people, and more than half of transgender people, said they would not be able to survive without income for more than a month, according to the survey from advocacy group #VoteLGBT.

As Brazil emerges as one of the globe’s coronavirus hotspots, LGBT+ residents especially are vulnerable as they struggle with issues of health care, work and income, the research said.

Brazil has registered more than 1.2 million cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began, among the highest in the world, with deaths of about 55,000, according to the health ministry.

Its unemployment rate rose to 12.6% in the three months to April, the highest in over a year, with nearly 5 million people leaving the workforce. Official unemployment data for May will be released this week.

But LGBT+ Brazilians reported an unemployment rate of 21.6%, according to the #VoteLGBT survey.

The actual figure is likely higher because the numbers were drawn from an online survey, said Fernanda De Lena, a demographer and #VoteLGBT member.

She said:

People without an electronic device to answer the questionnaire are not being counted … So the number of unemployed is likely underestimated.

Brazil’s central bank has predicted the nation’s economy will shrink by 6.4% this year, due largely to the economic fallout caused by the pandemic, while the International Monetary Fund has predicted a contraction of 9.1% this year.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro attends the inauguration ceremony of the Main Space Operations Center of the Geostationary Defense and Strategic Communications Satellite in Brasilia, Brazil June 23, 2020. Credit: REUTERS/Adriano Machado
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro attends the inauguration ceremony of the Main Space Operations Center of the Geostationary Defense and Strategic Communications Satellite in Brasilia, Brazil June 23, 2020. Credit: REUTERS/Adriano Machado Photograph: Adriano Machado/Reuters

The survey also found near unanimous criticism by gay and trans Brazilians of the handling of the crisis by President Jair Bolsonaro, well-known for making homophobic comments.
Nearly 99% said his performance was “bad or terrible,” it found.

Bolsonaro has been widely criticized for the ways he has dealt with the crisis, shunning social distancing measures and promoting anti-malarial drugs as remedies with little evidence.
Bolsonaro is sometimes called the “Tropical Trump” by those who view his responses to the pandemic as similar to those of U.S. President Donald Trump.

American approval of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic recently dropped to 37%, the lowest level on record, in the latest Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll.

Trump was slow to publicly acknowledge the severity of the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 120,000 Americans so far, and he has pushed states to reopen before experts said it was safe to do so.

In Brazil, despite a number of recent advancements on LGBT+ rights, including a 2019 Supreme Court ruling outlawing homophobia and transphobia, gay and trans people face societal prejudice and widespread violence.

This year, 89 trans people were murdered in Brazil, according to a report this week from advocacy group ANTRA, a 39% increase on the first six months of 2019.

Reporting by Thompson Reuters Foundation

11.21am BST

South Korea will begin allowing limited numbers of spectators at sports games as it seeks to return to normal after months of strict social distancing rules to combat the coronavirus.

The country endured one of the worst early outbreaks of the disease outside China but appears to have brought it broadly under control with an extensive “trace, test and treat” programme while never imposing a compulsory lockdown.

Social distancing rules were relaxed in early May and some professional sports – including baseball and soccer – started new seasons albeit behind closed doors.

South Korea’s Health Minister Park Neung-hoo speaks at a press briefing on the country’s novel coronavirus situation at the government complex in Seoul. Credit: EPA/YONHAP SOUTH KOREA OUT
South Korea’s Health Minister Park Neung-hoo speaks at a press briefing on the country’s novel coronavirus situation at the government complex in Seoul. Credit: EPA/YONHAP SOUTH KOREA OUT Photograph: YONHAP/EPA

“We will take phased measures including allowing spectators at sports events,” health minister Park Neung-hoo told reporters on Sunday, without elaborating.

South Korea’s sports ministry is expected to hold a meeting this week to discuss the details, Yonhap news agency reported, and the Korea Baseball Organisation is preparing to fill around 30% of stands at its games.

The move comes despite alarm over a second wave of infections in recent weeks, with the South seeing around 35 to 50 new cases a day, mostly in the Seoul metropolitan area where half of the population lives.

Officials reimposed some social distancing measures in late May following fresh clusters in and near Seoul, and most cases reported in the past week have been domestic infections.

Of 62 new cases reported on Sunday – taking the country’s total to 12,715 – 40 were domestic infections while 22 were people arriving from overseas.

11.09am BST

Confirmed Covid-19 cases exceed 10m globally

The total number of people to test positive for Covid-19 worldwide has passed 10million, according to Johns Hopkins university.

There were 10,001,527 coronavirus cases globally on Sunday, according to the university’s coronavirus resource centre.

The total number of deaths worldwide is currently stands at 499,124.

Updated at 11.10am BST

10.59am BST

Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen is believed to have gatecrashed a US gun rally in disguise and pranked attendees into joining him in a sing-a-long about injecting scientists and politicians with the “Wuhan flu”.

Footage circulating on social media shows a bearded man in dungarees and a cowboy hat taking the stage at the March for our Rights rally in Olympia, Washington, on Sunday.

Against a country music soundtrack, the man teaches the crowd the lyrics of a call-and-response refrain, bearing many of the hallmarks of a Sacha Baron Cohen prank.

“Obama, what ya gonna do?” the singer says.

“Inject him with the Wuhan flu,” crowd members respond.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly referred to the coronavirus using similarly insensitive terminology, which civil liberties groups fear will inspire racism against Asian Americans.

The singer also name-checks US infectious disease chief Dr Anthony Fauci and former president Barack Obama. While a later iteration of the lyrics refers to “chopping up” the World Health Organisation “like the Saudi’s do” – an apparent reference to the 2018 killing of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi by government agents in the Turkey.

Cohen, the creator of characters Ali G and Borat, does not appear to have yet claimed responsibility for the prank. The actor last took on numerous disguises to star as a cast of characters in his 2018 political satire “Who Is America?”.

10.21am BST

The number of confirmed deaths from Covid-19 in Afghanistan has risen by 34 to 737, as the western province of Badghis recorded its worst day of the crisis while violence rages on across the country.

Local officials have said that the actual number of deaths is much higher than these official figures, which were released by the health ministry on Sunday.

The health ministry, which has admitted that it has a lack of testing capacity, recorded 351 new cases from 701 tests in last 24 hours, taking the total number of confirmed infections to 30,967.

Afghanistan has tested 70,788 suspected patients since the outbreak began. There have been 12,588 recoveries, including 2,004 in last 24 hours.

Most new cases (220) have been reported in the nation’s capital Kabul, where eight patients died overnight. Testing had been halted for a day in Kabul due to a “problem” in its laboratories. The capital has been the country’s worst affected area with 12,766 cases and 164 deaths.

The western province of Badghis, which has been battlefield of Taliban and Afghan forces in recent days, recorded its worst day of the crisis after 17 patients died from Covid-19 overnight.

The remote province of Kapisa recorded its first death, leaving only one province without confirmed death of Covid-19 in the country.

Meanwhile, violence is raging on with full intensity across the war-torn country as according to the country’s national security council, at least 21 civilians were killed and 30 others were wounded in Taliban violence during the last week.

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission says that two of its employees were killed in an explosion that targeted their vehicle in Kabul on Saturday. The victims were Fatima Khalil, 24, and her driver, Jawid Folad, 41, which sparked international condemnation. Taliban, in a statement, denied involvement in the attack.

“Ms Khalil was a young human rights defender at the beginning of her career. That she will not be able to fulfil her enormous potential is a tragedy. Mr Folad was one of the Commission’s longest serving and loyal drivers,” the commission said in a statement.

“We condemn such a heinous attack on our employees in the strongest possible terms. As of now, no group has claimed the responsibility of the attack and the perpetrators have not been identified yet. Those responsible should be identified after an investigation and brought to justice for committing this terrible crime.”

President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday called on the Taliban to end the violence and instead come forward to start the intra-Afghan talks.

Updated at 10.23am BST

9.57am BST

Masks to become compulsory in parts of Iran

Mask-wearing will be mandatory in certain areas of Iran as of next week and virus-hit provinces can reimpose restrictive measures, President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday.

The Islamic republic has refrained from enforcing full lockdowns to stop the spread of Covid-19, and the use of masks and protective equipment has been optional in most areas.

Mask-wearing would be “obligatory in covered spaces where there are gatherings”, Rouhani said during a televised meeting of the country’s anti-virus taskforce.

The measure would come into force as of next week, continue until July 22 and would be extended if necessary, he said.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, held a video conference with the Minister of Health and other staff presenting reports on measures taken to combat the spread of coronavirus and new recommendations. Credit: AY-COLLECTION/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock (10583521b)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, held a video conference with the Minister of Health and other staff presenting reports on measures taken to combat the spread of coronavirus and new recommendations. Credit: AY-COLLECTION/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock (10583521b) Photograph: AY-COLLECTION/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock

Rouhani said the health ministry had devised “a clear list” of the types of spaces and gatherings deemed high-risk, but he did not elaborate.

He also did not say what the penalty would be for those who fail to observe the measure.

According to deputy health minister Iraj Harirchi, “services will not be given” to those without masks in areas such as “government organisations and shopping malls”.

Iran reported its first Covid-19 cases on February 19 and it has since struggled to contain the outbreak as the death toll has crossed 10,000 and the number of infected reached more than 220,000.

Official figures have shown a rising trajectory in new confirmed cases since early May, when Iran hit a near two-month low in daily recorded infections.

The increasing caseload has seen some previously unscathed provinces classified as “red” – the highest level on Iran’s colour-coded risk scale – with authorities allowing them to reimpose restrictive measures if required.

According to Rouhani, the measure would be also extended to provinces with “red” counties.

“Any county that is red, its provincial (virus) committee can propose reimposing limitations for a week,” which could be extended if needed, he said.

The health ministry launched an “I wear a mask” campaign on Saturday and pleaded with Iranians to observe guidelines aimed at curbing infections.

One Iranian is infected with Covid-19 every 33 seconds and one dies from the disease every 13 minutes, Harirchi said on Saturday.

9.30am BST

‘Constant vigilance’ needed as UK lockdown eases

The UK needs to maintain “constant vigilance” as it eases out of lockdown, a former government chief scientific adviser has warned.

Sir Mark Walport said on Sunday that the UK government faces a “fine balancing act” between managing the virus outbreak and the health harms caused by a damaged economy.

Speaking to Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, he said people needed to be “sensible and responsible”, and to try and reduce social contact as much as possible.

Citing coronavirus case numbers, he said: “The virus is out there, it is very widely distributed and we have to have constant vigilance.”

Asked whether a second spike of the coronavirus outbreak was inevitable, Walport added:

When outbreaks occur they typically occur in clusters and we’re seeing certain work environments, for example, food processing factories, as being fairly common places for those clusters to rise.

The common denominator is really being indoors, being crowded, being there for prolonged periods of time, noisy environments where people are coughing and shouting, and so there’s more droplet transmission.

It comes back to local control being really important to identify those clusters when they happen and clamp down on them quickly.

We need to do everything we possibly can to avoid a widespread second wave.

The evidence that the virus does transmit better in cold workplaces again suggests that winter might be quite a risky time again.”

Asked if the virus could come back in winter when the NHS is under more pressure, Walport said: “That is obviously a significant risk.”

He said that the virus probably lasts longer in the air and on surfaces in cold and wet environments.

9.10am BST

The total number of people to die from Covid-19 in Russia has increased by 104 to 9,073, according to the country’s coronavirus response centre.

Russia on Sunday also reported 6,791 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, taking the nationwide tally to 634,437.

That is a slightly smaller increase than that seen the previous day – when there were 6,852 new cases.

It is also the third day in a row since late April when the daily number of new cases was below 7,000.

8.59am BST

A summit that included a star-studded virtual concert hosted by Dwayne Johnson has raised nearly billion in cash and loan guarantees to assist the poor around the globe whose lives have been upended by the coronavirus pandemic, AP reports.

Global Citizen said its summit with world leaders had raised .5 billion to help Covid-19 efforts in poor countries, along with a promise of 250m doses of a vaccine for those nations if one is successfully developed.

Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson hosted a globally broadcast concert calling on world leaders to make coronavirus tests and treatment available and equitable for all. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP, File)
Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson hosted a globally broadcast concert calling on world leaders to make coronavirus tests and treatment available and equitable for all. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP, File) Photograph: Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP

The group said it had secured .4 billion in loans and guarantees from the European Commission and the European Investment Bank to support fragile economies worldwide.

The event included a Johnson-hosted concert with performances by Jennifer Hudson, Miley Cyrus, Coldplay and Chloe x Halle. Cyrus performed The Beatles Help! in an empty stadium and Hudson performed Where Peaceful Waters Flow from a boat in Chicago.

“The .9 billion that was pledged today to support the worlds poorest and most marginalised communities is an incredible next step on our journey out of the Covid-19 era, but there is more still to be done, as no one is safe until everyone is safe,” Hugh Evans, CEO of Global Citizen, said after the event Saturday.

“As we fight this virus, we also need to take care of the most vulnerable people and address the challenges they’re facing right now,” Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said during the event.

Speakers also included the leaders of New Zealand, El Salvador, Sweden, South Africa and Barbados.

8.35am BST

France holds latest round of delayed municipal elections

Five thousand towns and cities across France are holding the second round of municipal elections which had been postponed due to the country’s coronavirus outbreak, AP reports.

The voting to fill local offices in Paris and thousands of other places was suspended after the first round of the nationwide municipal elections on March 15, which produced decisive outcomes in some 30,000 other mostly small communes.

Voters are set to choose mayors and municipal councillors on Sunday at polling stations operating under strict hygiene rules. It is mandatory that voters wear face masks, use soap or hand sanitizer and maintain one meter (about three feet) of physical distance between each other in queues. They have also been told to bring their own pens to sign the register.

A person votes during municipal elections in Perpignan, France, 28 June 2020. Credit: EPA/GUILLAUME HORCAJUELO
A person votes during municipal elections in Perpignan, France, 28 June 2020. Credit: EPA/GUILLAUME HORCAJUELO Photograph: Guillaume Horcajuelo/EPA

The spread of the coronavirus has slowed significantly in France in recent weeks and almost all restrictions on social and business activity were gradually lifted over the last month. France has reported nearly 200,000 confirmed cases and 29,781 deaths in the pandemic.

But the virus is still expected to hurt Sunday’s turnout, as it did in March. Only 44.7% of voters, a record low, cast ballots in the first round of the municipal elections.

The elections, though ostensibly focused on local concerns, are also seen as a key political indicator ahead of the 2022 French presidential election.

The main battleground is Paris, where the mayor is an influential figure in French politics and will oversee the 2024 Olympics. Paris mayor Annie Hidalgo, a Socialist Party member, finished in March with a strong lead ahead of conservative candidate Rachida Dati.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s three-year-old centrist party is fielding municipal candidates for the first time and still lacks local roots across France. The party, Republic on the Move, doesn’t have candidates in every race and in some instances is backing candidates from both the left and the right instead.

Current Mayor of Paris and candidate in the forthcoming 2020 mayoral elections for the socialist Party (PS) Anne Hidalgo (C) arrives to vote at the Hotel de Ville in Paris for the second round of the mayoral elections on June 28, 2020.Credit: JOEL SAGET / POOL / AFP)
Current Mayor of Paris and candidate in the forthcoming 2020 mayoral elections for the socialist Party (PS) Anne Hidalgo (C) arrives to vote at the Hotel de Ville in Paris for the second round of the mayoral elections on June 28, 2020.Credit: JOEL SAGET / POOL / AFP) Photograph: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

Macron’s government has faced criticism during the pandemic over mask shortages, testing capacity and a lack of medical equipment. A government reshuffle is expected in the wake of Sunday’s elections.

Recent opinion polls show Macron’s popularity rating is hovering around 40%, which is higher than it was before the virus outbreak.

8.16am BST

This is Aaron Walawalkar in London here, steering you through the latest global developments in the coronavirus pandemic as the total number of confirmed cases worldwide approaches 10million.

If there’s any updates you think I should include in here, please let me know via DM on Twitter @AaronWala. I may not be able to reply to all of your messages due to the level on interest – but I will certainly read them.

8.10am BST

The daily number of new coronavirus cases in the Czech Republic has increased to 260, the highest since April 8, Health Ministry data showed on Sunday.

That is nearly triple that of the 93 recorded on Thursday. In total, the country of 10.7 million has confirmed 11,298 cases of the Covid-19 illness, with 347 deaths as of Saturday.

Chief public health officer, Jarmila Razova, told public Czech Radio on Saturday that the rise could be linked to intensive testing in local hotbeds of the infection.

8.00am BST

Summary

That’s it from me, Helen Sullivan, for the weekend. Thanks for following along!

My colleague Aaron Walawalkar will be bringing you the latest pandemic news for the next while.

Here are the main developments around the world from the last few hours:

  • As cases near 10m, nearly half a million people have died over the course of the pandemic. The current death toll stands at 498,841, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of infections is 9,984,111.
  • The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States rose to more than 2.5 million on Saturday. More than 125,000 Americans have died of Covid-19, the highest known death toll from the disease in the world. New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker noted on Twitter that more Americans have died than in the Vietnam War since US President Donald Trump stopped his daily coronavirus task force briefings at the White House.
  • Video footage appears to show Trump campaign removing social-distancing stickers in Tulsa. Video has emerged of Trump campaign volunteers apparently removing social distancing stickers from seats in the arena where the US president gave a campaign rally that many public health experts had warned against because of the still-surging coronavirus pandemic.
  • China reported 17 new cases. Mainland China on Sunday reported 17 new coronavirus cases, mostly in the Chinese capital of Beijing. The National Health Commission said 17 new infections were confirmed on Saturday, down from 21 a day earlier. In Beijing, 14 new confirmed cases were reported, down from 17 a day earlier.
  • South Korea reported 62 new cases. South Korea South Korea has confirmed 62 additional cases of the coronavirus over a 24-hour period as the Asian country continues to face new clusters of infections amid eased social distancing rules. The additional cases reported Sunday took the country’s total to 12,715, with 282 deaths.
  • New Zealand’s Covid-19 isolation facilities are under ‘extreme stress’, review finds. A review of New Zealand’s managed isolation and quarantine facilities has found that the system is under “extreme stress” as more and more Kiwis return home. It came as four more returnees tested positive to Covid-19 in the biggest one-day jump in cases in two months.
  • The US states of Florida, Arizona, Nevada, South Carolina and Georgia each recorded daily highs for coronavirus infections on Saturday, highlighting the worsening spread of the virus in several southern and western states, which is prompting some of them to roll back their reopening plans.
  • Brazil recorded 38,693 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours and 1,109 additional deaths. The country has now registered 1,313,667 total confirmed cases of the virus and 57,070 deaths.
  • A growing number of Covid-19 infections among people under 35 years of age is a “worrying trend,” Ireland’s chief medical officer said on Saturday as the country reported the highest number of new infections for two weeks.

Key recent developments in Australia include:

  • Victoria, Australia is considering roadblocks and checkpointsafter cases passed 2,000. The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, says the state will consider potential stay-at-home orders and suburban lockdowns to contain several coronavirus clusters in Melbourne, after another 49 cases of coronavirus were detected on Saturday – the highest daily number since April – all people coming from overseas. The state’s total is 2,028. Queensland and South Australia had no new cases.Victoria is conducting a testing blitz in an attempt to prevent further spread of the virus. About 40,000 people have been tested since Friday.
  • The Morrison government denied reports it will permanently lift unemployment benefit payments. The Morrison government has denied it about to permanently lift unemployment benefit payments when the treasurer makes a long-awaited economic statement next month. News Corp newspapers, citing senior ministers, had reported the jobseeker payment would rise to per day from when the present enhanced version of the unemployment payment ends in September. “There are no such proposals before the government or under consideration for the economic statement next month,” a spokesperson for social services minister Anne Ruston told Australian Associated Press.
  • New South Wales, Australia recorded 3 new cases. Three new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the state of New South Wales, the state health department reported in a statement, bringing the total number of cases in NSW to 3,177.Two of the cases are travellers in hotel quarantine, and the third case is an overseas cargo airline crew member. The crew member’s close contacts have been identified, the statement notes, and “further investigations are underway.”
  • Western Australia confirmed 1 new case. The state of Western Australia has confirmed 1 new case of coronavirus, the health department announced on Sunday, to bring the state total to 609. The case is a traveller in hotel quarantine.
  • Queensland, Australia recorded zero new cases. Queensland recorded no new coronavirus cases overnight but the government will wait until Tuesday to announce any easing of restrictions. Queenslanders will have to wait 48 hours to know when and how Covid-19 restrictions will be lifted after the transport minister stonewalled questions about borders reopening.

Updated at 8.02am BST

7.49am BST

Under the mountains of Mourne close to Castlewellan Forest Park’s lake, a young family were celebrating the liberation of campsites from lockdown in Northern Ireland.

Before the lifting of restrictions on caravan and camping parks in the rest of the UK, the Kon family had driven for an hour from their Newtonabbey home on the northern outskirts of Belfast to this County Down beauty spot.

Mirchin Kon and his wife Natalia had pitched their tent in a field on Friday afternoon before toasting their regained freedom to camp with bottled German lager.

While their daughters Amber and Olivia played with their dolls on a blanket spread out in front of their tented home, Mirchin said the prospect of going back to the forest park was a comfort they held on to during the coronavirus shutdown.

He said: “I’ve been dreaming of this day since we went into lockdown. It’s been one of the things that has kept us going over the last few months. We only came here once before and really liked this place so we promised ourselves that once it was open again we should come back.”

Others huddled around tents and camper vans appeared on Friday to be obeying social distancing rules. They had positioned themselves across the verdant, sun-dappled field with suitably safe amounts of space between each other.

7.35am BST

Only 13% of UK working parents want to go back to ‘the old normal’

Whatever the new normal is post Covid-19, we don’t want it to be anything like the old one. At least, when it comes to earning a living.

Lockdown has given people a chance to sample new ways of balancing their jobs and family lives and they have concluded that something must change. Just 13% want to go back to pre-pandemic ways of working, with most people saying they would prefer to spend a maximum of three days in the office.

A survey of 1,500 people carried out for Bright Horizons, the nursery provider, suggests that many working parents realise that large parts of their jobs can be conducted remotely. And they believe that their employers will agree.

Nearly two-thirds think their employers will be open to remote or flexible working in the future as the widespread adoption of Zoom and other online tools has kept many businesses functioning even as physical workplaces have been shuttered.

Almost half – 48% – of those who worked in an office before lockdown said they were considering asking for some more remote working.

Updated at 7.35am BST

7.23am BST

Coronavirus calamity unfolds across divided US

Adisaster is unfolding in Montgomery, Alabama, where Martin Luther King preached and where Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on the bus. Hospitals are running short of drugs to treat Covid-19, intensive care units are close to capacity, and ventilators are running short.

Between 85% and 90% of the very sick and dying are African American.

Amid this gathering storm, the city council met to decide whether to require people to wear masks, a basic protection the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly recommends. Doctors lined up to plead their case.

“This is beyond an epidemic in this area,” said the pulmonologist Bill Saliski. “Our units are full of critically ill covid patients. We have to slow this down.”

His colleague, Nina Nelson-Garrett, described watching undertakers carrying out corpses, 30 minutes apart.

“Something as simple as a mask can save someone’s life,” she said.

7.12am BST

Voting begins in Polish elections delayed by pandemic

Poles began voting in a presidential election Sunday that had originally been scheduled for May but was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, AP reports.

President Andrzej Duda, a 48-year-old conservative backed by the ruling party, is running against 10 other candidates as he seeks a second 5-year term.

Most recent polls showed that no single candidate was likely to reach the 50% required to avoid a runoff. In that case, the two top vote-getters will face each other 12 July.

Voters queue while awaiting the opening of a polling stations in Szczecin, Poland, 28 June 2020.
Voters queue while awaiting the opening of a polling stations in Szczecin, Poland, 28 June 2020. Photograph: Marcin Bielecki/EPA

Polling stations remain open until 9pm (19.00 GMT), and exit polls will be announced immediately after. The final officials results are expected by Wednesday at the latest.

Poland has not been as badly hit by the pandemic as many countries in Western Europe, and most people were voting in person, though required to wear masks and observe other hygiene rules. There was also a mail-in voting option, while thousands in some southwestern regions with higher numbers of infection were also required to vote by mail.

As of Sunday, there were about 34,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the nation of 38 million people, with some 1,400 deaths.

7.00am BST

Global report: cases worldwide near 10m as US again sees record daily rise

Global coronavirus cases are expected to tip over 10 million on Sunday, marking a major milestone in the spread of the disease that has so far killed almost 500,000 people in seven months.

The figure is roughly double the number of severe influenza illnesses recorded annually, according to the World Health Organisation.

The milestone approaches as many hard-hit countries are easing lockdowns, while making extensive alterations to work and social life that could last for a year or more until a vaccine becomes available, if it ever does.

Some countries are experiencing a resurgence in infections, including the United States, which reported 44,000 news cases to 4pm Friday, its biggest daily increase in the pandemic. Its previous biggest increase was on Thursday, when it recorded 40,0000 cases.

Lockdowns have been reinstated in several countries, including parts of the US. Texas – one of the earliest states to return to business – reimposed lockdown measures. Bars – which were open at up to 50% capacity – must close again, restaurants must reduce from 75% to 50% capacity and rafting operations must close. Harris County, which includes Houston, moved to its highest Covid-19 threat level, signalling a “severe and uncontrolled” outbreak.

6.51am BST

Fifty years on from the first Gay Pride march, the LGBT community and their supporters took many of their events online Saturday, responding to the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, AFP reports.

While some activists took to the streets to mark the event, much of the movement’s energy was channelled into Global Pride, a 24-hour online event broadcast live online. London Pride, one of the biggest events in the Gay Pride calendar, was one major victim of the new restrictions imposed by the pandemic.

Online events replaced it under the slogan: “Postponed, but still united”.

But veteran campaigner Peter Tatchell, wearing a rainbow-coloured mask, led a group of 12 fellow activists to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the London Gay Liberation Front.

“We are seeking to reclaim Pride as an event for LGBT+ human rights,” said the 68-year-old campaigner.

In Berlin, police estimated that around 3,500 people marched in temperatures of around 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit).

Various participants wearing face masks at the ‘Pride Berlin’ demonstration in Berlin, Germany, 27 June 2020.
Various participants wearing face masks at the ‘Pride Berlin’ demonstration in Berlin, Germany, 27 June 2020. Photograph: Omer Messinger/EPA

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted a message of support to the Global Pride event: “Be proud of yourself! No matter who you love, no matter where you live.”

In Vienna, around 200 cars and motorbikes decked out in rainbow flags and inflatable unicorns paraded down the city’s famous Ringstrasse on Saturday afternoon.

Organisers said around 5,000 people turned out to watch the scaled-down event. Vienna’s Rainbow Parade, which normally attracts hundreds of thousands of people, was otherwise replaced by online events.

6.40am BST

UK front pages, Sunday 28 July 2020

Here’s a look at today’s coronavirus-related front pages in the UK:

6.30am BST

Ireland will maintain a 14-day quarantine for travellers from the British mainland in July even as it plans to ease travel restrictions with some countries, the Sunday Times reports, citing a memo.

The memo with the Irish cabinet committee said it was “highly unlikely” that Britain would be included in Ireland’s safe travel list, the report added.

Ireland plans to lift from July 9 a 14-day quarantine for people arriving from countries that have also suppressed the coronavirus, the Irish government said on Thursday.

6.12am BST

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 256 to 193,499, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Sunday.

The reported death toll rose by three to 8,957.

Passengers wearing face masks are seen by an S-Bahn train in Berlin, capital of Germany, on 27 June 2020.
Passengers wearing face masks are seen by an S-Bahn train in Berlin, capital of Germany, on 27 June 2020. Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

6.06am BST

The Observer view on the inept and dangerous handling of the easing of lockdown:

In the past few days, one thing has become depressingly clear: the riddling and misleading communication that has characterised this government’s failure to control the pandemic will not find an antidote in the near future.

On Wednesday in parliament the prime minister was asked a simple question by Peter Kyle, Labour MP for the seaside constituency of Hove. It was certain, Kyle noted, that with the relaxing of restrictions on socialising, coastal towns like his would become dangerously packed with visitors. “What will the prime minister do in the absence of the promised [track and trace] app to make sure these communities are destinations for investment and not destinations for covid?”

Boris Johnson replied with typical scattergun harrumphing: “I will be calling on local representatives such as himself to show some guts and determination and champion their communities as venues for people to return to and support!”

Those guts were everywhere on display on beaches by Thursday. Social distancing now designated at “one metre plus” had predictably collapsed to one metre minus. But still, given the prime minister’s exhortation to Kyle at the dispatch box, the people who crammed the beaches – 500,000 in Dorset alone – on the hottest day of the year could justify their day trips with the belief that they were simply doing their national duty. If they were to take Johnson at his word, drinking and barbecuing – and brawling and littering – was the new clap for carers.

5.49am BST

Summary

Here are the most important recent developments from around the world:

  • As cases near 10m, nearly half a million people have died over the course of the pandemic. The current death toll stands at 498,217, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of infections is 9,955,495.
  • The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States rose to more than 2.5 million on Saturday. More than 125,000 Americans have died of Covid-19, the highest known death toll from the disease in the world. New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker noted on Twitter that more Americans have died than in the Vietnam War since US President Donald Trump stopped his daily coronavirus task force briefings at the White House.
  • Video footage appears to show Trump campaign removing social-distancing stickers in Tulsa. Video has emerged of Trump campaign volunteers apparently removing social distancing stickers from seats in the arena where the US president gave a campaign rally that many public health experts had warned against because of the still-surging coronavirus pandemic.
  • China reported 17 new cases. Mainland China on Sunday reported 17 new coronavirus cases, mostly in the Chinese capital of Beijing. The National Health Commission said 17 new infections were confirmed on Saturday, down from 21 a day earlier. In Beijing, 14 new confirmed cases were reported, down from 17 a day earlier.
  • South Korea reported 62 new cases. South Korea South Korea has confirmed 62 additional cases of the coronavirus over a 24-hour period as the Asian country continues to face new clusters of infections amid eased social distancing rules. The additional cases reported Sunday took the country’s total to 12,715, with 282 deaths.
  • New Zealand’s Covid-19 isolation facilities are under ‘extreme stress’, review finds. A review of New Zealand’s managed isolation and quarantine facilities has found that the system is under “extreme stress” as more and more Kiwis return home. It came as four more returnees tested positive to Covid-19 in the biggest one-day jump in cases in two months.
  • The US states of Florida, Arizona, Nevada, South Carolina and Georgia each recorded daily highs for coronavirus infections on Saturday, highlighting the worsening spread of the virus in several southern and western states, which is prompting some of them to roll back their reopening plans.
  • Brazil recorded 38,693 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours and 1,109 additional deaths. The country has now registered 1,313,667 total confirmed cases of the virus and 57,070 deaths.
  • A growing number of Covid-19 infections among people under 35 years of age is a “worrying trend,” Ireland’s chief medical officer said on Saturday as the country reported the highest number of new infections for two weeks.

Key recent developments in Australia include:

  • Victoria, Australia is considering roadblocks and checkpoints after cases passed 2,000. The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, says the state will consider potential stay-at-home orders and suburban lockdowns to contain several coronavirus clusters in Melbourne, after another 49 cases of coronavirus were detected on Saturday – the highest daily number since April – all people coming from overseas. The state’s total is 2,028. Queensland and South Australia had no new cases.Victoria is conducting a testing blitz in an attempt to prevent further spread of the virus. About 40,000 people have been tested since Friday.
  • The Morrison government denied reports it will permanently lift unemployment benefit payments. The Morrison government has denied it about to permanently lift unemployment benefit payments when the treasurer makes a long-awaited economic statement next month. News Corp newspapers, citing senior ministers, had reported the jobseeker payment would rise to per day from when the present enhanced version of the unemployment payment ends in September. “There are no such proposals before the government or under consideration for the economic statement next month,” a spokesperson for social services minister Anne Ruston told Australian Associated Press.
  • New South Wales, Australia recorded 3 new cases. Three new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the state of New South Wales, the state health department reported in a statement, bringing the total number of cases in NSW to 3,177.Two of the cases are travellers in hotel quarantine, and the third case is an overseas cargo airline crew member. The crew member’s close contacts have been identified, the statement notes, and “further investigations are underway.”
  • Western Australia confirmed 1 new case. The state of Western Australia has confirmed 1 new case of coronavirus, the health department announced on Sunday, to bring the state total to 609. The case is a traveller in hotel quarantine.
  • Queensland, Australia recorded zero new cases. Queensland recorded no new coronavirus cases overnight but the government will wait until Tuesday to announce any easing of restrictions. Queenslanders will have to wait 48 hours to know when and how Covid-19 restrictions will be lifted after the transport minister stonewalled questions about borders reopening.

Updated at 6.42am BST

5.39am BST

The pandemic has now entered a new phase, with India and Brazil battling outbreaks of over 10,000 cases a day, putting a major strain on resources, Reuters reports.

The two countries accounted for over a third of all new cases in the past week. Brazil reported a record 54,700 new cases on 19 June.

Some researchers said the death toll in Latin America could rise to over 380,000 by October, from around 100,000 this week. The total number of cases continued to increase at a rate of between 1-2% a day in the past week, down from rates above 10% in March.

Countries including China, New Zealand and Australia have seen new outbreaks in the past month, despite largely quashing local transmission.

In Beijing, where hundreds of new cases were linked to an agricultural market, testing capacity has been ramped up to 300,000 a day.

The United States, which has reported the most cases of any country at more than 2.5 million, managed to slow the spread of the virus in May, only to see it expand in recent weeks to rural areas and other places that were previously unaffected.

In some countries with limited testing capabilities, case numbers reflect a small proportion of total infections. Roughly half of reported infections are known to have recovered.

5.30am BST

As global cases near 10 million, with 9,955,495 currently confirmed, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, which relies on official government data, some countries are experiencing a resurgence in infections, leading authorities to partially reinstate lockdowns, in what experts say could be a recurring pattern in the coming months and into 2021, Reuters reports.

North America, Latin America and Europe each account for around 25% of cases, while Asia and the Middle East have around 11% and 9% respectively, according to the Reuters tally, which uses government reports.

There have been 498,217 fatalities linked to the disease so far, roughly the same as the number of influenza deaths reported annually.

5.17am BST

New Zealand’s Covid-19 isolation facilities under ‘extreme stress’, review finds

A review of New Zealand’s managed isolation and quarantine facilities has found that the system is under “extreme stress” as more and more Kiwis return home. It came as four more returnees tested positive to Covid-19 in the biggest one-day jump in cases in two months.

The review found “resources required to support the managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) function have failed to keep pace with the increased volume of returnees”.

“The team found that the system, whilst not broken, is under extreme stress and is not readily able to respond to the increasing demands being placed upon it,” the review found.

“This has resulted in a very dedicated team having to confront immediate issues with limited capacity to plan ahead,” the review said, adding that this was “impacting on staff wellbeing and the confidence that returnees have in the process”.

Announcing the results of the review, New Zealand’s housing minister, Megan Wood, said: “While the system was manageable under level-4 (restrictions), when there was only small numbers of New Zealanders returning home, it is now a system under stress, with arrivals increasing by 73% last week, compared to the beginning of April.”

5.02am BST

Get in touch on Twitter or via email: questions, comments, feedback, tips and news from your part of Australia and the world are all welcome.

Twitter: @helenrsullivan
Email: helen.sullivan@theguardian.com.

4.56am BST

Queensland, Australia records zero new cases

Queensland recorded no new coronavirus cases overnight but the government will wait until Tuesday to announce any easing of restrictions, AAP reports.

Queenslanders will have to wait 48 hours to know when and how Covid-19 restrictions will be lifted after the transport minister stonewalled questions about borders reopening.

Mark Bailey says premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will announce any changes on Tuesday and those decisions will be rooted in “evidence” and on the back of medical advice.

Queensland recorded no new cases overnight and has had just one positive test – a returned traveller from overseas – in the past eight days.

“Border provisions have been key to us, achieving that outcome, an outcome that New South Wales and Victoria haven’t been able to achieve,” he said on Sunday.

4.42am BST

‘Real vulnerability’: Qantas job cuts show Covid-19 will change the future of work

As he surveyed the economic wreckage from 6,000 Qantas job cuts this week, the deputy prime minister, Michael McCormack, expressed the glass-half-full hope that there would be other openings for redundant workers as the sector rebounds.

He quickly added that it would nevertheless be “very, very difficult” for those workers, and in doing so betrayed the size of the problem facing Australia as it grapples with the recessionary fallout from the coronavirus crisis that experts think could ripple through the economy for years.

While the first couple of months of the crisis saw thousands of workers laid off, there was a McCormack-esque expectation that this was a temporary glitch and that, as government support kicked in, most people would make it through the worst and would be back at work soon enough.

A litany of job losses at bluechip companies in the past week show that the damage could be more permanent. Qantas, a flag-carrying totem of Australian enterprise, was just the most visible casualty with its shedding of one-fifth of its employees while keeping another 15,000 stood down. Other big names to feel the pinch were the accountancy giants Deloitte and PwC, which said they would be cutting 700 and 400 positions respectively. The ABC is reducing its workforce by 250 and journalists are also being sacrificed at News Corp.

The Qantas boss Alan Joyce’s prediction that international flights would not resume for another 12 months was a particularly ominous warning for Australia, whose outward-looking economy relies heavily on tourism and overseas students.

4.30am BST

Horticulturalists across South Australia are now able to apply for grants of up to 0,000 to install new or replace damaged produce netting, AAP reports.

The .6 million Horticultural Netting Infrastructure Program will help farmers protect crops from extreme weather and pests, and forms another part of SA’s post-virus economic recovery.

Senator for South Australia Anne Ruston said the program will be essential to help protect the state’s world-famous produce.

“We have one of the best agricultural sectors in the world, some would say the best,” she said.

“By supporting our farmers and horticulturalists the Commonwealth is very hopeful we will be able to drive our economy forward as restrictions lift and and as we are able to keep exporting our products.”

Netting that has been thrown over a small fruit tree to discourage foraging by birds.
Netting that has been thrown over a small fruit tree to discourage foraging by birds. Photograph: Dean Fosdick/AP

The scheme will commence from 29 June 2020 and operate until 30 June 2023, or until funds are fully committed, according to state government.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the program is estimated to net almost 500 hectares which will have a significant impact on the future of horticulture in South Australia.

“Netting is a gamechanger for horticultural producers by providing protection from the elements – sun, wind and hail – not to mention bats and birds,” he said.

“During drought conditions and high water prices, netting also delivers a dramatic improvement in water efficiency and has shown it can increase yields.

The program will be backdated for eligible producers who have installed netting since December 2019.

4.17am BST

South Korea reports 62 new cases

South Korea South Korea has confirmed 62 additional cases of the coronavirus over a 24-hour period as the Asian country continues to face new clusters of infections amid eased social distancing rules.

The additional cases reported Sunday took the country’s total to 12,715, with 282 deaths.

People wearing face masks to help protect against the spread of the new coronavirus pass by the statue of King Sejong in the Joseon Dynasty, at the Gwanghwamun Plaza in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, 24 June 2020.
People wearing face masks to help protect against the spread of the new coronavirus pass by the statue of King Sejong in the Joseon Dynasty, at the Gwanghwamun Plaza in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, 24 June 2020. Photograph: Ahn Young-joon/AP

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 40 of the newly reported cases were domestically infected, while the other 22 came from overseas. It says 26 of the 40 domestic cases were detected in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area.

South Korea has been struggling to suppress a spike in new cases since it eased up on its rigid social distancing rules in early May. Those new cases have been linked to nightclubs, church services, a huge e-commerce warehouse and low-income workers.

4.01am BST

Australian government plays down reports of permanent rise in jobseeker payment

The Australian government insists it is focused on the next phase of “short-term measures” to support people through the coronavirus pandemic amid reports it is considering a permanent per week lift in unemployment benefits.

The government has been coming under increasing pressure over the drop-off in economic supports due in September, with the Qantas announcement last week of a further 6,000 job cuts adding to expectations of extended economic pain.

With a week to run before the Eden-Monaro byelection, and amid growing focus on the looming “cliff” in support measures, senior ministers have reportedly told News Corp’s Sunday tabloids a weekly rise in the jobseeker allowance base rate was “the preferred option” for changes after the pandemic.

3.48am BST

UK government considering imposing lockdown in Leicester – report

The British government is considering imposing a lockdown in the city of Leicester after a surge of coronavirus cases there, the Sunday Times newspaper reported, citing senior government sources.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is examining a legislation required for the shutdown after it was disclosed that Leicester, a city of around 350,000 people in the East Midlands, has had over 650 Covid-19 cases in the fortnight to June 16, the newspaper reported.

Hancock is considering “all options”, including imposing a localised lockdown, according to the report.

3.36am BST

China reports 17 new cases

Mainland China on Sunday reported 17 new coronavirus cases, mostly in the Chinese capital of Beijing.

The National Health Commission said 17 new infections were confirmed on Saturday, down from 21 a day earlier.

In Beijing, 14 new confirmed cases were reported, down from 17 a day earlier.

Since June 11 when Beijing reported its first case in the current outbreak, stemming from a sprawling wholesale food centre in the southwest of the capital, 311 people in the city of more than 20 million have contracted the virus, Reuters reports.

A worker wearing a protective suit talks with people registering for coronavirus tests at a community health clinic in Beijing, Sunday, 28 June 2020.
A worker wearing a protective suit talks with people registering for coronavirus tests at a community health clinic in Beijing, Sunday, 28 June 2020. Photograph: Mark Schiefelbein/AP

Mainland China reported three new so-called imported cases on Friday, infections linked to travellers arriving from abroad. That compares with four cases a day earlier.

That took the cumulative number of confirmed cases in mainland China to 83,500.
Mainland China reported seven new asymptomatic patients, who tested positive for Covis-19 but showed no clinical symptoms such as a fever, down from 12 a day earlier.

The national health authority does not include asymptomatic patients in its tally of confirmed cases.

The death toll stood at 4,634, unchanged since mid-May.

Updated at 5.45am BST

3.29am BST

Coronavirus in Victoria: Daniel Andrews considers suburban lockdowns as 49 new cases confirmed

The full story on the latest from Victoria, Australia now:

The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, says the state will consider potential stay-at-home orders and suburban lockdowns to contain several coronavirus clusters in Melbourne, after another 49 cases of coronavirus were detected on Saturday.

Victoria is conducting a testing blitz in an attempt to prevent further spread of the virus. About 40,000 people have been tested since Friday.

“Much like a bushfire, putting this out is challenging,” Andrews said. “Containing it, though, is something that we can do, and [widespread testing and contact tracing] is the most effective thing to do.

“The challenge here is [that] we have to test in those hotspots, but at the same time, we can’t take our eye off any other part of the state. We have to keep those testing numbers up to a satisfactory level so that in trying to track and trace one problem, we aren’t necessarily unaware of any other problem that we might have.”

On a potential return to lockdowns or other restrictions, Andrews said: “no one wants to go back to that unless we absolutely have to”.

Overnight, Victoria updated its public health directives in an attempt to address concern that some people in mandatory hotel quarantine, after returning from overseas, had refused coronavirus tests and subsequently been allowed into the community.

Updated at 3.32am BST

3.14am BST

Hi, Helen Sullivan here.

A reminder that you can get in touch with me directly – questions, comments, feedback, tips and news from your part of Australia and the world are all welcome.

Twitter: @helenrsullivan
Email: helen.sullivan@theguardian.com.

3.07am BST

In other news from Australia: the country is in the midst of a “slipper surge”.

A representative of online shop The Iconic says they have sold three times as many pairs as they did this time last year. Google search trends reveal a similar pattern – more Australians are looking for slippers than ever before.

In early winter, there were reports of slipper-related injuries, nicknamed “Ugg boot foot” – though Australian Podiatry Association president Katrina Richards says that the biggest problems she’s seen have been caused by the transition from house shoes to hard training, rather than slippers alone. “People just go too hard, too soon and you end up getting a lot of overuse injuries,” she says:

2.58am BST

Victoria to consider stay-at-home orders after 49 new cases confirmed

The Victoria premier, Daniel Andrews, says the state will consider potential stay-at-home orders and suburban lockdowns to contain several coronavirus clusters in suburban Melbourne, after 49 cases new cases were confirmed today.

Victoria is conducting a testing blitz in an attempt to prevent further spread of the virus. About 40,000 people have been tested since Friday.

“Much like a bushfire, putting this out is challenging,” Andrews said. “Containing it, though, is something that we can do, and [widespread testing and contact tracing] is the most effective thing to do.

Updated at 3.01am BST

2.48am BST

The rise of disinformation during coronavirus – Australian politics live podcast

Katharine Murphy speaks with Jack Wallace and Tom Uren, analysts from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, about their recent investigation into online disinformation, and China’s increasing employment of it since the outbreak of Covid-19. What are the differences between disinformation peddled by China and the US governments, and what role has it played in Australian politics?

2.35am BST

CDC reports 44,602 new US coronavirus cases as of 4pm ET on Friday

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday reported 44,602 new coronavirus cases and said the number of deaths had risen by 651 to 124,976, Reuters reports.

The CDC reported its tally of cases as of 4pm ET on 26 June versus its previous report a day earlier.

According to Johns Hopkins University data, the number of cases in the US stands at 2,507,874. There have been 125,504 deaths.

2.20am BST

Western Australia confirms 1 new case

The state of Western Australia has confirmed 1 new case of coronavirus, the health department announced on Sunday, to bring the state total to 609. The case is a traveller in hotel quarantine:

There are five active cases in WA – all are in hotel quarantine.

A total of 595 people have recovered from Covid-19 in WA.

Yesterday 339 people presented to WA Covid-19 clinics – 331 were assessed and 329 were swabbed.

Visit WA Health’s HealthyWA website for the latest information on Covid-19.

2.17am BST

New South Wales, Australia records 3 new cases

Three new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the state of New South Wales, the state health department reported in a statement, bringing the total number of cases in NSW to 3,177.

Two of the cases are travellers in hotel quarantine, and the third case is an overseas cargo airline crew member. The crew member’s close contacts have been identified, the statement notes, and “further investigations are underway.”

In terms of testing:

A record total of 18,114 tests were notified in the reporting period [of between 8pm on 26 June and 8pm on 27 June] compared with 23,733 tests in the previous 24 hours.

More than 830,000 Covid-19 tests have now been carried out in NSW.

There are currently 49 Covid-19 cases being treated by NSW Health, with none in intensive care.

In NSW, 2,784 people are known to have recovered from Covid-19.

2.12am BST

Mexico’s health ministry on Saturday reported 4,410 new confirmed coronavirus infections and 602 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 212,802 cases and 26,381 deaths.

The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

A shopper is given antibacterial gel as she enters Mercado Sonora, which reopened ten days ago with measures to reduce congestion and limit the spread of the coronavirus, in Mexico City, Thursday, 25 June 2020.
A shopper is given antibacterial gel as she enters Mercado Sonora, which reopened ten days ago with measures to reduce congestion and limit the spread of the coronavirus, in Mexico City, Thursday, 25 June 2020. Photograph: Rebecca Blackwell/AP

1.55am BST

US coronavirus death toll passes 125,000, cases top 2.5m

The US coronavirus death toll passed 125,000 on Saturday, as cases topped 2,505,590.

The US has the highest known cases and deaths worldwide, and is almost 1.2 million cases ahead of Brazil, which has the next-highest number of infections.

New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker noted on Twitter that more Americans have died than in the Vietnam War since US President Donald Trump stopped his daily coronavirus task force briefings at the White House:

Updated at 2.34am BST

1.49am BST

In Australia, Labor education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek has described the Morrison government’s plan to change university studies as a “dog’s breakfast”, AAP reports.

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan announced earlier this month that the cost of certain courses like humanities would double with the intent to steer students towards degrees like maths and teaching.

The government believes this will increase a student’s chance of getting a job when they leave university and help boost the economy on the road back from the coronavirus pandemic.

Ms Plibersek believes the only thing the government has done is made it harder for people to get into university and more expensive if they are successful. And she said while the government wants people to go to TAFE for their training, it has cut TAFE funding by billion and the number of apprentices is falling by 2000 places a week.

“It’s just a dog’s breakfast,” she told Sky New’s Sunday Agenda program.

Member for Sydney and Shadow Education Minister Tanya Plibersek speaks during a protest at Sydney Domestic Airport in Sydney, Thursday, 4 June 2020.
Member for Sydney and Shadow Education Minister Tanya Plibersek speaks during a protest at Sydney Domestic Airport in Sydney, Thursday, 4 June 2020. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

“The universities are beside themselves, they can’t work out why the government ‘s gone down this path because it is doing the exact opposite of what they’ve said they want to do.”

Last week Mr Tehan announced an integrity unit to ensure universities maintain a high level of quality.

Ms Plibersek scoffed at the idea, calling it “nuts”.

“Why not get the system right first,” she said.

1.39am BST

Morrison government denies reports it will permanently lift unemployment benefit payments

The Morrison government has denied it about to permanently lift unemployment benefit payments when the treasurer makes a long-awaited economic statement next month.

News Corp newspapers, citing senior ministers, had reported the jobseeker payment would rise to per day from when the present enhanced version of the unemployment payment ends in September.

“There are no such proposals before the government or under consideration for the economic statement next month,” a spokesperson for social services minister Anne Ruston told Australian Associated Press.

“The government is focused on the next phase of short-term measures designed to address the Covid-19 crisis.”

The jobseeker payment, formerly known as Newstart, was doubled to around ,100 a fortnight as a support measure during the pandemic.

Treasury has been reviewing both jobseeker and the jobkeeper wage subsidy.

Senior Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek said people who had been forced on to the dole because of the coronavirus pandemic were in for a shock if the jobseeker payment returned to its pre-crisis rate of per a day.

“It is an inadequate payment, it doesn’t allow people to live with dignity,” she told Sky News’ Sunday Agenda program.

“We now have hundreds of thousands of extra people joining the dole queue, people who have been working full time until very recently that would very much struggle if what’s now called jobseeker went back to the old Newstart rate.”

The coalition government has long argued against raising the unemployment payment, which hasn’t been increased for 25 years apart from indexation increases.

There is widespread support for an increase from Labor, the Greens, welfare groups, business organisations like the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Industry Group, economists and the Reserve Bank.

Updated at 1.45am BST

1.25am BST

The novel coronavirus, now spreading through the smaller towns of Brazil’s interior, risks returning to major cities in a so-called “boomerang effect,” as a lack of specialised medical treatment forces patients into larger urban centres, Reuters reports.

Gravediggers wearing protective suits rest between burials amid the coronavirus outbreak at Vila Formosa cemetery, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 27 June 2020.
Gravediggers wearing protective suits rest between burials amid the coronavirus outbreak at Vila Formosa cemetery, in Sao Paulo, Brazil on 27 June. Photograph: Amanda Perobelli/Reuters

The impact of a potential second wave of new cases in urban centres could complicate attempts to reopen businesses and get the economy going again, experts said.

“The boomerang of cases that will return to the (state) capitals will be a tsunami,” said Miguel Nicolelis, a leading medical neuroscientist at Duke University who is coordinating a coronavirus task force advising the state governments of Brazil’s northeast.

Brazil, home to the world’s second worst coronavirus outbreak behind the United States, has over 1.2 million cases of the virus, which has killed nearly 55,000 people. On most days, it is spreading faster in Brazil than in the United States, the top country by cases.

Updated at 1.46am BST

1.15am BST

After months of strict Covid-19 lockdowns and resolutely closed borders, Fiji is open – for billionaires.

The prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, has announced the country is looking to attract “VIPs” to help restore Fiji’s paralysed tourism-dependent economy.

“So, say you’re a billionaire looking to fly your own jet, rent your own island, and invest millions of dollars in Fiji in the process. If you’ve taken all the necessary health precautions and borne all associated costs, you may have a new home to escape the pandemic in paradise,” the prime minister said in a remarkably frank tweet.

Bainimarama said the country would also welcome travellers arriving by yacht who were prepared to spend 14 days at sea – or make up the balance in quarantine in Fiji.

The country’s attorney general, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, has announced the first planeload of 30 “high-net-worth individuals… from a very well-known company” were set to arrive by private plane in the archipelago nation on Sunday.

“We already have one group coming,” Sayed-Khaiyum said during a national budget consultation. “We just did the approval … for the flight to come in, and they’ll be spending three months here. There’s about 30 of them, and a very well-known company they are coming from.

1.05am BST

Video appears to show Trump campaign removing social-distancing stickers in Tulsa

Video has emerged of Trump campaign volunteers apparently removing social distancing stickers from seats in the arena where the US president gave a campaign rally that many public health experts had warned against because of the still-surging coronavirus pandemic.

The Washington Post published the video, which it says shows Trump campaign workers methodically removing the stickers from seats at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The labels read “Do Not Sit Here, Please!” and had been placed there by the venue in order to minimize the risk of Covid-19 infection.

12.55am BST

Victoria, Australia considering roadblocks and checkpoints

In Australia, the Herald Sun reports this morning that roadblocks and checkpoints are being considered by Victorian authorities, should coronavirus continue to spread from multiple suburban clusters.

Victoria has a number of suburbs where authorities have recorded high rates of community transmission. The state reported 41 new cases on Saturday, amid fears the state was experiencing a potential second wave of coronavirus.

In its efforts to curtail a second spike in the infection rate, the state has ramped up its testing efforts.

But the Herald Sun report raises concern that people in “hotspot” suburbs continue to travel around Melbourne, and that more drastic action could include roadblocks designed to restrict people from leaving their suburb without good reason.

Tasmania implemented road closures and ID checkpoints during an outbreak of coronavirus in the state in April.

Updated at 1.40am BST

12.44am BST

News Corp Australia is reporting that Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is likely to announce a permanent boost to unemployment benefit payments in the mini-budget in July, AAP reports.

The federal government won’t reduce the country’s unemployment benefit payments to the amount that the unemployed were receiving in the pre-coronavirus era, a media report says.

News Corp Australia newspapers cite senior ministers as saying the JobSeeker unemployment benefits formerly known as Newstart will increase from 5.70 a fortnight to 5.70.

The government temporarily raised the welfare payment from a base rate of 5.70 a fortnight to 15.70 during the pandemic, a change due to end in September.

News Corp reports Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is likely to announce a permanent boost to unemployment benefit payments in the mini-budget in July.

Updated at 1.37am BST

12.41am BST

Summary

Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic with me, Helen Sullivan.

I’ll be bringing you the latest for the next few hours. A reminder that you can get in touch on twitter @helenrsullivan or via email: helen.sullivan@theguardian.com.

Cases worldwide are nearing 10 million, as predicted by the World Health Organization, which warned the sombre milestone would be passed this week.

Nearly half a million people have lost their lives in the pandemic so far.

Months into the pandemic, fear of a second wave of infections now hangs over countries that have managed to stamp out the disease, mostly through economically and socially painful lockdowns.

In Australia, authorities in the state of Victoria are fighting a growing outbreak, which saw 41 cases diagnosed yesterday. The state’s battle against Covid-19 has intensified after an emergency department nurse tested positive to the virus and health workers descended on two Melbourne suburbs to control community transmission.

  • Nearly half a million people have died over the course of the pandemic. The current toll stands at 497,427, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of infections is nearing 10m, with 9,937,618 currently confirmed.
  • The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States rose to more than 2.5 million on Saturday. More than 125,000 Americans have died of Covid-19, the highest known death toll from the disease in the world.
  • The US states of Florida, Arizona, Nevada, South Carolina and Georgia have recorded daily highs for coronavirus infections on Saturday, highlighting the worsening spread of the virus in several southern and western states, which is prompting some of them to roll back their reopening plans.
  • Thousands of people demonstrated in some 60 cities and towns across Spain on Saturday to demand a collective rebuilding of society to tackle the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, in the biggest demonstrations since the crisis began.
  • Brazil recorded 38,693 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours and 1,109 additional deaths. The country has now registered 1,313,667 total confirmed cases of the virus and 57,070 deaths.
  • A growing number of Covid-19 infections among people under 35 years of age is a “worrying trend,” Ireland’s chief medical officer said on Saturday as the country reported the highest number of new infections for two weeks.
  • The Czech Republic has registered the biggest spike in Covid-19 cases in more than two months, with several centres where the disease is spreading fast, the health ministry said Saturday.
  • Zurich’s health authority has ordered a 10-day quarantine for almost 300 guests and staff of a nightclub after a reveller tested positive for coronavirus and had been proven to have infected others.
  • A global fundraising meeting on Saturday raised €6.15bn (.9bn) from the United States, the European Commission and numerous countries to fight Covid-19, with many participants stressing that an eventual vaccine should be available to anyone who needs it.
  • Spain is to uphold a ban on cruise liners from docking at its ports to stop the spread of Covid-19, according to a ministerial order published on Saturday.
  • The governor of Bethlehem announced Saturday the temporary closure of the Palestinian city to contain the spread of coronavirus after a sharp rise in infections in the occupied West Bank.

Updated at 12.48am BST

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