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Coronavirus world round-up: Beijing lifts lockdown measures

Beijing lifted several lockdowns imposed to control a fresh coronavirus outbreak and reported just three new cases in the city on Wednesday, raising hopes that the cluster had been brought under control.

The Chinese capital had closed off dozens of residential compounds and carried out mass testing last month after hundreds of infections raised fears of a virus resurgence.

But five residential communities that have had no new virus cases during a control period were released from lockdown on Tuesday, state media reported, as the city relaxed curbs.

Seven other Beijing communities saw their lockdowns lifted last Friday.

The vast majority of cases have been linked to the sprawling Xinfadi market that supplies about 80 percent of Beijing’s fresh produce and meat, sparking concern about food safety.

State media outlet China News reported that the lockdown of five communities in the hard-hit Fengtai district was lifted, and disease control experts would propose a plan for removing restrictions on another seven in the area surrounding the market.

Brazil’s military has delivered protective supplies and medicines by helicopter to isolated Amazon indigenous communities bordering Venezuela and tested frightened members for Covid-19.

None tested positive to the rapid finger-prick tests, but the coronavirus pandemic is threatening to decimate hundreds of Amazon tribes that have no immunity to external diseases and whose communal lifestyle rules out social distancing.

The operation to help the Yanomami who live on Brazil’s largest reservation is aimed at countering criticism that the right-wing government of President Jair Bolsonaro is not doing enough to protect indigenous people from contagion.

“The main goal of this joint operation by the armed forces is to track Covid-19s in the nearby villages,” naval medic Captain Jarbas de Souza said.

The Army airlifted supplies from the Roraima state capital of Boa Vista on a Blackhawk helicopter to a military frontier post deep in the rainforest, with boxes of face masks, alcohol gel, aprons, gloves, tests and medicines, including 13,500 pills of the controversial anti-malaria drug chloroquine.

The United States has bought up virtually the whole supply of a drug that could shorten the recovery time of coronavirus patients, leaving hardly any for other countries.

Remdesivir, an antiviral drug, is made by biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, based in California. America has secured more than 500,000 treatment courses through September. That represents 100 per cent of Gilead’s projected production for July, and 90 per cent for each of the next two months.

Alex Azar, the US health secretary, said: “President Trump has struck an amazing deal to ensure Americans have access to the first authorised therapeutic for Covid-19. To the extent possible, we want to ensure that any American patient who needs remdesivir can get it.”

It came as America’s top infectious disease expert warned Congress the country could see as many as 100,000 new coronavirus cases a day if its current spikes in infections are not contained.

Read more: US buys months of remdesivir supplies

Joe Biden has said he will not hold presidential campaign rallies during the coronavirus pandemic, an unprecedented declaration that stands in stark contrast with Donald Trump who has already held large campaign gatherings.

Mr Biden also ramped up his criticism of the president’s handling of the pandemic, saying Mr Trump had “failed” the American people and “waved the white flag” of surrender in the fight against the coronavirus.

“This is the most unusual campaign I think in modern history,” the former vice-president said in Delaware at his first press conference since securing his party’s presidential nomination nearly four weeks ago.

“I’m going to follow the doc’s orders – not just for me but for the country – and that means that I am not going to be holding rallies,” said Mr Biden.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has said he is growing “more and more angry at China” over the spread of the coronavirus, as American health officials warned they were not in “total” control of the virus:

More than 300,000 people in Melbourne will be placed back under lockdown as new Covid-19 cases continue to climb.

Daniel Andrews, the premier of Victoria, of which Melbourne is capital, also announced he had asked Scott Morrison, the prime minister, to divert international flights away from Melbourne for the next two weeks.

Victoria recorded its 14th consecutive day of double-digit growth on Tuesday, with 64 new cases, after 75 on Monday. The steady increases prompted Mr Andrews to announce stay-at-home orders for ten Melbourne post code zones, coming into effect on Wednesday.

The residents of the coronavirus hot spots will only be permitted to leave their homes for essential activities: to exercise, go to school or work, undertake care responsibilities, and buy food and other essentials.

Read more: Ambitious plan to fight outbreak in Melbourne

Bavaria’s ambitious state leader Markus Söder has angered party colleagues by introducing mass coronavirus testing in his state, the latest move to raise suspicions that he is positioning himself as the natural heir to Angela Merkel as chancellor.

Mr Söder confirmed yesterday that Bavaria would offer testing to anyone who wanted it. It breaks with a consensus between Berlin and state leaders not to carry out mass testing.

Hackers claim to have accessed the personal data of 80,000 Covid-19 patients in New Delhi from the local government’s website, in protest at the treatment of healthcare workers.The Kerala cyber group posted screenshots of what appeared to be a patient record sheet, but said it would not release the private information.

“We were appalled to witness sensitive data stored in these servers without any security,” the group said.

  • The European Union has agreed to open its borders to 15 countries from July 1, but the United States remains excluded. China is on the list, which will be updated every two weeks, provided Beijing does the same for Europeans, according to a statement.
  • The pandemic has led a growing number of Westerners to see China as a top power, with the lead of the United States slipping, according to a study of French, German and US opinion released by the German Marshall Fund of the United States. The proportion of people who said China was the most influential global player has shot up from 13 to 28 per cent in France between surveys in January to May, from 12 to 20 per cent in Germany and from six to 14 per cent in the US.
  • More than 40 percent of people diagnosed with Covid-19 in one town in Italy showed no signs of being ill, according to research published in the journal Nature, indicating that asymptomatic carriers may be significant spreaders of the virus.
  • In Germany, the state-owned rail operator Deutsche Bahn has warned that the pandemic has plunged it into its worst-ever financial crisis despite billions in government aid, sayings talks with worker representatives to find savings will begin this week.

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