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China puts half a million in lockdown after COVID-19 spike: Live

The move comes after a new cluster of coronavirus cases emerge in Beijing and Hebei province.

by Ted Regencia & Usaid Siddiqui

    • China has imposed a strict lockdown on some 500,000 people near Beijing to contain a new coronavirus outbreak.

    • Italy has registered the lowest number of daily deaths since March 1.
    • Global coronavirus cases exceeded 10 million on Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The respiratory disease has killed almost half a million people in seven months. More than five million have recovered.

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    Here are the latest updates:

    Sunday, June 28

    12:50 GMT – Greek island to host German doctors for free as flights to resume

    The Greek island of Kos will host dozens of German doctors for free from Monday, the tourism ministry said as the country prepared 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.

    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 island dreams: Summer tourist season opens

    12:40 GMT – Beijing ramps up testing capacity, reaching a third of city’s population so far

    Beijing has ramped up coronavirus testing efforts and has tested about a third of the Chinese capital’s population so far, a city official said, as authorities seek to control an outbreak stemming from a wholesale market in mid-June.

    As of noon, Beijing had collected 8.29 million patient samples for testing and completed 7.69 million tests, Zhang Qiang, an official from Beijing’s municipal committee, told a press conference.

    12:15 GMT – France goes to the polls in second round of local elections

    People in France are voting in the final round of municipal elections, which are expected to yield a low voter turnout and a rebuke for the party of President Emmanuel Macron.

    The opening round was held on March 15, just as the coronavirus pandemic was gaining momentum. The second phase, scheduled for March 22, was postponed after France went into lockdown on March 17.

    Read more here.

    LREM mayoral candidate Buzyn votes in 5th district of Paris
    Despite a record abstention rate of 55 percent, the first round yielded a decisive outcome in some 85 percent, or 30,000, of French communes [Christophe Archambault/Pool/Reuters]

    11:30 GMT – Sri Lanka lifts virus lockdown, says ‘no community spread’

    Sri Lanka’s nationwide lockdown has been lifted, one month after a selective curfew 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.

    10:59 GMT – Philippines has fastest increase in COVID-19 cases: WHO

    The World Health Organization (WHO) has said the Philippines had the fastest increase in COVID-19 cases in the Western Pacific region, local media outlets reported.

    The announcement prompted the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) to say the WHO should not “cherry-pick” countries for comparison, the Philippine Star said on Facebook. 

    According to GMA News Online, between June 16 and 28, the total number of new cases in the Philippines was 9,655, followed by Singapore with 2,610 new cases.

    10:35 GMT – South Korea to allow limited number of fans at sports games

    South Korea said it will begin allowing limited numbers of spectators at sports games as it seeks to return to normal after months of strict physical 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 largely 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 coronavirus test South Korea had one of the worst early outbreaks outside China but appears to have brought it under control [File: Ed Jones/ AFP]

    10:10 GMT – US sanctions, coronavirus make for Iran’s toughest year: Rouhani

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country is experiencing its toughest year because of US sanctions coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The coronavirus crisis exacerbated economic problems that had worsened after US President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018 from Iran’s nuclear deal with major powers and reimposed sanctions.

    On Monday, Iran’s rial fell to its lowest ever level against the US dollar.

    09:25 GMT – France holds municipal elections postponed by coronavirus 

    France is holding the second round of municipal elections in 5,000 towns and cities that was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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

    08:58 GMT – Virus-hit Iran to make masks compulsory from next week

    Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that mask-wearing will be mandatory in certain areas as of next week, and gave virus-hit provinces the green light to reimpose restrictive measures.

    Iran has refrained from enforcing full lockdowns, 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.

    08:30 GMT – Half a million in lockdown as Beijing fights new virus cluster

    China imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people near the capital to contain a new outbreak on Sunday, as authorities warned it was soon to “relax” over the new cluster of cases.

    After China largely brought the coronavirus under control, hundreds were infected in Beijing and cases emerged in neighbouring Hebei province.

    Health officials said Sunday that Anxin county – about 150 kilometres (90 miles) from Beijing – will be “fully enclosed and controlled”, the same measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the city of Wuhan.

    08:05 GMT – Chinese firm says coronavirus vaccine candidate shows promise in human test

    China National Biotec Group (CNBG) said early human test results for a coronavirus vaccine candidate suggested it could be safe and effective, the firm’s second candidate to show encouraging results in a clinical trial.

    The experimental drug has induced high-level antibodies in all the inoculated participants in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial involving 1,120 healthy people, according to preliminary data, CNBG said in a post on social media platform WeChat, without disclosing specific readings.

    07:35 GMT – Switzerland quarantines 300 in club infection

    Swiss authorities say they’ve ordered 300 people into quarantine after a so-called “superspreader” outbreak of the new coronavirus at a Zurich nightclub.

    Zurich officials said in a statement that a man who had been at the Flamingo Club a week ago tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, and that five people who were with him had subsequently also tested positive and reported to authorities on Friday.

    07:05 GMT – Pakistan producing own ventilators as cases rise

    Pakistan’s minister for science and technology says the country has started producing locally designed ventilators, as authorities reported 83 more deaths from the coronavirus.

    The announcement comes days after Pakistan said it was racing against time to arrange for 1,500 more ventilators as part of a contingency plan.

    Read more here.

    Mass production of ventilators continue in Istanbul
    Pakistan has emerged as one of the countries with the fastest rate of coronavirus infections in recent weeks, according to the World Health Organization [File: Emrah Yorulmaz/Anadolu]

    06:40 GMT – Worldwide coronavirus infections surpass 10 million: Reuters

    Global coronavirus cases exceeded 10 million on Sunday, according to a Reuters tally, a milestone in the spread of the disease that has so far killed almost half a million people in seven months.

    06:20 GMT – Czech Republic records highest daily number of new cases since April 8

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

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

    06:00 GMT – AP Interview: Delhi minister says city faces virus challenge

    The acting health minister for India’s capital said that New Delhi, epicentre of the country’s outbreak, is facing a major challenge due to a shortage of “trained and experienced” healthcare workers, in an interview with AP news agency

    With over 77,000 cases, New Delhi has been hit harder than any other Indian city. Infections had been projected to rise to half a million by the end of July in Delhi, the territory that includes the capital.

    As the rate of infections slowed down, the number has been revised to 400,000, and Acting Health Minister Manish Sisodia said he was hopeful that it could be less.

    Hello, this is Usaid Siddiqui taking over from my colleague Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur

    05:15 GMT – NYC St Patrick’s Cathedral to resume indoor mass

    St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City will hold its first indoor mass in three months on Sunday, but capacity will be limited to 25 percent and health precautions, including physical distancing, will be in place.

    Cardinal Timothy Dolan will celebrate a Sunday mid-morning mass, according to the Archdiocese of New York.

    04:09 GMT – Australia’s Victoria mandates coronavirus testing for travellers

    Australia’s state of Victoria will enforce coronavirus tests for returning travellers after a sharp spike in infections over the past two weeks, Reuters news agency reported the state premier as saying on Sunday.

    The country’s second-most populous state had 49 new cases on Sunday, its highest in more than two months and the 12th consecutive day of double-digit rises. The rest of Australia has seen almost no infections.

    Australia’s 7,700 cases and 104 deaths remain well below that of many other nations.

    03:53 GMT – UK considers locking down Leicester after COVID-19 spike

    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.

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock is examining legislation required for the shutdown after it was disclosed that Leicester, a city of around 350,000 people, has had more than 650 new COVID-19 cases in the two weeks to June 16, the newspaper was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

    As of Sunday, the UK recorded close to 312,000 cases, with at least 43,600 deaths.

    03:18 GMT – Ireland to keep its 14-day quarantine on British travellers

    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, Reuters news agency reported on Sunday, quoting the Sunday Times newspaper.

    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.

    A Ryanair aeroplane prepares to land at Dublin airport in Dublin
    Ireland has just over 25,000 coronavirus cases and 1,734 deaths [File: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters]

    02:57 GMT – Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 256 to 193,499

    The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 256 to 193,499, Reuters news agency reported on Sunday, quoting data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.

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

    02:48 GMT – US state of Hawaii to reopen campgrounds

    The city of Honolulu has announced that campgrounds will reopen for the first time in three months with limited permits to ensure physical distancing, AP news agency reported.

    Honolulu city will issue permits for just over 100 campsites across Oahu. Regular camp rules still apply.

    The Bellows Beach campground northeast of Honolulu will remain closed through September 4 for turtle nesting. All the other campgrounds have reopened.

    02:00 GMT – South Korea reports spike in cases

    South Korea’s new coronavirus infections spiked again on Sunday with 62 new cases, including 40 local infections, raising the total to 12,715, Yonhap news agency reported, quoting the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The new tally is higher than the 51 cases reported on Saturday, hitting over 60 for the first time since June 20.

    The government reported no additional deaths, the total death toll remaining at 282 – a fatality rate of 2.22 percent. More than 11,300 patients have recovered.

    South Korea
    Of the 12,715 cases in South Korea, more than 11,300 patients have fully recovered [Ahn Young-joon/AP]

    01:25 GMT – China reports 17 new COVID-19 cases, 14 in Beijing

    Mainland China on Sunday reported 17 new cases, mostly in the capital Beijing, according to Reuters citing government figures.

    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, 311 people in the city of more than 20 million have contracted the virus.

    China has at least 83,500 confirmed cases. The country’s death toll stands at 4,634.

    01:08 GMT – Mexico reports 4,410 new cases, 602 deaths

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

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

    00:30 GMT – Serbian defence minister, speaker test positive for coronavirus

    People suspected to have COVID-19 wait in front of the Hospital for Infectious and Tropical Diseases, in Belgrade [Marko Djurica/Reuters]

    The Serbian defence ministry said in a statement issued on Saturday that the defence minister, Aleksandar Vulin, has tested positive for the coronavirus but has no symptoms.

    Vulin was part of Serbia’s delegation led by President Aleksandar Vucic that attended a Victory Day parade this week in Moscow. Vucic met face to face with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but it was not clear whether Vulin did as well.

    Maja Gojkovic, the speaker of Serbia’s parliament, also tested positive, according to the state Tanjug news agency on Saturday. Serbia has so far registered more than 13,500 cases and 265 deaths from COVID-19.

    00:10 GMT – Brazil to jointly produce vaccine with Oxford, drug company

    The Brazilian government has announced an agreement with Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to produce a promising coronavirus vaccine that is undergoing tests.

    Brazil’s health ministry said on Saturday that the country will pay $127m and receive material to produce 30.4 million doses in two batches in December and January, which would allow it to quickly start inoculation efforts if the vaccine is certified to be safe and effective.


    Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. For all the key developments from yesterday, June 27, click here.

    Al Jazeera and news agencies


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