Hong Kong’s Education Bureau on Friday announced the suspension of all schools from Monday after a spike in locally transmitted coronavirus cases that has fuelled fears of a renewed community spread in the city.
Schools in the Asian financial hub have been mostly shut since February, with many having switched to online learning and lessons by conference call. Many international schools are already on summer break.
The city reported 42 new cases on Thursday, of which 34 were locally transmitted, marking the second consecutive day of rising local infections.
Some of the recent cases involved students and parents, said Education Secretary Kevin Yeung.
The total number of cases in the city since late January now stands at 1,366. Seven people have died.
It comes as many countries report a renewed increase in cases of the coronavirus.
On Thursday Australia, which had initial success containing the outbreak, reported 179 new cases, most of them in the city of Melbourne.
Meanwhile Tokyo confirmed more than 220 new cases Thursday, exceeding its record daily increase from mid-April and prompting concerns of widening of the infections. Tokyo’s more than 7,000 cases are about one-third of the nation’s total.
China’s first epidemic-related execution
A Chinese man who allegedly stabbed to death two people at a coronavirus travel checkpoint was executed on Thursday, the Supreme People’s Court said.
Ma Jianguo’s execution is believed to be the first carried out for an epidemic-related offence.
In Beijing alone, 113 people have been charged with epidemic-related crimes since a fresh outbreak emerged in early June, officials said this week.
Read the full story here.
Foreign Office advises against all cruises
Holidaymakers have been advised against all travel on cruise ships by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as fears grow that liners are unlikely to return to the seas before 2021.
The FCO updated its guidance on cruises as part of a review of its ban on non-essential travel during the pandemic, saying it advised against such holidays “at this time”.
This prevents travellers getting insurance.
Cabinet tackles Australia’s increased numbers
Australia’s national cabinet met on Friday to discuss slowing the number of citizens allowed to return from overseas, as authorities grapple with a Covid-19 outbreak in the country’s second-most populous state.
Victoria reimposed lockdowns in the country’s second-largest city, Melbourne, on Thursday for six weeks after a surge in cases linked to social-distancing breaches in hotels where returned travellers were held in quarantine.
The flare-up has forced five million Australians to stay home for all but essential business, led the rest of Australia’s states to ban Victorians from entering, and dealt a blow to Australia’s economic recovery.
Japan considers measures to control spread in clubs
Japan’s economy minister said on Friday that new measures were needed to prevent a further spread of coronavirus infections in nightclubs and bars.
The venues have emerged as a hot-spot since the country lifted a state of emergency in late May.
Yasutoshi Nishimura said he would meet with experts later on Friday to decide on those measures, inviting the mayors of Shinjuku and Toshima wards of Tokyo, where many of the new infections have been concentrated.
Record-breaking rises in US cases
More than 60,500 new infections were reported across the United States on Thursday, setting a one-day record as weary Americans were told to take new precautions and the pandemic becomes increasingly politicised.
The total represents a slight rise from Wednesday – when there were 60,000 new cases – and marks the largest one-day increase by any country since the pandemic emerged last year.
Infections have risen in 41 of the 50 states over the past two weeks.
Florida announced nearly 9,000 new cases and 120 deaths on Thursday, a record daily increase in lives lost.
California and Texas, the two most populous states, announced record increases in deaths on Wednesday.
Two-thirds immune in New York testing
Areas of New York have recorded a nearly 70 per cent rate of immunity to Covid-19, in what scientists have described as “stunning” findings that suggest they could be protected from any second wave.
About 68 per cent of people who took antibody tests at a clinic in the Corona neighbourhood of Queens received positive results, while at another clinic in Jackson Heights, 56 per cent tested positive.
Read more here: Scientists hail ‘stunning’ results that show areas of New York may have reached 68 per cent immunity
Coronavirus patients in Romanian hospitals discharge themselves
Hundreds of Romanian coronavirus patients have discharged themselves from hospital after a court ruled against mandatory hospitalisation.
Parliament moved on Thursday to pass a new law to enforce isolation amid a surge in infections.
The law allows those quarantined to challenge the decision in court.
Parliament’s move follows a court ruling that came into force last week.
The court decided that hospitalising and quarantining people without or with just mild Covid-19 symptoms violated fundamental rights and so could not be imposed by a government decree alone.
NFL bans post-game handshakes and top swaps
NFL players will not be allowed to shake hands of swap jerseys after games, according to safety protocols seen by Reuters on Thursday that are designed to stem the spread of coronavirus in the United States.
The detailed set of rules, which have been approved by the NFL Players Association, outline in detail how the league plans to keep players, coaching staff and others safe on game day. They include:
Opposing teams will be prohibited from post-game interactions within six feet of one another
Players on the bench will be prohibited from interacting with fans
The home team will be required to stay at the team hotel the night before each game.
Islands impose tighter rules for masks
Holidaymakers heading to the Balearic Islands this weekend will have to wear face masks whenever they leave their hotel rooms.
Governors in the islands confirmed they were tightening the rules on the use of masks hours after Catalonia became the first Spanish region since the end of the country’s state of emergency to make them obligatory at virtually all times in public.
What you might have missed
Bolivia’s President, Jeanine Anez, has tested positive for coronavirus. Ms Anez said in a tweet on Thursday that she was well and continuing to work while in isolation. “Together, we will come out of this,” she said.
Experts say more research is needed into the risk of coronavirus for unborn babies after another study suggested that in-utero transmission is possible.
When the Spanish flu pandemic hit the world after the First World War it came in three waves, with the second being the most deadly. And this is not an oddity. Of the last 10 big respiratory disease outbreaks, five have had significant subsequent waves, and four came after a summer trough.
With more than five million infections and 247,000 deaths, Latin America has reported more cases of Covid-19 than any other region of the world.
The Government has given the green light to overseas holidays. As of July 7, the FCO no longer advises against trips to 66 destinations, while 59 countries can now be visited by Britons without the need to self-isolate on their return.
Thousands of people protested on Thursday for a third day across Serbia against the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic after two nights of violence.