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Israel’s Gantz isolates after coronavirus exposure: Live updates

  • Israeli defence minister, Benny Gantz, has said he entered quarantine as a precautionary measure due to suspected exposure to a person infected with the coronavirus.

  • Italy called for new precautionary measures for passengers travelling to European Union countries from outside the bloc to contain the spread of coronavirus

  • The United States has officially notified the United Nations secretary-general of the country’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization even as it grapples with nearly three million cases of coronavirus.

  • Nearly 11.8 million people around the world have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and nearly 544,000 have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The US and Brazil have reported the most cases and the highest death tolls.

Here are the latest updates.

Wednesday, July 8

16:00 GMT – UK royal residences to open after virus shutdown 

Some of Queen Elizabeth II’s royal residences will reopen to the public later this month after the coronavirus shutdown, the charity that runs them said.     

Windsor Castle, west of London, where the 94-year-old monarch has been staying since the start of the pandemic, will be open for pre-booked, timed visits from July 23.

The Royal Mews and the Queen’s Gallery at her London home of Buckingham Palace will reopen the same day, as will the Palace of Holyroodhouse, her official residence in Edinburgh. 

However, the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, Frogmore House and Clarence House will stay shut over the summer months “owing to the operational challenges of social distancing”.

Visitors to the royal residences will be asked to book tickets in advance [Chris Jackson/Getty]

15:35 GMT – Merck agrees to supply potential COVID-19 drug Rebif to EU countries 

German drugmaker Merck said on Wednesday it had agreed to supply its potential COVID-19 drug Rebif to European Union countries should orders be placed for the treatment.

The comment followed a Reuters report earlier on Wednesday about a deal reached by the EU Commission and Merck for the supply of Rebif. A similar deal was struck with Roche about possible COVID-19 treatment RoActemra.

“Merck has been asked by the European Commission to be prepared to supply one of its medicines, Rebif (Interferon beta-1a), to EU countries upon request if and when the indication for COVID-19 treatment is adjudicated,” the company said in a statement to Reuters.

The drug is currently used for the treatment of relapsing multiple sclerosis [George Frey/Getty] 

15:15 GMT – Philippines records 2,539 cases, biggest single-day increase

The Philippines’ health ministry on Wednesday reported 2,539 new coronavirus cases, marking the biggest single-day increase in confirmed infections, and five additional deaths.

The ministry said total deaths have increased to 1,314 while infections have reached 50,359, a fifth of which were confirmed in the past five days.

The government has warned it might tighten anew the world’s longest lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.  

 Philippines eased quarantine restrictions in the capital, Manila in June to partially restart the economy Rolex Dela Pena/EPA]

14:35 GMT – Serbia’s president calls for halt of protests amid virus fears

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic called on demonstrators to stop attending anti-government protests in order to halt the further spreading of the coronavirus infections.

Vucic’s call came a day after police clashed with demonstrators who protested against a planned lockdown over the weekend. “

There are no free beds in our hospitals, we will open new hospitals,” Vucic said in his address to the nation.

Several opposition parties have urged their supporters to protest again on Wednesday afternoon [Marko Djurica/Reuters]

14:10 GMT – Italy calls for restrictions on non-EU arrivals

Italy called for new precautionary measures for passengers travelling to European Union countries from outside the bloc to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

Italy has suspended all flights from Bangladesh for one week due to a “significant number” of passengers who tested positive to COVID-19 on a flight to Rome on Monday.

“I would consider it appropriate to outline together new rigorous precautionary measures for arrivals from non-Schengen and non-EU areas,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said in a letter addressed to the EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides and Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn.

Italy, one of the worst affected countries in Europe, has started to gradually lift restrictions [Remo Casilli/Reuters]

13:45 GMT -Trump warns ‘may cut off funding’ if schools do not open

President Donald Trump, who has been pushing states to open American schools in the fall, threatened to cut off federal funding to those that did not open.

“The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!” Trump said on Twitter, pointing to schools reopening in some European countries with no problems.

It was not clear what specific aid the Republican president had in mind. States are responsible for primary and secondary education under the US Constitution but the federal government provides some supplementary aid.

13:15 GMT –

Hello, Hamza Mohamed here taking over from my colleague Umut Uras.

Hello, this is Umut Uras. I’ll be handing over this blog shortly to another colleague in Doha. 

13:00 GMT – EU must stand strong against coronavirus: Portuguese PM

Portugal’s Prime Minister Antonio Costa has said it is essential for the European Union to stand strong in its fight against the coronavirus outbreak and its effect on the bloc’s economy.

“We either come of it together or we die together,” Costa told online conference Global Leaders’ Day organised by the International Labour Organization. “We need a strong EU.”

EU leaders still have to agree on the makeup of any recovery package, and a meeting on the recovery fund and the next joint EU budget will take place in Brussels on July 17 and 18.

Portugal’s Antonio Costa: ‘We either come of it together or we die together’ [File: Reuters] 

12:20 GMT – Iran coronavirus death toll exceeds 12,000 as lockdown curbs ease

Iran’s coronavirus death toll has exceeded 12,000, the health ministry said, with 153 deaths in the past 24 hours, amid a sharp rise in the number of daily infections and deaths in the past week as lockdown measures have eased.

The total number of infections has reached 248,379, with 209,463 people having recovered, ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said in a statement on state TV.

Iran recorded 200 deaths from COVID-19 within a 24-hour period on Tuesday, the highest official figure recorded by the ministry.

11:40 GMT – EU reportedly secures potential COVID-19 drugs 

The European Commission has struck deals with drugmakers Roche and Merck KGaA to secure supplies of experimental treatments for COVID-19, a Commission source told the Reuters news agency.

The deals cover Roche’s arthritis medicine RoActemra and Merck’s multiple sclerosis drug Rebif – both seen as potential treatments for COVID-19 – and will secure supplies to any of the 27 EU member states willing to buy them, the source said.

According to Reuters, the source, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the topic, did not disclose the terms of the deals. Roche, Merck and a Commission spokeswoman were not immediately available for comment.

10:55 GMT – Nigeria restarts domestic flights amid easing coronavirus restrictions

Nigeria has resumed domestic flights after a hiatus of about three months as Africa’s most populous country relaxes restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the new coronavirus.

The airports for the capital, Abuja, and commercial hub Lagos reopened for flights. A handful of other airports will open on July 11 and the remainder of airports will resume flights on July 15.

The resumption of flights is the latest step by the government to reopen Africa’s biggest economy, which has also been hit hard by low oil prices. In recent weeks it has lifted a ban on interstate travel, allowed some pupils to return to school and permitted places of worship to open.

10:25 GMT – Spain’s Catalonia region makes masks obligatory everywhere

Catalonia’s regional authorities will decide to make it mandatory to wear masks regardless of people’s ability to maintain a safe distance, becoming Spain’s first region to do so, Catalan regional leader Quim Torra said.

Torra said the measure would come into force on Thursday.

Wearing masks indoors and outdoors is mandatory in Spain if people cannot guarantee a 1.5-metre distance from one another until a cure or vaccine for the coronavirus is found.

Catalonia government has imposed new restrictions to control a fresh COVID-19 outbreak [Reuters]

10:00 GMT – Oman coronavirus cases exceed 50,000: Health ministry

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Gulf state of Oman has exceeded 50,000, the Ministry of Health said.

The country reported 1,210 new cases of the novel coronavirus and nine deaths in the last 24 hours, taking its total count to 50,207 cases with 233 deaths.

A week ago, the health minister warned there had been a disturbing surge in infections in the last six weeks and urged people to comply with health measures.

9:40 GMT – Israel’s Gantz self-isolating due to suspected exposure to coronavirus

Israel’s defence minister has said he was self-isolating due to suspected exposure to a person infected with the coronavirus.

Benny Gantz‘s spokesman said: “Due to suspicion of being exposed to a coronavirus patient last Sunday evening, out of the desire and responsibility to avoid the risk of infection and after consulting with medical officials, Defence Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz decided to go into isolation, pending a corona examination and epidemiologic investigation.” 

Benny Gantz wears a protective mask to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus [File: AP] 

9:15 GMT – How to stay safe when dining out

Restaurants, pubs and cafes have reopened in parts of the United Kingdom as life gradually returns back to normal.

Doctor Amir Khan explains how you can stay safe when going out for dinner or drinks.

8:45 GMT – Hong Kong reports surge in local coronavirus infections

Hong Kong has reported 24 new coronavirus cases, with 19 of them being local infections, stoking worries of a renewed community spread in the city after it reported mostly imported cases for months.

The total number of cases in the global financial hub since late January now stands at 1,324. Seven people have died.

The total number of cases in Hong Kong since late January now stands at 1,324 [AP] 

8:15 GMT – Austria issues travel warnings for Bulgaria, Romania 

Austria is issuing travel warnings for Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova because of the worsening coronavirus situation in those countries and clusters in Austria involving people arriving from the region, the government said.

Anyone arriving from those countries must go into two weeks’ quarantine or show a negative test, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg told a news conference. Checks at the Hungarian and Slovenian borders will also be increased, they added.

7:50 GMT – Russia’s coronavirus case tally passes 700,000

The total number of cases of the novel coronavirus in Russia has passed 700,000, as the country reported 6,562 new infections in the past 24 hours.

The country’s coronavirus crisis response centre said 173 people had died from the virus overnight, taking the official death toll to 10,667.

Total infections stand at 700,792. Russia has said that 472,511 people have recovered. 

Russia’s coronavirus crisis response centre said 173 people died from the virus overnight [File: Getty Images] 

7:20 GMT – French PM says any new coronavirus lockdown would be targeted

New French Prime Minister Jean Castex has said in case of a new major coronavirus outbreak, any new lockdown would be targeted, not nationwide.

He also said in an interview with news channel BFM that after talks on pension reform were halted due to a two-month coronavirus lockdown, new talks with unions would start before July 20.

Jean Castex was appointed as France’s new prime minister last week [File: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters] 

6:45 GMT – Norway’s economy rebounded in May as lockdown lifted

The Norwegian economy rebounded in May after two months of steep decline as a gradual reopening of businesses from coronavirus lockdowns helped turn activity around, Statistics Norway (SSB) said.

Although the mainland economy, which excludes volatile offshore oil and gas production, grew by 2.4 percent in May from April, it has still contracted 8.9 percent since February, the agency said.

On March 12, Norway became one of the first nations in Europe to close down social interactions in its battle against the virus, but has lifted many curbs since, with a bounce in retail sales as the pandemic was reined in.

6:15 GMT – Germany’s confirmed cases rise to 197,341: RKI

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has increased by 397 to 197,341, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The death toll rose by 12 to 9,036, the tally showed. 

Hello, this is Umut Uras in Doha taking over from my colleague Kate Mayberry.

05:30 GMT – Fireflies of Tatsuno dance free as coronavirus curbs visitors

The coronavirus has forced the cancellation of Tatsuno’s annual firefly festival leaving the area’s thousands of fireflies to mate in peace – away from crowds of people.

The spectacle lasts just 10 days in early summer and, when the conditions are right, the fireflies take to the night skies to find a mate and lay eggs for the next year. The insects glow to communicate with each other. 

Festival organiser Tatsuki Komatsu told the AFP news agency he felt the fireflies were “looking for a partner more freely with no humans around” but hoped the event would be able to return in 2021.

“The brief shining of the light is so impressive, making me feel that I also have to live my best,” he said. 

A long exposure picture shows the light created by the fireflies in Tatsuno in Japan’s central Nagano prefecture [Philip Fong/AFP] 

04:35 GMT – Doubts over AirAsia’s ability to continue in business

Auditors for AirAsia, Southeast Asia’s biggest low-cost carrier, have warned there is a risk to the airline’s ability to continue in business as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The airline has said it is looking to raise more capital. On Monday, it posted its biggest-ever first-quarter loss – 803.3 million ringgit ($103m).

AirAsia was bought over by Malaysian tycoon and former music industry executive Tony Fernandes nearly 20 years ago and turned into a low-cost airline inspired by EasyJet in the United Kingdom. Its shares were suspended on Wednesday.

03:45 GMT – Panic buying hits Victorian supermarkets

Panic buying has hit supermarkets in Melbourne and Victoria again in advance of the six-week lockdown that comes into force in a few hours time.

Woolworths – Australia’s biggest grocery chain – has already reinstated buying limits for basics, including pasta, sugar and toilet paper.

03:35 GMT – Australia to consider limiting citizen and resident returns

Australia’s coronavirus emergency cabinet is to consider limiting the number of citizens and residents allowed to return to the country, following a spike in cases in Melbourne. 

Health authorities say many of the cases have been traced back to hotels where people who had returned from overseas were being quarantined.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says there are no plans to reimpose coronavirus restrictions across the country after the Melbourne outbreak prompted the closure of state borders and a citywide lockdown.

03:05 GMT – Scientists warn of coronavirus carries risk of brain damage

Scientists at University College London are warning of the risk of brain damage from coronavirus.

UCL researchers studied 43 patients who suffered either temporary brain dysfunction, stroke, nerve damage or other serious effects on their brain, and say the disease can lead to severe neurological complications including psychosis and delirium.

The study found nine of the patients were diagnosed with a rare condition called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), which is usually seen in children and can be triggered by viral infections.

The team said they would only usually see about one adult patient with ADEM a month, but it had risen to a “concerning” one a week while they were conducting the study.

“Given the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause,” said Ross Paterson, who co-led the study. “Doctors need to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes.” 

A human brain, part of a collection of more than 3,000 brains that could provide insight into psychiatric illnesses, at a psychiatric hospital in Duffel, Belgium [File: Yves Herman/Reuters]

02:35 GMT – UK to unveil mini-budget to boost coronavirus-hit economy

The UK government is to announce a mini-budget later on Wednesday to kick-start the economy after the prolonged coronavirus lockdown.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce the plan – with a focus on infrastructure spending – at 11:30 GMT. He is expected to offer 2 billion pounds ($2.5bn) in grants for households to improve home insulation, while 1 billion pounds ($1.25bn) will be available for public buildings including hospitals. 

Sunak is also expected to reveal new plans to create jobs for young people. You can read more on that story here.

02:15 GMT – New Zealand to charge man with coronavirus who escaped quarantine

New Zealand is to prosecute a 32-year-old man who briefly absconded from an isolation facility after testing positive for the virus.

The man was in quarantine in Auckland after arriving from New Delhi on July 3. He escaped through a fenced area of the hotel and visited a supermarket before returning to the facility.

“We take any breach of the COVID-19 rules very seriously,” said Commodore Darryn Webb, the head of managed isolation and quarantine. “Willfully leaving our facilities will not be tolerated, and the appropriate action will be taken.”

00:45 GMT – California reports more than 10,000 confirmed cases

The US state of California has reported a record daily rise in confirmed cases of coronavirus – some 10,201 cases.

The state has taken steps to curb the outbreak by suspending indoor activities and training contact tracers.

Other states have also reported record daily numbers of cases including Hawaii, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma and Texas, with the number of known cases across the US now approaching three million. 

00:00 GMT – Australia’s Victoria confirms 134 new cases after lockdown imposed

The Australian state of Victoria has confirmed 134 new cases of coronavirus, with Melbourne due to begin a six-week lockdown at midnight (14:00 GMT). 

About 4.9 million people in the country’s second-biggest city will be confined to their homes for all but essential activities.


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

Read all the updates from yesterday here.

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SCOTUS gives Trump victory in landmark reproductive rights cases

The US Supreme Court on Wednesday endorsed a plan by President Donald Trump’s administration to give employers broad religious and moral exemptions from a federal mandate that health insurance they provide employees covers women’s birth control.

The court ruled 7-2 against the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, which challenged the legality of the administration’s 2018 rule weakening the so-called “contraceptive mandate” of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, commonly called “Obamacare”, that has drawn the ire of Christian conservatives.

The two consolidated cases were Little Sisters of the Poor v Pennsylvania and Donald J Trump v Pennsylvania. 

These cases called into question the legality of the Trump administration’s 2019 rule broadening conscientious objection exemptions to the Affordable Care Act regarding abortion, contraception, assisted suicide, advance directives and other types of medical care.

“We hold today that the Departments had the statutory authority to craft that exemption, as well as the contemporaneously issued moral exemption. We further hold that the rules promulgating these exemptions are free from procedural defects,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote.

As a result of the Obama-era health law, most employers must cover birth control as a preventive service, at no charge to women, in their insurance plans.

This ruling allows employers to deny payment for birth control on religious or moral grounds.

The government had estimated that the rule changes would cause about 70,000 women, and at most 126,000 women, to lose contraception coverage in one year.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg cited those numbers in dissenting.

“In accommodating claims of religious freedom, this Court has taken a balanced approach, one that does not allow the religious beliefs of some to overwhelm the rights and interests of others who do not share those beliefs. Today, for the first time, the Court casts totally aside countervailing rights and interests in its zeal to secure religious rights to the nth degree,” she wrote.

Birth control has been a topic of contention since the law was passed. Initially, churches, synagogues and mosques were exempt from the contraceptive coverage requirement.

The Obama administration also created a way by which religiously affiliated organisations including hospitals, universities and charities could opt out of paying for contraception, but women on their health plans would still get no-cost birth control. Some groups complained the opt-out process itself violated their religious beliefs.

That opt-out process was the subject of a 2016 Supreme Court case, but the court, with only eight justices at the time because of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, did not decide the issue. It instead sent both sides back to see if they could work out a compromise.

After the Trump administration took over, officials announced a rule change that allows many companies and organisations with religious or moral objections to opt out of covering birth control without providing an alternate avenue for coverage.

But the change was blocked by courts after New Jersey and Pennsylvania challenged it.

Al Jazeera and news agencies

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Harvard, MIT file suit challenging ICE rule on foreign students

Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have asked a federal court to temporarily block a Trump administration rule that would bar foreign students from remaining in the United States if their universities are not holding in-person classes this semester, Harvard’s president said in an email on Wednesday.

Harvard President Lawrence Bacow said in an email addressed to the Harvard community: “Within the last hour, we filed pleadings together with MIT in the US District Court in Boston seeking a temporary restraining order prohibiting enforcement of the order. We will pursue this case vigorously so that our international students – and international students at institutions across the country – can continue their studies without the threat of deportation.” 

Raul Romero, a 21-year-old Venezuelan on a scholarship at Ohio’s Kenyon College, spent hours pondering his options after the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on Monday that international students taking classes fully online for the fall semester (from August to December) would have to transfer to a school with in-person classes or leave the country.

A college employee called Romero to say he would not be immediately affected but warned a local outbreak of COVID-19 could force the school to suspend in-person classes during the year. If that happens, he may need to go home.

Fret over deportation

Romero is one of hundreds of thousands of international students in the United States on F-1 and M-1 visas now faced with the prospect of having to leave the country mid-pandemic if their schools go fully online.

For some students, working from home and remote learning could mean attending classes in the middle of the night because of time differences, dealing with spotty or no internet access, losing funding contingent on teaching, or having to stop participating in research. Some are considering taking time off or leaving their programmes entirely.

Reuters News Agency spoke to a dozen students who described feeling devastated and confused by the Trump administration’s announcement.

In a Venezuela beset by a deep economic crisis amid political strife, Romero said his mother and brother are living off their savings, sometimes struggle to find food and do not have reliable internet at home.

“To think about myself going back to that conflict, while continuing my classes in a completely unequal playing field with my classmates,” he said. “I don’t think it’s possible.”

And that is if he could even get there. There are currently no flights between the US and Venezuela.

Remote work will not work 

At schools that have already announced the decision to conduct classes fully online, students were grappling with the announcement’s implications for their personal and professional lives. Blindsided universities scrambled to help them navigate the upheaval.

Lewis Picard, 24, an Australian second-year doctoral student in experimental physics at Harvard University, has been talking nonstop with his partner about the decision. They are on F-1 visas at different schools.

Harvard said on Monday it plans to conduct courses online next year. After the ICE announcement, the university’s president, Bacow, said Harvard was “deeply concerned” that it left international students with “few options”.

US President Donald Trump using a mobile phone during a roundtable discussion on the reopening of small businesses in the White House in Washington, DC [Leah Millis/Reuters] 

Having to leave “would completely put a roadblock in my research,” Picard said. “There’s essentially no way that the work I am doing can be done remotely. We’ve already had this big pause on it with the pandemic, and we’ve just been able to start going back to lab.”

It could also mean he and his partner would be separated. “The worst-case scenario plan is we’d both have to go to our home countries,” he said.

No July transfers 

Aparna Gopalan, 25, a fourth-year anthropology PhD student at Harvard, originally from India, said ICE’s suggestion that students transfer to in-person universities is not realistic just weeks before classes begin.

“That betrays a complete lack of understanding of how academia works,” she said. “You can’t transfer in July. That’s not what happens.”

Others were considering leaving their programmes entirely if they cannot study in the US, and taking their tuition dollars with them. International students often pay full freight, helping universities to fund scholarships, and injected nearly $45bn into the US economy in 2018.

“It doesn’t make much sense to me to pay for an American education, if you’re not really receiving an American education,” said Olufemi Olurin, 25, of the Bahamas, who is earning an MBA at Eastern Kentucky University and wants to pursue a career in healthcare management.

“It’s kind of heartbreaking,” she said. “I’ve been building my life here. As an immigrant, even if you are as law-abiding as it gets, you still are always waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under you.”

Benjamin Bing, 22, from China, who was planning to study computer science at Carnegie Mellon, said he no longer feels welcome in the US. He and his friends are exploring the possibility of finishing their studies in Europe.

“I feel like it’s kicking out everyone,” he said, of the US. “We actually paid tuition to study here and we did not do anything wrong.” 

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Turkish court to open Jamal Khashoggi murder trial

A Turkish court is set to open the trial of 20 Saudi officials indicted over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The trial will begin at Istanbul province’s main court in the district of Caglayan at 10am local time (07:00 GMT) on Friday morning, officials at the Istanbul prosecutor’s office told Al Jazeera.

Khashoggi, a 59-year-old Washington Post columnist, was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, after he entered the premises to obtain paperwork for his planned marriage.

Turkish officials say Khashoggi’s body was dismembered at the consulate by the killers and his remains are yet to be found.

In March, Turkish prosecutors indicted 20 Saudi nationals over Khashoggi’s killing, including two former senior aides to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the kingdom’s de facto ruler.


According to the indictment, Saudi Arabia’s former deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri is accused of establishing a hit team and planning the murder of the journalist, who wrote critically of the Saudi government.

The former royal court and media adviser, Saud al-Qahtani, is accused of instigating and leading the operation by giving orders to the hit team.

Other suspects are mainly the Saudi officers who allegedly took part in the assassination operation. The Turkish prosecutors have already issued arrest warrants for the suspects.

Andrew Gardner, the senior Turkey researcher of UK-based Amnesty International, said there was an expectation the trial would shed light on new evidence and also interrogate the evidence already available.

“This trial and other efforts by the Turkish authorities have been important in keeping the murder in the spotlight, not allowing it to be forgotten,” Gardner told Al Jazeera from Istanbul.

“This trial is not replacement for a UN-led international investigation. Hopefully it will be just another stepping stone on the road to ensuring such a probe takes place. And in that sense it is incredibly valuable,” he added.

The assassination of Khashoggi caused a global backlash against Saudi Arabia [File: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters]

Global backlash

The assassination of Khashoggi, who was a resident of the United States, prompted a worldwide backlash against Saudi Arabia and caused lasting damage to MBS’s image in the international arena.

The CIA reportedly concluded that the crown prince ordered the killing, an accusation denied by the government in Riyadh.


Agnes Callamard, the United Nations’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, also found “credible evidence” that MBS and other senior Saudi officials were liable for the killing, in an investigative report published in June 2019. Callamard is also expected to be present at Friday’s trial. 

The Saudi government called the assassination a “rogue operation” after repeatedly denying any involvement in the incident for weeks.

Ankara’s ties with Riyadh came under intense strain after the killing of the journalist, who was personally known by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan has said the killing was ordered at the “highest levels” of the Saudi government.

In December, a court in Saudi Arabia reportedly sentenced five people to death and three to jail time for the murder after trials that took place behind closed doors.

According to Amnesty’s Gardner, a key problem in investigating the murder of Khashoggi has been a lack of cooperation by the Saudi authorities and the absence of the people accused.

“And that really underlines again how much a UN-led international investigation is required. For that, the cooperation of all parties is needed with the Turkish and Saudi authorities sharing all the evidence they collected,” he said.

In May, Khashoggi’s son Salah said in a statement his family had forgiven his father’s killers.

Follow Umut Uras on Twitter: @Um_Uras

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Brazil coronavirus death toll passes 60,000: Live updates

  • Brazil surpasses 60,000 deaths from the virus after recording more than 1,000 fatalities over the last 24 hours, the country’s health ministry said.

  • The United Nations Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution demanding an “immediate cessation of hostilities” for at least 90 days in key conflicts including Syria, Yemen, Libya, South Sudan and Congo to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Italy’s hard-hit northern region of Lombardy accounted for considerably more than half of the nation’s latest confirmed 187 coronavirus cases – raising the total to 240,760 nationwide. The Ministry of Health also reported 21 new deaths, raising to 34,788 the total of known deaths.

  • Close to 10.7 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, over 5.6 million have recovered, and more than 516,000 have died, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Here are the latest updates.

Thursday, July 2

16:30 GMT – Swiss restrict entry from 29 countries

Travellers to Switzerland from 29 countries will from July 6 have to register with the authorities and go into self-isolation to prevent a resurgence of the coronavirus, the government said.

The list includes the United States, Sweden, Brazil and Russia, which have been designated as countries with a high risk of infection.

Visitors who have spent time in the named countries in the previous 14 days must notify the Swiss authorities immediately on arrival and then go into quarantine for 10 days, the government said.

15:45 GMT – Airbus chief says can save 3,500 jobs if Berlin, Paris offer handouts

European aircraft builder Airbus said it could save up to 3,500 jobs in Germany and France if government help is forthcoming, out of 15,000 layoffs planned worldwide over the coronavirus’ impact.

“We could preserve up to 500 jobs if the German government supported us via its programme to develop hydrogen drive for planes. Prolonging shorter hours schemes to 24 months could save 1,500 more,” chief executive Guillaume Faury told news weekly Der Spiegel, adding that 1,500 posts could also be saved in France.

15:00 GMT – Brazil tops 60,000 deaths 

Brazil surpassed 60,000 coronavirus deaths, the Ministry of Health said, citing a recent wave of contamination in southern and midwestern areas of the country.

COVID-19: Brazil deploys army to help protect Indigenous people

A total of 1,038 additional deaths were registered in the past 24 hours, taking the overall number of fatalities to 60,632, the ministry said.

The number of deaths in the south and the midwest regions grew by 37 percent and 36 percent, respectively, in the epidemiological week ended last Saturday, the ministry added, in contrast to setbacks seen in the North and Southeast and a trend of stability in the Northeast.

14:20 GMT – Serbia reports new spike of coronavirus cases

Serbia reported 359 new coronavirus infections and six deaths, marking a new spike within a persistent upward trend which has forced the return of some restrictions on public life.

The country had seemed to be on the verge of bringing the Covid-19 epidemic to a close, with the number of new cases in the low double-digits in late May and early June.

This week the authorities reimposed a ban on large gatherings and required residents to wear masks in public transport and enclosed areas [Marko Djurica/Reuters]

But since then new outbreaks have hit Belgrade and the town of Novi Pazar, where the health care system quickly became overwhelmed.

Infection numbers began to rise after the government fully relaxed restrictions, even becoming the first European country to allow spectators at football matches, with one game drawing a crowd of more than 20,000 people.

13:40 GMT – Britain will ease coronavirus quarantine for some countries

Britain will be easing the quarantine measures for air travellers, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, adding that more details of plan will be released this week.

“As we set out earlier this week … we will be easing health measures at the border by allowing passengers arriving from specific countries and territories to be exempted from self-isolation requirements,” the spokesman told reporters, adding that the details would come this week.

The government said on Friday it would ditch a 14-day quarantine period for people arriving from countries it deems to be lower risk for COVID-19, but has as yet not listed the countries that would include.

12:25 GMT – Novak and Jelena Djokovic test negative 

Tennis player Novak Djokovic and his wife, Jelena, have tested negative for the coronavirus ten days after announcing they had contracted the disease.

“Novak Djokovic and his wife Jelena are negative for COVID-19. That was shown by the results of the PCR tests that both had in Belgrade,” his media team said in a statement.

The top-ranked player tested positive for the virus after playing in an exhibition series he organised in Serbia and Croatia amid the pandemic.

Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki also contracted the virus after playing in the same matches.

12:10 GMT – Ireland: Masks to become mandatory

People in Ireland will have to wear face coverings in shops starting from July 10, says Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

11:36 GMT – Africa lost almost $55bn in travel and tourism: AU 

African countries have lost almost $55bn in travel and tourism revenues in three months due to the pandemic, the African Union commissioner for infrastructure and energy has said.

Amani Abou-Zeid told a news conference the air industry will be greatly affected, adding that: “Some airlines in the continent will not make it post-COVID-19.”

11:07 GMT – New infection spike in Japan’s capital

Tokyo has confirmed 107 new coronavirus infections, its highest daily tally in two months, but Japan’s chief cabinet secretary has said there is no need to reintroduce a state of emergency.

“It’s really unpleasant that it is increasing somewhat. I’d like to ask all Tokyo residents and everyone at businesses for their cooperation to prevent that,” said the city’s Governor Yuriko Koike.

10:44 GMT – England plans to reopen schools

UK Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson has unveiled his plan to reopen schools to all pupils in September.

Among other measures, students will be divided into separate groups, known as “bubbles”, to limit contact and to better isolate new infections. Schools should consider asking pupils in different bubbles to follow separate start and finish times but break times and free periods may be cut to ensure this does not reduce teaching time.

At present, only some students in certain year groups and the children of key workers are at school.

A year six classroom at St John’s Primary School as some children returned to the school as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown eases in Fulham, West London, UK [File: Kevin Coombs/Reuters]

10:28 GMT – Israel reports highest daily rise

Israel has recorded 966 new cases, the highest single-day spike since the virus was first detected on February 21.

As the number of active cases surged to 8,647 in recent days, after it dropped below 2,000 last month, the country’s Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said last week that the country was experiencing a second wave of the pandemic and that he would have imposed new restricting measures.

So far, the country registered 26,452 infections, including 324 deaths.

10:00 GMT – Saudi Arabia extends economic aid

In an effort to cushion the economic effect of the pandemic, Saudi Arabia has extended for an additional period several government initiatives to support the private sector and investors.

The news was reported by state news agency SPA, citing a decision by King Salman.

09:36 GMT – China urged to ramp up testing capacity

China’s local governments and medical institutes should ramp up and reserve coronavirus testing capacity in preparation for increased demand amid potential outbreaks, the National Health Commission has said in a guideline published on its website.

Two people are tested at the windows of a testing vehicle, following a new outbreak of the coronavirus disease in Beijing, China [Thomas Peter/Reuters]

Nucleic acid test results should be delivered within six hours for patients at fever clinics and within a day for those who volunteer to be tested, according to the guideline.

09:07 GMT – Indonesia reports record daily jump

With 1,624 cases in the past 24 hours, Indonesia reported its biggest jump in daily infections, says health ministry official Achmad Yurianto.

This brings the total number of cases to 59,394. The country also reported 53 new deaths, taking the cumulative death toll to 2,987.

08:40 GMT – Non-COVID-19 related deaths spike in Indian city 

A spike in non-coronavirus related deaths in the Indian city of Ahmedabad highlights the effect of the pandemic on general healthcare, doctors warn.

The rise in the number of deaths in the most populous city in western Gujarat state is due to patients with serious illnesses either not able to go to hospitals or being afraid to visit them because of the virus, doctors said.

A man lights an oil lamp inside the tomb of Ahmad Shah during a special prayer meeting for the victims of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), amid the spread of the disease in Ahmedabad, India [Amit Dave/Reuters]

Data collected from twenty-four Hindu crematoriums and four of the largest Muslim graveyards in the city shows there have been 3,558 deaths in April and 7,150 in May. During the same months the previous year, the number of reported fatalities were, respectively, 2,784 and 2,706.

The numbers contain “ominous signals” for the rest of the country, doctor Rajib Dasgupta, a professor of community health at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, told Reuters News Agency.

08:21 GMT – Emirates airline says issued over $517m in refunds 

Emirates, one of the world’s biggest long-haul airlines, has processed close to 650,000 refunds over the past two months, refunding over 1.9 billion dirhams ($517m).

The Dubai-based carrier is operating a limited number of flights on a reduced network after the coronavirus pandemic brought global aviation to a near halt this year.

Emirates expects to process more than 500,000 refunds in the next two months, Chief Commercial Officer Adnan Kazim said in a statement.

08:05 GMT – UK’s Boohoo responds to damning reports

UK’s Boohoo has defended its supply chain practices after it came under fire for allegedly putting workers at risk of infection in its Leicester factories.

“The boohoo group will not tolerate any incidence of non-compliance especially in relation to the treatment of workers within our supply chain and we have terminated relationships with suppliers where evidence of this is found,” Boohoo said, adding it would investigate the allegations and take any necessary action.

The accusations to the online fashion retailer were gathered by the workers’ rights group Labour Behind the Label which said it received reports of employees being forced to come into work while sick with COVID-19 and factories operating illegally throughout lockdown.

07:46 GMT – In change of tone, Trump says he is ‘all for masks’

After long resisting wearing a face mask in public during the coronavirus pandemic, US President Donald Trump has now struck a different tone, saying he is in favour of the protective covering. 

Trump holds up a protective face shield during a behind-the-scenes tour of a Ford facility in Michigan in May [File: Leah Millis/Reuters] 

“I’m all for masks. I think masks are good,” Trump told Fox Business in an interview on Wednesday. His comments were made after politicians from his party suggested he wear a mask in public to set a good example as the number of daily coronavirus cases in the United States exceeded 50,000.

Read the full story here

07:28 GMT – Russia’s latest figures

Russia has reported 6,760 new infections, pushing its nationwide tally to 661,165.

The authorities said 147 people have died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 9,683.

Gravediggers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) bury a person, who presumably died of the coronavirus disease, in the special purpose section of a graveyard on the outskirts of Saint Petersburg, Russia [Anton Vaganov/Reuters]

06:47 GMT – Non-EU countries won’t be in ‘safe’ travel list: Hungary

Hungary will not add non-European Union countries to a “safe” travel list, except for Serbia, as it was requested by the EU.

“For the time being we cannot support the EU’s request … because this would go against the healthcare interests of the Hungarian people,” Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in a video posted on his Facebook page.

06:15 GMT – Kazakhstan to implement softer second lockdown

In its latest effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Kazakhstan will close some non-essential businesses, limit travel between provinces, cut public transit hours of operation and ban public gatherings for two weeks.

The new restricting measures will be enforced starting from July 5, the cabinet said in a statement, adding that they could be tightened or extended later.

Hello, this is Virginia Pietromarchi in Doha, Qatar taking over the live blog from my colleague Ted Regencia.

05:08 GMT – Cuban capital to ease lockdown, joins rest of the country

Residents of Havana hold banners as they wait for the arrival of the Cuban medical personnel, who volunteered in the fight against coronavirus in the European principality of Andorra [Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters]

Cuba has announced it will begin easing a pandemic lockdown on Havana on Friday, while most of the rest of the country will move to phase two of a three-phase process towards normalization.

The capital’s 2.2 million residents will once more be able to move around on public and private transport, go to the beach and other recreation centres and enjoy a seaside drive just in time for the summer break. They can also dine and have a drink, although social distancing and wearing masks remain mandatory. Optional medical and other services will also resume.

Only a handful of COVID-19 cases were reported in Cuba last month, all but a few in Havana. Most of the Caribbean island, home to 11.2 million inhabitants, has been free of the disease for more than a month.

04:48 GMT – India’s tally of coronavirus infections crosses 600,000

India’s coronavirus infections surpassed 600,000 on Thursday, with 17,834 deaths, as authorities battled to contain the pandemic while easing lockdown rules, officials and the health ministry said.

The increase presents a severe challenge for India’s strained medical capacity and overburdened health system, Reuters news agency reported.

An easing phase called “Unlock 2” was announced on Monday, allowing more economic activities to resume even as some densely populated containment zones stay under lockdown.

04:04 – Tokyo confirms more than 100 coronavirus cases on Thursday, NHK says

 Tokyo’s daily count last exceeded 100 on May 2 [Koji Sasahara/AP]

Tokyo confirmed more than 100 new coronavirus infection cases on Thursday, public broadcaster NHK said, the Japanese capital’s highest daily tally in two months.

The city of 14 million initially sought to hold new daily cases below 20 since Japan lifted a state of emergency on May 25, but its tally has consistently exceeded 50 recently, according to Reuters news agency.

This week, the metropolitan government said it would move away from numerical targets and rely more on expert advice to rein in the virus and avert further economic slowdown. Tokyo’s daily count last exceeded 100 on May 2.

03:19 GMT – South Korea reports 54 new cases

South Korea reported 54 new cases as the virus continues to spread beyond the capital area and reach cities like Gwangju, which has shut schools and tightened social restrictions after dozens were found infected this week.

Health Minister Park Neung-hoo during a virus meeting expressed alarm over the rise of infections in Gwangju, which had one of the smallest caseloads among major South Korean cities before this week.

Park urged the city’s residents to refrain from unnecessary gatherings, maintain distance from others and wear masks.

The total number of cases nationwide has reached 12,904, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), with the death toll staying at 282.

02:55 GMT – Australia sets up checkpoints to contain Melbourne virus hotspots

Australian police set up suburban checkpoints in new coronavirus hot spots in Melbourne on Thursday as authorities struggled to contain new outbreaks in the country’s second-largest city, even as travel restrictions eased elsewhere, according to Reuters news agency.

Images published by the Australian Broadcasting Corp on Thursday showed police flagging down cars in suburban streets after 36 suburbs in Melbourne in Victoria state went into lockdown following a spike in new infections there. The state reported 77 new cases on Thursday, up slightly from the previous day and in line with two weeks of double-digit daily increases.

Australia has fared better than many countries in the pandemic, with around 8,000 cases and 104 deaths. However, the recent jump in Victoria has stoked fears of a second wave of COVID-19, echoing concerns expressed in other countries.

02:07 GMT – Colombia tops 100,000 coronavirus cases, posts new daily record

Confirmed coronavirus cases in Colombia now number 102,009, the health ministry said, 54,941 of which are active. Some 3,470 people have died [File: Fernando Vergara/AP]

Colombia’s confirmed coronavirus infections tipped across the 100,000 case threshold on Wednesday, as the country’s quarantine measures roll on and intensive care units fill, Reuters news agency reported.

Confirmed coronavirus cases now number 102,009, the health ministry said, 54,941 of which are active. Some 3,470 people have died.

Wednesday also marked the highest-ever daily increase in confirmed cases with an uptick of 4,163.

The mayor of the country’s capital Bogota said over the weekend the city should prepare for a stricter lockdown as ICUs reached 70 percent capacity, but ruled out tougher measures after the national government turned over hundreds of additional ventilators.

01:44 GMT – China reports five new coronavirus cases in mainland on July 1

China on Thursday reported three new coronavirus cases and two new asymptomatic cases in the mainland for July 1, compared with three cases a day earlier, the health authority said.

Two of the new infections were imported cases, the National Health Commission said in a statement, while the capital city of Beijing reported one new case. There were no new deaths.

As of July 1, mainland China had a total of 83,537 confirmed coronavirus cases, it said. China’s death toll from the coronavirus remained at 4,634.

01:15 GMT – Mexico coronavirus death toll hits 28,510, exceeding Spain

Mexico’s health ministry has reported 5,681 new cases of coronavirus infection and 741 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 231,770 cases and 28,510 deaths.

With the additional deaths, Mexico’s coronavirus toll exceeded Spain’s total number of fatalities from the virus, which on Wednesday was 28,363, according to a Reuters tally.

00:37 GMT – US coronavirus cases rise to almost 50,000 to set new daily record

Since June 4, the US city of Las Vegas has allowed the operation of gambling machines despite the threat of the spread of coronavirus [File: Ethan Miller/ Getty via AFP]

Coronavirus cases in the United States rose by almost 50,000, the biggest daily increase since the pandemic started, according to the latest Reuters tally late on Wednesday.

The number of US COVID-19 infections has surged over the past week, with daily figures setting new records several times in the past week, according to the tally. The United States reported at least 49,286 cases as of the end of Tuesday.

Arizona, California, Florida and Texas have led the increases and were among 14 states that have reported a more than doubling of case numbers during the month of June, according to a Reuters analysis as of the end of Wednesday.

The US has reported at least 2.68 million cases with over 128,000 deaths.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday warned any nation that fails to use every mechanism available to combat the still raging novel coronavirus is in for a “long, hard” battle.

00:01 GMT – New Zealand’s health minister Clark resigns

New Zealand’s health minister, David Clark, resigned on Thursday, following recent slip-ups in the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and personal mistakes.

“It has become increasingly clear to me that my continuation in the role is distracting for the government’s overall response to COVID-19 and the global pandemic,” he said in a news conference in parliament.

Clark said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had accepted his resignation.


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Read all the updates from yesterday (July 1) here.

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Millions of US jobs lost amid pandemic may never return

The latest job figures in the United States have just been released – and it appears that things are looking up – at least in the short term.

About 4.8 million positions were added as states began reopening.

But in total, tens of millions of jobs have already been lost this year, and as Al Jazeera’s Kristen Saloomey reports, some of those may be gone for good.

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More than 500,000 dead worldwide from coronavirus: Live updates

  • Global coronavirus cases now exceed 10 million and more than half a million people have died from the respiratory disease, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States accounts for about a quarter of all deaths.
  • Pakistan’s COVID-19 cases have passed the 200,000 mark after 3,602 new infections were reported on Sunday.
  • The US health secretary Alex Azar has warned the “window is closing” for decisive action to curb the virus as cases there surge.
  • The Australian state of Victoria has found 75 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours – the highest daily count in two months. Its top health official says the number is “absolutely concerning”.

Source: Al Jazeera Al Jazeera

Here are the latest updates:

Monday, June 29

15:45 GMT – WHO: ‘This is not even close to being over’

The pandemic is not even close to being over, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing.

“We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives. But the hard reality is that this is not even close to being over. Although many countries have made some progress globally, the pandemic is actually speeding up,” Tedros said.

The global body was planning to convene a meeting this week to assess progress in research towards fighting the disease.

15:30 GMT – Thousands of foreign workers stranded in Chile

In Chile, thousands of foreign fruit pickers are stranded because their savings have gone and borders remain closed.

Many are from Bolivia, which does not have full diplomatic ties because of a long-running territorial dispute with its neighbour.

COVID-19: Thousands of foreign workers stranded in Chile

14:56 GMT – ‘A recipe for disaster’: Anthony Fauci 

In an interview with CNN, top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci admonished Americans failing to comply with security measures calling it a “recipe for disaster”. 

“There are crowds. They are not physical distancing, and they’re not wearing masks. That’s a recipe for disaster,” said Fauci. 

Now we’re seeing the consequences of community spread, which is even more difficult to contain than spread in a well-known physical location like a prison or nursing home or meatpacking place”. 

The US reported more than 2.5 million cases and more than 125,000 deaths, the highest toll in the world. 

14:23 GMT – Kazakhstan heads for second lockdown

Law enforcement officers wearing face masks are seen on duty at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Almaty after authorities locked down the city to contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus [File: Ruslan Pryanikov/AFP]

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev gave his cabinet two days to prepare a package of coronavirus restrictions to control the spread of the coronavirus.

“In foreign observers’ opinion, the situation in Kazakhstan is critical, on the brink of spiralling out of control,” Tokayev said, rebuking senior officials for reopening the country in a disorganized way and allowing the novel virus to resurge.

Tokayev ordered officials to boost the number of available hospital beds by 50 percent within a month, deploy mobile laboratories to make tests more widely available and prepare for a long-term pandemic.

Since the country started lifting a nationwide lockdown in mid-May, the number of infections has skyrocketed to almost 38,000 from about 5,000.

14:05 GMT – Germany extends lockdown in one district 

Germany will extend by one week restricting measures enforced around one of the two districts that were put under lockdown on June 23. 

Some 600,000 people were forced into quarantine after more than 1,500 workers at a meat processing plant in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) tested positive. 

Bars, museums, galleries, cinemas, sports halls, gyms and swimming pools will remain shut down in  Guetersloh even though the outbreak was under control, said NRW’s premier Armin Laschet.

A lockdown in the neighbouring district of Warendorf will be lifted on Tuesday because the number of positive tests there was lower than in Guetersloh.

Employees of the Toennies factory, who are under lockdown after a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in the meatpacking plant, lean out the windows of their houses in Verl, Germany [Leon Kuegeler/Reuters]

13:37 GMT – Gilead prices drug remdesivir at $2,340 per patient

Gilead Sciences Inc has priced its COVID-19 drug candidate remdesivir at $2,340 for a five-day treatment in the US and some other developed countries.

The price tag is below the $5,080 per course recommendation by US drug pricing research group, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER), last week.

But it is more in line with a lower range suggested by ICER of around $2,520 to $2,800, if cheap steroid dexamethasone, which is not patent protected, is cleared for use.

While remdesivir is at the forefront of the fight against the coronavirus, dexamethasone has been hailed as a potential breakthrough treatment.

Hi, this is Virginia Pietromarchi in Doha, Qatar taking over the live blog from my colleague Hamza Mohamed.

12:55 GMT – 36 US states see rise in coronavirus cases

12:25 GMT – Mourning in the time of COVID-19

Adrian Brown has been covering the COVID-19 pandemic in Hong Kong since it started. But the story really hit home when his father died in the United Kingdom and Adrian was faced with the question: What does it mean to grieve for someone during a pandemic? 

In the latest episode of  Between Us , Adrian Brown shares his experience mourning his father’s loss from a distance – a reality that so many others have faced in the time of this pandemic.

12:15 GMT – Iran reports record coronavirus single-day death toll

Iran reported 162 deaths from the novel coronavirus, the highest single-day toll since the outbreak began in the country in February.

“This increase in numbers is in fact a reflection of our overall performance, both in terms of reopening and in compliance with health protocols,” health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said at a news conference.

Iran has reported 225,205 cases and 10,670 fatalities [Ebrahim Noroozi/AP]

11:40 GMT – Kenya loses $751m in tourism revenue due to coronavirus

Kenya has lost 80 billion shillings ($751.88m) so far in revenue from its tourism sector, about half of last year’s total, due to the coronavirus crisis, its tourism minister said on Monday. 

Tourism is Kenya’s second-largest foreign exchange earner after Diaspora remittances, grossing over 164 billion shillings in 2019 (about $1.54bn), drawing in 2.05 million visitors.

Tourists have kept away as Kenya shut its borders due to the coronavirus pandemic [Paula Bronstein/Getty]

11:15 GMT – Qatar reports 693 new cases, three deaths

Qatar recorded 693 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, the health ministry said, taking the total number of infections to 95,106. More than 80,000 of the infected have recovered from the virus. 

At least three people died from the virus, the ministry added, taking the death toll to 113.

Qatar has started to ease some of the restrictions as cases decline [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera] 

10:30 GMT – UAE government employees to return to workplaces on July 5

Employees of the United Arab Emirates federal government will return to their workplaces from July 5, while implementing social distancing measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the UAE official news agency WAM said on Monday.

Only employees suffering chronic disease are exempted from the decision to return to on-site working, it added on Twitter, citing the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources.

The Gulf country has reported 47,797 cases and 313 fatalities [Francois Nel/Getty]

09:25 GMT – Indonesia reports more than 1,082 cases, 51 deaths 

Indonesia reported 1,082 new coronavirus cases on Monday, taking the total number of infections to 55,092, health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said.

The Southeast Asian nation also recorded another 51 deaths, taking the total number of COVID-19 fatalities to 2,805, the highest in East Asia outside China. 

08:55 GMT – In Pictures: Coronavirus cases hit a new high in India

India has reported a new daily record of nearly 20,000 new infections as several Indian states reimpose partial or full lockdowns to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Health workers carry the body of a man at a crematorium in New Delhi [Adnan Abidi/Reuters]

India’s health ministry recorded 548,318 COVID-19 cases as of Monday, a jump of nearly 100,000 cases in a week in the world’s fourth worst-hit country after the United States, Brazil and Russia.

A healthcare worker walks in an alley of a slum during a check-up for the coronavirus disease in Mumbai [Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters]

The South Asian country’s death toll has reached 16,475, while 321,723 patients have recovered from the disease.

More photos here

08:25 GMT – PM Johnson says coronavirus has been ‘a disaster’ for the UK 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the coronavirus crisis had been a disaster for the United Kingdom but that it was not the right time for an inquiry into missteps.

“This has been a disaster,” Johnson told Times Radio. “Let’s not mince our words, I mean this has been an absolute nightmare for the country and the country has gone through a profound shock.”

He said, though, that this was not the right time for an inquiry in the handling of the crisis.

The UK has reported at least 312,000 coronavirus cases and 43,600 deaths [Phil Noble/Reuters]

07:55 GMT – Russia reports lowest coronavirus infections in two months

Russia on Monday reported 6,719 new cases of the novel coronavirus, the lowest one-day reported increase since April 29, pushing its nationwide tally to 641,156.

The national coronavirus taskforce said 93 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 9,166.

Only the US and Brazil have reported more cases than Russia.

Russia has reported the highest number of coronavirus cases in Europe [Sergei Chirikov/EPA]

07:30 GMT – Spain: EU to prepare list of coronavirus-safe countries by Tuesday 

The European Union will have a list of coronavirus-safe countries for travel purposes ready by Tuesday at the latest, Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said.

Officials are preparing a list of 15 countries that are safe for open borders based on epidemiological criteria, she told local radio Cadena SER, as the coronavirus pandemic wanes on most of the continent. 

The pandemic is waning across Europe with many countries easing restrictions [Nacho Doce/Reuters]

07:05 GMT – Labour leader: PM Johnson ‘asleep at the wheel’ 

British opposition Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer said on Monday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been asleep at the wheel during the coronavirus crisis and had been far too slow to make major decisions. 

“I think the prime minister has been asleep at the wheel, he has been slow, the comms, the communications has been terrible,” Starmer told ITV. “It began to break down frankly when Dominic Cummings put forward a ridiculous defence of what he had done in the North East.”

“They haven’t done the groundwork on test, trace and isolate,” Starmer said. 

In Europe, only Russia has reported more cases than the UK [Isla Binnie/Reuters]

06:45 GMT – EU’s recovery fund must include substantial grants: IMF

A substantial part of the European Union’s package of measures to help the economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic must consist of grants rather than loans, the International Monetary Fund’s chief economist told Der Spiegel.

“Otherwise it will not promote economic recovery,” Gita Gopinath was quoted as saying by the German magazine on Monday.

EU leaders agreed in April to build an emergency fund to help the 27-nation bloc rebound from the pandemic but the final details have yet to be agreed. 

06:30 GMT – Czech Republic records highest daily cases since April 3

The daily number of new coronavirus cases in the Czech Republic rose by 305, the highest since April 3, health ministry data showed on Monday.

That is the fourth straight daily rise and brings the total number of cases to 11,603. There have been 348 deaths in the country of 10.7 million.

Health Minister Adam Vojtech said on Sunday that the bulk of the new cases have been in a mining region in the east of the country. 

The health ministry said it will hold a news conference today on the COVID-19 situation in the country [Lukas Kabon/Anadolu]

06:00 GMT – Pakistan coronavirus cases pass the 206,000 mark

In Pakistan, coronavirus cases crossed 206,512 mark on Sunday with 3,602 new infections reported. 

At least 49 deaths were reported taking the overall toll to 4,245.

On Sunday, 23,009 tests were carried out, far below the WHO-recommended levels of 50,000 per day.

05:50 GMT –

Hello, this is Hamza Mohamed in Doha, Qatar taking over from my colleague Kate Mayberry.

05:30 GMT – Qatar to further ease coronavirus curbs

Qatar is to further ease coronavirus curbs from July 1, allowing the limited reopening of restaurants, beaches and parks.

The Supreme Committee for Crisis Management says public and private gatherings involving a maximum of five people would be allowed, and offices would be allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity.

The next phase of reopening – including flights from low-risk countries – is scheduled for August 1.

05:15 GMT – Thailand records 35th day without community transmission

Thailand has reported its 35th day without community transmission.

The Southeast Asian nation added seven new cases on Monday, all of them in Thais returning from overseas – on this occasion from India and the US.

02:45 GMT – School building boom for post-COVID UK

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to set out plans for a 10-year rebuilding programme for schools in England, a December election promise derailed by the coronavirus.

“As we bounce back from the pandemic, it’s important we lay the foundations for a country where everyone has the opportunity to succeed, with our younger generations front and centre of this mission,” Johnson said in a statement.

Johnson’s Conservatives were returned to power with a large majority in December, taking many seats that traditionally vote Labour, but its handling of the pandemic has eaten into its support. 

UK schools have suffered badly under the severe spending cuts introduced after the financial crisis in 2009. More on the spending plans here.

The UK government is trying to look beyond the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 43,000 people in the country, with a promise to rebuild England’s schools [Eddie Keogh/Reuters]

02:30 GMT – ‘Absolutely concerning’: Spike in cases in Australia’s Victoria state

The state of Victoria in southern Australia has found 75 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, something its Chief Medical Officer Brett Sutton has described as “absolutely concerning”.

The state has already embarked on a testing blitz, but Sutton says social distancing measures could also be reintroduced in the form of localised lockdowns.

“We have to do whatever is required to turn this around,” he told reporters. 

Monday’s daily cases are the highest in two months.

02:00 GMT – China adds 12 new cases, compared with 17 on Sunday

China has reported 12 new confirmed cases of coronavirus, including five imported cases.

The seven domestic infections were all in Beijing.

About a third of the city’s 20 million people have been tested for the virus since an outbreak tracked to the capital’s main wholesale food market on June 11. 

01:45 GMT – Korea reports 42 new cases, concern over clusters

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) has just announced 42 new cases of coronavirus – 30 of them local.

That is lower than the numbers reported over the weekend, but Yonhap news agency says South Korean authorities are concerned about continued clusters of infection, particularly in churches.

On Sunday, South Korea announced a three-level social distancing programme. The country is currently at Level 1, the lowest level. It will increase to Level 2 if the number of cases exceeds 50 for 14 days.

00:30 GMT – US accounts for a quarter of deaths as global toll passes half a million

The most recent numbers from Johns Hopkins show the death toll now stands at 501,206 since the first cases emerged in China late last year.

The US accounts for about a quarter of all deaths. Below are the five countries that have recorded the worst death tolls:

  1. US – 125,768
  2. Brazil – 57,622
  3. UK – 43,634
  4. Italy – 34,738
  5. France – 29,781 

More than 10.1 million people have been diagnosed with the disease.

23:30 GMT (Sunday) – LA bars told to close again after cases surge

Bars in Los Angeles and six other counties in California – together home to about 13.5 million people – have been ordered to close again after a surge in coronavirus cases.

Bars reopened on June 19.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry reporting from Kuala Lumpur. 

Read the updates from yesterday (June 28) here.

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All you need to know about Iran’s arrest warrant for Trump

Iran has issued an arrest warrant against US President Donald Trump and dozens of his aides, months after the killing of top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in an air strike in Iraq.

The US assassination of the top Iranian general on January 3 heightened tensions between the two archrivals, which have been at loggerheads since Trump pulled his country out of a landmark nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in 2018.

Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr on Monday said Trump, along with more than 30 others Iran accuses of involvement in the attack, face “murder and terrorism charges”, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported, without mentioning the names of any of his aides.

What happened after the assassination?

The US killed General Soleimani, who oversaw the Revolutionary Guard Corps’s expeditionary Quds Force, and others in the January attack near Baghdad International Airport.

The attack infuriated Shia Iraqi legislators who voted to remove more than 5,000 US troops deployed in the country.

Coffins of General Qassem Soleimani and others who were killed in Iraq by a US drone strike, are carried on a truck surrounded by mourners during a funeral procession, in the city of Mashhad, Iran [File: Mohammad Hossein Thaghi/Tasnim News Agency/AP Photo]

Following three national days of mourning, Iran retaliated for Soleimani’s killing with a barrage of missiles that targeted two airbases hosting US troops in Iraq in Erbil and Ain al-Assad. The troops had prior warning and none was killed, but more than 100 have since been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries.

Iran and the US have since refrained from further escalation, but the issue of US troops has been at the forefront of Iraqi politics.

The Soleimani Assassination | Start Here

What is Iran saying?

While Iran argues that Soleimani’s assassination constitutes an extrajudicial killing, Washington initially justified the killing by saying it was anticipating an “imminent attack” against the US personnel and embassies, but no proof was provided to Congress. 

It later said the killing was meant to deter Iran and its proxies from launching attacks on US bases in the region.

In its announcement on Monday, Iran sought the assistance of Interpol in carrying out the arrests.

US response

Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran, dismissed the announcement during a news conference in Saudi Arabia.

“It’s a propaganda stunt that no one takes seriously and makes the Iranians look foolish,” Hook said.

What could happen next? 

Interpol said in a statement its constitution forbade it to undertake “any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character”.

“Therefore, if or when any such requests were to be sent to the General Secretariat,” it added, “… Interpol would not consider requests of this nature.”

Hook referred to Interpol’s guidelines during his news conference in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

“Our assessment is that Interpol does not intervene and issue red notices … (of) a political nature,” he said.

“This is a political nature. This has nothing to do with national security, international peace or promoting stability.”

Alqasimehrsaid Iran would continue to pursue the matter after Trump left office.

Donald Trump delivers remarks following the US Military airstrike against Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad, Iraq, in West Palm Beach, Florida, US, January 3, 2020 [Tom Brenner/Reuters]

President Trump has in recent years embarked on a campaign to economically squeeze Tehran through successive rounds of sanctions targeting individuals and entities.

Dubbed the “maximum pressure” campaign, the strategy consists of complementary diplomatic, economic and military pressure methods to curb Iran’s influence in the region and to put an end to the country’s nuclear ambitions and missile programme.

Tensions might lead to yet another round of sanctions that would further weaken Iran’s dire economy, which has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, Saudi and US officials on Monday urged the international community to extend a United Nations arms embargo on Iran, warning that letting the ban expire would allow Tehran to further arm its proxies and destabilise the region. 

Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, and US Iran envoy Hook were speaking at a joint news conference in Riyadh, where the venue displayed weapons, including drones and missiles, that Saudi authorities accuse Tehran of sending to Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebels. 

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US Supreme Court rules to uphold abortion rights

In its first big abortion ruling of the Trump era, the United States Supreme Court on Monday struck down a Louisiana law regulating abortion clinics, reasserting a commitment to abortion rights over fierce opposition from dissenting conservative justices.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined with his four more liberal colleagues in ruling that a Lousiana law that imposes restrictions on doctors who perform abortions violates a right the court first announced in the landmark Roe v Wade decision in 1973.

In two previous abortion cases, Roberts had favoured more restrictions on the procedure.

“The result in this case is controlled by our decision four years ago invalidating a nearly identical Texas law,” Roberts wrote, although he did not join the opinion written by Justice Stephen Breyer for the other liberals.

In his dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, “Today a majority of the Court perpetuates its ill-founded abortion jurisprudence by enjoining a perfectly legitimate state law and doing so without jurisdiction.”

President Donald Trump’s two appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, were in dissent, along with Justice Samuel Alito. The presence of the new justices is what fueled hopes among abortion opponents, and fears on the other side, that the Supreme Court would be more likely to uphold restrictions.

The Republican-backed Louisiana law included a requirement that doctors who perform abortions have a difficult-to-obtain arrangement called “admitting privileges” at a hospital within 48km (30 miles) of the abortion clinic.

Abortion opponents called the ruling a “bitter disappointment”.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, said it “demonstrates once again the failure of the Supreme Court to allow the American people to protect the well-being of women from the tentacles of a brutal and profit-seeking abortion industry”.

And while praising the decision, supporters of abortion rights cautioned against complacency going forward.

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said Monday’s decision by no means ends the struggle over abortion rights in legislatures and the courts.

“We’re relieved that the Louisiana law has been blocked today but we’re concerned about tomorrow,” Northrup said. “With this win, the clinics in Louisiana can stay open to serve the one million women of reproductive age in the state. But the Court’s decision could embolden states to pass even more restrictive laws when clarity is needed if abortion rights are to be protected.”

Similar case

The Louisiana law is virtually identical to one in Texas that the court struck down in 2016, when conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the four liberal justices to defend abortion rights, but Kennedy retired in 2018 and Republican President Donald Trump replaced him with conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh, moving the court further to the right.

Abortion rights demonstrators rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, which struck down a restrictive Louisana law on Monday. [File: Jacquelyn Martin File/AP Photo]

The court reviewed a September 2018 ruling by the New Orleans-based Fifth US Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld the Louisiana law. The Supreme Court in February on a five-four vote prevented the law from going into effect while litigation over its legality continued.

Since Kavanaugh joined the court last October, it has sent mixed signals on abortion. The court in June declined to hear a bid by Alabama to revive a Republican-enacted law that would have effectively banned abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

In May, it refused to consider reinstating Indiana’s ban on abortions performed because of fetal disability or the sex or race of the fetus while upholding the state’s requirement that fetal remains be buried or cremated after an abortion.

Al Jazeera and news agencies

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Sixteen NBA players test positive for coronavirus: Live updates

  • Sixteen NBA players have tested positive for the new coronavirus in the first wave of mandatory tests as the league restart approaches.
  • United States health officials believe as many as 20 million Americans have contracted the coronavirus. That’s nearly 10 times as many infections as the 2.3 million cases that have been confirmed.
  • The pandemic is getting worse globally, with the number of infections expected to reach 10 million next week, World Health Organization (WHO) head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said.
  • More than 9.6 million people around the world have been diagnosed with COVID-19, while nearly 4.8 million have recovered, and more than 489,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Here are the latest updates:

Friday, June 26

15:45 GMT – Sixteen NBA players test positive as league restart nears

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association said that 16 players tested positive for coronavirus in the first wave of mandatory tests done in preparation for the restart of the season.

Those 16 players were part of a pool of 302 tested on Tuesday. Tests continue for all 22 teams that will be participating in the restart at the Disney campus near Orlando, Florida, next month.

The player names were not disclosed. However, some players, such as Malcolm Brogdon of Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings teammates Jabari Parker and Alex Len have publicly acknowledged they have tested positive.

The league and the union say that “any player who tested positive will remain in self-isolation until he satisfies public health protocols for discontinuing isolation and has been cleared by a physician.”

Malcolm Brogdon of Indiana Pacers has publicly disclosed the tested positive for coronavirus [Reuters] 

15:15 GMT – Texas governor orders bars to close amid surge in virus cases

Texas Governor Greg Abbott  ordered the closure of all bars that get 51 percent of their gross receipts from alcohol, and the curbing of other business activity due to surging cases of the novel coronavirus in the state.

Abbott also said rafting and tubing outfitters on Texas’ popular rivers must close and that outdoor gatherings of 100 people or more must be approved by local governments. 

“At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars,” Abbott said. “The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and protect public health.” He did not say when bars might reopen again.

Texas has reported more than 17,000 confirmed new cases in the last three days with a record high positive tests of 5,996 on Thursday.

Governor Greg Abbott [did not say when bars might reopen again File: Eric Gay/AP] 

14:45 GMT – Brazil university in talks to test Italian coronavirus vaccine

The Federal University of Sao Paulo (Unifesp) is in talks to test a potential coronavirus vaccine developed by Italian researchers, the dean of the Brazilian university told the Reuters news agency.

“We are already in advanced discussions with Italy’s Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute,” Unifesp President Soraya Smaili said in an interview. “We expect to bring it here, the accord is already moving forward and we’ll be able to do a lot of studies with this vaccine.”

The Italian researchers want to conduct midstage trials and final Phase III studies involving thousands of subjects in Brazil, Smaili said.

14:30 GMT – IMF’s Georgieva: Virus crisis could ultimately test IMF resources

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said that the global economic crisis spurred by the coronavirus could ultimately test the Fund’s one trillion dollars in resources, “but we are not there yet.”

Georgieva told the Reuters news agency that it was now clear that recovery from global business and travel lockdowns would have to get under way amid the widespread presence of the virus, and that IMF member countries were standing by to provide more support to the Fund if necessary.

Georgieva says IMF member countries are ready to provide more support to the Fund if necessary [Remo Casilli/Reuters]

14:00 GMT – Astrazeneca most advanced in COVID-19 vaccine race: WHO

Astrazeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate is probably the world’s leading candidate and most advanced in terms of development, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist said.

Soumya Swaminathan said that Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate was also “not far behind” Astrazeneca’s, among more than 200 candidates, 15 of which have entered clinical trials.

The WHO is in talks with multiple Chinese manufacturers, including Sinovac, on potential vaccines, she said.

Swaminathan, speaking to a news briefing, called for considering collaborating on COVID-19 vaccine trials, similar to the WHO’s ongoing Solidarity trial for drugs.

13:40 GMT – American Airlines to stop limiting seat capacity 

American Airlines said on Friday it would stop limiting the number of seats it sells on each flight from July 1.

The US carrier also said tickets for travel through September 30 would not incur change fees prior to travel.

Hello, this is Umut Uras in Doha taking over from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed.

12:32 GMT – Ivanisevic, the coach of Djokovic, tests positive for virus

Former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic, who now coaches Novak Djokovic and attended the top-ranked player’s exhibition series in Serbia and Croatia, said he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Croatian great, who won his only Grand Slam title at the All England Club in 2001, wrote on Instagram that he tested positive after two negative tests in the last 10 days.

Ivanisevic, who said he has no symptoms, attended the Adria Tour exhibition series, a charity event hosted by Djokovic in Belgrade and at the Adriatic resort of Zadar in Croatia.

Four players from those events, including Djokovic and his wife, have said they have the virus. Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki all said they also have it.

11:20 GMT – Beijing eases lockdown as mass testing gathers pace

Beijing has partially lifted a weeks-long lockdown imposed in the Chinese capital to head off a feared second wave of coronavirus infections after three million samples were taken in two weeks, officials said.

Dozens of residential compounds across the city were shut down, with authorities rolling out a mass testing campaign to root out any remaining cases.

China is trying to contain the outbreak linked to the Xinfadi wholesale food market, Beijing’s biggest supplier of produce and meat [Getty Images]

The lockdown was eased on Tuesday for seven apartment blocks after residents tested negative for the virus, officials said at a Friday briefing. The remaining blocks are still in lockdown.

Eleven new virus cases across Beijing were announced on Friday, bringing the total number of infections in the capital since the June 11 outbreak to 280. 

10:50 GMT – India’s cases spike again to near half-million

India neared half a million confirmed coronavirus cases with its biggest 24-hour spike of 17,296 new infections, prompting a delay in resumption of regular train services of more than a month.

The new cases took India’s total to 490,401. The Health Ministry also reported 407 more deaths in the previous 24 hours, taking its total fatalities to 15,301.

The ministry said the recovery rate was continuing to improve at 57.43%. Also, deaths per 100,000 stood at 1.86 against the world average of 6.24 per 100,000, it said.

Coronavirus: Indian hospitals overwhelmed with thousands of cases

Indian Railways was due to resume regular train service on June 30 but said Thursday that it wouldn’t fully resume until August 12.

Trains were halted when the government declared a nationwide lockdown in late March. Special trains linking main cities have been running since mid-May as part of an easing of the lockdown.

09:35 GMT – Record rise in virus cases as Ukraine warns of ‘serious wave’

Ukraine reported a record daily increase in coronavirus cases as authorities warned lockdowns may have to be re-imposed if people continued to flout restrictions.

Pandemic hits Ukraine’s surrogate birthing industry

Health authorities recorded 1,109 new coronavirus infections in the previous 24 hours, bringing Ukraine’s total to more than 41,000.

Ukrainian officials have repeatedly complained that people are ignoring social distancing and other safety rules after anti-virus restrictions were eased last month.

09:00 – GMT – Indonesia reports 1,240 new coronavirus cases

Indonesia reported 1,240 new coronavirus infections, taking the total number of cases to 51,427.

There were 63 more deaths recorded, with total fatalities now at 2,683, said health ministry official Achmad Yurianto.

The death toll from COVID-19 in Indonesia is the highest in East Asia outside of China.

08:15 GMT – Vietnam PM warns of economic calamity at ASEAN summit

Vietnam warned the virus pandemic had swept away years of economic gains as Southeast Asian leaders met online for a summit also dominated by anxiety over Beijing’s moves in the flashpoint South China Sea.

“It has swept away the successes of recent years… threatening the lives of millions of people,” Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said in a sobering opening address.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (C) addresses The 36th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit video conference [Reuters]

He emphasised the “serious consequences” of the pandemic for economic development among ASEAN’S members.

ASEAN General Secretary Lim Jock Hoi confirmed the bleak outlook, warning the region’s economy is expected to contract for the first time in 22 years.

08:12 GMT – Russia reports lowest daily rise in cases since late April

Russia on Friday reported 6,800 new coronavirus cases, the first daily rise below 7,000 since late April, taking its nationwide tally to 620,794.

The country’s coronavirus response centre said 176 people had died of the virus in the last 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 8,781.

07:50 GMT – How the coronavirus crisis exposes India’s social inequalities

Under India’s healthcare system, everyone should be able to receive either free or highly subsidised care at those public hospitals depending on their income.

But the system has been chronically underfunded, meaning government hospitals are overburdened and patients often face days-long waits for even basic treatments.

Read more here

06:53 GMT – Australia gets second wave of toilet paper hoarding

Australia’s supermarket chains reintroduced purchase limits on toilet paper and other household items as a spike in coronavirus cases in the state of Victoria set off a fresh round of panic-buying over fears of a new stay-at-home order.

Panic buying over coronavirus fears

Woolworths Group Ltd and Coles Group Ltd, which together account for two-thirds of Australian grocery sales, said they were once again limiting purchases of toilet paper and paper towels to one or two packs per person after photos circulated on social media showing empty shelves in stores.

With only 7,500 cases in total and 104 deaths, Australia has been easing restrictions on movement, but a string of double-digit increases in cases in the second-most populous state, Victoria, led to a pause in the reopening there – and prompted shoppers to hoard.

06:44 GMT – Pakistan’s coronavirus testing continue to fall

Testing has continued to fall in Pakistan, one of the country’s with the fastest rates of growth of the coronavirus.

On Thursday, Pakistan tested 21,041 patients, of whom 2,775 tested positive, a test-positive rate of 13 percent. Pakistan’s countrywide tally of cases rose to 195,745 cases on Thursday, with 59 deaths taking the death toll to 4,037.

Sindh and Punjab provinces, the country’s two most populous regions, appear to be the main areas where testing has dropped, according to government data.

Testing in Sindh has roughly halved over the course of this week to 6,458 tests, while in Punjab testing remains at a level more than 2,000 tests below its peak. 

05:49 GMT – Millions of Yemeni children ‘may starve amid pandemic’

Millions of children could be pushed to the brink of starvation as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps across war-torn Yemen amid a “huge” drop in humanitarian aid funding, the UN children’s agency warned.

The stark prediction comes in a new UNICEF report, “Yemen five years on: Children, conflict and COVID-19.” It said the number of malnourished Yemeni children could reach 2.4 million by the end of the year, a 20 percent increase in the current figure.

“As Yemen’s devastated health system and infrastructure struggle to cope with coronavirus, the already dire situation for children is likely to deteriorate considerably,” UNICEF warned.

“If we do not receive urgent funding, children will be pushed to the brink of starvation and many will die,” said Sara Beysolow Nyanti, UNICEF’s representative to Yemen. “The international community will be sending a message that the lives of children … simply do not matter.”

Cemeteries overflow in Aden as COVID-19 deaths spike in Yemen (2:45)

05:40 GMT – Severe COVID-19 can damage the brain, preliminary study finds

A preliminary study of patients hospitalised with COVID-19 has found the disease can damage the brain, causing complications such as stroke, inflammation, psychosis and dementia-like symptoms in some severe cases.

The findings, published in the Lancet Psychiatry journal on Thursday, are the first detailed look at a range of neurological complications of COVID-19, the researchers said, and underline a need for larger studies to find the mechanisms behind them and assist the search for treatments.

“This (is) an important snapshot of the brain-related complications of COVID-19 in hospitalised patients. It is critically important that we continue to collect this information to really understand this virus fully,” said Sarah Pett, a University College London professor who co-led the work.

The study looked in detail at 125 cases from across the UK.

05:28 GMT – India’s cases spike again to near half-million

India neared half a million coronavirus cases on Friday, recording its biggest 24-hour spike with 17,296 new infections.

The cases took India’s total to 490,401. The health ministry also reported another 407 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 15,301.

Indian Railways was due to resume regular train services on June 30 but said on Thursday that services would not fully resume until August 12. Special trains linking main cities have been running since mid-May as part of the easing of the lockdown.

Supporters of the Congress party wearing protective gear attend a protest demanding better treatment for people infected with the coronavirus and other patients in the state government-run hospitals in Kolkata, India, on June 25, 2020 [Rupak De Chowdhuri/ Reuters]

05:19 GMT – Vietnam warns of economic calamity at ASEAN summit

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc warned the pandemic had swept away years of economic gains as Southeast Asian leaders met online to discuss a regional emergency fund to tackle the crisis.

In a sobering opening address, Phuc emphasised the “serious consequences” of the pandemic for economic development among ASEAN’S members, saying: “It has swept away the successes of recent years … threatening the lives of millions of people.”

A high-priority project for Friday’s summit is the establishment of an ASEAN “COVID-19 response fund,” which could be used to help member states purchase medical supplies and protective suits. Thailand has pledged to contribute $100,000.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc addresses The 36th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit video conference [Luong Thai Linh/Pool via Reuters]

04:16 GMT – China posts a further decline in infections

China reported a further decline in newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Friday, with 13 cases.

Eleven were in Beijing, where mass testing has been carried out following an outbreak that appears to have been largely brought under control.

The other two cases were brought by Chinese travellers from overseas, according to the National Health Council.

03:39 GMT – US sets one-day record for COVID-19 cases

The number of US coronavirus infections rose by at least 39,818 cases at the end of Thursday, according to a Reuters news agency tally, marking the biggest daily increase in the country since the start of the pandemic.

Several states across the US have reported record rises in cases this week, including Texas, Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wyoming.

More than 36,000 new cases were recorded nationwide on Wednesday, a few hundred shy of the record 36,426 on April 24.

Tubers prepare to float the Comal River in Texas despite a recent spike in COVID-19 cases [Eric Gay/ AP]

02:55 GMT – US sent $1.4bn in relief payments to dead people

Nearly 1.1 million coronavirus relief payments totalling some $1.4bn went to dead people in the United States, according to a new government watchdog study.

The finding came in a Government Accountability Office report that reviewed payments from a $2.4 trillion coronavirus relief package enacted in March. The erroneous payments were made because of confusion over whether dead people should receive payments, the report said.

While the government has asked survivors to return the money, it is not clear whether they have to.

01:47 GMT – Mexico passes 25,000 coronavirus deaths

Mexico pushed past 25,000 reported coronavirus deaths and 200,000 confirmed cases on Thursday, as the finance minister said he tested positive and would self-isolate while working from home.

The Health Department reported 6,104 newly confirmed infections, one of the highest 24-hour counts so far. That brought the country’s confirmed cases to 202,951. Deaths increased by 736, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 25,060.

Mexico’s Finance Ministry said it has initiated epidemiological contact tracing after Finance Minister Arturo Herrera tested positive for the coronavirus.

Herrera said he had only “minor symptoms”.

Sabina Hernandez Bautista, 59, prepares food in a stall inside Mexico City’s Mercado de San Cosme, where some vendors have put in place their own protective measures against coronavirus while others continue to work without masks or barriers [Rebecca Blackwell/ AP]

01:33 GMT – Nike posts quarterly loss after store closures

Nike lost $790m in the fourth quarter, with soaring digital sales failing to make up for the loss of revenue from shuttered stores in most of the world.

The world’s largest sports apparel maker said its revenue fell 38 percent to $6.31bn in the three-month period ending May 31.

Nike said 90 percent of its stores in North America, Europe and Latin America were closed during the period because of the coronavirus pandemic. Sales fell 46 percent in both North America and Europe, but just 3 percent in China as stores reopened there.

01:25 GMT – WHO warns of ‘very significant’ resurgence in Europe

Dr Hans Henri P Kluge, the World Health Organization regional director for Europe, expressed concern over a resurgence of coronavirus infections on the continent, saying that last week that Europe saw an increase in weekly cases for the first time in months.

“Some 30 countries have seen increases in new cumulative cases over the past two weeks,” he said in a statement. “In 11 of these countries, accelerated transmission has led to very significant resurgence that if left unchecked will push health systems to the brink once again in Europe.”

The WHO later identified the 11 countries and territories as Armenia, Sweden, Moldova, North Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Kosovo.

Queues ramp up at Mexican food banks as COVID hits the poor (2:23)

00:20 GMT – Europe-wide study shows child virus deaths ‘extremely rare’    

Fewer than one in a hundred children who test positive for COVID-19 end up dying, though a small but significant percentage develop severe illness, according to a new Europe-wide study.

A team of researchers led by experts in the United Kingdom, Austria and Spain looked at the outcomes of 582 children under age 18 who were infected with the new coronavirus, and found more than 60 percent required hospital treatment and 8 percent needed intensive care.

Only four died.

On the other hand, more than 90 children, or 16 percent, showed no symptoms at all.

Marc Tebruegge, from University College London’s Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, said that while the results should not be extrapolated for the general population, they were nevertheless reassuring.

“The case fatality cohort was very low and it is likely to be substantially lower still, given many children with mild disease would not have been brought to medical attention and therefore not included in this study,” he said.

“Overall, the vast majority of children and young people experience only mild disease,” added Tebruegge, lead author of the study published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal.

“Nevertheless, a notable number of children do develop severe disease and require intensive care support,” said Tebruegge, “and this should be accounted for when planning and prioritising healthcare resources as the pandemic progresses.”

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives.

You can find all the key developments from yesterday, June 25, here

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