Hong Kong extends restrictions as coronavirus cases surge

Monday, July 27

09:50 GMT – Spain hopes UK to lift quarantine on Spanish island quickly

Spanish Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said she hoped Britain could lift the quarantine imposed on people returning from the Balearic and Canary Islands very quickly, “today rather than tomorrow.”

After British authorities imposed this weekend a quarantine on travellers coming from Spain, the government said it would focus its efforts on convincing them to lift it for the two archipelagos.

“We’ve been talking all weekend,” Maroto said. “What we’d like is for quarantines to be lifted on the islands as early as possible and we hope it will be today rather than tomorrow.”

09:35 GMT – We need to build back trust, Spain says after UK quarantine blow

Spain is working on regaining confidence and convincing other countries that its coronavirus outbreak is under control, a minister has said, after Britain imposed a quarantine, threatening a tourist season already hanging on by a thread.

“We know that we are sailing through waters whose maps and characteristics are unknown to us, what we have to do is to regain that confidence and that element of security that is essential for the tourist activity”, Agriculture Minister Luis Planas told Antena 3 TV station.

Britain on Saturday shocked Madrid, and UK travellers, with an unexpected 14-day quarantine on travellers coming from Spain. The Spanish government is trying to convince London that it should at least exclude the Balearic and Canary islands, whose infection rates are very low, from the measure.

“I think the situation is under control but obviously there is a risk as in the rest of the European Union and other countries in the world,” Planas said, pointing out that Spain was not the only country witnessing a rebound in cases after lifting a lockdown.

09:20 GMT – Pakistan lowest number of coronavirus deaths since early May

Pakistan recorded its lowest number of deaths due to the coronavirus in a day since May 3 on Sunday, with 20 patients succumbing to COVID-19, taking the country’s overall death toll to 5,932. There were 1,176 new cases of the virus recorded across the country, taking the total number of cases to 274,289. While testing has remained low, with just 22,056 tests conducted on Sunday, the country’s test-positive rate registered at 5.3 percent.

Senior government officials on Sunday claimed the country has achieved success against the virus due to its “smart lockdown” policy, of not shutting down entire cities, but rather specific neighbourhoods with higher rates of infection. Dr Zafar Mirza, the head of the country’s health ministry, however, warned that the Muslim festival of Eid-ul-Adha this weekend, followed by the Shia Muslim observance of Ashura, could lead to a spike to infections due to the holding of large religious congregations.

Studies on Pakistan’s experience with the coronavirus are still in their preliminary stages, but one sero-prevalance survey conducted by multinational pharmaceutical firm Getz Pharma suggests the number of people who have, or have earlier had, the virus could be as high as 17.5 percent among the country’s urban, office-going population. The Getz study suggests Pakistan’s official number of cases, 274,289, is a small fraction of the true spread of the virus. It found that most carriers of the virus in Pakistan – as many as 90 percent – appear to be symptom-free.

Hong Kong authorities have reported 145 new cases of coronavirus, of which 142 were locally transmitted, setting a new daily high just hours after the city announced its toughest measures yet to curb a community outbreak.

07:55 GMT – Spain’s Catalonia to take stricter measures if coronavirus situation does not improve

Spain’s Catalonia may take stricter measures to limit coronavirus contagion if situation does not improve in the next 10 days, regional leader Quim Torra has announced.

Torra warned that in many parts of Catalonia the data was similar to the situation before Spain declared a national lockdown in March. He added his administration’s goal was to avoid taking as strict measures as the ones that were taken back then.

Catalan authorities on July 17 advised some four million people to remain home and leave only for essential trips, banned gatherings of more than ten people and limited the occupancy of bars and restaurants as the number of cases in the region is rising faster than in the rest of the country.

07:40 GMT – Russia new coronavirus cases drop to lowest levels since late April

Russia has reported 5,635 new cases of the novel coronavirus, its lowest daily rise since April 23, pushing its national tally to 818,120, the fourth largest in the world.

In a daily readout, the official coronavirus taskforce said 85 people had died over the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 13,354.

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