South Africa to ease coronavirus restrictions

  • South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced announced that stringent coronavirus regulations would be eased on Monday as the country’s infection rate falls.

  • Worldwide coronavirus cases surpassed 21.2 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, while more than 13.2 million people have recovered. More than 767,000 people have died.

  • The French health ministry reported more than 2,500 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, setting a new post-lockdown daily high for the third day in a row, and taking the country’s cumulative total of cases to 249,611.

  • An Australian inquiry into the virus-infected Ruby Princess cruise ship said health officials made a “serious and material error” in allowing passengers to disembark from the vessel.

    Saturday, August 15

    20:00 GMT – Saudi Arabia plans distance learning for school as virus precaution

    Students at Saudi Arabia’s public schools will be educated via distance learning as a precaution against coronavirus for the first seven weeks of the new term, which begins on Aug. 30, the minister of education said.

    During that time the situation for the rest of the term will be evaluated, Dr. Hamad bin Mohammed Al Shaikh said in remarks carried on state-run al-Ekhbariya TV.

    University and technical schools will be online for theory-based curriculums and in person for practical curriculums, he added.

    19:35 GMT – Italy coronavirus cases top 600 for first time in three months

    Italy’s new coronavirus cases surged past 600 daily for the first time in three months. Tourists and vacationing people returning are considered major factors in rising caseloads.

    The Health Ministry registered 629 coronavirus cases Saturday in the previous 24 hours, increasing the confirmed total to more than 253,000.

    The last time the daily number was higher was 669 cases on May 23. Only a few weeks ago, Italy had daily cases numbers in the 200s. Italy’s confirmed deaths has exceeded 35,000.

    18:35 GMT – South Africa to resume sale of alcohol, cigarettes

    South Africa will lift a coronavirus-linked ban on the sale of alcohol and tobacco products from Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced.

    “Restrictions on the sale of tobacco will be lifted, the suspension of the sale of alcohol will be lifted subject to certain restrictions,” Ramaphosa said, announcing the relaxation of several confinement measures.

    He said a fall in the infection rates, as well as people recovering, were “significantly reducing the pressure on our health facilities”, but he cautioned that cases could easily surge if people fail to maintain vigilance. Restrictions on international travel remained in place, he said.

    South Africa has more than half a million cases, but the rate of infections has declined over the past two weeks.

    18:20 GMT – Turkey coronavirus cases rise by 1,256

    Turkey’s new coronavirus cases rose to their highest since June at 1,256, with 21 deaths in the last 24 hours, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter.

    The country has seen cases edge higher in recent weeks and has now recorded a total of 278,117, with 5,955 deaths. Turkey lifted a partial lockdown on June 1 and plans to re-open schools next month.

    18:15 GMT – France reports another post-lockdown peak in daily coronavirus cases

    France’s Health Ministry has reported 3,310 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, setting a new post-lockdown high for the fourth day in a row and taking the country’s cumulative cases to 215,521.

    A total of 252 clusters were being investigated, up 17 compared with 24 hours earlier, the ministry said in a website update.

    17:35 GMT – Fresh spike in Irish COVID-19 cases deeply concerning: Health chief

    Ireland has reported 200 new COVID-19 cases arising from multiple clusters across the country, the highest daily amount since the beginning of May that the country’s chief medical officer described as “deeply concerning”.

    Ireland has reopened its economy at a slower pace than most European Union countries but that did not stop a rise in cases over the last two weeks that led to the first localised reimposition of some restrictions last week.

    “We now have multiple clusters with secondary spread of disease and rising numbers of cases in many parts of the country. This is deeply concerning. NPHET (Ireland’s public health team) will monitor this extremely closely over the coming days,” Ronan Glynn said in statement.

    17:25 GMT – Kuwait reports 512 new coronavirus cases, four deaths

    The Kuwaiti health ministry reported 512 new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases during the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases to 75,697.

    The ministry also confirmed four new deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 498.

    16:50 GMT – Dutch authorities issue travel warning for Spain, France, Belgium

    The Netherlands has issued new coronavirus-related warnings for people travelling to Spain, France and Belgium.

    The ANP news agency reported that Dutch authorities were advising the public not to travel to places including Paris, the region surrounding Marseille, Brussels, Ibiza and Mallorca.

    The new travel warnings will go into effect at midnight (2200 GMT).

    People travelling to the Netherlands from the three countries will required to undergo two-week quarantine at home, the report said. The warnings come as a response to new spikes in the number of coronavirus cases in those countries.

    16:00 GMT – UK reports 1,012 new coronavirus cases

    The United Kingdom recorded 1,012 new positive tests for COVID-19, the government announced, the fifth day in a row there have been more than 1,000 infections reported in daily figures.

    Britain has now recorded 317,379 COVID-19 cases. A further three people were reported to have died within 28 days after testing positive for the coronavirus

    14:50 GMT – South Korea coronavirus cases reach highest level in five months

    New coronavirus cases in South Korea have reached the highest level in five months, and authorities fear infections are getting out of control in the Seoul region, which is home to half the country’s 51 million people.

    Officials reported 166 newly confirmed cases Saturday. That was the highest since March 11, when South Korea reported 242 amid an outbreak in the southeastern city of Daegu and nearby towns.

    With 103 new cases reported Friday, this is the first time since late March that the daily increase surpassed 100 two days in a row.

    Officials say all but 11 of the new cases were local transmissions, and most were in the Seoul area.

    14:10 GMT – Nearly half of Brazilians say Bolsonaro not to blame for coronavirus deaths

    Almost half of Brazilians think President Jair Bolsonaro bears “no responsibility at all” for the country’s more than 100,000 dead from the coronavirus pandemic, the world’s second highest death toll, according to a new Datafolha poll.

    The poll was published on Saturday in Brazil’s Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper and says 47 percent of Brazilians do not assign him any blame for the body count, whereas percent do.

    Brazil has the world’s worst outbreak outside of the United States and Bolsonaro’s response to the pandemic has been widely condemned by health experts.

    Right-wing Bolsonaro has pushed for the use of an unproven anti-malarial drug to fight the disease, replaced health ministers who opposed his agenda, encouraged Brazilians to oppose lockdown measures and shown indifference to the rising death toll.

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