Live: Morocco opens field hospital after coronavirus cases spike | News

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    • A new field hospital in eastern Morocco will receive around 700 new coronavirus patients following a sharp spike in infections in the kingdom, said the government.

       

 

    • Iraqi football legend Ahmad Radhi has died at a hospital in Baghdad as a result of complications from the new coronavirus.

       

 

    • Worldwide, at least 8.75 million people have been confirmed to have the coronavirus, more than 4.3 million have recovered, and more than 464,000 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

       

 

Here are the latest updates:

Sunday, June 20

12:53 GMT – Beijing can screen almost one million people daily for coronavirus: official

The Chinese capital is capable of screening almost one million people a day for the coronavirus, an official said, as testing continued across the city to try to contain the spread of a fresh outbreak.

Beijing has been expanding testing in the city of 20 million since a cluster of infections linked to a food wholesale market erupted over a week ago.

The outbreak, the first in Beijing in months, has now surpassed previous peak numbers in the city in early February.

12:48 GMT – FIFA pays tribute to late Iraqi footballer Ahmad Radhi

FIFA, or the International Federation of Association Football, paid tribute to Ahmad Radhi, the Iraqi football legend who died due to the coronavirus in a Baghdad hospital earlier on Sunday.

In a tweet, the international governing body that governs, manages and promotes association football, listed Radhi’s achievements throughout his career, before adding: “Football lost a legend today. RIP Ahmed Radhi.”

12:35 GMT – Pope says coronavirus should spark new environmental awareness

The drastic reduction in pollution during coronavirus lockdowns around the world should lead to greater concern for the environment as restrictions are lifted, Pope Francis said.

At his Sunday address in St. Peter’s Square, Francis said the pandemic made many people reflect on their relationship with the environment.

“The lockdown has reduced pollution and revealed once more the beauty of so many places free from traffic and noise. Now, with the resumption of activities, we should all be more responsible for looking after our common home,” he said.

Pope Francis

St. Peter’s Square, where the address was held, reopened to the public a month ago and Italy’s last travel restrictions were lifted on June 3 [File: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP]

12:24 GMT – Afghan healthcare personnel deliberately attacked during pandemic, says UN

The United Nations released a special report expressing concerns over what it called recent “deliberate attacks” against healthcare workers and facilities in Afghanistan during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, or UNAMA, said it documented 12 incidents of deliberate acts of violence between March 11 to May 23.

The report said eight of the incidents were carried out by Taliban insurgents while three incidents were attributed to Afghan security forces.

COVID-19 in Afghanistan The most horrific attack, on a maternity ward last month at a Kabul hospital that killed 24 people, remains unsolved [File: Anadolu]

12:10 GMT – New coronavirus tally surges in Oman

Oman confirmed three more deaths from the novel coronavirus, said the Omani health ministry, bringing the country’s death toll to 131.

A further 905 new infections were recorded over the last 24 hours, pushing the total cases to 29,471.

The country has so far reported 15,552 recoveries from the disease.

11:58 GMT – UK to seek new powers to scrutinise foreign takeovers

Britain will seek changes to the law to allow scrutiny of certain foreign takeovers to ensure they do not threaten the country’s ability to tackle public health emergencies such as the coronavirus outbreak.

The government said it would introduce changes to the Enterprise Act on Monday to allow it to intervene if a business involved in a pandemic response became a target of a takeover.

“These powers will send an important signal to those seeking to take advantage of those struggling as a result of the pandemic that the UK government is prepared to act where necessary to protect our national security,” Business Secretary Alok Sharma said in a statement.

11:14 GMT – Morocco opens field hospital after spike in virus cases

A new field hospital in eastern Morocco will receive around 700 COVID-19 patients following a sharp spike in infections in the kingdom, the government said.

Morocco reported a record single-day rise in novel coronavirus cases on Friday after an outbreak was detected in fruit packing plants in eastern Kenitra province, prompting Rabat to tighten restrictions in the region.

The North African kingdom reported more than 500 cases on Friday, mainly in Kenitra, having recorded on average fewer than 100 new COVID-19 infections daily since confirming its first cases in early March.

Outside image - blog - morocco

Strawberry fields in Kenitra  – usually busy with workers harvesting at this time of year – were deserted at the weekend, following outbeak in packing plant [File: Fadel Senina/AFP]

09:56 GMT – India records highest daily hike in coronavirus cases

India registered 15,413 more cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, its highest single-day hike so far, with total confirmed cases now at 410,461, according to the Ministry of Health.

Data from the health ministry showed that 306 deaths had been confirmed, raising the overall toll to 13,254.

Some 128,205 cases have been confirmed so far in the western state of Maharashtra, which remains the worst-affected state in the country, followed by the southern Tamil Nadu and capital Delhi.

Outside image - blog - Grim India record Data from the health ministry showed that 306 deaths had been confirmed in the past 24 hours [File: Harish Tyafi/EPA]

09:49 GMT – UK to unveil lockdown easing plans this week

Britain will outline its plans to ease the coronavirus lockdown this week, health minister Matt Hancock said, potentially relaxing the two-metre rule on social distancing, allowing many businesses to reopen in early July.

“We’re about to see another step in the plan,” Hancock told BBC TV.

“This week we will announce further details of the measures we can take to relieve some of the national lockdown measures at the start of July, including on July 4.”

Matt Jancock - reuters

Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock says government will potentially relax the two-metre rule on social distancing [File: Andrew Parsons/Reuters]

09:28 GMT – Saudi Arabia to launch $4bn tourism development fund

Saudi Arabia plans to start a tourism development fund with an initial $4 billion investment, the ministry of tourism said, as part of plans to diversify the economy in the face of  the coronavirus pandemic and low oil prices.

The Tourism Development Fund will launch equity and debt investment vehicles to develop the tourism sector in collaboration with private and investment banks, the ministry said in a statement.

“The launch of the fund at this time, as the tourism sector faces unprecedented global challenges, is testament to investor and private-sector confidence in the long-term outlook for tourism in Saudi Arabia,” Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb said in the statement.

09:11 GMT – Indonesia reports 862 new coronavirus infections, 36 new deaths

Indonesia reported 862 new coronavirus infections, taking its total number of cases to 45,891.

Health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said there were 36 more deaths reported, with total fatalities now at 2,465, the highest coronavirus death toll in East Asia outside of China.

08:24 GMT – Chinese researchers launch phase-2 human test for possible coronavirus vaccine

Chinese researchers have started a second phase human trial of a possible coronavirus vaccine, the Institute of Medical Biology at Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (IMBCAMS) said, in efforts to further assess effectiveness and safety.

IMBCAMS began on Saturday a phase 2 human test for its experimental shot, following an on-going phase-1 study that has recruited about 200 participants since May, the institute in its social media channel.

The phase-2 trial will determine the shot’s dose and continue to evaluate whether the potential vaccine can safely trigger immune responses in healthy people.

Employee Philipp Hoffmann, of German biopharmaceutical company CureVac, demonstrates research workflow on a vaccine for the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease at a laboratory in Tuebingen

Chinese scientists are testing six possible vaccines in humans for the new coronvirus [File: Andreas Gebert/Reuters]

07:56 GMT – Russia reports fewer than 8,000 new coronavirus cases

Russia reported 7,728 new cases of the novel coronavirus, pushing its nationwide case tally to 584,680 since the crisis began.

The national coronavirus response centre said that 109 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 8,111.

07:20 GMT – Iraqi football legend Ahmad Radhi dies due to coronavirus

Iraqi football legend Ahmad Radhi has died at a hospital in Baghdad as a result of complications from the new coronavirus, Iraqi media reported.

Radhi Amish Ahmad

Iraqi footballer and then team captain Ahmad Radhi heading his teams before the match that ended with Iraq’s victory against Iran 2-1, at Khalifa stadium on October 22, 1993 in Doha, Qatar [File: Burhan Ozbilici/The Associated Press]

The 56-year-old was considered a national star, known for scoring one World Cup goal in Mexico in 1986, when Iraq’s national football team, the Lions of Mesopotamia, qualified for the games.

Radhi spent most of his career in the Iraqi league, representing Al-Zawra’a and Al-Rasheed, winning five league titles and topping the scoring charts twice.

06:57 GMT – Tokyo confirms 35 new coronavirus cases

Thirty-five novel coronavirus infection cases were confirmed in Japan’s capital city, Tokyo, metropolitan government officials said.

The daily number exceeded 30 for the fourth straight day. Nine of the 35 were found positive in group testing conducted by the government of Shinjuku Ward, which has a popular nightlife district.

06:12 GMT – British Finance Minister Sunak plans emergency cut in value-added tax

British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak is ready to cut the value-added tax (VAT) as part of the government’s latest efforts to tackle economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, the Sunday Times newspaper reported.

Sunak has ordered officials to prepare options for reducing the sales tax, including a cut in the headline rate, and zero rating more products for a fixed period, the newspaper reported.

The finance minister may announce lowering the VAT and business rates in a speech in early July, the report added.

Hello, I’m Arwa Ibrahim in Doha, Qatar, taking over the live blog from my colleague, Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

05:10 GMT – China reports 25 new cases as millions tested

Chinese authorities reported on Sunday at least 25 new confirmed cases – 22 in Beijing and three in neighbouring Hebei province.

China’s National Health Commission also said 2.3 million people had been tested in an effort to contain the outbreak in the capital that led to the closure of its biggest wholesale food market.

China recorded at least 84,553 cases with 4,639 confirmed fatalities.

03:48 GMT – Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases rise

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 687 to 189,822, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Sunday.

The Institute also reported the death toll to be 8,882, one lower than Saturday’s, which was 8,883. No explanation was given why the number decreased by one, according to Reuters news agency.

03:24 GMT – South Korea reports 48 new cases

South Korea reported 48 new cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, down 19 from a day earlier, Yonhap news agency reported.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said imported cases have dropped, but local infections rose amid a continuing spread of the virus in the Seoul metropolitan area and the central city of Daejeon.

Of the new cases, 40 are local infections, and eight are imported, raising the total caseload to 12,421. There were no additional deaths, keeping the total death toll at 280.

03:12 GMT – Australian state extends state of emergency in Victoria

Australia’s second-most populous state, Victoria, on Sunday extended its state of emergency for four more weeks to July 19, as it battles a spike in coronavirus infections, Reuters reported. This came one day after the state announced it would reimpose restrictions capping visitors to households to five people and outdoor gatherings to 10, starting Monday. The limits had been relaxed on June 1.

Victoria reported 19 new infections on Sunday, the fifth day of double digit-rises. The state has now had 1,836 total confirmed cases, a quarter of Australia’s cases.

State health minister Jenny Mikakos said 210 of the cases are believed tied to community transmission, partly blaming families who have had big parties, lunches and dinners attended by people with mild symptoms.

02:48 GMT – Spain: No 14-day quarantine requirement for UK visitors

Spain is dropping the country’s 14-day quarantine requirement for British visitors starting Sunday, when citizens of Europe’s Schengen zone countries will be allowed to freely enter the country.

Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya told the BBC: “We are doing this out of the respect for the 400,000 British citizens who have a second residence in Spain.”

Gonzalez Laya says she hopes the British government will likewise drop the quarantine requirement for Spanish citizens travelling to the UK. Some 250,000 Spaniards have homes in the UK, she said.

02:30 GMT – North Macedonia reports 11 deaths, Greece reports one

Greece has reported one more death from the coronavirus while the small neighbouring country of North Macedonia reached a new daily record with 11 virus-related fatalities, according to the Associated Press.

North Macedonia’s death toll to date is 233, with 5,005 confirmed cases as of Saturday. Infections began to climb early this month after authorities lifted restrictions and ended a curfew. In a TV interview, health minister Venko Filipce said cases are increasing because residents ignored recommendations to avoid gatherings, wear masks and maintain social distance.

In Greece, authorities announced 19 new confirmed cases. The country’s total number of confirmed cases now stands at 3,254, with 190 deaths.

02:00 GMT – Trump urges slowdown in COVID-19 testing

US President Donald Trump told thousands of his supporters that he had asked US officials to slow down testing for the novel coronavirus, calling it a “double-edged sword” that led to more cases being discovered. Trump said the US had now tested 25 million people, far more than other countries.

“When you do testing to that extent, you’re gonna find more people you’re gonna find more cases. So I said to my people slow the testing down, please,” Trump told a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where many supporters were not wearing face masks.

A White House official said Trump was joking about his call for a slowdown in testing.

01:30 GMT – Mexico reports 4,717 new coronavirus infections, 387 deaths

Mexico reported 4,717 new infections and 387 additional coronavirus deaths, Reuters news agency said quoting the health ministry. The total number is now 175,202 cases and 20,781 deaths.

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

Mexico - coronavirus

Protesters chant against Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador demanding he keep promises made, as he visits a public hospital in Cuernavaca, Mexico on Friday [Fernando Llano/AP]

01:18 GMT – Rio mayor suspends games to give teams more time to prepare

The resumption of Brazilian football was dealt a setback when the city’s mayor suspended matches involving Botafogo and Fluminense in order to give the clubs more time to prepare.

The Rio de Janeiro state championship became the first Brazilian football tournament to restart on Thursday when reigning champions Flamengo beat Bangu 3-0. However, Fluminense and Botafogo threatened not to play games scheduled for June 22, Fluminense players saying they needed more time to train, and Botafogo declaring they would only be ready to play in July.

With courts refusing their appeal to postpone the games and the two clubs worried they would lose points by a WO, Mayor Marcelo Crivella with an initial decree to suspend all games in the Rio state championship until June 25  that he reversed hours later to halt only Botafogo’s match against Cabofriense and Fluminense’s encounter with Volta Redonda.

00:01 GMT – Montenegro restores some lockdown measures after new cases emerge

Montenegrin health authorities have restored some lockdown measures in a northeastern border town to contain a cluster of coronavirus cases, AP news agency reported.

Authorities have confirmed new cases after there had been none in Montenegro for several weeks, saying that out of the country’s 31 active cases, 26 were imported from neighbouring Serbia.

Those infected include some who went to a football game in Serbia’s capital of Belgrade and some citizens of the northeastern Montenegrin town of Rozaje who travelled to a town across the border.

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

You can find all the key developments from yesterday, June 20, here.

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