A series of new restrictions connected to coronavirus came into force in England on Monday. There are new rules requiring people to self-isolate, with businesses having to abide by workplace safety measures, and there are limitations on music, singing and dancing.
Some more detail on news the Dutch government has tightened some of Europe’s most relaxed coronavirus rules after a surge in cases, ordering bars to shut early and recommending people wear masks in shops.
The prime minister, Mark Rutte, told a news conference that the situation in the country’s three largest cities, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague, had become “serious” and required urgent action.
“We’re doing our best, but the virus is doing better,” said the country’s health minister, Hugo de Jonge, adding that nearly 3,000 new infections were being recorded a day, with the figure expected to reach 5,000 within weeks.
The Netherlands has so far avoided the harsh measures introduced by its European neighbours, preferring a so-called “intelligent lockdown” and refusing to order the wearing of masks.
But people were now advised to wear masks while shopping in the three big cities, with retailers allowed to refuse entry to those who did not, Rutte said.
However, Rutte said that masks – which are already compulsory on public transport – “won’t do the big trick” and had not worked in France or Spain by themselves.
Restaurants and bars must now close at 10pm, while people may only have four people to visit over the age of 13, Rutte said.
Sports matches will be played behind closed doors again, including top-tier Eredivisie football, which had only just begun its new season with a limited number of spectators.
Rutte had warned fans recently to “keep their mouths shut” after many had defied a ban on chanting.
Working from home should once again become standard, de Jonge said.
Slovakia is set to declare a new state of emergency this week to combat the coronavirus pandemic, the prime minister, Igor Matovič, said following a sharp rise in cases.
“The situation is extremely serious, and I think we must adopt very fundamental decisions and very bold decisions,” Matovič said after a meeting of the country’s crisis management team.
The measure is expected to be approved by the government on Wednesday and would be the second time that Slovakia introduces a state of emergency to combat the pandemic.
Under the proposed restrictions, all sporting events, cultural events and religious services will be banned from 1 October.
Weddings and funerals will only be allowed if all the participants can prove they have had a negative test for coronavirus.
Restaurants, bars and cafes will close at 10pm and if people not living in the same household come closer than two metres outdoors, they will have to wear masks.
Masks are already compulsory in public indoor spaces in Slovakia.
The EU country of 5.4 million people has registered 9,343 coronavirus infections since the beginning of the pandemic and 44 patients have died.
On Friday, the number of daily infections reached a record high of 552.
France has reported 4,070 new Covid-19 infections over the past 24 hours, sharply down from Saturday’s third-highest ever tally of 14,412 and Sunday’s 11,123.
The Monday figures always tend to dip as there are fewer tests conducted on Sundays.
The seven-day moving average of new infections, which smoothes out reporting irregularities, stood at 12,083, above the 12,000 threshold for a fourth day in a row, versus a low of 272 on 27 May, two weeks after the country ended its two-month-long lockdown.
The number of people in France who have died from Covid-19 infections rose by 81 to 31,808, versus 27 on Sunday. The cumulative number of cases now totals 542,639.
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Here are the key developments from the last few hours:
- Rapid Covid-19 tests are about to be rolled out across the world, the WHO announced. The move could potentially save many thousands of lives and slow the spread of the pandemic in both poor and rich countries.
- The official global death toll probably underestimates the true total, the WHO’s top emergencies expert warned. Dr Mike Ryan suggested it could be more than a million already.
- A host of n ew restrictions was introduced in the Netherlands. Travel was limited, bars and restaurants closed early public gatherings discouraged.
- The known number of infections worldwide passed 33 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. The death toll has moved closer to 1 million and stands at 999,202.
- The total number of cases in Ukraine exceeded 200,000. The death toll stood at 3,996, the country’s security council said.
- The UK government came under pressure to scrap its 10pm closing time rule. The mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, said there needed to be an “urgent review of the emerging evidence” after city centre supermarkets were “packed” after closing time.
- New rules came into effect in Paris and 11 other French cities. All bars must close at 10pm and remain closed until at least 6am. Restaurants can stay open later.
- Children have 44% lower odds of catching Covid-19 than adults. According to an analysis led by the president of Britain’s Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, there is preliminary evidence that those younger than 10 to 14 years have lower susceptibility.
- India’s confirmed coronavirus tally reached 6 million cases on Monday, keeping the country second to the United States in number of reported cases since the pandemic began. The Health Ministry on Monday reported 82,170 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, driving the overall tally to 60,74,703. At least 1,039 deaths were also recorded in the same period, taking total fatalities up to 95,542 since the pandemic began.
- South Korea confirms lowest cases since 11 August. South Korea on Monday reported 50 new coronavirus cases, the lowest since 11 August, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said. Of the new cases, 40 were domestic and 10 imported. The numbers were the lowest since a new wave of outbreaks emerged from a church whose members attended a large political rally in Seoul on 15 August, KDCA data showed.
- Northern England and possibly London facing new lockdown. The UK government is planning to impose a total social lockdown across most of northern England and potentially London, to combat a second coronavirus wave, the Times reports. Under the new lockdown measures being considered, all pubs, restaurants and bars would be ordered to shut for two weeks initially, the report said, citing a senior government source. The report added that households would also be banned indefinitely from meeting each other in any indoor location where they were not already under the order.
- There have been a further 5,693 lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK, according to government data, taking the total to 429,277. Government figures show a further 17 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus as of Sunday. This brings the official UK toll to 41,988.
- Travel between New Zealand and some states of Australia is possible before the end of the year, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday. Plans for a travel ‘bubble’ between Australia and New Zealand has been in discussions for months as both nations slowed the spread of the coronavirus, but they were disrupted after a resurgence of Covid-19 in Melbourne, Australia, followed by a second wave of infections in Auckland.With the virus largely contained in New Zealand, and as cases continue to decline in Australian regions, talks of a travel bubble with some states have been revived.
- Greece has recorded its first coronavirus fatality among its large migrant community. Health authorities described the victim as a 61-year-old Afghan man, saying the father-of-two succumbed to Covid-19 in Athens’ Evangelismos hospital after being moved from Malakassa, a refugee camp east of the capital.
Here’s a little more detail on that WHO announcement that about 120m rapid diagnostic tests are to be made available to low- and middle-income countries at a maximum of $5 (£3.83, €4.23) per unit.
The body’s director general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said:
This will enable the expansion of testing, particularly in hard-to-reach areas that do not have laboratory facilities or enough trained health workers to carry out tests
This is a vital addition to the testing capacity and especially important in areas of high transmission.
Dr Catharina Boehme, the chief executive of the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), a Geneva-based non-profit organisation in the project, said the deal was a “major milestone” as it was urgent to increase testing in poorer countries.
It is our first line of defence, critical for countries to track, trace and isolate to stop the spread of the virus and to ensure that we are not flying blind. We now have two high-quality tests, which are the first in a series that are being developed and assessed by WHO for emergency use listing.
The antigen tests, which don’t require a laboratory, provide reliable results in just 15 minutes, rather than hours or days, and will help expand testing, Boehme said, adding: “The tests are as simple to use as pregnancy tests.”
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria – another Geneva-based group – was providing an initial $50m the procurement fund and the first orders were expected to be placed this week, she said.
Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19, said more tests were undergoing evaluation and would come online. They would be particularly useful in remote settings and to investigate clusters quickly and bring them under control and in areas with widespread community transmission, she said:
This will be really, really helpful for communities and countries to be able to know where is the virus and who is infected with the virus.
A cruise ship carrying about 920 passengers was expected to dock at Piraeus port near Athens after 12 of its crew members tested positive, an official at Greece’s civil protection agency has said.
The Mein Schiff 6, operated by TUI Cruises, departed from Heraklion in Crete on Sunday, with all passengers having tested negative before boarding. It was the first cruise ship to dock after the lockdown.
Sample tests on 150 crew members out of a total of 666 detected 12 infections. TUI Cruises said six of the 12 had since tested negative. The civil protection official said:
They are all asymptomatic. The vessel will most likely return to Piraeus port for repeat rapid Covid-19 tests.
Piraeus is the country’s biggest port, with better access to health services and equipped to deal with any emergency. The vessel is expected to dock there at 0200 GMT and Greek health authorities will board the vessel and conduct repeat tests for the 12 crew members, two officials told Reuters.
Until then, the affected crew on the ship, making its way from off the island of Milos, have been segregated, TUI Cruises said. The company said a second round of tests was held on board and half of the crew found positive earlier had since tested negative. Results for the other six crew were expected on Tuesday morning. All crew members would be tested, it said.
Thanks to the health measures in place and the vessel cleaning rules, there is no reason of concern for visitors and crew members.
The cruise industry has taken a major hit from the pandemic, with some of the earliest large clusters occurring onboard cruise ships. Voyages of large cruise ships only resumed in recent weeks in Greece after they were banned for months.
Greek authorities have tightened restrictions in the greater Athens area, saying the pandemic was showing “steadily rising trends”.
The Dutch government has announced a raft of new measures, including limiting travel, closing bars and restaurants early and discouraging public gatherings. We reported earlier that a series of similar measures had been under consideration.
The measures, which also include wider use of cloth masks for the public in Amsterdam and other big cities, come amid a second wave of cases that have passed the earlier peak in April in numbers of new infections.
Quebec, the hardest-hit Canadian province, has reported another sharp increase in daily infections, amid media reports that its premier, François Legault, would announce new restrictions for Montreal and the capital, Quebec City.
Quebec added 750 new cases on Monday despite existing restrictions on mask-wearing and social gatherings put in place by Canada’s second-most populous province to contain the spread of infections.
The health minister, Christian Dubé, told a French-language talk show on Sunday night the two cities were close to being listed as red zones, referring to the province’s traffic light system for designating transmission, with red being the hardest hit.