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Alan Kurdi rescue boat takes on migrants off Libyan coast

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A German rescue boat, Alan Kurdi, has taken on 68 migrants off the Libyan coast, a sea rescue organisation, Sea-Eye, said on Monday, with the action taking place amid the coronavirus pandemic.

An emergency call was received on Monday, Sea-Eye said, with the migrants found without life jackets in a wooden boat.

A Libyan-flagged ship hindered the rescue, Sea-Eye said, claiming that shots were fired from it, causing people to jump overboard.

The Alan Kurdi must now set course for a safe harbour, Sea-Eye spokesman Gorden Isler told dpa.

“The crew is well prepared for the coronavirus, he said, and has been together for two weeks without any of them showing symptoms.”

“There is additional protection gear on board, which can be used to isolate anyone who shows symptoms.”

However, the crew cannot carry out tests for Covid-19 – the respiratory illness caused by coronavirus – on board.

Should a Covid-19 case arise they would have to rely even more on outside help, Isler said, as sick people must be disembarked.

Alan Kurdi is currently the only private rescue ship off Libya.

In Italy fewer migrants have been taken in since the nation was put on lockdown due to the coronavirus, though a few hundred did arrive in March.

Migrants are checked on arrival for Covid-19 symptoms, the Italian Interior Ministry said. They are then placed in “isolation” for two weeks.

IAA

Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola
(NAN)

Aregbeshola Isaac: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

Foreign

5.2-magnitude quake strikes north of Levin, New Zealand

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An earthquake of 5.2 magnitude struck north of Levin, New Zealand, reported GeoNet of the country on Tuesday.

Geonet said the offshore quake hit at 12.34 p.m. local time, 33 km deep and 30 km northwest of Levin, a suburb town just 70 km north of Wellington, capital of New Zealand, where thousands of locals strongly felt the shake.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Somalia’s Jubaland forces say kill 4 Shabab militants

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Somalia’s Jubaland forces on Monday killed four al-Shabab extremists in a fierce fight in Dhobley, a town in southern Somalia, a police officer confirmed.

Mohamed Abdullahi, deputy commander of police forces in Dhobley, said that al-Shabab fighters launched an attack on a base used by Jubaland forces in Dhobley, but they were repulsed.

“Al-Shabab extremists attacked a training base for Jubaland forces, prompting an intense confrontation between the army and the attackers,” Abdullahi said.

“We killed four militants during the clashes. Our forces are now controlling the base and the militants have fled to the outside of the town,” he added.

The attack came barely three days after Somali forces killed five al-Shabab militants in Burdhubo, a town in the country’s southern region of Gedo.

Government forces have stepped up operations against al-Shabab extremists in southern regions, but militants still hold swathes of rural areas in those regions, conducting ambushes and planting land mines.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

New Zealand confirms no new case of COVID-19

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New Zealand reported no new case of COVID-19 on Monday, with the combined total of confirmed and probable cases staying at 1,504, according to the Ministry of Health.

The total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 remains at 1,154, which is the number reported to the World Health Organization, said a statement of the ministry.

There is no change to the number of recovered cases which remain at 1,456. This represents 97 percent of all confirmed and probable cases, it said.

The death toll has remained at 21 in the country since May 6, the ministry said. There is one person receiving hospital-level care for COVID-19 and this person is not in ICU.

The NZ COVID Tracer app has now recorded 380,000 registrations. That’s an increase of 17,000 since 5 p.m. on Sunday.

“We continue to encourage as many people as possible to download the app – it will help us identify, trace, test and isolate any cases of COVID-19,” it said.

The ministry is also very supportive of the work done by businesses to get their unique QR codes up and running, with 13,600 posters having been created as of midday on Monday.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

New Zealand media company sold for one NZ dollar

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Australian-owned New Zealand media company Stuff Limited, who operates the country’s largest news website, was sold to its chief executive Sinead Boucher for one New Zealand dollar, said the company on Monday.

With the management buyout being expected to complete by May 31, Stuff, which was owned by Australian media group Nine Entertainment, will regain a New Zealand ownership, said the company.

Direct proceeds from the sale will be one NZ dollar. Nine, however, will retain ownership of Stuff’s Petone printing plant site in Wellington and lease it back to Stuff. It will also receive an immediate and subsequent percentage of the proceeds from the sale of Stuff Fibre, completed on May 20.

“Nine will receive 25 percent of those proceeds before completion of the Stuff sale, plus up to a further 75 percent over the subsequent 36 months, depending on the Stuff business’ ability to raise funding,” said Nine at a statement to Australia stock market ASX.

“Today is an important moment for Stuff as a business,” said Boucher in a statement.

Stuff Limited operates the country’s largest news website, Stuff, and also owns nine daily newspapers, including New Zealand’s second and third-highest circulation daily newspapers, The Dominion Post and The Press, and the highest circulation weekly, Sunday Star-Times. (1 New Zealand dollar equals 0.61 U.S. dollar)

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

5.8-magnitude quake jolts Wellington, New Zealand

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A 5.8-magnitude earthquake jolted north of Levin, a suburb town of Wellington, capital of New Zealand, GeoNet reported Monday.

The quake hit 30 km northwest of Levin at a depth of 37 km. The quake, categorised as “strong,” has been felt as far north as Gisborne of the North Island and near the bottom of the South Island, according to GeoNet.

GeoNet reported the quake occurred at 7:53 a.m. local time.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

5.6-magnitude quake hits 29 km WNW of Foxton, New Zealand — USGS

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A 5.6-magnitude earthquake jolted 29 km WNW of Foxton, New Zealand at 19:53:32 GMT on Sunday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The epicenter, with a depth of 51.89 km, was initially determined to be at 40.3929 degrees south latitude and 174.966 degrees east longitude.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

No new case of COVID-19 reported in New Zealand, total confirmed cases stay at 1,154

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There are only 27 active cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand as the country reported no new case on Sunday, said a statement of the Ministry of Health.

This means New Zealand’s combined total number of confirmed and probable cases stays at 1,504, of which 1,154 are confirmed, it said.

New Zealand currently has 1,456 people reported as having recovered from COVID-19, an increase of one on Saturday. This means 97 percent of all confirmed and probable cases have recovered.

There remains one person receiving hospital-level care for COVID-19 in New Zealand. The death toll remained at 21 in the country.

The total number of tests completed to date is 259,152, an increase of 3,302.

New Zealand is currently at COVID-19 Alert Level two. General public are urged to stay vigilant and adhere to key health measures such as good hand hygiene and social distancing.

An official contact racing mobile app, the NZ COVID Tracer app, was launched on Wednesday to help identify, trace, test and isolate any cases of COVID-19. The app has now recorded 354,000 registrations.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

New Zealand start-up company provides fast-track solution for COVID-19 immunity tests

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A New Zealand start-up company is providing fast-track solution to reveal a person’s immunity to COVID-19, company executives told Xinhua on Saturday.

As countries look to restart their economy and re-embrace global exchange after the COVID-19 lockdown, they wish to only permit safe movement through borders, international and regional, for those who are immune to COVID-19.

New Zealand based Bio-science start-up Orbis Diagnostics owns a proprietary platform technology which was originally developed for measurement of progesterone in milk at extremely low concentrations. The company soon realized its technology could well be applied for COVID-19 tests that reveal a person’s immunity to the virus.

“It will detect whether a person has immunity to SARS-CoV2 not whether they are currently infected,” said Emerald Scofield, operations manager of Orbis.

The technology platform developed by Orbis was designed to be operated by non-technically trained staff working in open-air environments measuring large numbers of individuals quickly and inexpensively. These performance characteristics are similarly applicable to community-based screening in the COVID-19 scenario.

“Orbis’ capability to assess immunity at scale will also help prioritise those individuals who first should receive hoped-for future vaccines, monitor actual conferred immunity, and inform timing of booster shots or selection of alternative vaccines for those showing insufficient immunity,” said Brent Ogilvie, chief executive officer of Orbis.

It is understood that rapid strip antibody tests are not sophisticated enough to reveal the extent of a person’s immunity to COVID-19. Such tests only return a simple positive or negative result for circulating antibodies, which only indicates whether an individual has been infected.

The company is now adapting its immunoassay system for identification at scale from a finger prick of blood. It is planned that the quantifiable antibody status could be detected in 5-15 minutes.

With a market ready product within a year, Orbis anticipates that its technology could re-enable the movement of people during and post pandemic through identifying those who have immunity and those who are infectious, thus aiding a return to normality.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

New Zealand reports no new case of COVID-19

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New Zealand reported no new case of COVID-19 on Saturday, said a statement of the Ministry of Health.

This means New Zealand’s combined total number of confirmed and probable cases stays at 1,504, of which 1,154 are confirmed, it said.

New Zealand currently has 1,455 people reported as having recovered from COVID-19, taking 97 percent of all confirmed and probable cases.

There is only one person receiving hospital care for COVID-19 and is not in ICU. The death toll remained at 21 in the country.

The total number of tests completed to date is 255,850, an increase of 5,604.

New Zealand is currently at COVID-19 Alert Level 2. The general public are urged to stay vigilant and adhere to key health measures such as good hand hygiene and social distancing.

An official contact tracing mobile app was also launched on Wednesday to help identify, trace, test and isolate any cases of COVID-19.

“New Zealand is in a relatively good position with regard to restricting the number of cases of COVID-19, and it’s important that we keep it there,” said Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield.

The New Zealand government will reconsider the maximum number of people, which currently at 10, in a public and private gathering on Monday.

(XINHUA)

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General news

NGO seeks improved balanced diet for Nigerians

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An NGO, Global Alliance for Improved Nigeria, says Nigerians are more vulnerable when talking about foods that lack vitamin A and access to other nutrients.

Dr Michael Ojo, the Country Director of the NGO that specialised in food and nutrition, made the call during an online media briefing on Friday in Abuja.

Ojo, however, called for improved balanced diet among Nigerians to encourage development.

He said that the foods being supplied to Nigerians might be lacking the required nutrients.

According to him, this is why the NGO is engaging in effective information dissemination to Nigerians about the types of food they should eat.

“We are focussing on the informal markets.

“This is where majority of people buy their foods; in the open markets, closed markets, village markets and even, in the city markets where people bring their things to sell,” he said.

Ojo said that the project was aimed at ensuring cost-effectiveness of foods in the markets and means for people to get access to nutritious foods.

According to him, the NGO’s target is to ensure that crops which have been biologically fortified with vitamin A and every other food nutrients are made available in the markets.

He added that the focus was to see how the NGO could scale-up the cultivation of these crops in the zones where they were being produced abundantly.

“The NGO is also eliciting demand for the crops for consumption to meet up with the Nigerians needs,” he said.

Ojo also said that the NGO was set to build capacity, specifically on the food system and to respond to the cases of malnutrition.

He said the NGO was working with the financial regulations on foods supply, provide technical and financial support and policy formulation for Nigerians in need of nutritious foods.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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Foreign

New Zealand opposition party elects new leader ahead of September general election

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Todd Muller has been elected as the leader of the New Zealand National Party, the party caucus announced on Friday.

Nikki Kaye has been elected as his deputy.

They will lead the New Zealand National Party to the election on Sept. 19.

“There is no Team Todd, there is no Team Nikki, or anyone else — there is only Team National,’’ Muller said in a statement.

“National has always been a coalition of city and country, business and community, conservatives and liberals — National is the party for all New Zealanders.’’

“New Zealanders need a National government with the experience and management skills to get our country through the worst crisis since the end of the World War II,’’ Muller said.

He added that he will focus on the country’s economic recovery and the strengthening of every community throughout New Zealand.

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Foreign

New Zealand opposition party elects new leader ahead of September general election

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Todd Muller has been elected as the leader of the New Zealand National Party, the party caucus announced on Friday.

Nikki Kaye has been elected as his deputy. They will lead the New Zealand National Party to the election on Sept. 19.

“There is no Team Todd, there is no Team Nikki, or anyone else — there is only Team National,” Muller said in a statement.

“National has always been a coalition of city and country, business and community, conservatives and liberals — National is the party for all New Zealanders,” he said.

“New Zealanders need a National government with the experience and management skills to get our country through the worst crisis since the end of the World War II,” Muller said, adding he will focus on the country’s economic recovery and the strengthening of every community throughout New Zealand.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

New Zealand reports no new COVID-19 cases for 4 consecutive days

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New Zealand reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday for four consecutive days, with the combined total of confirmed and probable cases remaining at 1,503, according to the Ministry of Health.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told a press conference that the death toll has remained at 21 in the country since May 6, the ministry said.

“Over the last few months, any cases where there has been a sudden or unexplained death in the community, COVID-19 testing has been carried out. So far, they have all come back negative,” Bloomfield said.

Only one person was receiving hospital care due to the virus, and this person was not in ICU, he said.

Bloomfield encouraged all New Zealanders to get the influenza vaccine, especially as the country moves into the chilly winter months.

He said there is currently still a good supply of Southern Hemisphere vaccines distributed across the country that its people, especially those considered vulnerable to the flu, have access to.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

New Zealand releases COVID-19 tracer app to support contact tracing

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New Zealand’s Ministry of Health formally released the NZ COVID Tracer app on Wednesday to support contact tracing in the country.

Kiwis who download the app will create a digital diary of the places they visit by scanning QR codes displayed at the entrances to business premises, other organizations and public buildings. People can also register their contact information through the app to make sure the National Close Contact Service can get in touch if they need to, according to a ministry statement.

“One of our key public health responses to COVID-19 is to identify, trace and isolate cases and close contacts to prevent further spread. This app will help us do that. The more Kiwis that download and use it the better placed we are to act promptly to keep other New Zealanders safe,” Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told a press conference.

Privacy and data security are incredibly important to New Zealanders, Bloomfield said, adding, “That’s why NZ COVID Tracer puts you in control of your information.”

“Any information you decide to record with the app will be stored securely on your phone and deleted automatically after 31 days. It’s your choice whether you share any of this information with contact tracers, and any information you do share will be used only for public health purposes and never for enforcement,” he said.

“Like all mobile apps, NZ COVID Tracer will be updated over time as new features are developed. In the next release, NZ COVID Tracer will be able to notify you if you have been at the same location at the same time as someone who has COVID-19 and will allow you to send your digital diary directly to the National Close Contact Service,” he said.

(XINHUA)

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Entertainment

Police warn writer Gaiman over lockdown trip from New Zealand to Scotland

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British writer Neil Gaiman has apologised for travelling from New Zealand to his home on the Scottish island of Skye in breach of coronavirus lockdown measures, saying “I did something stupid.”

Police spoke to Gaiman, author of “American Gods” and “Good Omens,” about his actions after he revealed he had made the 11,000 mile trip to Britain, flying into London and then driving to his home on Skye at the start of the month.

His “selfish” actions were criticised by Ian Blackford, the lawmaker who represents the area and the Scottish National Party’s leader in the Westminster parliament.

“I want to apologise to everyone on the island for creating such a fuss.

“I also want to thank and apologise to the local police, who had better things to do than check up on me.

“I’m sure I’ve done sillier things in my life, but this is the most foolish thing I’ve done in quite a while,” the author wrote on his website.

Gaiman said he had returned from New Zealand when the lockdown was eased there because he and his wife had agreed they “needed to give each other some space.”

His wife Amanda Palmer is an American musician and performance artist.

Scotland maintains stricter lockdown conditions than England, including telling its citizens to stay at home and advising against cross-border travel.

Ten residents of a care home in Skye’s main town of Portree have died of COVID-19.

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Salif Atojoko (NAN)

 

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Foreign

Double rainbow appears in sky over Wellington, New Zealand

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A double rainbow appears in the sky over Wellington, capital of New Zealand on May 19, 2020. (Xinhua/Guo Lei)

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Foreign

Prices drop for New Zealand sheep, beef farmers

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Prices paid to sheep and beef cattle farmers and meat manufacturers both fell sharply in the March 2020 quarter, New Zealand’s statistics department Stats NZ said on Tuesday.

Sheep, beef, and grain farmers received 11.5 percent less for their products in the March quarter, reversing rises over most of 2019. In turn, prices paid to meat manufacturers were down 4.4 percent in the March quarter, Stats NZ said.

“The sharp fall in prices for sheep and beef farming in the first three months of 2020 coincided with dry conditions in many parts of New Zealand, with sheep and beef prices falling,” business prices acting manager Geoffrey Wong said in a statement.

“Farmers were reported to be sending stock off to meat works early because of the drought,” Wong said.

“We also saw some supermarket meat prices fall in March, with lower prices for lamb chops, beef sausages, and beef mince,” he said.

Livestock prices were also a key contributor to the drop in overall costs faced by businesses.

Overall prices for goods and services produced in New Zealand rose 0.1 percent in the March 2020 quarter, when compared with the December 2019 quarter, statistics showed.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

New Zealand’s population passes 5 million

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New Zealand’s resident population provisionally reached 5 million in March 2020, the statistics department Stats NZ said on Monday.

“This is a significant event for New Zealand,” population insights senior manager Brooke Theyers said in a statement. “It is also the fastest million in our history, taking 17 years after reaching 4 million in 2003,” Theyers said.

“It is most likely the 5-million milestone was reached by a migrant arriving by plane, but could have been reached by a newborn baby,” he said.

The estimated resident population is provisionally 5,002,100 at March 31, 2020.

Population growth has been significant since 2013, with half a million people added to the population over the last six years. On average, the population has grown by 1.8 percent a year since 2013, driven by net migration, Stats NZ said.

“The global COVID-19 pandemic has caused unusual international travel and migration patterns in recent months,” Theyers said.

“Net migration has been boosted by more New Zealand citizens returning home after living overseas,” she said. “At the same time, New Zealand citizens may have been unable or reluctant to head offshore.”

About half of the population growth from 4 to 5 million between 2003 and 2020 was due to natural increase (births minus deaths), and about half from net migration (migrant arrivals minus migrant departures), Stats NZ said.

“International migration played a significant role in reaching the 5-million milestone,” Theyers said.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

One new case of COVID-19 in New Zealand, 1,499 in total

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New Zealand reported one new confirmed case of COVID-19 on Sunday, said a statement of the Ministry of Health.

The case is linked to a cluster outbreak in an aged care facility in Christchurch, as a household contact of an earlier case.

This means New Zealand’s combined total of confirmed and probable cases reach 1,499, of which 1,149 are confirmed, it said.

New Zealand currently has 1,433 people reported as having recovered from COVID-19, an increase of five on Saturday. This means 96 percent of all confirmed and probable cases have recovered.

There are two people receiving hospital care for COVID-19 and neither is in ICU. The death toll remained at 21 in the country.

The total number of tests completed to date is 228,148, an increase of 4,211.

New Zealand downgraded its COVID-19 Alert Level from three to two from Thursday. However, general public are urged to stay vigilant and adhere to key health measures such as good hand hygiene and small public gathering less than 10 people at once.

People should also look after their mental wellbeing when heading back to work and school for the first time in a while, said the Ministry of Health.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

No new case of COVID-19 in New Zealand

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New Zealand reported no new case of COVID-19 on Saturday, said a statement of the Ministry of Health, as the country is bracing the first weekend under COVID-19 Alert Level two.

This means New Zealand’s combined total of confirmed and probable cases stayed at 1,498, of which 1,148 are confirmed, it said.

New Zealand currently has 1,428 people reported as having recovered from COVID-19, an increase of seven on Friday. This means 95 percent of all confirmed and probable cases have recovered.

There are three people receiving hospital care for COVID-19 and none are in ICU. The death toll remained at 21 in the country.

The total number of tests completed to date is 223,937, an increase of 7,150.

New Zealand downgraded its COVID-19 Alert Level from three to two from Thursday. However, general public are urged to stay vigilant and adhere to key health measures such as good hand hygiene and small public gathering less than 10 people at once.

“During this first weekend of Alert Level two, it is vital that all New Zealanders maintain the good habits we have learned and implemented in our daily lives over the past weeks”, said the Ministry of Health.

(XINHUA)

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