The English Premier League confirmed on Saturday that two more positive cases of COVID-19 were tested in the second round of testing.
The Premier League said that 996 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19 on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. “Of these, two have tested positive from two clubs.”
The Premier League clubs have been allowed to start small-group training from Tuesday after the top flight football league in England was suspended on March 13 due to coronavirus outbreak.
In the first round of testing, 748 players and club staff were tested on May 17-18, with six testing positive from three clubs.
Japan lifts COVID-19 state of emergency 6 days early
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ended the state of emergency in the Greater Tokyo metropolitan area and the northern province of Hokkaido, the last remaining areas of the country on high alert.
The move came six days earlier than expected, with the national state of emergency initially set to run until May 31.
Japan did not impose the kind of strict lockdown seen in Europe and elsewhere.
Residents were only requested to stay at home if possible.
Report say the country’s outbreak appears to be under control, with daily numbers of new cases falling for some time.
Japan has so far confirmed around 17,300 coronavirus cases of infections and around 850 related deaths.
Critics had accused Abe’s government of conducting fewer tests than other countries, though experts argue this is justified given that Japan has seen far fewer deaths and cases with severe symptoms.
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)
Aussie state to open most internal borders as COVID1-19 restrictions ease
Australia’s State of Western Australia (WA) will lift most of its internal borders on Friday except those protecting biosecurity areas and vulnerable remote indigenous communities.
In a statement released on Monday, the state government said the decision is a part of the government’s road map to safely and gradually reduce COVID-19 restrictions.
The further lift on internal boundaries came after a previous ease made seven days ago that saw the reginal boarders reduced from 13 to 4 and there was no outbreak after that.
While travelling to those remote indigenous communities is still prohibited, the Commonwealth designated biosecurity areas within WA will be reopened from June 5 as the authorities see the local COVID-19 spreading remain controlled.
“I would like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding, and I urge everyone who can travel to get out there, wander around WA and support local businesses.”
He added the time WA’s boarder opening to other states still need to be decided.
“Based on health advice, Western Australia’s hard border with the rest of the country will remain in place, and will likely be the final restriction lifted.” he said.
Malaysia reports spike in COVID-19 cases after more cases detected in immigration detention facilities
Malaysia has reported 172 new COVID-19 cases, with 112 of them traced to three immigration detention facilities, pushing the national total to 7,417 cases, the Health Ministry said on Monday.
It marked the first daily increase of over 100 since the Malaysian government relaxed the restrictive measures on May 4.
Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said at a press briefing that of the new cases, five are imported with the remainder being local transmissions, among which 159 involved non-Malaysian citizens including 112 detainees at three immigration detention facilities.
The authorities first reported a cluster at one immigration detention facility on the outskirt of Kuala Lumpur last week, before two more facilities have detected clusters.
Among samples taken from the three facilities, 227 detainees and one local staff were tested positive so far, with more results pending, which is likely to push up the confirmed cases in coming days, said Noor Hisham.
He urged the public not to worry as the facilities are isolated from the society and under control of the authorities.
The Health Ministry also reported a new cluster from a building site in Kuala Lumpur, with 44 cases confirmed so far, 43 of which are non-Malaysian citizens.
Another 34 cases had been released on Monday, bringing the total cured and discharged to 5,979, or 80.6 percent of all cases. Of the 1,323 active cases, eight are currently being held in intensive care and four of those are in need of assisted breathing.
No new deaths had been reported, leaving the total deaths at 115.
Zimbabwe president castigates West for continued interference in affairs of African states
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa has castigated the West for meddling in the internal affairs of African countries and called on Africans to deepen the culture of democracy and good governance as taught by the continent’s founding fathers.
In his address to the nation on the eve of the 57th anniversary of the founding of the Organization of African Unity, now the African Union, Mnangagwa said former colonial powers had no authority to lecture Africa on democracy as the continent had fought to achieve the democracy being enjoyed to this day.
Africans should not be shy to express the rich cultural heritage, languages and identities, he added.
He said Zimbabwe continued to suffer from unwarranted interference and endure illegal sanctions imposed as punishment for reclaiming land.
“However, we are buoyed by the fact that we have re-united with our land, which is now irreversibly reposed into our hands, we its true owners,” he said.
“As we commemorate and celebrate the unity of our continent, we in Zimbabwe deeply thank our SADC region and the whole continent of Africa for standing with us. Africa has rejected and denounced the sanctions against Zimbabwe and the Sudan, urging those responsible for these illegal, heinous measures to immediately lift them without conditionalities.
“They are illegal, unjust, spiteful and undeserved. Above all, they go against the grain and spirit of civilized international relations as espoused in the United Nations Charter. We reiterate that sanctions have no place in modern international relations.”
He said Zimbabwe also continued to pursue robust cooperation with its neighbours and the continent as a whole; subscribing to a fully integrated continent of Africa.
“We must now urgently consolidate the implementation of cross-border projects, to improve our road networks, water, energy and ICT infrastructure, among others. This will inevitably accelerate multi-faceted sustainable development in the region and on the continent,” he said.
Zimbabwe leader challenges Africa to emulate founding fathers’ vision as continent celebrates Africa Day
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday challenged Africa to pursue the vision of the founding fathers and promote economic integration and sustainable development for the continent.
In his address to the nation marking the 57th anniversary of the founding of the Organization for African Unity, now the African Union, on May 25, 1963, Mnangagwa commended Africans for defending the continent’s independence, state media reported.
“As we celebrate Africa Day, we are jubilant that the vision of our founding fathers has been by and large realized, kept and is jealously defended.
“Above all, that vision continues to be elaborated upon, notably through Agenda 2063 which envisions an economically integrated continent of Africa which will be a global powerhouse by 2063.”
He stressed on Africa’s desire to achieve sustainable development, through concrete manifestations of the pan-African drive for unity, self-determination, freedom, progress and collective prosperity.
With the African Continental Free Trade Area that seeks to create a prosperous future now in force, integration and cooperation at all levels should be scaled up, Mnangagwa said.
Cooperation is imperative in the continent’s quest to achieve food security and to mitigate the impact of climate change and threats posed by disease outbreaks, he said.
“Conscious of Agenda 2063, we must continue to explore and exploit our vast natural resources. The value addition and beneficiation of our various resource endowments must be harnessed to modernize and industrialize Africa’s economies.
“In this ‘Decade of Action,’ let us give impetus to innovation. We must drive all facets of socio-economic development, leveraging on science, technologies as well as our rich heritage, history and cultures,” he said.
The promotion of human development and the economic empowerment of youth and women must result in an Africa that produces goods and services for itself through its own innovations and initiatives, Mnangagwa said.
“The realization of sustainable development and the great vision of an improved standard of living for our people must remain a top priority,” he said.
S. Korea’s Moon urges use of full fiscal capability against ‘wartime-like’ economic crisis
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, on Monday called for “wartime-like” aggressive fiscal policy to cope with the economic crisis from the COVID-19 pandemic, dismissing a burgeoning public concern about South Korea’s fiscal soundness.
“The bottom of the global economy is invisible.
“This is indeed an economic wartime situation,” he said during an annual national fiscal strategy meeting at Cheong Wa Dae.
He stressed the need to mobilise all of the government’s fiscal capabilities on par with a wartime fiscal operation.
President Moon Jae-in (C) speaks during the National Fiscal Strategy Meeting at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on May 25, 2020. (Yonhap).
The president urged the speedy allocation of another batch of supplementary budgets, saying South Korea still had room for expansionary fiscal policy in comparison with other member states of The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
“Our national debt ratio stays at the level of 41 percent,” taking into account the two previous extra budgets against the economic impact from the virus, he pointed out.
Moon underscored the importance of swiftly overcoming the serious crisis and seeking the recovery of fiscal health from a long-term perspective, which is a way to prevent the worsening of the debt proportion.
He was emphasising the importance of speedy and timely fiscal measures.
According to him, the government is preparing to submit a third extra budget bill.
He asked the National Assembly to approve it next month.
The ruling Democratic Party is reportedly pushing for a third extra budget bill worth over 40 trillion won.
The Moon administration has also announced plans to pour 250 trillion won into helping companies maintain jobs, insulate key industries, support small and medium-sized enterprises, the self-employed and other vulnerable people.
Separately, the government is handing out direct cash payments of up to 1 million won to all of the country’s households.
On the monetary policy side, South Korea’s central bank slashed the benchmark interest rate by 0.5 percentage point to a record low of 0.75 percent in March.
Many analysts predict the Bank of Korea will cut it once again this week.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
Roundup: Tokyo stocks close higher on hopes for full economic restart
Tokyo stocks closed higher Monday on hopes that Japan’s economy will be fully reopened as the government is poised to lift the remaining coronavirus-related state of emergency in Tokyo and nearby regions.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average gained 353.49 points, or 1.73 percent, from Friday to close the day at 20,741.65.
The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, meanwhile, added 24.40 points, or 1.65 percent, to finish at 1,502.20.
Stocks recovered lost ground after retreating over the past two trading days, as investors’ risk appetite returned on expectations the government’s lifting of the state of emergency for Tokyo and four other prefectures would lead to a significant rise in economic activity.
The greater Tokyo area accounts for a significant percentage of Japan’s overall population and hence consumption, so eased restrictions on business activities and people’s movements amid a decline in coronavirus cases is a clear boon for Japan’s recession-hit economy, market analysts here said.
“The greater Tokyo area has 30 percent of Japan’s population and likely accounts for about half of its personal consumption, so opening it up will clearly help the economy. It is a bit earlier than expected and the opening is quite broad,” John Vail, chief global strategist at Nikko Asset Management, was quoted as saying.
Local brokers, meanwhile, said that cyclical issues like steelmakers and shipping lines found favor on hopes for Japan’s economic restart, while air transportation issues also rallied on expectations the easing of the virus emergency would see more domestic demand in the short term.
As such, Nippon Steel added 2.7 percent, while Kobe Steel climbed 3.5 percent. JFE Holdings, for its part, ended the day 4.0 percent higher.
Rising shipping stocks included Mitsui O.S.K. Lines advancing 3.5 percent and Kawasaki Kisen gaining 1.9 percent.
Japan Airlines surged 9.4 percent, while ANA Holdings also drew buying on hopes for increased patronage, ending the day 7.6 percent higher.
Similarly, rail transportation issues gained on hopes the eased emergency virus restrictions would lead to an increase in passengers commuting to work again, with West Japan Railway climbing 5.6 percent, while East Japan Railway closed 5 percent higher.
By the close of play, air and land transportation, and real estate-linked issues comprised those that gained the most, and issues that rose outpaced those that fell by 1,857 to 259 on the First Section, while 54 ended the day unchanged.
On the main section on Monday, 1.002 billion shares changed hands, dropping from Friday’s volume of 1.229 billion shares.
The turnover on the first trading day of the week came to 1.737 billion yen (16.127 billion U.S. dollars).
“Significant” Australian bushfires increasing in frequency: experts
Head of climate monitoring at Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) Karl Braganza has warned that the devastating 2019-20 bushfires were not a “one-off event.”
Braganzaon on Monday fronted the first day of hearings for the landmark Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.
Braganza said that since 2003 every jurisdiction in Australia has experienced “really significant fire events,” the frequency of which “seem to be increasing.”
“Since the Canberra 2003 fires, every jurisdiction in Australia has seen some really significant fire events that have challenged what we do to respond to them and have really challenged what we thought fire weather looked like preceding this period,” he said.
“These large fire events when you look back over the 19th and 20th century were not as frequent as they were this century.”
More than 10 million hectares of land were burned by the bushfires, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison dubbed the “black summer”, killing more than 30 people and destroying thousands of homes and businesses.
Morrison established the royal commission in February with a focus on Australia’s preparedness for natural disasters and improving natural disaster coordination.
Helen Cleugh, a senior principal research scientist from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), said that climate change was interacting with and exacerbating previous weather systems in a way never seen before, according to The Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“This means that understanding the interaction between climate variability and these drivers and climate change is very important for building preparedness for the changing nature of climate risks into the future,” she said.
“Perhaps put more simply, climate change means that the past is no longer a guide to future climate-related impacts and risks.”
Germany reports more than 178,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19
New infections with COVID-19 in Germany remained under last week’s average as the number of confirmed cases increased by 289 within one day to 178,570, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) announced on Monday.
Over the course of last week, an average of 561 daily cases had been reported by the RKI, the federal government agency for disease control and prevention.
According to the institute, the death toll from COVID-19 in Germany increased by 10 to 8,257 on Monday, resulting in a fatality rate of the confirmed cases of 4.6 percent.
The estimated number of people in Germany who had already recovered from COVID-19 increased by around 800 within one day to 161,200 on Monday, according to the RKI. So the number of people currently infected with COVID-19 in Germany decreased and stood at 17,370.
On Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that relaxations had to preserve the proportionality of the restrictions. She was very pleased “that the current infection situation makes it possible to allow and make possible many things again that had only been there to a limited extent for a few weeks.”
Iran’s confirmed COVID-19 cases hit 137,724
Kianush Jahanpur, head of Public Relations and Information Center of the Ministry of Health and Medical Education, said 34 patients died over the past 24 hours, taking the death toll to 7,451.
Jahanpur updated the number of recovered people to 107,713, adding that 2,585 are still under intense care in hospitals.
The number of lab tests administered across the country stands at 818,917 as of Monday.
Iran announced its first cases of COVID-19 on Feb. 19.
Japan’s Abe lifts COVID-19 state of emergency completely
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday lifted a state of emergency in the Tokyo metropolitan area and Hokkaido as the spread of COVID-19 in these areas is now under control, thus entirely ending the emergency in all of the country’s 47 prefectures.
Abe told reporters the state of emergency that has been in place since April in the capital of Tokyo and its three prefectural neighbors Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa as well as the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, is ending ahead of schedule. The state of emergency was due to run until May 31.
“I have decided to end the state of emergency across the nation,” said Abe. “In just over a month and a half, we almost brought (the infection) situation under control.”
Abe first declared a month-long state of emergency for Tokyo and six other prefectures on April 7, and it was expanded to cover the entire nation on April 16. The state of emergency was originally scheduled to end on May 6, and the government later extended it through May 31.
As of Monday night, the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Japan have reached 16,623, while the death toll from the pneumonia-causing virus currently stands 856.
Bangladesh records highest daily spike with 1,975 new COVID-19 cases, death toll tops 500
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bangladesh reached 35,585, including 1,975 new cases confirmed in the last 24 hours, the biggest daily jump since March 8, a senior health ministry official told a media briefing on television on Monday.
With 21 new deaths, the toll due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country reached 501 on Monday, said Professor Nasima Sultana, additional director general of Directorate General of Health Services under the Ministry of Health.
She said 9,451 samples were tested in the last 24 hours across Bangladesh, which used to record the highest daily increase of 1,873 cases on May 23.
During the last 24 hours, she said 433 more patients were released from hospitals and clinics, bringing the number of recovered patients in the country to 7,334.
Russian COVID-19 cases exceed 350,000
The death toll grew by 92 to 3,633, while 118,798 people have recovered, including 5,499 over the last 24 hours, according to the statement.
Moscow, the country’s worst-hit region, confirmed 2,560 new cases in the last 24 hours, taking its total to 166,473.
Russia’s consumer rights and human well-being watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor said in a statement on Monday that 287,683 people were under medical observation as of Sunday.
More than 8.9 million lab tests for COVID-19 have been conducted across the country so far, it added.
Rospotrebnadzor’s Head, Anna Popova, said on Sunday on Rossiya-1 television channel, that the pandemic situation in Russia had stabilised.
She said that the virus spread ratio indicating how many people an infected person can pass the disease on to before isolation, which used to be less than one or equal to one in only nine regions, is now less than one in 27 regions and is equal to one in 17 regions.
Therefore, 44 out of Russia’s 85 regions could “proceed today or tomorrow to the first stage of the removal of restrictions imposed because of COVID-19’’, Popova said.
“Our scientists say that we’ll be able to move on to the next stage after two more weeks.’’
At the first stage, people may be allowed to engage in outdoor sports and reopen small businesses, while at the second stage, people will be allowed to walk on the streets with family members and educational institutions may reopen.
In Moscow, on Monday, some government agencies resumed receiving visitors.
City residents will again be able to apply for passports, driver’s licences and obtain other documents, the Moscow Mayor’s office said on its website.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
COVID-19 cases in Ghana climb to 6,808 as 125 infections confirmed
Ghana’s number of COVID-19 cases has increased to 6,808 with 125 more cases confirmed, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) said here early Monday.
In its latest update, the GHS also captured 72 new recoveries, increasing the number of recovered cases to 2,070, while the number of deaths remains at 32.
The West African country has kept its entry points shut since March 22, to prevent the importation of the pandemic.
Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said on May 24 that the country is close to announcing the roadmap towards easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
Spain to welcome foreign tourists back from July
The world’s second-most visited nation closed its doors and beaches in March to handle the COVID-19 pandemic but has seen out the worst and plans to lift a 14-day quarantine requirement on overseas arrivals within weeks.
“It is perfectly coherent to plan summer vacations to come to Spain in July,’’ Tourism Minister, Reyes Maroto, told radio station Onda Cero as Spain geared up to salvage a tourism industry that normally draws 80 million people a year.
The hard-hit capital Madrid is coming back to life on Monday, with people allowed back into its main Retiro Park and a few bars and restaurant terraces reopening.
“This is great, I was really looking forward to it.
“And so was my dog!’’ said interior designer, Anna Pardo, walking her pet in the sunshine in the Retiro.
Strolling, jogging and chatting, Madrilenos passed through the park’s shaded alleys or stopped for a moment to enjoy its small lake, still devoid of the usual rowing boats.
More cars buzzed through streets.
Though bars and restaurants are now allowed to open terraces at 50 per cent capacity but cannot welcome clients indoors, few restarted in Madrid on Monday morning, as businesses weighed the value of catering to just a few customers.
The Tourism Minister’s comments, after similar remarks by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, lifted shares of tourism-related stocks, including hotel operator Melia Hotels, which rose 14 per cent in early trading.
In half of the country, including the popular Canary and Balearic Islands, even more restrictions have been lifted as lockdown has moved one notch ahead to a phase 2.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Indonesia reports 479 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, 19 new deaths
The COVID-19 cases in Indonesia rose by 479 within one day to 22,750, with the death toll adding by 19 to 1,391, Achmad Yurianto, a Health Ministry official, said at a press conference on Monday.
Jakarta, home to some 10 million people, suffers the highest number of deaths totaling 501, followed by East Java 292, West Java 128, Central Java 70, Banten 66, South Sulawesi 66, South Kalimantan 61 and the rest recorded in other areas.
The pandemic has spread to all the 34 provinces in the country.
Authorities have been conducting rapid tests in areas where cases were detected, and ordering the public to always wear masks to curb the spread.
The COVID-19 National Task Force’s Chief Doni Monardo said people who are traveling in the country must show medical certificates proving that they had gone through either rapid tests or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for the COVID-19.
The certificates for rapid tests and those for PCR tests last three days and seven days respectively, he added.
Monardo said the certificates must be shown to authorities at security screening checkpoints in roads, airports, seaports and railway stations.
“If a person can’t show the certificate, authorities will require the person to return to his or her departure point,” he stated.
Kindergarten pupil tests positive for virus ahead of expanded school reopening
The development has led to the shutdown of several education institutes in Gangseo Ward, where the young patient lives.
An undated file photo shows students and a teacher inside an after-school day care class. (Yonhap).
The news quickly raised fear among parents with young children, just two days ahead of the planned second-phase resumption of schools, including kindergartens.
The six-year-old boy is believed to have contracted the virus from his art teacher at Young Rembrandts, a private art school in Magok of Gangseo on the south side of the Han River.
The teacher, who tested positive on Sunday, had taught 35 students at the institute until Friday and had contact with three other teachers there.
The teachers all wore masks and followed the institute’s quarantine guidelines and social distancing rules, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education.
The art school’s 91 students, three teachers and two parents have been tested for the virus and are awaiting their results, which will come out early on Tuesday.
The teacher’s 38 contacts have been ordered to self-quarantine for 14 days, and 13 educational institutes in the same building as the art school will be closed for disinfection.
The boy’s kindergarten, 10 nearby kindergartens and five nearby elementary schools, including Gongjin and Gonghang elementary schools, will remain closed for two days for disinfection and other precautionary measures.
Under the government’s phased school reopening plan, schools are scheduled to resume in-person classes for the two lowest grades of elementary school, kindergarten students, middle school seniors and second-year high school students on Wednesday.
The education office is mulling whether to have the boy’s kindergarten offer online classes to prevent the potential spread of the virus.
A decision on other affected schools will be determined based on the test results.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
People sit separately in circled-off areas to assure social distancing in San Francisco
Uganda reports 14 more COVID-19 cases, total now at 212
Uganda has reported 14 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the East African country to 212, according to a Ministry of Health statement issued on Monday.
Tests were conducted, on Sunday, on 1,739 samples collected from cross-border cargo truck drivers, contacts of the previously confirmed cases and community, the statement said.
“All new cases are contacts to previously confirmed truck drivers.
“All contacts were under quarantine at the time of test,’’ the statement said.
A total of five foreign truck drivers, all Tanzanians, who tested positive for the virus at Uganda’s Mutukula border, were handed over to their country of origin, the ministry said.
Out of the 212 COVID-19 cases, 68 have recovered and no one has died of the respiratory disease, the statement said.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Uganda’s COVID-19 cases hit 212, with 14 new cases confirmed
The ministry said out of the 1,739 samples collected from cross-border cargo truck drivers, contacts of the previously confirmed cases and community, which were tested on Sunday, 14 samples turned out positive.
“All new cases are contacts to previously confirmed truck drivers. All contacts were under quarantine at the time of test,” said the statement.
A total of five foreign truck drivers, all Tanzanians who tested positive for the virus at Uganda’s Mutukula border were handed over to their country of origin, the ministry said.