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More people seen in crowds as COVID-19 tally keeps rising in Indonesia



As the tally of the COVID-19 cases is still surging in Indonesia and the large-scale social restrictions are imposed in the country especially in such big cities as Jakarta and Surabaya, more people are already seen in crowds.

The Indonesian government reported on Saturday that the country’s COVID-19 cases rose by 949 within one day to 21,745 in total with the death toll rising by 25 to 1,351.

The capital city of Jakarta suffered the highest number of deaths which stand at 501, followed by East Java 271, West Java 127, Central Java 70, Banten 66, South Sulawesi 61, South Kalimantan 58 and the rest were recorded in other areas.

The public should actually be alarmed by the fact that the COVID-19 infections in Indonesia has reached the worrying point with 973 new cases reported on Thursday, bringing the total infection cases in the country to 20,162, with the death toll standing at 1,278 up to that day.

Although the Health Ministry’s data showed that the accretion of the COVID-19 cases slightly dropped to a daily record of 949 on Saturday from the highest figure of 973 on Thursday, people are suggested to remain aware of a possible further surge in the number of the virus cases due to some facts.

Let alone the fact that thousands of people were crammed into Indonesian markets in certain areas as some of them are declared red zones of the COVID-19 including Pasar Anyar marketplace in West Java province’s town of Bogor, which has been considered as a new coronavirus cluster.

A number of COVID-19 cases were also reported at traditional markets in some areas in the country including West Sumatra province’s capital of Padang with 39 people tested positive for the virus, and East Java’s city of Sidoarjo where Krian market was closed down after two persons with coronavirus disease were detected.

Chairman of the Indonesian People’s Consultative Assembly Bambang Soesatyo has expressed concern over violations of social restrictions in a number of areas in the country, urging government authorities to further tighten the implementation of the policies on the matter.

He cited as an example that the violations occurred at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Banten province and traditional markets including that in Jakarta where many people without wearing face masks do not obey the requirement of physical distancing.

Such a situation could lead to a possible second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak, Soesatyo said, hoping that the number of the COVID-19 cases would drop to a flattening curve based on which the government could consider relaxation of restriction policies.

Considering the high risk of fatality due to the disease, Soesatyo who is also the former speaker of the House of Representatives called for strict penalties for those who violate the health protocols.

President Joko Widodo has also observed activities at markets packed with people before the Islamic post-fasting festivity Eid-al-Fitr comes even when the social restrictions are still underway to curb the further spread of the COVID-19.

However, the head of state said he did not mind the crowds on the marketplaces as long as people abide by tight procedures on the COVID-19 mitigation.

“I have the health protocols strictly carried out. Persons in charge of the fields must continue to remind people of wearing face masks, keeping physical distances and washing hands,” the president told a recent virtual cabinet meeting in Jakarta.

In addition to the market crowds, what is also worrying is the huge traditional exodus of people who have managed to pass check points to go hometowns for celebrating the Eid-al-Fitr as they may carry the virus which could be transmitted to their families, friends, neighbors and other people.

Not to mention Indonesian migrant workers who arrive from different countries, the worries would even become bigger when the cars with more people from the villages come back for works and other purposes in Jakarta and its neighboring cities as Bekasi, Bogor, Tangerang and Depok.

Due to the risk of the lethal virus, the government has urged the people to suspend trips to their hometowns for celebrating the post-fasting festivity.

It was reported that the police have since April 24 forced some 52,000 cars on their traditional trips to villages to return back to their places of origin including those in Jakarta and its surrounding areas.

Amid this week’s surging tally of the COVID-19 cases in Indonesia, head of the National Covid-19 Task Force Doni Monardo told a press conference that the country is approaching a critical period in the battle against the COVID-19 outbreak before and after Eid-al-Fitr.



Ethiopia’s COVID-19 cases reach 1,257 as 85 more confirmed




Ethiopia on Monday reported 85 more confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the tally to 1,257 in the country.

All 85 new cases, 51 males and 34 females, are Ethiopian nationals, the Federal Ministry of Health said in a statement.

Eight more patients who tested positive for COVID-19 recovered on Monday, raising the total of recoveries to 217, the ministry said.

One more person succumbed to the disease on Monday, bringing the number of COVID-19-related deaths to 12, the statement said.

Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous nation with about 107 million people, reported its first confirmed COVID-19 case on March 13.

The government has instituted a wide range of measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.

In April, the House of People’s Representatives, or lower house of parliament, announced a five-month state of emergency to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Ethiopia.


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Vietnam records no new COVID-19 cases, 14 more patients cured




Vietnam reported no new cases of COVID-19 infection on Monday, with its total confirmed cases remaining at 328 and zero deaths so far, according to its Ministry of Health.

A total of 14 more patients, including a three-month-old baby, were announced to have recovered from the disease on Monday, bringing the total cured cases here to 293, the ministry said.

Vietnam has recorded no local transmission for 46 straight days while there are over 7,200 people being quarantined and monitored in the country, according to the health ministry.


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Iran ready to send more fuel to Venezuela: spokesman




Iran is ready to send more fuel shipments to Venezuela if there is a request, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Monday.

Mousavi slammed United States attempts to block Iran’s trade with other countries, saying that “if Venezuela makes a new request for (fuel) delivery, more shipments will be sent.”

“It is Iran’s natural right to defend its (economic) interests even in faraway places,” Mousavi said in his weekly press conference.

Last months, five Iranian oil fuel tankers arrived at Venezuela shores.

Washington has threatened to take action against the Venezuela-bound fuel tankers, including blacklisting the crew and the tankers.


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Afghanistan reports 545 more COVID-19 cases




Afghanistan on Monday reported 545 new COVID-19 cases within the past 24 hours, bringing the total tally to 15,750 cases, the country’s Ministry of Public Health confirmed.

“Within the past 24 hours, 1,168 suspected cases were tested, out of which 545 cases were tested coronavirus positive in 18 provinces,” the ministry said in a statement.

Eight COVID-19 patients succumbed to the virus, taking the number of people who lost their lives to 265 since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country in February.

The number of people recovered stands at 1,428 after 100 patients recovered during the period.

The ministry has conducted 39,628 tests since February, according to statistics of the public health ministry.

The statement urged Afghans to wear face masks in crowded places, practice physical distancing and keep personnel hygiene.


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More terrorists surrender, others arrested in NE –DHQ



More Boko Haram/Islamic States West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists have continued to surrender to the Troops of Operation Lafiya Dole (OPLD) in the North East.

The Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. John Enenche, in a statement on Monday in Abuja, said the action was sequel to the sustained offensive against the terrorists by the troops.

Enenche said that as the military was inching towards the final defeat of insurgency in the region, more Boko Haram/ISWAP elements had either being arrested or neutralised.

He added that a number of terrorists’ equipment had been captured or destroyed while others continue to surrender amid sustained artillery bombardments and offensive onslaught against their enclaves/hideouts by air and land forces of OPLD.

Enenche disclosed that a terrorist, Muhammadu Abubakar AKA Babagana surrendered to troops of 242 Battalion deployed on May 29, at Charlie Six Check Point, Mongonu in Borno.

He added that preliminary interrogation revealed that the 19-year-old repentant Boko Haram fighter joined the group about a year ago at Shaharam and participated in the attack on Tumbun Shaje.

According to him, Babagana called on his erstwhile colleagues in the forests to surrender to the troops of the Nigerian Army.

“It would be recalled that on May 24 another Boko Haram fighter Malam Adamu Yahaya AKA Saad Karami surrendered to troops of 242 Battalion in Mongonu.

“On the same day, another Boko Haram/ISWAP fighter, a 35-year-old Muhammadu Kabudumi AKA Amir Sabat also surrendered to the troops 242 Battalion in Monguno.

“Kabudumi confessed to joining the Boko Haram sect in 2015 but denied participating in any of the sect’s operations.

“He, however, revealed that he has done duties at Boko Haram criminals’ camps at Abadam, Malam Fatori and Duguri under the leadership of Muhammadu Lawan, a notorious Boko Haram Commander,” he said.

The coordinator further disclosed that troops of Army Super Camp 11 Gamboru in Ngala Local Government Area arrested three terrorists at Isari village on May 8.

He added that the troops recovered one AK47 Rifle loaded with a magazine containing two rounds of 7.62mm Special ammunition, two swords, one cutlass, one axe, a set of arrows and charms.

Enenche also disclosed that the troops of Operation Hadarin Daji deployed at Forward Operation Base Marafa raided an abandoned makeshift hut in Karama village and recovered one AK 47 Rifle and 25 rounds of 7.62mm Special ammunition on May 28.

“Troops of 17 Brigade in conjunction with elements of the Nigeria Police on May 27, stormed a bandits’ hideout in Dumburun Forest and rescued 3 abducted victims.’’

According to him, the troops neutralised one bandit and recovered one FN Rifle mounted with magazine while others fled during the encounter.

“The rescued victims have been reunited with their families.

“On the same day, following intense pressure mounted on bandits by the resilient troops of Operation Katsina, some repentant bandits pleaded to surrender their weapons as well as jettison their criminal acts.

Accordingly, 5 AK 47 Rifles, one Sniper Rifle, one FN Rifle, one PKT Machine Gun, one spare PKT Machine Gun barrel, one Pistol and one block engine of PKT Machine Gun were surrendered by the bandits.

“Other surrendered items include 5 AK 47 Rifle magazines, 2 FN Rifle magazines, 66 rounds of 7.62mm Special ammunition, 13 rounds of 7.62mm NATO belted also surrendered to troops of Operation KATSINA.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, congratulated the gallant troops for their resilience, courage and dedication to the noble cause of defending our fatherland against the terrorists.

The High Command of the Armed Forces also encourages the troops to continue to be steadfast and focused as they sustain their onslaught against the enemies of our nation,” he said.

Edited By: Edwin Nwachukwu/Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)

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Brazil marks more than half a million virus infections




Rio de Janeiro Jun 1, 2020  Number of cases of coronavirus in Brazil has surpassed half a million, the country’s Health Ministry said.

The country had recorded 514,849 cases of infection with the virus, the latest official figures showed.

After the United States’ nearly 1.8 million cases, Brazil is the country with the highest number of officially recorded infections worldwide.

Brazil is the biggest nation in Latin America and is carrying out relatively low levels of testing meaning the real figure is likely significantly higher.

There have been at least 29,314 virus-related deaths so far in the country.

Brazil’s death toll is in fourth place globally, behind the United States, Britain and Italy, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

In many cities in Brazil, hospitals have reached capacity.

Authorities have set up makeshift clinics in football stadiums.

Meanwhile, a dispute between President Jair Bolsonaro, several governors and congress has paralysed the country.

Right-wing populist leader Bolsonaro sees the COVID-19 lung disease as a “mild flu” and has rejected protective measures.

But many state leaders have put in place their own restrictions on movement and public life to stem the spread of the virus.

On Sunday, there were clashes between Bolsonaro supporters, anti-government protesters and the Police in several Brazilian cities.

Meanwhile, the United States announced it would send Brazil 1,000 ventilators and two million doses of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug that President Donald Trump and Bolsonaro have both touted without scientific backing.

The United States said hydroxychloroquine will be used to prevent infection among Brazil’s nurses, despite Trump’s own drug regulator, saying it should only be used for certain hospitalised patients and in trial settings.

“It will also be used as a therapeutic to treat Brazilians who become infected,’’ the White House said in a Sunday statement.

Meanwhile, Washington announced a joint research effort with Brazil to “evaluate the safety and efficacy’’ of the drug for preventative and treatment uses.

“The two countries are well-positioned to continue their work together to address the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to other matters of strategic importance,’’ the White House said.


Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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S. Korea reports 35 more COVID-19 cases, 11,503 in total




South Korea reported 35 more cases of the COVID-19 compared to 24 hours ago as of 0:00 a.m. Monday local time, raising the total number of infections to 11,503.

After peaking at 79 on Thursday, the daily caseload continued to fall to 27 on Sunday, but it rebounded on Monday amid small cluster infections from religious gatherings in the metropolitan area.

Of the new cases, five were imported, lifting the combined figure to 1,264.

One more death was confirmed, leaving the death toll at 271. The total fatality rate stood at 2.36 percent.

A total of 17 more patients were discharged from quarantine after making full recovery, pulling up the combined number of recoveries to 10,422. The total recovery rate was 90.6 percent.

Since Jan. 3, the country has tested more than 921,000 people, among whom 885,830 tested negative for the virus and 24,058 are being checked.


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Spotlight: More countries to ease COVID-19 restrictions as global cases rise with Latin America as new epicenter




More countries in Europe and Asia began to ease restrictions and resume operations, but more than 1 million cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in Latin America and the Caribbean, now the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

Globally, confirmed COVID-19 cases have surpassed 6.16 million, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.


Brazil on Sunday said its nationwide tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 514,849 after 16,409 people tested positive in the past 24 hours, while the death toll neared 30,000.

Its death toll rose to 29,314, the fourth highest in the global pandemic after the United States, Britain and Italy, after 480 deaths had been reported since Saturday, while another 4,208 deaths are still being investigated for any linkage with COVID-19, the Ministry of Health said.

Also on Sunday, Mexico‘s Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said that the country reported 3,152 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 90,664.

There were 151 new coronavirus deaths in Mexico, taking total fatalities to 9,930, Lopez-Gatell added.

Meanwhile, Chile‘s COVID-19 cases increased by 4,830 to reach 99,688 on Sunday.

In the past 24 hours, 57 more patients died, the highest number of fatalities in a single day so far, taking the death toll from the disease to 1,054.

A lockdown is in effect in the capital Santiago and the metropolitan area through June 5, as the region is the epicenter of the country’s outbreak.

In recent weeks, Chile has seen an exponential rise in the number of cases and deaths, leading the government to set up field hospitals to deal with the growing number of patients.


Italy has now recorded fewer than 600 new cases per day for eight consecutive days, a dramatic drop from peaks of more than 6,000 new infections a day, when Italy was the epicenter of the pandemic in late March.

Recent trends show that the spread of the virus has slowed dramatically despite a gradual easing of Italy’s national lockdown at a two-week interval, first on May 4 and again on May 18.

The next step toward easing will come on June 3, when Italians will be allowed to move freely between regions even if for non-essential reasons. It will be the first time such travels will be allowed since March 9, the day before the national lockdown entered into force.

Many businesses across Turkey on Sunday also prepared to resume operation for the first time after over two months of closure amid a slowdown in the spread of COVID-19.

Restaurants, cafes, parks, beaches, daycare centers, kindergartens, libraries, sports facilities, swimming pools, and museums will be operational as of June 1 as part of the new normalization process announced on May 28.

Following the announcement, the Health Ministry prepared a guide in particular for the eating and drinking industry, explaining the new rules in a detailed way.

Likewise, the Egyptian government on Sunday announced a decision to reduce its curfew from 10 hours to nine, following a meeting led by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly.

The government has already started gradual reopening of services and offices suspended since mid-March amid a “coexistence plan” to maintain anti-coronavirus precautionary measures while resuming services, businesses and economic activities.

Chairing Saturday‘s Downing Street daily briefing, British Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said Britons will be able to exercise outside with up to five others from different households from Monday, provided that strict social distancing guidelines are followed.

He also announced that from Monday, competitive sport will be allowed behind closed doors in England, paving the way for the return of live sports on TV screens in almost three months.

The move came as some experts warned that lifting restrictions before cases come down is too “risky.” Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, England‘s deputy chief medical officer, said that Britons need to “actually follow the guidance.”


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Chicago braces for more chaos




After the chaos and violence occurred during protests over an African American‘s death in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Saturday evening, downtown Chicago is quiet on Sunday. Some businesses along the streets are busy boarding up; and volunteers are cleaning the debris left on streets.

At a news conference held Sunday morning, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot restricted downtown Chicago, mainly the Central Business District and Loop, to people who work and live within the boundary. Essential workers are also allowed there.

Chicago Transit Agency (CTA) transit is also limited.

Starting Sunday, “the Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS), Department of Water Management (DWM) and Chicago Police Department (CPD) will reduce access in the Central Business District and Loop area to only employees whose businesses are located within the designated boundaries, individuals who reside in the surrounding area and residents engaged in essential activities as defined in the Municipal Code,” a news release read.

CTA service has been suspended for trains and buses coming in and out of the Loop for public safety reasons, the release continues.

Illinois State Police has closed major downtown Chicago expressway ramps. The closure will be in effect until further notice.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker would activate 375 Illinois National Guard soldiers to help manage street closures at the request of Lightfoot. The Guard will not interfere with peaceful protestors, Pritzker said.

The Illinois National Guard is being ordered to Chicago amid “absolutely devastating” looting and destruction downtown, Lightfoot said. They would have a “limited presence” tonight.

The National Guard would be deployed on the “outer perimeter” of the downtown area, according to Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown.

The police days off have been canceled, he said.

The precautions followed a chaotic and violent Saturday evening, when many businesses along the streets were looted, police cars were overturned, some properties were damaged, there were six shootings with one death, and police made 240 arrests.

As a result, Lightfoot issued a citywide curfew effective from 9 pm to 6 am daily beginning Saturday until further notice.

George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American, died Monday after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was captured on video pinning Floyd down by his neck for eight minutes. Protests erupted in Minneapolis in the following day and quickly spread across the United States.


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