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Iran Press TV

COVID-19 updates: China tightens Beijing restrictions as global cases near 8 million mark

Iran Press TV

Monday, 15 June 2020 9:51 AM

As the number of coronavirus cases nears the eight million mark worldwide, China has reintroduced strict lockdown measures and begun mass testings in some areas of the capital, Beijing, where a never-before-seen cluster of the virus has added to concerns of a new wave of the outbreak.

Johns Hopkins University, which compiles data on the pandemic, put the number of global coronavirus cases at 7,914,188 on Monday, with at least 433,457 fatalities.

Some 3.8 million people have also recovered from the illness.

The worst-affected countries have so far been the United States with more than 2.09 million cases, Brazil with 867,624, Russia with 528,267, India with 320,922, and the United Kingdom with 297,342.

Meanwhile, many European countries have eased their coronavirus lockdowns and lifted travel restrictions to revive their tourist industries as the number of coronavirus cases and fatalities there has significantly dropped.

The following is the latest on the coronavirus pandemic across the globe:

China tightens lockdown measures in Beijing

China – where the coronavirus first emerged last December – recorded 36 new COVID-19 cases in the capital Beijing on Monday, taking the total number to 79 since June 12, when a locally-transmitted infection was for the first time in almost two months.

The new cluster of the virus discovered in Beijing has prompted Chinese authorities to impose tough restrictive measures and launch mass testings in Beijing, which was once viewed as one of China's safest cities.

The outbreak has been traced to Xinfadi, a wholesale food market that is the biggest in Asia and accounts for 80% of Beijing's farm produce supply sourced both domestically and from overseas.

"The risk of the epidemic spreading is very high, so we should take resolute and decisive measures," said spokesman at the Beijing city government, Xu Hejiang.

Fengtai district, where the Xinfadi market is located, announced Saturday the launch of a "wartime mechanism" and the establishment of a command center to curb the spread of the virus.

Authorities have closed the market and started testing tens of thousands of nearby residents for the virus.

Some schools have also started to suspend classes.

Three provinces reported new cases linked to the Beijing cluster, while several other provinces warned their residents against non-essential travel to the capital.

The World Health Organization called for thorough investigations into the new cluster on Sunday.

According to an epidemiologist, a DNA sequencing of the virus shows that the Xinfadi outbreak could have come from Europe.

"We still can't determine how it got here. It might've been on contaminated seafood or meat, or spread from the faeces of people inside the market," state media quoted Yang Peng as saying.

China, which has effectively controlled the outbreak, has so far reported a total number of 83,181 cases and 4,634 deaths on the mainland.

Thailand records zero cases, deaths

Thailand reported no new cases or deaths related to the coronavirus on Monday.

It is the second time in five days that no cases were reported and marked 21 days without a local transmission.

The total number of confirmed cases and deaths remained at 3,135 and 58, prompting the government to lift a nationwide curfew after more than two months.

No decision to ease entry ban: Japan

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi dismissed reports that the government had decided to ease an entry ban.

The local daily, Yomiuri, reported last week that Japan may restart business trips to and from Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam and Thailand in the next few months.

Motegi told parliament on Monday that the government is looking into ways to ease entry bans, and would decrease restrictions in stages if it decided to do so.

India now the fourth worst-hit country

In India, the world's fourth worst-hit country, the number of confirmed cases has spiked countrywide in recent days, even after weeks of strict lockdown imposed there.

"Last two, three weeks have seen a very significant increase in the number of cases every day," said Arvind Kumar, chairman of the Center for Chest Surgery at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi.

Experts warned that the situation could spiral out of control in India, the second most populous nation after China.

There were 11,929 new cases of infection as of early morning local time Sunday.

The cumulative infection numbers have now surpassed 320,000. The death toll, however, is comparatively low at 9,195.

Spain keeps borders closed

While European countries eased some border controls on Monday, Spain – the second worst-hit in the continent – has still continued closure.

Many restrictions will be eased on Monday for the Schengen area of 22 EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Spain, however, will allow no foreign tourists until June 21, with exceptions on some Spanish islands.

The country reopened its border for some 10,000 German holidaymakers on Monday in a project that will test arrangements for socially distanced holidaymaking.

Spain started closure to international tourism after the epidemic triggered the declaration of a state of emergency on March 14.

France calls for vigilance

France allowed restaurants and cafes in Paris to reopen fully from Monday, while Health Minister called on people to remain vigilant as the virus continues to circulate in the country.

"The largest part of the epidemic is behind us but the virus is not dead," Olivier Veran said Monday. "We did not completely defeat it and we are controlling its circulation. We continue testing."

France reported nine additional deaths on Sunday, taking the death total to 29,407.

Greece opens doors to foreign visitors

Greece also reopened its main airports to more international flights on Monday.

Passengers arriving from airports deemed high-risk by the European Union's aviation safety agency will be tested for the virus and quarantined up to 14 days, depending on the test result.

Restrictions remain for passengers from Britain and Turkey. Arrivals from other airports will be randomly tested.

Russia reports 8,246 new cases

Russia reported 8,246 new cases of COVID-19, taking the nationwide tally of infections to 537,210, the country's coronavirus crisis response center said on Monday.

It said 143 people had died from the corona virus complications in the past 24 hours, bringing Russia's overall death toll to 7,091.

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