Coronavirus update: Monkeys attack lab assistant in India, steal COVID-19 blood test samples
Infection rates have begun to rise again in Israel, prompting the Government to consider reimposing the restrictions that were first eased in mid-April.
Meanwhile a gang of monkeys has accosted a laboratory assistant and escaped with a batch of coronavirus blood test samples from a hospital in India.
This story will be regularly updated throughout Saturday.
Saturday’s key moments:
Brazil surpasses Spain in number of deaths
Coronavirus deaths in Brazil have reached 27,878, the Health Ministry says, surpassing Spain to rank fifth in the number of dead.
In the past 24 hours, Brazil, which now has the second-largest outbreak in the world behind the United States, registered 1,124 deaths from the virus and 26,928 additional cases.
Asked about the growing virus crisis in Brazil, US President Donald Trump said the country is “having a hard time”.
But he said he didn’t want to be critical of President Jair Bolsonaro who has shunned social distancing measures and urged citizens to get back to their normal lives because he “went a different way”.
Brazil, with a population of about 210 million people, is the Latin American country hardest hit by the coronavirus, with more than 465,000 confirmed cases. Experts say those figures are significantly underestimated due to insufficient testing.
The Trump administration instituted a travel ban on Brazil this week as the virus numbers continue to climb.
Mr Trump said the ban would be lifted “as soon as we can”.
Israel considers reimposing restrictions as cases rise again
Infection rates have risen in Israel, particularly in schools, since the Government began easing restrictions in mid-April.
The number of positive tests rose to 101 on Friday from four last Saturday and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet ministers and senior health officials over the weekend to decide whether to again close schools for some grades.
Breaking into a public holiday to sound a note of caution, Health Ministry director general Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov said some people had not been vigilant enough regarding social distancing, hygiene and wearing masks.
Though the number of daily tests has not changed, the rate of positive results has jumped to 1.5 per cent from 0.5 per cent, he told reporters.
“Sadly the disease is still here,” Mr Bar-Siman-Tov said.
“The atmosphere of loosening up among the Israeli public is out of place.
“I understand there are complaints that we have one policy and then change it, but that is how it works around the whole world.”
Idris and Sabrina Dhowre Elba sound alarm as hunger crisis looms
Idris Elba has called for urgent action and creative solutions to prevent a looming hunger crisis in poor countries, where food production and transport have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The British actor and filmmaker said the issue was personal to him and his wife, model and activist Sabrina Dhowre Elba, since both of their families came from Africa.
The couple launched a United Nations fund in April to support rural food systems and spoke in an online panel on Friday with experts from the International Fund for Agricultural Development.
With 60 per cent of employment in Africa in agriculture, “that’s an awful lot of people who are going to suffer and not eat because of the crisis and ongoing effects,” Elba said.
“At the beginning stages of this pandemic … everyone was looking at themselves. And I think what’s happened now is we’ve realised that we’re all connected somewhat.”
Coronavirus is set to almost double global hunger by the end of the year, putting an additional 130 million people at risk because of cut-off trade flows and loss of income, according to the World Food Programme. Most will be in Africa.
Monkeys attack lab assistant, escape with COVID-19 blood samples
A troop of monkeys has attacked a laboratory assistant and escaped with a batch of coronavirus blood test samples from a hospital in India, according to authorities.
The incident began as the lab assistant, who was not seriously injured in the attack, was transporting newly collected samples outside the Meerut Medical College in Delhi.
Head of the hospital, SK Garg, said the sample box contained packets of blood from people who had tested positive to COVID-19.
After grabbing the samples, the monkeys fled to a nearby residential area. They then climbed trees and were seen chewing the packets before throwing them away.
No individuals were believed to have come into contact with the samples, and hospital authorities have sanitised the area.
Pakistan resumes international flights despite no reduction in virus spread
Pakistan will allow outbound international flights to resume from this weekend, an aviation official says, after largely closing its airspace to commercial flights to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement came as Pakistan reported its largest one-day spread of the infection, with 2,636 cases and 57 deaths in 24 hours. Pakistan has recorded a total of 64,028 cases.
“Both national and foreign airlines shall be allowed to operate from all international airports of Pakistan,” Abdul Sattar Khokhar, Senior Joint Secretary at the Civil Aviation Authority, said in a statement.
“The airlines … may carry passengers from Pakistan to international destinations,” Mr Khokhar said, adding that passengers would have to follow standard precautions to help contain the virus for both the local and the international flights.
International and local flights have been suspended since March, with exemptions for some flights to enable international repatriation in and out of Pakistan.
Despite a rising rate of infection, Pakistan has rolled back almost all lockdown measures, primarily to avert an economic meltdown.
More of Europe to reopen borders as restrictions are tentatively lifted
Norway and Denmark have reached an agreement to allow tourists to travel freely, though border crossings with Sweden, which sits between the two countries and has a much higher number of infections, will remain restricted.
Denmark will also welcome tourists from Germany and Iceland. All foreign visitors will need to book at least six nights accommodation before arriving and they will not be allowed to stay in the capital Copenhagen, where most of the country’s cases are.
The idea of travel bubbles, or travel corridors, is gaining traction with governments around the world as a way to restart international travel while limiting the risk of spreading the virus.
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have already opened their common borders, creating the first travel bubble within the European Union.
Greece has announced it will open to visitors from 29 countries, including Australia and New Zealand, from June 15, days before its peak tourism season begins. Tourists will be subject to random testing for the virus during their time on holiday.
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