Thousands of UK holidaymakers scrambled to get home to beat new restrictions on arrivals from European countries as a second wave of virus infections threatened more disruption and economic chaos on the continent.
France and the Netherlands were removed from a list of quarantine-exempt countries Friday, sparking a rush for plane, train and ferry ticket by Britons hoping get home before 4am (0300 GMT) Saturday, after which arrivals will have to self-isolate for 14 days.
France is facing a resurgent wave of the disease that emerged in China late last year and has so far infected over 21 million people and killed more than 750,000 around the world.
Authorities in France have reported more than 2,500 new cases for the past three days – levels not seen since May.
One British couple said they had spent nearly 1,000 pounds (1,105 euros) to make it home via Eurostar from central France.
My colleague Patrick Collinson writes that Britain’s charity shops are struggling with sales declines of as much as one-third, despite enjoying bumper stock levels – and offering huge savings – following a surge in donations after households “decluttered” during lockdown.
Oxfam, which has 595 shops, said that money coming through its tills is down by 32% on a like-for-like basis compared to last year. The British Heart Foundation, which has around 740 shops, said income is currently down around 20%, with Barnardo’s and Cancer Research UK saying they are suffering similar declines.
In case you missed it earlier, my colleague Daniel Hurst has written this story about the Australian government’s homebuilder scheme:
Fewer than 250 people have applied for the Morrison government’s homebuilder scheme, officials have revealed, despite the hype from an industry association that it was the “most effective stimulus in decades”.
Appearing before the Senate’s Covid-19 select committee on Friday, Treasury officials revealed that the government was only aware of 247 formal applications so far. These included 157 in South Australia and 90 in Tasmania.
Seoul tightens restrictions as South Korea records highest Covid-19 cases since March
South Korea tightened coronavirus measures on Saturday in Seoul and its surrounding areas as the country reported the highest number of new daily infections in more than five months, AFP reports.
The stricter social distancing guidelines include restrictions on gatherings and activities including professional sports, which will be played behind closed doors in the capital area again.
The move came as South Korea reported 166 new cases on Saturday, the highest daily figure since early March, bringing the country’s total infections to 15,039 with 305 deaths.
South Korea stands at a “critical juncture” in the battle to control the coronavirus surge, prime minister Chung Sye-kyun said at a government response meeting.
“Our top priority is to contain the spread of the virus in the greater Seoul area.”
A majority of the new cases came from the greater Seoul region – home to half of the country’s 51 million people – raising fears about a major spike with a three-day weekend starting in South Korea from Saturday.
South Korea endured one of the worst early outbreaks outside mainland China but brought it broadly under control with extensive tracing and testing while never imposing the kind of lockdowns ordered in much of Europe and other parts of the world.
The country has been seen as a model on how to combat the pandemic with the public largely following safety health measures such as face masks. It even started allowing limited numbers of spectators at sports games in July – which was reversed for the greater Seoul region on Saturday.
This story, about a distressed staff member at an aged care home in Victoria pleading for help, is devastating. From my colleagues Melissa Davey, Lisa Cox and Stuart MacFarlane.
“There are NO staff available – we are begging for help with regard to staffing, and no one wants to place themselves in the ‘hot zone’. Therefore, it is all up to our depleted staff to help, feed, bathe, medicate and attend to residents who are basically dying.”
New Zealand authorities investigate whether outbreak could be linked to Victoria
New Zealand authorities say they are investigating whether the new outbreak there could be linked to Victoria.
At a press conference on Saturday, the country’s director general of health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, said he had been in contact with health officials in Victoria about an outbreak at an Americold cold storage facility in Melbourne.
You’ll be aware that we have been doing some environmental testing as well at the Americold store in Mt Wellington, that is being processed today.
I have also had contact from my counterpart in Victoria who has linked me with their lab there, that is doing some genome sequencing on some [coronavirus] cases of employees in an Americold cool store there in Melbourne, just again to see if there is any possible linkage there, so we are looking at that possibility, it’s part of the overall puzzle and we are leaving no stone unturned.
Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the numbers in Victoria at the moment.
There are currently:
- 3,383 cases in the state which may indicate community transmission.
- 7,875 active cases.
- 661 people are in hospital, including 41 in intensive care,
- 8,121 people have recovered from the virus.
- More than 1,937,700 tests have been processed.
Of the total cases:
- 15,163 cases are from metropolitan Melbourne, while 997 are from regional Victoria.
- The total cases include 7,961 men and 8,512 women
- There are 1,178 active cases among healthcare workers, and 2,259 in total.
- There are 2,041 active cases relating to aged care facilities.
Active aged care outbreaks with the highest case numbers:
- 204 cases have been linked to Epping Gardens Aged Care in Epping.
- 190 cases have been linked to St Basil’s Homes for the Aged in Fawkner.
- 155 cases have been linked to Estia Aged Care Facility in Ardeer.
- 130 cases have been linked to Kirkbrae Presbyterian Homes in Kilsyth.
- 124 cases have been linked to BaptCare Wyndham Lodge Community in Werribee.
- 108 cases have been linked to Outlook Gardens Aged Care Facility in Dandenong North.
- 101 cases have been linked to Estia Aged Care Facility in Heidelberg.
- 93 cases have been linked to Twin Parks Aged Care in Reservoir.
- 91 cases have been linked to Arcare Aged Care Facility in Craigieburn.
- 83 cases have been linked to Glendale Aged Care Facility in Werribee.
Cases currently linked to key outbreaks are as follows:
- 203 cases have been linked to Bertocchi Smallgoods in Thomastown.
- 186 cases have been linked to Al-Taqwa College.
- 142 cases have been linked to JBS Brooklyn.
- 142 cases have been linked to Royal Melbourne Hospital Royal Park campus.
- 29 cases have been linked to Hazeldene’s Chicken Farm in Bendigo.
- 28 cases have been linked to Werribee Mercy Hospital.
- 27 cases have been linked to Coles Laverton Distribution centre.
- 21 cases have been linked to Jayco in Dandenong.
One new Covid-19 case in Western Australia
The Australian state of Western Australia has reported one new case of Covid-19 overnight, bringing the state’s total to 646.
The case is a man in his 30s in hotel quarantine. There are now five active cases in WA.
Four Australian men have been caught trying to dodge state border restrictions by sailing a houseboat from New South Wales to their home in Cairns, Queensland.
AAP reports that the men were intercepted in Gold Coast waters on Friday after leaving the NSW north-coast town of Coffs Harbour on Wednesday.
The four men on board the 14-metre catamaran were allegedly trying to make the journey home to Cairns, a journey of over 2,000km.
Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it proved those who tried to flout border restrictions by any means would be caught.
“They have all been fined for making a false declaration, and are now enjoying hotel quarantine at their own expense,” she told reporters on Saturday.
The premier also confirmed two members of a cargo ship off the Queensland coast who tested positive to coronavirus on Friday have now been evacuated to hospital.
Coronavirus cases in Latin America, the region of the world worst-affected by the pandemic, exceeded six million on Friday and continued to accelerate, according to a tally compiled by Reuters, as most of its nations begin to relax lockdown measures.
The region, which has reported an average of more than 86,000 daily infections of the new coronavirus in the last seven days and more than 2,600 Covid-19 deaths, reached 6,000,005 confirmed cases by Friday evening and 237,360 deaths.
That accounts for just under one-third of the world’s total case load and a similar share of reported deaths from the pandemic.
The Pan American Health Organization, the regional arm of the World Health Organisation, warned this month of an increase in other diseases due to the saturation of health services and the suspension of routine vaccination campaigns as a result of the pandemic.
The International Monetary Fund predicted in June that the regional economy would contract 9.4% this year.
The region’s worst-affected country is Brazil, which has the most cases in the world after the US, and 15% of world’s total. Peru and Chile also have the highest case loads and number of deaths in the world per 100,000 inhabitants, of countries with more than 100,000 cases.
The region’s climb from five million to six million cases took 11 days, one day less than it took to reach the previous million.
Our photographer Mike Bowers took these snaps of a flyover Parliament House in Canberra to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two this morning.
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