MNew Zealand last week declared it had eliminated coronavirus, but now the virus is back, with two women who recently travelled from the UK to visit a dying relative testing positive.
Meanwhile, European nations have eased border controls after three months of lockdown, with German tourists heading for Mallorca and French bargain-hunters streaming into Belgium to buy cheap cigarettes.
[WYSIWIG: This story is no longer being updated latest coronavirus update story]
Tuesday’s key moments:
- New Zealand confirms two new cases of coronavirus
- SA partially opens its borders
- Government will argue border closures are unconstitutional
- Nick Kyrgios slams US Open organisers as ‘selfish’
- European nations begin to reopen borders, tourists slowly head abroad
- Retail stores reopen in England after 83-day lockdown
- China halts salmon imports over suspected outbreak link
- Singapore to remove most coronavirus restrictions on Friday
- FDA revokes use of malaria drug to treat COVID-19
New Zealand confirms two new cases of coronavirus
New Zealand says it has detected two new cases of the coronavirus, both related to recent travellers from the UK, ending a 24-day streak of no new infections in the country.
New Zealand lifted all social and economic restrictions except border controls last week, after declaring it had no new or active cases of the coronavirus — one of the first countries in the world to return to pre-pandemic normality.
“A new case is something we hoped we wouldn’t get, but it’s also something we expected and have planned for,” the country’s Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said.
The two cases are women who travelled from the UK via Brisbane on compassionate grounds to visit a dying relative.
Australian authorities have been contacted for contact-tracing purposes. New Zealand has so far had 22 deaths from the virus.
SA opens borders to WA, NT and Tas from midnight
The South Australian Government will reopen its borders to Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory from midnight.
The border restrictions apply to travellers entering SA but have no impact on SA residents entering other states or territories.(ABC News: Jarrod Lucas)
Travellers from those areas will no longer need to isolate themselves for 14 days when they arrive in SA.
SA Premier Steven Marshall says a decision to open the Queensland border is also under consideration.
SA will open its borders to all states on July 20.
Meanwhile, NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner says he’ll decide by the end of this week when the NT borders will reopen.
He said that when he decideed on a date, there will be 30 days’ notice to give police and businesses time to prepare.
Government to argue border closures are unconstitutional
Attorney-General Christian Porter says the Federal Government will argue state border closures put in place in response to the pandemic are unconstitutional.
The Commonwealth is planning to intervene in three High Court challenges against border restrictions in Queensland and Western Australia.
Mr Porter said Prime Minister Scott Morrison informed state leaders of the decision at last week’s National Cabinet meeting.
“The Prime Minister was very clear with the state premiers in a very respectful way that we would be intervening, that our intervention would be along the lines of an argument that the current border closures are unconstitutional, we were quite upfront with that,” he said.
Clive Palmer’s legal challenge unlikely to be heard in June
It appears unlikely Clive Palmer’s High Court challenge to the closure of WA’s border will be heard this month.
Mr Palmer is challenging border closures in Queensland and Western Australia.(AAP: Darren England)
It was hoped there could be a hearing on June 30, but at a directions hearing on Tuesday, draft orders were made remitting parts of the case — which cannot be agreed on — to the Federal Court for determination.
They include issues such as the reasonableness and effectiveness of the border closure in fighting the spread of coronavirus.
Lawyers for Mr Palmer and the WA Government have until Wednesday afternoon to respond to the draft orders.
Coronavirus arts package petition
A petition launched by actress Chloe Dallimore calling on the Federal Government to introduce a coronavirus relief package has received more than 30,000 signatures in a week.
The arts was one of the first sectors hit by the coronavirus shutdown and a date when it can return to full business is not yet known.
Artists and companies have been campaigning since March for specific financial relief and last week Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had turned his attention to them.
Ms Dallimore’s petition calls on the Government to deliver a financial relief package to ensure large and small companies and venues still exist following the crisis.
Tens of thousands of sheep from coronavirus-ridden ship cleared for export
Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.Animals Australia fails in legal bid to stop Al Kuwait live export
Tens of thousands of sheep have been cleared for export from Fremantle to the Middle East, after Animals Australia failed in its Federal Court attempt to overturn an exemption from a ban on shipping sheep in the northern hemisphere summer.
The animals were initially due to be exported more than a month ago aboard the Al Kuwait, but those plans were thrown into chaos when crew members tested positive to COVID-19 after the ship arrived in Fremantle on May 22.
The last six crew members infected with the virus were cleared by the WA Health Department on Monday.
Sheep are already being loaded onto the Al Kuwait at Fremantle Port following the court’s decision, after trucks of feed for the sheep’s journey to Kuwait were loaded on Monday.
Nick Kyrgios slams US Tennis Association as ‘selfish’
Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios says the United States Tennis Association (USTA) is being “selfish” by pressing ahead with the US Open on its original dates from August 31 to September 13.
Multiple media reports on Monday said the USTA would confirm the grand slam tournament would go ahead without fans despite New York City still recording hundreds of new COVID-19 cases every day.
Novak Djokovic, Ash Barty and Simona Halep have all indicated they would have concerns about playing the tournament under the health protocols designed to keep them safe.
“People that live in the US of course are pushing [for] the Open to go ahead ‘Selfish’,” the world number 40 posted on Twitter.
“I’ll get my hazmat suit ready for when I travel from Australia and then have to quarantine for two weeks on my return.”
Despite the health concerns, American player Danielle Collins has called on the event to go ahead to give players the chance to earn money again and criticised Novak Djokovic for his opposition to the protocols proposed by organisers.
“It’s easy when someone’s made $150 million throughout their career to try and tell people what to do with their money, and then turn down playing in the US Open,” she posted on social media last week.
Random testing at WA schools
WA’s Health Minister has revealed random COVID-19 testing of school students and staff at selected public schools began last week.
The testing regime was delayed due to the ethical concerns and permissions needed to test children.
But Roger Cook says it has now begun at 40 public schools across the state.
“The project is part of a major research study scanning WA school community in relation to any undetected COVID-19 cases and in relation to the psychosocial impact COVID-19 has on our school community,” he said.
Europe starts to reopen borders
Hundreds of German sunseekers have become the first tourists to visit Spain.(AP: Joan Mateu)
European nations eased border controls on Monday as coronavirus cases declined after three months of lockdown, with German tourists heading for Mallorca and French bargain-hunters streaming into Belgium to buy cheap cigarettes.
Greek airports allowed more international flights as the country sought to salvage its summer season, while German tourists flocking to neighbouring Denmark caused an eight kilometre queue and Italians popped into France to buy lottery scratch cards.
Spain is initially allowing in 1,500 holidaymakers from Germany as the Madrid government works out how to handle mass tourism before opening up more fully in the coming weeks.
Hundreds of German sunseekers, the first tourists to visit Spain since borders were closed in March, also arrived on the island of Mallorca on Monday.
German tourists flocking to neighbouring Denmark caused an eight kilometre queue.(Scanpix via AP)
The Schengen area of 22 EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland operates control-free crossings. But for three months they have been mostly closed.
Officials hope lifting internal border controls will allow a gradual reopening to other countries from July and revive a tourism industry that flatlined during the lockdown.
The sector makes up almost 10 per cent of the EU economy and even more in Mediterranean countries.
EU member states agree on app specifications
EU member states have agreed on technical standards for interoperability between smartphone apps that track the risk of coronavirus infections, the bloc’s Commission said on Tuesday.
In an announcement coinciding with the launch of Germany’s app, the EU executive said it would be responsible for managing a central gateway for national apps to ‘talk’ to each other.
“As we approach the travel season, it is important to ensure that Europeans can use the app from their own country wherever they are travelling in the EU,” Commissioner Thierry Breton said in a statement.
Germany, Italy, Poland and Latvia have launched Bluetooth-based apps using technology from Apple and Google that logs contacts on the device, an approach backed by a majority of the EU’s 27 member states.
Stores reopen in England after lockdown
Londoners have flocked to the city’s retail stores upon their reopening – here a large queue forms outside Nike’s flagship store in central London.(AP: Matt Dunham)
Long queues of shoppers snaked outside some stores in England from early on Monday morning as non-essential shops reopened their doors after 83 days of lockdown.
Department stores, clothing retailers, electrical outlets and bookshops have been closed since March 23 when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed a lockdown to limit the spread of coronavirus.
While outdoor markets and car showrooms reopened on June 1, Monday is the big return to business for retailers, who are desperate to get the tills ringing again.
The reopening only applies to England, with stores in Scotland and Wales waiting for guidance from their own administrations on when they can resume trading. Non-essential stores in Northern Ireland reopened on Friday.
Getting shoppers spending again is key to Britain’s recovery after official data on Friday showed the economy shrank by a quarter throughout March and April.
The British Retail Consortium believes the lockdown has cost non-food stores 1.8 billion pounds ($3.3 billion) a week in lost revenues.
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BAFTAs delayed following Oscars announcement
Next year’s British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs) have been postponed by two months, organisers have announced.
Australian actress Margot Robbie arrives at the BAFTAs ceremony earlier this year.(AP: Joel C Ryan)
The move follows a decision by Hollywood’s film academy to shift the 2021 Oscars from February to April because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The British Academy said the awards would be held on April 11, rather than the previously announced February 14.
The academy has also changed eligibility rules so that films whose theatrical releases were curtailed or switched to online-only releases will be eligible for consideration.
The date of the 2022 awards is also being reviewed.
The British awards are usually held a week or two before the Oscars and have become an important awards season staging post.
Moscow opens up despite steady infection numbers
Residents of Moscow have been able to return to museums and summer terraces for the first time in more than two months as the Russian capital rolled back more coronavirus curbs, despite continuing to record more than 1,000 new daily infections.
Many believe Russia’s true death toll is much higher than the official toll.(AP: Dmitri Lovetsky)
Starting on Tuesday, museums, libraries and zoos in the city of nearly 13 million are reopening their doors, albeit with continued limits on the number of visitors at any one time. Dentists are getting back to business too.
Authorities are allowing sporting events to resume, though spectators must take up no more than 10 per cent of a given venue’s capacity.
Moscow began to lift its lockdown last week, allowing residents to leave their homes, freely use public transport and travel across the city in their vehicles without any restrictions.
Kremlin critics have accused authorities of lifting restrictions too fast to pave the way for a nationwide vote on reforms that would allow President Vladimir Putin to run again for president twice after 2024 when his current term ends.
The Kremlin has denied decisions to ease curbs were politically motivated.
The overall tally of coronavirus cases across Russia has reached 545,458 and the total number of deaths 7,284 — a much lower figure than many other countries.
US businesses ask employees to sign COVID-19 waiver
As businesses reopen across the US after coronavirus shutdowns, many are requiring customers and workers to sign forms saying they won’t sue if they catch COVID-19.
Businesses fear they could be the target of litigation even if they adhere to safety precautions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health officials.
But workers’ rights groups say the forms force employees to sign away their rights, should they get sick.
The liability waivers — similar to what President Donald Trump’s campaign is requiring for people to attend a Saturday rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma — would protect businesses in states that don’t have liability limits or immunity from coronavirus-related lawsuits.
So far, at least five states have such limits through legislation or executive orders, and others are considering them. Business groups such as the US Chamber of Commerce are lobbying for national immunity legislation.
FDA revokes use of hydroxychloroquine amid fears of causing health problems
The US Food and Drug Administration is revoking its emergency authorisation for malaria drugs promoted by President Donald Trump for treating COVID-19 amid growing evidence they don’t work and could cause deadly side effects.
Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.US President continues to back hydroxychloroquine
The agency said Monday that the drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are unlikely to be effective in treating COVID-19.
Citing reports of heart complications, the FDA said the drugs pose a greater risk to patients than any potential benefits.
The decades-old drugs, also prescribed for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, can cause heart rhythm problems, severely low blood pressure and muscle or nerve damage.
The move means that shipments of the drugs obtained by the US Government will no longer be distributed to state and local health authorities.
The drugs are still available for alternate uses, so US doctors could still prescribe them for COVID-19 — a practice known as off-label prescribing.
On Thursday, a National Institutes of Health expert panel revised its guidelines to specifically recommend against the drug’s use except in formal studies.
Mr Trump aggressively pushed the drug beginning in the first weeks of the outbreak and stunned medical professionals when he revealed he took the drug pre-emptively against infection.
China halts salmon imports over suspected outbreak link
The virus was discovered on chopping boards used for imported salmon at Beijing’s Xinfadi market.(AP: Andy Wong)
China has halted imports from European salmon suppliers amid fears they might be linked to a coronavirus outbreak at a Beijing market, although experts say the fish itself is unlikely to carry the disease.
State-run newspapers reported the virus was discovered on chopping boards used for imported salmon at Beijing’s Xinfadi market, the source of a cluster of infections that has sparked fears of a second wave of the pandemic in China.
The reports prompted major supermarkets in Beijing to remove salmon from their shelves.
China’s foreign ministry has now asked Canada to investigate parasites found in shipments of salmon products.
However, authorities warned that while the situation was extremely severe, reports the outbreak was caused by imported salmon had not been confirmed.
“It is possible, but it does not definitely indicate it’s from imported seafood,” Wu Zunyou from China’s Centre for Disease Control said.
“It could be transmitted from infected people, to people working in the market. We are still collecting data.”
The Food Safety Authority in Norway, the world’s largest salmon exporter, said there was no evidence fish could be infected.
The World Health Organization has since indicated the origins of the infections are not certain.
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Pakistan moves to seal off high-risk areas
Authorities in Pakistan are taking action to seal off high-risk areas in the country’s 20 biggest cities after an increase in coronavirus infections.
Pakistan’s National Command and Control Centre says raids are being carried out to impose fines and shut markets, industries and shops where social-distancing regulations are being violated.
The sealing of high-risk areas began after Pakistan reported a big jump in COVID-19 deaths and a steady increase in infections.
Pakistan put its entire population of 220 million under lockdown from March until last month, when Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government loosened restrictions, saying it was necessary to save the country’s economy.
Critics say the Government’s actions resulted into a sharp increase in infections and deaths.
Pakistan reported 111 new COVID-19 fatalities on Tuesday. It raised the overall death toll from the virus to 2,839 among 148,921 confirmed cases.
India is now the world’s fourth-biggest COVID-19 hotspot
India recorded another 10,000-plus coronavirus infections as patients swamp health services in its largest cities.
An Indian Air Force helicopter showers flower petals on the staff of INS Asvini hospital in Mumbai.(AP: Rajanish Kakade)
The Health Ministry on Tuesday also reported a 24-hour increase of 380 deaths due to COVID-19, driving the death toll to 9,900.
The 10,667 new cases raise the nation’s total to 343,091, fourth-highest in the world behind the US, Brazil and Russia.
The actual numbers, like elsewhere in the world, are thought to be far higher due to a number of reasons such as limited testing.
Maharashtra, the western state that is home to Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment capital, continues to have the highest state toll.
Mumbai, Chennai and the capital New Delhi are seeing rising infections swamp their health services.
Wife of Ukranian President contracts virus
The wife of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has been hospitalised after contracting coronavirus, the presidential office says, while a fresh test of her husband shows he remains negative.
Olena Zelenska said she had tested positive for coronavirus last week, while her husband and their two children had tested negative. The President has cancelled all meetings and visits.
“[Her] current diagnosis is COVID-19 — bilateral polysegmental pneumonia of moderate severity,” the office said in a statement.
“[She] does not require oxygen donation. The condition is stable.”
Ukraine went into lockdown in March, preventing a spread of coronavirus. In late May the Government began to ease the restrictions, allowing restaurants, gyms, and public transport to operate.
Since June 15, the country has resumed flights to and from the country.
Philippines brings back city’s lockdown as cases jump
Philippine officials have placed a central city back under strict lockdown and retained quarantine restrictions in the capital for another two weeks as coronavirus infections continue to grow alarmingly.
Manila has taken some of the most hard-line measures in the world to contain the spread.(ABC News: Kimberly Dela Cruz)
In a televised meeting with Cabinet officials, President Rodrigo Duterte approved a recommendation to lock down Cebu city anew and retain quarantine restrictions in metropolitan Manila, where many of the nearly 26,500 infections and more than 1,000 deaths have been recorded.
First imposed in mid-March, the COVID-19 restrictions in metropolitan Manila have been among the longest in the world.
“The battle with COVID isn’t over,” Mr Duterte said. “I can’t stop you from going out and I can’t catch all of you … don’t blame us.
“Do not forget that we warned you about the grave consequences.”
Singapore to remove most coronavirus restrictions on Friday
Singapore’s high infection rate has been driven by mass outbreaks in dormitories for migrant workers.(Reuters: Edgar Su)
Singapore will allow small gatherings and the reopening of restaurants and shops from June 19, a major easing of the city-state’s coronavirus restrictions.
Social gatherings of up to five people will be permitted from Friday, when the majority of activities resume after more than two months of restrictions, dubbed “circuit breaker” measures. Social distancing requirements will remain in place.
Singapore has one of the highest infection tallies in Asia, with more than 40,000 cases, because of mass outbreaks in dormitories for its migrant workers. Singapore reopened schools and some businesses earlier this month.
The Government said on Monday incidence of cases in migrant worker dormitories had declined and there were no new large clusters emerging.
Cases outside the dormitories also remained stable despite the increase in workplace activities.
Shopping centres, gyms, parks and beaches are on the list to reopen, but religious congregations, bars, theatres and large-scale events will not yet be allowed to resume activities.
The Government also said working from home must remain the default for all businesses where feasible.
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