OBLIVIOUS MUHYIDDIN STILL PLAYING POLITICS, STILL THINKS COVID-19 A STROLL IN THE PARK: YET EVEN BRITISH PM BORIS JOHNSON TESTS POSITIVE – WHILE IN SPAIN, 769 DIE IN 24 HOURS

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Friday that he is self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19.

“Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus,” he said on Twitter, posting a video message.

“I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus,” he wrote.

“Be in no doubt that I can continue thanks to the wizardry of modern technology to communicate with all my top team to lead the national fightback against coronavirus,” he added in the video message.

A Downing Street spokesperson said in a statement that Johnson, whose partner Carrie Symonds is pregnant, experienced mild symptoms on Thursday and was tested for COVID-19 on the personal advice of England’s chief medical officer.

The test was carried out in No 10 by NHS staff, the spokesperson added.

In his video message, Johnson thanked workers in Britain’s state-run National Health Service (NHS) for their efforts in battling the spread of the virus.

A total of 11,658 coronavirus cases have so far been confirmed in Britain, and 578 deaths.

Earlier this week Prince Charles, the eldest son and heir to Queen Elizabeth II, also tested positive for the virus.

The government confirmed this week that if Johnson was incapacitated, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab would temporarily assume the role of prime minister.–AFP

Spain death toll hits 4,858 as 769 die in 24 hours

MADRID: The death toll in Spain soared over 4,800 Friday after 769 people died in 24 hours, in what was a record one-day figure for fatalities in the country, the government said.

Spain has the world’s second-highest death toll after Italy, and has so far suffered 4,858 deaths, while the number of cases jumped to 64,059.

A healthcare worker dealing with the new coronavirus crisis stands in a corridor of Son Espases Hospital in Palma de Mallorca. -AFP pic
A healthcare worker dealing with the new coronavirus crisis stands in a corridor of Son Espases Hospital in Palma de Mallorca. -AFP pic

Although the figures showed a daily increase of nearly 8,000 new infections, the uptick comes as Spain moves to dramatically increase its rate of testing, ordering millions of new kits from around the world.

Despite the increase, the rate of new infections appears to be slowing, registering a 14 percent increase compared with 18 percent on Thursday.

Even so, the number of deaths over a 24-hour period was far higher than Italy, which counted 662 deaths in its last update on Thursday night.

Health workers collect food from Delivery 4 Heroes on stretchers at Clinic hospital, during the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as near two hundred dinners are being delivered per day to Medical Staff as a gesture of thanks from the City’s Takeaway Businesses, in Barcelona, Spain. -REUTERS pic
Health workers collect food from Delivery 4 Heroes on stretchers at Clinic hospital, during the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as near two hundred dinners are being delivered per day to Medical Staff as a gesture of thanks from the City’s Takeaway Businesses, in Barcelona, Spain. -REUTERS pic

Italy has so far suffered 8,165 deaths as a result of the epidemic with 80,539 people infected.

Until Thursday night, Italy had registered the largest number of declared cases until it was overtaken by the United States, where 85,991 people have now tested positive for the virus.

Health workers collect food from Delivery 4 Heroes on stretchers at Clinic hospital, during the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as near two hundred dinners are being delivered per day to Medical Staff as a gesture of thanks from the City’s Takeaway Businesses, in Barcelona, Spain. -REUTERS pic
Health workers collect food from Delivery 4 Heroes on stretchers at Clinic hospital, during the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as near two hundred dinners are being delivered per day to Medical Staff as a gesture of thanks from the City’s Takeaway Businesses, in Barcelona, Spain. -REUTERS pic

Spain implemented a stringent nationwide lockdown on March 14 which will not be lifted until at least April 11, with the latest figures raising hope that the measures to curb the virus were beginning to take effect. –AFP

Australia begins Covid-19 lockdown which ‘could last six months’

SYDNEY: Australia started shutting down pubs, clubs, gyms and houses of worship on Monday after a jump in Covid-19 coronavirus cases and after thousands disregarded social distancing advice and crowded beaches, bars and restaurants.

After an initial slow rate of infection, the number of Covid-19 cases in Australia has now surpassed 1,100 with the south-eastern states of Victoria and New South Wales recording the highest number of cases.

“There will be no more going to the pub after work, no more going to the gym in the morning, and no more sitting down for brunch at a cafe,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told parliament on Monday morning.

The leader described the immense health and economic challenges as the “toughest year of our lives” and warned Australians to prepare for a shutdown that could last six months.

Despite calls to practice social distancing, some Australians ignored the warnings with thousands flocking to Bondi Beach and frequenting restaurants and bars in recent days.

Morrison said on Sunday that sweeping new measures were needed to enforce social distancing, ordering non-essential services, including indoor sporting venues, pubs, cinemas, bars and places of worship be closed from midday Monday.

Local authorities have also been closing beaches to disperse crowds amid a warm autumn spell, while cafes and restaurants will be able to only offer takeaway and delivery services.

Supermarkets, pharmacies, freight and retail will continue to trade.

Listed Australian companies severely exposed to the curbs on public life, including casinos and retailers, started requesting share trading halts early on Monday.

The benchmark index plunged more than 8 per cent at the open, a day after the government pledged an extra A$66.4 billion (US$38.06 billion) to combat the impact of the coronavirus.

While parts of the package require parliamentary approval, the opposition Labor party said it will support the legislation.

With scores of people already unemployed, hundreds of Australians lined up outside government offices in Sydney and Melbourne on Monday to register for social security payments, according to two Reuters’ witnesses.

Many tried to practice social distancing as lines stretched around the block.

Several Australian states have taken further precautionary measures, with Western Australia and South Australia announcing tighter border restrictions at the weekend.

On Monday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said that schools will be closed from Tuesday, and plans are in place for remote learning.

“If people simply behave as normal, if they don’t take this seriously, if they act selfishly, then people will die,” Andrews said on Monday.

“I can’t be any clearer than that.”

Schools will remain open in New South Wales, although parents have been encouraged to keep their children at home.

In neighouring Papua New Guinea, a state of emergency has been declared after the country recorded its first case of the virus, while the tiny island nation of Guam, an American island territory in Micronesia, recorded the Pacific islands region’s first coronavirus fatality. – Reuters

AFP / REUTERS

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