Austria’s chancellor urged citizens to stick to the rules and warned of tough months ahead as coronavirus numbers surged to levels last seen in March in the Alpine republic.
South Korea is relaxing its social-distancing rules amid a drop in confirmed Covid-19 cases since last month’s surge, but Thailand is tightening its border checkpoints to prevent the virus’s spread from neighboring countries.
Israel’s cabinet is set to decide whether to put the country under a second coronavirus lockdown after an earlier reopening sent the number of infections soaring.
Global Tracker: Cases near 28.8 million; deaths exceed 920,200Googling for gut symptoms predicts Covid hot spots: studyOxford University is resuming trials of an experimental vaccineRussia reports its lowest death rate in six daysCovid-19’s made flying business class feel more like economyAbsent patients sound alarm bells for South African doctorWhy telemedicine may stay even after Covid fades away: QuickTake
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Iran Has More Than 2,000 New Cases (5:50 p.m. HK)
Iran recorded 128 fatalities and 2,089 new cases of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 23,157 in 402,029 known infections, the latest Health Ministry figures showed. Over 346,000 people have recovered from the virus with 3,791 patients under treatment in intensive-care units.
Austrian chancellor warns of tough months ahead (5:20 p.m. HK)
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz urged citizens to stick to the rules after coronavirus numbers surged to levels last seen in March.
“What we’re experiencing right now is the beginning of the second wave,” Kurz was quoted as saying by Austria Press Agency. “We’re going to see 1,000 infections soon. Fall and winter will be hard on everybody.”
Health authorities registered 869 new daily infections on Saturday, the highest numbers since March 28. The numbers declined to 463 on Sunday.
Belgium’s Virus Cases Top 92,000 (5:15 p.m. HK)
Belgium on Sunday reported 941 new coronavirus cases, down from 969 the day before, bringing the total to 92,478. Deaths from the virus rose by four to 9,923, while 34 more people were hospitalized.
Jakarta to Isolate Virus Patients in Official Facilities (4:39 p.m. HK)
Residents of Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, who have tested positive for the coronavirus will be isolated in official facilities rather than be quarantined at home, the city’s governor said ahead of tighter restrictions that take effect on Monday.
Isolation at home must be avoided to limit contagion, Anies Baswedan said at a press conference on Sunday as Indonesia reported 3,636 new cases of Covid-19.
South Korea Eases Distancing Rules as Cases Taper (3:35 p.m. HK)
South Korea is relaxing social-distancing rules as the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases tapers after last month’s surge.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said distancing requirements for the Seoul metropolitan area will be lowered to level 2 from level 2.5 for two weeks. The announcement came hours after the government confirmed 121 new coronavirus cases, the second-lowest total in the past month.
“We shouldn’t let our guard down, given one out of four cases can’t be traced back,” Chung said Sunday in an address televised on Yonhap TV. “But tighter quarantine is showing its effect slowly.”
Level 2 forbids indoor gatherings of 50 or more people, affecting everything from weddings to amusement parks.
South Korea adopted three levels of progressively tighter restrictions in June. After the number of daily virus cases surged into the hundreds last month, the government considered raising the level to 3. That would have forced the closures of bars, cinemas and cafes, and limited business hours at shopping malls and retail shops.
Thailand Steps Up Border Checks After New Imported Cases (1:05 p.m. HK)
Thailand is tightening monitoring measures at border checkpoints to prevent the spread of Covid-19 from neighboring countries, the Ministry of Health said.
Local health volunteers will patrol natural borders with Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Malaysia, and watch out for the smuggling of foreign workers. Thailand reported seven imported cases Sunday, raising its total to 3,473. Fifty-eight people have died from the virus.
Israel Headed for Second Nationwide Coronavirus Lockdown (11:30 a.m. HK)
Israel’s full cabinet will decide Sunday whether to put the country under a second coronavirus lockdown after an earlier reopening sent the number of infections soaring.
The proposed two-week, full-fledged lockdown was approved last week by an inner cabinet of ministers. They took the extraordinary step after watching daily cases rise from five in late May to more than 4,000 this week.
The lockdown is expected to take effect on Wednesday or Friday, according to the Ynet website — politically fraught timing on the eve of the Jewish holiday season.
Googling for Gut Symptoms Predicts Covid Hot Spots: Study (9:55 a.m. HK)
Internet searches on gastrointestinal symptoms predicted a rise in Covid-19 cases weeks later, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital found, demonstrating a novel early warning system for hot spots of the pandemic disease.
Researchers at the top-ranked hospital in Boston compared search interest in loss of taste and appetite, and diarrhea with the reported incidence of Covid-19 in 15 U.S. states from Jan. 20 to April 20. Using Alphabet Inc.’s Google Trends online tool, they found the volume of searches correlated most strongly with cases in New York, New Jersey, California, Massachusetts and Illinois — states with high disease burden — three to four weeks later.
The research was published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
Plant Thieves Scour Forests to Satisfy Foliage-Starved Filipinos (8:30 a.m. HK)
The pandemic has set off a wave of theft in the Philippines. The target? Plants.
The government has stepped up monitoring of social media and patrolling of protected natural areas amid reports of traders scouring mountains and forests for plants, including endangered species, to meet a sudden spike in demand from locked-down Filipinos who are craving some greenery in their homes.
Australia’s Victoria Reports Rise Ahead of Easing (7:05 a.m. HK)
The Australian state with the nation’s highest transmission of coronavirus has recorded a small rise in new cases, the state’s health department has announced, just as it begins its first stage of easing in one of the world’s strictest community containments.
The state of Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services recorded 41 new cases in the last 24 hours and seven new deaths, it said in a twitter post on Sunday morning.
It marks a minor up-tick from 37 new cases and six deaths the day before across the country’s second-most populous state, and comes as the state is slated to embark on the first step on a reopening road-map starting at midnight.
Brazil’s Cases Rise More Than Weekly Average (5:46 p.m. NY)
New cases in Brazil increased by 33,523 to more than 4.3 million, a 0.8% rise that compares with a 0.7% increase over the preceding seven days, according to data on the Health Ministry’s website.
The virus claimed 814 more lives, bringing the death toll to 131,210, the world’s second-biggest after the U.S.
Trump Aides Sought Review of CDC Data: Politico (4 p.m. NY)
U.S. health department spokesman Michael Caputo and other aides asked for the right to read and suggest changes to weekly Covid-19 reports from the Centers for Disease Control, Politico reported.
Communications aides from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services complained to CDC Director Robert Redfield that the agency’s reports would undermine President Donald Trump’s upbeat messaging about the pandemic, according to the report, which cited emails and people familiar.
While CDC employees pushed back against changes to the Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report, a document for medical professionals and the general public, they have increasingly allowed political appointees to review the reports and agreed to amend language in some cases, Politico said.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement that Trump “has always been receptive to the data and science presented by me and other members” of the Covid-19 task force. CDC officials didn’t respond to a request for comment.
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