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Coronavirus digest: Australian state declares ‘disaster’

  • August 02, 2020

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Victoria state premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday said an evening curfew would be implemented across Melbourne — Australia’s second-biggest city — from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. after declaring a state of disaster.

Andrews said 671 new coronavirus cases had been detected since Saturday, including seven deaths. The state has seen a steadily increasing toll in both deaths and infections over the past six weeks.

The premier said there would be further announcements on Monday regarding workplaces that would include the closure of some industrial sectors. The new lockdown measures will last for six weeks.

“These are big steps but they are necessary. We have got to limit the amount of movement and limiting the amount of transmission of this virus,” Andrews said. 

“If we don’t make these changes, we’re not going to get through this,” Andrews said. “We need to do more. That is what these decisions are about.”

Residents of the state capital Melbourne will only be allowed to shop and exercise within 5 kilometers (3 miles) of their homes. Students across the state will return to learning at home.

The move by Victoria’s Labor Party government has been backed by the federal government, ruled by a center-right Liberal Party-led coalition.

Here’s a roundup of the other major stories regarding coronavirus around the world:


South Korean authorities have arrested Lee Man-hee, the powerful head of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, which is linked to more than 5,200 coronavirus infections, or 36% of South Korea’s total cases.  

The church’s branch in the southern city of Daegu emerged as the biggest cluster in the country after infections spiked in late February.

India recorded its steepest spike of 57,118 new cases in the past 24 hours, taking its coronavirus caseload close to 1.7 million, with July alone accounting for nearly 1.1 million infections. Is public negligence causing a surge in cases? Read our full story here.

Japan’s Okinawa region has declared a state of emergency and asked people to stay home for two weeks as the popular tourist destination sees an “explosive spread” of coronavirus cases. Read more about how a cluster of COVID-19 cases on US military bases shocked the prefecture.


Some 20,000 protesters rallied in Germany’s capital Berlinon Saturday, with many ignoring social distancing rules and labeling the pandemic a “false alarm.” Police eventually broke up the demonstration and some people were forcibly removed by officers. Read more about the protests

In Germany, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases increased by 955 over the past 24 hours, to a total of 209,653, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Saturday. The reported death toll rose by 7 to 9148, the tally showed.

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier is calling for tougher penalties for those not adhering to coronavirus rules, this includes fines and penalties if it is a matter of “intent or gross negligence.”

Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko has said authorities are preparing a mass vaccination campaign to fight the coronavirus for October. According to Murashko, the Gamaleya Institute, a state research facility in Moscow, had completed clinical trials of an adenovirus-based vaccine and that paperwork was already underway to register the drug.

Read more: Germany plans mandatory coronavirus tests for travelers from Luxembourg

Latin America

Rising death tolls in countries like Brazil and Mexico have cemented Latin America’s status as one of the epicenters of the virus as cases in the region have doubled over the past month to more than 4.7 million infections. The real number of infections is likely to be higher, as comparatively fewer people are being tested there. Read our full story here.

Colombia, where lockdowns are planned through the end of August, passed the 10,000 death benchmark on Friday, tallying 10,105 fatalities. The Andean country is expected to reach 300,000 total cases over the weekend.

North America

In the United States, lawmakers have been discussing a coronavirus relief measure, as political pressure increases to restore a recently expired $600-per-week supplemental unemployment benefits, while sending funds to help schools reopen.

“This was the longest meeting we had and it was more productive than the other meetings,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “We’re not close yet, but it was a productive discussion. Now each side knows where they’re at.”

In the US, Hurricane Isaias’ imminent arrival forced the closure of some outdoor testing sites even as Florida reached a new daily high in deaths. 

Middle East

Muslim pilgrims in Mecca started the ritual stoning of the devil, one of the final rites of the hajj pilgrimage, throwing sterilized pebbles at a pillar due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Just 10,000 people, all of them Saudi-based, have been allowed to attend the religious event rather than the 2.5 million people from around the world who normally make the pilgrimage. All those attending the event had been tested for the virus, and were required to wear masks and observe social distancing.


As the continent approaches 1 million confirmed infections, the director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that Africa still has a “very good chance of beating back this virus” with a comprehensive strategy that includes testing assertively. 

South Africa, which has nearly half of Africa’s virus caseload, has eased its 9 p.m. curfew by an hour.

Meanwhile, the UN food agency has warned that nearly 60% of Zimbabwe’s population could become “food-insecure” by December without a further $250 million (€210 million) aid package.

Kenya Airways has resumed international flights to about 30 destinations for the first time since routes were suspended in March due to the pandemic. The airline’s chief executive officer said the carrier was resuming international flights following demand. Kenya Airways, in which Air France KLM holds a small stake, already resumed domestic flights in mid-July.

Read more: Africa’s Muslims woeful over scaled-down hajj

Catch up on the best DW content of the day

With COVID-19 forcing churches to curtail religious activities, many spiritual communities have been obliged to brush up on digital skills. Instead of gathering together, they started streaming daily and weekly services.

Read the full story here

A German retail trade association has criticized customers for ignoring coronavirus safety rules. It warned that a second lockdown would be a deathblow to many struggling retailers.

Read the full story here

Across Europe, people have been going to raves and block parties, despite lockdown measures banning mass gatherings. What’s driving them? Is it the beat, or an act of resistance and an assertion of power and identity?

Read the full story here.

In Germany, every second person surveyed feels psychologically burdened by the coronavirus pandemic. What are the social consequences of higher stress levels? Are people becoming more aggressive? Watch here to find out:


rc/stb (dpa, Reuters, AP, AFP)

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