The United Kingdom said Thursday it will reimpose a mandatory two-week quarantine on travelers arriving in the country from France or the Netherlands. Monaco and Malta — as well as the Caribbean islands of Turks and Caicos and Aruba — also join the travel quarantine list. The Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps wrote on his official Twitter account that it will go into effect at 04:00 local time Saturday.
More than 500,000 Britons are holidaying in France — and the announcement is likely to lead many to cut their trips short. France’s junior minister for European affairs, Clement Beaune, said it was “a British decision we regret and which will lead to a reciprocal measure.”
The presumptive US Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, has called for a nationwide mask mandate to curb the coronavirus outbreak. “Let’s institute a mask mandate nationwide starting immediately and we will save lives, he said, adding that the plan could save more than 40,000 lives over the next three months. President Donald Trump resisted the idea, saying it was “playing politics with the virus.”
Peru passed 500,000 coronavirus cases and recorded more than 25,600 deaths, according to the Health Ministry, as the government struggles to contain a recent surge of infections. The country has the worst death rate in Latin America with 78.6 deaths per 100,000 people, according to a Reuters tally.
Two cities in China found traces of the coronavirus in imported frozen food from Brazil and Ecuador. Viruses can survive at temperatures of up to minus 20 degrees Celsius for up to two years, but experts have said there is little risk of getting sick from food. “People should not fear food, food packaging or delivery of food,” said WHO’s head of emergencies program, Mike Ryan.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un lifted a lockdown in Kaesong, a major city near the South Korea border, where thousands were quarantined over coronavirus fears. Kim insisted during a ruling party meeting the country will keep its borders shut and reject any outside help to stem the virus.
The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said Thursday that it began a continent-wide study of antibodies against the virus. The continent hit the 1 million cases mark last week, with more than 24,000 deaths recorded — but health experts are concerned the figures are higher. “What is important is far fewer people are coming down with the disease,” said Africa CDC director John Nkengasong. “How many people are infected and asymptomatic on our continent? We don’t know that.”
New Zealand’s first known community outbreak in more than three months jumped to 17 cases. The number of infections is expected to increase. Health officials were still trying to determine where the virus came from. Before the new local outbreak, there were no locally transmitted cases in 102 days.
In Australia, there were fewer new infections in Victoria, but the leader urged continued vigilance against the spread amid the second outbreak. Victoria State Premier Daniel Andrews said there were 278 new infections and eight new deaths Thursday, down from about 700 at the peak of the outbreak.
“We would just caution against any Victorian thinking that we aren’t in the midst of a real marathon,” said Daniels. “This is an endurance race, and we need to stay the course on this. We need to be as vigilant each and every day.”
kbd/stb (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)