WHO urges countries to ‘wake up’ and halt coronavirus: Live | News

  • The World Health Organization urged countries hit by serious coronavirus outbreaks to “wake up” to the realities on the ground instead of bickering, and to “take control”.

  • Brazil was set to pass 1.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases, as cities reopen bars, restaurants and gyms sparking fears infections will keep rising.

  • Saudi Arabia passed milestone of 200,000 confirmed novel coronavirus cases, the health ministry said, weeks ahead of an annual hajj pilgrimage drastically cut back because of the pandemic.

Here are the latest updates.

Friday, July 3

20:24 GMT – Bolsonaro dilutes law requiring face masks be worn in Brazil

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro watered down a law requiring the wearing of face masks in public places to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The far-right leader used his veto power to remove articles obliging people to wear masks in shops and churches.

Face coverings are already mandatory in several states, such as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, but this was the first such law on a national level.

19:15 GMT – Spain counts 17 new virus deaths in 24 hours

 Spain on Friday registered 17 virus deaths within 24 hours, its highest daily COVID-19 toll since June 19.

The update came as many Spaniards were gearing up to go on holiday and as the country preparing to reopen its frontiers on Saturday to travellers from 12 other countries outside the European Union.

Spain had already opened its borders to EU nations on June 21 as well as residents of the passport-free Schengen zone. 

18:57 GMT – Lockdown heroes: couriers get Moscow monument

A group of Russian e-commerce companies said they had erected a monument in Moscow thanking couriers for helping people through the coronavirus lockdown.

The tribute comes after some delivery workers, many of whom are impoverished migrants from Central Asia, protested against conditions they said were unfair.

The  metal monument designed by artist Alexei Garikovich features a cut-out silhouette of a figure holding a phone and standing next to a box.

18:40 GMT – WHO urges countries to ‘wake up’ and halt virus

The World Health Organization urged countries hit by serious coronavirus outbreaks to “wake up” to the realities on the ground instead of bickering, and to “take control”.

“People need to wake up. The data is not lying. The situation on the ground is not lying,” WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan told journalists at a briefing hosted by the UN correspondents’ association in Geneva.

Touching almost every country on Earth since it emerged in China late last year, the coronavirus has hit at least 10.8 million people and killed 521,000 worldwide.

18:25 GMT – French coronavirus death toll rises by 18 to 29,893

 The number of deaths in France from the new coronavirus has risen by 18 over the last day to 29,893, the country’s health department said.

The number of people in intensive care units fell by 13 to 560, continuing a weeks-long downtrend.

18:06 GMT – Brazil set to pass 1.5 million coronavirus cases as cities reopen

Brazil was set to pass 1.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases, as the virus continues to ravage Latin America’s largest country even as cities reopen bars, restaurants and gyms sparking fears infections will keep rising.

Brazil has the world’s second largest outbreak after the United States and the virus has killed over 60,000 people in the country.

Read more here.


People wear protective masks in Rio de Janeiro as the city eases coronavirus-related restrictions and allows commerce to open [File: Lucas Landau/Reuters]

17:58 GMT – Major League Baseball cancells All-Star Game for first time since 1945

Dodger Stadium’s 40-year wait to host the All-Star Game is going to last even longer.

The game scheduled for July 14 was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, and Dodger Stadium was awarded the 2022 Midsummer Classic. The 2021 game is set for Atlanta’s Truist Park, home to the Braves since 2017.

“Once it became clear we were unable to hold this year’s All-Star festivities, we wanted to award the Dodgers with the next available All-Star Game, which is 2022,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. 

This will be the first time since 1945 that no game will be held. 

17:20 GMT – Saudi Arabia passes 200,000 virus cases

Saudi Arabia passed the grim milestone of 200,000 confirmed novel coronavirus cases, the health ministry said, weeks ahead of an annual hajj pilgrimage drastically cut back because of the pandemic.

The Gulf’s worst-hit country has now 201,801 confirmed infections including 4,193 new cases on Friday alone, and 1,802 deaths.

Killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi Over 140,000 of those infected have recovered [File: Reuters]

17:10 GMT – France to launch inquiry into ex-PM, ministers over coronavirus

A French court is opening an inquiry into former prime minister Edouard Philippe and two other ministers over their handling of the coronavirus crisis, a prosecutor said.

The inquiry, which is being opened after nine complaints filed against the ministers were deemed admissable, will be led by the Law Court of the Republic (CJR), which deals with claims of ministerial misconduct, said senior public prosecutor Francois Molins.

Along with Philippe, who was replaced Friday, the ministers under investigation are former health minister Agnes Buzyn, who stepped down in February, and her successor Olivier Veran, he said.

17:04 GMT – Miami mayor imposes nightly curfew to fight Florida coronavirus surge

The number of coronavirus cases in Florida jumped again as the mayor of the state’s biggest city imposed a nightly curfew and rolled backed the reopening of entertainment venues to try to stem one of the most alarming coronavirus surges in the United States.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced an indefinite nightly curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. as the July Fourth holiday weekend began and halted the reopenings of venues, such as casinos and theaters that had been set for Friday.

“Let’s celebrate Independence Day by respecting one another’s right to life, liberty and happiness,” Gimenez said in a video on Friday, citing the US Declaration of Independence adopted on July 4, 1776.

16:52 GMT – Italian region asks Bangladeshis to test for COVID-19 after cases found

The central Italian region of Lazio, fringing the capital Rome, has asked its large Bangladeshi community to undergo “blanket testing” for the coronavirus following a recent increase in the number of infections.

Lazio has reported some 8,000 cases since Italy’s COVID-19 outbreak emerged at the end of February, far fewer than in Lombardy and other northern regions.

However, the discovery of some recent infection clusters has authorities concerned, including among 10 Bangladeshis in the last few days, with the latest on Friday when a man returning from his South Asian homeland tested positive.

Italy Extends Coronavirus Lockdown

Lazio health chief Alessio D’Amato said that from Monday the region will open a testing centre dedicated to Bangladeshis and urged them to show up in large numbers [File: Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images]

16:43 GMT – Portugal says exemption from UK air corridor “absurd”

Portugal’s foreign ministry said in a tweet it was “absurd” that Britain imposed quarantine on travellers coming from Portugal despite having 28 times more deaths from the coronavirus.

The reaction followed an announcement earlier that continental Portugal, which receives plenty of British tourists, was not included in the UK’s ‘air corridor’ of countries, meaning those flying from Portugal to the UK will need to self-quarantine for 14 days.

16:26 GMT – Britain will set out further reopening timetable next week

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would set out a timetable next week for when remaining sectors of the British economy would be allowed to reopen, citing examples like indoor gyms, swimming pools and nail bars.

“Next week we will set out a timetable for their reopening, though of course I can only lift those remaining national restrictions as and when it is safe to do so,” he said at a news conference.

Boris Johnson

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson said new timetable will be set out next week [File: Paul Ellis/Reuters]

16:01 GMT – UK death toll from confirmed cases rises to 44,131

The United Kingdom’s death toll from confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus rose by 137 to 44,131, government figures showed on Friday.

The total included a revision for one death which had previously been counted twice.

15:54 GMT – China aims to phase out slaughter and sale of live poultry

China vowed to gradually phase out the slaughter and sale of live poultry at food markets, in a move welcomed by animal rights activists amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement came as China stepped up inspections of wholesale food markets and outlawed the sale and consumption of wildlife, after a recent COVID-19 outbreak in Beijing was traced to a major agricultural wholesale market.

“China will restrict the trading and slaughter of live poultry, encourage the mass slaughter of live poultry in places with certain conditions, and gradually close live poultry markets,” said Chen Xu, an official at the State Administration of Market Regulation, at a press briefing.

Small meat processors backlogged as virus idles big plants The virus is believed to have emerged at a market that sold live animals in the central city of Wuhan late last year [File: Dane Rhys/Reuters]

15:34 GMT – WHO sees first results from COVID drug trials within two weeks

The World Health Organization expects initial results within two weeks from clinical trials it is conducting of drugs that might be effective in treating COVID-19 patients, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news briefing.

Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s emergencies programme, said it would be unwise to predict when a COVID-19 vaccine could be ready for mass distribution.

While a vaccine candidate might show its effectiveness by year’s end, the question was how soon it could be mass produced, he told the briefing.

15:08 GMT – UK in talks to join EU’s coronavirus vaccine scheme

The UK is in talks to join a European Union plan to secure supplies of potential coronavirus vaccines, in a test of the cooperation required to tackle international emergencies after Brexit, the Financial Times reported.

London is assessing whether the advantages of the European bloc’s bargaining power to strike deals with international drugs companies outweigh the broader political desire to sever ties with Brussels, the report said, citing UK officials.

14:42 GMT – Visitors to England from 59 countries will not have to quarantine

Visitors to England from 59 countries and territories will not have to go into quarantine from July 10, said the British government.

Countries such as the United States, Canada and Portugal were excluded from the list.

People arriving in England from a country not on the list will continue to be required to self-isolate until 14 days have passed since they left it.

UK heathrow arrivalsThe United States, Canada and Portugal are not the list of exempted countries [File: Toby Melville/Reuters]

14:15 GMT – Airlines to drop UK quarantine legal challenge, lawyer tells court

Three of Europe’s biggest airlines are to end a legal challenge against the British government after it scrapped its quarantine rule for travellers coming from some of the most popular tourist destinations.

A lawyer for British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair said that the airlines would end the judicial review of the policy, on the assumption that Britain publishes a list of exempted countries.

“On the premise it materialises, we have agreed everything else which needs to be agreed,” Tom Hickman, lawyer for the airlines, told the High Court in London, adding he had no reason to doubt it would be published later.

BA planes - reuters

A lawyer for British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair said that the airlines would end the judicial review of the UK’s policy [File: Paul Childs/Reuters]

14:06 GMT – Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina get best marks in Latin America for pandemic response

Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina are the Latin American countries that earned the best grades for their response to the coronavirus, according to a poll conducted in the region, while Brazil was tagged as the worst performer.

The survey by the consulting firm Trespuntozero, to which Reuters had exclusive access, shows that in eight of the 10 countries in which the study was conducted, the respondents considered Uruguay one of the best controllers of the pandemic.

According to the poll, the performance of Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou against the pandemic had 77.8 percent approval in his own country; that of Paraguayan Mario Abdo, 76.7 percent; and that of Argentina’s Alberto Fernandez, 68 percent.

13:52 GMT – Spain’s economy minister Calvino says all EU COVID-19 debt will be repaid

Spain’s Economy Minister Nadia Calvino said on Friday all the debt issued by the European Union to help its member states deal with the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis will eventually be paid back.

The debt will be sustainable as it will finance projects to help the EU resume the economic growth that was interrupted by the coronavirus crisis, she said in a virtual panel held by French think tank Cercle des Economistes.

13:35 GMT – UK scraps sales tax on personal protective gear until October

Britain’s finance ministry said it will extend the scrapping of sales tax on personal protective equipment (PPE) for infectious diseases until the end of October.

“Extending the zero VAT rate on PPE will provide the relief needed by care homes in particular, so that as many people as possible continue to be protected against the coronavirus,” junior finance minister Jesse Norman said in a statement.

13:20 GMT – Scotland likely to agree UK’s list of low-risk travel countries – Sturgeon

 Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon criticised the British government for “shambolic” decision making on opening up to international travel but said it was likely Scotland would agree with the London government’s list of low risk countries.

“It is likely, very likely, that we will be able to agree the list of countries that the UK has categorised as low risk, although we will need to do a proper assessment of that,” Sturgeon said, adding that there was greater difficulty over so called medium-risk countries.

Sturgeon said the list of countries the London government tried to get Scotland’s devolved government to agree to on Thursday was different to the list of countries presented on Friday.

Hello, this is Arwa Ibrahim in Doha, taking over from my colleague Usaid Siddiqui.

12:45 GMT – Air France employees protest as job cuts loom

Air France executives met labour representatives on Friday as union members and staff protested over the airline’s plans for around 7,500 job cuts to cope with a collapse in travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A small group of 100 union members and employees, from cleaning staff to check-in assistants, demonstrated outside the airline’s base at Paris’ Roissy airport, criticising its plans to cut staff after receiving state aid to help the company to ride out the pandemic fallout.

“It’s scandalous, the government is putting in 7 billion euros and the company is destroying jobs,” said 62-year-old Annick Blanchemin, who works as ground staff for the airline.

12:24 GMT – No new state of emergency as nightlife drives Tokyo’s coronavirus spread

Japan will not reintroduce a state of emergency to tackle the novel coronavirus, a government spokesman said, as cases in Tokyo rose to a two-month high driven by the spread of the virus in the capital’s night spots.

Tokyo reported 124 new cases on Friday, up from 107 the day before, partly due to increased testing among nightlife workers in the Shinjuku and Ikebukuro districts.

Of all new infections confirmed in Tokyo in the week through Wednesday, 44 percent were traced to establishments where “food and drinks are provided along with company”, chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said – an oblique reference to spots such as “host bars” where male hosts are paid to flirt with female patrons over drinks.

12:07 GMT – Holidays to test Thailand’s easing of virus restrictions

Thai authorities are urging vigilance as the South East Asian nation celebrates its first long holiday weekend after lifting most restrictions imposed to fight the spread of the coronavirus. No new local infections have been reported in Thailand in more than a month.

The four day holiday starting Saturday, incorporating two Buddhist holy days, is expected to see Thais return en masse from the cities where many work to their family homes in rural areas.

Thailand aims to revive tourism amid pandemic

11:35 GMT – Remdesivir first virus drug to receive EU approval 

The first drug to treat severe cases of Covid-19 in the European Union has been given the green light, with the European Commission approving remdesivir.

“We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to secure efficient treatments or vaccine against the coronavirus,” Stella Kyriakides, the EU’s health commissioner, said in a statement.

It is the first time the EU’sáexecutive arm has granted the approval to a Covid-19 drug and was the last step for remdesivir to be given the full the go-ahead.

11:10 GMT – Israel reports over 1,000 cases in one day

The number of new coronavirus infections in Israel has breached the 1,000 mark for the first time, according to figures published by the Health Ministry.

A record 1,107 new cases were registered on Thursday, the highest single-day caseload since the beginning of the pandemic. The previous record was registered Wednesday at 967.

Overall, 27,542 individuals have tested positive for Sars-CoV-2 in the country, with 9,600 active cases and 325 deaths, according to the ministry.

Graduation ceremony of new Israeli Air Force pilots in Hatzerim military base Overall, 27,542 individuals have tested positive for Sars-CoV-2 in the country, with 9,600 active cases and 325 deaths, according to the ministry [File: Ariel Schalit/Pool/Reuters]

10:45 GMT – Iranian state media urges people take coronavirus seriously as new cases rise 

Total coronavirus cases rose to 235,429 in Iran with 154 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 11,260, authorities said as the country tries to fend off new infections after easing its lockdown restrictions.

Eight out of 31 provinces are considered in a red status, meaning the epidemic has been on the rise, while seven, including the province where Tehran is located, are on alert as the virus is still a threat, Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said on state TV.

State television is airing warnings such as “Coronavirus is very close” and “Let’s take the coronavirus danger seriously”.

10:10 GMT – Airlines begin legal challenge to UK quarantine policy

Three of Europe’s biggest airlines began a legal challenge to the British government’s quarantine rules for travellers, saying they should be struck down as the rule was disproportionate and been introduced without consultation.

The legal action by British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair proceeded came despite the government saying the policy would be ended for English holidaymakers to countries such as France, Spain and Italy, but not the United States.

A British Airways plane taxis past tail fins of parked aircraft to the runway near Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport in London, Britain March 14, 2020. REUTERS/Simon Dawso The government introduced a blanket rule that all travellers arriving from abroad must self-isolate for 14-days after on June 8, arguing it was a crucial step to avoid a second wave of COVID-19 [File: Simon Dawso/Reuters]

09:45 GMT – Nigeria’s Kano lifts virus lockdown

Authorities in northern Nigeria’s biggest city Kano have lifted a three-month lockdown imposed to contain a coronavirus outbreak linked to hundreds of deaths.

State governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje announced the lifting of the curfew in a broadcast, insisting the key trading hub had seen a sharp drop in infections.

COVID-19 in Africa: Virus spreading from urban to rural areas

09:14 GMT – Virus hands Japan pension fund worst loss since 2008 crisis

Japan’s huge public pension fund, the world’s biggest, said Friday it had suffered its largest annual loss since the global financial crisis, as markets tumbled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) said it recorded losses amounting to 8.28 trillion yen ($77 billion) for the fiscal year that ended in March.

“Stocks plunged in Japan and overseas due to risk-off investor sentiment,” the GPIF said in its annual investment report.

Jpaan The loss was the most the fund had shed since its eye-watering 9.3-trillion-yen loss in the year that ended March 2009, as world financial markets plunged after Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008 [File:Issei Kato/Reuters]

08:48 GMT – Kazakhstan to lock down two more cities

Kazakhstan will lock down the eastern cities of Oskemen and Semey from July 5 to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, the governor of the Eastern Kazakhstan province said.

The Central Asian nation bordering Russia and China will impose a second nationwide lockdown from the same date, but it will be softer than the first one and will allow some movement of people between provinces.

08:25 GMT – Coronavirus mortality in Italy is highest among poor, study shows

Poor Italians are significantly more likely to die of the coronavirus than higher-income groups, the country’s first significant study into the disease’s disproportionate social impact showed.

Low-income groups were also more likely to be forced to work during lockdown, in sectors such as agriculture, public transport and assistance for the elderly, ISTAT said, concluding that COVID-19 had “accentuated pre-existing inequalities”.

08:05 GMT – Steroid drug purchased for COVID patients in poor countries – UN

An initial purchase of the steroid dexamethasone, shown to be effective in treating severe or critical COVID-19 patients, will be made for up to 4.5 million people in low- and middle-income countries, agencies said.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is negotiating the advance purchase under the deal led by UNITAID and Wellcome, as part of the World Health Organization’s plan to accelerate access to therapeutics, a joint statement said.

An ampoule of Dexamethasone is seen during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in this picture illustration taken June 17, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman/Illustration Researchers estimated that the drug would prevent one death for every eight patients treated while on breathing machines and one for every 25 patients on extra oxygen alone [File: Yves Herman/Reuters]

07:45 GMT – Croatia to hold election amid virus, political uncertainty

Croatia is holding a parliamentary election this weekend amid a coronavirus outbreak and with no clear winner in sight as none of the main contenders appears set to garner a majority of votes.

The ballot on Sunday will take place as Croatia, like other parts of Europe, contends with a renewed spike in reported virus cases that followed the reopening of borders and easing of lockdown rules.

07:20 GMT – Tokyo records over 120 new virus cases

Tokyo reported 124 new cases of the coronavirus, Governor Yuriko Koike said, amid concerns that recent spikes in the Japanese capital could escalate.

On Thursday, Tokyo reported 107 new cases, which was the highest since May 2 when Japan was still under a pandemic state of emergency.

At its peak, Tokyo’s daily new cases exceeded 200.

07:00 GMT – England puts United States on ‘red-list’, will quarantine arrivals

Passengers arriving into England from the United States will not be exempted from quarantine rules, Britain’s transport minister Grant Shapps said.

Asked whether the United States would be on a ‘red-list’ of countries to which a 14-day quarantine period will apply, Shapps said: “I’m afraid it will be.”

Millions of US jobs lost amid pandemic may never return

06:35 GMT – South Korea has 63 newly confirmed virus cases

South Korea has reported 63 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 as health authorities scramble to mobilize public health tools to the southwestern city of Gwangju, where more than 50 people were found sickened over the past week.

The figures announced by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brought the national caseload to 12,967 infections, including 282 deaths.

Hello, this is Usaid Siddiqui in Doha taking over from my collegue Zaheena Rasheed.


05:29 GMT – In new record, India adds 20,000 virus cases

India reported another single-day record for new virus cases on Friday – 20,903.

The figure took the national total to 625,544. The Ministry of Health also reported an additional 379 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking fatalities up to 18,213.

With the current rate of infections, India is expected to surpass Russia’s 660,000 cases in coming days and become the third worst-hit country after the United States and Brazil.

A healthcare worker checks the temperature of a resident during a medical campaign for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a slum area in Mumbai A healthcare worker checks the temperature of a Mumbai slum resident during a medical campaign for COVID-19 [Francis Mascarenhas/ Reuters]

05:08 GMT – Monkeys infected with coronavirus developed short-term immunity

Test monkeys infected with the novel coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic were protected from reinfection for up to 28 days later, according to a Chinese study published in the journal Science.    

Scientists from Peking Union Medical College infected six rhesus macaques in their trachea with a dose of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. They developed mild to moderate symptoms, and took about two weeks to recover.  

Twenty-eight days after the first infection, four of the six monkeys received another dose of virus, but this time, despite a brief rise in temperature, they showed no sign of reinfection, the study authors wrote.

While the monkeys displayed initial immunity, it is not clear how long such immunity will last in humans – it will be necessary to wait for months, or even years, to know if the millions of people infected at the start of the pandemic are protected from reinfection

04:39 GMT – Kim Jong Un hails North Korea’s ‘shining success’ against COVID-19

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has praised what he described as his country’s “shining success” in holding off the new coronavirus, according to the state-run KCNA news agency.

“We have thoroughly prevented the inroad of the malignant virus and maintained a stable anti-epidemic situation despite the worldwide health crisis, which is a shining success achieved,” Kim told a meeting of the politburo of the ruling Workers Party on Thursday.

While Pyongyang has not confirmed any infections, its Ministry of Public Health has reported all 922 people checked so far have tested negative. Hundreds of people, mostly cargo handlers at seaports and land borders, are regularly quarantined for monitoring.

Kim Jong Un

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a meeting of the Central Committee of WPK in this undated photo released on July 2, 2020 by Central News Agency in Pyongyang [KCNA via Reuters]

03:01 GMT – Portuguese government raises its stake in TAP

Portugal’s government announced it sealed a final deal with private shareholders of ailing flag carrier TAP to take a controlling stake in the airline while avoiding nationalisation.

“TAP is too important for the country for us to accept the risk of letting such a company fall,” Infrastructure Minister Pedro Nuno Santos told a news conference. “Fortunately, we avoided TAP’s nationalisation.”

According to the government, the state will increase its stake in TAP to 72.5 percent from the current 50 percent. Like other airlines, TAP asked for help in April after a collapse in demand for travel due to the coronavirus pandemic. The European Commission approved the rescue loan earlier this month.

02:14 GMT – Peru surpasses 10,000 coronavirus deaths

Peru’s COVID-19 death toll rose to 10,045 on Thursday, the health ministry said, a day after the Latin American nation began easing a lockdown in a bid to revive the economy.

The number of deaths rose by 185 in the last 24 hours, while the number of people infected rose to 292,004, the ministry said. Peru is Latin-America’s worst-hit country after Brazil.

Among the latest victims is the leader of the Awajun Indigenous people, Santiago Manuin, who died on Wednesday aged 63.

Manuin was recognised with Spain’s Queen Sofia Prize for his crusade in defence of the Amazon and indigenous rights.

02:01 GMT – UK to end quarantine rules for travellers from ‘low-risk’ countries

The British government said it is scrapping a 14-day quarantine rule for arrivals from a number of countries deemed “lower risk” for the coronavirus, including France, Spain, Germany and Italy.

The change takes effect on July 10, just more than a month after the United Kingdom began requiring international arrivals to self-isolate for two weeks. The full list of exempted countries will be announced later on Friday, the government said.

On Saturday, the government will also exempt several countries from its advice against overseas travel, meaning UK tourists can once again head abroad on vacation.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the changes are “good news for British people and great news for British businesses”. But he stressed that the government could reimpose quarantine restrictions “in countries we are reconnecting with”.

The changes announced apply only to England, as the devolved governments of other parts of the UK – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – would “set out their own approach to exemptions”, the government said.

01:43 GMT – US coronavirus cases hit new global record

The United States reported more than 55,000 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the largest single-day increase any country has ever reported, according to a Reuters tally.

The daily US tally stood at 55,274 late on Thursday, topping the previous single-day record of 54,771 set by Brazil on June 19.

Just two weeks ago, the US was reporting about 22,000 new cases a day. It has now reported more than 40,000 cases for seven straight days and broken records for new cases three days in a row, according to the tally.

01:20 GMT – US issues guidelines but no new rules for air travel

Federal agencies in the US said airlines should consider limiting capacity on planes to promote social distancing, but stopped short of requiring them to do so.

In a new report, the Transportation, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services departments also recommended – but did not move to require – that travellers wear face coverings in airports and on planes. All leading US airlines now require passengers to wear masks, but regulators have refused a request by the airlines to make it a federal rule.

The agencies said airlines and airports should take steps to increase social distancing, clean surfaces touched by passengers, give specialised training to airline crews, and provide more information to help with contact tracing if passengers test positive for the virus.

00:34 GMT – In stark reversal, Texas issues statewide mask order

Greg Abbott, the governor of the US state of Texas, ordered that face coverings must be worn in public across most of the state.

The order requires “all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, with few exceptions”.

He also banned gatherings of more than 10 people, and mandated social distancing of six feet (about two metres). 

The Republican governor, who had pushed Texas’s aggressive reopening of the state economy in May, had previously said the government could not order individuals to wear masks. His prior virus-related orders had undercut efforts by local governments to enforce mask requirements.

00:11 GMT – Coronavirus outbreak hits Africa health workers

The World Health Organization (WHO) said more than 6,000 health workers have been infected with the coronavirus in 38 countries across its Africa region since the pandemic began.

Hundreds of health workers have already been infected in the latest hotspot of South Africa’s Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria. Across South Africa, more than 2,000 health workers have been infected. In Nigeria, nearly 1,000 have been sickened.

The WHO’s 47-country Africa region has the most severe health workforce shortage in the world, and concerns about adequate personal protective gear against the coronavirus are widespread.

Already a handful of countries have seen more than 10 percent of their health workers infected as of Tuesday: Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Niger, Mozambique and Burundi.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives. 

You can find all the key developments from yesterday, July 2, here

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