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Chile health minister resigns amid row over virus deaths – latest updates

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The novel coronavirus has killed more than 430,000 people worldwide since the outbreak started in China last year, according to tracking websites. Here are the updates for June 13:

Chile health minister resigns amid row over virus deaths – latest updates Chile health minister resigns amid row over virus deaths – latest updates environment A worker checks the temperature of a customer, outside a supermarket in Chile's Valparaiso city, which enters quarantine this night to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus Covid-19, on June 12, 2020. (AFP)

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Chile president replaces health minister

Chile President Sebastian Pinera replaced Health Minister Jaime Manalich amid controversy over the country's figures for deaths from the coronavirus outbreak.

Pinera said Manalich had spared "no effort" in carrying out his "difficult and noble duty" to protect Chileans' health. He replaced him with Oscar Enrique Paris, an academic and medical doctor.

The sudden reshuffle comes as Chile faces its toughest month in the pandemic so far, with spiraling active cases and deaths rates.

The country now has the highest number of confirmed cases per million people in Latin America, reporting 167,355 cases on Saturday and 3,101 deaths.

UK death toll rises by 181 to 41,662

The United Kingdom's death toll from confirmed cases of Covid-19 rose by 181 to 41,662 as of 1600 GMT on June 12, according to government data. 

AstraZeneca to supply vaccine in Europe

AstraZeneca Plc has signed a contract with European governments to supply the region with its potential vaccine against the coronavirus, the British drugmaker's latest deal to pledge its drug to help combat the pandemic.

The contract is for up to 400 million doses of the vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford, the company said on Saturday, adding that it was looking to expand manufacturing of the vaccine, which it said it would provide for no profit during the pande mic.

Deliveries will start by the end of 2020.

The deal is the first contract signed by Europe's Inclusive Vaccines Alliance (IVA), a group formed by France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands to secure vaccine doses for all member states as soon as possible.

Italy's death toll rises by 78 to 34,301

Deaths from the Covid-19 epidemic in Italy climbed by 78, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the tally of new cases increased by 346.

The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on February 21 now stands at 34,301, the agency said, the fourth highest in the world after those of the United States, Britain and Brazil.

The death count was muddied by the fact that the central region of Lazio, around the capital city of Rome, said that only two of the 25 deaths declared on Saturday had happened in the last 24 hours, bringing the daily deaths down to 55.

The number of confirmed cases amounts to 236,651, the seventh highest global tally behind those of the United States, Russia, Brazil, Spain, Britain and India.

Russia's cases pass 520,000

Russia reported 8,706 new coronavirus cases, bringing its cumulative infection tally to 520,129.

The authorities said 114 people had died of the virus in the last 24 hours, raising the official national death toll to 6,829. 

India records biggest single-day jump in cases

India reported its biggest single-day jump in virus cases, adding 11,458 confirmed infections and taking its total count to more than 300,000, according to data from the federal health ministry.

India is the fourth-worst affected country in the world, having surpassed the United Kingdom on Friday, with cases steadily increasingly despite a nationwide lockdown that began in late March and has since been loosened.

Confirmed cases in the worst-hit western state of Maharashtra moved past the 100,000 marks, data showed on Saturday.

Pakistan seals off hot spots amid virus surge

Pakistani authorities have identified and sealed off nearly 1,300 hot spots to contain the rising trajectory of new virus infections.

The sealing of high-risk area comes as Pakistan reported 6,472 news cases, the country's highest single-day total. Pakistan has confirmed a total of 132,405 cases, including 2,551 deaths.

Pakistan put its entire population of 220 million under lockdown in March. The government has since eased restrictions, saying it was necessary to save the country’s economy, but it has caused a surge in infections.

South Korea has reported 49 new cases

Officials say most of them are in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where health authorities have been struggling to slow transmissions linked to entertainment and leisure activities, church gatherings and low-income workers who can’t afford to stay home.

The figures released brought national totals to 12,051 cases and 277 deaths.

Agency director Jung Eun-Kyong is urging residents in the capital area to stay home over the weekend, saying there is “high concern” that increased public activity will lead to the widespread circulation of the virus.

South Africa reports big delays in test results

South Africa says the average delay in obtaining virus test results from public labs has risen to 12 days amid backlogs and shortages of testing materials.

South Africa represents well over a quarter of Africa’s virus cases, with more than 61,000. The country has conducted about a third of the virus tests in Africa, and countries with fewer resources could face similar delays or worse.

The longer it takes to confirm a positive case, the greater the risk that an infected person is unknowingly spreading the virus.

Uncertainty as Spain puts virus death toll 'on hold'

For days now, Spain's daily virus death toll has been on hold, generating widespread uncertainty about the real state of the epidemic that has claimed more than 27,000 lives.

The health ministry's emergencies coordinator Fernando Simon, who for months has given a daily briefing on the pandemic's evolution, acknowledged the "astonishment" and "confusion" generated by the figures.

On May 25, the ministry changed its method of collecting data on confirmed cases and fatalities, initially giving a daily death toll of between 50 and 100. 

But the figure then fell to fewer than five per day and on some days there were no deaths at all.

Hundreds protest against Nepal's coronavirus response

Police in Nepal arrested 10 people, including seven foreigners, as demonstrations against the government's handling of the virus crisis continued with hundreds of protesters gathering in the capital city Kathmandu, officials said.

The Himalayan nation imposed a complete lockdown in March after reporting its second confirmed case. But the number of infections has since increased to 5,062, with 16 deaths, and the government has come under fire for not doing enough to contain the outbreak.

Malaysia reports 43 new cases, one new death

Malaysia reported 43 new coronavirus cases, raising the cumulative total to 8,445 infections.

The health ministry also reported one new death, taking total fatalities from the outbreak to 120. 

Indonesia reports 1,014 new cases, 43 deaths

Indonesia reported 1,014 new virus infections and 43 more deaths, taking the total number of cases to 37,420 and fatalities to 2,091, health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said.

Yurianto said 563 more patients had recovered from the virus, bringing the total number of recovered cases to 13,776.

All the new cases were locally transmitted, he added. 

Australia's largest state reports first local case in weeks 

Australia's largest state of New South Wales reported its first locally transmitted virus case since late May, a sign the threat from the pandemic is far from over as social distancing restrictions continue to be eased.

The state recorded four new virus cases overnight, taking the total number in Australia to nearly 7,300.

The local case was a man in his 20s, and according to health authorities, he did not attend any of the recent Black Lives Matter protests in Sydney.

Two of the four new cases were travellers who are already in hotel quarantine, while one was linked to a previously reported infection at a public school.

The country has reported 102 deaths and is on track to fully re-open its economy by next month.

Slovenia to open borders for Italians, Montenegrins

Slovenia will open its borders for citizens of Montenegro and neighbouring Italy on June 15, the government said in a statement.

It also said it will from Saturday introduce an obligatory 14-day quarantine for most people coming to Slovenia from 31 states where the epidemiological situation has worsened over the past weeks, including Sweden, Britain, Russia, United States and Brazil.

Slovenia has so far reported 1,490 coronavirus cases and 109 deaths. From Monday it will allow gatherings with up to 500 people compared with up to 200 at present.

Mexico City to begin a gradual exit from lockdown

The mayor of Mexico City said the Mexican capital will next week lift restrictions on car traffic and public transport, and allow 340,000 factory works to get back to work, even though new cases of coronavirus are still rising.

Mexico City and the adjacent urban sprawl are home to more than 21 million people, and the region accounts for more than 40 percent of some 139,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country. 

Authorities in Venezuela are extending lockdown

Authorities in Venezuela are extending its virus lockdown keeping residents at home except for essential chores such as food shopping. The announcement extends the lockdown through mid-July.

Officials have already allowed some sectors to reopen, including banks and construction. Doctors and dentists can also see patients.

According to official figures, 23 people have died in Venezuela since the first coronavirus cases were diagnosed in mid-March. Officials say fewer than 3,000 people have fallen ill in the country of roughly 25 million.

South Africa sees its largest single-day increase with 3,359 cases

A health ministry update says South Africa now has more than 61,000 virus cases, or well over a quarter of the cases across the African continent, including 1,354 deaths.

Nearly two-thirds of South Africa’s cases are in the Western Cape province centred on the city of Cape Town, where the World Health Organization’s Africa chief has said the trend “seems to be similar to what was happening in Europe and in the US”

The total number of cases across the 54-nation continent is now above 218,000 and WHO says the pandemic is “accelerating” in Africa, even though the cases make up less than 3 percent of the global total.

South Africa has conducted more than 1 million tests for the virus, roughly one-third of all testing in Africa.

Parts of Beijing locked down due to fresh virus cluster

Eleven residential estates in south Beijing have been locked down due to a fresh cluster of coronavirus cases linked to a nearby meat market, officials said.

Seven cases have so far been linked to Xinfadi meat market, six of them confirmed on Saturday, officials said. Nine nearby schools and kindergartens have been closed. 

China reports 11 new confirmed cases

China reported 11 new virus cases and seven asymptomatic cases for June 12, the national health authority said.

The National Health Commission (NHC) said in a statement that five of the newly confirmed patients were so-called imported cases involving travellers from overseas.

The six locally transmitted cases were all in Beijing, the statement said.

The NHC reported seven confirmed cases and one asymptomatic case a day earlier.

The total number of cases in mainland China now stands at 83,075, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

Mexico reports record tally of 5,222 new cases

Mexico's health ministry reported a record 5,222 new confirmed virus infections along with 504 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 139,196 cases and 16,448 deaths.

The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the official count.

Turkey sends medical aid to Serbia

A truck carrying medical supplies reached Serbia from Turkey to help the country combat the pandemic.

The supplies were sent by Turkey's Health Ministry and Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK) upon the directives of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The aid includes bedside monitors, pulsometers, UV sterilization lamps, oxygen regulators, perfusion pumps, video laryngoscopes, laryngoscopes, silicon Ambu, surgical aspirators, hospital bedding sets, intensive care patient beds, protective masks, protective overalls, hand sanitisers and wet towels.

One-fifth of Britain's patients infected in hospitals – local media

About one in five of Britain's patients with Covid-19 contracted the disease while in hospital, the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported, citing papers by government scientists.

At the peak of the coronavirus outbreak in Britain, transmission within hospitals was believed to account for up to 22 percent of cases in hospitalised patients, and up to 11 percent of deaths, the report added.

Brazil's deaths surge past UK

Brazil became the country with the second-highest virus death toll in the world with 41,828 fatalities, surpassing Britain, according to health ministry data.

The country recorded 909 deaths in the past 24 hours. There are 828,810 confirmed infections among a population of 212 million, the ministry said.

Experts say the true number of cases could be 10 or 15 times higher in Brazil, the largest country in Latin America.

France to lift border controls for EU travellers on June 15

France will lift restrictions at its borders for EU travellers on June 15, the French Interior and Foreign ministries said in a statement.

"Given a favourable development of the health situation in France and Europe and in accordance with the recommendations of the European Commission...France will lift on June 15 (0h00) all traffic restrictions at its European internal borders (land, air and sea), implemented to fight the Covid-19 pandemic," the statement said.

Travellers from the member states of the European Union, as well as from Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland and Vatican will also be able to enter the French territory without restrictions, the statement said.

France will also gradually reopen its borders to countries outside the Schengen zone from July 1.

Egypt registers highest daily rise cases in nearly two weeks

Egypt confirmed 1,577 new cases, the health ministry said, the highest daily increase in almost two weeks.

In total, the Arab world's most populous country has registered 41,303 cases including 1,422 deaths, the ministry said in a statement. 

Chile registers new daily record for fatalities

Chile registered its worst daily figures for virus fatalities on Friday, with 222 deaths and more than 6,700 new infections in the previous 24-hours, authorities said.

"The situation in our country continues to rise, above all in the metropolitan region," health ministry official Arturo Zuniga said.

Infections have risen steadily in the South American copper giant despite the capital Santiago and its seven million people being placed on lockdown four weeks ago.

On Friday, the government also put the cities of Valparaiso and Vina del Mar under mandatory quarantine along with nearby rural towns.

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