Coronavirus live news: new outbreak prompts Hong Kong to close all schools; new rise in Melbourne

Some more global updates below

Bolivia leader has virus

Bolivia’s interim president Jeanine Áñez has announced she has tested positive for coronavirus, tweeting: “I’m fine I will work from isolation.”

Anez is the second South American president in a matter of days to contract the coronavirus after Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro announced he tested positive on Tuesday.

Another high-ranking Latin American government official to contract the virus is Venezuela’s constitutional assembly president Diosdado Cabello, widely considered to be the second-most powerful person in the country after President Nicolas Maduro.

More than 555,000 deaths

The pandemic has killed 555,036 people worldwide since it surfaced in China late last year, according to an AFP tally at 1100 GMT on Friday based on official sources.

The US is the hardest-hit country with 133,291 deaths. It is followed by Brazil with 69,184, Britain with 44,602, Italy with 34,926 and Mexico with 33,526 fatalities.

The US on Thursday posted 65,551 new coronavirus cases, a record for a 24-hour period, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Israel hits daily record

Israel also records its highest number of coronavirus infections over a 24-hour period, with nearly 1,500 new cases confirmed, the health ministry says.

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a press conference that the decision to allow businesses, including bars and event spaces to reopen may have been made “too soon”.

Australia restricts returns

Australia will cut by half the number of returning citizens allowed into the country as it struggles to contain a worsening coronavirus outbreak in its second-largest city, Melbourne.

From Monday, only 4,000 Australian citizens or permanent residents will be allowed back each day.

Prime minister Scott Morrison says the move is needed to focus resources on countering the “very concerning” virus surge in Melbourne, where authorities reported a record 288 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours.

Serbians protest for third day

Thousands of people protest for a third day across Serbia against the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Unlike the two previous days, Thursday’s protests largely pass off peacefully.

The protests were sparked by a weekend curfew to combat a second wave of coronavirus infections that has overwhelmed hospitals in Belgrade. The president later backtracked on the plan but the protests have continued, turning into a general rebuke of his handling of the crisis.

China bans some food imports

China has temporarily banned food imports from three Ecuadorian companies after detecting coronavirus on packaging for frozen shrimp, following fresh scrutiny on refrigerated goods after a recent disease outbreak in Beijing.

Kazakhstan-Chinese disease claim

Kazakhstan has denied a claim by China’s embassy that a pneumonia outbreak more deadly than the novel coronavirus is rampaging through the central Asian country, saying it does not “correspond to reality”.

In an alert for Chinese citizens posted on the embassy’s website on Thursday, Beijing warned of a disease with “a mortality rate far higher than Covid-19”.

Singapore votes despite outbreak

Singaporeans have voted in a general election despite struggling with an upsurge in virus cases.

The ruling party was branded irresponsible for insisting on holding the ballot, with voters wearing face masks and gloves joining long queues at some polling stations.


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