The global coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 11.8 million people and claimed nearly 540,000 lives. Here are updates for July 7:

A stewardess takes the body temperature of a woman before boarding a plane at Paris-Orly Airport on its re-opening day in France, June 26, 2020.
A stewardess takes the body temperature of a woman before boarding a plane at Paris-Orly Airport on its re-opening day in France, June 26, 2020. (Reuters)

Tuesday, July 7

France virus cases rise

The number of people who have died from coronavirus infection in France rose by 13 to 29,933, but that figure takes into account a downward revision of fatalities in nursing homes.

The number of people who died in hospitals increased by 34 to 19,457, compared to the daily average of 23 over the past seven days.

The health ministry also reported the death toll in nursing homes now stands at 10,476, versus 10,497 a week earlier. 

US announces free virus testing in three southern hotspots

The United States announced it was offering free virus testing to people without symptoms to stem a surge of cases in three southern hotspots.

America has fared exceptionally poorly in its handling of the pandemic, with more than 130,000 people losing their lives, the highest death toll in the world by far.

Five thousand tests per day will be offered in Jacksonville, Florida; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Edinburg, Texas.

This will continue for between five to 12 days.

The Department of Health and Human Services said testing is available to anyone aged five and over "including those experiencing symptoms; those who believe they may have been exposed to someone with coronavirus; and anyone who is worried about possibly having the virus."

Italy quarantines Ocean Viking ship in Sicily

Italian maritime authorities placed the migrant rescue ship Ocean Viking in quarantine off the Sicilian port of Porto Empedocle, charity group SOS Mediterranee said.

Late Monday, 180 migrants on board the vessel were allowed off after nine days and taken to another boat where they will also be quarantined to prevent the possible spread of coronavirus.

The operation capped a tense few days onboard the Ocean Viking marked by migrants jumping overboard, a suicide attempt and bouts of violence.

The ship is now anchored outside the port, with an AFP correspondent on board, and the crew has been asked to respect a two-week quarantine, the charity said.

Austria makes masks compulsory again 

An Austrian region is reintroducing rules making masks compulsory in shops after an increase in virus infections.

The Austria Press Agency reported the governor of Upper Austria province, Thomas Stelzer, set the requirement for Thursday. Masks already were made compulsory in public administrative building.

The province west of Vienna will once again require people to wear masks in shops and when leaving their table in restaurants.

Austria has relaxed many coronavirus restrictions in recent weeks. But authorities say Monday’s number of active cases of coronavirus in the country had risen above 1,000 for the first time since mid-May.

Turkey reports 2,297 new virus recoveries

As many as 2,297 people in Turkey recovered from the novel coronavirus over the past 24 hours, the country's health minister said.

In a Twitter post, Fahrettin Koca said the country registered 1,053 new cases over the past day, bringing the tally to 207,897.

Koca said that overall recoveries now climbed to 185,292 with the latest additions.

The minister emphasised that Turkey's ICU occupancy rates are between 59 percent and 61 percent for a month. 

Brazil's Bolsonaro says he has tested positive for Covid-19

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has announced he has tested positive for the coronavirus but said he was feeling "perfectly well" and had only mild symptoms.

Bolsonaro confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and speaking to reporters in capital Brasilia.

The far-right leader has caused huge controversy in Brazil for repeatedly flouting masks, containment measures and minimising the risk of the virus, which has killed 65,000 people in the South American giant and infected 1.6 million.

The president has often appeared in public to shake hands with supporters and mingle with crowds, at times without a mask. He has said that his history as an athlete would protect him from the virus, and that it would be nothing more than a “little flu” were he to contract it.

Sweden's daily tally falls to lowest since May

Sweden’s daily tally of virus cases fell to its lowest since late May, a sharp reversal from June when expanded testing fuelled record numbers in a country that drew global attention for its rejection of a lockdown.

Cases in the Nordic country have declined sharply over the past few days and on Tuesday only 283 new cases were recorded.

That contrasts with a torrid month of June when daily numbers ran as high as 1,800, eclipsing rates across much of Europe, even as deaths and hospitalisations continued to decline from peaks in April.

Sweden was slow to ramp up testing for any but the seriously ill and healthcare workers, but weekly numbers for tests have more than doubled since late may, putting the country in the same bracket as extensively testing nations such as Germany.

Serbia announces highest single-day spike

Serbia has announced its highest single-day spike in deaths from the virus, with 13 new deaths.

The country’s health ministry says there are 299 new confirmed cases.

That makes 16,719 registered cases and 330 confirmed deaths since the start of the pandemic in the Balkan country that went from having one of Europe’s toughest lockdowns to a near-complete reopening in early May.

Spain extends social spending amid outbreak

The Spanish government is extending through September social spending to help families weather the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Utility companies cannot cut gas, electricity or water supply even if citizens fail to foot their bills until September 30. 

Mortgage payments will remain frozen for those who can’t afford to pay their dues.

Home rentals will be extended without changes in their conditions for six additional months, government spokeswoman María Jesús Montero announced Tuesday. Tenants who qualify can apply for discounts on their rents or delays in payments if their landlords own 10 or more properties.

New Zealand to limit returning citizens 

New Zealand said its national airline will not take new bookings for three weeks as the country looks to limit the number of citizens returning home to reduce the burden on overflowing quarantine facilities.

As the pandemic worsens globally, thousands of New Zealanders are returning to South Pacific nation, which is among a handful of countries to have contained the coronavirus, re-opened its economy and restored pre-pandemic normalcy.

Bookings on Air New Zealand flights will be managed to ensure the government can safely place citizens into managed 

Congo health workers reduce Covid-19 services in pay protest

Health workers responding to the virus outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital have cut their services to a minimum in protest against unpaid bonuses, they said.

In a letter to the prime minister, an association of health workers demanded four months of bonuses, increased pay and government support for family members of colleagues who died from Covid-19.

The partial strike, which began on Friday, is taking place in the capital Kinshasa, where the vast majority of Congo’s 7,660 confirmed cases have been recorded, and two neighbouring provinces.

Italy suspends flights from Bangladesh for one week

Italy is suspending all flights from Bangladesh for one week due to a “significant number” of passengers who tested positive to the coronavirus on a flight to Rome on Monday, the health ministry said.

During the suspension, the government will work on new precautionary measures for all arrivals from outside the European Union and the Schengen area, the ministry said in a statement.

Montenegro quarantines everyone arriving from Serbia

Montenegro has introduced a compulsory quarantine for all people arriving from Serbia, citing virus health risks in the neighbouring Balkan country.

Until Tuesday when the measure was implemented, Serb citizens had to go through a 14-day self-isolation period when entering Montenegro, while Montenegrin and other citizens were free to cross the border.

In an apparent tit-for-tat move, Serbian government reportedly plans to introduce a 14-day self-isolation period for Montenegrin citizens traveling to Serbia.

Germany town community on quarantine

Authorities in a western German town have ordered quarantine for a Mennonite community after a family of 12 tested positive for the coronavirus.

News agency DPA reported the health office in Euskirchen, near Cologne, said all members of the community are expected to be tested this week. Spokesman Wolfgang Andres said it’s not clear exactly how many people, but officials believe it’s about 500.

Andres says the children of the affected family went to the town’s Mennonite school before it emerged they had the virus, and the family probably also went to the community’s prayer house, so it can’t be ruled out that the virus spread.

Philippines railway closes amid infected employees

A major passenger railway system in the Philippine capital has been shut down for five days starting Tuesday after nearly 200 employees, including 15 ticket sellers, tested positive for the virus, officials said.

The shutdown of the 13-station MRT Line 3, which runs for nearly 17 kilometres from north to south of metropolitan Manila, further complicates a transport shortage caused by quarantine restrictions. The government has allowed the deployment of more shuttle buses to ease the shortage.

The Philippines has seen a spike in infections in recent days after easing quarantine restrictions and ramping up tests, reporting nearly 48,000 infections, including 1,309 deaths.

Iran announces highest single-day spike

Iran has announced its highest single-day spike in deaths from the coronavirus, with 200 new fatalities.

The spokesperson for the country’s health ministry, Sima Sadat Lari, said Tuesday that the latest death toll was an increase of 40 from the previous day, when 160 were reported to have died of Covid-19, the illness caused by the virus.

She blamed the spike on citizens who do not abide by restrictive measures but gather in large numbers for weddings and other ceremonies, without observing distancing regulations.

South Africa confirms over 200,000 cases

South Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases have surpassed 200,000 as the country continues to post some of the highest daily numbers in the world.

The health ministry reports 8,971 new cases, bringing the total to 205,721.

Nearly one third are in the new hot spot of Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria.

The African continent overall has more than 477,000 confirmed cases.

Australia's second-biggest city under new virus lockdown

More than five million residents of Melbourne will be locked down for six weeks after coronavirus cases surged in Australia's second-biggest city, authorities announced.

State Premier Daniel Andrews said the lockdown would begin at midnight Wednesday and last at least six weeks, as he warned residents "we can't pretend" the coronavirus crisis is over.

After the south-eastern city detected 191 new cases in 24 hours, Andrews said there were now too many incidents of the virus to trace and track.

Australia has recorded almost 9,000 cases and 106 deaths from the virus.

Beijing reports zero cases for first time since new outbreak

Beijing reported zero new coronavirus cases for the first time since the emergence of a cluster in the Chinese capital in June that prompted fears of a domestic second wave.

A total of 335 people have been infected since a cluster emerged at the city's massive Xinfadi wholesale market in early June.

Beijing's health commission said it detected only one asymptomatic case the previous day, which China does not include in its count of confirmed infections.

While Chinese authorities are still investigating the cause of the latest outbreak, the virus was detected on chopping boards used to handle imported salmon at Xinfadi market, prompting a ban on certain imports and increased scrutiny of foreign food suppliers.

The Beijing government has tested more than 11 million people for Covid-19 since June 11 – roughly half the city's population, officials said at a press conference.

Russia reports more than 6,300 new infections

Russia reported 6,368 new coronavirus cases, taking its nationwide tally of infections to 694,230.

The country's coronavirus crisis response centre said 198 people had died from the virus in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 10,494.

Russia said 463,880 people have recovered from the virus.

Hong Kong facing community outbreak

Hong Kong was facing another community outbreak of the coronavirus after reporting mostly imported infections in recent months, a health official said.

"The next few days are very crucial," said Wong Ka-hing Controller of the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health.

The Chinese-ruled city reported 14 new cases, five of them imported and nine local. Five of the local cases were of unknown origin, officials said. In total, Hong Kong has reported roughly 1,300 cases since late January and seven deaths.

Indonesia reports 1,268 new infections, 68 deaths

Indonesia reported 1,268 new coronavirus infections, bringing the total number of cases to 66,226, Health Ministry official Achmad Yurianto told a televised briefing.

The official also announced 68 additional deaths due to the virus, bringing the total number of fatalities to 3,309, while 30,785 people have recovered.

UAE to further ramp up testing as cases rise

The United Arab Emirates plans to test two million people, or about 20 percent of the population, for the novel coronavirus over the next two months after the infection rate climbed again following the lifting of restrictions, a government spokesperson said.

The regional business and tourism hub on June 24 removed a nationwide curfew in place since mid-March. It has gradually reopened commercial businesses and public venues and the emirate, or state, of Dubai is set reopen to foreign visitors on Tuesday.

The UAE recorded 528 new cases on Monday, taking its tally to 52,068 with 324 deaths. The daily infection rate had dropped from a peak of over 900 in late May to average between 300 to 400, but rose over the weekend to some 700.

Argentina reports more deaths

The death toll in Argentina from the novel coronavirus rose to 1,582 as the pandemic continued to spread in Latin America.

The country reported 75 fatalities from the virus during the past 24 hours.

The total number of cases in the country reached 80,447 as 2,632 more people tested positive for Covid-19.

Despite a partial quarantine in Argentina that has been in effect since March 20, the number of cases and deaths continues to rise.

Virus claims 183 more lives in Peru

Peru reported 183 deaths from the novel coronavirus during the past 24 hours, health officials there said.

The death toll climbed to 10,772, while the number of diagnosed cases rose to 305,703 with 2,985 additional infections.

At least 197,619 people have recovered from the virus.

Meanwhile, according to the country's media, at least 400 teachers have died from the virus since the beginning of the outbreak.

India's coronavirus death toll hits 20,000

India's death toll from the coronavirus pandemic surpassed 20,000 and case numbers surged as the south Asian nation pushed ahead with relaxations to its almost two-month lockdown amid grim economic forecasts.

The rate of both new virus infections and deaths are rising at the fastest pace in three months, as officials lift a vast lockdown of India's 1.3 billion people that has left tens of thousands without work and shuttered businesses.

The country reported 467 new deaths, taking the toll to 20,160.

It also recorded 22,252 new infections, increasing the total to 719,665. India earlier overtook Russia as the third most affected country globally, behind the US and Brazil.

But its death rate per 10,000 people is still a low 0.15, compared with 3.97 in the United States and 6.65 in the United Kingdom, according to a Reuters tally.

Germany's confirmed cases rise to 196,944

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 390 to 196,944, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 8 to 9,024, the tally showed.

First tranche of sport relief funding released by New Zealand government

New Zealand's government said it has released the first installment of a NZ$265 million funding package to help the local sports industry cope with the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sports Minister Grant Robertson said much of the initial NZ$80 million tranche would be used to boost community sports, help sports organisations run national leagues and upgrade facilities for global sporting events.

New Zealand's successful joint bid with Australia to host soccer's Women's World Cup in 2023 brings a third women's global event to the country in the next three years.

Both the women's Cricket and Rugby World Cups are due to be held in New Zealand in 2021 and Robertson said an initial NZ$7.3 million would be spent on upgrading facilities for women.

Brazil reports over 600 deaths as Bolsonaro undergoes test

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has said that he had undergone another test for the novel coronavirus as the country reported 620 more deaths over the past 24 hours.

Bolsonaro's statement after local media reported he had symptoms associated with the Covid-19 respiratory disease that it causes.

The country registered 20,229 additional cases over the last 24 hours. It has now registered 1,623,284 total cases and 65,487 deaths attributable to the virus.

China reports eight new cases

China reported eight new cases in the mainland for July 6, up from four a day earlier, the health authority said. 

All of the new infections were imported cases, involving travellers entering China from abroad, while the capital city of Beijing reported zero new cases, the National Health Commission said in a statement on Tuesday. 

There were no new deaths. 

China also reported 15 new asymptomatic casesfor July 6, up from 11 a day earlier. As of July 6, China had a total of 83,565 confirmed cases while the death toll remained at 4,634

Mexico records 480 more deaths

Mexico's health ministry has reported 4,902 new confirmed infections and 480 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 261,750 cases and 31,119 deaths. 

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

Atlanta mayor tests positive

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has said that she has tested positive for Covid-19, but has not shown symptoms of the virus.

She gave no information about her diagnosis, whether she is under quarantine and when she was tested.

"Covid-19 has literally hit home," the first-term mayor of Georgia's state capital city said on Twitter on Monday.

US to withdraw visas for foreign students

The United States has said it would not allow foreign students to remain in the country if all of their classes are moved online in the fall over the coronavirus crisis. 

"Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States," US Immigration and Custom Enforcement said in a statement. 

Students in such programmes "must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status," it said. 

F-1 students pursue academic coursework and M-1 students pursue "vocational coursework," according to ICE.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies