Covid-19 wrap: Vietnam records second virus death, Namibia to close schools as cases rise

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Reuters reports that Vietnam’s Health Ministry reported the country’s second Covid-19 death late on Friday.

The 61-year-old man died Friday afternoon at a hospital in Danang city, where Vietnam last week detected its first domestically transmitted coronavirus infections in more than three months, the ministry said in a statement.

The country, which has recorded 546 coronavirus infections since its first cases were detected in January, reported its first coronavirus death earlier on Friday.

WHO reports record daily global Covid-19 case increase 

Reuters reports that The World Health Organisation reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases on Friday, with the total rising by 292 527.

The biggest increases were from the United States, Brazil, India and South Africa, according to a daily report. Deaths rose by 6 812. The four countries have dominated global headlines with large outbreaks.

The previous WHO record for new cases was 284 196 on 24 July. 

Meanwhile, the WHO says coronavirus pandemic effects would be felt for decades as its emergency committee assessed the situation six months after sounding its top alarm over the outbreak.

Namibia to close schools as cases rise

Reuters reports that Namibian schools will be suspended for the second time in four months next week, while limits on public gatherings will be tightened further to 100 from 250 amid surging cases, President Hage Geingob said.

In a televised speech on Friday, Geingob said the decision to suspend schools from 4 August for 28 days came after considering the risks associated with the spread of the virus.

The measure affects early childhood development, pre-primary, primary and the first two grades of high school.

Namibia has 2 129 confirmed cases and 10 deaths with the country’s rate of daily new cases now the fourth highest on the continent following South Africa, Eswatini and Gabon, according to Geingob.

People will also not be allowed to consume alcohol at bars and taverns. They will only be permitted to drink it at home.

Geingob relaxed rules for international tourists, who will no longer be subjected to a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival but will be required to present a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test conducted 72 hours before arrival.

They will, however, be required to remain at their initial destination in the country for seven days. A test will be conducted during this period and tourists can proceed with their holiday if the result is negative.

Muslims pray for Eid under pandemic conditions

Masked and socially distanced to fight the coronavirus, Muslims around the world held prayers on Friday to mark the festival of Eid al-Adha, with mosques at reduced capacity and some praying in the open air.

Reuters reports that Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz, 84, whose country is home to two of Islam’s holiest sites, tweeted holiday congratulations a day after leaving hospital in Riyadh. The Haj pilgrimage is being held in the country with attendance drastically reduced.

In Istanbul, Muslims held Eid al-Adha prayers at Hagia Sophia for the first time since the historic building was reconverted to a mosque this month following a court ruling revoking its status as a museum that drew criticism from Western countries.

In Lebanon, devastated by economic crisis, many found it hard to afford traditional Eid customs. In Tripoli, the country’s second city, there were no decorations or twinkling lights, and no electricity to power them.

Instead, a large billboard read: “We’re broke.”

ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - 2020/07/31: Muslims atten

Muslims attend prayers outside Essalam mosque during Eid al-Adha in Rotterdam.

Getty Images Robin Utrecht/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Im

Around the world, the festival had to fit in with the realities of the coronavirus.

In Indonesia, the religious ministry asked mosques to shorten ceremonies, while many cancelled the ritual of slaughtering livestock and distributing meat to the community.

Instead sheep, goats and cows were being killed in abattoirs to mark the ‘Feast of the Sacrifice’, celebrated by Muslims to commemorate Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail at God’s command.

Elsewhere in Asia, Muslims including in Thailand and Malaysia prayed in or outside mosques wearing masks.

In Malaysia, while some mosques cancelled the ritual of slaughtering livestock, 13 cows were killed in the traditional way, but under rules limiting the number of animals and people at the Tengku Abdul Aziz Shah Jamek mosque in Kuala Lumpur.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani attended prayers in Kabul. Islamist Taliban militants say they will observe a three-day ceasefire for the holiday, offering some respite from weeks of violence.

In India, where Eid will be celebrated mostly from Saturday, several states have eased coronavirus restrictions to allow worshippers to gather in mosques in limited numbers.

Spain dives into deep recession

The coronavirus crisis has pulverised Spain’s economy, triggering its worst recession since the civil war, with collapsed tourism numbers boding ill for hopes of a swift rebound, Reuters reports. 

Hit by one of Europe’s worst outbreaks and strictest lockdowns, the economy came to a virtual halt in March and remained paralysed until the end of June.

It shrank 18.5% in the second quarter, a drop so harsh it wiped out all the recovery achieved since the 2008 global financial crisis, figures from the National Statistics Institute showed on Friday.

The government had counted on tourists from northern Europe and further afield driving a third quarter recovery, but quarantines and travel advisories have dashed hopes as Spain battles with new localised outbreaks of the Covid-19 disease.

After Britain required travellers to Spain to quarantine on return, Germany dealt another blow on Friday, putting three Spanish regions – including Catalonia, home to Barcelona – on its list of high-risk areas.

Spain normally received about 80 million visitors annually and has depended on tourism for about 12% of economic output.



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