South Korea has reported 35 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing its caseload to 13,373 infections and 288 deaths, the Associated Press reports.
South Korea’s centres for disease control and prevention said on Saturday that 13 of the new cases were in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, which has been at the centre of a virus resurgence since late May.
Infections were also reported in other major cities such Daejeon and Gwangju, where patients have been tied to various places, including churches, a Buddhist temple, churches, nursing homes and a sauna.
Fifteen of the new cases were linked to international arrivals as the virus continues to spread in Asia, North America and elsewhere.
Bill Gates has called for Covid-19 drugs and any eventual vaccine to be made available to countries and people that need them most, not to the highest bidder, saying that relying on market forces to ensure their distribution would prolong the pandemic, according to Reuters.
The Microsoft tycoon said in a video released on Saturday:
If we just let drugs and vaccines go to the highest bidder, instead of to the people and the places where they are most needed, we’ll have a longer, more unjust, deadlier pandemic.
We need leaders to make these hard decisions about distributing based on equity, not just on market-driven factors.
Gates made his money through the Microsoft software company, whose operating systems and Office software have dominated the market for decades. In recent years he has become one of the world’s biggest philanthropic givers, through his foundation becoming the largest private donor to the World Health Organization and the Gavi vaccine alliance, among other organisations. Gates’s foundation also provides funding to the Guardian’s global development desk.
Speaking in the video, which was released for a virtual Covid-19 conference organised by the International Aids Society, Gates said efforts which began two decades ago to battle the global HIV/Aids crisis – when countries came together to eventually make medicines available in most of the world including Africa – could serve as a model for making Covid-19 medicines widely accessible.
As examples he pointed to the 2002-created Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the US-based President’s Emergency Plan For Aids Relief to get medicines to people to combat some of the world’s deadliest diseases.
“One of the best lessons in the fight against HIV/Aids is the importance of building this large, fair global distribution system to get the drugs out to everyone,” Gates said.
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In the US, the coronavirus pandemic has sparked a surge in RV or motorhome purchasing and rental, and enthusiastic camping and “glamping” bookings as Americans attempt to escape months of quarantine for a summer break while avoiding flights and keeping their distance, writes Miranda Bryant in New York for the Guardian US.
The pandemic, which continues to rage across the US, has made many traditional holiday activities either impossible or unappealing, putting millions off flying abroad, going to crowded resort hotels, group holidays or cruises. But experts say the apparent lower risk of transmission in the open is making outdoor holidays in demand – and attracting new fans.
Camping and glamping booking services report huge spikes in business, with some 400% busier than the same time last year, following the reopening of states for business. RV companies said business is “booming” in rental and sales.
Meanwhile, outdoors retailer REI said it has seen record growth in its camping department in the last six weeks as people rush to buy equipment.
The UK government is poised to launch an emergency drive to slim down the nation and reduce the incidence of conditions such as type 2 diabetes before an expected second wave of coronavirus, writes Peter Walker, the Guardian’s political correspondent.
Downing Street is planning what has been billed as a “war against obesity” after Boris Johnson needed intensive care treatment for Covid-19, which the prime minister reportedly blamed on his weight.
As well as longer-term proposals to reduce the incidence of obesity, government officials are having urgent discussions about how to persuade people to lose weight in the next few months, before an anticipated resurgence in coronavirus cases in the autumn.
The UK has experienced the highest death rate from coronavirus in Europe, and one potential factor may be high rates of obesity and associated lifestyle-linked conditions such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, which are strongly associated with worse Covid-19 outcomes.
India passes 800,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus
India’s coronavirus cases have passed 800,000 with the biggest spike of 27,114 cases in the past 24 hours, causing nearly a dozen states to impose a partial lockdown in high-risk areas, the Associated Press reports.
The new confirmed cases took the national total to 820,916. The health ministry on Saturday also reported another 519 deaths for a total of 22,123.
As reported earlier, India is now the world’s third-worst affected country by case load.
A surge in infections saw the cases jumping from 600,000 to more than 800,000 in nine days. The ministry said the recovery rate was continuing to improve at more than 62%.
Eight of India’s 28 states, including the worst-hit Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Delhi, account for nearly 90% of all infections.
The most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, with nearly 230 million people, imposed a weekend lockdown while several others announced restrictions in districts reporting major spikes.
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Metropolitan Melbourne returned to lockdown on 8 July after Victoria recorded 191 new cases of coronavirus since the start of the week, which was, at the time, the highest daily increase since the pandemic began.
Guardian Australia’s Melissa Davey explains why the stage 3 stay-at-home orders were announced, how the latest lockdown has been met with a mixture of fury and acceptance, and whether this apparent second wave could have been avoided.
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In Bangladesh, thousands of beds for coronavirus patients are lying empty, despite a rising caseload, because people are to scared to go to hospitals, officials and patients say, according to Agence France-Presse.
Some patients have told health workers they would “rather die at home than die in a hospital”, an official for a medical charity told AFP. Bangladesh has registered about 180,000 Covid-19 infections, and around 3,000 new cases are being added each day, while the death toll stood at 2,275 by Friday.
But medical experts say the real figures are likely to be much higher because so little testing has been carried out.
In the capital, Dhaka, about 4,750 of 6,305 beds set aside for coronavirus patients are not being used, the government’s health department acknowledged. At a new 2,000-bed field hospital built specially to care for coronavrus patients, only about 100 people are inside.
Authorities in the second city of Chittagong, which has emerged as a virus hotspot, say only half of its dedicated hospital beds are currently filled.
The two cities have a combined population of 25 million and account for around 80% of Bangladesh’s 87,000 active cases.
The health department said the beds were not being used because many sufferers were being treated at home.
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Russia was fast approaching three quarters of a million coronavirus cases on Saturday, as its latest update reported 6,611 new infections, taking its nationwide tally to 720,547, according to Reuters.
The country’s coronavirus crisis response centre said 188 people had died from the virus in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 11,205.
So far 497,446 people have recovered from the virus.
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The former UK health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, is spreading the message that Britons should wear face coverings in shops, in an appearance on the radio this morning.
Three UK papers carried front page stories this morning suggesting that a move to make masks mandatory indoors was imminent. Hunt, chairman of the house of commons health and social care committee, called for simple government messaging.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
I’m afraid I do go all ‘nanny’ on that one.
I understand the public health advice, which is that if there’s a risk of being less than two metres close to someone then you should wear it but if not you don’t have to.
But it doesn’t answer the basic question which is: ‘f I’m going shopping, should I wear a face mask or not?’
And I think with public health advice in a pandemic you just need simplicity, so I would favour saying we should wear face masks in shops.
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Philip Alston, the outgoing special rapporteur on extreme poverty at the UN High Commission for Human Rights, has written for the Guardian on how the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed a hidden pandemic of poverty that had been masked by wishful thinking and a misleading benchmark set by the World Bank. He writes:
Poverty is suddenly all over the front page. As coronavirus ravages the globe, its wholly disproportionate impact on poor people and marginalised communities is inescapable. Hundreds of millions of people are being pushed into poverty and unemployment, with woeful support in most places, alongside a huge expansion in hunger, homelessness, and dangerous work.
How could the poverty narrative have turned on a dime? Until just a few months ago, many were celebrating the imminent end of poverty; now it’s everywhere. The explanation is simple. Over the past decade, world leaders, philanthropists and pundits have embraced a deceptively optimistic narrative about the world’s progress against poverty. It has been lauded as one of the “greatest human achievements”, a feat seen “never before in human history” and an “unprecedented” accomplishment. But the success story was always highly misleading.
As I show in my final report as UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, almost all of these rosy accounts rely on one measure – the World Bank’s $1.90 (£1.50) a day international poverty line – which is widely misunderstood, flawed and yields a deceptively positive picture. It has generated an undue sense of satisfaction and a dangerous complacency with the status quo.
Under that line, the number of people in “extreme poverty” fell from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 736 million in 2015. But the dramatic drop is only possible with a scandalously unambitious benchmark, which aims to ensure a mere miserable subsistence. The best evidence shows it doesn’t even cover the cost of food or housing in many countries. And it obscures poverty among women and those often excluded from official surveys, such as migrant workers and refugees. Much of the touted decline is due to rising incomes in a single country, China.
The consequences of this highly unrealistic picture of progress against poverty have been devastating.
Click through to read more – it is worth reading in full.
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There is no single story dominating the headlines on the newstands in the UK on Saturday morning.
The Guardian reports an exclusive on a “radical and politically risky reorganisation of the NHS” which comes as the government grows increasingly frustrated at the health service’s chief executive, Simon Stevens.
Denis Campbell, our health policy correspondent, writes:
The prime minister has set up a taskforce to devise plans for how ministers can regain much of the direct control over the NHS they lost in 2012 under a controversial shake-up masterminded by Andrew Lansley, the then coalition government health secretary …
In the summer, the taskforce will present Johnson with a set of detailed options to achieve those goals, and that will be followed by a parliamentary bill to enact the proposals, it is understood.
The Times, the Telegraph and the Independent all go with the story that the wearing of facemasks may become mandatory in shops, in the latest bid to try to curb the spread of coronavirus, which has been particularly disastrous in the UK.
According to the Times:
Boris Johnson is poised to make face coverings compulsory in shops after mounting evidence that they slow the spread of coronavirus.
The prime minister promised last night to get “stricter” on their use and said he was “looking at ways of making sure” that more people covered their faces indoors.
A government source said it was a “fair assumption” that masks would become mandatory in shops and other indoor settings within a few weeks.
The Financial Times reports on a fall in UK government borrowing costs, which will come in handy for the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, given that he has had to borrow so much money for the government’s stimulus packages to ameliorate the effects of the coronavirus lockdown.
Unfortunately the FT doesn’t give much away for free so you’ll have to subscribe for a taste of what it is they have found out.
At the Daily Mail, interest in the coronavirus has apparently waned, and they have a Covid-19-free front page. Instead the paper reports on an alleged honours scandal.
The Mail reports:
A firm boasted it could win a gong for a celebrity author for £80,000, the Daily Mail reveals today.
Leaked emails expose a cynical offer to help Barbara Taylor Bradford become a dame by getting direct feedback from ‘the people that matter’.
The brazen messages stated: ‘Basically our fee is 80K plus VAT … we bill half up front and half once the damehood has been awarded.’ Hundreds of applicants have used fee-paying companies to help win honours – a practice critics say devalues the entire system.
The Daily Express returns to a favoured bugbear – TV licences. Their “Great TV licence revolt” story reports on the fallout from the decision to take free TV licences away from pensioners.
Says the Express:
MILLIONS of pensioners are threatening a revolt over the BBC’s “heartless” decision to axe free TV licences for over-75s.
Furious older viewers plan to paralyse the Beeb’s system by cancelling direct debits and standing orders and paying by cheque instead.
The revolt has already resulted in 40,000 messages being sent to BBC director-general Tony Hall. Now millions are being asked to bombard the Prime Minister’s Twitter account to protest at the over-75s losing the perk next month.
The Mirror has a story about hunting. The US dentist who drew worldwide revulsion and fury for killing a much-loved lion is reportedly back on the prowl, killing more wild animals.
“THE dentist who slayed Cecil the lion five years ago is hunting again,” according to the Mirror.
Walter Palmer, 60, paid up to £80,000 to slaughter a huge ram in Mongolia.
But after the outrage over the death of Cecil, the American “driller killer’s” face is hidden on photos boasting of the hunt.
Humane Society International said: “Clearly the killing for kicks continues”.
And the i leads on the prime minister’s demand that the plebs go back to work. “Get back to the office, says PM.”
According to its story:
Boris Johnson called for workers to return to the factory or office if they can in a major shift of emphasis in the Government’s coronavirus strategy.
The Prime Minister said “the faster we can get back to the status quo ante the better” for industries such as hospitality, manufacturing and academia as he signalled he is keen to speed up the UK’s exit from lockdown.
Official Government guidelines state everyone should “work from home if you can” and “stay at home as much as possible” in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
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Good evening, good afternoon, good morning.
This is Damien Gayle in London taking you through the next few hours of coronavirus-related updates and headlines from around the world.
If you have any comments, tips or suggestions, please feel free to drop me a line, either via email to email@example.com, or via Twitter direct message to @damiengayle.
I will be handing the blog over to my colleagues in the UK now. Thank you for following us here in Sydney and Melbourne today. Here is a wrap of the day so far:
- Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration granted provisional approval for the use of the drug remdesivir in the treatment of Covid-19, making Australia one of the first countries to authorise its use for coronavirus, after regulators in Japan, Singapore and the EU.
- The Australian state of Victoria recorded 216 new cases of Covid-19 and one death, a man in his 90s who died in hospital. Some 186 of those cases are under investigation.
- Meanwhile the state of New South Wales recorded seven new cases, including one of the two confirmed cases linked to the Crossroads Hotel in Casula. Three close contacts of the man who attended the Sydney pub on 3 July have also tested positive, and their results will be reflected in Sunday’s figures for NSW.
- The number of daily cases in the United States hit record levels again, increasing by nearly 69,000.
- Serbia announced a record Covid-19 death toll for a single day on Friday, with the prime minister, Ana Brnabic, saying the Balkan state recorded 18 fatalities and 386 new cases over 24 hours in what she described as a “dramatic increase”.
- India is now the world’s third-worst affected country, based on data from Johns Hopkins University. The country has tallied 793,802 infections and more than 21,600 deaths, with cases doubling every three weeks.
Stay safe everyone.
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Conservationists have warned a sudden change in Myanmar’s law allowing the commercial farming of tigers, pangolins and other endangered species risks further fuelling demand in China for rare wildlife products.
The south-east Asian nation is already a hub for the illegal trafficking of wildlife, a trade driven by demand from neighbouring China and worth an estimated $20bn worldwide.
In June, Myanmar’s Forest Department quietly gave the green light to private zoos to apply for licences to breed 90 species, more than 20 of which are endangered or critically endangered.
It was an unexpected move that caught conservation groups off guard but was explained by the Forest Department as a way to help reduce poaching of wild species and illegal breeding.
Tigers – thought to number just 22 in Myanmar – pangolins, elephants and various vulture species as well as the critically endangered Ayeyarwady dolphin and Siamese crocodile can now also be bred for their meat and skin.
But conservationists say commercial farming in the long term legitimises the use of endangered species and fuels market demand.
“Commercial trade has been shown to increase illegal trade in wildlife by creating a parallel market and boosting overall demand for wild animal products,” conservation groups WWF and Fauna & Flora International said in a joint statement.
Experts also fear Myanmar’s lack of capacity to regulate the trade raises the risk of disease spillover to humans from animals and even the “next Covid-19”.
John Goodrich from global wild cat conservation organisation Panthera warned farming can also “provide a means for laundering wild specimens”, complicating efforts to police the trade.
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