Home Lifestyle Travel Spain’s border opens but infections on the rise elsewhere worldwide

Spain’s border opens but infections on the rise elsewhere worldwide
Spain’s border opens but infections on the rise elsewhere worldwide avatar

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Barcelona: Spain reopened its borders to European tourists on Sunday in a bid to kickstart its economy, while Brazil and South Africa continued to struggle with rising coronavirus infections.

In the US, the White House said President Donald Trump had been joking when he told a campaign rally in Oklahoma that he had asked his administration to slow down testing because more positive tests would result in more cases.

Spanish police officers wait for cars to cross into France at the border checkpoint in El Perthus on Sunday.Credit:Bloomberg

The coronavirus virus has infected over 8.8 million people worldwide and killed more than 464,000, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University, though the true numbers are thought to be much higher because many cases go unreported or undetected.

The World Health Organisation warned last week that the virus is still accelerating across the globe.

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Spain ended its national state of emergency after three months of lockdown, allowing its 47 million residents to freely travel around the country for the first time since March 14. The country also dropped a 14-day quarantine for visitors from Britain and the 26 European countries that allow visa-free travel.

The La Junquera shopping precinct on the Spanish side of the French border was busy on Sunday.

The La Junquera shopping precinct on the Spanish side of the French border was busy on Sunday.Credit:Bloomberg

Even so, there was only a trickle of travellers arriving at Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas airport on Sunday – a thoroughfare usually bustling with early summer crowds on a normal June day.

"This freedom that we now have, not having to justify our journey to see our family and friends, this was something that we were really looking forward to," Pedro Delgado, 23, said after arriving from Spain's Canary Islands.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez urged people to take maximum precautions.

"The virus can return and it can hit us again in a second wave, and we have to do whatever we can to avoid that at all cost," he said.

White House downplays Trump testing remarks

At a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Trump said on Saturday that the US has tested 25 million people, but the "bad part" is that it found more cases.

"When you do testing to that extent, you're going to find more people, you're going to find more cases," Trump said. "So I said to my people, 'Slow the testing down."

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told on CNN that Trump was being "tongue-in-cheek" and made the comment in a "light mood."

Democratic rival Joe Biden's campaign accused Trump of "putting politics ahead of the safety and economic wellbeing of the American people."

The US has the world's highest number of reported infections, over 2.2 million, and the highest death toll, at about 120,000, according to Johns Hopkins. Health officials say robust testing is vital for tracking outbreaks and keeping the virus in check.

The virus appears to be spreading across America's west and south. Arizona reported over 3100 new infections, just short of Friday's record, and 26 deaths. Nevada also reported a new high of 445 cases.

In England on Sunday, lockdown restrictions prevented druids, pagans and party-goers from watching the sun rise at the ancient circle of Stonehenge to mark the summer solstice, the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere.

Stonehenge remained closed for summer solstice.

Stonehenge remained closed for summer solstice.Credit:Getty Images

English Heritage, which runs the site, livestreamed it instead.

A few people gathered outside the fence. "You can't cancel the sunrise," druid Arthur Pendragon told the BBC.

Cases continue to rise worldwide

The number of confirmed virus cases is still growing rapidly not only in the US but also in Brazil, South Africa and other countries, especially in Latin America.

Brazil's Health Ministry said the total number of cases had risen by more than 50,000 in a day. President Jair Bolsonaro has been downplaying the risks even as his country has seen nearly 50,000 fatalities, the second-highest death toll in the world.

South Africa reported a one-day high of almost 5000 new cases on Saturday and 46 deaths. Despite the increase, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a further loosening of one of the world's strictest lockdowns. Casinos, beauty salons and sit-down restaurant services will reopen.

Germany imposes local quarantine

In Europe, a single meatpacking plant in Germany has had over 1000 cases, with the regional government issuing a quarantine for all 6500 workers, managers and family members.

Authorities in the Goettingen and North Rhine Westphalia regions have called on police to help enforce quarantine measures following a rise in local coronavirus infections and trouble getting people to adhere to isolation rules.

Health authorities needed police reinforcement to maintain lockdown conditions at a tower block in Goettingen after a riot broke out on Saturday where around 700 people had been placed into quarantine.

Seven deaths in France

The number of deaths in France from COVID-19 increased by seven from the previous day to stand at 29,640, according to the country's national health service on Sunday.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose by 284 to 160,377.

France has the fifth-highest coronavirus death toll in the world, although the rate of casualties has dropped sharply over the last two months, allowing the country to gradually reopen its economy.

In Asia, China and South Korea reported new coronavirus cases on Sunday in outbreaks that threatened to set back their recoveries.

Chinese authorities recorded 25 new confirmed cases – 22 in Beijing. In the past week, Beijing tightened travel controls by requiring anyone who wants to leave the Chinese capital, a city of 20 million people, to show proof they tested negative for the virus.

In South Korea, nearly 200 infections have been traced to employees at a door-to-door sales company in Seoul, and at least 70 other infections are tied to a table tennis club there. But South Korean officials are reluctant to enforce stronger social distancing to avoid hurting the economy.

AP

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