The British city of Leicester has returned to lockdown, a study says a new flu virus found in pigs must be monitored, and the World Health Organisation has warned the pandemic is not even close being to over.
This story was last updated at 4:10pm on Tuesday.
Tuesday’s key moments:
British city returns to lockdown after local outbreak
The British city of Leicester has returned to lockdown following a local coronavirus outbreak.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the city of about 350,000 people accounted for 10 per cent of all positive cases in the country over the past week.
In addition to schools being closed, shops in the city that do not sell essential goods, such as food and medicines, will have to shut their doors again, barely two weeks after reopening.
Leicester’s lockdown will be reviewed in two weeks.
Study says new flu virus found in pigs must be monitored
A new flu virus found in Chinese pigs has become more infectious to humans and needs to be watched closely in case it becomes a potential “pandemic virus”, a study said, although experts said there is no imminent threat.
A team of Chinese researchers looked at influenza viruses found in pigs from 2011 to 2018 and found a “G4” strain of H1N1 that has “all the essential hallmarks of a candidate pandemic virus”, according to the paper, published by US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Pig farm workers also showed elevated levels of the virus in their blood, the authors said, adding that “close monitoring in human populations, especially the workers in the swine industry, should be urgently implemented”.
But while the virus is capable of infecting humans, there is no imminent risk of a new pandemic, said Carl Bergstrom, a biologist at the University of Washington.
The coronavirus that caused the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic is believed to have originated in horseshoe bats in south-west China, and could have spread to humans via a seafood market in Wuhan, where the virus was first identified.
Victorian suburbs to enter lockdown, flights diverted
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has reintroduced stay-at-home orders for a group of coronavirus hotspot suburbs in a bid to contain an “unacceptably high” number of new cases detected in the state over the past few days.
From 11:59pm on Wednesday, residents in 10 postcodes will be restricted from leaving the house except for essential purposes: 3012, 3021, 3032, 3038, 3042, 3046, 3047, 3055, 3060, 3064.
Mr Andrews also announced a judicial inquiry into the state’s management of hotel quarantine after a number of cases through late May and early June were linked to infection control breaches.
He has also requested that international flights be diverted from Melbourne for the next fortnight, to cut the number of arrived travellers who need to be housed in hotel quarantine.
“I haven’t got the answer from the Commonwealth yet but I’m pretty sure the answer will be yes, there will be no further flights arriving,” he said.
Mr Andrews said the “extraordinary steps” were necessary to contain a surge in infections.
Fauci blames people ignoring health advice for rise in cases
America’s top infectious disease official says a spike in US coronavirus infections has been fuelled in large part by people ignoring advice to practise social distancing and wear masks.
A daily surge in confirmed cases has been most pronounced in southern and western states which did not follow health officials’ recommendations to wait for a steady decline in infections for two weeks before reopening their economies.
“That’s a recipe for disaster,” Anthony Fauci, who directs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN in an interview broadcast on Monday.
“Now we’re seeing the consequences of community spread, which is even more difficult to contain than spread in a well-known physical location like a prison or nursing home or meatpacking place.”
More than 2.5 million people have tested positive for coronavirus in the US and more than 125,000 have died.
Dr Fauci said in places where cases were soaring, US health officials were considering “completely blanketing these communities with tests”.
Pandemic far from over: WHO
The COVID-19 pandemic is not even close to being over, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing on Monday.
“We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives. But the hard reality is that this is not even close to being over. Although many countries have made some progress globally, the pandemic is actually speeding up,” Dr Tedros said.
The head of the WHO’s emergencies program, Mike Ryan, told the briefing that tremendous progress had been made towards finding a safe and effective vaccine to prevent infection, but there was still no guarantee the effort would succeed.
In the meantime, countries could fight the spread of the disease by testing, isolating confirmed cases and tracking their contacts, he said. He singled out Japan, South Korea and Germany for their “comprehensive, sustained strategy” against the virus.
The global body was planning to convene a meeting this week to assess progress in research towards fighting the disease.
Queensland borders to reopen to all states except Victoria
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced borders will reopen from July 10 to visitors from all states and territories other than Victoria.
Anyone who has travelled from Victoria and enters Queensland from this Friday, including Queenslanders, will have to quarantine at their own expense for 14 days.
If there are further outbreaks of community transmission elsewhere, Ms Palaszczuk said the State Government might review its decision.
She said the Government was also bringing forward “some aspects” of stage three easing of restrictions.
From Friday, 100 people will be permitted to gather in homes and at weddings.
Anyone entering Queensland from midday this Friday will be required to fill in an online declaration stating they had not been in Victoria in the past fortnight.
No immediate plans to reopen New Zealand borders
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the country has no immediate plans to reopen national borders.
Early this month, New Zealand lifted all social and economic restrictions except border controls, after declaring it was free of the coronavirus
But with many countries still grappling to contain the spread of the disease, Ms Ardern said now was not the time to reopen borders.
Ms Ardern made the announcement while revealing New Zealand will use virtual digital platforms to host the 2021 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.
Leaders of the 21 APEC member countries were to gather in the country for the summit at the end of next year.
The Pacific nation has so far escaped a high number of casualties from the virus, with nearly 1,200 confirmed infections and 22 deaths.
It reported no new cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday, the first time in nearly two weeks.
Infections surge by almost 20,000 in India
India has reported nearly 20,000 new coronavirus infections — a record for the country.
India has seen a jump of nearly 100,000 cases over the past week, the health ministry said.
In all, the country has confirmed 548,318 cases, making it the world’s fourth-worst affected country after the US, Brazil and Russia.
Its death toll has reached 16,475.
Several Indian states have reimposed partial or full lockdowns to stem the spread of the virus, but most restrictions have been eased in the country’s worst-hit areas, with restaurants, shopping centres and parks reopened, and public buses and ride share services back on the roads.
Cases double in Tokyo, officials concerned
Japan’s capital city has reported 58 new cases of coronavirus, as the number remained similar to recent highs, and a top Government official said the trend doesn’t look good.
The number of cases in Tokyo rose to 60 on Sunday, the highest since early May and nearly doubling from 31 five days ago.
About half of recent daily confirmed cases have been detected among staff or customers of Tokyo’s nightlife districts.
“We are closely watching the latest development,” Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters.
He said he planned to meet with the Governor of Tokyo to discuss the situation and how to balance disease prevention with maintaining economic activity.
A new set of infection monitoring measures are expected to also be announced in the coming days.
The latest cases brings Tokyo’s total infections to 6,172, with 325 deaths — about a third of the national total.