China virus cases stabilise as Italy sees drop in deaths

PA News; Chinese students line up; cases stabilise in Italy

China has extended Covid-19 tests to newly reopened salons amid a drop in cases, while South Korea continues to face new infections after it eased social distancing rules to boost the economy.

In the US, Vice President Mike Pence called off a planned campaign bus tour in Florida following a surge in confirmed cases there.

Meanwhile, hard-hit Italy registered the lowest day-to-day tally of coronavirus deaths in almost three months on Saturday.

No positive cases were found in Beijing’s beauty and barber shops in a further sign that the Chinese capital’s recent outbreak has been largely brought under control.

Officials in the city have temporarily shut a huge wholesale food market where the virus spread widely, re-closed schools and locked down some neighbourhoods. Anyone leaving Beijing is required to have a negative virus test result within the previous seven days.

Tens of millions of Chinese travelled during the three-day Dragon Boat Festival that ended on Saturday, with no outbreaks reported immediately.

The Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said that 40 of the newly reported cases were domestically infected, while 22 others came from overseas. The bulk of the local cases were detected in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, linked to nightclubs, church services, a huge e-commerce warehouse and low-income workers.

In Hawaii, the city of Honolulu announced that campsites will reopen for the first time in three months with limited permits to ensure social distancing. In contrast, Washington Governor Jay Inslee put a hold on plans to move counties to the fourth phase of his reopening plan as cases continue to increase.

In a further sign of the impact on the US economy, Tyson Foods announced that 371 employees at its chicken processing plant in the far south-western corner of Missouri have tested positive for Covid-19.

Mr Pence cancelled a planned bus tour in Florida as part of his and President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, as state health officials reported more than 9,500 new cases, surpassing the previous day’s total by more than 600 confirmed cases. The figures come as officials move to re-close beaches and discourage bar gatherings.

Kansas, Idaho and Oklahoma were also among US states seeing a sharp rise in case.

While the rise partly reflects expanded testing, experts say there is ample evidence that the virus is making a comeback, including increasing deaths and hospital admissions in parts of the country and higher percentages of virus tests coming back positive.

According to Italy’s Health Ministry data, there were eight further deaths of infected patients, raising the known toll to 34,716.

There were 175 new cases, taking the overall count of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country where Europe’s outbreak first exploded to 240,136.

In a sign that the country is emerging from the crisis, fewer than 100 infected patients were occupying ICU beds nationwide for the first time since the very early days of the outbreak.

European leaders were taking no chances, however. German authorities renewed a lockdown in a western region of about 500,000 people in the past week after about 1,300 slaughterhouse workers tested positive for coronavirus.

Serbia’s government said Defence Minister Aleksandar Vulin has tested positive for Covid-19.

Known for his highly pro-Russian stance, Mr Vulin was part of Serbia’s delegation, led by President Aleksandar Vucic, at a Victory Day parade in Moscow this week. Mr Vucic met Russian President Vladimir Putin face to face, but it was not clear whether Mr Vulin did so too.

Egypt has largely reopened. In Cairo, a metropolis of some 20 million people, coffee shops reopened on Saturday to receive in-house customers but the smoking of “sheesha” from hookah pipes is still on hold.

Deaths in the US are running at about 600 per day, down from a peak of around 2,200 in mid-April. Some experts have expressed doubt that deaths will return to that level because of advances in treatment and because many infections are happening in younger adults, who are more likely than older ones to survive.

The virus has been blamed for more than 125,000 deaths and some 2.5 million confirmed infections across America, according to Johns Hopkins University. But health officials believe the true number of infections is about 10 times higher.

Worldwide, the virus has claimed close to half a million lives with nearly 10 million infections.

The resurgence in the US has drawn concern from abroad. The European Union seems almost certain to bar Americans in the short term from entering the bloc, which is currently drawing up new travel rules, EU diplomats said.

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