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Coronavirus: global news roundup

Credit: Belga

As more regions across Europe are going into lockdown and Belgium is issuing a formal travel ban to areas in the Schengen zone considered to be a very high health risk, here’s a roundup of coronavirus related news around the world.

North America

The United States’ withdrawal from the World Health Organisation (WHO) was set into motion, with the confirmation on Wednesday that the country had officially notified the United Nations of their intention to withdraw. US President Donald Trump accused the organisation of mishandling the coronavirus response and of being a puppet of China. The withdrawal will be effective on 6 July 2021, one year after the notification.

The US also said that it would withdraw the visas of foreign students this autumn if universities decide to move their classes fully online. This applies to F-1 and M-1 visas, of which 388,839 and 9,518 were issued respectively in 2019.

In golf news, ESPN announced that the 2020 edition of the Ryder Cup, a golf tournament between the United States against Europe, will be postponed for a year because of the pandemic. The Ryder Cup was originally scheduled for 25 to 27 September in Whistling Straits, Wisconsin.

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South America

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro announced on Tuesday that he had tested positive for coronavirus, after having minimised the pandemic and attend social events and political rallies without wearing a face masks. The president has been given hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic, and claims to be “perfectly fine.”

Brazil’s neighbour Argentina recently counted its highest number of coronavirus deaths in a single day since the start of the pandemic.

The National Liberation Army (ELN), the last guerrilla group active in Colombia, is proposing a three-month bilateral ceasefire to the government in response to the UN’s call for a cessation of hostilities in the countries in conflict to facilitate the fight against the new coronavirus.

Europe

Meanwhile, in Europe, some 60 people in Belgrade, Serbia, were injured and around 20 others arrested during violent demonstrations on Tuesday evening. They were protesting by the thousands in front of Parliament against the reintroduction of a curfew to combat a rebound in the coronavirus pandemic.

Serbia is one of various European countries facing tighter coronavirus measures, with parts of Catalonia and Galicia in Spain, the Lisbon region in Portugal and the city of Leicester in the UK facing containment measures again.

The Dutch government has faced backlash over a fast-tracked coronavirus law, which will be watered down and shortened in time. The law included a track-and-trace app, which is now expected to be removed as nearly 350,000 people have signed a petition against the law since the start of July.

Australia

Melbourne, too, is facing six weeks of new containment measures and saw its supermarket shelves raided on Wednesday. Australian supermarket Woolworth decided to ration its sales of pasta, vegetables and sugar again following a rush of customers to its stores in the state of Victoria.

The reuptake in Melbourne has also led to the closure of the border between Victoria and New South Wales, Australia’s most populated states.

Middle East

Due to coronavirus, the UN does not have the necessary resources to prevent famine in Yemen, according to the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, with millions at risk of going from “the situation where they can still hold out to the one where they are in freefall,” the UN’s Lise Grande told AFP.

The UN also warned on Wednesday that the pandemic has led to an increase in the trafficking of masks, disinfectants and other poor-quality or counterfeit medical products that could endanger their users.

Global

As of Wednesday, the pandemic has killed at least 544,311 people worldwide since the end of December, according to AFP. After the United States (131,480 deaths), the countries most affected are Brazil (66,741 deaths), the United Kingdom (44,391 deaths), Italy (34,899 deaths) and Mexico (32,014 deaths).

Belgium, for its part, has counted 9,776 deaths, out of 62,123 confirmed cases.

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times

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