Live: India reopens public places despite record infections

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Malls and temples reopened in several Indian cities on Monday despite the country reporting a record daily number of new coronavirus infections, with the pandemic expected to ravage the country for weeks to come

New Zealand's Health Ministry says the country, which implemented one of the toughest lockdowns anywhere in the world, no longer has any active cases of coronavirus. The last case of the disease was reported on May 22. 

Pakistan's coronavirus cases have crossed the 100,000 mark after 4,728 new infections were reported on Sunday. Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has tested positive for coronavirus, his family and party confirmed.

More than 7 million people around the world have now been confirmed to have coronavirus with at least 403,000 dying from the disease, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The US, the UK and Brazil have recorded the highest death tolls.

Here are the latest updates:

Monday, June 8 10:55 GMT - Students return to schools in South Africa

In South Africa, children started returning to classrooms on Monday as part of a gradual loosening of lockdown restrictions even as some parents worried not enough had been done to protect the health of pupils.

The reopening of schools was delayed after teachers' unions urged school staff to defy the government order last week, saying schools lacked sufficient health and hygiene measures to keep educators and pupils safe.

South Africa school opening - COVID19-  Westbury Primary school in Johannesburg [Dorion Alexander/Al Jazeera]

Government said it will find alternative arrangements for pupils at schools unable to open on Monday [Dorion Alexander/Al Jazeera] 

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said on Sunday that ramped-up efforts to equip schools over the past week meant that 95 percent of South Africa's primary and secondary schools were now able to host classes, and the biggest teachers union dropped its resistance to the reopening.

"The golden rule is there will be no school that will resume if not ready to do so," Motshekga said.

The government will find alternative arrangements for pupils at schools unable to open on Monday, she said.

South Africa has recorded nearly 50,000 cases of the new coronavirus - the most of any African country - along with almost 1,000 deaths.

10:35 GMT - Ryanair will not cancel flights despite start of UK travel quarantine rules: airline boss

Ryanair will not cancel British flights despite Monday's start of what the boss of Europe's biggest budget airline called a "rubbish" 14-day quarantine for international arrivals.

Ryanair, easyJet and BA-owner IAG have threatened legal action over the quarantine, which they say will cripple the British tourism industry.

Asked by BBC Radio whether Ryanair would cancel July and August flights if the quarantine remained in place, group CEO Michael O'Leary said: "No, because the flights are full outbound of the UK. British people are ignoring this quarantine, they know it's rubbish."

Ryanair - reuters

Ryanair is Europe's biggest budget airline [Peter Cziborra/Reuters]

The three airlines have sent a "pre-action protocol letter", which can be followed by legal action, in the most vociferous clash between the UK government and industry since the pandemic began.

Airlines have warned it could deter British travelers, some of the top spenders, from flying to Europe and prevent Europeans from visiting cities such as London and Edinburgh and sites including Stonehenge.

There were 41 million visits to the UK in 2019, according to the national tourism agency, with visitors spending $36bn and supporting millions of jobs.

10:25 GMT - Norway: Domestic alcohol sales up 44 percent 

Norway's government-run wine and liquor monopoly increased its sales by 44 percent in May from the same month last year as coronavirus travel restrictions prevented the purchase of cheaper alcohol abroad, the Vinmonopolet retailer said.

Norway closed its borders in mid-March to most foreigners and imposed quarantines on anyone returning home from abroad, while also shutting its restaurants, thus leaving Vinmonopolet as the only source of alcohol other than beer.

"Sales have increased, but not more than could be expected in light of the halt to border trade, duty-free stores and restaurants, bars and cafes," Vinmonopolet spokesman Jens Nordahl said in a statement.

On May 29 Norway agreed to allow travel from neighbouring Denmark to resume from June 15 while maintaining quarantines for all other nations, including Sweden - a popular destination for Norwegians seeking to save on their alcohol bill. 

10:10 GMT - Indonesia records more than 800 new COVID-19 cases

Indonesia's health ministry reported 847 new coronavirus infections and 32 new deaths, taking the total number of cases to 32,033 and fatalities to 1,883.

The Southeast Asian country has tested more than 274,400 people for the virus, according to a document by its COVID-19 task force.

Some 10,904 patients have recovered, the ministry said.

09:20 GMT - Pakistan's former prime minister tests positive for COVID-19

Pakistan's former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has tested positive for coronavirus, his family and party confirmed.

Abbasi, who served as prime minister for 10 months from 2017 to 2018 following the disqualification of three-time premier Nawaz Sharif, has gone into self-isolation.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi attends a panel discussion with the Council on Foreign Relations in Manhattan, New York

Abbasi served as prime minister for 10 months [Jeenah Moon/Reuters]

Meanwhile, Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, and former health minister for northeastern Punjab province, Khawaja Salman Rafiq, have also contracted the virus.

A spokesman for Pakistan Railways confirmed that Ahmed, who has no apparent symptoms, has isolated himself at his home in Rawalpindi after testing positive.

Other high-profile politicians who were infected in Pakistan include governor of southeastern Sindh province Imran Ismail, and parliament speaker Asad Qaiser.

08:30 GMT - Heathrow boss says millions of jobs could be lost if planes stay grounded

Hundreds of thousands of jobs, if not millions, could be lost in Britain if aviation is not able to resume quickly, the chief executive of London's Heathrow Airport said.

Britain introduced a 14-day quarantine period for international arrivals on Monday despite warnings from its biggest airlines that the move will decimate domestic tourism and damage exports.

"We cannot go on like this as a country," Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye told Sky News. "We need to start planning to reopen our borders.

"If we don't get aviation moving again quickly, in a very safe way, then we are going to lose hundreds of thousands if not millions of jobs in the UK just at the time when we need to be rebuilding our economy."

UK heathrow arrivals

From Monday, most people arriving in the UK will have to quarantine for two weeks [FILE - Toby Melville/Reuters]

08:00 - GMT - Beijing calls on US senator to present evidence of China COVID-19 vaccine ‘sabotage'

China said US Senator Rick Scott should present the evidence for his accusation that Beijing is trying to slow down or sabotage the development of a COVID-19 vaccine by Western countries.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the remarks during a daily briefing on Monday, responding to the Republican senator's comments during an interview on BBC TV.

Scott declined to give details on the evidence when asked during the interview but said it had come through the intelligence community. 

07:42 GMT - India: More public spaces reopened despite record infections

Malls and temples reopened in several cities across India on Monday despite the country reporting a record daily number of new coronavirus infections, with the pandemic expected to ravage the country for weeks to come.

After a 10-week lockdown the government has risked lifting some restrictions in a bid to ease the devastating blow to the economy dealt by the coronavirus.

India blog entry

India is reopening its restaurants, shopping malls and religious places in most of its states [Rafiq Maqbool/AP]

But the number of new cases rose by 9,983 to 256,611, according to government figures announced on Monday, putting the country of 1.3 billion on course to overtake Britain and Spain among nations with the highest number of infections.   

The reported death toll of 7,135 is much lower than reported in other badly-hit countries, but the epidemic is only expected to peak locally in July, according to health experts.

07: 25 GMT - Thailand reports two weeks without local transmission

Meanwhile in Thailand, seven new coronavirus infections and no new deaths were reported on Monday, with the new cases found in quarantine, taking the country to two weeks without a local transmission.

Thailand has reported 77 cases in the past 14 days and all were contained after being imported from overseas, said Taweesin Visanuyothin, a spokesman for the government's Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration. 

The total number of confirmed cases stands at 3,119, with 58 deaths.

07:15 GMT - Cuba says coronavirus pandemic 'under control'

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel has declared the coronavirus pandemic "under control" after the island nation registered an eighth straight day without a death from COVID-19.

It paves the way for an announcement next week on Cuba's strategy to gradually lift its lockdown.
     
The country of 11.2 million has recorded just under 2,200 cases and 83 deaths from the virus. With 1,862 people having recovered, Cuba has only 244 active cases.
     

Cuba blog entry

Cuba is expected to announce the easing of restrictions next week [Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters]

However, Diaz-Canel said the country could not become complacent given a spate of new infections since May 28.     

"We need to keep focusing on how we're going to eliminate the residues that remain, especially those associated with the incompetence or poor functioning of any institution, which give rise to events that can provoke a rebound," he said.

07:00 GMT - Denmark increases public gathering limit

Denmark lifted the limit on public gatherings to 50 people from 10 as it relaxes measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the ministry of health said.

The restrictions on public gatherings were put in place on March 17. 

06:32 GMT - Pakistan coronavirus infections cross the 100,000 mark

In Pakistan, coronavirus cases increased at a rapid pace last week, crossing the 100,000 mark on Sunday, according to government data. On Sunday, the country registered 4,728 new cases, taking the total since the outbreak began in late February to 103,671, the data shows. 

At least 68 people died on Sunday, bringing the death toll countrywide to 2,121, according to the data. On average, cases rose by 4,458 cases per day last week, a doubling from the rate of a week before. 

Pakistan blog entry

 As of Sunday night, Pakistan's coronavirus death toll stands at 2,121 [Pervez Masih/AP]

Pakistan's government has largely lifted restrictions on businesses and economic activity, with Prime Minister Imran Khan cautioning citizens to police themselves and follow hygiene guidelines in order to avoid infection. 

Last week, Khan ordered that the tourism sector be reopened across the country.

06:28 GMT -

Hello, this is Hamza Mohamed in Doha taking over from my colleague Kate Mayberry.

05:30 GMT - 

I'll be handing over the blog to my colleagues in Doha shortly. Before I go, a quick recap on developments this morning.

There's a great deal of happiness in New Zealand which has managed to stop community transmission of the coronavirus and will return to a near-normal life in a few hours. Globally, the picture doesn't seem quite so encouraging with the number of cases now in excess of 7 million and the Americas the epicentre of the pandemic. Some countries are looking to reopen though - the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, loosened restrictions on Monday morning.

05:05 GMT - Sugar rush at Brazil port of Santos

More than 70 ships are lined up at the Brazilian port of Santos waiting to load some 3 million tonnes of sugar as the coronavirus complicates efforts to fulfil a a rush of orders as a result of poor harvests in India and Thailand.

Reuters news agency says the queue could take as long as a month to clear.

"It is mayhem in Santos," one sugar trader told the news agency. 

Traders are worried how the ships will be cleared with Brazil now reporting the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in the world.

"The situation has been complicated by the virus," said Stephen Geldart, head of analysis at Czarnikow Group, a food supply chain services company. "Everyone is nervous about what happens if vessels are unable to berth or load quickly."   

05:00 GMT - No local transmission for two weeks in Thailand

There has been no local transmission of coronavirus in Thailand for the past two weeks, with all 77 cases over the last 14 days imported from overseas.

Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government's Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration says the authorities confirmed seven new cases of the disease on Monday with no deaths. All the cases were among people returning from overseas and they were quarantined, he said.

04:35 GMT - Hong Kong announces certain quarantine exemptions

Hong Kong has announced quota-based exemptions to compulsory quarantine for directors and executives of certain listed companies who travel to mainland China.

Eligible companies must apply for the exemption and those who travel will be subject to a number of conditions. A maximum of two directors and executives can be nominated each calendar month.

"We strive to balance the need of safeguarding public health and promoting Hong Kong's economic development," Christopher Hui, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, said in a statement.

"The new scheme will facilitate directors or executives of sizeable Hong Kong-listed companies to perform business activities that are essential to their operation. This is conducive to maintaining the normal business operation of these enterprises under the very dynamic and challenging business environment." 

04:05 GMT - South Korea new coronavirus cases slow, focus on Seoul

New cases of coronavirus have slowed in South Korea but concerns remain over a second wave of the outbreak in Seoul as the country entered the final phase of its plan to reopen schools. 

On Monday morning, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced 38 new cases compared with 57 the day before, according to Yonhap news agency.

Of the 38 new cases, 33 were locally-transmitted - all of them in the Seoul metropolitan area. Distancing restrictions that had been relaxed have recently been tightened again. 

South Korea

People walk along a road in Hongdae in western Seoul earlier this month. South Korea has reported new clusters of coronavirus, mostly in Seoul  [Yonhap via EPA]

03:10 GMT - New Zealand to lift last COVID-19 curbs at midnight, borders stay closed

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is speaking now.

She has announced that New Zealand will lift its last remaining restrictions to curb the coronavirus at midnight (12:00 GMT) when the country will return to Level 1 on its four level system of alerts.

Ardern said New Zealand had introduced a strict lockdown 75 days ago with the aim of getting to a level "where life feels as normal as it can in the midst of a global pandemic. Today, I can announce that cabinet has agreed we can now move to Level 1."

International borders will remain closed given the challenge of COVID-19 around the world. 

"There's no denying this is a milestone," Ardern said. "Thank you, New Zealand."

Jacinda - Coronavirus

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said the country will lift its lockdown restrictions after eliminating community transmission of coronavirus, but borders will remain closed [Hagen Hopkins/Pool Photo via AP Photo]

03:05 GMT - Guatemala's president to work remotely after 18 staff get coronavirus

Guatemala's president Alejandro Giammattei says he will work remotely after 18 members of his office and security detail were diagnosed with coronavirus.

"I and the vice president will carry out our activities remotely," he said in a televised address. "We've been tested. We don't have coronavirus."

The presidential office will be deep-cleaned and disinfected.

More: Travel restrictions, border shutdowns by country What we know so far about coronavirus How to make sense of the coronavirus numbers and charts  02:35 GMT - Honduras extends curfew by a week to June 14

Honduras has extended its coronavirus curfew by one week until June 14. The extension was announced on television by security ministry spokesman Jair Meza as the Central American country was due to begin a gradual reopening of its economy.  

01:30 GMT - New Zealand clear of coronavirus as last patient leaves hospital

New Zealand has confirmed it is clear of coronavirus with no new cases of the virus reported and no active cases.

The last patient was released from isolation after showing no symptoms for 48 hours.

"This is really good news for the person concerned and it's also something the rest of New Zealand can take heart from," Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said in a statement. The last reported case of coronavirus in New Zealand was on 22 May.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is due to give an update on New Zealand's lockdown at 3pm local time (03:00 GMT).

Today we can announce that there are now no active cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand! Read our full update at https://t.co/YYbSSBzUJC pic.twitter.com/GEMQ1QghgA

— Ministry of Health - Manatū Hauora (@minhealthnz) June 8, 2020 — nzherald (@nzherald) June 8, 2020 00:20 GMT - Vietnam reports two new cases - both imported

Vietnam has reported two new cases of the coronavirus. Both were returning from Mexico and have been quarantined.

The country has not had a domestically transmitted case in 53 days.

00:00 GMT - More countries loosen restrictions despite high caseloads

Offices, restaurants and places of worship will start opening in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta from Monday, providing they operate at only 50 percent of capacity. Public transport will also operate at 50 percent capacity while shopping centres will be able to reopen next week.

Indonesia

Jakarta, where roads have been uncharacteristally empty for weeks, is getting back to business on Monday [Mast Irham/EPA] 

India is also further relaxing its lockdown, even as case numbers surge. In Delhi, which has about 10 percent of India's 246,628 confirmed cases, authorities earlier ordered hospital beds be reserved solely for the city's residents. 

23:30 GMT - Chile death toll jumps sharply as data consolidated

Chile has revised its coronavirus death toll sharply higher after reviewing death registry data and information from laboratories carrying out COVID-19 tests and consolidating the list. 

Health Minister Jaime Manalich reported 653 deaths from COVID-19, bringing the total toll to 2,290. Of the 653, 96 were new deaths.

"This is an adjustment we have to make and report, a commitment to legitimacy especially when we've made a huge effort to search additional databases for information not present in the databases we were using before," it said.

----

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera's continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I'm Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

Read all the updates from yesterday (Sunday) here.

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