Covid-19 wrap: UK PM urges global effort, Iran infections surge, France cancels Bastille Day parade

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  Covid-19 wrap: UK PM urges global effort, Iran infections surge, France cancels Bastille Day parade

Keeping you up to date on the latest novel coronavirus (Covid-19) news from around the world.

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UK’s Johnson urges global effort at vaccine summit

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London – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for a “new era of global health co-operation” as he prepared to host a vaccine fundraising summit on Thursday under the shadow of coronavirus.

The virtual meeting aims to raise $7.4 billion for immunisation programmes stalled by the pandemic, and will see the launch of a new fundraising drive to support potential Covid-19 vaccines.

“I hope this summit will be the moment when the world comes together to unite humanity in the fight against disease,” Johnson said in a statement.

The British leader added he hoped it would “inaugurate a new era of global health co-operation, which I believe is now the most essential shared endeavour of our lifetimes”.

More than 50 countries are taking part in Thursday’s meeting, as well as individuals such as philanthropist Bill Gates, and will raise funds for Gavi, the vaccine alliance.

Over the next five years, it wants to reboot halted programmes and provide vaccines at a much-reduced cost to some 300 million children.


Iran reports 3 574 new virus infections, its highest yet

Tehran – Iran announced 3 574 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, its highest daily count since the outbreak began in February.

It was the fourth straight day that the daily caseload had topped 3 000. The previous high was 3 186, recorded on 30 March, at the height of the initial outbreak.

Health ministry spokesperson Kianoush Jahanpour said that the surge in new cases might be the result of wider testing rather than a second wave of infection. He said that Iran had now conducted more than a million tests.

The ministry spokesperson said 59 people had died of Covid-19 over the past 24 hours, taking Iran’s overall official toll to 8 071. A total of 164 270 people have tested positive for the virus.


France cancels 2020 Bastille Day parade over coronavirus

Paris – France said on Thursday it will not hold the Bastille Day military parade due to social distancing norms, replacing it with a ceremony to pay tribute to health workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

Rather than the traditional march of soldiers and display of military hardware down the Champs-Elysees on 14 July, this year will see a much smaller ceremony at the Place de la Concorde, where the parade normally ends, the presidency said.

This year, the square will host a military ceremony with some 2 000 participants and 2 500 guests, who will gather in strict respect of social distancing rules seeking to halt the spread of the virus that has killed more than 29 000 people in France to date.

The event will likely not be open to the public, although this decision could be re-evaluated if the health situation improves before then.


US plane with 150 donated ventilators lands in Russia

Moscow – A US military plane carrying 150 donated ventilators to help coronavirus patients landed in Moscow on Thursday in the second such delivery to Russia, the US embassy said.

The plane brought the number of US-manufactured ventilators sent by the United States to Russia to 200, after the first delivery arrived two weeks ago.

US ambassador John Sullivan was at Vnukovo airport to meet the plane along with a representative of the Moscow hospital that will distribute the ventilators.

The aid supplies, worth $5.6 million, are a “donation to the Russian people”, embassy spokesperson Rebecca Ross tweeted, saying the ventilators are “the highest quality in the world”.

Russian ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov told Russian TV on Wednesday that “we value the American aid very highly”.


Spain to reopen borders with France, Portugal on 22 June

Madrid – Spain will reopen its land borders with France and Portugal on 22 June, three months after they were closed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, its tourism minister said on Thursday.

“In the case of France and Portugal, I want to confirm that from June 22, the restrictions on mobility will be lifted,” Reyes Maroto said at a foreign press briefing.

She added that “in principle”, the compulsory 14-day quarantine requirement “will also be dropped” for cross-border arrivals.

“This is very important because it will allow us to welcome back both French and Portuguese tourists,” the minister noted.

Spain closed its borders with France and Portugal on 17 March, three days after imposing a nationwide lockdown to battle the virus which has infected more than 240 000 people and killed over 27 000.

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