Covid-19 wrap: Brazil reopens to foreigners despite crisis, Australia logs record cases and deaths

  • Australia reports 723 positive cases in the last 24 hours, well beyond the previous nationwide record of 549 cases set on Monday.
  • Brazil will require foreign visitors staying for 90 days or less to have health insurance covering them in the country before they travel.
  • The number of coronavirus cases in Britain is no longer falling and is at best flat, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, urging people to keep following social distancing rules.

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Not a good day': Australia logs record coronavirus cases, deaths

Australia on Thursday reported a record number of new coronavirus infections and deaths, logging at least 13 new deaths, most of them at elderly care homes in southeastern Victoria state, where the government has ordered all residents to wear face masks outdoors.

Some 723 positive cases were reported in the last 24 hours, well beyond the previous nationwide record of 549 cases set on Monday.

The surge in new infections and deaths come despite a strict three-week lockdown in Victoria's capital, Melbourne, the epicentre of the pandemic's second wave in Australia. The Melbourne outbreak has sparked new clusters of infections in other regions, including in Sydney in the neighbouring state of New South Wales (NSW).

"Today is not a good day," Victoria's Premier Daniel Andrews said in a statement. "And, as the numbers show, the virus does not discriminate. It rips through workplaces, sweeps through aged-care settings, cuts through communities – and tragically takes lives with it as it goes."

Al Jazeera

Brazil reopens to foreigners despite virus crisis  

Brazil reopened on Wednesday to foreign visitors arriving by plane, hoping to revive its lockdown-devastated tourism industry despite the rapid spread of the new coronavirus in the country.

In a decree published in the government gazette, Brazil extended coronavirus-related bans on foreign travellers arriving by land or sea for another 30 days, but said the four-month-old restrictions "will no longer bar the entry of foreigners arriving by air".

The move came even as Brazil registered record numbers of daily infections and deaths, bringing the overall figures past 2.5 million and 90 000, respectively.

Under the measure, Brazil will require foreign visitors staying for 90 days or less to have health insurance covering them in the country before they travel.

Brazil for its part is among the countries whose nationals still face bans on entering the European Union or the United States under coronavirus restrictions.


UK coronavirus cases at best flat, health minister says

The number of coronavirus cases in Britain is no longer falling and is at best flat, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Thursday, urging people to keep following social distancing rules.

"What we want to ensure doesn't happen is a second spike with it going up rapidly and consistently," he said in an interview on Talk Radio.

"It's true that the number of cases is at best flat whereas before it was falling, and that's because there's been more social contact," he said.


Japan braces for spike in coronavirus cases amid domestic travel campaign

Japan is bracing for a surge in the number of coronavirus infection after fresh cases exceeded the 1 000 mark for the first time, a week after the start of a national travel campaign to revive the tourism industry.

Tokyo confirmed at least 365 cases of coronavirus infection on Thursday, commercial broadcaster Fuji Television said. That compares with a record 366 cases on 23 July.

Japan had 1 264 new cases on Wednesday, according to national broadcaster NHK, surpassing the previous record of 981, with infections spreading rapidly not only in Tokyo, but also in other regions, including remote islands.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government launched a national travel campaign, dubbed "Go To Travel", on 22 July  that aimed to revive a battered tourism industry despite a resurgence in coronavirus infection.

Norio Sugaya, a member of the World Health Organisation's influenza panel, said the campaign is ill-timed.

"I'm all for supporting the tourism industry ... But we should not do that when infection is resurgent. The virus spreads as people move. This is clearly a mistake," Sugaya said.


Face masks leave Britain's deaf community struggling to communicate  

The introduction of mandatory face masks in most enclosed spaces across Britain was designed to protect people during the pandemic but has made life very difficult for the deaf community.

Face coverings prevent lip reading and hide facial expressions, making it virtually impossible for the 12 million people who are either deaf or suffering with hearing loss in Britain to communicate and forcing many to stay at home.

Mangai Sutharsan, director of Empowering Deaf Society, said she understood why masks were important to help counter the spread of Covid-19 but the introduction had increased her anxiety about going into public spaces.

"Personally I'm frightened to go to the shop and to mix where people are wearing masks," she told Reuters in sign language, translated into English by an interpreter.

"People don't know I'm deaf so they'll be talking to me but I won't know it, or I won't understand them which is embarrassing. This is really stressful."

"Communication for many is virtually impossible and it's a huge challenge causing massive anxiety," Ayla Ozmen, head of research and policy at Action on Hearing Loss, told Reuters.

Those travelling with, or providing help to deaf people are exempt from wearing face coverings under the rules, and some manufacturers have begun making masks with clear plastic panels, but these are not yet widely available and they can steam up.


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