Reuters reports that Bulgarian President Rumen Radev is self-isolating after his secretary general tested positive for coronavirus and will continue to carry out his duties remotely, the president's office said on Thursday.
Bulgaria has closed universities, high schools and nightclubs for two weeks among other curbs aimed at containing a spike in new Covid-19 cases.
On Thursday the Balkan country of 7 million people reported a new daily record of 2,760 infections. Some 45,461 Bulgarians have tested positive for the disease since March and 1,197 have died.
Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and Central Bank Governor Dimitar Radev are also in self-isolation after testing positive for the infection.
Saudi Arabia says will open Umrah pilgrimage to Muslims from abroad
Reuters reports that Saudi Arabia will open the Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca for Muslims from other countries from 1 November, Saudi media reported on Thursday, as the kingdom relaxes measures it had taken to check the spread of the coronavirus.
Umrah is a pilgrimage which can be undertaken at any time of the year, in contrast to Hajj, which has specific dates according to the Islamic lunar calendar.
Saudi Arabia closed its borders in February to foreign Umrah pilgrims, and in March stopped its own citizens and residents from taking part. In July, it allowed a limited number of domestic pilgrims to perform the Hajj.
France, Germany head towards lock down as virus surges in Europe
AFP reports that bars, restaurants and services prepared Thursday to shut down in France and Germany as countries around the world grapple with how far to push lockdown measures amid a surging tide of coronavirus cases.
Hundreds of thousands of new infections took the known global caseload past 44.5 million with nearly 1.2 million deaths, as the disease continues its deadly spread worldwide.
Following significantly relaxed summer seasons, France and Germany are now taking bold steps to shut down social life in the face of spiking infections across the continent.
Starting Friday, France will bar people from leaving their homes without authorisation, recalling the drastic stay-at-home measures seen around the world in early spring.
Bars and restaurants will also be closed until at least December and travel between regions will be limited, President Emmanuel Macron said in a televised address Wednesday.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has ordered a lighter round of shutdowns from 2 November until the end of the month.
Germans will not be confined to their homes but bars, cafés and restaurants must close, as well as theatres, operas and cinemas.
Other European states are also tightening the screws on normal life, with Ireland locking down last week while Spain and Italy have imposed various curfews and travel restrictions.
Sweden sets another daily Covid-19 case record as hospitals feel strain
Reuters reports that Sweden, which has shunned lockdowns throughout the pandemic, registered 2 820 new coronavirus cases on 28 October, the highest since the pandemic began and the third record number in a matter of days, Health Agency statistics showed on Thursday.
A steady rise in new cases has appeared to be gaining momentum in Sweden in recent weeks though the resurgence of the disease has come later than in wide swaths of Europe and not so far hit the kind of peaks recorded in countries such as France.
The increase compares with a record set only the previous day, a figure that was revised up to just over 2 400 cases on Thursday. The Health Agency has said the peak during the spring probably ran much higher but went unrecorded due to a lack of testing.
Sweden has relied primarily on voluntary measures, largely uninforced but still widely adhered to. The new tighter local recommendations, already introduced in two regions with surging infections, included advice to avoid indoor environments such as shops and gyms.
Spain approves six-month extension of state of emergency
AFP reports that the Spanish parliament approved on Thursday the extension for six months of a state of emergency declared to fight a surge in coronavirus infections.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's leftist government on Sunday declared an initial 15-day state of emergency and the extension approved by lawmakers means it will now run until May 9.
The measure allows the regional governments, who are in charge of health, to restrict people's movements, including by imposing nighttime curfews and closing their borders.
Japan tops 100 000 coronavirus cases, daily infections creep up
Reuters reports that the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Japan exceeded the 100 000 mark on Thursday, public broadcaster NHK said, as the number of daily infections has crept up in recent weeks.
The number of people infected with the coronavirus in Japan has come to 100 516, including those who contracted the virus aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship earlier this year, after 809 people newly tested positive, NHK said.