Covid-19 wrap: Beijing says residents can go mask-free, doctors strike in Kenya over pay, PPE

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  • Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said mass testing of residents for coronavirus will begin on 1 September.
  • Doctors in Kenya's capital went on strike to protest against delayed salaries and a lack of protective equipment when handling potential Covid-19 patients.
  • Health authorities in China's capital Beijing have removed a requirement for people to wear masks outdoors


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

FOLLOW LIVE | Covid-19 in SA: Death toll at 12 618 as cases rise to 599 940

Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 22.78 million, death toll at 792 837

More than 22.78 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 792 837 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019. 


Irish PM accepts minister's resignation over Covid-19 breach

Ireland's prime minister on Friday accepted the resignation of Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary after his attendance at a social event drew public anger for having apparently breached rules to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Calleary apologised "unreservedly" late on Thursday for being at a hotel dinner hosted by the Irish parliament's golf society, a day after the government significantly tightened nationwide restrictions to try to rein in a spike in infections.

Ireland has maintained some of the strictest controls in Europe and the government faced criticism all week for what many saw as poorly communicated and contradictory new restrictions, including limiting indoor gatherings to just six people.

More than 80 people, reported to have included European Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan and other politicians, attended the golf outing held the night after Calleary and his cabinet colleagues introduced the new measures.

- REUTERS


Hong Kong leader announces mass Covid-19 testing to begin 1 September

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Friday that mass testing of residents for coronavirus in the Asian financial hub will begin on 1 September, as she warned people not to be complacent despite a steady fall in the number of new infections.

The testing, which will be done with the assistance of a 60-person team from the mainland, is the first time Chinese health officials have assisted the special administrative region in its battle to control the pandemic.

The testing will be voluntary and take around two weeks to complete, Lam said.

"There will be a substantial boosting of the testing capacity in the public and private sector, a more than 10-fold increase."

- REUTERS


Doctors strike in Nairobi over pay, lack of Covid protection

Doctors in most public hospitals in Kenya's capital went on strike on Friday to protest against delayed salaries and a lack of protective equipment when handling patients who may have Covid-19.

The strike began at midnight on Friday, said Thuranira Kaugiria, secretary general for the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union.

He said 320 doctors employed by the Nairobi County government were taking part in the strike because they had inadequate health insurance, poor quality protective gear and too few isolation wards to treat Covid-19 patients.

The strike will not affect private hospitals and public hospitals within Nairobi run by the national government.

- REUTERS


Brazil coronavirus cases tops 3.5 million, fatalities exceed 112 000 -health ministry

Brazil reported 45 323 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 1 204 deaths from the disease caused by the virus in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Thursday.

Brazil has now registered 3 501 975 cases of the virus since the pandemic began, while the official death toll from Covid-19 has risen to 112 304, according to ministry data.

The death toll reported on Thursday takes the total number of fatalities across Latin America past 250 000.

- REUTERS


Beijing says residents can go mask-free as China Covid cases hit new lows

Health authorities in China's capital Beijing have removed a requirement for people to wear masks outdoors, further relaxing rules aimed at preventing the spread the novel coronavirus after the city reported 13 consecutive days without new cases.

Despite the relaxed guidelines, a large proportion of people continued to wear masks in Beijing on Friday.

Some said the mask made them feel safe, while others said social pressures to wear the masks were also a factor.

It's the second time Beijing's health authorities have relaxed guidelines on mask wearing in the capital, which has largely returned to normal after two rounds of lockdowns brought it to a standstill.

- REUTERS


UK transport minister says doesn't want to offer false hope on airport tests

Britain is investigating using coronavirus testing to shorten quarantine times for travellers from restricted countries but does not want to offer false hope that the rules can be changed easily, transport minister Grant Shapps said on Friday.

Heathrow said on Wednesday that a testing area was ready to open should Britain approve a rule change and allow two tests, one on arrival and one some days later, to cut the quarantine time from the current two weeks.

"It's not quite as simple as the way it's been presented. But we do review these things constantly... it's just that I don't want to sort of offer false hope," Shapps told BBC radio after on Thursday announcing travellers arriving from Croatia, Austria and Trinidad and Tobago would have to quarantine themselves for two weeks.

- REUTERS


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