Coronavirus: What’s happening around the world on June 15

The latest:

  • New Zealand reports two new COVID-19 cases after declaring itself free of the illness.
  • WHO says new virus outbreak in China needs further testing.
  • Europe sees loosening of some travel restrictions between nations.
  • England reopens for nonessential shopping.
  • Authorities in Pakistan said they will reimpose strict lockdowns in several cities.
  • India reports more than 11,000 new infections nationwide for 3rd consecutive day.
  • South Korea reports 37 new cases of COVID-19, 25 of which came from Seoul area.

Just days after declaring the country was COVID-19 free, New Zealand’s Health Ministry confirmed Tuesday it had two new cases, both “related to the border as a result of recent travel from the U.K.,” according to a statement.

The ministry said the cases were related and that it would release more information at a news conference later in the day.

On June 8, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters she was “confident we have eliminated transmission of the virus in New Zealand for now,” but she warned there could be more cases there again. 

The head of the World Health Organization says more than 100,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 caused by the novel coronavirus have been reported worldwide each day over the past two weeks — mostly in the Americas and South Asia — and countries that have curbed transmissions “must stay alert to the possibility of resurgence.”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted a new cluster of cases in Beijing, which went more than 50 days without a new case of COVID-19, and said the origin of that outbreak is under investigation.

The origins of the Beijing cluster are not certain. WHO officials said Monday that the claim they might have been caused by imports or packaging of salmon related to a local market are a “hypothesis.”

WATCH | WHO addresses new cases in China:

Disease clusters, like the COVID-19 one in Beijing, offer a unique opportunity to understand transmission better, says the World Health Organization.   3:16

In Europe, meanwhile, some nations eased border controls on Monday as coronavirus cases declined after three months of lockdown, with shoppers lining up in London for non-essential goods and French bargain hunters streaming into Belgium to buy cheap cigarettes.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases globally is closing in on eight million, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than two million of those cases are in the United States. There have been nearly 435,000 deaths from COVID-19 around the world, with about 116,000 of them in the U.S.

Willing tourists, empty beaches

In Europe, Greek airports allowed more international flights as the country sought to salvage its summer season, German tourists flocking to neighbouring Denmark caused an eight-kilometre queue, and Italians popped into France to buy lottery scratch cards.

But the continued closure of most of Spain, a patchwork of quarantine rules and remote-working by many who once commuted across borders, means it will not be a return to unfettered travel for 420 million Europeans.

German tourists arrive at the RIU Concordia hotel in Palma de Mallorca on Monday, as part of a pilot program to reactivate tourism a week before Spain reopens its borders. Spain, one of the world’s leading tourist destinations, will re-establish free travel with fellow EU countries on June 21. (Jaime Reina/AFP/Getty Images)

Spain is initially allowing in 10,000 holidaymakers from Germany as the Madrid government works out how to handle mass tourism before opening up more fully in the coming weeks.

Hundreds of German sun-seekers, the first tourists to visit Spain since borders were closed in March, arrived in Mallorca on Monday on a flight from Düsseldorf.

“Holidaymakers can be happy that the beaches in Palma have never been so empty,” said Aage Duenhaupt, a spokesperson for travel company TUI. “But there won’t be parties in the same way this year.”

Cars queue at a border crossing on Monday in Krusaa, Denmark, after the country opened its borders to Germany following lockdowns related to the novel coronavirus. (Claus Fisker/Ritzau Scanpix/Reuters)

In Greece, passengers arriving from airports deemed high-risk will be tested and quarantined for up to 14 days, depending on the result. Restrictions remain for passengers from Britain and Turkey. Arrivals from other airports will be randomly tested.

WATCH | What it looks like boarding a plane during COVID-19:

Temperature checks, a health questionnaire and masks will all be required to board flights in Canada this summer. Flair Airlines is already conducting the temperature screening. 0:23

Spain will allow no foreign tourists until June 21, with exceptions for some islands.

Elsewhere, the right to travel will depend on where you live and where you are going. The Czech Republic has a traffic-light system, barring tourists from “orange” or “red” countries, such as Portugal and Sweden.

Denmark will accept tourists from Iceland, Germany and Norway, but not Sweden, if they book at least six nights’ accommodation.

Britain’s two-week quarantine for visitors means Britons will face the same confinement in France.

Before the crisis, about 3.5 million people crossed an internal EU border every day, according to a 2019 European Parliament report, some 1.7 million of them commuters.


What’s happening with COVID-19 in Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday that the federal government will extend the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), with details to follow in the days ahead.

The CERB is due to run out soon for people who have been on the benefit since it was first launched in April, at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

People can only claim the benefit for 16 weeks — four eligibility periods — and the end of the program’s fourth eligibility period is early July.

“We’re working on a solution to extend the benefit for people who can’t return to work yet,” Trudeau said. “We’ll have more details this week, but for today, I want you to know that we’ll continue to be there for you and your family.”

WATCH | Epidemiologist says COVID-19 toll may be higher than official totals:

Dr. Christopher Labos said the total number of cases and deaths may be higher than official reports suggest. 6:49

As of 3:45 p.m. ET on Monday, there were 99,091 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases in Canada, with 61,000 cases considered recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial data, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,220.


India’s Health Ministry reported a jump of more than 11,000 new infections nationwide for a third consecutive day on Monday. The country’s home minister offered 500 train carriages for use as makeshift coronavirus hospital wards as New Delhi struggles to contain a spike in cases.

The Indian capital has about 9,000 beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients in public and private hospitals, but a state government panel of experts has said it will need at least 15,000 beds by the end of June.

Long lines stretched along streets across England as shops selling items considered non-essential during the pandemic, such as sneakers and toys, welcomed customers on Monday for the first time since the United Kingdom was put into lockdown in late March.

Starved of the retail experience for the better part of three months, shoppers generally appeared to abide by the physical distancing requirement to stay two metres apart as they awaited their turn to enter the stores.

People wearing protective face masks carry shopping bags at Piccadilly Circus in London on Monday. (John Sibley/Reuters)

Monday’s reopening of shops, from department stores to booksellers and electronics retailers, only applies to England. Scotland and Wales are taking a more tentative approach to the easing of the coronavirus restrictions. Northern Ireland’s stores reopened last week. England also saw zoos, safari parks and drive-in cinemas reopen on Monday.

Russia records nearly 7,000 deaths

Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed America’s lack of centralized authority for its inability to stem the spread of the virus, while saying Russia was “working quite steadily and getting out of this situation … with minimal losses.”

In the U.S., “this is not happening,” Putin said, noting the central and regional governments work more closely in Russia.

Russia, nevertheless, has recorded more than half a million infections and nearly 7,000 virus deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins count.

Egypt’s Health Ministry has confirmed 1,691 new cases of the coronavirus, including 97 deaths, the country’s highest toll for one day.There have officially been 46,289 COVID-19 cases and 1,672 deaths recorded since the virus first emerged in Egypt in February. Egypt has the highest death rate in the Arab world and the third highest in the Middle East after Iran and Turkey. The government has resisted a full lockdown in an effort to keep the economy functioning. Even as caseloads multiply in the Arab world’s most populous country, authorities have shortened the nightly curfew and plan to reopen airports for tourism to less hard-hit destinations next month.

South Korea is also among the countries seeking to prevent a resurgence of the outbreak, reporting 37 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 25 of the cases came from the Seoul area, where health authorities are scrambling to trace infections linked to entertainment and leisure activities, church gatherings, warehouse workers and door-to-door sellers.

In France, restaurants in the Paris region will be allowed to join those in the rest of the country in opening indoor seating starting Monday. From June 22, all nursery schools, primary schools and junior high schools will be open and mandatory for all students. 

Authorities in Pakistan said they will reimpose strict lockdowns in selected areas of several cities from Monday night, a day after the federal government said COVID-19 cases could multiply eightfold by the end of July and hit 1.2 million.

The governor of Sindh province, Imran Ismail, talks with a shopkeeper in Karachi, Pakistan, as he delivers protective face masks at a stall along a road on Monday. (Akhtar Soomro/Reuters)

“A total of 20 cities across Pakistan have been identified as having likely increase in ratio/speed of infection, which needs restrictive measures for containment,” said a statement Monday by the body that co-ordinates the national response to the virus.

Pakistan has reported 144,477 cases of the respiratory illness and 2,729 deaths so far.

In Africa, where the virus continues to spread, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s office says four people who work at the presidential residence have tested positive for COVID-19, though the president and his family do not appear to be affected.

Ghana’s Health Minister Kwaku Agyemang-Manu has contracted COVID-19 and is undergoing treatment at a hospital.

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