- New Zealand extends coronavirus lockdown in Auckland to end of the week.
- Australia reports lowest one-day rise in new coronavirus infections in almost two months.
- Masks now mandatory in British Columbia on TransLink, BC Transit and BC Ferries.
- Manitoba reports second day of record daily increases as tougher restrictions come into effect.
- Catalonia bans gatherings of more than 10.
- Bali postpones plan to allow back foreign tourists next month.
- Trump announces emergency authorization of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 patients.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday extended a coronavirus lockdown in the country’s largest city until the end of the week and introduced mandatory mask wearing on public transport across the nation.
Ardern said the four-day extension in Auckland was critical to enable the country to step down its scale of emergency restrictions — and remain at less restrictive levels.
“We want both confidence and certainty for everyone,” Ardern said during a televised media conference.
The Auckland lockdown, imposed on Aug. 11 after officials detected the country’s first locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in more than three months, had been scheduled to end on Wednesday.
It will now end on Sunday night. The city’s step down from Level 3 to Level 2 restrictions will be made gradually from Monday, Ardern said.
Around 150 people have been diagnosed as part of the cluster that originated in Auckland, which is home to 1.7 million people, but daily new case numbers have slowed to single-digit increases over the past three days.
“This is a contained cluster, but it is our biggest one. And that means the tail will be long, and the cases will keep coming for a while to come,” Ardern told reporters in Wellington, New Zealand.
To maintain control as Auckland eases down to Level 2 restrictions, which will allow schools and shops to reopen, public gatherings will still be restricted to a maximum of 10 people, Ardern said.
The rest of the country will remain at Level 2 restrictions but with the broader limit of up to 100 people at public gatherings. Both situations will be reviewed before Sept. 6, she said.
New Zealand, which has a population of five million, has so far recorded just over 1,300 COVID-19 cases, including 22 deaths.
Australian outbreak slows
Meanwhile, neighbouring Australia reported its lowest one-day rise in new coronavirus infections in almost two months on Monday, fuelling optimism that a deadly second wave is subsiding.
Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland and Western Australia states reported a combined 121 new cases over the past 24 hours, the lowest single-day rise since July 5.
Victoria accounted for the vast majority with its capital city of Melbourne, Australia, the epicentre of the latest outbreak. Victoria earlier this month reported a record 700 cases in a single day.
“It’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth told reporters in Canberra. “It’s a substantial reassurance that the overall trend is down.”
Australia has recorded nearly 25,000 COVID-19 infections, including 517 deaths.
What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada
As of 6:30 a.m. ET on Monday, Canada had 124,896 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 111,112 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,110.
In British Columbia, anyone aboard a TransLink or BC Transit bus, boat or train and passengers aboard BC Ferries vessels is required to wear a face mask beginning Monday to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
TransLink and BC Transit first announced the requirement on Aug. 6. Masks had previously been recommended, but TransLink’s anecdotal evidence suggested only about 40 per cent of riders were wearing one.
Meanwhile, Victoria police arrested and fined a guest at a Saturday night party held in the same apartment where a man was fined for COVID-19 safety violations for a party on Friday night.
WATCH | B.C. apartment parties lead to COVID-19 fines:
Officers responding to reports of a party at the one-bedroom suite found a group of 15 people and told the host and guests that the party was over.
One guest refused to co-operate and was arrested for obstructing a peace officer. Police said the man also received a $230 fine for violating the COVID-19 Related Measures Act “for abusive or belligerent behaviour at a social gathering.”
Seventy-two new cases of COVID-19 were announced in Manitoba on Sunday, shooting past the province’s previous record of 42 new cases set Saturday, Manitoba’s top doctor said.
WATCH | Manitoba hits new highs in daily COVID-19 cases:
Forty-five of the new cases are in the Prairie Mountain Health region, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said at a joint news conference with Health Minister Cameron Friesen. That part of southwestern Manitoba is seeing ramped-up restrictions — mandatory masks in public and group sizes restricted to 10 — starting Monday.
Investigations suggest most of the cases in that region are linked to testing done on people who live in known clusters in multiple Hutterite colonies, Friesen said.
Here’s what’s happening around the world
According to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases is now more than 23.4 million. More than 809,000 people have died while 15.1 million have recovered.
In the United States, President Donald Trump announced Sunday the emergency authorization of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 patients, after expressing frustration at the slow pace of approval for coronavirus treatments.
The announcement came after days of White House officials suggesting there were politically motivated delays by the Food and Drug Administration in approving a vaccine and therapeutics for the disease that has upended Trump’s re-election chances.
On the eve of the Republican National Convention, Trump issued the emergency order — which would make it easier for some patients to obtain the treatment — at a news conference Sunday evening, according to White House officials.
The blood plasma, taken from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 and rich in antibodies, may provide benefits to those battling the disease. But the evidence has been inconclusive as to how it works or how best to administer it.
Catalonia’s president has announced a ban on social gatherings of more than 10 people and widespread testing of half a million students in Spain’s northeastern region.
The new series of measures announced by Quim Torra on Monday aim to curb a wave of new coronavirus infections ahead of the reopening of schools in mid-September, which officials and experts fear could become a vector for more contagion.
Catalonia reported 1,776 new infections on Monday, with nearly 700 people currently in hospitals and 134 of them in intensive care units. Spain as a whole leads Europe’s charts with more than 386,000 total reported infections since February.
The Indonesian island of Bali has postponed a plan to reopen the country’s biggest tourism hub to international tourists on Sept. 11, its governor said, due to the rising level of coronavirus cases reported in the southeast Asian country.
Indonesia has reported more than 155,000 coronavirus infections and 6,759 deaths as of Monday, the highest number of fatalities in Southeast Asia.
Authorities halted international tourism in early April as the outbreak picked up pace. Tourism is Bali’s main source of income and travel restrictions due to the pandemic have hammered the local economy.
South Korea’s capital on Monday ordered masks to be worn in both indoor and outdoor public places for the first time, as it battles a surge in coronavirus cases centred in the densely populated metropolitan area.
In May, the city government ordered that masks be worn on public transport and in taxis, but a recent spike in cases has health officials worried that the country may need to impose its highest level of physical distancing, known as Phase 3. Under Phase 3, schools and business will be urged to close.
The Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reported 266 new cases as of midnight on Sunday, down from 397 a day earlier but continuing a streak of more than a week of triple-digit daily increases.