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In Italy, deaths and funerals in isolation bring unknown pain

Rome, Italy – The image of Italian army trucks escorting coffins as a local crematorium was unable to cope with the number of bodies coming in shocked the citizens in Bergamo city this week. The footage, which caught international attention and was shared widely on social media, was a stark reminder of how grave the coronavirus…

In Italy, deaths and funerals in isolation bring unknown pain

Rome, Italy – The image of Italian army trucks escorting coffins as a local crematorium was unable to cope with the number of bodies coming in shocked the citizens in Bergamo city this week.
The footage, which caught international attention and was shared widely on social media, was a stark reminder of how grave the coronavirus outbreak is in the northern region of Lombardy.
“If this keeps going for six months, we will have to prepare the plot for mass graves,” Carlo Rossini, a worker at the Funeral Honours Agency La Bergamasca, told Al Jazeera.

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Italy is Europe’s epicentre of the coronavirus with more than 47,000 infected, and days after the truck images were circulated, the number of deaths in the country rose further, surpassing the toll in China, where the outbreak originated.
On Friday, Italian officials said death toll rose by 627 in 24 hours, to 4,032, the largest daily jump since the virus emerged in February.
With more than 5,150 people infected, the northern province of Bergamo has become the hotbed of the virus, taking over the areas where the infection broke out in the country.
Authorities disclose only regional data, so there is no specific count on the victims in the province.
The final death toll could be higher than the official statistics.
“There are significant numbers of people who have died but whose death hasn’t been attributed to the coronavirus because they died at home or in a nursing home and so they weren’t swabbed,” Giorgio Gori, mayor of the town of Bergamo, told Reuters news agency.

Italian military trucks and soldiers are seen by Bergamo’s cemetery after the army was deployed to move coffins from the cemetery to neighbouring provinces, after the cemetery was overwhelmed by the scale of the coronavirus outbreak [Sergio Agazzi/Fotogramma via Reuters]

Gori said there were 164 deaths in his city in the first 15 days of March this year, of which 31 were attributed to the coronavirus. That compares with 56 deaths over the same period last year.
In another video widely shared on social media, dozens of coffins awaiting burial are lined up along the walls of a local cemetery church.
“There are roughly 25 deceased that need [burying] and 25 whose wish was to be cremated, every day,” Giulio Dellavita, the secretary of a local diocese, told Al Jazeera. “Even with the crematorium working 24 hours, we cannot take care of more than 40 per day.”

About 30 military trucks have crossed Italy’s Bergamo, from the cemetery to the highway, with about 70 coffins of people killed by coronavirus that the cemetery can no longer manage: there are too many and will be cremated or buried elsewhere
— Alfons López Tena (@alfonslopeztena) March 19, 2020

Psychological wound: ‘A beloved disappears suddenly’
Rossini’s La Bergamasca agency, where he has worked for 10 years, offers funeral services in the whole province of Bergamo.
Neither he nor his elder colleagues have ever witnessed anything similar to the current pandemic.
Since the beginning of the month, Rossini has already buried 95 people. For all of them, there was no ritual whatsoever.
The lockdown enacted by the Italian government in Lombardy on March 8 banned any public solemnities.
“Funerals present the same risks as any other gatherings. I had patients who contracted the virus at a ceremony in Puglia,” Alessandro Grimaldi, head of the infectious diseases unit of L’Aquila hospital, told Al Jazeera.
When an infected patient dies in the hospital, his body is sealed directly inside the coffin, and then delivered to the graveyard.
If the family has not been quarantined, they can join a local parish priest protected with gloves and mask and recite a short prayer before the burial.
Otherwise, they must wait until the crisis is over and the lockdown lifted to say their final goodbyes.
In an overwhelmingly Catholic country like Italy, this halt represents a significant disruption in the public and personal perception of death.
“A beloved one disappears all of a sudden, and this opens a deep psychological wound,” father Giulio Dellavita said.
After relatives test positive for the coronavirus, anyone who had direct contact with them must enter a 15-day quarantine and notify local health authorities.
This means patients have no direct contact with the family. And if a patient’s condition worsens, there might be no chance of meeting them alive any more.
For those who have lost their kin, the diocese has activated a phone line.
“Imagine: you are at home with your mother, who abruptly feels sick. The ambulance comes and picks her up. From now on, you will never see and hear her again. All of a sudden, you receive the address of her tomb,” Dellavita said.
“People start wondering: what would she have thought? What should I have told her? You cannot properly digest this loss.”
‘We cannot pay tribute altogether’
Dellavita has the first-hand experience of the new way loss is being experienced.
Two weeks ago, one of his spiritual brothers fell sick. An ambulance took him to the local hospital.
Since the religious brothers all live together, Dellavita underwent a 15-day quarantine. His “sibling” died in the meantime.
“It was when I understood the pain of these families,” Dellavita said.
“We were his community. And everyone had to pray for him on his own because we cannot even gather in the house to pay tribute altogether.”
Like all the other victims, Dellavita’s brother will have his proper ceremony only after the pandemic is gone.
Cries, worships and memories will have to wait until then.
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US COVID-19 deaths near 200,000, one in five of global toll |

The death toll from COVID-19 in the United States was nearing 200,000 on Tuesday – accounting for more than one in five deaths globally, putting US President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic in the spotlight as he campaigns for a second term in office. According to Johns Hopkins University, the US has reported at least…

US COVID-19 deaths near 200,000, one in five of global toll |

The death toll from COVID-19 in the United States was nearing 200,000 on Tuesday – accounting for more than one in five deaths globally, putting US President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic in the spotlight as he campaigns for a second term in office.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the US has reported at least 199,818 deaths, while the number of cases has reached more than 6.8 million, also the highest in the world. More than 70 percent of the fatalities in the US have been among people over the age of 65, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
On a weekly average, the US is now losing about 800 lives every day to the virus, according to a Reuters analysis. The death rate has risen by five percent in the last week, after four weeks of decline.
The University of Washington’s health institute forecasts fatalities could reach 378,000 by the end of 2020, with the daily death toll skyrocketing to 3,000 per day in December.

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‘He failed to act’
Critics say the data shows the Trump administration’s failure to meet its sternest test ahead of the November 3 election.
“Due to Donald Trump’s lies and incompetence in the past six months, [we] have seen one of the gravest losses of American life in history,” his Democratic rival Joe Biden charged on Monday.
“With this crisis, a real crisis, a crisis that required serious presidential leadership, he just wasn’t up to it. He froze. He failed to act. He panicked. And America has paid the worst price of any nation in the world.”
The US accounts for four percent of the world’s population and 20 percent of its coronavirus deaths, while its daily fatality rate relative to the overall population is four times greater than that of the European Union.
The southern states of Texas and Florida contributed the most deaths in the US in the past two weeks, closely followed by California.

Trump adviser warned of potential pandemic in January

On Monday, Trump insisted that the worst was over even as the number of cases climbed in some parts of the country including Wisconsin, a key swing state for the election.
Trump has previously admitted to playing down the danger of the coronavirus early on because he did not want to “create a panic”.
Trump is behind Democratic rival Joe Biden nationally in every major opinion poll and is neck and neck in key swing states. Trump’s handling of the pandemic and subsequent economic downturn has battered his standing among many voters.
Trump has frequently questioned the advice of scientific experts on everything from the timing of a vaccine to reopening schools and businesses to wearing a mask. He has also refused to support a national mask mandate and held large political rallies where few attendees wore masks.
On Monday, Trump held campaign stops in the state of Ohio and many of those who were there did not wear masks.

People in Los Angeles hold a demonstration against US President Donald Trump as the country’s death toll from coronavirus nears 200,000 [Eugene Garcia/EPA]

CDC Director Robert Redfield recently told Congress that a face mask would provide more guaranteed protection than a vaccine, which would only be broadly available by “late second quarter, third quarter 2021.”
Trump has also refuted the timeline for the vaccine and said that it may be available in a matter of weeks and ahead of the November 3 election.
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US coronavirus deaths near 120,000: Live updates |

The World Health Organization reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases, with the total rising by 183,020 in a 24-hour period. The biggest increase was from North and South America with more than 116,000 new cases. Brazil officially passed 50,000 coronavirus deaths, with 50,617 deaths as of Sunday. It has 1,085,038 cases, according to…

US coronavirus deaths near 120,000: Live updates |

The World Health Organization reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases, with the total rising by 183,020 in a 24-hour period. The biggest increase was from North and South America with more than 116,000 new cases.

Brazil officially passed 50,000 coronavirus deaths, with 50,617 deaths as of Sunday. It has 1,085,038 cases, according to the country’s health ministry.

Worldwide, at least 8.9 million people have been confirmed to have the coronavirus, At least 4.4 million have recovered, while more than 467,000 people have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Here are the latest updates:
Monday, June 22
10:15 GMT – Coronavirus cases in the Balkans region
North Macedonia’s Institute of Public Health announced 101 new cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours. Five people died, and the number of active cases is 2,942.
In Serbia, 91 people tested positive for COVID-19, with one death reported, bringing the total death toll to 261.
Three new COVID-19 cases were registered in Montenegro, bringing the total number of coronavirus active cases to 38 in the country.
10:00 GMT – Pakistan one of countries hardest hit by COVID-19
Pakistan continues to register in the top 10 countries by daily coronavirus case increases, with 4,471 new cases on Sunday taking the country’s tally to 181,088 cases since its outbreak began in late February, according to government data. At least 89 people died in the South Asian country on Sunday, taking its death toll to 3,661. 
Over the weekend, Pakistan resumed service for limited commercial international flights into and out of the country, the first time such flights have been allowed since March 21. Domestic commercial flight operations resumed on May 16. 
Cases continue to spread across the country, with testing continuing at around the 30,000 tests per day mark, well below the 50,000 recommended by the World Health Organization in a letter to the Pakistani government earlier this month.
Pakistan has adopted a “smart lockdown” approach to containing the virus, opting to lock down infection hot spots, rather than entire cities. On Monday, however, local newspaper Dawn quoted officials in northern city of Rawalpindi – home to two million people, a medium-sized city by Pakistani standards – saying that they did not have enough police personnel to enforce the lockdowns in all identified hotspots, raising fears that the new approach may not be effective. 
09:45 GMT – Indonesia’s death toll reaches 2500, with over 46,000 infections
Indonesia reported 954 new coronavirus infections, taking its total number of cases to 46,845.
Health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said there were 35 more deaths reported, with total fatalities now at 2,500, the highest coronavirus death toll in East Asia outside of China.
09:00 GMT – Spain to decide this week which non-European tourists can visit

Women wearing face masks sunbathe at the Malvarrosa beach in Valencia, Spain [File: Nacho Doce/Reuters]

Spain will decide this week which visitors from outside Europe can enter as it welcomes back travellers from neighbouring nations in an effort to revive a tourism industry hammered by the coronavirus lockdown, a minister said.
Spain is the world’s second most-visited nation, with roughly one in five of its normally 80 million annual visitors coming from Britain.
Health Minister Salvador Illa told Cadena SER radio station that Madrid would discuss with European Union (EU) partners whether to also let in travellers from outside the continent.
Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya confirmed to COPE radio that a two-week self-quarantine for visitors had been lifted, but non-Europeans were still not allowed in except for Spanish passport-holders, health workers or people in transit.
One of the worst-hit nations, Spain has registered 246,272 cases and 28,323 deaths from the COVID-19 disease. 
08:45 GMT – Serbian champions Red Star say five players positive for coronavirus

Footballers of Red Star Belgrade pose for a team photo before the Serbian SuperLiga soccer match between Partizan and Red Star in Belgrade, Serbia last year [File: Anadolu Agency]

Serbian football champions Red Star Belgrade said five of their players have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Marko Gobeljic, Njegos Petrovic, Dusan Jovancic, Marko Konatar and all felt unwell ahead of the final Serbian Superleague round against Proleter on Saturday and did not appear in the stadium.
Branko Jovicic showed no symptoms but returned a positive test, Red Star said on its website. The rest of the players and the management were also tested and none were positive, they added.
Red Star celebrated the third consecutive championship after the win against Proleter at home. Around 18,000 fans, many of them packed closely together, attended the match and celebration afterwards.
08:30 GMT – ‘No-swab’ saliva test for cornavirus piloted in UK
A weekly coronavirus testing regime using a “no-swab” saliva test is being trialed in Southampton, southern England, and could result in a simpler and quicker way to detect outbreaks of the virus, the UK government said.
“Saliva testing could potentially make it even easier for people to take coronavirus tests at home, without having to use swabs,” said Health Secretary Matt Hancock. “This trial will also help us learn if routine, at-home testing could pick up cases of the virus earlier.”
More than 14,000 doctors and health workers, other essential workers and university staff and their households will participate in the trial, which uses an Optigene test, the government said.
Rather than taking a swab, which some people find uncomfortable, participants will spit into a pot. Test results will be received within 48 hours, the government said.
08:00 GMT – Russia reports 7,600 new coronavirus infections

Moscow accounts for about half of all of Russia’s coronavirus cases, a deluge that strains the city’s hospitals [File: Pavel Golovkin/Reuters]

Russia has reported 7,600 new cases of the coronavirus, pushing its nationwide case total to 592,280, the world’s third largest tally.
The coronavirus taskforce response said 95 people had died in the past 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 8,206.
07:45 GMT – Dimitrov gets coronavirus after ‘reckless’ tennis charity event

Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in action during his match against Croatia’s Borna Coric [File:Antonio Bronic/Reuters]

Bulgarian tennis player Grigor Dimitrov has tested positive for the coronavirus after taking part in a charity event organised by men’s top-ranked player Novak Djokovic.
Dimitrov pulled out of the regional exhibition tournament – which had sparked criticism for its lack of safety precautions – in Croatia on Saturday following his opening singles match, after feeling unwell.
“I want to … let my fans and friends know that I tested positive … for COVID-19,” Dimitrov wrote on Instagram on Sunday.
Read more here.
07:30 GMT – Beijing COVID-19 cases to see ‘cliff-like’ drop this week, says expert
Beijing will see a “cliff-like” drop in new cases in the current coronavirus outbreak by the end of this week with efforts to control the spread of infections in the Chinese capital underway, said an expert at the national health authority.
The city of more than 20 million people reported its first case linked to a wholesale food centre in the southwest of Beijing in the latest wave on June 11. So far, 236 people have been infected in the worst outbreak in Beijing since COVID-19 was identified at a seafood market in the central city of Wuhan late last year.
Beijing reported on Monday nine new cases for June 21, sharply down from 22 a day earlier.
“If you control the source and cut the chain of transmission, the number will have a cliff-like drop,” Wu Hao, a disease control expert from the National Health Commission, told state television in an interview aired on Sunday night.
Beijing is not headed for a “flood-like” lockdown, unlike early efforts in Wuhan when little was known about the virus, Wu said, adding lockdown procedures have been more targeted this time.
07:15 GMT – Fears of South Korea losing control over second virus wave

Pedestrians in face masks cross a street amid the spread of the coronavirus disease in Seoul, South Korea [File: Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters]

The mayor of South Korea’s capital fears the country is losing control over a virus resurgence and said Seoul will reimpose stronger social-distancing measures if the daily jump in infections does not come below an average of 30 over the next three days.
“If Seoul gets penetrated (by the virus), the entire Republic of Korea gets penetrated,” Park Won-soon said in a televised briefing.
He also lamented what he described as complacency of citizens in social distancing, citing an increase in public transportation usage that he says has been approaching last year’s levels in recent weeks.
Citing research by health experts, Park said the country could be possibly reporting as much as 800 new cases a day a month from now if it fails to stem current trends in transmissions. He said the basic reproduction number of virus carriers, which measures the number of infections caused by an individual, has reached nearly 1.8 for the period between April 30 and June 11. Any number above 1 indicates a growing epidemic.
07:00 GMT – Abu Dhabi eases movement restrictions within emirate

A man waits at a coronavirus drive-through screening centre in Abu Dhabi [Filre: Francois Nel/Getty Images]

Abu Dhabi has eased restrictions to allow movement between its cities for all residents starting on Tuesday but extended restrictions on entry into the emirate by non-residents, its media office said.
Abu Dhabi, the largest and wealthiest member of the United Arab Emirates, extended a ban on entering the emirate without a permit for another week, the media office said in a tweet, while allowing residents to exit the emirate freely.
06:45 GMT – As virus surges, Pakistan says there is no choice but to open
The coronavirus is spreading in Pakistan at one of the fastest rates in the world and overwhelmed hospitals are turning away patients. But the government is pushing ahead with opening up the country, trying to salvage a near-collapsed economy where millions have already slid into poverty from pandemic restrictions.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said the refusal to impose a complete lockdown saved the country from economic collapse. In televised speeches, he has taken to pleading with Pakistanis to wear masks, ignore countless conspiracy theories and take the virus seriously.
As cases spiralled, the government last week shut down some districts in Islamabad and other cities where fresh outbreaks have been identified. But otherwise it has largely continued with lifting coronavirus restrictions.
The restrictions were initially imposed in mid-March, but within weeks, they were lifted bit by bit.
06:20 GMT – Brazil’s virus death toll tops 50,000

Aerial view showing graves in the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery in Manaus on June 21, 2020 [Michael Dantas/AFP]

Brazil has reported 641 more deaths from coronavirus over the past day, becoming the second country worldwide with a death toll topping 50,000.
The country’s health ministry said the overall fatalities have mounted to 50,617, according to public news agency Agencia Brasil.
Meanwhile, 17,000 new infections were reported over the past day, taking the nationwide case-count to more than 1.08 million.
Brazil is one of the world’s hardest-hit regions due to the virus, and now in second place after the US in the death toll.
05:52 GMT – India’s infections soar in rural areas

A woman watches as healthcare workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) check the temperature of residents of a slum during a check-up camp for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Mumbai, India [File: Francis Mascarenhas/ Reuters]

India’s coronavirus caseload has risen to 425,282 as infections soar in rural areas where migrant workers fleeing major cities have returned in recent weeks.
India’s health ministry on Monday reported 14,821 new cases and about 300 new deaths, bring the toll of fatalities up to more than 13,000. The coastal state of Goa reported its first COVID-19 death.
India’s government planning body Niti Aayog says infections have now emerged in 98 out of 112 of the country’s poorest districts.
Still, about 60 percent of India’s cases have been reported in the states of Delhi, which includes the national capital of New Delhi, Maharashtra, home to India’s financial capital Mumbai and Tamil Nadu, where manufacturing hub Chennai is located.
Hello, this is Linah Alsaafin taking over the blog from my colleague Ted Regencia.
05:12 GMT – New Zealand to extend ban on cruise ship arrivals
New Zealand has announced that it is extending a ban on cruise ships arriving in the country as it looks to safeguard borders as new cases emerge of people arriving in the country with the coronavirus.
“We are extending the current cruise ship ban which was due to expire on the 30th of June,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a news conference.
Cargo vessels will still be allowed to load and unload, fishing vessels to unload and resupply, and vessels can come to New Zealand to undertake repairs and refitting, Ardern said, although some quarantine rules would be tightened.
05:00 GMT – Thailand reports three new imported cases
Thailand on Monday reported three new coronavirus cases, all imported, marking 28 days without local transmission, Reuters news agency reported, quoting a senior official.
The three new cases were Thai nationals returning from India and were detected in state quarantine, said spokesman for the government’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration, Taweesin Visanuyothin.
Thailand has so far recorded 58 deaths related to COVID-19 among 3,151 infections, of which 3,022 patients have recovered.
Taweesin said the administration was coordinating with Myanmar authorities regarding 23 coronavirus cases found among migrants deported from Thailand.

Daily life in Bangkok resumes to normal as the Thai government continues to ease restrictions related to running business and activities that were imposed weeks ago to combat the spread of the coronavirus [Sakchai Lalit/AP]

04:48 GMT – Greece reports 10 new cases
Authorities say Greece had 10 new COVID-19 cases and no virus-related deaths between Saturday and Sunday, according to the Associated Press.
The daily update brought the country’s total confirmed cases to 3,266, including 190 deaths.
Greek authorities say the median age of the infected people who died is 76 and all of those under age 70 had suffered from serious conditions unrelated to the virus.
04:20 GMT – Two coronavirus cases reported in New Zealand
New Zealand has reported two new cases of the coronavirus as a trickle of infected people continue to arrive at the border, according to the Associated Press.
The country of five million people now has nine active cases after having none at all earlier this month.
Health officials said on Monday that all those cases involve people who have recently arrived and are in quarantine, and there is no evidence of community transmission.
Still, many remain anxious community transmission could return, especially after health officials admitted making a mistake by allowing two women who had arrived from London to leave quarantine before they had been tested because a parent was dying. The women later tested positive and have since isolated themselves.
04:00 GMT – Germany’s cases rise to 190,359
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 537 to 190,359, Reuters news agency reported on Monday quoting data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.
The reported death toll rose by 3 to 8,885, the tally showed.
03:47 GMT – Barber offers hope in Peruvian barrios devastated by virus
Amid the coronavirus lockdown in Peru, barber Josue Yacahuanca is offering some hope to residents of some of the poorest neighbourhoods in the capital, Lima. 
Once a week, Yacahuanca seeks out clients devastated by the pandemic and the nearly 100 days of lockdown, giving haircuts for free.
“I want them to look in the mirror and see a bit of hope,” Yacahuanca told the Associated Press news agency. At 21 years old, he is already considered a veteran barber having started cutting hair at 13.

Barber Josue Yacahuanca fastens a haircutting apron emblazoned with an image of salsa singer Hector Lavoe on a resident on the top of a hill in the San Juan de Lurigancho neighbourhood of Lima, Peru on Friday [Martin Mejia/AP]

03:25 GMT – 150 cannery workers forced into quarantine without pay in Los Angeles
About 150 seasonal workers hired by a salmon cannery in Alaska are being forced to quarantine without pay at a hotel in Los Angeles after three of them tested positive for the coronavirus, the Associated Press news agency reported quoting a news report.
The workers, most of them from Mexico and Southern California, were hired on June 2 by North Pacific Seafoods to work at its Red Salmon Cannery in Naknek, Alaska, through August, according to the lawsuit filed on Friday in San Francisco Superior Court, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Instead, they have been stuck at the Crowne Plaza LAX Hotel since June 10, attorney Jonathan Davis said.
Leauri Moore, vice president of human resources for North Pacific Seafoods, told the newspaper in an email that she had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment.
02:45 GMT – Mongolians cite Genghis Khan for success in dealing with pandemic

All 206 coronavirus cases reported in Mongolia were imported with zero deaths [Byambasuren Byamba-Ochir/EPA]

Fresh air, a diet of free-range milk and meat, plus Genghis Khan’s fighting spirit are among reasons being cited by Mongolians for why the country has managed to fight off the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a South China Morning Post report. 
In a series of interviews with the Hong Kong-based publication, an historian, a shaman, a monk and a medical doctor all referenced Genghis Khan, the conqueror and leader of the Mongolian Empire during the 12th and 13th centuries, saying that they have learned to live and eat simply like him, “and do not experience the stress and consumerism” by people from other countries.
Dr Chinburen Jigjidsuren, a special health adviser to the prime minister, was also quoted as saying that the government learned from Genghis Khan the art of clear communication keeping the public informed and prevented panic in dealing with the pandemic.
As of Monday, Mongolia has at least 206 coronavirus cases, all imported, and zero deaths.
02:31 GMT – Report: Malaysians complain of weight gain during lockdown
More and more Malaysians are complaining about their weight gain during coronavirus lockdown in the country starting in mid-March, the Kuala Lumpur based The Star reported.
The newspaper said the development “was not really a surprise” considering that many have become homebound and less active physically.
“Some even chose not to share their most recent photographs on their social media accounts to avoid receiving criticism from their friends,” the report said.
Even before the pandemic, obesity was already a health concern in Malaysia. According to the World Population Review 2019, Malaysia has the highest prevalence of obesity among adults in Southeast Asia at 15.6 percent.
The National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2019 findings, meanwhile, showed that 50.1 percent of adults in Malaysia were either overweight or obese – 30.4 percent were overweight and 19.7 percent obese.
02:04 GMT – China reports 25 new coronavirus cases

People wearing face masks to protect against the new coronavirus take photos of a partial solar eclipse near the Forbidden City in Beijing on Sunday [Mark Schiefelbein/AP]

China reported 18 new coronavirus cases for June 21, 9 of which were in the capital Beijing, Reuters reported on Monday quoting the National Health Commission. Another seven cases are categorised as asymptomatic.
This compared with 26 confirmed cases a day earlier, 22 of which were in Beijing. Local authorities are restricting movement of people in the capital and stepping up other measures to prevent the virus from spreading following a series of local infections.
Seven asymptomatic COVID-19 patients were also reported – those who are infected but show no symptoms, were reported as of June 21 compared with six a day earlier.
01:40 GMT – South Korea cases dip to nearly one-month low
New coronavirus cases in South Korea dipped to a nearly one-month low on Monday due mainly to less testing over the weekend, Yonhap news agency reported, quoting health officials.
The country added 17 new cases, including 11 local infections, raising the total number of cases to 12,438, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). There were also six additional imported cases, raising the total to 1,441.
This was the first time since May 26 that the number of new daily COVID-19 cases fell below 20. It also marks a sharp drop from 67 cases Saturday and 48 cases Sunday, KCDC added.
There were no additional deaths, keeping the total death toll to 280.
01:31 GMT – Beijing reports 9 new COVID-19 cases
Beijing’s municipal health authority reported on Monday nine new cases of the coronavirus in the city for June 21, down from 22 a day earlier.
The city of more than 20 million people reported its first case in the latest wave on June 11.
The resurgence has been linked to a wholesale food centre in the southwest of Beijing. So far, 236 people in the city have been infected in the outbreak.
01:19 GMT – New York City coronavirus tracing off to a bumpy start: report

Musicians from New York’s Ditmas Park neighbourhood perform during a fundraising drive on Sunday for businesses that have been shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic [Kathy Willens/AP]

New York City’s effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus through contact tracing has been hampered by the reluctance of many people who are infected with the virus to provide information to tracers, according to a report in The New York Times.
The Times report said just 35 percent of the 5,347 city residents who tested positive or were presumed positive for COVID-19 in the first two weeks of the contact tracing programme gave information about their close contacts.
Perry N Halkitis, dean of the School of Public Health at Rutgers University, called the 35 percent rate for eliciting contacts “very bad”, adding that it should be closer to 75 percent.
Dr Ted Long, head of New York City’s new Test and Trace Corps, defended the programme and said 69 percent of the people who complete an interview provide contacts. “We think that’s a strong start but we also do want to get that number up,” Long told The Associated Press news agency. 
00:51 GMT – Report: 40 US baseball players, staff positive for COVID-19
As a vote by Major League Baseball players on whether to accept the owners’ latest proposal to play the 2020 season continues to be delayed, a USA Today report surfaced that a large of positive COVID-19 tests is the main reason for the delay.
Citing two sources close to the situation, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported that 40 MLB players and staff members tested positive for COVID-19 in the last week.
According to Nightengale, the recent uptick in COVID-19 infections will push the start of the season back to July 26 at the earliest, with spring training resuming no earlier than June 29. The owners and players had previously agreed to restart the season on July 19, according to Reuters News Agency.
00:32 GMT – Mexico reports 5,343 new coronavirus infections, 1,044 deaths
Mexico has reported 5,343 new infections and 1,044 additional deaths from the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, the health ministry said, bringing the totals for the country to 180,545 cases and 21,825 deaths.
The government has said the actual number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases, Reuters News Agency said.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador attended a coronavirus hospital simulation at a new medical facility in Cuernavaca on Friday [Mexico’s Presidency/Handout via Reuters]

00:01 GMT – Mexico to resume sending farm workers to Canada after safety deal
Mexico will resume sending temporary farm workers to Canada after the two countries reached a deal on improved safety protections for labourers on Canadian farms during the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters News Agency reported.
Mexico’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the Temporary Agricultural Workers Program (PTAT) had “entered into operation once again after a temporary pause”.
Mexico said last Tuesday it would pause sending workers to farms with coronavirus infections after at least two of its nationals died from COVID-19 after outbreaks on 17 Canadian farms.
Canadian farmers rely on 60,000 short-term foreign workers, predominantly from Latin America and the Caribbean, to plant and harvest crops.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 
You can find all the key developments from yesterday, June 21, here. 
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UK deaths second highest in Europe. When will lockdown ease?

The United Kingdom, which has the second-highest coronavirus death toll in Europe after Italy, is this week expected to present a possible way out of the coronavirus lockdown to get the world’s fifth-largest economy back to work – without triggering a second spike in cases. The move comes as several European countries, led by Italy – so…

UK deaths second highest in Europe. When will lockdown ease?

The United Kingdom, which has the second-highest coronavirus death toll in Europe after Italy, is this week expected to present a possible way out of the coronavirus lockdown to get the world’s fifth-largest economy back to work – without triggering a second spike in cases.
The move comes as several European countries, led by Italy – so far the continent’s worst-affected nation with most deaths – attempt to start easing lockdowns amid improving infection rates.

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Under the current lockdown, first announced on March 23, schools, leisure centres, museums and cafes were closed, as well as shops aside from supermarkets. Apart from essential workers, employees were advised to work from home. Hospitals postponed non-urgent surgeries to deal with more coronavirus patients.
Parks remained open, although in some cases playground areas were closed off. Elderly, pregnant and high-risk people, such as transplant patients, were strongly advised to self-isolate where possible.
Since March 23, some DIY stores have reopened.
The UK government, which says it has passed the peak, is obliged to review the lockdown by Thursday and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he would like to set out a plan and a menu of options for easing restrictions.
On Monday, Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, told UK media how the country could return to work – with measures including enforcing extensive hygiene measures, limiting time spent close to colleagues and setting up shields to separate employees from one another.
The BBC said it had seen draft details of the government’s proposals, which include reducing hot-desk style working.
Earlier, Grant Shapps, transport secretary, said workplace timings could be staggered to avoid a rush of commuters at once, while suggesting public transport might be equipped with hand sanitiser. 
At least 28,446 people have died of coronavirus in the UK – compared with Italy’s 28,884 – and there are rising concerns that the number of UK deaths is being undercounted.
Aside from the workplace, schools will not reopen until at least early June, and only then if the effective reproduction number is at a safe level, Downing Street said.
Johnson previously outlined five tests that must be met before the restrictions can be lifted in the country:
Test one
“The National Health Service (NHS) has sufficient capacity to provide critical care and specialist treatment right across the United Kingdom.”
Government scientists say the number of infections is coming down. Hospital admissions are declining too, as is the number of patients in critical care. In London, there is a clear decline in the number of people with COVID-19 in hospital but the decline is less marked in other regions such as Scotland, the North East of England and the East of England.
Test two
“A sustained and consistent fall in daily deaths from coronavirus.”
The worst days for deaths were April 21 when 1,172 deaths were reported and April 10 when 1,152 were reported. Since April 21, the daily toll went as low as 338 on April 27 and as high as 1,005 on April 24. Deaths rose by 315 to 28,446 on May 2.
Government scientists say while the daily death tolls show a downward trend they expect them to plateau for a while.
Test three
“Reliable data to show that the rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels across the board.”
Johnson has said keeping the effective reproduction number – R0 or “R nought” – down is absolutely vital. That is the average number of people that one person with the coronavirus infects. Scientists say the R number is in a range of 0.6 to 0.9 whereas it was 3.0 in March. That means each infected person is now, on average, infecting less than one other person.
Test four
“Operational challenges including testing and personal protective equipment (PPE) are in hand with supply able to meet future demand.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Friday that the UK had hit its target of carrying out 100,000 COVID-19 tests a day. He said 122,347 tests were conducted in the 24 hours to 08:00 GMT on Friday. However, figures on Sunday showed only 76,496 tests had been carried out the previous day.
There have been problems, however, in getting PPE to some front line health workers and care homes.
Test five
“Confident that any adjustments to the current measures will not risk a second peak of infections that overwhelms the NHS.”
This is the hardest test to fathom and the most dangerous for Johnson. Scientists will be watching the R number very closely to ensure it does not rise above 1.0. There is no specific treatment for the new coronavirus nor is there a vaccine as yet.
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