• Wednesday, Aug 10, 2022
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Indian city imposes 'triple lockdown' as coronavirus cases surge

  • Published at 08:48 pm July 8th, 2020
File Photo: A healthcare worker wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) takes swab from a woman to test for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) at a residential area in Ahmedabad, India, July 8, 2020 Reuters

The French government says it will not respond to any new Covid-19 outbreak with another nationwide lockdown

The capital of an Indian state that won praise for its early handling of the coronavirus pandemic has enforced a strict lockdown after a surge in cases, with one minister saying the city was "sitting on an active volcano."

Thiruvananthapuram in the southern state of Kerala implemented what it called a "triple lockdown" this week, as India overtook Russia to record the world's third-highest number of coronavirus infections.

Kerala's strict early measures to curb the coronavirus's spread meant it had just about 100 cases in May, a scenario that propelled its health minister - a retired teacher with a previously low profile - to rockstar status.

But since then nearly half a million people, mostly migrant workers, have arrived back in Kerala from abroad or from other Indian states. On Wednesday, the state recorded the highest single-day spike of 301 infections, taking the total to 6,301.

Kerala's Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who had voiced concerns about an outbreak if people were not tested before coming back, has attributed the rise in numbers to the returnees, saying they account for more than 80% of coronavirus cases.

"The city seems to be sitting on an active volcano," said Kadakampally Surendran, the state minister in charge of the area, urging people to "strictly follow" the lockdown measures.

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Dozens of people are injured and roughly 20 arrested after protests against a new virus curfew in the Serbian capital Belgrade deteriorate into violence before dawn, with running battles between demonstrators and police. 

More than 544,000 dead

The pandemic has killed at least 544,311 people worldwide since it surfaced in China late last year, according to an AFP tally at 8pm on Wednesday based on official sources.

The United States is the hardest-hit country with 131,480 deaths. It is followed by Brazil with 66,741, Britain with 44,391, Italy with 34,899 and Mexico with 32,014 fatalities.

France rules out 'total lockdown'

The French government says it will not respond to any new Covid-19 outbreak with another nationwide lockdown.

"My aim is to prepare France for a possible second wave while preserving our daily life, our economic and social life," the new Prime Minister Jean Castex says on RTL television.

"But we're not going to impose a lockdown like the one we did last March, because we've learned... that the economic and human consequences from a total lockdown are disastrous".

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Facing a steady growth in cases, Uzbekistan says it will reimpose restrictions, with restaurants, gyms, swimming pools and non-food markets in the ex-Soviet country among the businesses shuttered from July 10 to August 1.

Cricket comeback

International cricket resumes for the first time, with England batting in the first Test against the West Indies at Southampton -- the first of the three-Test series, which is being played behind closed doors.