- Lebanese caretaker government urges two-week shutdown to curb climbing COVID-19 cases.
- India’s number of reported fatalities from the coronavirus surpasses 50,000.
- Hong Kong reports 44 new cases, announces extension to physical distancing measures.
- New Zealand delays national elections as the country deals with a new outbreak.
Lebanon must shut down for two weeks after a surge in coronavirus infections, the caretaker health minister said on Monday, as the country reels from the massive Beirut port blast.
“We declare today a state of general alert and we need a brave decision to close [the country] for two weeks,” Hamad Hassan told Voice of Lebanon radio.
Lebanon on Sunday registered a record 439 new infections and six more deaths from the virus in 24 hours.
The country, already deep in financial crisis, was struggling with a COVID-19 spike before the Aug. 4 blast that killed at least 178 people, wrecked swaths of the capital and pushed the government to resign.
The warehouse explosion damaged many hospitals and overwhelmed them with more than 6,000 wounded. It put about half of 55 medical centres across Beirut out of service, the World Health Organization (WHO) said last week.
“We are all facing a real challenge and the numbers that were recorded in the last period are shocking,” Hassan said. “The matter requires decisive measures.” Intensive-care beds at state and private hospitals are now full, he said.
In comments to Reuters, Hassan said authorities would not close the country’s airport so far, with the rise stemming mostly from within the country.
“The real danger is the spread within society,” he said. “Everyone must be on high alert and take the strictest prevention measures.”
Still, after the blast uprooted nearly a quarter of a million people, the risk of the virus spreading has grown, the WHO has said. The country’s tally now stands at 8,881 cases and 103 deaths since February, according to health ministry data.
What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada
As of 5 a.m. ET on Monday, Canada had 122,087 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 108,484 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 9,064.
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is going back to the drawing board after its plan to shrink elementary class sizes was rejected by the Ontario Ministry of Education.
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“We thought we were close … with that plan,” said Alexander Brown, TDSB Trustee for Ward 12, Willowdale. “We’re getting closer and closer [to the start of the school year], and we still don’t have a plan.”
Last month, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce announced the province’s back-to-school plan, which has elementary-level students set to return on a full-time basis. Students in those grades would also remain a single cohort for the entire five days of the week — in classrooms, and during recess and lunch — and school boards would provide the full curriculum.
As for class sizes, those would remain at the mandated maximum levels set in place before the COVID-19 outbreak, leaving many parents, teachers and other education staff concerned. They have been calling on the government to lower the number of students in each classroom to help limit the number of contacts students and teachers are exposed to.
Here’s what’s happening around the world
According to Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases is now more than 21.6 million. More than 775,500 people have died, while 13.6 million have recovered.
The leader of Australia’s New South Wales state apologized on Monday for failing to stop people carrying the novel coronavirus from disembarking from a cruise ship in Sydney in March, triggering what was at the time Australia’s worst outbreak.
The apology from NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian for her government’s poor handling of the outbreak aboard the Ruby Princess came as the number of deaths from a second wave of infection in Victoria state hit a record 25.
Australia has reported 23,500 coronavirus cases and 421 deaths, far fewer than many other developed nations, but missteps in the handling of the Ruby Princess and possibly also with hotel quarantine in Victoria have proven costly.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday chose to delay New Zealand’s national elections by four weeks as the country deals with a new coronavirus outbreak in its largest city, Auckland.
The election had been scheduled for Sept. 19 but will now be held on Oct. 17. Under New Zealand law, Ardern had the option of delaying the election for up to about two months.
Ardern said she wouldn’t consider delaying the election again no matter what was happening with any virus outbreaks. Opinion polling indicates Ardern’s liberal Labour Party is favoured to win a second term in office.
India’s number of reported fatalities from the coronavirus surpassed 50,000 on Monday, after 941 new deaths were reported in the past 24 hours.
With a total of 50,921 reported deaths, India now has the fourth-most reported fatalities from the virus in the world, behind the United States, Brazil and Mexico.
India’s number of confirmed coronavirus cases also reached 2.6 million on Monday after a spike of 57,982 cases in the previous 24 hours, according to the health ministry.
WATCH | Cases of COVID-19 in U.S. children ‘steadily increasing’:
Hong Kong reported 44 new coronavirus cases on Monday as the government announced an extension to physical distancing measures aimed at controlling further spreading of the virus, which has seen a resurgence in the Asian financial hub since early July.
While the number of daily cases has come down from triple digits in recent weeks, authorities have cautioned residents against becoming complacent, warning that the situation remained “severe.”
Restrictions including a ban on dining at restaurants from 6 p.m. and the mandating of masks in all outdoor public areas are set to remain in force for a further seven days until Aug. 25, the government said Monday.
South Korea has reported 197 new cases of the coronavirus, the fourth straight day of triple-digit daily increases.
Health workers are scrambling to slow transmissions in the greater capital area, where churches have emerged as major sources of infections.
The figures announced by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday brought total reported cases to 15,515, including 305 deaths.
The French government is sending riot police to the Marseille region to help enforce mask requirements, as more and more towns and neighbourhoods are imposing mask rules starting Monday to slow rising infections.
Government spokesperson Gabriel Attal announced Monday that 130 police officers are being sent to the Marseille region. France has seen scattered incidents of violence by people refusing to wear masks.
Infections have been speeding up around France in recent days, with 3,015 new cases Sunday, one of the highest daily spikes since the country lifted a strict two-month lockdown in May.