The Latest: In reversal, Israel to keep restaurants open
JERUSALEM — An Israeli parliamentary committee has overturned a government decision and allowed restaurants to remain open despite new restrictive measures to try and quell the spread of the coronavirus.
The coronavirus oversight committee voted Tuesday to keep restaurants open as long as they maintain proper guidelines and appropriate social distancing between patrons. It marked the continuing of a dramatic back-and-forth battle after the government ordered restaurants closed just a few days earlier and then postponed implementation after public pressure.
The government announced its restrictions after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “interim steps” were needed to avoid another general lockdown. Netanyahu has faced widespread criticism and protests in recent days over his government’s handling of the pandemic and the economic fallout from an earlier lockdown.
But many of the measures, such as the closing down of beaches and public pools, have been scaled back in recent days amid an outcry that they were excessive.
The frequent reversals, however, have only sown frustration, confusion and more public anger.
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein condemned the parliamentary decision, saying it would endanger public health and likely lead to another lockdown.
By late May, Israel had largely contained its outbreak following a two-month lockdown. But cases have soared in the weeks since restrictions were lifted, with Israel reporting close to 2,000 new cases a day last week. At least 422 people have died since the outbreak began, out of a total of more than 52,000 cases.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Weary EU leaders finally clinch $2.1 trillion budget and coronavirus recovery fund
— Trump to resume virus briefings Tuesday after 3-month hiatus as virus cases spike nationwide
— With the pandemic worsening and aid expiring, Washington's divisions thwart new relief package
— A job that pays the bills becomes an alternative to unemployment for some Israelis
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
BELGRADE, Serbia — Some 350 Serbian doctors are demanding the resignation of a government-appointed team fighting the coronavirus spread, describing the health situation in the Balkan state as “catastrophic.”
In an open letter entitled “United Against Covid,” first carried by the independent N1 television on Tuesday, the doctors said it is their moral and professional obligation to demand an independent investigation into the work of the state team.
The probe would include possible cover-up in the real number of coronavirus cases and deaths that have been declared by the team and possible political influence on its decisions ahead of an election.
The letter says that a complete lifting of anti-coronaviorus measures weeks ahead of the June 21 parliamentary election, when mass gatherings without social distancing were allowed, led to the “loss of control over epidemic situation” in the country, leading to a large second wave of infections.
State team members have vehemently denied previous such claims.
KATHMANDU, Nepal — Nepal’s government has decided to resume both domestic and international flights next month.
Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai said the government will allow flights beginning Aug. 17. It was still undecided on the types of visitors who would be allowed in the country and visitors from which countries.
Flights had been stopped in March when the country was in full lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Only chartered and repatriation flights were allowed to fly out stranded tourists from Nepal and bring in Nepalese workers and residents.
The government eased the lockdown last month, allowing businesses to open and government offices to resume work. Schools remain closed and there are still some restrictions on public transportation. Special permission is required for the public to travel between different cities in Nepal.
The country has 17,844 cases of virus infection and 40 deaths from COVID-19.
NEW DELHI — A surge of 37,140 new cases in the past 24 hours has taken India’s number of coronavirus infections to 1,155,191.
The Health Ministry on Tuesday also reported 587 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities to 28,084. The number of recoveries stand at 724,577.
India’s top medical research body, the Indian Council for Medical Research, has asked states to add more labs and increase testing capacity of the approved labs. A country of 1.4 billion people, India has been conducting nearly 10,000 tests per million population.
With a surge in virus cases in the past few weeks, local state governments in India have been ordering focused lockdowns in high-risk areas to slow new infections.
Experts say India is likely to witness a series of peaks as the virus spreads in rural areas where the healthcare system is weak.
BEIJING — Numbers of new cases in China’s latest coronavirus outbreak fell on Tuesday, with just eight reported in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.
Another three cases were brought from outside the country, according to the National Health Commission, bringing China’s total to 83,693 with 4,634 deaths.
Xinjiang cases have been concentrated in the regional capital and largest city of Urumqi, where around 50 people and possibly more have been infected.
China has largely contained local transmission of the virus and responded swiftly to the Xinjiang outbreak by reducing subway, bus and taxi service in Urumqi, closing some communities, imposing travel restrictions and ordering widespread testing.
Elsewhere in China, containment measures continue to be relaxed while masks and social distancing remain the norm. Economic activity has partially recovered and China reported an unexpectedly strong 3.2% expansion in its GDP during the latest quarter after lockdowns were lifted and factories and stores reopened.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s new virus cases have bounced back to above 40, a day after it reported its smallest daily jump in local COVID-19 transmissions in two months.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday the 45 latest cases included 20 people infected locally and 25 associated with international arrivals. They brought the country’s total to 13,816 with 296 deaths.
South Korean officials consider imported cases as a lesser threat than local transmissions because two-week quarantines are enforced on all people arriving from abroad.
MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s hot spot Victoria state has reported 374 new cases of COVID-19, the second-highest daily tally ever recorded.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews also announced on Tuesday three more deaths in the state, bringing the national toll 126.
Andrews said a lockdown in Australia’s second-largest city Melbourne that began two weeks ago was having an impact.
“You’d like to see numbers coming down. At the end of the day though, we’re not seeing the doubling and doubling again” of cases, Andrews said. “So what that says to me ... is that the sorts of measures we’ve put in place are having a direct impact.”
Since a record 428 cases were reported on Friday, Victoria has recorded 217, 363 and 275 cases on consecutive days.
Tighter regulations will come into force on the Victoria-New South Wales border on Wednesday that will only allow border communities to cross for essential work, health and education reasons.
MEXICO CITY — Mexico continues to register high levels of new coronavirus cases, as the Health Department reports 5,172 new infections, bring the total to almost 350,000.
Daily deaths fell to 301, for a total of almost 39,500.
The continued high rate of transmission has caused some Mexican tourist areas to walk back previous reopenings and crack down on mask rules. The southern area of the Caribbean coast state of Quintana Roo reimposed limits on hotel occupancy, and the Baja California resort of La Paz closed beaches again.
Over the weekend, the local government of the colonial city of San Miguel de Allende said police had arrested two tourists for refusing to wear face masks.
The city has decreed face masks obligatory in public spaces, and violators could receive a warning, up to 36 hours in jail and/or a fine of up to $385.
The city government said two Mexican tourists were approached by police in the picturesque city square on Saturday night and reminded of the face mask rule. The man and a woman refused to put on masks. They were detained, held for 12 hours and fined the equivalent of about $67.