WHO announces record daily increase in coronavirus cases

Covid-19 cases around the world increased by a record 183,020 in the latest 24-hour period, the World Health Organisation says.

The biggest increase was from North and South America with over 116,000 new cases, according to a daily report. Total global cases are over 8.7 million with more than 461,000 deaths, according to the WHO.

The previous record for new cases was 181,232 on June 18.

50,000 deaths in Brazil

Brazil, the world's No 2 coronavirus hotspot after the United States, officially passed 50,000 coronavirus deaths in a blow for a country already grappling with more than one million cases, rising political instability and a crippled economy.

Brazil today has a total of 1,085,038 confirmed cases and 50,617 deaths, up from 49,976 the previous day, the Health Ministry said.

Experts say the true numbers are a lot higher because of a lack of widespread testing. Latin America's largest country has typically recorded more than 1000 deaths a day, but usually registers fewer on the weekends.

Brazil passed one million cases on Saturday. Since first arriving in the country, the virus' rapid spread has eroded support for right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro and has raised fears of economic collapse after years of weak growth.

Bolsonaro, sometimes called the "Tropical Trump", has been widely criticised for his handling of the crisis. The country still has no permanent health minister after losing two since April, following clashes with the president.

In his latest statement on the pandemic, Bolsonaro said the military serves the will of the people and its mission is to defend democracy, adding fuel to a raging debate about the armed forces' role amid rumbling fears of political fragility.

His comments came on the same day his supporters and detractors gathered in cities across the country, in a stark symbol of the polarisation in Latin America's largest country.

Reproduction rate jumps in Germany

Germany's coronavirus reproduction rate has jumped to 2.88, up from 1.79 a day earlier, health authorities said, a rate showing infections are rising above the level needed to contain the disease over the longer term.

The rise brings with it the possibility of renewed restrictions on activity in Europe's largest economy - a blow to a country that so far had widely been seen as successful in curbing the coronavirus spread and keeping the death toll relatively low.

To keep the pandemic under control, Germany needs the reproduction rate to drop below one. The rate of 2.88, published by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for public health, means that out of 100 people who contract the virus, a further 288 people will get infected.

Chancellor Angela Merkel had favoured maintaining lockdown measures for longer but gradually eased restrictions in recent weeks following pressure from regional politicians to reboot the economy.

Already, the country is grappling to get people to adhere to isolation rules. Over the weekend, authorities in Goettingen needed riot police to enforce quarantine measures in a tower block where 120 people have been found to be infected with Covid-19.

Residents attacked police with fireworks, bottles and metal bars, officials said. Several police officers were injured as people tried to break through a security cordon.

Covid-19 outbreaks in recent weeks have occurred in nursing homes, hospitals, institutions for asylum seekers and refugees, in meat processing plants and logistics companies, among seasonal harvest workers and in connection with religious events, RKI said.

Unrest in the Netherlands

Police in The Hague said they detained some 400 people today after demonstrators refused to leave a protest against the Dutch government's social-distancing measures put in place to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

Several thousand protesters had gathered in the Malieveld area in The Hague, close to the Dutch seat of government, even though the rally had been banned by the municipality.

Protesters were wearing T-shirts that read: "Stop the lockdown" and carried banners demanding that the Dutch rule to keep a distance of 1.5 metres from one another be lifted.

The Hague Mayor, Johan Remkes, said the demonstration was banned because authorities had information that "troublemakers" from all over the Netherlands, including groups of known football hooligans, were planning to descend on The Hague.

UK PM set to ease restrictions

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will unveil the latest easing of Britain's coronavirus lockdown tomorrow when he will also announce the conclusion of a review into whether a two-metre rule on social distancing should be relaxed, his office said.

Britain's economy has been hammered by the lockdown to stop the spread of Covid-19 and although non-essential retailers were allowed to reopen last Monday, many businesses, particularly in the hospitality and leisure sectors, have remained closed.

Some lawmakers in Johnson's party have been vocal in calling for him to drop the two-metre rule saying it was having a devastating impact on the economy which shrank by a quarter over March and April. But the government has been cautious, saying it did not want to risk a second spike in novel coronavirus cases.

Johnson's office said the prime minister would tell parliament which sectors would be allowed to reopen on 4 July under the government's roadmap out of the lockdown.

The Sunday Telegraph reported that Johnson would also announce a change to the social distancing guidelines so people would only need to remain one metre apart providing they took additional measures such as wearing a mask.

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