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Spike in cases in Hong Kong and a rare death

The cost of keeping the facilities open is expected to be $NZD81 million ($75.9 million) by the end of the financial year. The government has set aside an additional $298 million for the rest of the year.

The Ellerslie Novotel is AUckland is one of the facilities being used as a quarantine hotel.

The Ellerslie Novotel is AUckland is one of the facilities being used as a quarantine hotel.Credit:Getty Images

On Monday the government also extended a ban on cruise ships arriving in the country and tightened measures for visitors to exit quarantine, after reporting more coronavirus cases linked to overseas travel.

South Africa accounts for a third of continent’s infections

South Africa’s coronavirus cases have surpassed 100,000 as the country makes up close to one-third of all recorded infections on the African continent.

The latest daily update shows a worrying new trend as Gauteng province, home to the economic hub of Johannesburg, has a higher number of new cases than the hotspot of Western Cape province centred on the city of Cape Town.

Virus cases in Gauteng, which also contains the capital, Pretoria, now make up more than one-fifth of the country’s total.

It continues to loosen its lockdown despite the rise in cases because of economic pressure, with casinos and beauty salons the latest businesses allowed to reopen.

Africa overall has more than 315,000 cases including more than 8000 deaths. The true number of cases remains unknown because of the low level of testing on the continent due to a shortage of materials.

One million new cases in eight days

World leaders must not politicise the coronavirus pandemic but unite to fight it, the head of the World Health Organisation has warned, reminding all that the pandemic was still accelerating and producing record daily increases in infections.

The comments by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who has faced criticism from US President Donald Trump, came as the number of reported infections soared in Brazil, Iraq, India and southern and western US states, straining local hospitals.

Members of Sri Lanka's St John's Ambulance disinfect a school in Colombo.

Members of Sri Lanka’s St John’s Ambulance disinfect a school in Colombo.Credit:AP

It took more than three months for the world to see one million virus infections, but the latest one million cases have come in just eight days, Tedros said on Monday during a video conference for the Dubai-based World Government Summit.

He said the world recorded more than 183,000 new coronavirus cases on Sunday alone, the most in a single day since the outbreak started in December.

“Certainly the numbers are increasing because the epidemic is developing in a number of populous countries at the same time and across the whole world,” WHO’s top emergencies expert, Mike Ryan, said.

“Some of that increase may be attributed to increased testing … And certainly countries like India are testing more. But we do not believe that this is a testing phenomenon.”

More than 9 million people have been infected by the virus worldwide and more than 469,000 have died, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Experts say the actual numbers are much higher, due to limited testing and asymptomatic cases.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that, indeed, the world was not prepared,” Tedros said. “Globally, the pandemic is still accelerating.”

Tedros never mentioned Trump’s name or the fact that he was determined to pull the United States out of the UN health agency but warned against “politicising” the pandemic.

“The greatest threat we face now is not the virus itself, it’s the lack of global solidarity and global leadership,” he said. “We cannot defeat this pandemic with a divided world.”

Companies around the world are racing to find a vaccine to counter COVID-19 and there is a fierce debate about how to make sure that vaccine is distributed fairly.

Speaking later in the conference, WHO’s special envoy on COVID-19, Dr David Nabarro, said he believed it would be “2½ years until there will be vaccine for everybody in the world”.

“Even if there’s a candidate by the end of the year, the safety and efficacy tests will take some time,” the British physician said. “And then the effort has to be put into producing large amounts of vaccine so everyone in the world can get it and then organising the vaccination programs.”

He added: “I would love it to be proved wrong.”

New German outbreak linked to slaughterhouse

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman said “everything needs to be done” to control an outbreak linked to a large slaughterhouse that has infected more than 1300 people.

Authorities started mass testing of all workers at the Toennies meat plant in the western Guetersloh region and have put thousands of people into quarantine.

Authorities have dispatched virologists, contact tracing teams and the German army to help.

“This is an outbreak that needs to be taken very seriously,” Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert said.

US records more than 30,000 new infections a day

More than two-thirds of the new deaths of late have been reported in the Americas. The coronavirus has killed about 120,000 people across the US, more than 50,000 in Brazil and nearly 22,000 in Mexico.

Coronavirus cases in Florida surpassed 100,000 on Monday, part of an alarming surge across the south and west as states reopen for business and many Americans resist wearing masks or keeping their distance from others.

The disturbing signs in the Sunshine State as well as places like Arizona, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and South Carolina are raising fears that the progress won after months of lockdowns is slipping away.

US authorities have reported more than 30,000 new infections a day recently but in New York City, once the epicentre of the US outbreak, Monday was a key day for lifting many coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Yet Eve Gonzalez, a food industry worker in New York whose job hasn’t yet resumed, feels it’s too soon to relax restrictions.

“I’m dying to go out, but people’s health is more important,” said Gonzalez, 27.

Meanwhile, two more members of President Donald Trump’s campaign working on his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The president’s campaign put out a statement on Monday that said the two staffers, part of the advance team for Saturday’s rally, tested positive before they boarded their flight out of Oklahoma.

The two were then quarantined and the campaign began contact tracing protocols. These positive tests follow the news that six other staffers, including two Secret Service agents, tested positive in the hours before Saturday’s rally.

Commuters wearing masks board the subway during morning rush hour in New York.

Commuters wearing masks board the subway during morning rush hour in New York. Credit:Bloomberg

India records 15,000 new cases in a day

India’s health care system has been slammed by the virus. The country’s caseload climbed by nearly 15,000 on Monday to 425,282, with more than 13,000 deaths.

After easing a nationwide lockdown, the Indian government ran special trains to return thousands of migrant workers to their villages in recent weeks.

Nearly 90 per cent of India’s poorest districts have cases, although the outbreak remains centred in Delhi, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu states, which are home to major cities.

Domestic workers listen during a protest demanding social security from the government in Bengaluru, India.

Domestic workers listen during a protest demanding social security from the government in Bengaluru, India.Credit:AP

Pakistan cricketers test positive before tour

In Pakistan, infections are accelerating and hospitals are having to turn away patients, with new cases of up to 6800 a day. The government has relaxed pandemic restrictions, hoping to salvage a near-collapsed economy as the number of people living in poverty has risen to 40 per cent of the population of 220 million people.

Pakistan cricketers Haider Ali, Haris Rauf and Shadab Khan all tested positive for COVID-19 after being screened in Rawalpindi ahead of their tour of England next month, the country’s cricket board (PCB) said on Monday.

“The players had shown no symptoms until they were tested in Rawalpindi on Sunday,” the PCB said in a statement. “The PCB medical panel is in contact with the three who have been advised to immediately go into self-isolation.”

The PCB said Imad Wasim and Usman Shinwari, who were also screened in Rawalpindi, tested negative for the virus.

The PCB added that other players and staff apart from Shoaib Malik, bowling coach Waqar Younis and physio Cliffe Deacon were tested in Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi on Monday, with the test results expected on Tuesday.

Infections slow in China, South Korea

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Infections have slowed in China and South Korea, suggesting some progress in stemming their newest outbreaks.

South Korea reported 17 new cases, the first time its daily increase fell to under 20 in nearly a month and Beijing’s increase was in single digits for the first time in eight days.

The UN AIDS agency, meanwhile, warned that the pandemic could jeopardise the supply of AIDS drugs in developing countries.

UNAIDS said lockdowns and border closures adopted to stop the spread of COVID-19 were affecting both the production and distribution of the medicines, which could result in higher costs and deadly shortages in the next two months.

As of last year, UNAIDS estimated more than 24 million people were on life-saving anti-retroviral drugs.

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AP, with Reuters

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