China temporarily banned food imports from three Ecuadorian companies after detecting coronavirus on packaging for frozen shrimp, following fresh scrutiny on refrigerated goods after a recent disease outbreak in Beijing.
Samples taken from the packaging of Whiteleg shrimp at the port cities of Dalian and Xiamen tested positive for the virus, General Administration of Customs official Bi Kexin told a press conference.
Tests on samples from inside the packaging and the shrimp itself returned negative, however.
The customs authority said it was temporarily blocking imports from the three Ecuadorean companies whose products had tested positive.
The emergence of a coronavirus cluster in Beijing last month has led to increased scrutiny of imported food, after the virus was found on a cutting board used to prepare imported salmon at the sprawling Xinfadi wholesale market.
China has banned imports from a number of overseas food producers that have reported virus outbreaks, including top US poultry exporter Tyson Foods and German meat company Toennies.
The country has also launched a nationwide campaign to test imported refrigerated food products from “high-risk countries”.
Bi said that Chinese customs authorities have tested more than 220,000 samples from food products, packaging and the environment surrounding them since the discovery of the Xinfadi cluster.
No other products showed traces of the virus, Bi said, adding that the detection of virus traces on the shrimp did not conclusively mean the products were contagious.
As governments rushed out funding to prevent an economic collapse amid the coronavirus pandemic, global public debt swelled to the highest in history, but the IMF warned Friday that cutting back too soon could undermine the recovery.
Government spending “will need to remain supportive and flexible until a safe and durable exit from the crisis is secured,” IMF fiscal policy chief Vitor Gaspar and chief economist Gita Gopinath said in a blog post.
The debt figures are staggering — surpassing the size of the global economy, and deficits in advanced economies five times higher than pre-pandemic estimates for 2020.
Beijing lifted several lockdowns imposed to control a fresh coronavirus outbreak and reported just three new cases in the city on Wednesday, raising hopes that the cluster had been brought under control.
The Chinese capital had closed off dozens of residential compounds and carried out mass testing last month after hundreds of infections raised fears of a virus resurgence.
But five residential communities that have had no new virus cases during a control period were released from lockdown on Tuesday, state media reported, as the city relaxed curbs.
Seven other Beijing communities saw their lockdowns lifted last Friday.
The vast majority of cases have been linked to the sprawling Xinfadi market that supplies about 80 percent of Beijing’s fresh produce and meat, sparking concern about food safety.
State media outlet China News reported that the lockdown of five communities in the hard-hit Fengtai district was lifted, and disease control experts would propose a plan for removing restrictions on another seven in the area surrounding the market.
But the report said even the communities freed from lockdown would have to “strictly implement closed management”, with non-residents unable to enter the compounds.
Communities will also issue entry passes for residents.
China had largely brought the deadly outbreak under control before the new Beijing cluster was detected.
The government has since imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people in neighbouring Hebei province to contain a fresh cluster there, adopting the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the epicentre of Wuhan city earlier this year.
However, Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiology expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters in June that the new outbreak had been “brought under control”.
US President Donald Trump leapt to the defense Monday of his movie idol John Wayne, after California Democrats called for the actor’s name to be removed from a local airport due to “racist” comments.
Wayne — the late, macho star of Hollywood westerns such as “True Grit” — held “white supremacist, anti-LGBT, and anti-Indigenous views,” the Orange County Democratic Party said in a resolution last week.
The group pointed to a 1971 interview with Playboy magazine, where Wayne was quoted saying “I believe in white supremacy” and “I don’t feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago these people were slaves.”
“The Democratic Party of Orange County condemns John Wayne’s racist and bigoted statements, and calls for John Wayne’s name and likeness to be removed from the Orange County airport,” Friday’s resolution said.
The move comes at a time when historic statues and monuments are being removed across the country, as Americans grapple with the legacy of racism.
Vast nationwide anti-racism protests followed African American George Floyd’s death in police custody last month.
“Now the Do Nothing Democrats want to take off the name John Wayne from an airport,” tweeted Trump. “Incredible stupidity!”
Trump has called himself a “longtime fan” of Wayne, appearing alongside the actor’s daughter Aissa at Wayne’s birthplace memorial in Iowa during his 2016 presidential campaign.
Wayne’s family has dismissed the Playboy interview comments as a “single outlier interview from half a century ago” that does not represent him.
“It would be an injustice to judge someone based on an interview that’s being used out of context,” Wayne’s son Ethan told CNN last year. “They’re trying to contradict how he lived his life, and how he lived his life was who he was.”
Wayne starred in more than 150 films over six decades. He was nominated for three Oscars, winning best actor for 1969’s “True Grit.”
The Democrats’ resolution noted the population of Orange County, near Los Angeles, has grown far more diverse since 1979 — the year Wayne died, and the airport was named for him.
They have called for its name to be restored to “Orange County Airport.”
The coronavirus pandemic is “not even close to being over”, the WHO warned Monday, as the global death toll passed half a million and cases surge in Latin America and the United States.
In another grim milestone, the number of infections recorded worldwide rose to more than 10 million, according to an AFP tally, while some authorities reimposed lockdown measures that have crippled the global economy.
“We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives,” World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
“But the hard reality is this is not even close to being over,” he said, adding that “although many countries have made some progress, globally the pandemic is actually speeding up.”
The virus emerged six months ago in China, where the WHO will send a team next week in connection with the search for its origin, Tedros said.
COVID-19 is still rampaging across the US, which has recorded more than 125,000 deaths and 2.5 million cases — both around a quarter of the global totals.
As numerous US states are forced to reimpose restrictions on restaurants and bars, President Donald Trump has come under growing pressure to set an example by wearing a mask.
Trump’s health secretary has warned the “window is closing” for the country to gain control of the situation, but the president has largely turned away from the crisis, spending much of Sunday at his golf club in Virginia.
However, he may not be able to avoid masks forever — the Florida city of Jacksonville, where Trump’s Republicans are due to hold their national convention in August, declared face masks mandatory on Monday.
– ‘Immense pain’ –
The second hardest-hit country Brazil registered 259,105 infections in the seven days through Sunday — the country’s highest of any week during the pandemic.
The latest figures came as protesters in cities across Brazil — and as far away as Stockholm, London and Barcelona — held demonstrations against President Jair Bolsonaro, who has said the virus is akin to a “little flu” and railed against stay-at-home measures.
“Brazil is suffering immense pain, a hidden pain that throbs in the face of the incredible numbers of deaths caused by COVID-19,” the organisers of a protest in the capital Brasilia said.
While bars were forced to close in Los Angeles, Ireland’s pubs began pouring pints for the first time in 15 weeks, as Europe — still the hardest-hit continent — continues to open up after seeing numbers of new cases fall.
“Guinness is good for you,” quipped Mark O’Mahony — the first to order a pint with his breakfast at a Dublin pub. “Without it, it hasn’t been much good really for 15 weeks.”
In nearby Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his country had gone through a “profound shock” as he prepared to unveil a large stimulus programme.
His government still plans to reopen pubs, restaurants and hairdressers across England on July 4, even as it warns it may have to shut down the city of Leicester because of a spike in cases.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron called for a “strong” and “efficient” recovery fund for the European Union.
In Merkel’s Germany, which has been praised for how it has tackled its COVID-19 outbreak, the North Rhine-Westphalia state extended a lockdown on a district hit hard by a slaughterhouse outbreak.
In neighbouring Switzerland, organisers said that 2021’s Geneva International Motor Show was cancelled, after already scrapping this year’s event.
– Reimposed restrictions –
Kazakhstan’s president ordered the return of lockdown measures on Monday after hospitals warned they were running out of beds, while Serbia made masks mandatory in closed spaces after its cases spiked.
China has imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people in a province surrounding Beijing to contain a fresh cluster.
The Middle East’s most affected country Iran reported 162 more deaths on Monday, its highest single-day toll yet, a day after it also made mask-wearing mandatory for inside gatherings.
Many of the south and west US states where the virus is most rampant are where state leaders had pushed for early reopenings.
While opposition Democrats have urged Trump to reissue an emergency declaration on coronavirus, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Monday the president had “no interest” in doing so.
“The president’s always said there will be embers, but he’s always said that the cure cannot be worse than the problem,” she told Fox News.
New York’s iconic Broadway theatre district will stay closed through the end of the year, its trade association said Monday.
India, which is gradually easing a nationwide lockdown, registered a daily record of 18,500 new cases and 385 new deaths on Saturday.
Alka, one of the country’s million accredited social health activists, or ASHAs, said it was difficult for the unprotected and poorly paid all-women workers to get people to heed their advice.
“People are struggling to feed their families,” she said. “What can we do?”
More than 10 million cases of the new coronavirus have been officially declared around the world, half of them in Europe and the United States, according to an AFP tally at 0930 GMT Sunday based on official sources.
At least 10,003,942 infections, including 498,779 deaths, have been registered globally.
Europe remains the hardest hit continent with 2,637,546 cases including 195,975 fatalities, while the United States has 2,510,323 infections including 125,539 deaths.
The rate of infections worldwide continues to rise, with one million new cases recorded in just six days.
The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections.
Many countries are testing only symptomatic or the most serious cases and some do not have the capacity to carry out widescale testing.
China imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people in a province surrounding the capital to contain a fresh coronavirus cluster on Sunday, as authorities warned the outbreak was still “severe and complicated.”
After China largely brought the virus under control, hundreds have been infected in Beijing and cases have emerged in neighbouring Hebei province in recent weeks.
Health officials said Sunday that Anxin county — about 150 kilometres (90 miles) from Beijing — will be “fully enclosed and controlled”, the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the city of Wuhan earlier this year.
Only one person from each family will be allowed to go out once a day to purchase necessities such as food and medicine, the county’s epidemic prevention task force said in a statement.
The move comes after another 14 cases of the virus were reported in the past 24 hours in Beijing, taking the total to 311 since mid-June and spurring the testing of millions of residents.
The outbreak was first detected in Beijing’s sprawling Xinfadi wholesale food market, which supplies much of the city’s fresh produce, sparking concerns over the safety of the food supply chain.
Nearly a third of the cases so far have been linked to one beef and mutton section in the market, where workers are being made to quarantine for a month, city officials said Sunday.
Businesses in Anxin county had supplied freshwater fish to the Xinfadi market, state news agency Xinhua reported.
Some 12 cases of the novel coronavirus were found in the county — including 11 linked to Xinfadi, the state-run Global Times reported.
The new cases in Beijing have prompted fears of a resurgence of the virus in China.
The capital has mass-tested wholesale market workers, restaurant workers, residents of medium and high-risk neighbourhoods and delivery couriers over the past two weeks.
At a press conference on Sunday, officials said 8.3 million samples have been collected so far, of which 7.7 million have already been tested.
Testing has now expanded to include all employees of the city’s beauty parlours and hair salons, the Global Times said.
Beijing city official Xu Hejian told reporters Sunday that “the epidemic situation in the capital is severe and complicated,” warning that the city needed to continue tracing the spread of the virus.
City officials have urged people not to leave Beijing, closed schools again and locked down dozens of residential compounds to stamp out the virus.
But Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiology expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters last week the new outbreak had been “brought under control”, and officials lifted a weeks-long lockdown imposed on seven Beijing communities on Friday.
Thirty-six fully recovered COVID-19 patients have been discharged by the Lagos State Government on Thursday.
This is according to a tweet on the Lagos State Ministry of Health official handle handle which explained that the recovered patients were discharged after testing negative to the virus.
While giving a breakdown of the recovered patients, the Ministry of Health said 11 of the patients are females while 25 are males.
“The patients; 9 from Onikan, 8 from Gbagada, 7 from Agidingbi, 4 from Eti-Osa (LandMark) and 8 from Lekki Isolation Centres were discharged after testing negative to COVID-19,” the statement explained.
“With this, the number of COVID-19 cases successfully managed and discharged in Lagos has risen to 1364.”
“Today, 45 fully recovered COVID-19 Lagos patients; 18 females and 27 males were discharged from our Isolation facilities to reunite with the society,” the statement noted.
It further explained that 20 of the patients were discharged from the Gbagada Isolation Centre, nine from Onikan, two from the Mainland Infectious Disease Hospital, one from Agidingbi, one from Lekki and 12 from the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LUTH).
“With this, the number of COVID-19 cases successfully managed and discharged in Lagos has risen to 1328,” the ministry said, urging Lagosians to keep doing their “part to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”