- UN Security Council votes unanimously to adopt its first COVID-19 resolution.
- Canada extends sweeping travel ban for at least another month.
- First case of COVID-19 confirmed among migrants at U.S.-Mexico border.
- Fauci warns cases could grow to 100,000 a day in U.S.
- Italy insisting on quarantines for visitors from 14 countries that had been greenlighted by EU.
- Tokyo sees spike in infections.
The UN Security Council demanded an “immediate cessation of hostilities” in key conflicts including Syria, Yemen, Libya, South Sudan and Congo on Wednesday to tackle COVID-19 in its first resolution on the new coronavirus.
The UN’s most powerful body voted unanimously to adopt the resolution after the United States and China resolved a lengthy dispute over mentioning the World Health Organization.
Germany’s UN Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, the council president for July, announced the result, calling it “a sign for hope for all people currently living in conflict zones around the world.”
“It is now the obligation of the council — and all parties to armed conflicts — to implement this resolution in our work this month and beyond,” he said.
The resolution backs UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’s March 23 call for global ceasefires to tackle the pandemic, and demands an “immediate cessation of hostilities” in all conflicts on its agenda, which include key conflicts in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere.
It calls on all warring parties “to engage immediately in a durable humanitarian pause for at least 90 consecutive days” to enable the safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid and medical evacuations.
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Repeated attempts to adopt a Security Council resolution have been stymied over a reference to the World Health Organization.
U.S. President Donald Trump suspended funding to WHO in early April, accusing the UN health agency of failing to stop the virus from spreading when it first surfaced in China. He said it “must be held accountable,” and accused WHO of parroting Beijing.
China strongly supports WHO and insisted that its role in calling for global action on COVID-19 be included in any resolution, diplomats said, while the U.S. insisted on a reference to “transparency” on COVID-19 and no mention of the WHO.
The resolution just adopted doesn’t mention either the WHO, a UN health agency, or transparency.
But it does take note of a resolution adopted April 2 by the 193-member UN General Assembly that “calls for intensified international co-operation to contain, mitigate and defeat the pandemic, including by exchanging information, scientific knowledge and best practices and by applying the relevant guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization.”
What’s happening with COVID-19 in Canada
Health officials in the Windsor-Essex region in Ontario say they’ve ordered a work stoppage at a farm experiencing a large outbreak of COVID-19.
The local public health unit says 191 cases of the virus were recorded at the farm over the weekend.
Chief medical officer Dr. Wajid Ahmed issued a mandatory order for the farm to ensure employees are isolated and stop working as a result of the outbreak.
CBC News confirmed that the order applies to all workers, not just those who have confirmed positive cases of COVID-19.
Ahmed said targeted testing efforts are continuing at farms in the area.
The Windsor-Essex region also reported nine new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, with seven of them occurring in the agri-farm sector.
As of 5:45 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada had 104,271 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 67,746 of the cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,663. Wednesday’s tally did not include Ontario cases because of the Canada Day holiday.
Nova Scotia reported a new case of COVID-19 on Wednesday. The latest case involves a Nova Scotian who travelled outside Canada.
On Tuesday, the first new case of COVID-19 in three weeks was identified in the province’s central region.
The Nova Scotia Health Authority is warning of a potential COVID-19 exposure on a Westjet flight from Toronto to Halifax on June 26. Westjet flight WS 248 departed from Toronto at 10 a.m. and arrived in Halifax at 1:04 p.m.
The health authority said anyone on the flight may have been exposed but based on public health’s investigation, passengers in rows 16 through 21 and seats A to C are more at risk. These passengers are advised to call 811.
Ottawa has extended for at least another month a sweeping travel ban that bars entry to all travellers who are not Canadian citizens, permanent residents or people entering from the U.S. for “essential” reasons.
The order, which was set to expire Tuesday night, “has been extended until July 31 for public health reasons,” Rebecca Purdy, spokesperson for the Canada Border Services Agency, said in a statement to CBC News.
There seems to be no great desire to quickly reverse the unprecedented border restrictions that were imposed in March, with the United States adding 40,000 new cases of COVID-19 each day. This comes as the EU is leaving the U.S. off a list of 15 countries whose citizens soon will be allowed to visit its 27 member nations.
When Leger Marketing asked Canadians in May when they thought Canada should reopen its border with the United States, 47 per cent of respondents said “not before the end of the year.”
Here’s what’s happening around the world
An international disaster relief organization reported Tuesday the first confirmed case of COVID-19 among migrants living in a tent encampment of asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Global Response Management said that one person in the Matamoros camp, which is across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas, had tested positive.
There are some 2,000 asylum seekers living in tents along the border. The migrants from Central America and other parts of the world have been stranded by the U.S.’s suspension of asylum hearings due to the pandemic through at least mid-July.
Last week, Andrea Leiner, a spokesperson for GRM, said they had implemented measures to try to reduce the risk of the virus’s spread, but conceded it was a challenge with confirmed infections cropping up among U.S. and Mexican immigration officials and in residents on both sides of the border.
1 person in the <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Matamoros?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Matamoros</a>, <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/MX?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#MX</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/asylum?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#asylum</a> camp was confirmed to have <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a>. Aggressive isolation & tracing measures have been enacted & we continue to work on behalf of the more than 2,000 <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/asylumseekers?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#asylumseekers</a> living in tents. <br><br>HELP US SAVE LIVES BY DONATING: <a href=”https://t.co/5NstuSfwCS”>https://t.co/5NstuSfwCS</a> <a href=”https://t.co/r6gMZ41L5N”>pic.twitter.com/r6gMZ41L5N</a>
They had placed tents one metre apart, leaving them open for ventilation and having everyone sleep head to toe to curtail the chances of transmission while people sleep, she said.
Two Tamaulipas state immigration officials, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case, said the infected person was a Mexican citizen who was deported earlier in June from the United States to Reynosa and who arrived at the camp over the weekend.
Four other people the young woman had contact with tested negative, the officials said.
Asylum seekers began pooling in border cities like Matamoros under the U.S. policy commonly known as “Remain in Mexico,” in which asylum seekers can make their initial request for U.S. asylum, but have to wait in Mexico for the lengthy process to play out.
More than 60,000 asylum seekers have been returned to Mexico to wait for hearings in U.S. court since January 2019, when the U.S. introduced its “Migrant Protection Protocols” policy.
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Meanwhile, some British experts have slammed the United States’ decision to snap up nearly the entire global supply of remdesivir, the only drug licensed so far to treat COVID-19.
Ohid Yaqub, a senior lecturer at the University of Sussex, called it “disappointing news.”
“It so clearly signals an unwillingness to co-operate with other countries and the chilling effect this has on international agreements about intellectual property rights,” Yaqub said in a statement.
The U.S. government announced Tuesday that President Donald Trump had struck “an amazing deal” to buy the remdesivir drug for Americans, made by Gilead. The Department of Health and Human Services said Trump has secured 500,000 treatments of the drug through September, representing 100 per cent of Gilead’s July production capacity and 90 per cent of its capacity in August and September.
Also on Wednesday, the U.S. government’s top infectious diseases expert said the country cannot count on the availability of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, and he urged Americans to work together to fight the virus that is surging across large parts of the country.
“It’s extremely important to have safe and effective vaccines available for everyone in this country,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a U.S. Senate committee.
Fauci said, however, that “there is no guarantee … we’ll have a safe and effective vaccine,” and he urged Americans to work together to contain the virus.
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In California, Governor Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that indoor activities at bars, restaurants, movie theaters and other facilities will be banned in most of the state for at least three weeks as COVID-19 infections surge.
Meanwhile, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she was closing indoor seating in bars in parts of the state, including a city with a bar that has been linked to a rising number of infections. Whitmer also signed a bill allowing bars and restaurants to sell to-go cocktails in an effort to help those businesses.
Tokyo confirmed 67 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, marking the highest daily tally in the Japanese capital since the state of emergency was lifted in late May, public broadcaster NHK reported.
Egypt restarted international flights and reopened major tourist attractions, including the Great Pyramids of Giza on Wednesday after more than three months of closure.
The country closed its airports to scheduled international flights and shut famous historical sites in mid-March. That brought the tourist industry to a virtual halt. Visitors were few at Giza on the first day, Reuters witnesses said, adding that they spotted only a handful of people at the normally packed site.
In the Middle East, the Palestinian Authority has announced a five-day total lockdown in the West Bank in response to a major increase in coronavirus cases and deaths in recent days.
The Palestinian government says the lockdown will take effect Friday, and people will be required to shelter at home. A two-month total lockdown of the Palestinian territory was lifted in late May.
In the past two weeks, Palestinian health authorities have reported more than 1,700 confirmed coronavirus cases in the West Bank city of Hebron and hundreds more in Bethlehem and Nablus.
The occupied West Bank has a total of 3,045 confirmed cases and 11 deaths from the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
Italy is still insisting on quarantines for visitors from the 14 countries given the green light by the European Union to visit.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza said Italy was taking the “line of caution” given its battle to contain the outbreak in the onetime epicentre of Europe’s COVID-19 emergency.
The EU said Tuesday it would reopen its borders to travellers from 14 countries — Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.
Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases have surpassed 400,000 and deaths have crossed 10,000 as health officials warn the pandemic is picking up speed on the continent of 1.3 billion people.
The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say confirmed cases are now above 404,000 on the 54-nation continent, while testing capabilities remain low because of shortages of materials.
The new milestones come as some countries loosen their lockdowns and even reopen airports for international flights.
South Africa leads the continent with more than 151,000 confirmed cases. An emerging hot spot is in Gauteng province, containing Johannesburg, with 28 per cent of the country’s cases.
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