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A medical worker in protective gear checks a temperature of a woman at a temporary coronavirus testing station in Seoul.

Cases rise in new Beijing outbreak: Global virus update

A medical worker in protective gear checks a temperature of a woman at a temporary coronavirus testing station in Seoul.

Key Developments:

Cases Rise in New Beijing Outbreak

The city reported 25 new confirmed coronavirus infections June 18, bringing the total cases in its new virus outbreak to at least 183, according to data from the National Health Commission.

China reported a total of 32 additional coronavirus infections for the day, including inbound cases, two local in Hebei province, and one in Liaoning province.

UK Pharmacies Investigated Over Hand-Sanitiser Pricing

Britain’s competition regulator is investigating four UK pharmacies and convenience stores for alleged price-gouging of hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 pandemic. The investigation is at an early stage and the businesses under scrutiny haven’t been sent a statement of objections at this point, the Competition and Markets Authority said in a statement Friday. The regulator didn’t name the shops or give their location.

Virus Hit on Indonesia Worse Than Financial Crisis, Jokowi Says

The coronavirus pandemic has hit Indonesia harder than the Asian financial crisis more than two decades ago, as the outbreak has spared no sectors of the economy, according to President Joko Widodo. While damage from the financial crisis in 1998 was largely limited to Indonesia’s banking sector and large conglomerates, the pandemic has battered small and big businesses alike, Jokowi, as the president is commonly known, said in a statement.

UK Lowers Alert Level as Virus Transmission Reduced

The UK lowered its COVID-19 alert level by one rank to Level 3, reflecting the fact the coronavirus is no longer spreading exponentially in the community after almost three months of lockdown. According to government guidance, the new level allows for some relaxation of social-distancing measures — something that had already been happening with the opening of non-essential shops this week.

UN World Food Programme Needs $787 Million in Funding

The United Nations World Food Programme needs funding to maintain its humanitarian air services or it will have to ground its air fleet by the end of July. “With the pandemic showing no signs of abating it is crucial that the response doesn’t stop now when it is needed most,” WFP spokeswoman Elizabeth Byrs said Friday. “All this medical equipment is badly needed. It would be a very bad situation if vulnerable people don’t get this assistance,” Byrs said.

European Governments Working With US on WHO Overhaul, Reuters Says

UK, France, Germany and Italy have discussed reforms for the World Health Organization with the US at the technical level, Reuters reports, citing an unidentified European country health official.

Italy Had Coronavirus in Sewage as Early as December, Study Says

The coronavirus was present in Milan and Turin’s sewage systems as early as December, two months before the first COVID-19 cases were detected in Italy, a new study shows. “Traces of SARS-Cov-2 have been found in samples of waste water taken in Milan and Turin on Dec. 18 and in Bologna on Jan. 29,” said Giuseppina La Rosa, who led the research for a coming study from the country’s ISS National Health Institute. “More traces were detected in other test samples through January and February.”

Tokyo Finds 35 Cases, to End Its Alert System, NTV Says

Tokyo found 35 cases of coronavirus Friday, 11 of which are associated with nightlife districts, NTV reports, citing an unidentified person. Tokyo has effectively lifted all its restrictions on business, allowing bars and restaurants to open all night. The so-called “Tokyo Alert” system that was introduced to urge its residents to raise vigilance against the virus will be terminated today.

Russia’s Daily Cases Stay Below 8,000 for a Third Day

Russia reports 7,972 new confirmed coronavirus infections over the past day, raising the total to 569,063, according to data from the government’s virus response center.

Hungary Reports First Day Without Coronavirus Deaths Since April

Hungary recorded no coronavirus-related deaths for the first time since April 25, according to a daily count on a government website. Since the pandemic reached the country, Hungary has reported 568 deaths related to COVID-19 and 4,081 confirmed cases. Active cases, which don’t include those who’ve recovered from the virus, fell to 932 by Friday.

China Agrees Little Risk for Virus to Transmit Via Food Trade

China agreed with the World Health Organization that there is “very little” risk for the coronavirus to be transmitted by food, Song Yueqian, a customs administration officlal, said at a briefing. Samples taken from food imports this month all tested negative.

UK Retail Sales Rebound 12% in May as Lockdown Eases

UK retail sales started to recover last month from their slump during the coronavirus lockdown. Sales including auto fuel gained 12% in May from April, the Office for National Statistics said Friday. Sales excluding fuel rebounded 10.2%. Household goods stores saw a 42% jump.

Thailand Has Five New Coronavirus Cases

The Southeast Asian nation reported five new cases Friday, all from state quarantine, bringing its total to 3,146. All five cases were returnees from Saudi Arabia and showed no symptoms while no new deaths were reported.

Pakistan Adds Nearly 5,000 New Cases

The country added 4,944 infections in 24 hours, bringing its total to 165,062. The health ministry also reported that its total number of deaths from the virus stood at 3,229.

Pakistan is becoming a virus hot spot in South Asia. The nation is understating its rate of infections and death toll, Atta ur Rahman, chairman of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s task force on science and technology, said this week.

Virus Expert Says Beijing Shouldn’t Loosen Controls

China’s top virus expert Wu Zunyou said Beijing shouldn’t loosen coronavirus controls, despite his comment that the new outbreak has been contained and the peak has passed.

The capital city should only loosen restrictions after witnessing no new cases for two consecutive weeks, Wu, chief epidemiologist at China’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an interview with China Central Television.

American Removes Passenger in Mask Face-Off

American Airlines Group Inc. removed a passenger who refused to wear a face covering and banned him from taking flights in the future, after U.S. carriers pledged to boost enforcement of mask use. The man, Brandon Straka, won’t be allowed to fly on the airline until face coverings are no longer required, the company said. Straka, a conservative activist with about 400,000 followers on Twitter, posted a video saying he had been kicked off the flight for not wearing a mask and accused American’s employees of intimidating him.

Japan, Vietnam Agree on Staged Easing of Travel Restrictions

Japan agreed with Vietnam to work toward a staged easing of travel restrictions between the countries, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said. The move followed a June 1 telephone call between the two foreign ministers, and specific measures and procedures to be discussed going forward through diplomatic channels.