Germany mass-testing at airports, Portugal unemployment soars: COVID-19 daily bulletin
Updated 01:57, 30-Jul-2020
Arij Limam and Katherine Berjikian


- Germany has announced new rules for free, mandatory coronavirus tests at airports for holidaymakers returning from high-risk countries, set to come into effect next week. Berlin's Tegel airport has today begun large-scale coronavirus testing.

- Anglo-German travel agency, TUI UK has canceled holidays to the Spanish Balearic and Canary Islands until 4 August, after Britain advised against travel there, acting on advice that has dashed Spain's hopes of reviving its ailing tourism industry.

- Portugal's unemployment rate rose to 7 percent in June, from a revised 5.9 percent in May, as tens of thousands of jobs were wiped out amid the pandemic, official data have shown.

- More than a million people lost their jobs in Spain over the past three months, raising the unemployment rate to 15.3 percent, from 14.4 percent, according to the National Statistics Institute.

- Russia's first potential COVID-19 vaccine will win local regulatory approval in the first half of August and be administered to front-line health workers soon afterwards, according to Reuters.

- The European Union has agreed to buy a limited supply of the COVID-19 medicine remdesivir from U.S. drug maker Gilead to treat about 30,000 patients for 63 million euros ($74 million). The EU Commission said this will address the short-term needs of European patients and it hopes to be able to order more later.

- A major UK trial looking at whether some existing drugs may be used to treat COVID-19 is to continue testing Roche's arthritis drug Actemra, also known as tocilizumab, despite separate trial results on Wednesday showing it had no benefit.

- Italy's parliament has given the go-ahead to extend the country's state of emergency until 15 October, allowing the government more flexibility to fight the lingering coronavirus pandemic.

- Belgium's football season will be held behind closed doors to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Saturday's Belgian Cup Final will be the first football match in the country since the season was suspended in May.

- London's Heathrow Airport, one of the largest in Europe, has asked the UK government to test tourists for the coronavirus instead of a mandatory two-week quarantine.




Ross Cullen in Paris

The number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in France. Brittany has 75 new cases and the Mayenne region, which is close to 1,000 confirmed cases, remains in a situation of "extreme vulnerability."

On Wednesday, the French government announced that its furlough scheme will be extended until December for workers in the tourism sector, according to the minister with responsibility for the sector.

Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne defended France's response to the crisis in the tourism industry, saying financial support has resulted in "nearly $10.5 billion in guaranteed loans by the state to hotels and restaurants."

Separately, President Emmanuel Macron urged ministers "to relax on holiday but keep it simple."

Ahead of the final cabinet meeting before the summer break, Macron recommended that ministers stay in France for their vacations and promote the local economy.


Toni Waterman in Brussels

Belgium's tighter coronavirus measures take effect on Wednesday, as the country tries to beat back a surge in new infections.

From today, households are allowed to interact with just five other people – a sharp reduction from the previous 15-person limit.

The size of private gatherings – such as weddings, parties and banquets – have been cut from 50 people to 10, while public events have been set at a maximum of 100 participants indoors and 200 outdoors.

Everyone will have to wear a face mask.  

The new measures kick in as the number of cases continues to climb in Belgium, with an average of 327.7 infections per day over the past week.

That's a 70 percent increase from the previous week.

The government is hoping the tighter restrictions will help stave off another lockdown.




Iolo ap Dafydd in London

The UK government commissioned a review into healthy eating in Britain and recommends more free meals be given in English schools.

The National Food Strategy warns that the country's eating habits are a "slow-motion disaster."

And to maintain equality and opportunity for all children, the report says an extra 1.5 million should receive free meals.

Dealing with the coronavirus is leading to the reassessment of several strategies.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed he fears a second wave of the pandemic could start in Europe within a fortnight.

An anonymous official is quoted as saying Johnson is "extremely concerned" by outbreaks "bubbling up," both at home and abroad.

Some UK media outlets claim there has been a 28 percent increase in coronavirus cases in July – further undermining confidence in how the UK government has been dealing with the pandemic.


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed that his recent experience with COVID-19 inspired the government's new National Food Strategy. /AFP/ Rui Vieira/

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed that his recent experience with COVID-19 inspired the government's new National Food Strategy. /AFP/ Rui Vieira/


Rahul Pathak in Madrid

From Thursday, Madrid residents will have to wear face masks in all public spaces, regardless of whether or not social distancing can be practiced. 

The announcement was made by the regional president Isabel Diaz Ayuso. 

It means the Canary Islands are now the only one of Spain's 17 autonomous regions not to require the use of masks at all times.  

Public gatherings in the capital will now be limited to 10 people, with all bars and nightclubs having to close at 1:30 a.m.

Ayuso said the new measures were being instigated in an effort to avoid a return of confinement measures, which have been introduced in other parts of the country following a recent surge in COVID-19 cases.


Natalie Carney and Lucy Hough in Germany

Germany's Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control is concerned about the rapid rise of coronavirus numbers in the country.

There have been 684 new cases over the past 24 hours.

The head of the institute, Lothar Wieler, told reporters on Tuesday that "it's in our hands how the pandemic evolves in Germany."

Both the RKI and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have reiterated the need for citizens to keep their distance and wear face masks as fears mount that a second wave of the pandemic is coming.

Over the past seven days, Germany has recorded 3,611 new cases amid concern of a fresh wave of the pandemic as cross-border travel in Europe resumes.

Germany has updated its travel advice, recommending against three high-risk areas of Spain.

Meanwhile, 257 residents of a state reception center for asylum seekers in central Germany have been quarantined after the virus was found in a newly arrived couple. 

And test results of seasonal workers in Bavaria, where 176 people had tested positive, forcing 500 employees to be quarantined, have come back mostly negative.

Ten results are still pending.

Germany has so far recorded 206,242 cases and 9,122 deaths.



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