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Thousands turn out in Belarus for VE Day parade despite pandemic

Thousands of people, including elderly veterans of the second world war, have turned out for Belarus’s Victory Day military parade despite the coronavirus epidemic.

Images from the parade showed crowds packed on to parade bleachers as the country’s leader, Alexander Lukashenko, boasted of holding the only parade in the former Soviet Union to mark the defeat of Nazi Germany. It came as Russia and other countries cancelled theirs and moved many of the celebrations online.

But one Belarusian journalist expressed concern at the higher-risk attendees at the parade. Meanwhile, the BBC’s Moscow correspondent, Sarah Rainsford, questioned: “The country suffered massive losses in WWII, there’s a lot to commemorate. But in a pandemic?”

Russia hit by 10,000 new cases as total infections near 200,000

Russia has been hit with more than 10,000 new Covid-19 cases in the last day, as the country approaches nearly 200,000 confirmed infections with lockdown measures continuing.

 

The country’s coronavirus taskforce confirmed 104 people had died overnight, bringing the nation’s coronavirus death toll to 1,827.

On Saturday, the total number of confirmed cases in Russia reached 198,676 after 10,817 new infections were recorded. It is a slightly higher rise than the previous day, when there were 10,699 new cases. Russia’s coronavirus cases overtook France and Germany this week to become the fifth highest in the world.

China offers support to North Korea to tackle virus

President Xi Jinping has offered the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, support in tackling the coronavirus, state media said on Saturday.

Xi said he was concerned about the situation in North Korea and the health of its people, and said he was pleased that its efforts to control the respiratory illness had achieved positive results, state television said.

Meanwhile, China is set to reform its disease prevention and control system, a senior health official has confirmed, after mounting criticism that the country was initially slow to react to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Football returns … in the Faroe Islands

As debates rage in other countries about the return of professional football, games will be played on the Faroe Islands on Saturday for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak.

The north Atlantic archipelago, located 370 miles north of Scotland with a population of just 50,000, will provide some much-needed respite to football fans when games restart in the country’s 10-team top flight.

Normally, matches in the country’s league are watched by fewer than 1,000 fans in the terraces but now, given the lack of football elsewhere, TV audiences will be tuning in from Norway and Denmark for the first game, which is being held behind closed doors.

 

Spain’s daily Covid-19 death toll continues to drop

Spain’s daily Covid-19 death toll is continuing to fall, with 179 new fatalities reported on Saturday, down from 229 the previous day.

Overall deaths rose to 26,478, from 26,299 on Friday, with the number of confirmed coronavirus cases rising to 223,578 from 222,857 the day before, the country’s health ministry said.

Elsewhere, Slovakia recorded no new cases of coronavirus on Friday for the first time since 10 March. The country of 5.5 million has had fewer cases and deaths than neighbouring nations, with cases totalling 1,455 and 26 people dying after contracting the disease.

 

New state powers in Egypt to combat outbreak condemned by rights group

Egypt’s president, Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi, on Saturday approved amendments to the country’s state of emergency that grant him and security agencies additional powers, which the government claims are needed to combat the outbreak, Associated Press reports.

But an international rights group condemned the amendments, saying the government has used the global pandemic to expand, not reform, Egypt’s emergency law.

The new amendments allow the president to take measures to contain the virus, such as suspending classes at schools and universities and quarantining those returning from abroad. But they also include expanded powers to ban public and private meetings, protests, celebrations and other forms of assembly.

Indonesia records biggest daily increase in coronavirus infections

Indonesia has reported its biggest daily increase in infections, with 533 new confirmed cases, taking the total to 13,645.

But with Indonesia’s low testing rate criticised by medical experts, the number of infections in the country – which has the fourth biggest population in the world – is feared to be far higher than official figures show.

Achmad Yurianto, a health ministry official, said 16 more people had died from the disease, taking the total to 959, while 2,607 had recovered. Nearly 108,700 people had been tested as of Saturday, he added, and he urged Indonesians to continue obeying stay-at-home orders.

 

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