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COVID-19: UK braced for anti-lockdown protests as WHO warns 2m could die

London’s Metropolitan Police warned those planning to protest against new lockdown measures to stem the coronavirus pandemic on Saturday that it would not tolerate violence and hostility towards police officers or members of the public.

In a statement, the Met acknowledged that protests are exempt from the “rule of six” – which forbids gatherings of more than six people – but warned that social distancing must be followed.

The protests are due to take place in London’s Trafalgar Square and Hyde Park today.

“I know there is great frustration to these regulations, but they have been designed to keep everyone safe from what is a lethal virus. By flagrantly gathering in large numbers and ignoring social distancing, you are putting your health and the health of your loved ones at risk,” said Commander Ade Adelekan, who is leading the Met operation.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he “recognise[d] the burden and impact these additional measures have on our daily lives but we must act collectively and quickly to bring down infections.”

It comes after Madrid, Moscow, Wales and Israel announced new health measures on Friday in the face of the coronavirus epidemic, which continues to accelerate in Europe and could kill two million people worldwide according to the WHO.

The Madrid region, the epicentre of the pandemic in Spain, is preparing to extend the restrictions already in place to new areas. From Monday, around 167,000 additional residents will only be able to leave their neighbourhood for specific reasons: to go to work, to go to the doctor or to take their children to school.

In total, just over a million people, out of a total of 6.6 million, are now subject to these new restrictions in the Madrid region. These measures were, however, deemed insufficient by the Spanish government, which called for them to be extended to the entire capital.

In the United Kingdom, the most bereaved country in Europe with nearly 42,000 dead, nearly half of Wales, including the capital Cardiff, will be subject to local containment.

Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Getting announced on Friday that from 6 p.m. Sunday, it would be banned from entering or leaving the cities of Cardiff and Swansea without valid reason, such as work or school. The same provisions will come into force the day before in Llanelli.

Meanwhile, in Australia, the health minister of Victoria has resigned in the fallout from an inquiry into why security guards were used instead of police or the military at quarantine hotels. Lapses in security at the hotels were given as the major reason for a second wave of COVID-19 cases.

Victoria reported just one more coronavirus death as Melbourne’s new case average continued to fall. The death took the state toll to 782 and the national figure to 870. There were 12 new cases, while Melbourne’s 14-day average fell again on Saturday to 23.6.

Melburnians, who have been in lockdown for more than a month, are waiting for the easing of restrictions on Monday. It’s expected to include a staged return to school for some students and outdoor gatherings of five people from two households.

Asia

Confirmed coronavirus infections in the Philippines have soared past 300,000, the latest bleak milestone in a country which has gradually reopened its battered economy despite having the highest number of cases in Southeast Asia.

The Department of Health on Saturday reported a daily tally of 2,747 new and recent infections, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to 301,256, with 5,284 deaths.

Officials have tried to ease alarm by highlighting the massive number of COVID-19 recoveries, but critics say the outbreaks remain uncontrolled and coronavirus cases may be undercounted despite an increase in testing capacity in recent months.

President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration have walked a tightrope in reviving the battered economy and containing infections. The government said the central city of Iloilo was placed under a mild lockdown Friday for two weeks due to infection spikes but at the same time announced that the popular Boracay island beach resort in a nearby region would be opened to more local tourists.

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