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Singapore virus infections surge


Singapore’s coronavirus infections have surged past 20,000 as more foreign workers living in crowded dormitories were diagnosed.

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The city-state reported 788 new cases on Wednesday for a total of 20,198, the third highest in Asia after China and India.

Foreign workers living in dorms accounted for nearly 90 per cent of the cases.

Officials say the upsurge among foreign workers was expected amid ongoing virus testing at dozens of dorms that have been locked down.

Singapore will allow selected businesses to operate on May 12 in a gradual roll back of a two-month lockdown that is expected to end June 1.

Britain’s virus death toll passes 30,000

Britain’s COVID-19 death toll has risen by 649 to 30,076, according to figures announced by the government.

The figures released on Wednesday reflect deaths in all settings following positive tests for coronavirus, cover the period up to Tuesday afternoon.

The UK has become the second country to record more than 30,000 deaths as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The UK stands only behind the United States, which has more than 71,000 coronavirus-related deaths.

In Italy, another 369 deaths were recorded overnight, taking the total to 29,684 – the world’s third highest figure.

The most recent deaths had climbed from 236 the day before, while the daily tally of new infections also rose by 1444 compared with 1075  the previous day, with 214,457 confirmed infections.

There were 1333 people currently in intensive care in Italy’s hospitals, down from 1427 the day before.

France’s death toll climbed by 278 overnight to 25,809, just 8 fewer than Spain, which had its own virus toll rise by 204 or 0.8 per cent to 25,817.

The French health ministry said in a statement the number of people in intensive care units fell by 283 or 8.3 per cent to 3147 in the biggest daily fall in four continuous weeks of declines.

The number of people in ICU – a key measure of a health system’s ability to deal with the epidemic – is now well below half the peak of 7148 recorded on April 8.

The number of people in hospital with coronavirus also fell again to 23,983 from 25,775, also continuing an uninterrupted three-week fall.

Bangladesh police arrest cartoonist and writer over virus

Police in Bangladesh have arrested a cartoonist and a writer for allegedly spreading social media rumours about the coronavirus pandemic.

Nine more people were also charged under the controversial digital security act that activists say was being used to create creating a “climate of fear” and suppress public discontent about the government’s handling of the pandemic in the country that has reported 11,719 virus cases and 186 deaths so far.

“They were posting on Facebook about our Father of Nation, liberation war and spreading rumours over coronavirus pandemic. They had been damaging the image of the country and the government and were creating confusion among the people over the pandemic,” Monirul Islam, the officer-in-charge of Ramna police station in Dhaka, told EFE.

Islam said security forces arrested cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore and writer Mushtaq Ahmed on Tuesday.

Police said the duo have linked with other accused, including Sweden-based Bangladeshi journalist Tasneem Khalil and Germany-based blogger Asif Mohiuddin, for a campaign against the government.

Rights activists said the arrests and the charges against the individuals under the digital security act were an attempt to suppress the criticism of the government.

“Those who wrote against this theft, corruption, in media or social media, those who are vocal about public discontent, we have seen in many areas of the country many of them were sued under the digital security act. By doing so, the state is trying to create a climate of fear to suppress the public discontent,” prominent Bangladeshi human rights activist Nur Khan Liton said.

Bangladesh approved the controversial law in September 2018, which penalises “negative propaganda” against Bangladesh’s liberation war or former-president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of prime minister Sheikh Hasina.

-with AAP

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