US will not be on EU’s travel ‘safe list’
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UK front pages, Tuesday 30 June 2020
The president of Afghanistan has ordered a probe into alleged corruption surrounding Covid-19 funds, while the number of confirmed deaths from the virus has risen by 12 to a total of 745. It was also revealed that the Taliban have carried out at least 44 attacks each day since February.
President Ashraf Ghani warned officials that any corruption and negligence in the handling of the outbreak response budget will be dealt with accordingly, and ordered an investigation.
“The presidential palace inspector should assess all accusations and allegations of corruption in the coronavirus response budget spending and inform the people about the details of the expenses,” the presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said.
The health ministry detected 279 new Covid-19 infections from 769 tests on Tuesday, taking the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 31,517. The war-torn country, which has admitted it has a lack of testing capacity, has tested 72,318 suspected patients since the outbreak began. The number of recoveries stands at 14,036.
The health ministry spokesman, Akmal Samsour, said Monday that the actual number of infections is higher than what the ministry has reported, as “only patients with severe symptoms go to medical centres, so the actual number may be something between 150,000 and 1.5m”.
Most new cases were confirmed in the central province of Ghor, after 65 tests from 95 came back positive. Ghor recorded its second death from Covid-19 overnight. The capital, Kabul, which has been the country’s worst affected area, reported 41 new cases and three deaths.
Meanwhile, the Taliban has carried out at least 44 daily attacks since February, according to the country’s national security council. “On average, the Taliban has carried out 44 attacks and killed or wounded 24 civilians every day in Afghanistan since the 22 February reduction in violence week,” said Javid Faisal, the council’s spokesman. “The success of the Doha deal and peace in Afghanistan requires an immediate reduction in violence and the start of direct talks.”
At least 23 civilians were killed in Helmand and dozens were wounded when mortars hit a cattle market on Monday. Twenty-one patients have lost their lives to Covid-19 since the outbreak began in Helmand.
The warring sides blamed each other for the attack on the open-air weekly cattle market in Sangin district, where hundreds of villagers from neighbouring districts had gathered to trade sheep and goats. The district is mostly under Taliban control.
At least six civilians, including women and children, were killed in the province on Sunday afternoon when their vehicle was hit by a roadside mine. Two civilians also were killed this morning when their vehicle was hit by such a mine. Save the Children condemned the deaths of children in Helmand and asked for the war on children to stop.
Milan Dinic, country director for Save the Children in Afghanistan said in a statement: “These past few months have been some of the deadliest in recent times, with a spike in the numbers of attacks that involved civilians. At a time in which the country should be focusing on the Covid-19 outbreak and the devastating effects it has on millions, the extreme violence hampers the possibility for people to get support and children to have access to education and other services.”
US will not be on EU’s travel ‘safe list’
Over in Greece there is mounting concern over the rising number of “imported” coronavirus cases ahead of the Mediterranean country opening to holidaymakers tomorrow.
For a nation so reliant on tourism the fact that its archipelago of islands has remained so Covid-free has been crucial to projecting an image of safety and security. But since Greece reopened its main airports in Athens and Thessaloniki on 15 June, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has crept up.
Tellingly, almost a third of the 110 new infections logged by authorities over the last week were travellers from abroad. Six of those reported were on Syros, Ios and Paros – all popular islands. On Monday, three of the 15 new cases registered by health officials had arrived from overseas.
This morning, media on Zakynthos reported that seven people had now contracted the virus – the latest described as a man admitted to the local hospital on Sunday with a high fever after recently returning from Germany.
Most tourists who have thus far been detected with the virus are asymptomatic, adding to the concerns of epidemiologists. “The big problem is that the virus is transmitted via individuals who are asymptomatic or have few symptoms,” said professor Nikolaos Sypsas, a member of the scientific committee that advises the government. “The problem of dispersal via asymptomatic people remains a very big risk.”
The country’s civil protection ministry says health officials with the armed forces will be dispatched to islands to conduct tests on arriving passengers over the next three months. “They will have absolute responsibility,” said the deputy civil protection minister Nikos Hardalias as he toured regional airports in advance of direct flights to destinations being resumed nationwide on Wednesday.
At the weekend Athens’ centre-right government announced that, 48 hours prior to arrival, anyone entering Greece would have to fill out an electronic form, stating personal details and where they had travelled to in recent weeks. With the aid of special software, the input will then be weighed up by health authorities – a form of ‘smart testing’ that is hoped will help identify possible coronavirus carriers.
To date Greece has had 3,390 confirmed coronavirus cases and 191 covid-related fatalities – far lower than most other European countries. Fears of the highly contagious virus being imported played a central role in the government deciding to continue its suspensions of air links with the UK and Sweden on Monday.