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Boris Johnson says COVID-19 has been a disaster for Britain

Chinese authorities have imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people in a county near Beijing in the latest effort by the government to stamp out a small but stubborn second wave of infections in and around the capital.

Authorities in Anxin County, about 90 miles south of Beijing in the central province of Hebei, said Saturday that all residential areas would be sealed off immediately. In restrictions reminiscent of those that were imposed earlier this year in Wuhan, the city where the virus first emerged, only one member from each family is allowed to leave the compound to buy essential items like food or medicine, officials said.

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Sealing off the county was a necessary preventive measure following the discovery of a cluster of 13 infections in the area, officials said. State media said that most of the cases in Anxin have been traced back to the Xinfadi wholesale market in Beijing, which is thought to be the source of an outbreak that has infected more than 300 people in recent weeks.

The fresh wave of infections has been a wake-up call for China, which had earlier proclaimed victory over the virus. Before the recent outbreak, Beijing had not registered any new locally acquired cases for 56 days.

Not long after the flare-up, schools in Beijing were shut down and high-risk neighborhoods sealed off, and officials embarked on an ambitious testing drive. State media reported that as of Sunday, more than 7 million people had been tested in the city. On Monday, China reported 12 new cases of the virus, seven of which were in Beijing.

New York Times

Johnson says pandemic has been a ‘disaster’ for the UK

LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson acknowledged Monday that the coronavirus pandemic has been a “disaster” for Britain, as he announced a spending splurge designed to get the country — and his faltering Conservative government — back on track.

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As the United Kingdom emerges from a three-month lockdown, Johnson has lined up big-money pledges on schools, housing, and infrastructure, in an attempt to move on from an outbreak that has left more than 43,000 Britons dead — the worst confirmed death toll in Europe.

“This has been a disaster,” Johnson acknowledged Monday. “Let’s not mince our words. I mean, this has been an absolute nightmare for the country and the country’s gone through a profound shock.

“But in those moments, you have the opportunity to change and to do things better,” he told Times Radio. “This is a moment now to give our country the skills, the infrastructure, the long-term investment that we need.”

Johnson promised a “Rooseveltian approach,” invoking the New Deal policies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt that helped wrench the United States out of the Great Depression. Johnson’s first announcement was $1.25 billion to build new schools. The British leader plans to unveil a series of other infrastructure projects this week.

Johnson won a large majority in Parliament in December with a promise to rebalance Britain’s London-dominated economy and revive the long-neglected former industrial regions of central and northern England.

Associated Press

Slovenia officials cut limits on public gatherings

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — Slovenia is slashing the number of people in public gatherings from 500 to 50 after several cases of coronavirus emerged apparently as a result of social encounters.

Government spokesman Jelko Kacin said Monday the decision will be formally made later in the day. He said bigger events will need special permits and must guarantee they will meet social distancing rules with the seating arrangements and other facilities.

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Slovenia has confirmed 64 new cases in the past seven days after having none or one or two cases days for weeks. The European Union nation of 2 million people has had 111 deaths linked to the virus.

Associated Press

Face masks mandatory in Serbia’s closed spaces

BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia’s authorities have made wearing face masks mandatory in all closed spaces in the capital, Belgrade, following a rise in coronavirus cases.

The crisis team on Monday said that visitors to shopping malls, cafes, restaurants, night clubs, beauty parlors, gyms and other places must wear protective masks all the time or face fines.

Throughout the Balkan country, several towns have declared emergency measures in a bid to contain the renewed surge. The country on Monday reported 242 new cases and said four people died in 24 hours.

Serbia has seen a spike in the number of infections after moving from very strict lockdown rules to a near-total relaxation.

Several officials also have tested positive, including the defense minister and the parliament speaker. The country held a parliamentary election on June 21.

Associated Press

India ramps up lockdowns amid jump in new cases

NEW DELHI — India on Monday reported nearly 20,000 new coronavirus infections, a new record for the country, as several states reimpose partial or full lockdowns to stem the spread of the virus.

India has seen a jump of nearly 100,000 cases over the past week, the health ministry said. In all, the country has confirmed 548,318 cases, making it the world’s fourth-worst affected country after the United States, Brazil, and Russia. India’s death toll has reached 16,475.

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The capital district of the northeastern state of Assam on the Bangladesh border has reimposed a full lockdown until July 12 following a spike in cases. Another border state, West Bengal, has extended its lockdown until July 31.

However, in India’s worst-affected states — Maharashtra, which includes India’s financial capital, Mumbai, and Delhi, home to the capital, New Delhi — most lockdown restrictions have been eased, with restaurants, shopping malls, and parks reopened, and public buses and shared-ride services back on the roads.

Associated Press

South Korea officials ponder stronger social measures

SEOUL — South Korea has reported 42 new infections of COVID-19 as infections steadily climb in the greater capital area, forcing authorities to consider stronger social restrictions. The figures revealed by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Monday brought the national caseload to 12,757, including 282 deaths. Twenty-four of the new cases were reported from capital Seoul and nearby metropolitan areas, which have been at the center of a virus resurgence since late May. At least 12 of the new cases were linked to international arrivals as the virus continues to strengthen its hold in southern Asia, the United States, and beyond.

South Korea was reporting hundreds of new cases a day in late February and early March following a major surge surrounding the southeast city of Daegu, where the majority of infections were linked to a single church congregation with thousands of members.

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But while health authorities had used aggressive testing and contact tracing to contain the outbreak in that region, they are having a much harder time tracking recent transmissions in the Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of the country’s 51 million people live.

Associated Press