Coronavirus: Italy starts testing arrivals from at-risk nations

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Travellers arriving to Rome from at-risk nations received tests for Covid-19 on Sunday amid worries of a second wave of coronavirus cases across the country and Europe.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza also signed a decree to make wearing masks mandatory from 6pm to 6am in public areas where "formation of groups" occurs. The new decree also stopped outdoor discotheques and nightclubs from operating.

Holidaymakers arriving at Leonardo da Vinci airport in Italy's capital were given the choice of being tested immediately or taking a test within 48 hours of arrival at a local public health office close to where they stay.

The mandatory checks were put in place by the country’s health ministry for individuals arriving from Croatia, Greece, Malta or Spain under an order issued by the health minister last week.

The changes come amid fears that travellers from abroad are fuelling an increase in new coronavirus infections in Italy in recent weeks. On Saturday, the daily number of new infections topped 600 for the first time since May.

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Coronavirus around the world

Workers move beds as they demolish installations at Wuhan's first makeshift hospital built to treat patients infected by Covid-19 in China's central Hubei province. AFP

Workers demolish installations at Wuhan's first makeshift hospital built to treat patients infected by Covid-19 in China's central Hubei province. AFP

Residents of the rural community of Yura, close to the city of Arequipa in southern Peru, participate in the burial of their mayor Angel Benavente, who died after contracting Covid-19, with an outdoor mass and an animated funeral possession. AFP

People stroll down Bordeaux's main shopping street Sainte-Catherine, where wearing a mask is compulsory to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The fine for non-compliance with wearing a mask is 135 euros. AFP

Tourists enjoy a visit to the Christ The Redeemer statue, at the Corcovado Hill, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, during the reopening day of touristic attractions in the city amid the pandemic. AFP

Frontline workers hold Indian national flags as part of the Independence Day celebrations in Kolkata. AFP

Aymara indigenous people attend a rally demanding Bolivia's President Jeanine Anez's resignation, amid the coronavirus pandemic, in El Alto, on the outskirts of La Paz. Reuters

A man wearing protective masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walks back home from work in Germiston, near Johannesburg, South Africa. AP Photo

LAB24 team members conduct Covid-19 tests at the Mexican Consulate's parking lot in Miami, Florida, USA. EPA

A traveler reacts next to a TUI travel company stand at Palma de Mallorca's Airport in Palma, Balearic Islands, Spain. TUI canceled all its flights to Spain, including Balearic Islands and excepting Canary Islands, after a recommendation from the German government. EPA

People watch a drive-in music concert amid the coronavirus pandemic in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. Bali has reopened to domestic tourists and the government has hinted at the possibility of opening to international travelers in September. EPA

A man checks his smartphone while sitting inside a shopping mall in Hanoi. AFP

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In France, authorities also recorded their highest one-day rise in virus infections since May. The country reported 3,310 new infections in a single day Saturday, and the rate of positive tests has been growing and is now at 2.6 per cent.

The daily case count was down to several hundred a day for two months, but started rising again in July.

The rise has been blamed on family weddings across the country. However, France still plans to reopen schools nationwide in two weeks.

The French government is also determined to avoid a new nationwide lockdown that would further hobble the economy and threaten jobs.

As such, the government is pushing for wider use of face masks and tighter protections for migrant workers and in slaughterhouses.

In Germany, authorities in the southern state of Bavaria said on Sunday they still have not been able to contact 46 of more than 900 people who tested positive for the coronavirus upon entering Germany recently but did not receive the test results.

The bureaucratic breakdown led to an uproar in the country, which has handled the coronavirus relatively successfully, over concerns that those who tested positive but were not aware of it could spread the virus to others.

In Britain, where the government has recorded the highest death toll in Europe during the outbreak and the most severe economic contraction of any major economy so far, the government announced the creation of a new National Institute for Health Protection.

The new body will replace Public Health England Agency, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

The institute is to be modelled on Germany's Robert Koch Institute and will join Public Health England’s pandemic response capacity with the NHS’s contact tracing operation.

In Belgium, which is battling one of the most serious coronavirus outbreaks in Europe, more than 200 people demonstrated in Brussels on Sunday after the regional government made wearing face masks mandatory in public.

The regulation that took effect on Wednesday applies to 1.2 million people living in the Brussels region.

Many of the protesters did not wear masks, but carried placards saying "Corona circus" or "It's my body, it's my choice".

"It is not the virologists and doctors who are going to dictate the rules in our country," a protester who gave his name only as Michel told AFP. "We are being treated as children."

Updated: August 16, 2020 10:10 PM

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