India reports 55,000 virus cases, Florida faces hurricane

The major cities of New Delhi and Mumbai might have passed their peaks, a government expert, Randeep Guleria, said. Subways, cinemas and other public facilities are closed until Aug. 31. (File/AFP)
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Updated 02 August 2020

India reports 55,000 virus cases, Florida faces hurricane

  • India’s 54,735 cases were down from the previous day’s record 57,118 but raised the country’s total to 1.75 million

NEW DELHI: India reported nearly 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Sunday and Japan recorded more than 1,500 for a second day while Florida braced for a hurricane that threatened to hamper anti-disease efforts.
India’s 54,735 cases were down from the previous day’s record 57,118 but raised the country’s total to 1.75 million. The month of July accounted for more than 1.1 million of those cases.
The major cities of New Delhi and Mumbai might have passed their peaks, a government expert, Randeep Guleria, said. Subways, cinemas and other public facilities are closed until Aug. 31.
In Japan, the government said all but five of its 1,540 new cases were transmitted domestically. The daily total was close to Friday’s record of 1,579.
The spike in Japanese cases, most of them in their 20s and 30s, prompted warnings young people were letting their guard down. The governor of Tokyo, which has about one-third of the new infections, says she might declare an emergency to contain the outbreak.
Also Sunday, China and South Korea reported more infections but spikes in both countries appeared to be tailing off.
China had 49 new confirmed cases, up from the previous day’s 45. Thirty were in Xinjiang in the northwest, where authorities are trying to contain an outbreak focused on the regional capital, Urumqi.
South Korea reported 30 new cases but said only eight were acquired in the country.
The government warned earlier case numbers would rise as South Koreans came home from the Middle East and other places with outbreaks. Authorities say cases from abroad are less threatening because arrivals are quarantined for two weeks.
On Saturday, the leader of a secretive Korean church was arrested in an investigation into whether the group hampered the anti-virus response after thousands of worshippers were infected in February and March.
Governments worldwide have reported 684,075 deaths and 17.8 million cases, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University.
The United States has the world’s biggest number of cases at 4.6 million, or one-quarter of the total, and 154,361 deaths.
Authorities in Florida reported 179 deaths, raising the state’s total to more than 7,000, as Hurricane Isaias headed for its heavily populated coast.
Authorities closed beaches, parks and virus testing sites. The governor warned residents to expect power outages and said they should have a week’s supply of water and food. Officials wrestled with how to prepare storm shelters while enforcing social distancing to avoid spreading the virus.
The storm was expected to be near the Florida coast early Sunday.
On Saturday, South Africa reported 10,107 new cases, raising its total to 503,290.
That put the country fifth behind the United States, Brazil, Russia and India in total cases, though its population of 58 million is much smaller than theirs.
In Europe, the number of new cases reported in Italy dipped below 300 for the first time.
In Austria, an employee in the chancellery tested positive for the virus but didn’t work directly with Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian Press Agency reported.


Sri Lankan leader appoints Cabinet, state ministers

Updated 13 August 2020

Sri Lankan leader appoints Cabinet, state ministers

  • Spotlight on economy, security as 67 officials take oath in palace ceremony

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa administered the oath of office to 28 new Cabinet ministers and 39 state ministers on Wednesday during a swearing-in ceremony at the Kandy Royal Palace, a week after the Aug. 5 general elections.

“The Cabinet has been formed in a pragmatic and a realistic manner to implement the national program. Special attention was paid to national security, economic development, infrastructure, education, health and sports,” a Presidential Secretariat statement said.

While President Rajapaksa retained the defense portfolio, his brother, Namal Rajapaksa — the 34-year-old son of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa — was named minister for youth and sports.

Several senior politicians, including former president Maithripala Sirisena, were left out of the new Cabinet.

The ninth parliament is set to meet on Aug. 20.

Only two members from minority communities, Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda and Justice Minister Ali Sabry, were appointed from the Tamil and Muslim communities, respectively.

“I’m delighted to get this portfolio in recognition of my services to the nation, particularly to the legal field,” Sabry said.

He is the second Muslim justice minister to assume office after Rauff Hakeem of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress.

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party, led by PM Rajapaksa, polled 6,853,690, or 59 percent of votes, and secured a total of 145 seats in parliament, including 17 of the National List seats.

Sabry said government efforts to limit the coronavirus pandemic had “impressed the nation enough to vote them into power.”

Lawyer Razik Zarook said: “It’s a great victory for the Muslim community. The era of mistrust and suspicion is over, and the foundation is laid to build the bridges of friendship and amity.”

However, international political lobbyist Muheed Jeeran told Arab News that though the Cabinet is promising, it is “full of confusion.”

“Sabry’s appointment has disappointed the nationalist group who want to implement one nation, one law,” he said.

“But it is a joyful moment for Muslims who supported the SLPP. However, it will be difficult for Sabry as justice minister. Will he become the wooden handle of the axe to chop the tree of traditional Muslim laws as per the nationalist agenda, or will he stand for Muslim rights?”