COVID-19: Serbia arrests 71 in protest over handling of pandemic

COVID-19. Image: CDC

July 12 (UPI) — Serbian police said they’ve arrested 71 people involved in protests over the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Protesters began taking to the streets Tuesday after President Aleksandar Vučić announced that Belgrade would be placed on a weekend curfew to curb COVID-19 spread. Vučić also declared that more than 2 million people will need to be vaccinated before the fall to prepare for a second wave of the virus.

The protests quickly morphed into a wider movement against Vučić’s alleged mismanagement of the pandemic despite his decision to suspend a second shutdown. Protesters said they were angry about government steps, such as proceeding with the general election last week, restarting large sport events and reopening nightclubs too early, which they believe led to the need for another lockdown.

Protests continued for a fourth day Friday. Thousands of people demonstrated in several cities, with protesters in the capital hurling stones at police in front of Parliament. In Friday’s clashes, 14 police officers were injured, with 130 police injured since Tuesday.

Some protesters entered the Parliament building Tuesday night before being forced out by police. Film footage later appeared to show police beating unarmed protesters with batons.

Figures on the number of protesters injured have not been released.

Serbia has reported 17,728 cases of COVID-19 and 370 deaths from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University global tracker.

On Saturday, U.S. President Donald Trump was photographed wearing a face mask during a visit to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, after months of refusing to wear face coverings recommended by medical experts to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Lockdowns have recently been imposed in other countries due to an uptick in coronavirus cases.

India saw its biggest surge in COVID-19 cases with 27,114 new cases in the past 24 hours, prompting nearly a dozen states to impose a partial lockdown in high-risk areas.

The new COVID-19 cases brought the total number to 820,916 with 22,123 deaths reported.

In Japan, Okinawa prefecture Gov. Denny Tamaki said Saturday that dozens of COVID-19 cases have been detected at U.S. military bases

Tamaki added that a report from the U.S side showed “a large number” of U.S. military personnel have been infected.

Though the military did not give an exact figure, the number of infections at facilities, including Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and Camp Hansen, would likely top 60, local media reported.

On Friday, U.S. Forces Japan extended a public health emergency from July 14 to Aug. 13.

Marine Forces Japan also increased its health protection status from moderate to substantial risk, according to a statement. This meant that marines and civilian employees could no longer patronize “non-essential” businesses in town, but could still shop for groceries or go to doctor appointments.

The country reported 430 new coronavirus cases Friday, the health ministry reported, the first time it has registered more than 400 new daily infections since April 24 when it was still under lockdown. The spike included 243 new COVID-19 cases in Tokyo, the highest daily jump in the capital since the pandemic began.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga blamed the spike in Tokyo on expansion of testing, adding that the government’s stance on reopening has not changed.

Japan now has 21,407 COVID-19 cases and 982 deaths from the virus, according to the global tracker.

Iran has also seen an increase in coronavirus infections, prompting President Hassan Rouhani to call for a ban on big gatherings such as weddings and wakes.

Still, Rouhani added that the country’s economy must stay open.

Iran has reported 255,117 COVID-19 cases and 12,635 deaths from the virus, according to the global tracker.

In Brazil, the death toll surpassed 70,000 Friday, the health ministry said, adding that the daily fatalities seem to be stabilizing.

Brazil has the second-highest number of cases and deaths worldwide after the United States.

In Brazil, more than 1.8 million people have COVID-19 and more than 70,000 have died from it. The United States has reported more than 3.1 million cases and more than 134,000 deaths from COVID-19.

Worldwide, there are more than 12.5 million COVID-19 cases and over half a million deaths.


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