Coronavirus update: Thousands protest restrictions in Berlin, cases surge in Japan, India and the Philippines

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Thousands of people, most without masks, have gathered in Berlin and have marched through the city in defiance of social-distancing measures as part of demonstrations against restrictions.

Another day of record case rises have been confirmed in India, while in Tokyo authorities have warned people to keep up hygiene and social-distancing measures as the number of infections there continue to rise.

This story will be updated throughout Sunday.

Sunday’s key moments:

Thousands in Berlin protest restrictions

Protesters against coronavirus restrictions have gathered in Berlin for a demonstration titled “The end of the pandemic — freedom day”.

It comes amid increasing concern about an upturn in infections in Germany.

A crowd of thousands of people whistling and cheering, with few wearing masks, marched from the Brandenburg Gate on Saturday ahead of a rally on a wide boulevard that runs through the city’s Tiergarten park.

Protesters held up homemade placards featuring slogans that included “Corona, false alarm,” “We are being forced to wear a muzzle” and “Natural defence instead of vaccination”.

A group of people clap, cheer and raise their hands as they march together along a wide road in the sunshine.
Social-distancing restrictions remain in place in Germany as restrictions continue to ease.(AP: Markus Schreiber)

Some chanted: “We’re here and we’re loud, because we are being robbed of our freedom.”

People came from various parts of Germany for Saturday’s protest.

The country’s management of the pandemic has widely been viewed as relatively successful, with a lower death rate than comparable countries.

The country has been easing lockdown measures since late April but social-distancing rules remain in place, as does a requirement to wear masks in public transport and shops.

Infection figures have crept up over the past few weeks and officials have warned against complacency.

According to Johns Hopkins University, there have been 210,676 cases in Germany and 9,154 people have died.

Another day of record case rises in India

A woman wearing a face masks registers her details with a health worker in PPE
More than 640,000 tests will be done in India after the record increases.(AP: Manish Swarup)

India has recorded the steepest spike of 57,118 new cases in the past 24 hours, taking its coronavirus caseload close to 1.7 million, with July alone accounting for nearly 1.1 million infections.

The Health Ministry on Saturday also reported 764 additional deaths for a total of 36,511.

India’s Civil Aviation Ministry delayed resumption of international flights until the end of August.

But it will continue to allow several international carriers from the United States, Europe and the Middle East to operate special flights to evacuate stranded nationals.

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said more than 1 million people have recovered, with active cases only a third of the total.

India is now conducting more than 640,000 tests in 24 hours, taking cumulative tests across the country to nearly 1.9 million.

The increase comes a day after the previous record high surge of 55,079 new cases.

Lockdown remains in places across all containment zones, while subways, cinema halls, swimming pools, entertainment parks, bars, theatres, auditoriums and other social gathering places will remain closed throughout August.

Tokyo Governor warns citizens after third day of record case increases

Japan’s capital recorded 472 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, the third straight day of record numbers.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike issued a warning on Saturday urging people to wash their hands, wear masks and visit those businesses that display the special city-backed stickers with the image of a rainbow, which indicates good social distancing.

Most people getting sick were in their 20s and 30s, highlighting how they may be putting their guard down and going out partying, according to officials.

Nationwide, the daily count of coronavirus cases in Japan totalled a record 1,579 on Friday.

Overall, there have been 1,008 deaths and 37,746 cases in the country.

South Korea arrests leader of church with big cluster

An elderly man moves his face mask as he speaks into a microphone
Lee Man-hee and his church deny allegations they meddled with South Korea’s coronavirus response plan.(AP: Kim Ju-sung/Yonhap)

South Korean prosecutors have arrested the elderly leader of a secretive religious sect as part of an investigation into allegations that the church hampered the government’s anti-virus response.

Thousands of worshippers were infected in February and March, leading to an investigation into 88-year-old Lee Man-hee, chairman of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, over charges the church hid some members and underreported gatherings to avoid broader quarantines.

Mr Lee and his church have steadfastly denied the accusations, saying they’re cooperating with health authorities.

More than 5,200 of the South Korea’s 14,336 coronavirus cases have been linked to the church.

‘Losing battle’: Philippine doctors, nurses urge new lockdowns as infections surge

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered his coronavirus task force to address the concerns of more than a million doctors and nurses who called for reviving strict lockdowns after a third day of record infections.

In the largest call yet from medical experts to contain the virus, 80 groups representing 80,000 doctors and a million nurses, said the Philippines was losing the fight against COVID-19 and warned of a collapse of the healthcare system from soaring infections without tighter controls.

“Our health workers are burnt out with seemingly endless number of patients trooping to our hospitals for emergency care and admission,” the group said

“We are waging a losing battle against COVID-19.”

They made their concerns known as the country recorded 4,963 new infections.

Since restrictions were eased in June, infections have jumped fivefold to 98,232, with deaths more than doubling to 2,039.


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