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Virus death surge predicted in Florida as UK and France move to make masks mandatory

US state's daily reported cases now over 12,000

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Masked crusaders: French health workers attend a protest on Bastille Day in Paris, as part of a nationwide day of actions in the wake of the coronavirus disease crisis, in France. Photo: Reuters

Masked crusaders: French health workers attend a protest on Bastille Day in Paris, as part of a nationwide day of actions in the wake of the coronavirus disease crisis, in France. Photo: Reuters

REUTERS

Masked crusaders: French health workers attend a protest on Bastille Day in Paris, as part of a nationwide day of actions in the wake of the coronavirus disease crisis, in France. Photo: Reuters

Florida reported 132 additional Covid-19 deaths yesterday, topping the previous record for the US state set just last week. The figure likely includes deaths from the weekend that had not been previously reported.

The new deaths raised Florida's seven-day average to 81 per day, more than double the figure of two weeks ago and now the second-highest in the United States behind Texas.

Doctors have predicted a surge in deaths as Florida's daily reported cases have gone from about 2,000 a day a month ago to over 12,000.

In England, officials announced they will require people to wear face masks starting July 24, after weeks of dismissing their value.

"We are not out of the woods yet, so let us all do our utmost to keep this virus cornered and enjoy summer safely," British Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs in the House of Commons.

French President Emmanuel Macron said masks will be required by August 1, after recent rave parties and backsliding on social distancing raised concerns the virus may be starting to rebound.

Meanwhile, officials in the Australian state of Queensland said those breaking quarantine rules could face up to six months in jail. The current set of fines for breaking a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine for some visitors or lying about their whereabouts "appears not to be enough" in some cases, Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles said.

The city of Melbourne in Victoria recorded 270 new coronavirus infections overnight, with more than 4,000 cases now active across the state. Melbourne is one week into a six-week lockdown in an attempt to stop a spike in new cases there.

Disney officials announced that Hong Kong Disneyland Park is closing today until further notice following the city's decision to ban public gatherings of more than four people to combat infections.

Hong Kong's leader, Carrie Lam, announced new coronavirus-related restrictions on Monday after 41 out of 52 newly reported infections were locally transmitted cases.

Hong Kong has reported 250 new cases since July 6.

Ms Lam urged the private sector to put in place work-from-home arrangements for employees.

Meanwhile, South Africa imposed tighter restrictions including a ban on alcohol sales, mandatory face masks in public places, and an overnight curfew, as a surge in new infections pushed it into the 10 worst-affected countries with nearly 300,000 confirmed cases, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

In the US, flaring outbreaks have led officials in some areas to mandate mask wearing and close down bars and some other businesses to once again try to bring the pandemic under control.

Hawaii's governor pushed back by another month plans to waive a 14-day quarantine requirement for out-of-state travellers who test negative for Covid-19.

"I know that this increases the burden on businesses here in the islands, especially small businesses. But we do believe that it is time to continue to protect the health and safety of our community," Governor David Ige told reporters.

The state has one of the lowest infection rates in the US, with 1,243 cases. Its quarantine requirement has virtually shut down tourism since it took effect in late March, pushing the unemployment rate in the islands to 22.6pc, the second highest in the US.

Irish Independent