News ID: 93746
Publish Date : 29 August 2021 - 21:35

MELBOURNE (Al Jazeera) – Australian authorities say they will extend a lockdown of the country’s second-biggest city, Melbourne, as they struggle to quell a coronavirus outbreak driven by the highly infectious Delta variant. The announcement on Sunday came as the number of COVID-19 infections in Victoria state, of which Melbourne is the capital, rose by 92 overnight – the highest number in nearly a year. There are also 778 active cases in Victoria, according to health data. Melbourne’s lockdown, its sixth since the start of the pandemic, was due to end on Thursday. But Victoria Premier Dan Andrews said on Sunday that this would no longer be possible. Melbourne’s lockdown is currently in its fourth week and includes a curfew, the closure of playgrounds and strict limits on exercise. Andrews did not say how long stay-at-home orders would remain in place, saying officials would “look at all the different options”. Meanwhile, neighboring New South Wales state, which includes Australia’s most populous city of Sydney, posted 1,218 new cases on Sunday – pushing the country’s overall daily caseload to a new all-time high. Nearly 19,000 cases have been detected in the state of about eight million people since the Delta variant outbreak began in mid-June.

LONDON (Dispatches) – Prince Andrew is hiding in his royal mansion to avoid officials trying to serve a rape lawsuit on him, it is claimed. Security guards stopped “multiple attempts” by lawyers last week to hand the document to The Duke of York at Royal Lodge, The Sun reported. It accuses Andrew, 61, of raping Virginia Guiffre in 2001 when she was a “frightened and vulnerable child”. The mum of three, now 38 — who says she was “lent out” by disgraced Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell — is demanding damages. Prince Andrew, not seen in public for 19 days, is said to be refusing to leave his home, which is set in 98 private acres in Windsor Great Park, Berks. If he refuses to accept the civil summons, issued by a New York court clerk three weeks ago, the Duke risks facing a “judgment by default” next month. An insider said “more attempts will be made” to hand the papers to Andrew but a source said, “There’s no way he will risk poking his head outside right now. He will stay out of view.” A spokesman for the Duke did not wish to comment.

BERLIN (Reuters) – The campaign over who will replace German Chancellor Angela Merkel heated up on Sunday after a new opinion poll showed the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) opening up a bigger lead over Merkel’s conservatives. Support for the SPD rose two points from last week to 24 percent, their highest result in four years according to the INSA poll conducted for the Bild am Sonntag newspaper. The conservatives lost a point to 21 percent, their lowest ever polled. Germany goes to the polls on Sept. 26, when Merkel steps down as chancellor after 16 years in office and four straight national election victories. Merkel’s imminent departure has weakened support for her conservative alliance. It was the second survey in the last week that has put the SPD ahead. Support for Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), has been falling steadily in recent weeks.

ADDIS ABABA (Dispatches) – Rebel forces in northern Ethiopia have accused the African Union (AU) of bias towards the country’s central government after the bloc selected former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo as a mediator to end the months-long conflict. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) claimed on Sunday that it would be “naive to expect this mission to work.” Getachew Reda, spokesperson for the TPLF, accused the AU of “partiality” towards the Ethiopian government. “Solving a crisis at the very least requires acknowledging the existence, let alone the magnitude of the problem,” he wrote on Twitter. Obasanjo had previously headed the African Union’s election observer mission during Ethiopia’s polls last June, where Abiy Ahmed won a disputed landslide victory. Tigray has been the scene of conflict since November, when Prime Minister Abiy sent troops there to topple the TPLF, the regional ruling party, saying the move came in response to attacks on army camps.

TRIPOLI (Xinhua) – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Saturday said around 130 illegal migrants were rescued and returned to Libya. “Some 130 persons were rescued from two boats that capsized at sea and were returned this evening to Tripoli,” UNHCR tweeted. “Four persons were reported missing. UNHCR & IRC (the International Red Cross) provided medical assistance, food and water to all survivors. Most of them suffered from burns, dehydration and severe fatigue,” UNHCR said. Libya has been suffering insecurity and chaos since the fall of its leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, making the North African country a preferred point of departure for illegal migrants who want to cross the Mediterranean Sea to European shores. Rescued migrants end up inside overcrowded reception centers across Libya, despite repeated international calls to close those centers. So far in 2021, more than 22,000 illegal migrants, including women and children, have been rescued, while hundreds of others died or went missing off the Libyan coast on the Central Mediterranean route, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

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