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New Zealand Records First Covid-19 Death In Over Three Months 

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Austria Expands Face Mask Requirement As Cases Rise

New Zealand’s death toll from the Coronavirus rose to 23 on Friday after the country with its population of five million recorded its first virus death in more than three months.

A man in his 50s succumbed to the virus, health officials said the man was part of a second-wave cluster of infections that emerged in Auckland last month, ending a spell of 102 days free of community transmission in the South Pacific nation.

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The Auckland cluster emerged in a family of four and has since grown to 152, including three new cases recorded on Friday.

Efforts to eliminate the virus in Auckland proved difficult despite a two-and-a-half week lockdown that ended on Sunday night.

But this week, residents were allowed out of their homes as the government limited non-school social gatherings in the city of 1.5 million to 10 persons and made masks compulsory on public transport nationwide.

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Before the latest death was announced, authorities said earlier on Friday, that the restriction would remain in place until at least September 16 as a precaution.

New Zealand reported five new virus cases on Friday, two among returning travellers already in quarantine and three connected to the Auckland outbreak.

Health chief Ashley Bloomfield said in a statement “I acknowledge the anxiety New Zealanders may be feeling about today’s news, both in the wider community and also for the family and whanau (relatives) grieving over this death.”

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Bloomfield added “today’s news reinforces the importance of our shared vigilance against COVID-19, the very serious consequences the virus can carry with it.”

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World News

Navalny Tells Magazine Putin Was Behind Poisoning

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Navalny Tells Magazine Putin Was Behind Poisoning

Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny has told a German magazine that Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind his suspected poisoning.

In late August, 44-year-old Navalny who is a staunch critic of Putin was airlifted to Berlin for treatment after falling ill during a flight in Russia’s Siberia region. Having spent 16 days in a coma he was discharged from inpatient care.

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According to an extract of an interview due to be published later on Thursday, Navalny told Der Spiegel, “I claim that Putin is behind the crime and I don’t have any other versions of what happened.”

The anti-corruption campaigner also confirmed to Der Spiegel that he plans to return to Russia after his recovery, saying “my job now is to remain the guy who is not afraid. And I’m not afraid!”

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European countries including Germany and France have called for a Russian investigation into the suspected poisoning. The UK also called for a “full and transparent” investigation.

The Kremlin has consistently dismissed accusations that Russian president Putin was involved in the suspected poisoning of opposition critic Alexei Navalny after the German hospital treating Navalny said he appears to have been poisoned.

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Disney Lays Off A Quarter Of U.S. Theme Park Workers

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Disney Lays Off A Quarter Of U.S. Theme Park Workers

Disney’s California-based Theme Parks says the company will lay off twenty-eight thousand staff members as a result of prolonged closures of the parks.

In a memo sent to employees on Tuesday, the company’s head of parks, Josh D’Amaro said the company’s shares fell less than 2% after the closing bell on Tuesday.

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The statement further revealed around 67% of the 28,000 laid off workers are part-time employees.

While Disney’s Theme Parks in Florida, Paris, Shanghai, Japan and Hong Kong have reopened with limited capacity, both California adventure and Disneyland have remained shuttered.

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The company has promised to provide severance packages for the employees and also offer other services to help workers with job placement.

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Coronavirus: Belgium Death Toll Passes 10,000

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Coronavirus: Belgium Death Toll Passes 10,000

Belgium remains one of the hardest hit countries with covid-19.  With a population of more than eleven million, the country has now recorded ten thousand fatalities.

Belgium had more than 250 deaths daily during the peak of the pandemic in April.

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The Belgian government says testing capacity has been stepped up, which has led to a sharp rise in the number of positive cases recorded, particularly now that people have returned to work and school after the summer holidays.

Meanwhile, Romania, too, has witnessed a spike in coronavirus infections by a record twenty-one hundred in the twenty-four hours between Tuesday and Wednesday.

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This brings to more than one hundred twenty-seven thousand, the total number of infections in the country.  Forty-eight hundred twenty-five infected persons have died so far. The government has extended a state of alert until mid-October.

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Since the government eased lockdown restrictions in May, protective masks have become mandatory in public transport and indoor public spaces.

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