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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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Belarus President Closes Western Borders, Puts Army On High Alert

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Belarus President Closes Western Borders, Puts Army On High Alert

Protesters in Belarus are still angry in their sixth week of mass protests demanding the resignation of president Alexander Lukashenko.

The president has announced, in retaliation, he is putting troops on high alert and closing the country’s borders with Poland and Lithuania.  He also said the Belarusian border with Ukraine would be strengthened.

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Lukashenko insists the six weeks of protests are driven by the west. He faces increasing criticism from the united states and the European Union.

Demonstrations began after the disputed august presidential election official results gave the authoritarian leader a sixth term in office–results opponents say were manipulated.

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Bolivian Interim President Anez Withdraws From Election Race

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Bolivian Interim President Anez Withdraws From Election Race

Bolivia’s interim president Jeanine Anez has withdrawn from next month’s presidential election, saying she’s withdrawing in the interest of the party.

Anez, a former conservative senator, took office during the power vacuum that followed former president Morales’s departure after allegations of irregularities in last year’s election.  Those allegations fueled violent protests, and army pressure forced the country’s first indigenous president into exile in Mexico.

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Anez says if she does not step down, Morales would possibly return to power.

She declined to name the candidate for whom she will vote.

Next month’s election is the delayed rerun of last year’s ballot.  Anez’s candidacy had sparked controversy after she initially ruled herself out and pledged to guide the country to transparent new elections.

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By pulling out of the race, analysts say Anez could increase chances that the election will be pushed to a second round by consolidating the anti-Arce vote.

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To avoid a second round, the election winner requires at least 40 percent of valid votes in the first round and a 10-point advantage over the closest competitor.

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First Case-Free Day For New Zealand In Five Weeks

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First Case-Free Day For New Zealand In Five Weeks

New Zealand for the first time in more than five weeks has reported no new confirmed cases of the coronavirus amid efforts to stamp out an outbreak discovered in Auckland last month ending a spell of 102 days free of community transmission.

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The South Pacific nation with its population of five million has reported more than 1,800 cases of COVID-19 and 25 fatalities.

The report on Friday also marked the fourth consecutive day without any cases of community transmission. All recent cases have been found among quarantined travellers returning from abroad.

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Following strict measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic which were widely praised, New Zealand is in its deepest recession in decades after the country’s GDP shrank by 12.2% between April and June as the lockdown and border closures hit.

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Auckland lockdown began on 12 August after four cases were detected in the city of 1.5 million.

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