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Coronavirus: India sets new record for highest daily COVID-19 infections

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India has seen a record 78,761 new coronavirus cases in the last day – the worst 24-hour spike ever recorded across the world in the pandemic.

The country’s health ministry also reported 948 deaths, taking the total number of fatalities there to 63,498.

India is one of the countries that has been worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, having seen the fourth highest number of people killed after the US, Brazil and Mexico.

The UK has had the fifth highest number of reported deaths in the world, with 12 new fatalities announced on Saturday, taking the total to 41,498.

Coronavirus in UK: How many have died or tested positive where you live

Coronavirus in UK: How many have died or tested positive where you live

Global case numbers have now reached 25 million according to Johns Hopkins University, which has been keeping track of the disease.

India’s trajectory is particularly worrying because it has the fastest-growing daily cases of any country, with more than 75,000 infections reported for four consecutive days.

The latest figure surpasses the previously biggest one-day jump in cases of 77,299, recorded in the US in mid-July.

More from Covid-19

Sunday’s surge comes at a time when the country is reopening its underground train networks and allowing sports and religious events with some limits from next month as part of efforts to revive the economy.

The crowded public transport system, a lifeline for millions of people in the capital New Delhi, will be reopened in a phased manner from 7 September.

Schools and colleges will, however, remain closed until the end of September.



Coronavirus



Hazmat staff escort man off Stansted plane

Even as eight Indian states remain among the worst-hit regions and contribute nearly 73% of the total infections, the virus is now spreading fast in more sparsely-populated areas.

Earlier this week, members of a small secluded tribe in the remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands tested positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile in the US, a further 44,635 cases have been reported – nudging the total number there to nearly six million.

Which country could be next on the UK's quarantine list?

Which country could be next on the UK’s quarantine list?

South Korea, which managed to control the spread of the virus in the early staged of the pandemic, has placed limits on restaurants and closed gyms in the capital after recording its 17th consecutive day of triple-digit increases – bringing total cases to 19,699 and 323 deaths.

And in Berlin, Germany, police broke up a mass protest against coronavirus restrictions on Saturday and arrested 300 for failing to socially distance and wear masks.



Jacinda Arden makes a face covering



New Zealand PM makes face mask in 30 seconds

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in
December 2019.

COVID-19’s trajectory still falls far short of the 1918 Spanish flu, which infected an estimated 500 million people and killed at least 10% of patients.

But experts worry the available information underplays the true impact of the pandemic, particularly in countries with limited or less advanced testing.

Around the world, there have been more than 842,000 deaths – far above the between 290,000 to 650,000 deaths that occur annually which are linked to influenza.

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‘Happy birthday, you rat’: Protesters target Lukashenko on embattled Belarus leader’s 66th birthday

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Tens of thousands of protesters have rallied in Minsk in opposition to Alexander Lukashenko, with many directing chants of “happy birthday, you rat” towards the embattled Belarusian president.

Mr Lukashenko, who refuses to stand down over election rigging claims, spent his 66th birthday on Sunday at his residence in the capital, where he was again pictured carrying an automatic rifle.

He received a congratulatory phone call from Russian president Vladimir Putin, who extended him an invitation to visit Moscow – a sign of the Kremlin’s support for the Belarusian leader amid the threat of Western sanctions.

'There were blood smears on the walls': Belarus protesters traumatised by brutal treatment

‘There were blood smears on the walls’: Belarus protesters traumatised by brutal treatment

EYEWITNESS

Belarusian servicemen stand behind a barbed wire fence during an opposition supporters rally protesting against disputed presidential elections results in Minsk on August 30, 2020. - Tens of thousands of opposition supporters marched through Minsk on August 30, calling for an end to strongman Alexander Lukashenko's rule amid a heavy security presence and despite dozens of arrests. Belarus protests have entered a third week since the disputed presidential election on August 9 in which Lukashenko
Image:
Belarusian servicemen stand behind a barbed wire fence

Meanwhile, protesters in Minsk carried balloons, flowers and the red-white-red flag which the country bore briefly during the 1990s and which has become a symbol of the anti-government protests.

Some carried cockroach puppets while others called the president a “rat” – a slur Mr Lukashenko has previously used to describe opponents.

Opposition supporters rally to protest against disputed presidential elections results in Minsk on August 30, 2020. - Tens of thousands of opposition supporters marched through Minsk on August 30, calling for an end to strongman Alexander Lukashenko's rule amid a heavy security presence and despite dozens of arrests. Belarus protests have entered a third week since the disputed presidential election on August 9 in which Lukashenko claimed victory. (Photo by - / TUT.BY / AFP) (Photo by -/TUT.BY/A
Image:
Tens of thousands of protesters were seen on the streets
Hundreds of thousands flock to the streets in Minsk to protest Alexander Lukashenko's continued presidency on the 30th August 2020, for a forth week. Here, crowds fill a multi story car park across the road from the palace of independence where Lukashenko has working residency.
Image:
Protesters flocked to the streets in Minsk

The protesters converged on Mr Lukashenko’s residence in the afternoon, protected by security forces carrying riot shields – while armoured military vehicles were seen earlier driving towards the city centre.

Throughout the day, police, including some in plain clothes, bundled protesters into vans.

More from Belarus

Lukashenko holds a gun 24082020
Image:
Alexander Lukashenko was also seen carrying a rifle last week
Riot Police stand guard at the Palace of Independence, Lukashenko working residency as hundreds of thousands march towards them.
Image:
Riot police guarded Lukashenko’s residence

The country’s interior ministry claimed at least 140 people were detained. Testimonies from those previously held reported severe beatings at the hands of the security services.

One of President Lukashenko’s aides, Nikolai Latyshenok, ruled out the possibility of holding talks with the opposition, and gave a personal opinion that only 20-30% of Belarusian society was opposed to the president.

Belarus special police troops detain a protester as opposition supporters rally to protest against disputed presidential elections results in Minsk on August 30, 2020. - Tens of thousands of opposition supporters marched through Minsk on August 30, calling for an end to strongman Alexander Lukashenko's rule amid a heavy security presence and despite dozens of arrests. Belarus protests have entered a third week since the disputed presidential election on August 9 in which Lukashenko claimed victo
Image:
Security forces detained 140 protesters, the government said
MINSK, BELARUS - AUGUST 30: People take part in an anti-governmental rally in the rain on August 30, 2020 in Minsk, Belarus. There have been near daily demonstrations after the disputed August 9th presidential election, in which Alexander Lukashenko claimed 80 percent of the vote. He shows no signs of giving into to protester demands to resign or hold a new election. (Photo by Misha Friedman/Getty Images)
Image:
Demonstrations have continued since the election two weeks ago

The Kremlin’s support for Mr Lukashenko had been questioned, despite the importance of Belarus for the country’s European defence strategy.

Vladimir Putin announced on Thursday that the Kremlin had established a “reserve police force” at Mr Lukashenko’s request, adding it would be deployed if necessary.

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‘Assad has ruined everything’: Inside the buffer zone keeping a tenuous hold on stability in northern Syria

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If there are symbols of just how indebted the Syrian opposition forces are to Turkey, then the new army base in Aleppo Province for its elite Al Hamza Division is evidence of this.

The Turkish red crescent flag is given as much prominence as the Syrian opposition one.

In the grand greeting rooms where commanders and visiting dignitaries will meet to discuss tactics, it is the Turkish flag which is placed side-by-side with that of the opposition’s.

Sky News was given an exclusive tour of the base which is due to open in less than three weeks.

We’re shown conference rooms where “training on prisoners of war” will be given as well as lectures on military manoeuvres.

Sky News was given exclusive access to a Syrian opposition army base
Image:
Sky News was given exclusive access to a Syrian opposition army base

We see the officers’ accommodation and waiting soldiers jump to attention and salute as we’re led into their quarters.

The commander is a defector from the start of the civil war in 2011, who used to work in Bashar al Assad’s intelligence unit.

More from Syria

He is anxious to press home time and again the same twin messages.

“We are not extremists,” Commander Saif Abu Baker of Al Hamza Divison says repeatedly.

Commander Saif Abu Baker of Al Hamza Divison
Image:
Commander Saif Abu Baker insists his troops are not extremists

“ISIS has not gone. There are 3,000 ISIS fighters in the desert of east Syria being supported by Assad’s regime and the separatist PKK (Kurds).

“They will only go if we, the opposition, are supported and the regime is finished.”

The Syrian National Army, as it is now called, was born out of the Free Syrian Army and is largely backed by Turkish funds and Turkish weaponry.

Without Turkish support, it’s unlikely the opposition would be able to hold the so-called buffer zone.

The Al Hamza Division is the elite unit of Syria's opposition forces
Image:
The Al Hamza Division is the elite unit of Syria’s opposition forces

It’s an area where Turkish troops have moved 30km inside Syria and stretch nearly 100km along the border – pushing out ISIS fighters but also the Kurdish-dominated SDF and keeping Assad’s regime troops at bay.

When we visit the edge of the buffer zone where opposition troops are taking lookout gun positions on sandbags, the sandbags are all stamped with the Turkish national flag.

The Al Hamza division is the elite unit of opposition forces
Image:
Sandbags are stamped with the Turkish national flag

Here, they can see regime troops about a kilometre away; where fire is often exchanged between the sides.

And the opposition knows they wouldn’t be able to hold the line of the so-called buffer zone without Turkish military help.

“We have no choice,” Commander Moatasm Abbas of the Al Moatasm Division said.

The Al Hamza Division is the elite unit of Syria's opposition forces
Image:
Commander Moatasm Abbas talks to Sky’s Alex Crawford

“We either fight with what weapons we’ve got or we die.

“Withdrawing is not an option. It does not exist in our dictionary. Our dictionary is revolution.

“We are continuing with what weapons we have, whatever happens, and Turkey is the only one who is with us on the ground, with its weapons and military equipment.”

The Al Hamza Division is the elite unit of Syria's opposition forces
Image:
Opposition troops take lookout gun positions

Turkey is certainly making its mark and leaving its footprint in this part of Syria.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has spoken often of trying to persuade tens of thousands of the nearly four million Syrian refugees camped on its soil to return to their homeland.

He insists his troops are only in Syria to maintain security; to protect land for Syrians and create a buffer zone between Turkey and those he views as terrorists.

Those terrorists identified by Turkey not only include ISIS but also the Kurdish YPG – the former partners of the Western-backed SDF who were also fighting the Islamic extremists – as well as Assad’s regime troops now supported by Russia and Iran.

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks during an interview with Russia's RIA news agency, in Damascus, Syria in this handout picture provided by SANA on March 30, 2016. REUTERS/SANA/Handout via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY           TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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Bashar al Assad has ruled Syria for 20 years

President Erdogan has always insisted he does not want to remain inside Syria indefinitely and his troops respect the sovereignty of their neighbour.

But withdrawal is unlikely to come anytime in the near future – and those we spoke to in the buffer zone know only too well that the tenuous hold on the stability that they have in the area, is dependant right now on the Turkish military presence.

When we visit Al Bab, in the centre of the town square, once an ISIS stronghold where they planned attacks on Aleppo, there’s now a huge red Turkish crescent.

The shops and stalls are bustling with business and packed with people.

But whilst we are there, there’s a vehicle explosion.

A car parked outside a mosque has been rigged with a small amount of explosives.

Not enough to kill, although four people were injured, but enough to scare and frustrate the people of Al Bab who are weary of constant instability and desperate for change.

Image:
A vehicle exploded in Al Bab

One man standing over the mangled wreckage of the car tells us: “We have terrorists here… they’re ISIS terrorists and they’re the separatist parties, the Kurds.

“They are doing this… causing all these attacks… it’s the PKK and ISIS, and we have suffered from this for a long time.

“Since we were liberated until now, we’re suffering from this.

“We are sending a message to the world to please find a solution.”

Abdul Rahman, nine, has a prosthetic leg
Image:
Abdul Rahman, nine, was injured by a regime bomb

In the new 200-bed hospital built by the Turkish authorities in Al Bab, we find the battered and mutilated war wounded.

Nine-year-old Abdul Rahman has not known anything but war his entire life.

His leg was blown off by a regime bomb, but for the first time he’s been fitted with a prosthetic limb courtesy of the Turkish-run health facility which has seven operating rooms.

Prosthetics which would cost between $5,000 to $10,000 are being provided free by the hospital.

Abdul Rahman has a severely injured arm
Image:
Abdul also has a severely injured arm

Turkey is investing heavily here.

The recipients are not entirely sure how genuine this largesse is and are a little suspicious about what the cost will be to them or their country in the long run.

Abdul Rahman now has a prosthetic leg
Image:
The youngster now has a prosthetic leg

But right now, they are in no position to turn down any help – and Turkey seems to be the country which is metaphorically and physically holding out its hand to help the battered people opposed to Assad and who’ve been running from his regime – many since 2011.

“I don’t want war,” says Abdul Rahman. “I can’t take it. Assad has ruined everything.”

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