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Britain’s Johnson douses hopes of lockdown freedom as infection rate rises

Boris Johnson’s government tried to damp expectations that Britain’s coronavirus lockdown will be significantly rolled back as top scientists warned the country’s infection rate has crept upward in recent days.

The prime minister will set out a plan for how the restrictions will be eased in a statement to the nation on Sunday, but government officials spent much of Thursday trying to counter reports suggesting that there will be a significant lifting of the lockdown.

Britons woke on Thursday to front-page headlines ranging from “Happy Monday” to “Hurrah! Lockdown Freedom Beckons.”

Ahead of a long holiday weekend that starts on Friday and is predicted to be sunny, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab insisted that the restrictions will remain in place until the government says otherwise.

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Coronavirus: Trump, Pence test negative after White House valet contracts bug

US President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence have tested negative for the novel coronavirus after a member of the US military who works at the White House as a valet came down with the virus.

During a meeting with the governor of Texas in the Oval Office on Thursday, Trump told reporters he had little contact with the man and would be tested daily going forward.

Neither Trump nor Pence wore masks during the meeting.

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Coronavirus: Austria says blood plasma cures several patients

Austria said on Thursday that several Covid-19 patients were cured after receiving transfusions using blood plasma from people who had recovered from the virus.

The treatment has been tested in several countries but there is still little medical data available about its effectiveness.

Three patients who had transfusions at a hospital in the southeastern city of Graz are now cured, Robert Krause, an infectious disease specialist at the hospital told a press conference.

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German reporter files sex assault charge against ex-French president, 94

A German journalist told AFP on Thursday that she has filed a case against former French president Valery Giscard d’Estaing, accusing him of sexual assault in 2018.

Ann-Kathrin Stracke, 37, a journalist working for German public television WDR alleged that Giscard d’Estaing – then aged 92 – placed his hands on her backside three times while she was in his Parisian office for an interview in December 2018.

“I decided to tell my story because I think that people should know that a French former president harassed me sexually after an interview,” she told AFP.

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Actress Charlize Theron unveils stars joining her fight on domestic abuse

South African actress Charlize Theron on Thursday said more than 50 female celebrities, from actress Reese Witherspoon to soccer player Megan Rapinoe, had joined her campaign to fight violence against women during the global coronavirus lockdowns.

The #TogetherForHer initiative launched in April by the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project with CARE and the Entertainment Industry Foundation pledged US$500,000 (S$700,000) to domestic violence shelters in the United States and South Africa.

“(One in three) women will experience gender-based violence in their lifetime; in the past year, 243 million women & girls have. Humanitarian crises like #Covid19 only make this worse,” Theron said on Twitter.

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