Deep floodwaters and the risk of more mudslides that left about 20 people confirmed or presumed dead hampered search and rescue operations on Sunday in southern Japan.
Large areas along the Kuma River were swallowed by floodwaters with many houses, buildings and vehicles submerged almost up to their roofs. Mudslides smashed into houses, sending people atop rooftops waiving at rescuers.
At a flooded elderly care home in Kuma Village, at least 14 residents were presumed dead after rescuers reached them on Saturday, officials said. Three others had hypothermia.
Rescue helicopters and boats plucked more people from their homes in the Kumamoto region. Up to 10,000 defense troops, the coast guard and fire brigades are taking part in the operation.
The rescue continued Sunday for dozens of other residents and caregivers who were still at the riverside care facility Senjuen, where about 60 people were trapped when floodwaters and mud gushed in, officials said.
Overall, Kumamoto officials said they could confirm 18 presumed dead, including the 14 at the nursing home, as they continued to assess the extent of damage. NHK television said 16 were confirmed dead, 16 others presumed dead and 14 still missing.
In Hitoyoshi City, the deluge poured into houses near the main train station. "The water rose to the second floor so fast and I just couldn’t stop shivering,” a 55-year-old woman who was visiting her relatives told the Asahi newspaper.
She and her relatives ran upstairs, swam out of the window and eventually took refuge on the roof to wait for their rescue.
More than 200,000 residents in Kumamoto prefecture were urged to evacuate following pounding rains on Friday evening and into Saturday.
looding also cut off power and communication lines, further delaying the search and rescue. Nearly 6,000 homes in Kumamoto were still without electricity Sunday, according to the Kyushu Electric Power Co.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday reported 212,326 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, the highest single-day increase since COVID-19 broke out.
The biggest increase was reported in the Americas region with 129,772 new cases, it said.
Nearly half of the new cases were recorded in the United States and Brazil, with 53,213 and 48,105 new infections, respectively, it added.
The Southeast Asia region recorded the second largest surge with 27,947 new cases and 534 deaths over the past 24 hours, it added.
Millions of people in England came out for the first time in over three months to enjoy coffee shops, bars, restaurants and hair salons as COVID-19 lockdown restrictions eased on the so called ‘Super Saturday’.
Political leaders and health chiefs were nervously watching the day's progress, gauging the impact of the first taste of ‘real freedom’ since March.
Queues were already forming outside barber shops with men eager to part company with their lengthy hair as dawn broke across England on Saturday.
One of the first to have a hair trim was Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labour Party.
Bars and pubs were allowed to open from 6am (local time), but the real test will come when younger people head out for their traditional "Saturday Night Fever" visit to their favourite drinking haunts.
Many people arrived early morning at their local pubs, enjoying a pint of their favourite beer with a traditional English breakfast of bacon and eggs.
A brief ceremony was held in China Town in central London to launch the re-opening of businesses in the area on Saturday morning.
Hospitality UK estimated that 53 percent of pubs and bars and 47 percent of restaurants will reopen this weekend. They predicted it would generate 9 million visits.
Before easing the lockdown restrictions, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it would benefit the local businesses as well as the whole country, warning he would not hesitate to re-impose restrictions if the new freedoms sent the number of coronavirus patients rocketing.
Johnson said anyone flouting social distancing and secure rules not only puts everyone at risk, but will be letting down businesses and workers who have done so much to prepare for the new normal.
Experts fear of second wave
Robert West, an epidemiologist at University College London said infection rates are still not coming down very fast in England.
"We’re looking at around 20,000 new infections a week and around 1,000 deaths a week and the rates aren't coming down very fast so people have to be tremendously cautious," he stated in a media interview.
Despite the hospitality sector doing everything it could to reopen safely, the opening up of those businesses will mean more contact, he said. "And that means you will get more infections and unfortunately it means you will get more deaths."
England's Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty also called on people to take a disciplined approach to social distancing, warning of the risk of coronavirus spreading in pubs and bars.
Whitty said there was a real possibility of a second wave of virus infections if people do not take social distancing measures seriously.
Restrictions still apply in Wales, and until July 6 in Scotland, prompting fears people will cross borders to visit bars in England.
Meanwhile, people in Leicester could only watch on as the rest of England celebrated. A new strict law came into force Saturday to enforce continuing lockdown rules after a spike in coronavirus cases in the city.
Despite bringing some challenges, the Covid-19 pandemic has created several opportunities for foreign trade companies to go digital.
Diane Wang, CEO of DHgate.com, a cross-border e-commerce site, made this remarks in an interview.
Besides the severe adverse impacts on international logistics and liquidity pressure to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the pandemic accelerated the pace at which firms are becoming more digital-savvy, Wang added.
"The digital divide has become more pronounced and wider than ever amid the crisis," said Wang adding that those are more prepared in terms of digitalization have shown more flexibility and resilience.
The coronavirus pandemic has dealt a huge blow to global trade.
According to Chinese Ministry of Commerce, the country’s exports dropped 11.4 percent year on year in Yuan terms in the first quarter, as weak domestic production and sluggish external demand dampened activities.
Cross-border e-commerce, as a new business form, has seen rapid growth in recent years, with total retail exports via the channel jumping 60 percent year on year in 2019, data showed from the Ministry.
The country has rolled out a series of measures to encourage innovation in foreign trade to keep it stable.
In the first five months, the total value of retail exports via cross-border e-commerce increased by 12 percent, bucking the broader trade downturn.
As a B2B cross-border site, DHgate.com was also hit by the pandemic in Q1 before recovering in April and May, when the gross merchandise value increased by 30 to 40 percent year on year, according to the company.
The rebound was partly due to the company's efforts to help merchants bring their offline businesses online, Wang said.
During the virtual Canton Fair in June, the company assisted exporters in leveraging live streaming to market their products to global buyers, increasing their digital exposure.
However going online has become a new trend that all companies in the industry must embrace to survive, she said.
As the country rolls out more supportive policies such as more streamlined customs clearance for B2B e-commerce, the company is expected to receive a boost, Wang said.
The Catalan regional government on Saturday decided to re-impose a lockdown in and around the city of Lleida, northeast Spain due to a localized rise in COVID-19 cases.
The lockdown that will affect over 200,000 people in the region.
This is the first such measure to be introduced since Spain ended its State of Alarm allowing the return of free movement around the country on June 21.
Regional leader Quim Torra explained that the decision has been made after a "considerable increase" in the number of coronavirus cases in the Segria region, which covers Lleida, its capital, and the surrounding area of 38 municipalities.
Almost 350 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the Segria region over the past week, many of them among temporary fruit pickers, and a temporary field hospital has been set up in Lleida.
The lockdown will last for an initial period of 15 days. Miquel Buch, head of the Catalan interior department, has confirmed an end to free movement "from 12:00 hours on July 4, 2020 till a new resolution is adopted."
Around 200 members of the Catalan regional police force (Mossos d'Esquadra) will be deployed at various points to enforce the lockdown.
Catalonia is the second region in Spain hardest hit by the coronavirus.