Australia locks down Melbourne as global cases top 12 million Jul 10, 2020 0 580 12345 AFPMelbourneMillions of people in Australia’s second-biggest city went into lockdown on Thursday to battle another coronavirus outbreak, as the number of infections worldwide surged past 12 million.Caseloads and death tolls have risen relentlessly in many of the world’s biggest nations, with the virus now claiming over 550,000 lives across the planet.In Melbourne, five million people began a new lockdown just weeks after earlier restrictions ended as Australia battles a COVID-19 resurgence, with residents bracing for the emotional and economic costs.“The idea of not being able to see people that you love and care for is really distressing, really distressing,” said a tearful Melbourne resident, Monica Marshall, whose 91-year-old mother recently entered a care home.Shoppers in the state of Victoria -- of which Melbourne is the capital -- stripped shelves bare on Wednesday before the lockdown began, and the country’s largest supermarket chain said it had reimposed buying limits on items including pasta, vegetables and sugar.National and international responses to the virus are under the microscope, with US President Donald Trump’s criticism of the World Health Organization as a “puppet of China” coming to a head this week.The US has begun its formal pullout from the UN body, which opened an inquiry into its handling of the pandemic on Thursday while issuing a strong message on the need for togetherness.“The virus thrives on division but is thwarted when we unite,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.The panel, led by former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark and former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, will present initial findings in November.The global death toll from the virus has now surpassed 550,000, although roughly half of the 12 million reported cases being classed as recovered.Punishing lockdowns to try to prevent the spread of the disease have led to catastrophic economic downturns.Some of the world’s most populous nations including India, Pakistan and Brazil are still reeling from their first outbreaks.In the Middle East, hard-hit Iran reported a record single-day death toll of 221, taking its total to over 12,300.In Europe, where many nations have successfully suppressed their outbreaks, France continued to re-emerge from the darkest days, announcing the Eiffel Tower would reopen its top level for the first time in three months.However, countries further east that had lifted their lockdowns sooner than France have found themselves plunged back into restrictions with a resurgent virus.Bulgaria banned sports fans from stadiums and shut bars and clubs and Serbia announced that it would reinstate a weekend curfew -- sparking two nights of violent protests. Pages 12 RELATED ARTICLES 10 cops arrested after political leader shot dead in Indian Kashmir Jul 10, 2020 0 630 China offers glimpse inside lab near Wuhan virus origin Jul 10, 2020 0 605 35 troops killed in Nigeria jihadist ambush, 30 missing Jul 10, 2020 0 2416 Iran hits record one-day virus death toll of 221 Tehran Iran reported a new single-day record death toll of 221 from the novel coronavirus on Thursday, after weeks of rising numbers in the Middle East’s worst-hit country. “Unfortunately in the past 24 hours we have lost .. Australia offers safe haven to Hong Kongers, sparking China fury AFP Sydney Australia offered pathways to permanent residency for thousands of people from Hong Kong on Thursday in response to China’s crackdown on dissent, drawing a furious reply from Beijing. Prime Minister Scott .. Tokyo to pay nightclubs to close as virus cases surge AFP Tokyo Tokyo unveiled plans on Thursday to offer nightclubs subsidies to close as new coronavirus infections in the capital hit a single-day record, with many linked to entertainment districts. Under the plan, the .. Seoul mayor found dead after ‘#MeToo allegations’ AFP Seoul Seoul’s outspoken mayor Park Won-soon, long seen as a potential South Korean presidential candidate, was found dead, police said Friday. He was 64. A former Seoul City employee filed a police complaint -- .. Saudi-led alliance destroys two explosive-laden boats off Yemen Riyadh The Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen said on Thursday it had destroyed two explosive-laden remote-controlled boats in the Red Sea that were allegedly launched by Houthi rebels. The coalition said .. Taliban can submit new list of prisoners: Afghan official AFP Kabul Afghan authorities said Thursday they have offered the Taliban a choice to submit a new list of 592 prisoners after Kabul refused to release inmates the militants demanded to be freed ahead of peace talks. Under ..