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Seattle protester struck by car on closed interstate dies

Summer Taylor, 24, was one of two people run over by a speeding vehicle during a demonstration on Saturday.

One of two people hit by a man who drove his car onto a blocked Seattle freeway and then into a crowd protesting police brutality has died.

Summer Taylor, 24, of Seattle died on Saturday evening at Harborview Medical Center, spokesperson Susan Gregg said. 

Diaz Love, 32, of Portland, Oregon, was also hit by the car that ploughed through a panicked crowd of protesters on Interstate 5 (I-5) early on Saturday. She remained in serious condition in the intensive care unit.

A man from Seattle drove the car around vehicles blocking the freeway and sped into the crowd at about 1:40am local time, according to a police report. 

The suspect fled the scene but one of the protesters got into a car, chased him down, and was able to stop the vehicle by pulling in front.

The man was charged with two counts of vehicular assault, although his motive remains unknown and it is not clear if he was targeting the demonstrators. 

He was described by officers as reserved and sullen when arrested and asked if the pedestrians struck were OK, court documents said. 

The highway had been closed for about an hour before the collision – part of continuing racial justice protests that have swept the US following the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota on May 25 after a police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes. 

Deadly collision

Love was filming the protest in a nearly two-hour-long Facebook livestream captioned Black Femme March takes I-5 when the video ended abruptly. With about 15 seconds left shouts of “Car!” can be heard as the camera starts to shake before screeching tyres and the sound of the impact are heard.

A graphic video posted on social media showed the white Jaguar racing towards a group of protesters standing behind several parked cars. The vehicle swerves around the others and slams into the two women, sending them flying into the air.

Katelyn Hoberecht, who worked with Taylor at Urban Animal veterinary clinics, told the Seattle Times she was a constant presence at the protests, “staying out all day and night while still working full time taking care of animals”.

“Summer talked to me about the protests and how incredible it was to be a part of something so huge. A part of history,” she said. 

Protesters shut down the highway for 19 days in a row before the deadly incident on Saturday.

The Washington State Patrol said going forward it would not allow demonstrators to enter I-5 and would arrest pedestrians on the freeway.

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Other deaths spike in Indian city ravaged by coronavirus

AHMEDABAD, India (Reuters) – A large Indian city badly hit by the coronavirus has recorded a sharp rise in deaths not attributed to the outbreak, according to official data and burial records, highlighting how the pandemic has affected general healthcare.

The spike in deaths in Ahmedabad, the most populous city in western Gujarat state, is due to patients with serious illnesses either not able to go to hospitals or being afraid to visit them because of the virus, doctors said.

The numbers contain “ominous signals” for the rest of the country, said Dr Rajib Dasgupta, a professor of community health at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.

India has the world’s fourth biggest outbreak of the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus, with over 600,000 confirmed cases and 17,800 deaths, and some of its largest cities are still reeling from rising infections.

Authorities say over 1,400 people have died because of the coronavirus so far in Ahmedabad, one of India’s worst-hit cities with more than 20,000 confirmed cases.

But the indirect death toll may be even higher.

Twenty-four Hindu crematoriums and four of the largest Muslim graveyards in the city have reported 3,558 deaths in April and 7,150 deaths in May – a spike compared to 2,784 and 2,706 deaths reported by them in April and May last year, respectively.

State government data for Ahmedabad district, which includes the city limits, shows 839 deaths because of COVID-19 during April and May this year.

Jayanti Ravi, the health secretary of Gujarat state, however said she wasn’t aware of any significant rise in deaths in the city of more than 5.6 million people.

“We have collected the data related to actual births and deaths registered across the state and it is not showing such a big deviation,” she told Reuters when asked about the spike.

India’s federal health ministry and Ahmedabad’s municipal commissioner did not respond to questions from Reuters.

Dr Mona Desai, president of the Ahmedabad Medical Association that represents over 9,000 doctors, said some of those who died may have been COVID-19 positive.

But more fatalities were likely to have occurred because patients did not seek timely treatment fearing they might become infected by the virus, she said.

“Many patients went to hospital only when their condition deteriorated, but then it was too late to do anything,” Desai said.

LOCKDOWN CLOSES PRIVATE CLINICS

Doctors also said that a closure of some private health facilities during a weeks-long lockdown that began in late March made it difficult for many patients to seek treatment.

Dasgupta, from Jawaharlal Nehru University, said: “Excess deaths during the COVID surge phase has been in evidence in other countries too on account of the inability to access medical care for other time-sensitive emergencies.”

There was growing evidence that routine healthcare had been disrupted in India also, he said, adding that mortality data from high-incidence areas would provide more details.

Data from the Hindu crematoriums in Ahmedabad shows that the number of bodies cremated rose by 19% in April and 145% in May compared to the same months last year, with the first half of June also registering a marked increase.

The data was provided by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation under a right to information application.

Ahmedabad’s Muslim graveyards have seen an even sharper rise – data from four of the largest graveyards shows that the number of bodies buried increased by 131% in April and 396% in May, compared to the same months last year.

“People are scared of getting hospitalized because of the coronavirus outbreak,” said Rizwan Kadri, chairman of Ahmedabad Sunni Muslim Wakf Committee, which oversees five burial grounds.

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Coronavirus case in refugee camp on US-Mexico border raises alarm

Immigrant advocates intensely worried about the potential for an outbreak in a camp housing an estimated 2,000 migrants.

An asylum seeker has tested positive for the novel coronavirus in a sprawling encampment just steps from the US-Mexico border in Matamoros, underscoring the challenges migrants face in protecting themselves from the pandemic.

After showing symptoms of the virus last Thursday, the migrant and three family members were placed in isolation and tested, Global Response Management (GRM), a nonprofit providing medical services in the camp, said in a statement.

When results came back on Monday, the migrant who had displayed symptoms tested positive and the relatives had negative results.

To prepare for the virus, GRM sought to improve sanitation in the camp by setting up 88 “handwashing stations”, distributed multivitamins to boost migrants’ immune systems and built a 20-bed field hospital.

Luz, a 42-year-old asylum seeker from Peru who asked that her last name not be used due to safety concerns, said she has tried to isolate as much as possible, though she sometimes ventures out of her tent to seek some relief from the fierce Matamoros heat.

“I truly am not afraid, though I try to be cautious,” she said. “But you can’t stay in your tent all the time … It’s too hot.”

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China reports 12 new COVID-19 cases vs 17 a day earlier

BEIJING (Reuters) – China reported 12 new confirmed COVID-19 cases as of end of June 28, down from 17 reported a day earlier as the country’s capital tries to curb a new wave of infections that emerged from a wholesale market in mid-June.

The National Health Commission (NHC) said in a statement that five of the new COVID-19 cases were so-called imported infections involving travellers from overseas, compared with three such cases reported a day earlier. The seven local infections were all in the capital city of Beijing.

Beijing had tested about a third of its population as of noon Sunday as part of the city government’s efforts to ensure the outbreak that emerged from the Xinfadi market did not spiral out of control.

A total of 311 people in the city, which has a population of more than 20 million, have tested positive for the virus since the first case linked to the market was reported on June 11.

Regions around Beijing remain on high alert. The county of Anxin, less than 100 miles from the Chinese capital, announced on Saturday that it would seal off residential compounds and villages until further notice.

Anxin, which forms a part of the Xiongan New Area launched in 2017 to provide living space for Beijing, has also instructed residents to stay indoors, with “the epidemic prevention and control situation now extremely serious”, according to state media.

The NHC also reported six new asymptomatic cases as of the end of June 28, compared with seven such cases a day earlier.

The total number of COVID-19 cases for mainland China now stands at 83,512, while the total death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

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China sees uptick in new COVID-19 cases, including 17 in Beijing

BEIJING (Reuters) – Mainland China reported on Saturday the highest number of new coronavirus cases in four days, driven by a COVID-19 resurgence in the Chinese capital of Beijing.

The National Health Commission reported 21 new confirmed infections in mainland China on Friday, up from 13 a day earlier and the highest since Monday.

In Beijing, 17 new confirmed cases were reported, up from 11 a day earlier and the most since June 20.

Since June 11 when Beijing reported its first case in the current outbreak, stemming from a sprawling wholesale food centre in the southwest of the capital, 297 people in the city of more than 20 million have contracted the virus.

Mainland China reported four new so-called imported cases on Friday, infections linked to travellers arriving from abroad. That compares with two cases a day earlier.

That took the cumulative number of confirmed cases in mainland China to 83,483.

Mainland China reported 12 new asymptomatic patients, who tested positive for COVID-19 but showed no clinical symptoms such as a fever, up from five a day earlier.

The national health authority does not include asymptomatic patients in its tally of confirmed cases.

The death toll stood at 4,634, unchanged since mid-May.

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