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    Trudeau turns down White House invitation amid pandemic

    TORONTO — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has turned down a White House invitation to celebrate the new regional free trade agreement in Washington with President Trump and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

    Trump and López Obrador are due to meet Wednesday in Washington, but Trudeau spokeswoman Chantal Gagnon said that while Canada wishes the United States and Mexico well, Trudeau won’t be there.

    “While there were recent discussions about the possible participation of Canada, the prime minister will be in Ottawa this week for scheduled Cabinet meetings and the long-planned sitting of Parliament,” Gagnon said.

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    Trudeau is conducting online Cabinet meetings instead of in-person meetings because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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    A senior US administration official said Trudeau had multiple conflicts related to the start of Parliament and coronavirus regulations which require Canadians who travel abroad to quarantine for 14 days on return. The official said Trudeau has asked to speak with Trump by phone.

    Trudeau later spoke with López Obrador by phone and wished him a successful meeting with Trump, the prime minister’s office said.

    Associated Press

    Australian state’s cases spike, borders to shut

    MELBOURNE — The hard-hit Australian state of Victoria recorded two deaths and its highest-ever daily increase in virus cases on Monday as authorities prepare to close its border with New South Wales.

    The deaths of two men, one in his 60s and the other in his 90s, brings the national death toll from COVID-19 to 106.

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    Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said of the 127 new cases, 53 were among 3,000 people who have been confined by police to their apartments in nine public housing blocks since Saturday. Andrews said the high number of cases reflected a daily record number of tests exceeding 24,500.

    Andrews also announced that the state border with New South Wales will be closed from late Tuesday night in an agreement between the two state premiers and Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Morrison had previously opposed states closing their borders.

    It will be the first time Australia’s two most populous states have closed their border since the pandemic began.

    Associated Press

    India now 3rd-worst affected nation from coronavirus

    India has overtaken Russia to become the third-worst affected nation by the coronavirus after the country reported 24,248 new cases Monday.

    India has now confirmed 697,413 cases, including 19,693 deaths. Russia has 680,283 cases.

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    Indian authorities late Sunday withdrew a planned reopening of the famed Taj Mahal monument, after new cases were detected in the area.

    India’s Culture Ministry had decided to reopen all monuments across the country on Monday after more than three months with a cap on the number of visitors and mandatory wearing of face masks.

    After a nationwide lockdown, India has eased restrictions in most of the country except for the highest-risk areas.

    Associated Press

    Serbian military opens field hospital amid virus spike

    BELGRADE, Serbia — Troops in Serbia set up an emergency 500-bed field hospital Monday, a day after neighboring Kosovo reimposed a nighttime curfew in four cities, as the Balkans battled to contain a surge in virus infections that underscored the risks of swiftly easing lockdowns.

    The makeshift hospital in a sports hall in Belgrade is a “precautionary measure” as hospitals in the capital are reaching their capacity because of the outbreak, the city’s deputy mayor, Goran Vesic, said. Serbian infections have returned to levels last seen at the peak of the pandemic in the Balkan country in March and April.

    Serbia’s rising infections provide a chilling insight into how the virus, while retreating in much of Europe, can roar back if lockdowns are lifted too swiftly. The country went from having some of Europe’s toughest lockdown measures to a near-complete reopening at the beginning of May. Soccer and tennis were played in front of packed stands, resulting in several players testing positive.

    Associated Press

    Zimbabwe nurses protest their working conditions

    HARARE, Zimbabwe — At least 12 nurses were arrested in Zimbabwe on Monday when they were demonstrating against their working conditions, complaining that they do not have adequate protective gear to safely treat COVID-19 patients.

    Thousands of nurses working in public hospitals stopped reporting for work in mid-June, part of frequent work stoppages by health workers who earn less than $50 a month and allege they are forced to work without adequate protective equipment such as gloves and masks. Police have been deployed to stop protests by nurses and doctors in recent months.

    On Monday, dozens of nurses wearing masks and their white and blue uniforms gathered for protests at some of the country’s biggest hospitals in the capital, Harare, and the second-largest city of Bulawayo.

    Zimbabwe’s coronavirus cases have been climbing in recent weeks, mostly recorded at centers where people returning to the country mainly from neighboring South Africa are kept in mandatory isolation. The country had recorded about 700 cases of coronavirus infection and eight deaths by Monday.

    Associated Press

    In Russia and Ukraine, no social distance on beaches

    SOCHI, Russia — Tens of thousands of vacation-goers in Russia and Ukraine have descended on Black Sea beaches, paying little heed to public health measures despite the numbers of reported coronavirus cases remaining high in both countries.

    Desperate for a break from the confinement of months-long lockdowns, few wear masks or try to maintain social distance as they bask in the sun on overcrowded beaches in the Russian city of Sochi and in the Ukrainian seaport of Odessa.

    While popular vacation destinations in Europe are still closed to visitors from Russia and Ukraine as European nations move carefully to lift restrictions on foreign visitors, Black Sea resorts in Russia and Ukraine are filled to capacity from domestic tourism.

    Hotel owners are happy about the bonanza, and prices for rooms are soaring.

    Associated Press

    ‘Mona Lisa’ back at work, as Louvre reopens to visitors

    PARIS — The “Mona Lisa” is back in business.

    Paris’s Louvre Museum, which houses the world’s most famous portrait, reopened Monday after a four-month coronavirus lockdown and without its usual huge throngs.

    The reopening of the world’s most-visited museum was a bright spot in what is otherwise shaping up as a grimly quiet start to the summer tourist season in France, with far fewer visitors than was normal.

    Paris tour guide Katia Besnard Rousseau said she has had no groups to show around since France gradually started coming out of its strict two-month lockdown in May. On Monday, as the Louvre reopened, she and dozens of other guides demonstrated outside, forming a long line and holding up images of the “Mona Lisa” to highlight the hardship afflicting their industry.

    Associated Press