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11
September

File photo of smugglers walk back after embarking migrants on boat on the beach of Gravelines, near Dunkirk, northern France on Sep 22, 2020. (Photo: AFP) - 

 

French maritime officials rescued 126 migrants attempting to cross the Channel to Britain as tensions escalated over record arrivals on England's southern coast.

At least 14,100 people have now crossed the Channel to the UK on small boats this year, according to Britain's domestic Press Association news agency - around 6,000 more than for the whole of 2020.

A record 828 people crossed over from France on a single day in late August, as traffickers took advantage of favourable late-summer weather.

French maritime authorities said Saturday (Sep 11) that a first vessel transporting 43 people, including six women and two babies, was intercepted by a patrol boat after encountering problems.

Forty migrants were rescued in another operation.

Another 43 were picked up from the Channel waters after sending out a distress signal.

France has a policy of not intercepting or turning back migrant boats unless they ask for help, and instead escorts them to British waters.

That has stoked anger in Brexit-supporting sections of the British media and the government in London, who accuse France of shirking its responsibilities.

Illegal Channel crossings have ballooned since the end of 2018 despite repeated warnings by French authorities of the perilous journey, fraught with heavy maritime traffic, icy waters and strong currents.

Since 2018, French authorities have confirmed 11 deaths and three people are missing//CNA

11
September

The coronavirus pandemic shuttered cinemas across the world - 

 

Disney announced Friday (Sep 10) that all of its films slated for release by the end of the year will be exclusively screened in cinemas first, bringing relief to theaters anxious to reconnect with audiences after the coronavirus pandemic devastated their industry.

The animated film Encanto will be released on the big screen on Nov 24 and will not appear on Disney's on-demand video platform until Dec 24, the company said in a statement.

Other planned projects, including The Last Duel by Ridley Scott, Eternals by Marvel Studios and West Side Story by Steven Spielberg, will be screened in theaters for at least 45 days before they are released elsewhere.

The decision was eagerly awaited by traditional cinemas after the entertainment giant recently chose to release a series of big productions such as Black Widow, Jungle Cruise and Cruella on its Disney+ platform, diverting part of their revenue.

Black Widow actor Scarlett Johansson has sued Disney, accusing the company of breach of contract and costing her millions of dollars in box office revenue after it released the film on its video platform.

Two years ago, Disney was producing content for both theaters and television channels, but it now has direct access to its audience via streaming, a trend accelerated by the pandemic.

In mid-August, Disney boss Bob Chapek said he favoured "flexibility" and the ability to "follow the consumer wherever he goes".

During a presentation of the company's financial results, he said "when theaters reopened, there was immense reluctance from the public to return".

Warner Bros studios has also been heavily criticised for its decision to release all of its new movies for the rest of the year on its HBO Max platform//CNA

11
September

FILE PHOTO: A normally busy road is deserted during a lockdown to curb the spread of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Auckland, New Zealand, August 26, 2021. REUTERS/Fiona Goodall - 

 

New Zealand said on Saturday (Sep 11) it detected 23 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, denting optimism that the country was on course to eradicate the virus once more.

The new infections, all in the epicentre of Auckland, were up from the 11 cases detected a day earlier.

"This does serve as a strong reminder of the importance of following the COVID-19 alert level rules wherever you are, and to get tested if you have any symptoms or have been at a location of interest at the specified times," New Zealand's Ministry for Health said in an emailed statement.

About 1.7 million people living in Auckland remain in a strict level 4 lockdown, while curbs were eased in the rest of the country earlier this week.

The government will decide on Monday whether the lockdown in Auckland would be eased or extended//CNA

11
September

A man walks past signage at a COVID-19 vaccination hub at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre in Brisbane on Aug 17, 2021. (Photo: AFP/Patrick Hamilton) - 

 

Australia's third most populous state said on Saturday (Sep 11) it may order a snap lockdown after a cluster of COVID-19 cases, as the country posted a record one-day rise in daily infections.

Queensland state, home to more than 5 million people, said it had detected five new infections in the past 24 hours after a family tested positive for COVID-19. The next few days would be critical to see if a lockdown was warranted, authorities said.

"If we start seeing any seeding, then we may have to take very quick, fast action. But at the moment, it’s contained to the family," said state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

The family lives in Brisbane, the state's capital. It was not clear whether a lockdown would be limited to some parts of the state like previous orders.

New South Wales, home to Sydney and Australia's most-populous state, is under lockdown as are the cities of Melbourne and Canberra. A lockdown for Queensland would be another blow to Australia's A$2 trillion (US$1.5 trillion) economy, which could slip into a second recession in as many years.

Australia on Saturday posted 2,077 infections, surpassing the previous day's record of 1,903. New South Wales, which has been under strict stay-at-home orders for nearly three months, said it detected 1,599 new infections.

Authorities warned people on Saturday to continue social distancing, but hot weather across Sydney saw scores of people head to the beach.

New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard said police would be out checking whether people were within 5km of their homes, as permitted under emergency rules.

Police and military personnel have for weeks been patrolling the streets of Sydney, issuing fines to those contravening health orders, such as wearing masks.

One person fined was former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who confirmed on Saturday he had been ordered to pay A$500 after being pictured not wearing a mask.

"I believe that I was well within the law, reasonably interpreted. But I'm not going to challenge the fine because I don't want to waste the police's time any further," Abbott told reporters in Sydney.

"I never thought that dobbing and snitching was part of the Australian character and I think that the sooner we can leave this health police-state mindset behind us, the better for everyone."

In neighbouring Victoria, authorities reported 450 new locally acquired cases, the biggest one-day rise in locally acquired cases in more than a year.

Australia has now recorded nearly 73,000 COVID-19 cases and a death toll of 1,084//CNA

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