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‘Catalonia independence from Spain just days away’

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King Felipe VI

Barcelona, Oct 4: Catalonia will declare independence from Spain in a matter of days, the leader of the autonomous region has said.

In his first interview since Sunday’s referendum, Carles Puigdemont told the BBC, his government would “act at the end of this week or the beginning of next”.

Meanwhile, Spain’s King Felipe VI said organisers of the vote put themselves “outside the law”. He said the situation in Spain was “extremely serious”, calling for unity.

Hundreds of thousands of people across Catalonia have been protesting over Spanish police violence during the vote, during which nearly 900 people were hurt, including 33 police officers.

In the BBC interview, Catalonia’s President Puigdemont said if the Spanish government were to intervene and take control of Catalonia’s government, it would be “an error which changes everything”.

Puigdemont said there was currently no contact between the government in Madrid and his devolved administration.

He disagreed with the European Commission’s statement on Monday that events in Catalonia were an internal issue for Spain. He was speaking shortly before the king’s speech.

In his televised address to the nation, the king said the Catalan leaders who organised the referendum showed their “disrespect to the powers of the state”.

“They have broken the democratic principles of the rule of law. Today, the Catalan society is fractured,” the king said, warning that the poll could put at risk the economy of the wealthy north-eastern region and the whole of Spain.

But he stressed that Spain “will overcome difficult times”.

The Spanish government has described the referendum as illegal.

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Seoul kindergarten student tests COVID-19 positive

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Seoul, May 25 (IANS) A kindergarten student in Seoul has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the South Korean capital city’s education office said on Monday.

The development comes just two days ahead of the planned second-phase resumption of South Korean schools, including kindergartens, reports Yonhap News Agency.

The six-year-old student is believed to have contracted the virus from his art teacher at Young Rembrandts, a private art school in Magok .

The teacher, who tested positive on Sunday, had taught 35 students at the institute until Friday and had contact with three other staff members.

The teachers all wore masks and followed the institute’s quarantine guidelines and social distancing rules, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education.

The art school’s 91 students, three teachers and two parents have been tested for the virus and are awaiting their results, which will come out on Tuesday.

The teacher’s 38 contacts have been ordered to self-quarantine for 14 days, and 13 educational institutes in the same building as the art school will be closed for disinfection.

The boy’s kindergarten, 10 nearby kindergartens and five nearby elementary schools will remain closed for two days for disinfection and other precautionary measures, said the Yonhap News Agency report.

Under the government’s phased school reopening plan, schools are scheduled to resume in-person classes for the two lowest grades of elementary school, kindergarten students, middle school seniors and second-year high school students on Wednesday.

High school seniors returned to school last week after more than two months of delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has so far infected 11,206 South Koreans and killed 267 others.

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UK COVID-19 deaths rise to 36,793 as another 118 patients die

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Africa Coronavirus Case

London, May 25 (IANS) Another 118 COVID-19 patients have died in Britain as of Saturday afternoon, bringing the total coronavirus-related death toll in the country to 36,793, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday.

The figures include deaths in all settings, including hospitals, care homes and the wider community, Xinhua reported.

Chairing Sunday’s Downing Street daily press briefing, Johnson confirmed that primary schools in England will partially reopen from June 1, including the reception, year one, and year six in primary schools.

He added that he intends for secondary schools to provide “some contact” for year 10 and year 12 students to help them to prepare for exams next year from June 15.

“By opening schools to more pupils in this limited way we are taking a deliberate cautious step,” he told reporters, noting that the government “wants to start getting our children back into the classroom in a way that is as manageable and as safe as possible.”

Acknowledging that a June 1 opening may not be possible for all schools, Johnson said the government will continue to support and work with the sector.

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COVID-19: Bournemouth confirm one positive case

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London, May 24 (IANS) Premier League side Bournemouth has confirmed that an unnamed player is one of the two new coronavirus positive cases discovered by the latest round of tests.

“AFC Bournemouth can confirm that one of its players has tested positive for COVID-19, following the club”s second round of testing,” a statement on the club”s website, afcb.co.uk, said.

“Medical confidentiality means the player”s name will not be disclosed, and the club asks for this to be respected.

“In line with Premier League protocols regarding positive tests, he will self-isolate for a period of seven days before being tested again at a later date.

“Following strict adherence of the Premier League”s return to training regulations, the club”s training ground remains a safe working environment for players and backroom staff, who will continue to be tested for COVID-19 twice per week,” it added.

Earlier, the Premier League had confirmed two more positive cases of COVID-19 in the second round of testing.

The Premier League said that 996 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19 on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

The clubs have been allowed to start small-group training from Tuesday after the top flight football league in England was suspended on March 13 due to coronavirus outbreak. The overall total count of positive results is now eight in the league.

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