Wellington (AFP)

The New Zealand government postponed the parliamentary elections for four weeks on Monday due to a rebound in the coronavirus pandemic, a threat also hanging over Italy where it is now mandatory to wear a mask at night.

New Zealand's elections, which were due to take place on September 19, have been postponed until October 17, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

"This decision gives all parties time to campaign over the next nine weeks and gives the Election Commission enough time to ensure that an election can go ahead," she said.

Hailed for its effective response to the first epidemic wave, New Zealand has achieved the feat of not recording any new cases for 102 days before experiencing, since early August, a rebound in contaminations. The country's main city, Auckland, has been re-defined until August 26.

The Covid-19 pandemic has killed more than 766,000 people worldwide since the World Health Organization's office in China reported the onset of the disease at the end of December, according to an AFP report Sunday.

In Europe, the warning signs of a second epidemic wave are increasing. In Italy, France, Spain or the United Kingdom, the authorities have tightened health measures in recent days, in the hope of avoiding new confinements with catastrophic economic effects.

- Masked nights in Italy -

Italy announced on Sunday the closure of open-air discos - those in closed places have never reopened - and made the wearing of the mask compulsory between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. in public places.

Italy, the first country in Europe to be hit by the epidemic, has recorded 254,000 cases of Covid-19 and more than 35,000 deaths, but remains relatively untouched by the second wave.

The government fears, however, that the nightlife, which was in full swing during the "Ferragosto", the popular weekend of August 15, will contribute to explode the contaminations.

A worrying restart of the pandemic is also observed in France, where the new contaminations identified exceeded 3,000 in 24 hours on Sunday, for the second consecutive day. Wearing a mask in the street is mandatory since this weekend in many districts of Paris and in several other cities.

This measure, which most experts consider essential to contain the epidemic, is however some recalcitrant.

Thus, in Spain, one of the most bereaved European countries (around 29,000 dead), a few hundred people gathered in Madrid on Sunday against the mask.

- "Corona circus" -

The demonstrators carried placards which proclaimed among other things "The virus does not exist", "The mask kills" or "We are not afraid".

In Brussels, more than 200 people also demonstrated against the anti-Covid restrictions, in their view of freedom, some accusing the public authorities and experts of being in the pay of the pharmaceutical industry. "Corona circus", "it's my body, it's my choice," read the signs.

In Morocco, authorities closed several neighborhoods in Marrakech on Sunday due to an upsurge in infections, while Japan said it suffered a historic drop in its GDP in the second quarter, to -7.8% under the impact of the health crisis.

In Latin America, the most affected region, the threshold of 10,000 new daily contaminations was crossed for the first time on Sunday in Peru, where the toll of the epidemic is more than 26,000 dead. Colombia deplores more than 15,000 deaths.

The United Kingdom has imposed a mandatory quarantine since Saturday morning for travelers arriving from France, but one person has received an exceptional exemption: the Australian Chloe McCardel, who completed her 35th Channel crossing on Sunday swimming.

The 35-year-old swimmer connected the English city of Dover to the French city of Wissant in 10:40 am and was then able to return to the United Kingdom by boat without having to lock herself up for two weeks upon arrival. "The Channel crossings are authorized as long as physical distancing is respected and that one does not stay ashore more than ten minutes" before returning, explained the Channel Swimming Association.

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© 2020 AFP