China has tried to blame Spain

China has tried to blame Spain for the new strain of coronavirus while suggesting the deadly disease originated in Europe and not Wuhan.

The first cases were detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019 – with many involving workers at a wet market – before the virus rapidly spread around the world, killing more than 525,000 people.

Protest leaders are struggling to come up with new tactics for opposing the authority of Beijing without risking long prison sentences, and one of Hong Kong’s leading young democrats has joined a growing number of activists leaving the territory. Nathan Law, co-founder of the now-dissolved Demosisto party, fled after giving a statement online to a US congressional hearing on Hong Kong, an act criminalised by the new law as “collusion with foreign forces”.

Asked what foreign governments could do to help Hongkongers, he told the hearing: “The international community should work together to set up interests that prioritise human rights rather than trade interests. Secondly, we need to have a united front that is multilateral, cohesive and assertive in containing Chinese authoritarian expansion.”

The statue has been vandalised numerous times over the years, including when the mermaid’s head was stolen in 1964 and 1998, as well as when an arm was cut off in 1984.

Often the vandalism is tied to a political message and in January someone painted ‘Free Hong Kong’ on the same rock.

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Florida increased by a record 11,458 on Saturday, the state’s health department said.

This is the second time in three days that the figure has increased by more than 10,000.

The lockdown in Spain comes days after the UK also ordered a regional lockdown for Leicester after coronavirus cases spiked in the Midlands city.

In the last two weeks, Leicester accounted for 10 per cent of all new cases reported in the country. It will remain shut for at least a fortnight as restrictions continue to be eased elsewhere.