- Russia reports a record increase of 232 deaths
- India’s infections continue to rise with another single-day high
- France and the UK are preparing to further ease lockdowns next week
- Global cases are approaching 6 million with at least 360,000 dead
23:00 Brazil has recorded a total of 27,878 coronavirus deaths, surpassing Spain with the fifth-most fatalities. The country reported 1,124 deaths on Friday. Brazil’s death toll stands behind only the US, the UK, Italy and France.
The country also has the second-worst COVID-19 outbreak in the world, after the United States, with 465,166 confirmed cases of the virus.
22:10 Former US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who served under President Barack Obama and briefly under Donald Trump, has told DW that Trump’s decision to cut ties with the World Health Organization (WHO) may be damaging for the next steps of the global response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“When you have a problem in your family, you stay and you help fix it,” he said, referring to the US as part of the WHO “family.”
“You don’t cut and run. And I worry that in terminating our relationship with the WHO, we are actually making the world less safe at a time when we are still facing a critical pandemic.”
However, Murthy did say it was possible that Trump’s move could speed up reform within the WHO.
“It is certainly possible that he may force changes to happen in a quicker timeline, but we also have to keep in mind that cutting funding in the midst of a pandemic is hindering the organization that the entire world needs at this moment to be stronger,” he said.
Murthy also said the US has “struggled” in its response to the pandemic. The US has by far the most cases and deaths in the world.
“I think we have struggled a bit as a government in terms of responding,” he said. “We still do not have enough availability of testing around the country. We are still struggling to build the resources to trace contacts so that we can contain infection once it arises. And finally, on the communication front, we’ve had communication that has not been optimal.”
20:44 Belgium is lifting a ban on cross-border travel to visit family members in neighboring countries — France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Germany — Interior Minister Pieter De Crem said on Facebook.
“From tomorrow, it will again be possible to visit family members in our neighboring countries,” De Crem said in a post on his Facebook page. He added that a ministerial decree will be published on Saturday.
De Crem said travelers must comply with coronavirus precautions in neighboring countries.
Nonessential travel to and from Belgium has been restricted since mid-March. The European Commission, the EU’s executive, has pushed for borders within the bloc to reopen, though external borders should remain restricted until June 15.
Belgium has reported more than 58,000 cases of the new coronavirus, but the rate of new daily cases has remained under 300 for nearly two weeks.
19:57 New York City, the United States city hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, is “on track” to reopen on June 8.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the city, which has recorded more than 29,000 coronavirus-related deaths, was hitting all the necessary metrics that would allow it to slowly emerge from lockdown. New York City has already met targets for declining deaths and hospitalizations and is expected to meet criteria concerning hospital and testing capacity next week, Cuomo said.
Areas of upstate New York got the green light to reopen hair salons, retail shops and offices under strict conditions. New York City remains the only region of the state that has not begun its economic rebirth.
19:41 Israel says it may reimpose coronavirus restrictions after infection rates in the country rose again. After just four positive tests last Saturday, the Jewish-majority state reported 101 new coronavirus cases on Friday. Israel, one of the first countries to impose coronavirus restrictions, began easing lockdown measures in mid-April after infection rates slowed.
Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov said some people haven’t been vigilant enough regarding social distancing and wearing masks. ”Sadly, the disease is still here,” Bar-Siman-Tov said. “The atmosphere of loosening up among the Israeli public is out of place.”
19:25 US President Donald Trump says his country is “terminating” its relationship with the World Health Organization. Trump accused the UN agency of failing to enact reforms in the face of US concerns over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and that it put too much faith in information from China.
“Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will today be terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs,” Trump told a news conference at the White House.
“China’s cover-up of the Wuhan virus allowed the disease to spread all over the world,” he added.
Trump announced last month that the US would halt funding to the WHO, a decision widely denounced by other countries and health experts.
18:48 The World Health Organization and 30 countries led by Costa Rica have launched an initiative aimed at making diagnostics, drugs and vaccines for the new coronavirus available for anybody who wants it.
“Vaccines, tests, diagnostics, treatments and other key tools in the coronavirus response must be made universally available as global public goods,” Costa Rica’s President Carlos Alvarado said.
Dubbed the “Technology Access Pool,” the initiative is intended to encourage countries to freely share genetic sequences of the virus and to license any potential treatment or vaccine through the United Nations-backed Medicines Patent Pool.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, science has been the heart of the WHO’s effort to suppress transmission and save lives,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
18:38 Switzerland is to reduce the presence of army personnel at the border. Up to 5,000 soldiers have supported civilian authorities during the border closures in the country and neighboring Liechtenstein. The government said that number will be reduced to 1,000 until mid-June.
Switzerland has recorded nearly 31,000 coronavirus infections and nearly 2,000 virus-related death, but new daily infection numbers haven’t exceeded 20 since May 21.
18:20 Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig has restarted the city’s famous ferris wheel to celebrate the reopening of the country’s tourism industry.
The 64.75-meter-high (212-foot-high) attraction, which first started spinning in 1897, had been stopped for the first time in more than 70 years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Shops, restaurants and museums in the Austrian capital recently reopened as the country has relaxed some of its coronavirus restrictions. Hotels are also allowed to welcome guests once more, though foreigners will not be able to enter the country until June 15.
Vienna’s tourism industry employs 116,000 people and generates €4 billion ($4.4 billion) in annual revenue, according to city data.
18:02 A second coronavirus outbreak in Germany has been linked to the resumption of religious services as restrictions are eased. At least 44 people in the northern German city of Bremerhaven tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a local church service on Sunday, the city said after a meeting of its crisis committee. Two people have been admitted to a hospital.
The mass had been attended by up to 150 worshippers and more than 100 members of the congregation are now in quarantine.
In an earlier incident, more than 200 churchgoers were infected with the virus after a church service in Frankfurt on May 10.
Read more: Coronavirus: Germany ‘can avoid second wave’
17:19 Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of Austria says that masks will no longer be mandatory in shops from June 15 as the country continues to relax coronavirus restrictions. Austrians will now only be required to cover their mouths and nose in public transportation, health facilities and in places where social distancing rules are hard to maintain, Kurz told a news conference. The country will also scrap a limit on four adults per table at restaurants and bars.
“We are happy that we can make these adjustments because it means easing restrictions. But I’m honest enough to add today that, if the situation worsens, it will be necessary to reinstitute measures regionally,” Kurz said.
Austria went into lockdown earlier than many European countries. As a result, the country has only reported 16,655 coronavirus cases and 668 deaths — a fraction of those in European neighbors Italy and the UK, and even Germany.
16:52 Burundi’s first lady Denise Bucumi Nkurunziza has been admitted to a hospital in Kenya after contracting COVID-19, according to multiple reports. The first lady was airlifted to Nairobi by air ambulance, the Agence France Presse and Kenya’s Citizen TV reported. A high ranking government official told AFP that she was flown to the Kenyan capital “for treatment as she caught the coronavirus.”
Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza has been criticized for his handling of the crisis. Earlier this month, Burundi expelled the country’s top World Health Organization (WHO) representative and three other experts coordinating the nation’s coronavirus response. His wife Denise, who is a pastor, has played down the seriousness of the pandemic in sermons and speeches.
16:23 La Liga, Spain’s top football division, will resume on June 11 with a match between local derby rivals Sevilla and Real Betis, the Spanish government’s department of sport (CSD) confirmed. The CSD said in a statement that the season would finish by July 18, “depending on the evolution of the virus.” Games will be played without fans in attendance to prevent the spread of the disease.
The league, which has 11 matchdays remaining on its schedule, has been on hiatus since March 10 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
La Liga will be the second of Europe’s five biggest football leagues to resume. The German Bundesliga restarted its season earlier this month and has completed three rounds of matches.
16:06 Singapore and China have agreed to open a “fast lane” for essential travel and business purposes.
The arrangement will first be applied to the Southeast Asian city-state and six Chinese provinces — Shanghai, Chongqing, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Tianjin and Zhejiang — before being gradually expanded to other provinces and municipalities, according to a joint statement.
The two countries will have “effective COVID-19 prevent and control measures in place.”
China is Singapore’s largest trading partner, with US$51.6 billion in goods and services traded in 2019, the equivalent of 13% of the city state’s total exports.
15:58 The Louvre museum in Paris plans to reopen on July 16 as part of France’s lockdown easing. The country’s most popular museum said in a statement that it will implement a booking system and a new signposting system to offer visitors maximum possible safety while they are in the building. It also asked museum-goers to wear a mask and practice social distancing.
The museum, closed since March 13, said its website received 10.5 million visitors between March 12 and May 22 for an average of 330,000 people visitors per day. The website averaged 40,000 daily visitors before the pandemic.
“Even if you could still experience the Louvre’s treasures virtually during lockdown, nothing can replace the emotion of standing in front of a work of art; that is the raison d’etre of museums,” said director Jean-Luc Martinez.
14:48 Switzerland has reported its first infant death from the new coronavirus. The Swiss health ministry said the baby was infected ”abroad,” without giving further details. “Children are less likely to fall ill (with the virus) than adults and are less infectious,” Stefan Kuster, the new head of Switzerland’s coronavirus crisis response, told reporters in the Canton of Aargau, where the child was from.
The infant was one of two deaths the health ministry reported on Friday, bringing Switzerland’s total death toll from the pandemic to 1,656. The country has 30,852 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 32 new cases over the past 24 hours.
14:31 South Africa says it faces a backlog of nearly 100,000 unprocessed tests for COVID-19 due to a shortage of medical supplies.
“This challenge is caused by the limited availability of test kits globally,” the health ministry said in a statement overnight.
The country has conducted more than 655,000 coronavirus tests so far, more than any other country in Africa. It also has the most confirmed coronavirus cases at 27,403, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Africa relies heavily on imported medical supplies, which have fallen as exporting countries attempt to conquer their own outbreaks.
14:04 A group of monkeys made off with blood samples of Indian patients who had tested positive for COVID-19. Local authorities said the ambush occurred earlier this week while a laboratory technician was taking the samples to the campus of the medical college in Meerut, near the capital New Delhi.
Dheeraj Raj, the superintendent of the college, told the French news agency AFP that the samples were recovered and not damaged. People living near the campus had feared the virus may spread if the monkeys carried the samples to the nearby community.
Authorities in Meerut often have to grapple with thieving monkeys that snatch food and cell phones.
13:45 Germany has recorded 560 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, and not an earlier figure of 741, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany’s disease control agency said on Friday. The RKI did not change the number of total infections, which sits at 180,458.
An RKI data expert told the DPA news agency that the earlier incorrect figure was the result of a technical issue that included old cases in the tally.
The death toll from the virus in Germany is also unchanged – 39 in the past 24 hours for a total count of 8,450.
13:01 Spain has given the green light for the creation of a minimum income worth €462 ($514) a month for its poorest residents, who are among the hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The scheme would help roughly 2.3 million citizens, Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias said at a press conference.
People aged between 23 and 65 with assets of less than €16,614, not including their house or discounted loans, will be eligible for the new scheme.
As a result, average spending on fighting poverty in Spain will increase from just over 0.1% of GDP, one of the lowest in Europe, to almost the same as the average for the other OECD member countries, which is 0.4%, the left-wing government said.
12:43 Norway and Denmark will resume free travel between the two countries from June 15, but that freedom won’t be afforded to another Scandinavian neighbor, Sweden, at least for now.
The number of coronavirus infections remains much higher in Sweden and more than 4,250 Swedes have died from COVID-19 — more than five times the combined total of the other two Nordic countries.
Denmark will also open its borders to holidaymakers from Germany and Iceland from June 15.
12:25 A so-called second wave of coronavirus infections in Germany could well be avoided, thus negating the necessity for another nationwide lockdown, according to two of the country’s top virologists.
“Perhaps… we will avoid a second shutdown,” virologist Christian Drosten told German magazine Der Spiegel. Thanks to Germany’s handling of the first wave of the pandemic, there is now a “theoretical possibility” that citizens will “get through without a second wave.”
Virologist Hendrik Streeck from the University of Bonn said that while there may well be local outbreaks from time to time, like the ones in Leer and Frankfurt, Germany is unlikely to witness a large second outbreak. Streeck told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND) in a preliminary report: “I don’t think we’ll be seeing a second wave that literally floods and overwhelms us.”
Last weekend, two other leading German public health experts warned that a second wave of infections could be brought back to Germany from abroad by holidaymakers.
12:12 Germans have been doing more home cooking during their coronavirus lockdown, while also using a greater number of fresh ingredients, rather than processed foods, according to the food and agriculture ministry.
Results from a survey about eating habits revealed some 30% of those questioned said they cooked more meals themselves than before the crisis, while 28% said they ate more often with other members of the same household than earlier. Only 7% of those interviewed said they ate more processed foods than before.
Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner said: “Coronavirus is changing the daily nutrition of Germans. Regional foods have gained in importance.”
11:05 Iran has declared its highest number of new infections in almost two months and warned the Middle East’s deadliest outbreak was worsening in some regions.
The government has largely lifted its lockdown restrictions after Iran’s first infections were revealed in February but has been keeping an eye out for emerging clusters.
Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 2,819 new cases were confirmed in the past 24 hours, bringing the tally to 146,668.
That daily figure is the highest since April 2. New infections have been on a rising trajectory ever since a near two-month low was reached on May 2.
10:53 Portugal has seen a drop 98.3% in overnight stays at hotels in comparison with this time last year as flights were grounded, keeping visitors away as the industry suffered heavy losses.
The National Statistics Institute (INE) revealed overnight stays by Britons, the main source of tourism for Portugal, fell 99.3% in April compared to the same period last year.
Portugal’s tourism board has said that the country’s beaches and hotels will be ready to welcome tourists by mid-June. However, there is still concern about how to check that new arrivals have been tested for the novel coronavirus, a measure the government wants to see implemented, and how to control whether social distancing rules are maintained on beaches.
A complete cancellation of the tourist season this year could have resulted in the Portuguese economy contracting up to 6%.
10:17 Polish football fans will be able to attend matches from June 19, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has announced, but only 25% of the capacity of stadiums will be used in order to maintain social distancing and curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“The Polish Football Association and the Premier League have chosen the 19th, so it will be possible to prepare everything according to the correct procedures,” Morawiecki said.
The Bundesliga in Germany returned two weeks ago but with games behind closed doors.
Belarus is the exception to the rule, where football has continued unaffected by the pandemic.
09:45 Spain has begun a 10-day period of national mourning for the victims of COVID-19.
09:25 Russia has reported an increase of 232 fatalities, a record high, as Moscow authorities released mortality figures in an effort to quash suggestions they were being manipulated.
A total of 4,374 have died from COVID-19, according to health officials.
Officials confirmed there had been a total of 387,623 cases, only the United States and Brazil have more.
Authorities have forecast a higher death toll in May compared to April, attributing
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