This article titled “Pope begs world leaders to provide Covid relief – as it happened” was written by Helen Sullivan (now), Jedidajah Otte , Aamna Mohdin, Graham Readfearn and Calla Wahlquist (earlier), for theguardian.com on Sunday 31st May 2020 04.08 UTC
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Global cases pass 6 million
The world has passed the milestone of six million confirmed coronavirus cases, with 6,048,384 confirmed infections worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.
The US is the worst-affected country in terms of cases and deaths, with 1,769,776 infections and 103,685 fatalities.
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Updated at 5.11am BST
Brazil cases near 500,000
Brazil registered a record 33,274 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Saturday, its health ministry said, raising the total to 498,440 in a country with one of the world’s worst outbreaks.
The death toll in Brazil from Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, increased to 28,834, with 956 new deaths in the last 24 hours, the ministry said.
In Australia, residents in the country’s most populous state, New South Wales, are enduring one more day of tight Covid restrictions before pubs, beauty salons and museums reopen and intrastate holiday travel is permitted, AAP reports.
For the first time in almost three weeks, zero Covid-19 cases were reported in NSW on Saturday, from 9500 tests.
A marketing campaign spruiking NSW as a tourist destination will target NSW, Victorian and ACT residents as coronavirus-related travel restrictions ease.
The state government on Sunday said a major tourism marketing push would coincide with the restriction changes.
Travellers from interstate will also be able to visit NSW under the changes, but must comply with the rules of their home state when returning.
The next phase of the “now’s the time to love NSW” campaign – first announced earlier this year after bushfires devastated the state – will include a new television commercial and social media video series, and international digital advertising to keep the state in overseas visitors’ minds.
“Interest in NSW road trips has jumped with a 125% increase in page views on VisitNSW.com in the past week,” Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said in a statement on Sunday.
Key UK election battlegrounds face double hit from Brexit and coronavirus
Key English election battlegrounds in the north-west and Midlands will be severely exposed to a double economic hit from Brexit and coronavirus should the UK fail to secure an EU trade deal by the end of the year, new analysis has warned.
Boris Johnson has continued to rule out any extension to Britain’s EU transition deal, which expires from January. It comes despite a deadlock in talks about a future trade deal, before the final round of talks this week.
However, an impact assessment of ending the transition period found that manufacturing, banking, finance and insurance sectors would be “severely exposed” to a double economic hit from Brexit and coronavirus.
The Social Market Foundation analysis divided the country into areas and then placed each in a category between 1 and 5, with 5 representing those most exposed to a double hit. Half of those in the north-west are in category 5 and a further 40% in category 4. It said that the West Midlands, where the Tories made major gains in last year’s election, was also exposed.
Hi, Helen Sullivan joining you now. I’ll be bringing you the latest news for the next few hours. As always, you can get in touch with me directly on Twitter @helenrsullivan or via email: helen.sullivan[at]theguardian.com.
Here some key developments of the last few hours at a glance:
- Pope Francis implored world leaders on Saturday to act wisely and generously to provide social and economic relief for the many workers who have lost jobs, and called for the enormous sums of money used to grow and perfect armaments be instead used to fund research to prevent similar catastrophes in the future.
- Britain’s top public health leaders and scientists have warned prime minister Boris Johnson that trust in the government has been shattered by the Dominic Cummings affair and now poses real danger to life when lockdown measures are lifted this week. Cummings, Johnson’s top aide, has been embroiled in a scandal after he was seen in Durham, 264 miles from his London home, despite having had coronavirus symptoms.
- Romanian prime minister Ludovic Orban paid a 3,000 lei fine (0) on Saturday for breaking his own coronavirus restrictions by not wearing a face mask and smoking indoors. A picture which went viral on social media shows Orban in his office, sitting around a table with several other cabinet members, smoking a cigarette while none of them wore masks.Russia to start vaccine trial within two weeks
- Russian scientists plan to start clinical coronavirus vaccine trials within two weeks, the health minister was quoted as saying on Saturday as authorities approved the country’s first anti-Covid-19 drug, Avifavir.
- Greece will conduct coronavirus tests on visitors arriving from airports deemed high-risk by the European Union’s aviation safety agency EASA when it opens its airports to tourism traffic on 15 June. The list currently includes 13 airports in the United Kingdom, all those in 22 US states and those in the Ile de France region surrounding Paris.
- Frontline workers in Mexico City’s hospitals are planning a national march for Monday to demand appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). Nurses and other health workers account for about a quarter of all of Mexico’s coronavirus infections, government data shows, one of the highest rates in the world.
- South Africa’s infection cases now exceed 30,000, the country’s health minister Zweli Mkhize said on Saturday. The country reported 1,727 new cases, taking the cumulative total to 30,967. The death toll increased by 32 to 643.
- Pakistan has reported 78 coronavirus deaths on Saturday, a single day record since the pandemic arrived in the country in March. The country has recorded 135 deaths in the past two days, and over 5,000 new cases, with health experts warning of a steep rise in the number of infections in coming days.
- Colombia is to lift quarantine measures in parts of the country, but issued new measures to control the spread of coronavirus in three of its most affected cities on Saturday, including the capital Bogota. The country has reported more than 26,600 coronavirus cases and 853 deaths.
- New York state governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill on Saturday that will grant death benefits to the families of police officers, public health workers and other frontline workers who have died of the coronavirus. “You gave your lives for us, we will be there for your families going forward,” Cuomo said as he signed the legislation.
That’s all from me for today, I’m now handing over to my colleague Helen Sullivan in Australia.
Updated at 12.01am BST
A demonstration for justice for George Floyd in the city of Pittsburgh in the US state of Pennsylvania has escalated, with reports of journalists getting kicked and beaten and shop windows being broken.
Pittsburgh’s Public Safety agency urged people to avoid the downtown area.
As protests swept across the US on Saturday, some rallies became violent, while others remained largely peaceful, although some crowds seemed to disregard the risk of coronavirus transmission.
Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms set a curfew starting Saturday at 9pm ET and lasting until sunrise Sunday.
The city said the curfew was issued because of the “recent acts of violence demonstrated throughout the city.”
Updated at 11.57pm BST
Liberian president George Weah, a former international football legend, has released a song to be used by the UN to spread awareness about the new coronavirus, his office said Saturday, according to Agence France-Presse.
Weah hopes to appeal to music lovers across the West African nation of some 4.5 million people to ensure Covid-19 does not spread further.
It is not the first time Weah has used his singing skills. During the 2014 Ebola crisis, when he was a senator, he released an awareness song.
“The song, Let’s Stand Together to Fight Corona, will be a part of the second phase of UNESCO’s DontGoViral campaign, which they say is aimed at informing and sensitising communities across Africa about the dangers of the disease,” Weah’s office said.
Mexican healthcare workers are trying to get the pandemic under control without appropriate protection.
Health workers account for about a quarter of all of Mexico’s coronavirus infections, government data shows, one of the highest rates in the world. The risks are made worse by shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE).
As a nurse on the front lines of Mexico’s coronavirus battle, Gisela Hernandez has stayed away from her children for nearly two months, sleeping in a hotel and even her car to avoid infecting them because she feels inadequately protected at work, Reuters reports.
At night, she video calls Santiago, 5 and Renata, 9, who are both asthmatic, to hear about what they’ve done during the day and remind them how much she misses them.
While Hernandez says she loves her work, and considers the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases (INER) in Mexico City her second home, she is also afraid of contracting coronavirus, which has killed 9,415 people in Mexico.
“I don’t regret becoming a nurse because I like to help my patients,” said Hernandez, 40, whose hospital is one of the city’s main treatment centers for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.
But she said she is “scared of getting sick … scared of never seeing my kids again.”
Coronavirus cases are surging in Latin America, which along with the United States is now an epicenter of the global pandemic.
Frontline workers in Mexico City’s hospitals, including Hernandez, have taken to the streets to complain about the conditions. A national march is planned for Monday.
The more than 2 million people who have been “shielding” from Covid-19 in England because they are deemed to be clinically extremely vulnerable will be allowed to spend time outdoors from Monday for the first time in 10 weeks, Reuters reports.
The government said on Saturday that the 2.2 million will be able to go outside with members of their household, while continuing to follow social distancing guidelines. Those who live alone can meet outside with one other person from another household.
“I do not underestimate just how difficult it has been for you, staying at home for the last 10 weeks, and I want to pay tribute to your resilience,” prime minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.
Those shielding remain at risk however and the government said they should only leave the house once a day, not go to work or the shops and should avoid crowded places where they cannot social distance.
Support provided to those with serious medical complications, such as the delivery of food, medicines and phone calls, will continue.
Brazil’s coronavirus outbreak is worsening still, as the country now has at least 28,015 Covid-19 deaths, and 469,510 detected infections in total, according to Worldometers.
On Friday, Brazil reported 26,417 new cases, the country’s largest daily increase by far, as well as 1,156 new deaths.
The Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, has repeatedly dismissed the risks from coronavirus, defied his own government’s advice and pushed states to reopen beauty parlours as the death toll climbed – displaying an overall attitude world leaders such as Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have shared during the pandemic.
Brazil’s most densely populated favela, Paraisópolis, in Sao Paulo, was forced to react and set up an informal emergency care system, the Intercept reports.
Updated at 10.46pm BST
South Africa’s detected coronavirus infections now exceed 30,000, the country’s health minister Zweli Mkhize said on Saturday.
South Africa reported 1,727 new cases, taking the cumulative total to 30,967. The death toll increased by 32 to 643.
As massive protests erupted across US cities following the police killing of a handcuffed black man in Minnesota, George Floyd, some city leaders uttered fears of a new surge in coronavirus infections, the Associated Press reports.
Minnesota’s governor Tim Walz said Saturday that too many protesters weren’t socially distancing or wearing masks and seemed undeterred by the infection risk.
“Whether they’re fired up or not, that doesn’t prevent them from getting the virus,” said Bradley Pollock, chairman of the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of California, Davis.
Others were more sympathetic towards the demonstrators.
New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, acknowledged a connection between Floyd’s killing and the disproportionately high death toll among people from ethnic minorities.
Atlanta’s police chief Erika Shields said in a video interview that angry reactions were understandable as black lives were “being diminished”.
Updated at 9.53pm BST
Britain’s top public health leaders and scientists have warned prime minister Boris Johnson that trust in the government has been shattered by the Dominic Cummings affair and now poses real danger to life when lockdown measures are lifted this week.
Cummings, Johnson’s top aide, has been embroiled in a scandal that has dominated British media for more than a week now, after he was seen in Durham, 264 miles from his London home, at the end of March, despite having had symptoms of coronavirus. Cummings’s relaxed interpretation of lockdown rules drew condemnation from across the country and political spectrum.
In a letter sent to No 10 on Friday, 26 senior UK academics and health administrators warn that public faith in the government is essential if the Covid-19 crisis is to be tackled effectively.
However, they make clear that trust has been “badly damaged by the recently reported actions of Dominic Cummings, including his failure to stand down or resign in the public interest”, and by the prime minister’s refusal to dismiss him.
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Botswana will help repatriate citizens stranded abroad by coronavirus travel bans, with more than 100 due to arrive on Wednesday from Ethiopia, president Mokgweetsi Masisi said on Saturday.
Botswana ended a 48-day lockdown a week ago, allowing businesses and schools to reopen under strict conditions but its borders are still closed with only returning citizens and essential goods allowed in, according to Reuters.
“In order to alleviate the plight of our citizens abroad who have been adversely impacted by the pandemic, mostly students and those affected by the global travel bans, we have decided to assist them with financial assistance to either cope where they are or to return them home,” Masisi said in a televised speech.
Masisi said the government has helped 400 return from South Africa and neighbouring countries.
Botswana has recorded just 35 coronavirus cases and one death, but the economy has been severely hit, with real gross domestic product forecast to contract by 13% in 2020.
Romania’s prime minister fined for breaking own coronavirus rules
Romanian prime minister Ludovic Orban paid a 3,000 lei fine (0) on Saturday for breaking his own coronavirus restrictions by not wearing a face mask and smoking indoors, state news agency Agerpres said.
A picture which went viral on social media shows Orban in his office, sitting around a table with several other cabinet members, smoking a cigarette while none of them wore masks. Their masks were thrown on the table.
In a statement, Orban acknowledged breaching the rules, saying some cabinet members gathered at his office after a long working day on 25 May, his 57th birthday, Reuters reports.
“The prime minister knows rules must be obeyed by all citizens, regardless of their position. If the law is broken then sanctions must be enforced,” the agency quoted the statement as saying.
After 60 days of strict lockdown during a state of emergency which expired on 15 May, Orban’s government ordered a 30-day state of alert, when wearing masks became mandatory in public transport and in closed public spaces. Smoking indoors has been banned in Romania since 2016.
Restaurants with outdoor seating are due to reopen under strict restrictions on Monday. Romania reported 19,133 cases of the new coronavirus on Saturday, 151 cases more on the day, and 1,253 deaths.
Updated at 9.01pm BST
Russia to start vaccine trial within two weeks
Russian scientists plan to start clinical trials within two weeks on a vaccine to combat coronavirus, the health minister was quoted as saying on Saturday as authorities approved the country’s first anti-Covid-19 drug, Reuters reports.
Russia has the world’s third-highest toll of coronavirus infections after the United States and Brazil, and Kremlin officials have said the nation’s researchers are working on almost 50 different vaccine projects.
“The tests are under way and we plan to start clinical trials in the next two weeks,” health minister Mikhail Murashko was quoted as saying by the TASS news agency. He said volunteers had been selected to take part in the trials.
Drugmakers worldwide are rushing to develop treatments and vaccines for the virus that has caused 364,000 deaths globally.
There are currently about 10 coronavirus vaccines being tested in humans and experts have predicted that a safe and effective vaccine could take 12 to 18 months from the start of development.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said the health ministry had approved Avifavir for the treatment of Covid-19.
It was developed on the basis of a drug known generically as favipiravir.
RDIF said Avifavir had proved highly effective in treating patients with coronavirus in the first phase of its clinical trials. The final stage of clinical trials is under way, with the participation of 330 patients.
One of the Russian vaccine projects is being undertaken by the state-run Vektor Institute in Siberia, whose director general, Rinat Maksyutov, said on Saturday he hoped to complete clinical trials in mid-September.
Maksyutov said vaccine trials on animals had been successful.
Greece to test arrivals coming from EU’s high-risk airports
Greece said on Saturday it will conduct coronavirus tests on visitors arriving from airports deemed high-risk by the European Union’s aviation safety agency EASA when it opens its airports to tourism traffic on 15 June, Reuters reports.
EASA regularly updates a list of airports located in affected areas with high risk of transmission of the Covid-19 infection, which include 13 in the United Kingdom, all those in 22 US states and those in the Ile de France region surrounding Paris.
“If you originate from an airport on the EASA affected area list, then you will be tested upon arrival,” the ministry of foreign affairs said in an announcement, adding that movement restrictions will also apply.
“If the test is negative, then the passenger self-quarantines for 7 days. If the test is positive, the passenger is quarantined under supervision for 14 days.”
Visitors arriving from other areas will be randomly tested upon arrival. Greece released a first list of 29 countries it considered safe on Friday and said it would be reviewed again before 1 July.
“It will now depend on airport of origin, not country [of origin],” a government official told AFP.
The Mediterranean nation, which emerged from a decade-long debt crisis in late 2018, relies heavily on tourism – about 20% of its output – for its economic recovery.
A nationwide lockdown imposed in March helped Greece contain the spread of infections to just below 3,000 cases, a relatively low number compared with elsewhere in the European Union.
But it brought the tourism sector to a virtual standstill, with Greece’s economy expected to contract by up to 10% this year.
Updated at 11.23pm BST
Pope begs world leaders to provide coronavirus relief
Pope Francis begged world leaders on Saturday to act wisely and generously to provide social and economic relief for the many workers who have lost jobs, and called for the enormous sums of money used to grow and perfect armaments be instead used to fund research to prevent similar catastrophes in the future.
The pope prayed for an end to the coronavirus pandemic and the development of a vaccine as he presided over an outdoor gathering on Saturday that signalled a semblance of normalcy returning to the Vatican, after a coronavirus lockdown lasting more than two months, the Associated Press reports.
Francis was joined in the Vatican Gardens by a sampling of people on the front lines of the emergency: a doctor, a nurse, a hospital chaplain, a pharmacist, a journalist and a civil protection official.
A recovered Covid-19 patient, a person with a relative who died during Italys outbreak, and the parents of a baby born during the emergency also were among the pope’s more than 100 guests for the prayer.
They sat spaced far apart, and most wore protective masks. Francis didn’t.
He noted that many virus victims died alone due to hospitals needing to prohibit visitors and that the dead were buried sometimes in a way that wounds the soul.
The prayer service, held on a cool evening in the Vatican Gardens, marked Francis biggest gathering to date since the Vatican followed Italy in locking down in March to prevent virus infections.
Updated at 8.51pm BST
Over the course of the pandemic, Vietnam emerged slowly but surely as one of countries that handled the outbreak best, especially considering it is bordering China, where the first mass cluster of infections was recorded, and its relatively underdeveloped healthcare system.
The CNN reports on how Vietnam has managed to keep Covid-deaths at zero.
Israel has seen an uptick in coronavirus cases as it begins lifting restrictions on restaurants, bars, tourist attractions and other businesses, Haaretz reports.
25 people tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday, raising the total tally of infections to 17,012, less than 2,000 of them still active. No patients died on Saturday.
Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the recent spike in confirmed coronavirus cases and said the coming days would be “a test”, adding that the government will take steps to counter the spread of the virus, including increased enforcement of the coronavirus regulations and support for businesses that keep with regulations.
284 people have died in total in Israel from Covid-19. In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, 554 people tested positive, and two people have died.
In the Gaza Strip, 61 people were diagnosed, 18 of whom recovered, and one person has died.
Updated at 7.58pm BST
Although outdoor gatherings in groups larger than two isn’t permitted in England until Monday, from when people can meet outdoors in groups of up to six, large crowds flocked to beaches and parks on the weekend.
Here a picture of a crowded beach on Saturday at Durdle Door, a famous beauty spot on England’s Jurassic Coast.
The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Poland increased by 416 since Friday evening and reached 23,571, the Ministry of Health said on Saturday.
Ten additional deaths were reported since Friday.
Out of 221 new infection cases reported by Saturday morning, 178 were identified in the Silesia mining region in southern Poland, which so far has showed the highest number of coronavirus infections as coal companies are still receiving the results of large-scale coronavirus tests conducted on mine workers.
So far, 1,061 people have died from from Covid-19 in the country.
Updated at 7.29pm BST
Coronavirus infections in France are continuing to decline, health officials said on Saturday, with 14,380 patients currently in hospital, down from 14,695 a day earlier.
The number of serious coronavirus cases in intensive care in the country has fallen to 1,325 from 1,361.
The hospital death toll from the virus rose by 57 to 18,444 – the 10th consecutive daily increase below 100.
Numbers for nursing home deaths will next be updated on 2 June, the directorate said.
New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill on Saturday that will grant death benefits to the families of police officers, public health workers and other front-line workers who have died of the coronavirus, the Associated Press reports.
“You gave your lives for us, we will be there for your families going forward,” Cuomo said as he signed the legislation at his daily briefing on the virus.
The bill passed by state lawmakers this past week provides a death benefit that is more substantial than the regular death benefit that public workers families receive.
Dozens of police officers, public health workers, transit workers and paramedics have died of Covid-19 in the months since New York became the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States.
Cuomo said 67 people died of Covid-19 in the state on Friday, the same number as Thursday and a steep drop from the height of New York’s outbreak in April when more than 700 people were dying of the virus daily.
Speaking in the Bronx, Cuomo said he will focus this week on providing more testing for the coronavirus and more supplies like masks to neighborhoods in the outer boroughs of New York City where infection rates remain stubbornly high.
New York City is expected to enter the first phase of loosening coronavirus restrictions on 8 June.
England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam has taken position against the behaviour of prime minister Boris Johnson’s top aide Dominic Cummings, who defied the government’s lockdown rules and undertook several long road trips, causing a public outcry.
Asked whether people in authority should obey the rules imposed in the UK during the coronavirus pandemic, Van-Tam said on Saturday: “In my opinion the rules are clear and they have always been clear. In my opinion they are for the benefit of all. And in my opinion they apply to all.”
The prime minister had previously backed his top advisor and said Cummings had acted “responsibly, legally and with integrity”, although police said he had probably breached the rules.
Updated at 7.10pm BST
Thousands of workers rallied Saturday outside the Renault factory in northern France to protest the automaker’s decision to cut 15,000 jobs worldwide, including 4,600 in France, Agence France-Presse reports.
Unions said 8,000 people took part in the protest at the Maubeuge subsidiary over the cuts designed to help Renault steer out of a cash crunch exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
The plant, which employs around 2,100 people, has been stopped since Friday.
Under the new plan, Maubeuge-based production of electric Kangoo utility vehicles is set to move to Douai, 70 kilometres (45 miles) away, much to the consternation of workers.
“It’s an earthquake that is taking place. We want to keep our company here,” Jerome Delvaux, a union member, said.
“This demonstration today is very important, even if it is a first step, to show the government and Renault that workers and residents of this area are committed to this company and that we have support,” Delvaux added.
“We need these jobs, otherwise it’s a whole territory that will die,” he said.
The company will target savings of more than two billion euros (.2 billion) over three years and turn its focus to electric vehicles as it seeks to restore competitiveness in a market reeling from slumping sales since the Covid-19 pandemic forced millions of people into home confinement for weeks on end.
Record daily death toll in Pakistan
Pakistan has reported 78 coronavirus deaths on Saturday, a single day record since the pandemic arrived in the country in March, the health ministry said.
The country has recorded 135 deaths in the past two days, and over 5,000 new cases, with health experts warning of a steep rise in the number of infections in coming days.
On Saturday, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases reached 66,457, with 2,429 new cases detected in the past 24 hours. The number of total deaths from the virus has climbed to 1,396.
According to the health ministry statistics, the southern Sindh province tops the tally with 26,113 cases, followed by the northeastern Punjab province, where 24,104 people have so far been infected with the virus.
Sri Lankan authorities fear a fresh outbreak of coronavirus infections after thousands of mourners paid their respects to the body of a respected union leader on Saturday, defying a curfew and social distancing rule, Agence France-Presse reports.
Large crowds were seen jostling to bid farewell to Arumugam Thondaman, the leader of a tea plantation union and a government minister.
The 55-year-old died of a heart attack on Tuesday and is due to be cremated Sunday at Nuwara Eliya, in the country’s tea-growing highlands.
Authorities had imposed a 24-hour curfew in an unsuccessful attempt to stop crowds from visiting Thondaman’s body.
“Crowd control has been difficult. Distraught supporters have tried to push down police barriers to get into a building and pay their respects,” a police officer in the area said.
Large crowds had also gathered at the office of his Ceylon Worker’s Congress party in Colombo to view his body before the funeral procession went east for final rites.
A statement by a group of government doctors warned the funeral “could undermine public confidence in measures taken so far to contain the spread of the virus and lead to a second wave.”
The doctors expressed “displeasure” over the public farewell for Thondaman at a time when health authorities had asked people to restrict funeral attendees to close family members.
Sri Lanka has reported 10 deaths and 1,559 infections since the island country identified its first COVID-19 patient in January.
Colombia to lift quarantine in parts of the country
Colombia issued new measures to control the spread of coronavirus in three of its most affected cities on Saturday, including the capital Bogota, as the rest of the country prepares for quarantine rules to start lifting, Reuters reports.
The country has reported more than 26,600 coronavirus cases and 853 deaths.
Colombia began a nationwide quarantine in late March to control the spread of Covid-19. On Thursday, the government extended the lockdown until 1 July, but eased some restrictions.
All of Colombia will be required to observe current measures until Sunday, as thousands of businesses are gradually re-opening with safety protocols and reduced staff.
However, Bogota and the cities of Cali and Cartagena, which have been hit hard by the pandemic, will not see rules relaxed, the government said in a statement.
Bogota has reported more than 9,000 of Colombia’s coronavirus cases and 239 deaths. Cali and Cartagena have reported over 2,400 and more than 2,600 cases, respectively, and 105 and 126 deaths.
The cities must follow current quarantine measures and will perform close monitoring and screening until 15 June, the government said.
Latin America’s fourth-largest economy has been battered by the double shock of measures to slow the virus and a slump in oil prices.
Under the eased restrictions, children aged two to five will be allowed outside for 30 minutes three times a week, as will adults over 70 years of age. Those from six to 17-years old will be permitted outside for up to an hour three times a week, while adults under 70 will be allowed outside for two hours each day.
Italy’s total number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 232,664 on Saturday, as daily new infections fell to 416, down from 516 on Friday, the Civil Protection Agency said.
The country’s overall Covid-19 death toll rose by 111 to 33,340, a slight increase from the 87 deaths reported in the 24 hours to Friday. On Thursday, 70 deaths were reported.
Italy has the third highest death toll in the world after those of the United States and Britain, with Lombardy, Piedmont, Emiglia Romana and Veneto in the north of the country the worst affected regions.
Updated at 5.13pm BST
Britain “at very dangerous moment”, deputy chief medical officer says
Britain is at a very dangerous moment as it starts to ease some of its lockdown measures, England’s deputy chief medical officer said on Saturday, warning that people would need to follow the guidelines and not “tear the pants out of it”.
Jonathan Van-Tam joined other scientific advisors to the government in warning against the decision to ease England’s lockdown.
Van-Tam told the government’s daily briefing that people have got to be “sensible and proportionate with the freedom that we absolutely want to give to people because we need to see loved ones”.
He said the public needed “to actually follow the guidance, don’t tear the pants out of it, and don’t go further than the guidance actually says”.
Britain’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, also called Sage, was very clear that the easing of lockdown has to go painstakingly slowly, he said, adding that scientists would continue to unapologetically give that advice to the government.
Updated at 6.37pm BST
India to partially lift lockdown despite record infections
India extended its coronavirus lockdown until 30 June in high-risk zones but permitted restaurants, malls and religious buildings to reopen elsewhere from 8 June, despite a record high number of cases detected nationwide on Saturday, Reuters reports.
The home ministry ordered state governments and local authorities to identify “containment zones”, or areas that should remain under lockdown, as they continue to report high number of infections.
Hospitality and retail sectors, as well as places of worship, are allowed to open from 8 June, while the government expects local authorities to ensure physical distancing rules and staggered business hours.
India reported a record daily jump of 7,964 new Covid-19 infections on Saturday and has so far recorded 173,763 positive cases and 4,971 deaths, making the world’s second-most populous country ninth on the list of most infections.
Restrictions on international air travel and city train services remain in place, but permission for intra-state travel was granted.
Individual states are expected to make a call on the reopening of schools and colleges in July.
The prime minister, Narendra Modi, is due to address the nation on Sunday as his government struggles to get the outbreak under control despite imposing the world’s longest lockdown.
Updated at 4.39pm BST
Thousands of people across the US joined protests on Friday and Saturday over the killing of George Floyd.
The writer and academic Louis Fishman captured some scenes of a demonstration on Friday in Brooklyn, New York, with many protesters wearing masks to protect themselves and others in the crowd from coronavirus.
US president Donald Trump has threatened protesters joining rallies across the country with corporal punishment and violence.
In a series of tweets on Saturday, Trump praised the US secret service, mocked protesters and rejected their calls for justice for Floyd, who died after a police officer had knelt on his neck for several minutes while Floyd was pleading for help.
In a seperate tweet, Trump claimed that protesters attending various rallies were “Organized Groups” that “have nothing to do with George Floyd.”
Updated at 4.50pm BST
Spain’s official coronavirus infections rose by 271 to 239,228 on Saturday, the health ministry said, while reporting four further deaths, a dramatic decline in daily fatalities in recent weeks as the country brings the outbreak under control, Reuters reports.
Spain was at one point one of the worst affected countries by the pandemic but it has now has started to ease lockdown restrictions.
However, with people relaxing after months shut up inside, police have intervened in a series of incidents at parties, funerals and other social gatherings at which restrictions were broken.
In Barcelona, bathers were moved off the beach after some were spotted breaching rules by swimming in the Mediterranean, police said on Saturday.
The government said meanwhile that four small islands will be able to open the outside terraces of bars and restaurants to 75% of their capacity from Monday, a further easing of rules for parts of the country least affected by the disease.
Tables on terraces must still be kept 1.5 metres (5 feet) apart, according to regulations published by the Official Bulletin and affecting La Graciosa, El Hierro and La Gomera in the Canary Islands, and Formentera in the Balearics.
In the four islands entering phase 3, groups of up to 20 people can meet and shopping centres will be allowed to re-open at 40% of capacity. Hotels and other leisure establishments can have common areas up to 50% of capacity.
Companies should still encourage home working but also can organise the return of workers to the office as long as their arrival is staggered. Museums will be allowed to organise activities.
The country’s total death toll now stands at 27,125. Spain’s Covid-19 deaths peaked in week 14, where twice as many people died compared to an average week.
Updated at 6.15pm BST
That’s it from me. I’m going to hand you over to my collegue Jedidajah Otte.
Formula One races to go ahead in Austria on 5 July without spectators
Austria’s government has approved hosting Formula 1’s season-opening races on 5 July, according to Reuters.
The races will take place behind closed doors.
Updated at 4.36pm BST
The UK government is being urged to “step back” and stop the planned reopening of schools in England from Monday following concerns from experts about the easing of lockdown.
Four prominent members of the government’s own Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) have broken ranks to express worries about the safety of wider primary school openings on Monday.
In a statement issued on Saturday afternoon, the National Education Union (NEU) said the comments from expert advisers undermine the government’s claim that it is following the science.
The union said the contact-tracing system must be running successfully before the risk level that comes with children and teachers returning to school can be mitigated.
Updated at 3.51pm BST
Parisians flocked to sunny parks and gardens as they reopened in the French capital on Saturday for the first time after almost 11 weeks of coronavirus lockdown.
“At last we’re free,” Anne told Reuters. “This feels like being released from a kind of prison.”
Updated at 3.44pm BST
Thousands of Bosnians took to the streets on Saturday to protest against bad governance, nationalism and corruption as senior officials face public anger over the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Reuters reports that the government is under fire for the procurement of defective ventilators for Covid-19 patients.
The protest was organised by a small moderate party, the Platform for Progress, and joined by leaders of other opposition groups.
“What we are hoping to do is to wake the people up so that they know it is up to them, that they can actually bring about change,” party leader, Mirsad Hadzikadic, told Reuters.
“I am fed up with everything, with all this rhetoric and nationalism,” said fashion designer Jasna Hadzimehmedovic-Bekric. “This is all nonsense, covering up for big thefts that have been going on for the past 30 years and we are silent.”
Updated at 3.21pm BST
The European Union urged Donald Trump to rethink his decision to cut American funding for the World Health Organization, AP reports.
The US president on Friday claimed WHO didn’t respond adequately to the pandemic and accused it of being under Chinese control.
The US is the largest source of financial support for the WHO, and its exit is expected to significantly weaken the organisation. Trump said it would be redirecting the money to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs, without providing specifics.
On Saturday, the European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, urged Trump to reconsider, saying that actions that weaken international results must be avoided and that now is the time for enhanced cooperation and common solutions.
Earlier today, the South African health minister, Zweli Mkhize, called Trump’s announcement an unfortunate turn of events. “Certainly, when faced with a serious pandemic, you want all nations in the world to be particularly focused … on one common enemy,” he said.
Updated at 2.50pm BST
The government is facing increasing pressure from its scientific advisers over the decision to ease England’s lockdown.
Prof Peter Horby has become the latest adviser to express his concerns, saying on Saturday that while thousands of people a day are still becoming infected with coronavirus, lockdown measures may be being eased too soon.
Horby, of the University of Oxford, joined Sir Jeremy Farrar and Prof John Edmunds, all members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), in warning that ministers were taking risks.
Boris Johnson has announced a gradual easing of the lockdown in England from Monday, when friends and relatives will be able to meet in parks and gardens in socially distanced groups of six.
“Happy Monday” will also signal the reopening of schools – allowing children in nurseries, early-years settings, reception, year 1 and year 6 to return to class – as well as more shops, with outdoor retail and car showrooms able to resume operations.
Horby told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “You know, we have still got 8,000 cases a day. We have been very successful in bringing it down, decreasing the numbers because of the social distancing.”
But he said it was vital “we don’t lose control again”.
Coronavirus vaccine developed in China could be ready for market this year
A Chinese-made coronavirus vaccine could be ready for market as early as the end of this year, China’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) said in a social media post, according to a report by Reuters.
More than 2,000 people have received vaccines developed by the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products and the Beijing Institute of Biological Products during clinical trials.
Vaccines from both institutes had entered the second phase of clinical trials. Both groups are affiliated with state-owned pharmaceutical group Sinopharm, whose management is overseen by SASAC.
Updated at 1.30pm BST
For the first time in years, the few remaining local residents of Budapest’s party district can fall asleep without a nocturnal chorus of drunken stag groups outside their windows. The sweeping expanse of Kraków’s central square is no longer teeming with tour groups, and it is possible to traverse Prague’s Charles Bridge without elbowing through hordes of selfie-takers.
Coronavirus travel restrictions are proving tough to bear for the hundreds of thousands who work in the region’s hospitality industry, but are also giving the many beautiful cities of central Europe time and space to think about how to deal with their overtourism problems.
Budget flights and low prices have been a mixed blessing for these places, as a trickle of tourists turned to a flood in the decades since the Iron Curtain fell. “The residents have been complaining for a very long time that the city doesn’t belong to them any more,” said Barbora Hrubá of Prague City Tourism, a municipal body that works on the Czech capital’s tourism strategy.
With 9 million international visitors a year, Prague has become Europe’s fourth most visited city, after Paris, London and Rome. Tourists are not usually interested in seeing the rest of the country, or even much of the city. The average length of stay is just 2.4 days, and the majority of tourists crowd into the city’s old town, which over the years has pushed out much local life from the area.
“This is a great opportunity for us to rebuild and restart tourism in the city differently. We want a different type of visitor who visits more than the most famous monuments in the centre,” said Hrubá.
Italy will not be treated like a leper colony, the foreign minister, Luigi Di Maio, said on Saturday, as some European countries seek to keep their borders shut to visitors from places that have been badly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reports.
European countries are cautiously reopening their borders next month as the coronavirus contagion subsides around the continent.
Italy is set to let tourists back in from 15 June. While Di Maio promised a warm welcome to foreign tourists this summer, some EU states will keep their doors closed to visitors from countries with high coronavirus cases. Greece, for example, said on Friday it would open its frontiers to citizens from just 29 countries, excluding Italians, Spaniards and Britons.
“We do not accept blacklists,” Di Maio wrote on Facebook, announcing a forthcoming round of bilateral meetings both in Rome and abroad to press Italy’s case. “If anyone thinks they can treat us like a leper colony, then they should know that we will not stand for it.”
Italy has the third highest death toll in the world from coronavirus, with some 33,229 people dying during the outbreak.
Updated at 2.04pm BST
Temperatures in some California cities this week broke decades-old records. The heatwave that cooked Las Vegas over the past few days brought temperatures over 37.8C (100F). And in Phoenix, highs this weekend are expected to approach or exceed 43.3C (110F).
This year is on track to be one of the hottest on record, and public health officials worry that in cities across the US, summer heatwaves will collide with the coronavirus pandemic, with deadly consequences for poor, minority, and older populations.
Even before the pandemic hit, heat was killing more Americans than all other natural disasters combined.
People who live in cities are especially vulnerable to heatwaves because of a phenomenon called the urban heat island effect – cities with populations of 1 million or more can be up to 5F hotter than surrounding areas due to high population density, a lack of greenery and shade, and because materials like steel, concrete and asphalt tend to absorb more heat.
Studies have also found that cities’ poorest neighbourhoods tend to be hotter, and that many low-income families have been struggling to cope for years. In some neighbourhoods of Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, up to a third or more households lack air conditioning.
Due to the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, many more are unable to pay to run their ACs. And even as cities begin reopening after lockdown, many of the malls, public libraries and recreation centres where overheated Americans traditionally went to cool down remain risky, especially for older people and others with a heightened risk of dying from Covid-19.
Updated at 2.04pm BST
The Mexican president says the pandemic has been tamed, but experts and those who must bury the dead, fear an alarming rise in cases, according to a worrying report on the coronavirus outbreak in Mexico by Analy Nuño in Guadalajara, Madeleine Wattenbarger in Mexico City and Tom Phillips.
Rwandan medical workers have deployed robots to minimise contact between patients infected with the coronavirus and doctors and nurses.
Reuters reports the country has deployed the three robots to carry out simple tasks such as taking temperatures and monitoring patients.
Updated at 11.25am BST
Judges in Milan have placed Uber Italy under special administration for allegedly exploiting its food delivery riders during the coronavirus emergency.
Italy’s Guardia di Finanza (Finance Police) are investigating Uber Italy over an alleged gang-mastering case, following an investigation by the Italian national daily newspaper Corriere della Sera.
According to judicial sources, reported by Italy’s news agency ANSA, “the riders are not formally employed by Uber but by two other intermediary firms in the logistics sector including Flash Road City which has been placed under investigation.” One said his pay was always €3 per delivery no matter what the day or time.
Sources reported by Reuters said: “Uber Eats is alleged to have paid much higher sums to two recruitment companies that took on and managed the riders, most of them foreigners recruited from migrant reception centres.’’ According to Repubblica, riders were mainly from Mali, Nigeria, the Ivory Coast, Gambia, Guinea, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The company denies exploiting the riders and said it had made its “Uber Eats platform available to restaurants and couriers in full respect of the law and it condemned any form of illegal intermediation”.
“We participate actively in the debate around regulation which we believe will give the food delivery sector the necessary legal security to prosper in Italy,” Uber Italy said in an emailed statement reported by Reuters.
The Milan court said the firms had hired riders in an “uncontrolled” way during the Covid-19 emergency.
Updated at 2.05pm BST
India reports record daily jump of 7,964 new coronavirus infections on Saturday
India has recorded a total of 173,763 coronavirus cases and 4,971 deaths, making it the ninth most-affected country globally, according to Reuters.
While the fatality rates in India have been lower than in worse-hit countries, experts fear the peak has not been reached due to mounting cases of new infections.
In an open letter marking one year into his second term, the prime minister, Narendra Modi, appealed to the country’s population of 1.3 billion to follow all lockdown rules to stop the spread of the pandemic.
He said there was a “long battle” ahead against coronavirus.
Updated at 2.05pm BST
Afghanistan has recorded its biggest one-day rise of new coronavirus cases, with the capital, Kabul, and western Herat province experiencing the worst day of the crisis.
The health ministry confirmed 866 new Covid-19 cases across the war-torn country, pushing the total number of infection to 14,525. Three patients died overnight, bringing the death toll to 249. There have been 1,303 recoveries.
More than 60% of tests done in a 24-hour period came back positive across the country. The health ministry, which tested 1,425 suspected patients, has pledged to increase the number of daily tests. It has so far tested 37,348 patients.
In the capital, the health ministry recorded 411 new confirmed cases. Kabul is the country’s worst affected area for number of transmissions, with the total number of infections in the capital at 5,775.
Herat, which borders Iran, recorded 177 new cases. The first case of the virus were reported in the province after thousands of Afghan migrants poured back from Iran in February and March, fanning out across the country without being tested or quarantined. The total number of infections in Herat is 2,461 with 51 deaths.
The situation in southern province of Kandahar is also concerning as no one has been tested in more than a fortnight due to problems in the testing process.
Wahid Majroh, the deputy health minister said he instructed the health sector of Kandahar and nearby provinces to send samples to Kabul.
“We have a serious problem in Kandahar, PCR machine is off and there is no flight toward Kandahar so our engineers fix that, there will be a UN flight to Kandahar in coming days and our team will go with that,” Majroh said this week.
Majroh said 40% of total confirmed cases were recorded in the 10 days before Eid and added that previously he was “warning that the flood [of coronavirus] will come, but now the flood has arrived and many people are sinking”.
Everywhere in the country, the eastern province of Nangarhar and the northern province of Balkh saw a surge in the number of new infections recorded with 74 new cases combined.
Updated at 10.48am BST
Indonesia reported 557 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, Reuters reports.
The figure takes the south-east Asian nation’s tally to 25,773, health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said.
Yurianto reported 53 new deaths, taking the toll to 1,573, while 7,015 people have recovered.
Updated at 10.06am BST
It’s not the carefree city Celia Topping is accustomed to, but as more restrictions are lifted in Berlin, she writes a dispatch on the happy unmasked faces as campsites, lidos and lakes reopen for the summer.
Merkel won’t attend Trump’s G7 ‘unless pandemic changes’
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, will not attend an in-person meeting in the US with the leaders of the world’s major economies if president Donald Trump goes ahead with it, unless the course of the coronavirus spread changes by then, her office said on Saturday.
AP reports that after cancelling the Group of Seven summit, originally scheduled for June 10 to 12 at Camp David, Trump said a week ago that he was again considering hosting an in-person meeting of world leaders because it would be a great sign to all of things returning to normal during the pandemic.
Merkel initially suggested she had not yet made up her mind on whether to attend in person or by video conference, but her office later told the dpa news agency she could not commit to participating in person.
Updated at 12.07pm BST
Mosques in Iran to resume daily prayers
President Hassan Rouhani said mosques are to resume daily prayers throughout the country, despite some areas seeing high levels of coronavirus infections.
Rouhani said on state television that the hours of shopping malls, which had been allowed to open only until 6pm, will be extended, as part of the government’s plans to ease coronavirus restrictions, Reuters reports.
He added that physical distancing and other health protocols would be observed in mosques. He did not say when they were due to reopen.
Updated at 9.49am BST
As lockdown is relaxed in the UK, many in the NHS are left reeling. Palliative care doctor Rachel Clarke shares her experience working with coronavirus patients, and her fears of a second wave
Pollution from human and agriculture waste spilling into the seas off Rome has decreased 30% during Italy’s coronavirus lockdown, according to an AP report on preliminary results from a nationwide survey of seawater quality.
Authorities said it was too soon to give the lockdown sole credit for the change, saying that shifting sea currents and limited rainfall in April and May also could have been responsible for reduced runoff of livestock and fertiliser waste.
Marco Lupo, the director general of the Lazio regions environmental agency, said the reduction in tourism from March could have reduced the amount of sewage produced by the 30 million tourists who normally visit Rome each year.
Updated at 2.05pm BST
Russia reports 8,952 new coronavirus cases and 181 deaths in past 24 hours, Reuters reports.
The new daily figures are down from the record 232 deaths registered the previous day and pushes the nationwide death toll to 4,555.
Officials said 8,952 new infections had been confirmed, bringing the national tally to 396,575, the third highest reported total in the world after the US and Brazil.
Updated at 9.15am BST
Hello, I’m Aamna Mohdin taking over the liveblog for the rest of the day.
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham joins a chorus of voices warning that lockdown restrictions are being eased too soon in England.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
I think we have arrived at quite a dangerous moment.
This is premature, this easing of the lockdown.
Test and trace is not fully operational and it should be, in my view, before these steps are taken.
Referring to the coronavirus infection rate, Burnham said: “The R number … is still quite high.
It follows comments from one of the government’s scientific advisers, who voiced unease over the decision to lift England’s lockdown while thousands of people a day are still becoming infected with the coronavirus. He warned that loosening restrictions could easily lead to a second wave.
Updated at 9.17am BST
I’m going to hand you over to Aamna Mohdin now.
But first, news that Saudi Arabia’s golf courses are going to reopen on Sunday. The Saudi Golf Federation has released a raft of measures.
Players at the kingdom’s domestic courses will have to carry their own bags from their cars.
In the bunker? “Golfers will be asked to smooth the sand using their club or feet, rather than use a rake.”
On the green? “It will be forbidden for players to touch or handle the flagstick. Putts will need to be completed with the flagstick in, with players removing their own balls from the hole.”
Updated at 8.38am BST
Taiwan has approved the use of the potential Covid-19 treatment remdesivir – the same drug approved for an experimental trial by UK authorities earlier this week. The drug is produced by California-based Gilead Sciences.
Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Centre said the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration took into account “the fact that the efficacy and safety of remdesivir has been supported by preliminary evidence” and its use is being approved by other countries.
On that basis, the centre said the conditions had been met for approval of the drug for use in patients with “severe” Covid-19 infection.
Gilead has said it will donate 1.5m doses of remdesivir, enough to treat at least 140,000 patients, to combat the global pandemic.
Taiwan has been successful at preventing the coronavirus from spreading, thanks to early detection and prevention work and a first-rate public health system.
It has recorded 442 cases and only seven deaths. The vast majority of people have recovered, with just 14 active cases.
There is currently no approved medication or vaccine for Covid-19, but EU countries are already administering remdesivir to patients under compassionate use rules.
Japan and the United Kingdom have both cleared the drug for use and moved to begin supplying it to patients.
The United States, the world’s biggest pharmaceutical market, this month granted emergency use authorisation for remdesivir in Covid-19, but has yet to approve the broader use of the drug.
Updated at 8.24am BST
Reuters reports on developments in the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan has extended measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus until 15 June, but relaxed some restrictions, allowing the resumption of domestic tourism and soccer games, the authorities said on Saturday.
The country had locked down all its provinces and closed all non-essential businesses in March.
The Tashkent government eased some restrictions this month, dividing the country into “green”, “yellow” and “red” zones on the basis of the rates of newly-detected infections.
The new measures allow many businesses to reopen from 1 June, depending on the zones they fall in, for example, in “green” zones, children’s summer camps, recreational and sports centres will start working and people will be allowed to hold weddings and other traditional ceremonies with up to 30 guests.
Central Asia’s most populous nation of 34 million, which resumed domestic air flights and train services this month, said the domestic football league would resume, without spectators, from 5 June.
Bus tours between provinces will also resume, with halts barred in “red” zones, the cabinet said.
It announced a plan this week to subsidise the tourism sector, with measures such as paying tour operators and agents for every tourist brought in from abroad, but it remains unclear when the borders will reopen for foreigners.
Updated at 7.31am BST
AFP reports on some worrying sentiments against Singapore’s 90 or so otters, who are evidently unhindered by the city’s lockdown conditions. They’ve featured in nature documentaries, including the Nature’s New Wild shown on the BBC.
Singapore’s otters, long adored by the city-state’s nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the coronavirus lockdown but their antics have angered some and even sparked calls for a cull.
With the streets empty, the creatures have been spotted hanging out by a shopping centre, scampering through the lobby of a hospital and even feasting on pricey fish stolen from a pond.
While many think of tiny Singapore as a densely populated concrete jungle, it is also relatively green for a busy Asian city, and has patches of rainforest, fairly clean waterways and abundant wildlife.
There are estimated to be about 90 otters in Singapore, making up 10 families, and appearances at popular tourist sites around the city-state’s downtown waterfront have transformed them into local celebrities.
They featured in a documentary narrated by David Attenborough, are tracked avidly by the local media – and have been spotted more frequently since people were asked to stay home and workplaces closed in April to fight the virus.
Updated at 7.04am BST
12 migrants in Mexican government shelter test positive
Graham Readfearn here taking over from Calla Wahlquist for our global coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Reuters reports that 12 migrants have tested positive for Covid-19 at a government-run shelter in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez.
Mexico’s labor ministry said on Friday that the gritty industrial city of Ciudad Juarez, neighbouring El Paso, Texas, had received thousands of migrants under a Trump administration policy that sends US asylum seekers to Mexico to await the outcomes of their cases.
The migrants who have tested positive in the Leona Vicario centre, which houses 337 people, have been isolated.
“People with Covid-19 symptoms receive medical treatment in a timely manner and remain in an isolation area to monitor their progress.”
The infected migrants are from Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, the director of the centre, Ivan Jimenez, said.
Fourteen migrants considered to be high-risk, including pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions, were transferred to another facility.
Migrants in the shelter, one of Mexico’s largest along the border, have been in isolation for more than two months, Jimenez said.
Many had found work in Ciudad Juarez but had been forced to give it up amid the pandemic.
The centre has supplied children with educational materials and hopes to resume more activities as cases among the migrants dwindle, Jimenez said.
“It’s really horrible for people,” he said. “Above all, our concern is for mental health.”
Updated at 6.59am BST
I am going to hand over to Graham Readfearn. Stay well and stay safe, especially if you’re at protests in the US right now.
The Australian Veterinary Association has written to the agriculture minister, David Littleproud, seeking assurance that he will uphold new Australian regulations banning the live export of sheep to the Middle East during the northern hemisphere summer.
The export ban comes into effect on Monday, 1 June.
The association’s president, Dr Warwick Vale, said he had become aware that the Al-Kuwait was seeking an exemption to sail after the cutoff after being delayed by a coronavirus outbreak among its crew.
The ship arrived at Fremantle, Western Australia, on 22 May and was scheduled to leave with 56,000 sheep on board before the cutoff. Animal welfare groups have also argued that the exporter should not be granted an exemption.
Vale said the “welfare risks to the animals are unacceptably high in June, and that no exemptions should be granted”.
It is critical that the government upholds the regulations to ensure that animal welfare standards during live export of sheep are in line with the expectations of the veterinary profession and the wider community.
Updated at 6.12am BST
US supreme court rejects church’s dispute against California lockdown laws
The US supreme court has rejected a challenge by a church groups to block California’s lockdown laws, which limit attendance at religious worship to 25% of building capacity or 100 people.
More from Reuters:
In the California dispute, the nine justices split 5-4 in rejecting a bid by South Bay United Pentecostal church in Chula Vista to block the rules issued by governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat. Conservative chief justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberal justices in the majority.
Newsom ordered houses of worship closed to the public in March, but issued guidelines this week limiting attendance to 25% of building capacity or 100 people, whichever was lower.
“The precise question of when restrictions on particular social activities should be lifted during the pandemic is a dynamic and fact-intensive matter subject to reasonable disagreement,” Roberts wrote.
There were no noted dissents as the court rejected a similar request by two churches in Illinois, seeking exemption from Democratic governor JB Pritzker’s ban on services of more than 10 people, arguing that it infringed on the constitutionally protected free exercise of religion.
In a brief statement, the court said the state public health department had removed those limits on Thursday.
Updated at 5.48am BST
Here is the letter sent by NSW Health.
Ruby Princess passengers warned about tuberculosis infection
Passengers on the Ruby Princess cruise ship, a voyage which was responsible for 10% of all coronavirus cases in Australia after an outbreak on board, have been issued with yet another health warning – this time for tuberculosis.
The ABC reported that a person who had been a crew member on the ship was diagnosed with TB this week and is being treated in the Royal Prince Alfred hospital in Sydney.
NSW Health has issued warnings to some people who may be at risk of infection, including hospital staff, roommates, close friends and workmates, but said that passengers are at a very low risk of infection.
Updated at 5.37am BST
Germany has recorded 738 new cases of coronavirus on Friday, bringing its national total to 181,196, data from the Robert Koch institute for infectious diseases showed.
The reported death toll rose by 39 to 8,489.
Updated at 5.09am BST
Worshippers in Seoul wear masks at Buddha’s birthday celebration
In Seoul worshippers have donned face masks to celebrate Buddha’s birthday which was delayed from 30 April to 30 May due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Updated at 5.31am BST
A leading evolutionary biologist, Prof Edward Holmes, of the University of Sydney, has just emailed with a reaction to a new study in the journal Science Advances looking at the origins of the Sars-Cov-2 virus. The first post on that is here.
Holmes is one of the scientists to have carried out detailed work mapping the virus’s genome, and he suggests there’s plenty more work to be done.
This paper provides no new data and tells us nothing new about the origin of Sars-Cov-2.
There is a clear evolutionary gap between Sars-Cov-2 and its closest relatives found to date in bat and pangolins. The only way this gap will be filled is through more wildlife sampling.
Updated at 5.04am BST
As mentioned earlier, we have rolling coverage of the protests in the US in response to the police killing of George Floyd.
I’m not touching it.
Worth noting that the anti-vax, anti-5G and kind of anti-lockdown protests in Australia today are able to go ahead with less police intervention because all states have loosened social distancing restrictions because Australia’s management of the Covid-19 has been largely successful.
For example, Queensland has reported no new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, and says 4,119 tests were conducted in the same period.
The state has six active cases.
NSW also reported no new cases today. Nationally there were just 24 new cases yesterday.
Updated at 4.45am BST
Let’s check back in with the anti-vax, anti-5G protests in Australia today.
Several hundred people marched in Sydney.
I’m slightly confused by some of these signs.
There was also a large protest in Brisbane.
The protest in Melbourne is a fair bit smaller.
Senior conservative MPs in the UK are reportedly urging Boris Johnson to change the two-metre social distancing rule to 1.5m on the grounds that it could prevent large-scale redundancies, AP has reported.
More from AP:
While the prime minister spoke this week in favour of the two-metre gap, The Daily Telegraph said concerns are building that thousands of hospitality industry workers who have so far been unable to return to work could be laid off unless the rule is relaxed immediately.
Greg Clark, chairman of the Commons science committee and the former business secretary, has reportedly written to Johnson urging him to relax the rule.
“The difference between two metres and 1.5 metres may seem small but it can be the difference between people being able to go to work and losing their jobs,” Clark told the paper.
A former Brexit secretary, David Davis, said alterations to the government-backed furlough scheme should be implemented “in step” with a relaxation of the two-metre rule.
He said some firms would be unfairly disadvantaged if they had to remain shut due to the two-metre rule while being forced to start paying towards staff costs again under changes to the furlough plan.
“What will happen is that they will shut, meaning the furlough money is wasted, and there will be no tax revenue from that business,” Davis was quoted as saying.
The Telegraph said Clark cited a new paper from the scientific advisory group on emergencies (Sage) which says it may be possible to “enable distancing at less than two metres” in certain areas, provided other Covid-19 control measures are implemented.
Updated at 4.55am BST
Venice film festival to go ahead
The director of the Venice film festival, Alberto Barbera, has provided an update on the festival, which will be held despite Italy being one of the countries worst hit by the coronavirus, with more than 33,000 deaths.
Barbera said on Instagram that the 77th edition of the festival will go ahead from 2-22 September. Organisers are betting on a “return to normality” in Venice by the end of summer, AFP reported.
It will be a unique edition. We still don’t know exactly what we’ll be able to do, but in the meantime are selecting the films and drawing up a plan to allow everyone to participate safely.
The Cannes film festival, scheduled for July, is not going ahead “in its original form”.
More from AFP:
Thierry Fremaux, the Cannes festival’s director, has said he and Barbera have discussed the possibility of some type of collaboration, without providing details.
One complication for Venice, which has not yet released its roster of films, is that Cannes is set to unveil its selection on Wednesday. The 50 to 60 films on the list will not be shown on the Croisette, but will benefit from the “Cannes 2020” label created after the cancellation of the 73rd edition.
Whether some of those films show at Venice instead, or bypass the Mostra entirely to premiere at other festivals such as Toronto or San Sebastian, remains unclear.
But Giona Nazzaro, a programmer who has helped revitalise Film Critics’ Week, a Venice sidebar show, told the Manifesto newspaper that the festival going ahead provided a much-needed glimmer of light in dark times.
“That an industry suffering like the film industry is starting up again is a sign of hope,” he said.
Updated at 4.23am BST
Labor ‘deeply disappointed’ at Trump decision to leave WHO
The Australian opposition party says it is “deeply disappointed” by US president Donald Trump’s decision to cut ties between Washington and the World Health Organisation.
In a joint statement, Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, Penny Wong, and health spokesman, Chris Bowen, said:
Labor is deeply disappointed by the United States government’s decision to terminate its relationship with the WHO.
As we have previously acknowledged, there is considerable room for improvement at the WHO, but that improvement will not happen by walking away or asking it to do more with less.
The Australian government should urge the US to reconsider its decision and work with other member states to ensure adequate funding of the WHO to continue to perform its important role.
It’s just 12 days since the US president wrote to Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus giving the WHO 30 days to commit to substantive improvements.
And it’s just 11 days since the unanimous vote at the World Health Assembly to establish an impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation of the WHO-coordinated international health response to Covid-19.
Now, more than ever, the world needs a strong, effective and well-resourced WHO … perceptions of national influence over international organisations diminish the standing and capacity of those organisations – to everyone’s detriment.
Updated at 4.08am BST
The T20 cricket World Cup in Australia is likely to be postponed, but Scott Heinrich writes that doing so may help clear the way for the lucrative Indian Premier League.
And so it has come to pass: Cricket Australia this week announced dates for an India tour that will encompass four Tests, three T20s and ODIs, and three one-dayers for the women’s teams. They might be the fiercest of rivals on the field, but off it Australia and India can be the snuggest of bedfellows when it suits them. Should anyone have forgotten who possesses the whip hand in world cricket, wonder no more.
Updated at 3.56am BST
This is a pangolin, if you are not familiar with them:
Updated at 3.49am BST
The search for the source of the virus that caused the Covid-19 pandemic continues. A new study suggests a virus carried by bats gained its ability to bind to human cells from another animal, possibly a pangolin.
Scientists in the journal Science Advances found the closest relative of Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, was circulating in bats. But that virus lacked the protein that would have allowed it to bind to human cells.
The scientists found this ability could have been acquired from a virus found in pangolins – a scaly mammal that’s one of the most illegally trafficked animals on the planet.
Researchers from Duke University, Los Alamos national laboratory, the University of Texas at El Paso and New York University carried out the genetic analysis.
Dr Elena Giorgi, one of the study’s lead authors, of Los Alamos national laboratory, said:
People had already looked at the coronavirus sequences sampled from pangolins that we discuss in our paper, however, the scientific community was still divided on whether they played a role in the evolution of Sars-Cov-2.
In our study, we demonstrated that indeed Sars-Cov-2 has a rich evolutionary history that included a reshuffling of genetic material between bat and pangolin coronavirus before it acquired its ability to jump to humans.
The study still doesn’t confirm the pangolin as the animal that passed the virus to humans, but it adds weight to previous studies that have suggested it may have been involved.
In the study, the authors say the “close proximity of animals of different species in a wet market setting may increase the potential for cross-species spillover infections” because it allowed viruses to mix and recombine.
While the direct reservoir of Sars-Cov-2 is still being sought, one thing is clear: reducing or eliminating direct human contact with wild animals is critical to preventing new coronavirus zoonosis in the future.
Updated at 3.48am BST
Back to Australia now where protesters have gathered in Sydney’s Hyde Park. The target of their protests is a confusing mess of vaccines, 5G and other conspiracy theories ossified around the rallying point of coronavirus lockdowns.
Speakers include far-right anti-vaccine YouTubers arguing against childhood vaccine.
According to the journalist Cameron Wilson, one speaker asked the crowd to raise their hands if they have died from the flu shot. Fairly remarkable if he got a response to that one.
Wilson says there are several hundred people there.
It seems roughly similar in theme if not yet in vibe to a protest in Melbourne earlier this month, at which a number of people were arrested for breaching lockdown restrictions and assaulting a police officer.
Updated at 3.21am BST
bn euro rescue package negotiated for Lufthansa
Germany and the European Commission have reached agreement on a giant Berlin-funded rescue plan for coronavirus-hit airline Lufthansa, a commission spokeswoman and a source close to the negotiations said on Friday.
Since the pandemic hit Europe, the Lufthansa group – which also includes Brussels and Austrian Airlines and Swiss – has been bleeding 1m euros an hour, with about 90% of its 760-aircraft fleet grounded.
The deal would see the German carrier give up eight planes and their associated landing rights.
Lufthansa said it had “decided to accept the commitments offered by Germany to the EU commission” for the rescue package, adding it would surrender up to 24 take-off and landing slots that could be allocated to rival airlines.
German media had previously reported the European Commission would demand the group give up valuable take-off and landing rights at its Frankfurt and Munich hubs in exchange for Brussels’ green light.
The 9bn-euro (bn) German state lifeline would see Berlin take a 20% stake in the group, with an option to claim a further 5% plus one share to block hostile takeovers.
That would make the federal government Lufthansa’s biggest shareholder.
On top of a total 5.7bn euros in extra capital and 300m to buy the shares at face value, public investment bank KfW would also lend Lufthansa 3bn euros.
The company would agree to pay back much of the capital plus interest while granting the state two seats on its supervisory board.
Hammering out the details of the package took so long because the chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives were keen to minimise state control over the company’s day-to-day running.
Updated at 3.25am BST
In the United States the president, Donald Trump, has clashed with the governor or North Carolina, Democrat Roy Cooper, over Trump’s insistence that the crowd during his renomination address at the Republican national convention in Charlotte not show visible signs of coronavirus restrictions.
The convention is set to begin on 24 August and Trump’s nomination speech is slated for 27 August.
In a phone call between Trump and Cooper on Friday, AP reported, Trump “insisted on a full convention arena with no face coverings and no social distancing”. Cooper “expressed concerns and suggested a scaled-back event with fewer attendees”.
Trump earlier threatened to move the event if he cannot be guaranteed a large crowd.
More from AP:
The conversation came hours after Cooper’s health secretary, Mandy Cohen, called for more specifics beyond the safety protocols that the GOP convention’s leaders sent her in a letter on Thursday. Cooper’s administration has wanted more planning about public health and safety given the uncertainty Covid-19 has caused regarding commerce and movement restrictions.
Cohen wrote to the Republican national committee chair, Ronna McDaniel, and the convention’s chief executive, Marcia Lee Kelly, asking them to confirm whether Trump wanted the convention’s final night to have people together in a crowd-like setting and without social distancing or face masks.
Cohen also wanted numbers on how many people would be inside the Spectrum Center nightly, and how social distancing would occur.
Kelly and McDaniel wrote back that they needed further direction and assurances from him by next Wednesday to plan for a convention they said would bring a massive economic boost to the city.
The Republican national committee declined to comment Friday night.
Updated at 3.04am BST
Phillip Island’s MotoGP cancelled
In sport news, the Australian Moto GP on Philip Island has been cancelled.
The event was scheduled for 23-35 October. It will be the first time the race has not been run on Philip Island since 1997. Refunds will be offered.
The chairman of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation Chairman, Paul Little, said:
We’re very disappointed that MotoGP fans throughout Victoria, Australia and internationally won’t get the chance to make the pilgrimage to see the world’s best riders compete on one of the best circuits anywhere in the world, but the right decision has been made.
The Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix puts Phillip Island on the global stage and it’ll be back better than ever in 2021.
It follows the cancellation in early March of the Formula One Australian Grand Prix, which was the first major event in Australia to be cancelled over coronavirus fears.
Updated at 2.40am BST
Global support for WHO after Trump severs ties
Australian experts have joined their counterparts in the UK and around the world in voicing their support for the World Health Organisation after the US president, Donald Trump, said Washington would sever ties with the global body.
Prof Peter Doherty, a Nobel laureate and patron of the Doherty Institute, which is part of global efforts to find a Covid-19 vaccine, said the WHO had the “full support of the scientific community”.
Earlier Dr Stephen Griffin, an associate professor in the school of medicine at the University of Leeds, said:
There is no logic to the move by president Trump to sever links with the WHO. Pandemics are, by definition, a global crisis. To not face Covid-19 with a united front seems futile.
Given the scale of the outbreak in the US, this action appears nothing short of an attempt to refocus attention away from how this has been handled.
Updated at 2.29am BST
New South Wales has recorded no new cases of Covid-19 overnight. The state still has 71 active cases.
The NSW health department says 9,452 tests were carried out yesterday, bringing the total number of tests conducted in that state since the outbreak began to 494,000.
Mexico recorded 3,227 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday and 371 more deaths, bringing the total numbers to 84,627 cases and 9,415 fatalities, Reuters reports.
Victoria’s chief health officer, Prof Brett Sutton, says the Keilor Downs outbreak is linked back to one family.
He said the year 2 student who attended the Holy Eucharist primary school in St Albans South was at school but not displaying any signs of illness on Tuesday. They were tested on Thursday due to close contact with another known case.
Sutton said the health department was working with the education department to identify and trace close contacts, and that the affected classrooms and common areas of the school would be deep cleaned.
Updated at 1.52am BST
Primary school students quarantined in Melbourne outbreak
Primary school students in Melbourne, Victoria, have been placed into home quarantine after one member of the year 2 class at the Holy Eucharist primary school in St Auburns tested positive to Covid-19, the ABC reported.
Other students from that class have been asked to quarantine.
The infection was linked to the previously reported outbreak at Keilor Downs secondary college.
Victoria recorded 11 new cases of Covid-19 overnight, three of which were linked to the Keilor Downs cluster and four to the outbreak at the Rydges hotel on Swanston Street in Melbourne’s CBD, where international travellers have been undergoing a mandatory 14-day quarantine. That brings the total number of staff at the Rydges who have tested positive to six after the first two security guards tested positive on Wednesday.
Thirteen people in international quarantine at the hotel have also tested positive.
Updated at 1.45am BST
We are covering the protests following the death of George Floyd here.
Sewage being tested in Blackwater to find source of Covid-19
Scientists are sifting through the sewage of a town in central Queensland to try to find the source of a Covid-19 infection that led to the death of 30-year-old Nathan Turner, the youngest person in Australia to die after contracting the virus.
Queensland recorded no new cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, and has just six cases lifted as active. The source of the infection that killed Turner remains a mystery.
According to AAP:
Testing the sewage could also reveal how many people in Blackwater may have been exposed or unknowingly have the virus if traces are detected in the waste.
Meanwhile investigators are working to “untangle” the changing story of a nurse at the centre of two coronavirus scares in Queensland to determine if she could be the source.
The unnamed nurse has been suspended after she continued to show up for work at a Rockhampton nursing home despite having symptoms and while waiting on test results.
Questions are also being asked about a sightseeing road trip she took to Blackwater during the lockdown.
Queensland’s deputy premier and health minister, Steven Miles, says a formal investigation would get to the bottom of critical questions, such as why the nurse didn’t reveal she had travelled to Kuala Lumpur in March.
“It appears to be incredibly unlikely that somebody wasn’t asked if they had travelled overseas when that is such a focus of our investigation efforts for all coronavirus cases,” he said on Friday.
He urged all Queenslanders to be honest and truthful if they are contacted by health officials.
“Lives are literally at risk – our public health officials are doing their best to keep Queenslanders safe,” he said.
Updated at 1.29am BST
In the United States, pool parties over Memorial Day weekend may have caused further outbreaks.
This from Associated Press:
Health officials said on Friday they wanted to inform mass numbers of unknown people after a person who attended crowded pool parties over the Memorial Day weekend at Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks tested positive for Covid-19.
Camden County health department said the resident of Boone County, in mid-Missouri, tested positive on Sunday after arriving at the lake area a day earlier. Officials said there have been no reported cases of the virus linked to coronavirus in Camden County, where the parties seen in videos and photos posted on social media took place.
Because mass numbers of unknown people need to be notified, the officials released a brief timeline of the person’s whereabouts last weekend, including stops at a bar called Backwater Jacks, a bar and restaurant that has a pool, as well as a dining and pool venue called Shady Gators and Lazy Gators.
Backwater Jacks owner, Gary Prewitt, said previously in a statement that no laws were broken, although the images appeared to show people violating the Republican governor Mike Parsons’ state order requiring social distancing.
Parson allowed businesses and attractions to reopen on 4 May, but the state order requires two metres (six feet) of social distancing to at least the end of May.
Updated at 1.15am BST
‘Live exporter should not be granted exemption after Covid-19 infection’
Animal welfare groups say an Australian live sheep exporter should not be granted an exemption to allow it to ship sheep to the Middle East during the summer ban after crew members on its live export ship tested positive to Covid-19.
Australia’s new live export laws ban live sheep exports from 1 June to 14 September to prevent the mass deaths of sheep from heat stress during summer in the Gulf.
But the crew of the Al Kuwait is not able to sail. Twenty people have tested positive to Covid-19 and the rest of the crew of 48, apart from 10 who remain on the ship, are in quarantine in hotels in Perth.
The Australian federal agriculture department, which was criticised by the Western Australian premier, Mark McGowan, for failing to properly inform the state’s health authorities that some crew members had recorded temperatures before the ship docked in Fremantle on 22 May, will have to grant the exporters, Rural Export and Trading WA (RETWA), an exemption to its export licence to allow the shipment to go ahead.
Animals Australia’s founder, Lyn White, said the exemption should not be granted.
The majority of Australians remain opposed to this trade despite reassurances that the welfare of animals will be prioritised. If an exemption to newly minted laws to halt trade in the northern summer is granted, public confidence in the regulator will be shattered … [It] would see this legislation fail at its first test and open the department to a flood of exemption requests.
An RSPCA senior policy officer, Dr Jed Goodfellow, said the RSPCA had “grave concerns” about the risk to the sheep if the shipment is allowed to go ahead.
As has happened on multiple previous occasions where this volatile trade has been disrupted, sheep can be held safely and comfortably in the feedlot where they are now, until they can be transported and slaughtered humanely in WA abattoirs.
The only financial impact will be on the multimillion-dollar companies that own these sheep, Kuwait Livestock Transport and Trading (KLTT) and its subsidiary Rural Exports and Trading WA (RETWA).
These are companies that – given the delays that routinely occur in live export loading – took a very unreasonable risk in trying to rush out this last shipment so close to the deadline.
That risk has now foreseeably backfired, and these sheep – as well as the reputation of the wider industry – should not be forced to pay the price for that dangerous risk-taking behaviour.
RETWA is connected to Emanuel Exports, a live export company that lost its export licence over animal welfare concerns in 2018. AAP has reported that talks are under way to move the sheep to the rebadged Awassi Express, which has been modified to comply with airflow requirements and is now called the Anna Marra.
The summer export ban was introduced in response to a deadly voyage on the Awassi Express in 2017 in which 2,400 sheep died.
Updated at 1.04am BST
Almost 80 school students in Victoria, Australia, are under self-isolation orders after a positive case at one Melbourne high school, Keilor Downs Secondary College, led to students from three schools being isolated.
Meanwhile, workers in Victoria who have been able to work from home for the past few months have been told they will have to continue doing so as all other restrictions on people leaving their home are lifted. The premier, Daniel Andrews, said the risk of the virus spreading on peak hour public transport is too great.
The Victorian chief health officer, Prof Brett Sutton, will give an update at 10am. We will bring you that live.
Updated at 12.48am BST
Good morning and welcome to our ongoing global coverage of the coronavirus crisis.
This is how things stand.
- The US president, Donald Trump, has said he is terminating the nation’s relationship with the World Health Organisation.
- The United Kingdom is lifting lockdown restrictions in June but a senior health adviser to the government has warned that is happening too early. There are still 8,000 infections a day in the UK.
- Australia, which is also easing restrictions in many states on 1 June, has had fewer than 50 new cases a day for the past several weeks and has fewer than 500 active cases recorded nationwide.
- The death toll in Brazil has passed that of Spain as the country becomes the fifth-worst affected.
- One-tenth of all coronavirus cases in Australia have been traced back to the Ruby Princess cruise ship, but a report published today found that in a pandemic practice drill in 2019 communications between cruise ships, government health and border control was found to be “robust and well-practised”. That’s not how it played out in March.
- Elsewhere, Russia has suffered its biggest daily increase in deaths – 232 in 24 hours – bringing the nationwide total to 4,374. Iran has identified more coronavirus cases in a day than in any time since early April; 2,819 more people tested positive on Friday. And health authorities in South Africa say they have a backlog of more than 100,000 unprocessed tests.
- Sweden, which pursued a herd immunity policy, has been excluded from Norwegian and Danish plans to reopen to tourists. The UK, France, Spain and Italy have also been excluded from Greece reopening its borders to arrivals from 29 countries on 15 June.
- Also in Australia there has been barely a pause to mourn the loss of the council of Australian governments (Coag), which had been the central federalist mechanism since 1992. It’s been replaced permanently by the national cabinet, established in March to manage the Covid-19 response.
Updated at 12.47am BST
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