Coronavirus live news: markets fall over fears of long US recovery as Brazil cases top 800,000

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Ecuador struggles to secure enough virus test supplies” was written by Jessica Murray Amy Walker, Nazia Parveen, Ben Quinn Nadeem Badshah (earlier) Melissa Davey (now), for theguardian.com on Saturday 13th June 2020 00.05 UTC

1.05am BST

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12.43am BST

Ecuador struggles for test supplies

A major laboratory in Ecuador’s capital closed and halted processing coronavirus tests Friday because technicians did not have basic supplies like tubes, pipettes, masks and gloves needed to safely analyse the specimens.

The Biotechnology Institute at Quitos Central University had been expected to receive and process tens of thousands of tests but its director said only 5,150 could be done before running out of equipment. “We can’t process any more tests because of a technical failing,” Lucy Baldeón said. Ecuador is one of nations hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic in Latin America. As major cities like Quito begin to reopen, authorities have insisted on the need to increases testing. But those efforts have been complicated by corruption scandals, delays in acquiring tests and now shortages of essential lab materials.

“We have the tests and we can’t use them,” city councilman Bernardo Abad said. “They were purchased but the city didn’t prepare.”

The Central University lab is one of two contracted directly by Quito officials to boost the city’s testing capability. The other has not yet begun processing specimens. The Ministry of Public Health operates its own labs and conducted 16,379 tests in Quito from March to May. That testing is expected to continue, though to date has fallen short of what many believe is needed in the city of 2.7m people. Ecuador has done 133,458 molecular and rapid COVID-19 tests in all, according to the health ministry, and nation’s per capita rate trails far behind countries like Chile and Peru that have greatly expanded testing.

12.20am BST

White House infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci has said his advice to people who want to attend US president Donald Trump’s campaign rallies is the same for Black Lives Matter and anti-Trump protestors. He said the gatherings are “a danger” and “risky.”

Trump announced his campaign rallies are planned for 19 June, known as Juneteenth in the US, a holiday marking the end of slavery. Trump has insisted he did not choose the date on purpose. “The fact that I’m having a rally on that day – you can really think about that very positively as a celebration,” Trump told Fox News. “Because a rally to me is a celebration. It’s an interesting date. It wasn’t done for that reason, but it’s an interesting date.”

Updated at 12.43am BST

11.38pm BST

Protests to occur throughout Australia on Saturday

Black Lives Matter advocates and refugee activists will hold protests throughout Australia on Saturday, despite warnings from health authorities they could lead to Covid-19 outbreaks. Australia’s chief medical officer, Prof Brendan Murphy, said on Friday, “These sort of events really are dangerous”. However the prime minister, Scott Morrison, announced on the same day that major sports stadiums may allow 10,000 people by July.

It follows protests last weekend, when people took to the streets campaigning for an end to Aboriginal deaths in custody. There have been 437 known Aboriginal deaths since the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody delivered its final report in 1991, and yet despite this, change has been slow. The protests were sparked in solidarity with the US following the brutal death of unarmed man George Floyd on 25 May.

One man was diagnosed with the virus following the Melbourne protests, with health authorities saying he was likely infected prior to the rally. Victoria police issued fines of 52 each to the three people who organised the protest.

More protests took place in Sydney and Perth on Friday night. About 300 people who gathered in Sydney’s city were outnumbered by about 600 police officers, in an event deemed unlawful because police were not formally notified. The peaceful protest was also brief, ending around 8pm.

Thousands of protesters will gather in Perth for Saturday’s protest at Langley Park. Organisers have ignored Premier Mark McGowan’s pleas to delay the protest until after the coronavirus pandemic is over. Meanwhile, refugee activists will spread themselves out in Melbourne in an attempt to avoid the same fines issued to the organisers of last weekend’s rally. The group said its rallies will have no more than 20 people in eight different locations to protest against the indefinite detention of asylum seekers.

Updated at 11.42pm BST

11.22pm BST

Egypt records highest daily increase of Covid-19 cases in nearly two weeks

Egypt has confirmed 1,577 new coronavirus cases, the highest daily increase in almost two weeks.

In total, the Arab world’s most populous country has registered 41,303 cases including 1,422 deaths, the ministry said in a statement.

11.09pm BST

South Africa’s virus cases increase by 10,000 in five days

South Africa’s confirmed coronavirus infections have risen by more than 10,000 in five days to 61,927 on Friday, official figures showed.

Positive cases stood at 50,879 on Monday, just a week after the continent’s worst-hit country further eased lockdown restrictions.

South Africa accounts for nearly 25 percent of the continent’s total cases, according to the World Health Organization.

The latest figures released by the health ministry showed that the virus has so far killed 1,354 people in the country since the first case was detected in March.

Most of South Africa’s infections – around two-thirds – are found in the Western Cape province, a popular tourist destination home to the coastal city of Cape Town.

Updated at 11.10pm BST

10.55pm BST

Brazil’s death toll surpasses UK

Brazil’s death toll from the virus has overtaken the UK to become the second highest in the world.

The figure stands at 41,828, the country’s health ministry said, with only the US having more fatalities.
Brazil has registered 828,810 confirmed Covid-19 cases.

The UK’s death toll is 41,566, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Updated at 10.56pm BST

10.48pm BST

Scotland Yard has issued restrictions on Black Lives Matter and counterprotests protests planned for Saturday in England with all marching and assembly to end at 5pm.

Police have warned demonstrators they would be in breach of the coronavirus act and set out conditions to keep the two sets of demos apart.

10.43pm BST

A newborn baby in the UK who was diagnosed with a heart defect has defied the odds after contracting coronavirus.

Raees Hassain, from Rochdale in Greater Manchester, had a “remote” chance of survival after being rushed to hospital at six weeks old.

After being diagnosed with a rare case of transposition of the great arteries, he tested positive for Covid-19.

But five weeks after being rushed to hospital, Raees is back at home with his family after life-saving surgery.

His mother Farah told the BBC: “Doctors say there is no reason he can’t do anything he wants to.

“He can climb mountains, be a racer, whatever he wants. He has a life now.”

Updated at 10.47pm BST

10.38pm BST

The German pole vaulter Karsten Dilla jumps at the “psd Flight Night” on Friday in Duesseldorf, Germany. Spectators can watch the competition from their cars.
The German pole vaulter Karsten Dilla jumps at the “psd Flight Night” on Friday in Duesseldorf, Germany. Spectators can watch the competition from their cars. Photograph: Marius Becker/AP

10.26pm BST

The front page of Saturday’s UK edition of The Guardian.

10.20pm BST

Requiring the wearing of masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus in areas at the epicenter of the global pandemic may have prevented tens of thousands of infections, a new study suggests.

Mask-wearing is even more important for preventing the virus’ spread than social distancing and stay-at-home orders, researchers said in the study published in PNAS: The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.

Infection trends shifted dramatically when mask-wearing rules were implemented on April 6 in northern Italy and April 17 in New York City – at the time among the hardest hit areas of the world by the health crisis – the study found.

“This protective measure alone significantly reduced the number of infections, that is, by over 78,000 in Italy from April 6 to May 9 and over 66,000 in New York City from April 17 to May 9,” researchers calculated.

When mask wearing went into effect in New York, the daily new infection rate fell by about 3% per day, researchers said. In the rest of the country, daily new infections continued to increase.

10.11pm BST

US stocks ended higher on Friday as bargain hunters stepped back into the market following sharp losses a day earlier – but all three major indexes suffered their biggest weekly percentage declines since March.

The day’s trading was marked by wild swings, with the S&P 500 up about 3% at its high of the session and down about 0.6% at the low.

The Federal Reserve’s indication earlier this week of a long road to recovery and rising Covid-19 cases in the United States had cast a pall over investor optimism about a swift economic rebound, and the S&P 500 dropped about 6% on Thursday.

The US flag is seen at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City.
The US flag is seen at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City. Photograph: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

10.00pm BST

Slovenia will open its borders for citizens of Montenegro and Italy on Monday, the government said.

It also said it will from Saturday introduce an obligatory 14-day quarantine for most people coming to Slovenia from 31 states where the epidemiologic situation has worsened over the past weeks, including Sweden, Britain, Russia, United States and Brazil.

Slovenia, which introduced a lockdown in the middle of March, has started gradually lifting it since April 20. In May it became the first European state to call an end to its coronavirus epidemic.

Since May it has already reopened its borders to citizens from 17 states, including neighbouring Croatia, Hungary and Austria.

Slovenia has so far reported 1,490 coronavirus cases and 109 deaths. From Monday it will allow gatherings with up to 500 people compared with up to 200 at present.

9.52pm BST

Mexico City has announced a plan for reopening that would begin next week by dropping driving restrictions and allowing manufacturing and neighborhood businesses to reopen if they meet health standards.

Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said that street markets, malls, restaurants and churches could follow a week later but at reduced capacity.

The plan follows Sheinbaums announcement earlier in the week of greatly expanded testing for Covid-19 in the capital.

The city plans to make a stronger effort to identify infections and trace contacts as Sheinbaum, in conjunction with the surrounding State of Mexico, tries to safely reactivate a metropolitan area of some 20 million people.

Mexico City hopes to process 100,000 tests per day by July, a dramatic increase over current testing levels, but still far short of some of the largest cities elsewhere in the world.

The capital was never under a mandatory lockdown, but people were recommended to stay at home. In recent weeks, street traffic has increased steadily as the federal government began pushing a return to a new normal.

The move comes as new infections in the country continue to surge. The government has reported 134,000 confirmed cases and about 16,000 deaths, both considered substantial undercounts due to very limited testing.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been eager to reactivate the economy, which has shed nearly one million formal jobs and is forecast to contract 8.8% this year.

“We don’t think there are going to be new outbreaks”, he said.

“We have to be careful that this doesnt happen and open little by little with health measures, health protocols; and if we see a new outbreak somewhere, return to confinement, everything voluntarily.”

9.46pm BST

As President Trump prepares to resume his campaign rallies and George Floyd protests continue across the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “strongly encouraged” attendees of large gatherings to wear cloth face coverings in newly issued guidance.

According to the guidance, “Cloth face coverings are strongly encouraged in settings where individuals might raise their voice (e.g., shouting, chanting, singing).”

Speaking to reporters about the new guidance, Jay Butler, the CDC’s deputy director for Infectious Diseases, dodged questions about what specific events the agency was referring to.
“They are not regulations. They are not commands,” Butler said.

“But they are recommendations or even suggestions … how you can have a gathering that will keep people as safe as possible.”
The guidance comes as the Trump campaign asks attendees of the president’s rally in Tulsa next Friday to sign waivers saying they “voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to Covid-19.”

9.38pm BST

A baby baboon born at the Qalqilya Zoo in the West Bank where workers say a coronavirus lockdown has led to a boom in animal births.The baby is fed by the daughter of Palestinian veterinarian Sami Khader, in Qalqilya.
A baby baboon born at the Qalqilya Zoo in the West Bank where workers say a coronavirus lockdown has led to a boom in animal births.
The baby is fed by the daughter of Palestinian veterinarian Sami Khader, in Qalqilya.
Photograph: Raneen Sawafta/Reuters

9.28pm BST

Brazil’s Covid-19 death toll is on track to overtake Britain to become the second highest in the world with over 40,000 dead.

The World Health Organization inists the nation’s health system was standing up to the pressure.

“The system as such from the data we see is not overwhelmed,” the WHO’s top emergencies expert Dr. Mike Ryan said, with few areas of Brazil using more than 80% of their hospitals’ intensive care bed capacity.

Brazil clearly has hotspots in heavily-populated cities, he said, but overall its health system is coping with the world’s second worst number of infections, 802,828 confirmed cases as of Thursday, second only to the United States.

“The data we have at the moment supports (the vision of) a system under pressure but a system still coping with the number of severe cases,” Ryan said at a briefing in Geneva.

Brazil’s Health Ministry has reported more than 1,200 deaths a day since Tuesday, a mounting toll as the country moves to ease quarantine restrictions and reopen businesses, a move called for by President Jair Bolsonaro.

The right-wing leader has minimized the gravity of the novel coronavirus, dismissing it “a little flu,” and has accused state governments of exaggerating the number of infections and deaths to undermine him.

On Thursday night, Bolsonaro encouraged his supporters to “find a way to get inside” hospitals to film whether the ICU beds are occupied or not, to provide images that the police and Brazil’s intelligence agency could investigate.

Brazilian shoppers lined up for hours and crowded into malls that reopened on Thursday in the country’s two largest cities. Shoppers continued to crowd malls on Friday, Brazil’s equivalent to Valentine’s Day.

Inside stores in Sao Paulo and Rio, distancing rules were followed and shoppers were required to wear protective masks.

Temperatures were taken before people entered some malls.

Updated at 9.40pm BST

9.24pm BST

The attempt by President Trump’s campaign to shield itself from lawsuits by people who become infected with the coronavirus at his first political rally in months is unlikely to hold up in court, legal experts said.

A waiver on the Trump campaign’s website absolving it from coronavirus-related lawsuits stemming from the June 19 event is “poorly lawyered” and would not be enforceable because it is not specific enough, said David Noll, a law professor at Rutgers University.

“There are a lot of boxes you have to check in order to have an enforceable liability waiver, and the language they have added to their website is not enough,” Noll said.

The Republican president is holding a rally on June 19 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a heavily Republican state he won by more than 36 percentage points in 2016.

It is his first rally since the coronavirus shut most of the United States three months ago.

The online sign-up page for the event states that the campaign, the owner of the venue, and other companies cannot be held liable for exposure to the virus.

“By clicking register below, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to Covid-19 exists in any public place where people are present,* the waiver says.

It says that anyone attending the rally voluntarily assumes “all risks related to exposure to Covid-19.”

President Donald Trump waves to members of the media as he walks across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington.
President Donald Trump waves to members of the media as he walks across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP

9.00pm BST

A summary of today’s developments.

  • Hillary Clinton has criticised President Trump for planning a campaign rally next Friday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, despite ongoing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. The former Democratic presidential nominee condemned Trump for asking rally attendees to sign a liability waiver regarding the risks around potentially contracting the virus.
  • Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has cancelled face-to-face meetings and visits and will limit his contacts to a close circle after his wife tested positive for coronavirus. Olena Zelenska, said she had tested positive for coronavirus but her husband and their two children had tested negative.
  • Prosecutors question Italy PM over handling of virus crisis. The Italian prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, was questioned for three hours on Friday by the prosecutor investigating an alleged failure by authorities to quarantine two Lombardy towns at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Breast milk has no links to spread of coronavirus says WHO. Breastfeeding mothers do not seem to be passing on Covid-19 to their infants, a World Health Organization expert said. New mothers infected with the virus should generally continue breastfeeding if they wish to and should not be separated from their babies
  • UK travellers unable to fly to Greece as country reopens. Athens announced that the suspension of air links with Britain, in effect since March, will continue to be enforced until 30 June.
  • Germany to lift land border checks late Monday. The country will on Monday night end border checks with its neighbours introduced to fight the coronavirus
  • Turkish medical association says coronavirus lockdown eased too soon. The country’s top medical association has criticised the decision to ease coronavirus restrictions, saying moves were not backed by science and came too soon, before the country had overcome the pandemic’s initial wave.
    The number of new coronavirus cases in Turkey rose above 1,000 in the last 24 hours for the first time since 29 May.
  • Delhi coronavirus deaths twice as high, say authorities. Deaths from coronavirus in New Delhi are almost twice as high as official figures show, a city leader said, as India overtook Britain with the fourth-highest number of cases worldwide.
  • Macron to visit London in first trip since pandemic. French president Emmanuel Macron will meet Britain’s Prince Charles when he visits London next week, his first trip abroad since the coronavirus crisis.

8.47pm BST

Hundreds of Kenyans defied tear gas and riot police to carry off the body of a popular singer, trying to prevent a swift burial under rules for suspected coronavirus cases.

Mourners and fans of Bernard Obonyo, whose stage name is Abenny Jachiga, swarmed the cemetery, preventing the singer’s funeral from taking place in Kisumu city in western Kenya.

The region has a tradition of lavish, well-attended funerals, but rules imposed for suspected cases of Covid-19 infection require bodies to be buried within 24 hours of death with only five relatives in attendance.

Police fired teargas to disperse the crowd, which removed the body from the graveyard and took it to a mortuary.

Obonbyo, 33, died on June 11. His brother told Kenyan daily newspaper the Daily Nation the singer was suffering from severe chest and abdominal pains, difficulty breathing and had been vomiting blood.

His family are now asking for a week to organise a proper funeral for the star.

“As a family we are requesting, give us one week, let the fans plan, let the music industry plan,” said George Oningu, the singer’s brother-in-law.

“We do this to make sure there is peace and that Ben is buried in peace.”

8.32pm BST

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has cancelled face-to-face meetings and visits and will limit his contacts to a close circle after his wife tested positive for coronavirus, the presidential press service said.

“Face-to-face meetings… are excluded in the coming days. Participation in mass events is also excluded, working trips outside the capital of Ukraine are cancelled,” it said in a statement.

Earlier on Friday, Olena Zelenska said she had tested positive for coronavirus but her husband and their two children had tested negative.

“Today I received a positive test for coronavirus. Unexpected news. Especially considering that I and my family continue to follow all the rules – masks, gloves, a minimum of contacts,” Zelenska wrote on Facebook.

She said she felt well and was not hospitalised, but was isolating from her husband and children.

Ukraine has reported 29,753 coronavirus cases, including 870 deaths.

8.16pm BST

Richard Luscombe sends this report from Miami on the rising number of coronavirus cases in Florida:

New coronavirus cases in Florida have set a daily record for the second day in a row. State figures released Friday morning show 1,902 more cases of Covid-19, up another 204 on Thursday’s previous record tally.

Florida, one of the first US states to reopen, is among those to have seen cases rising again significantly in recent days. According to the Florida Department of Health, new cases have topped 1,000 every day since 2 June, compared to only three of the previous 19 days from 13 May until the end of the month.

An increase in testing accounts for some of the spike, but fears remain that Florida opened up too soon. Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor, has touted what he calls a “safe, smart” recovery plan, which saw 64 of Florida’s 67 counties moving to Phase Two – including partial reopening of bars, theaters, gyms and vacation rentals – on 5 June. (The three counties most affected by coronavirus, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, remain under tighter restrictions.)

“The governor’s first priority in reopening Florida continues to be maintaining the health and safety of all residents,” Alberto Moscoso, spokesperson for the state’s health department, told the Miami Herald.

Experts from the Johns Hopkins school of public medicine, however, said on Monday that Florida’s seven-day average was “approximately equal to its peak in early April and is still increasing.”

8.09pm BST

Vietnam was the first country to allow football fans back in to watch matches. The top-flight match between Ha Tinh and Ha Noi had to be halted because of overcrowding.

No-one appeared to be hurt and the game resumed with fans stood on the running track around the pitch.

Vietnam has had 333 confirmed Covid-19 cases, recording no deaths.

Meanwhile, football in Italy returned behind closed doors this evening after 96 days.

The Coppa Italia semi-final second leg between AC Milan and Juventus is currently taking place in Turin. The top flight domestic league, Serie A, resumes on June 20.

Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo warms-up before the Italian Cup second leg match between Juventus and AC Milan at the Allianz stadium, in Turin.
Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo warms-up before the Italian Cup second leg match between Juventus and AC Milan at the Allianz stadium, in Turin. Photograph: Luca Bruno/AP

Updated at 8.12pm BST

7.55pm BST

The Americas are bearing the brunt of the global coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) said with North and South America currently having four of the 10 worst hit countries in the world.

The disease was “highly active” in Central and South America, the WHO’s top emergency expert Mike Ryan said, highlighting problems in Brazil and Mexico.

Brazil, now one of the global hot-spots for the virus, was of increasing concern especially in heavily-populated cities, he told a press conference.

The country’s health system was “still coping”, although some intensive care units were at a critical stage and under heavy pressure with more than 90% bed occupancy rates, Ryan said.

Mexico meanwhile has nearly 130,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and more than 15,000 deaths, the WHO said.

Brazil is the second worst hit country in the world, with more than 800,000 cases and 41,000 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.

Both countries lag behind the United States, the worst hit country, which has had more than 2 million cases and nearly 114,000 deaths.

“We are very much in the upswing of this pandemic, particularly in the global South,” Ryan said.

“Some countries are having trouble exiting of the so-called lockdowns as they are seeing an increase in cases.”

7.31pm BST

Clinton criticises Trump for planning campaign rally

Hillary Clinton has criticised President Trump for planning a campaign rally next Friday despite ongoing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

The former Democratic presidential nominee condemned Trump for asking rally attendees to sign a liability waiver regarding the risks around potentially contracting the virus.

The president intends to hold his first campaign rally in more than three months at the 19,000-seat BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 19.

Oklahoma is in the process of reopening, but the state is still advising residents to “minimize time spent in crowded environments”.

Updated at 7.34pm BST

7.24pm BST

A view from Ulker Stadium ahead of the Turkish Super Lig football match between Fenerbahce and Hes Kablo Kayserispor in Istanbul, Turkey. Football matches in Turkey’s top-tier Super Lig resume Friday after a three-month break due to the pandemic.
A view from Ulker Stadium ahead of the Turkish Super Lig football match between Fenerbahce and Hes Kablo Kayserispor in Istanbul, Turkey. Football matches in Turkey’s top-tier Super Lig resume Friday after a three-month break due to the pandemic. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

7.21pm BST

Survivors of Covid-19 are donating their blood plasma in droves in hopes it helps other patients recover from the coronavirus.

Scientists are testing if the donations might also prevent infection in the first place.

Thousands of coronavirus patients in hospitals around the world have been treated with so-called convalescent plasma including more than 20,000 in the US with little solid evidence so far that it makes a difference.

One recent study from China was unclear while another from New York offered a hint of benefit.

“We have glimmers of hope”, said Dr. Shmuel Shoham of Johns Hopkins University.
With more rigorous testing of plasma treatment underway, Shoham is launching a nationwide study asking the next logical question: Could giving survivors plasma right after a high-risk exposure to the virus stave off illness? Researchers at Hopkins and 15 other sites will recruit health workers, spouses of the sick and residents of nursing homes where someone fell ill. The 150 volunteers will be randomly assigned to get either plasma from Covid-19 survivors that contains coronavirus-fighting antibodies or regular plasma used daily in hospitals, that was frozen prior to the pandemic. Scientists will track if there is a difference in who gets unwell. It if works, survivor plasma could have important ramifications until a vaccine arrives raising the prospect of possibly protecting high-risk people with temporary immune-boosting infusions.

Updated at 7.22pm BST

7.12pm BST

Lebanon will re-open Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport for commercial flights from July 1 but will keep air traffic at 10% of capacity from a year ago, a statement from the prime minister’s office said.

Private flights will resume from June 24, the statement said.

Passengers will be tested for Covid-19 upon arrival and obliged to practice home quarantine if testing positive, it added.

7.03pm BST

Summary

  • Prosecutors question Italy PM over handling of virus crisis. The Italian prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, was questioned for three hours on Friday by the prosecutor investigating an alleged failure by authorities to quarantine two Lombardy towns at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Breast milk has no links to spread of coronavirus says WHO. Breastfeeding mothers do not seem to be passing on Covid-19 to their infants, a World Health Organization expert said. New mothers infected with the virus should generally continue breastfeeding if they wish to and should not be separated from their babies
  • UK travellers unable to fly to Greece as country reopens. Athens announced that the suspension of air links with Britain, in effect since March, will continue to be enforced until 30 June.
  • Germany to lift land border checks late Monday. The country will on Monday night end border checks with its neighbours introduced to fight the coronavirus
  • Turkish medical association says coronavirus lockdown eased too soon. The country’s top medical association has criticised the decision to ease coronavirus restrictions, saying moves were not backed by science and came too soon, before the country had overcome the pandemic’s initial wave.
    The number of new coronavirus cases in Turkey rose above 1,000 in the last 24 hours for the first time since 29 May.
  • Delhi coronavirus deaths twice as high, say authorities. Deaths from coronavirus in New Delhi are almost twice as high as official figures show, a city leader said, as India overtook Britain with the fourth-highest number of cases worldwide.
  • Macron to visit London in first trip since pandemic. French president Emmanuel Macron will meet Britain’s Prince Charles when he visits London next week, his first trip abroad since the coronavirus crisis.

6.56pm BST

France has reported the number of Covid-19 deaths over the past 24 hours increased by just 28 to 29,374, the third day the toll remained under 30 and the lowest three-day toll since lockdown started in mid-March.

On Thursday and Wednesday the toll stood at 27 and 23, after averaging over 50 in the previous seven days and 91 in the 33 days since the end of lockdown on 11 May.

The health ministry also reported the number of people in hospital fell by 341 to 11,124 and the number of people in intensive care units fell by 24 to 879, with both numbers continuing weeks-long downtrends.

6.45pm BST

A further 947 Covid-19 deaths have been recorded by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), taking the country’s total to 113,914.

In addition, 21,744 new Covid-19 cases were reported – the country’s total is now 2,016,027.

The CDC figures do not necessarily reflect cases reported by individual states.

6.33pm BST

Gondoliers take customers for a gondola ride on a canal in Venice as Italy eases its lockdown restrictions.
Gondoliers take customers for a gondola ride on a canal in Venice as Italy eases its lockdown restrictions. Photograph: Andrea Pattaro/AFP/Getty Images

6.29pm BST

The death rate in France returned in May to a level comparable with other years, following weeks of elevated mortality due to the coronavirus outbreak, the country’s Insee statistics institute said.

Between 1 May and 1 June, 49,178 deaths were recorded, a decline of 3% on the same period last year, and similar to numbers for 2018, it said.

The data is provisional and based on government statistics that do not divulge the cause of death.

The larger Paris Ile-de-France department is the only region in France where deaths are still “a bit higher” than levels recorded in previous years, Insee said.

The national data showed a drop of 8% in the number of people who died in hospital in May, compared with last year, but a rise of 5% for deaths in retirement facilities, and 7% for deaths at home.

For the period 1 March to 1 June, there were 178,706 deaths in France – a rise of 16% (25,200 deaths) from 2019 and of 12% (18,500 deaths) from 2018, the institute said.

The coronavirus has killed more than 29,300 people in France to date, some 10,300 of them in care homes.

The death toll has been in sharp decline, but the government warns the virus is still in circulation and urges people to keep a safe distance from others to prevent a new wave of infections.

6.25pm BST

The global coronavirus pandemic remains “very much in the upswing” with a danger the disease could swiftly return to countries as they emerge from lockdowns, the World Health Organization said.

Countries in south east Asia are working hard to identify new clusters and break the chains of transmission, WHO’s top emergencies expert Dr Mike Ryan told a news conference.

We are still very much in the upswing of this pandemic especially in the global South.

It’s not surprising at all that any country coming out of a so-called lockdown can have clusters of disease, re-emergence of disease in clusters. That’s not necessarily a second wave.

WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said regions like Europe which are seeing the numbers of cases ebb were not safe, as the virus could be reintroduced.

6.22pm BST

The number of new coronavirus cases in Turkey rose above 1,000 in the last 24 hours for the first time since 29 May, after the easing of travel restrictions and reopening of public facilities at the start of last week.

Data showed 1,195 new cases were identified, up from a low of 786 last Tuesday, and 15 people died in the last 24 hours.

The total number of cases rose to 175,218. Daily infections stood above 5,000 on 11 April.

6.21pm BST

London fashion week, the first of the four major shows to go online-only has replaced catwalks with films, podcasts, live-streamed discussions – and even a drop-in virtual afterparty.

The schedule, which began today and runs until Sunday, will feature no catwalk shows, no cocktail parties and definitely no air-kissing.

Today’s opening event was headlined not by a designer, but by a poet. A two-minute reading of a new piece by James Massiah, who describes his work as “party poetry”, was filmed at his home in south London.

The stakes are high for British fashion, because London’s prestige in the industry owes much to its reputation for flamboyant clothes and must-see catwalk theatrics.

When Shanghai became the first fashion week to pivot to an entirely digital format in response to the pandemic, the event three months ago was hailed as a commercial success, drawing 11 million viewers and selling £2.2m of merchandise direct to consumers during live streams.

But the virtual fashion show is still waiting for its first breakout hit, with even the biggest names struggling to translate their catwalk star power into a winning digital formula.

6.09pm BST

Galicia will become the first of Spain’s 17 regions to exit lockdown next week and enter the “new normality” when all restrictions on movement are lifted.

But the wearing of masks in public places will remain compulsory as it will elsewhere in the country until a vaccine against the virus is found.

The northwestern region no longer has any patients suffering from Covid-19 in its intensive care units and has not suffered any deaths from the virus in the past week, according to Spain’s health ministry.

By Monday, more than 70% of Spain’s 47 million population will be in the final stage of the phased rollback that should finish by 21 June in a country which has seen more than 27,000 Covid-19 deaths during the pandemic.

By contrast, areas that took the brunt of the outbreak like the Madrid region, parts of Barcelona and Lerida in the Catalonia region, and four provinces of Castille-Leon will remain in phase two, the penultimate stage.

Spain is the world’s second most popular travel destination after France, but it has said it will not reopen its borders to international tourists until the start of July.

Brussels had on Thursday said all of the European Union’s internal borders should be opened by 15 June.

Most EU countries as well as those within the passport-free Schengen zone, are on the brink of reopening their frontiers after a months-long closure to slow the spread of the virus. But Spain has insisted on holding out until 1 July.

6.03pm BST

Breast milk has no links to spread of coronavirus says WHO

Breastfeeding mothers do not seem to be passing on Covid-19 to their infants, a World Health Organization expert has said.

New mothers infected with the virus should generally continue breastfeeding if they wish to and should not be separated from their babies, the WHO said, stressing that the benefits outweighed the risks.

WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the UN health agency had thoroughly investigated the risks of women transmitting the new coronavirus to their babies when breastfeeding.

We know that children are at relatively low-risk of Covid-19, but are at high risk of numerous other diseases and conditions that breastfeeding prevents.

Based on the available evidence, WHO’s advice is that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of Covid-19.

Dr Anshu Banerjee, the WHO’s senior advisor for reproductive health and research, told the briefing that, so far, the live virus that causes Covid-19 had not been found in breast milk.

“Mothers with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 should be encouraged to initiate and continue breastfeeding and not be separated from their infants, unless the mother is too unwell,” Tedros said.

Updated at 6.14pm BST

5.59pm BST

Macron to visit London in first trip since pandemic

French president Emmanuel Macron will meet Britain’s Prince Charles when he visits London next week, his first trip abroad since the coronavirus crisis.

Macron will visit London on Thursday to commemorate the 80th anniversary of former French president Charles de Gaulle’s appeal to French people to resist the Nazi occupation during World War II.

He will award the Legion of Honour to London, making it the seventh city to be decorated with France’s highest order of merit, after Algiers, Belgrade, Brazzaville, Liege, Luxembourg and Volgograd.

The trip abroad will be Macron’s first since he travelled to Naples for a French-Italian summit on 27 February, weeks before Europe’s borders closed to help halt the spread of the virus.

Prince Charles, who is in line to succeed Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, and his wife Camilla will be the first members of the royal family to leave lockdown and attend a major event.

Charles himself contracted Covid-19 and was forced to self-isolate at his mother’s Balmoral estate in northeast Scotland.

Britain this week introduced a mandatory 14-day quarantine for most travellers coming from abroad. The measures are designed to prevent new infections from abroad.

But the French leader will be exempt, prime minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman told reporters on Friday.

As we set out in the guidelines when they were published, the French delegation will fall within the exempted category of representatives of a foreign country or territory travelling to undertake business in the UK.

5.54pm BST

Quebec, the Canadian province hit hardest by the coronavirus outbreak, is touting its vast spaces, “lone wolf” running event, and “end of the road” trails to travellers as a centre for social distancing, tourism executives said.

Roughly six times the size of France and with a population around the size of New York City, Quebec aims to spur demand among its own residents, while looking to tourists from neighboring province Ontario and the United States when travel restrictions relax.

“We have such a large amount of space that we can easily respect social distancing,” said Martin Soucy, director general of tourism-group Alliance de l’industrie touristique du Québec.

Quebec has more than half of Canada’s 97,530 coronavirus cases and 7,994 deaths from Covid-19 – most of its fatalities were in nursing homes.

Coronavirus hit Canada’s tourism hard with a 14-day quarantine requirement upon arrival, travel restrictions between some provinces and the expected continuation of a ban on non-essential travel with the US through July.

Social distancing inspired a new “end of the road” campaign in Quebec’s north coast, featuring remote hiking trails where “you don’t need to do anything special to avoid one another,” said Mario Leblanc, director of a tourism association in the region.

Quebec’s Charlevoix region, which has about five people per square kilometre, is promoting a “lone wolf” trail running event in a region with 550km (340 miles) of hiking paths, said Mitchell Dion, director of the area’s tourism association,

The mostly French-speaking province on Thursday announced a C3m (3m), two-year spending package to revive tourism.

5.44pm BST

The popular Paris Plages urban beach event will go ahead this summer but with coronavirus health precautions, the city mayor Anne Hidalgo has announced.

The man-made beaches created with several tons of sand along the right bank of the Seine will be installed from 18 July to the end of August as part of an annual event aimed at giving Parisians who cannot get away from the city during the summer a taste of the seaside.

Paris Plages is also set up at the Bassin de la Villette in the north of the city, where there will be three floating swimming pools installed in the canal with ‘beach’ areas nearby.

Paris Plages in 2019 when the city saw a record high temperature of 42.6C (108.7F) during a heatwave that broke records across western Europe.
Paris Plages in 2019 when the city saw a record high temperature of 42.6C (108.7F) during a heatwave that broke records across western Europe. Photograph: Sara Farid/The Guardian

There had been some concerns that because of Covid-19 health fears the event would be cancelled. Instead, some of the usual events may be dropped depending on the rules for large gatherings under phase 3 of France’s progressive end of lockdown, which starts on 22 June.

Paris city hall says the full programme will be announced in the coming days.

5.32pm BST

Covid-19 vaccines should be made available as a global public good, the World Health Organization has said, to ensure everyone has fair access to any life-saving products that are developed.

WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press conference:

Many leaders…have promoted the idea of making any vaccine a global public good, but that should continue to be promoted.

More leaders should join the boat, and we need to have a truly global political commitment and global consensus before we even have the product. That is what we are pushing.

Tedros was speaking after concerns have been raised that some countries, including the United States, could hoard any vaccines or drugs they develop to combat Covid-19, with poorer countries not getting access to the treatments.

The current situation in Brazil, now one of the global hotspots for the virus, was of increasing concern, especially in cities, the WHO’s top emergency expert Dr Mike Ryan said.

Brazil’s health system was “still coping”, although some intensive care units were at a critical stage and under heavy pressure with more than 90% bed occupancy rates, Ryan said.

Updated at 5.32pm BST

5.23pm BST

Germany to lift land border checks late Monday

Germany will on Monday night end border checks with its neighbours introduced to fight the coronavirus, the interior ministry told AFP.

“The requirement of a valid reason for entry will… no longer apply” along Germany’s land borders, a ministry spokesman said.

The relaxed rules will come into effect at midnight Monday into Tuesday.

The EU Commission this week urged a relaxation of travel restrictions within the bloc from 15 June, a move supported by Germany.

“Freedom of movement is being restored in the European Union,” Germany’s interior minister Horst Seehofer said before the EU’s official announcement.

The EU also called on member states to lift all border restrictions for outside travellers from early July, saying the virus situation was “fast improving” in many countries.

Germany introduced an unprecedented warning against all foreign travel in mid-March at the height of the coronavirus outbreak.

But from Monday, Germans will be able to travel freely again to EU member states as well Britain, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

European governments are under pressure to reopen their economies and ease lockdown restrictions now that the coronavirus is deemed under control in many countries on the continent.

5.17pm BST

Deaths from Covid-19 in Italy climbed by 56 on Friday against 53 the day before, taking the country’s total toll to 34,223.

The official tally of new cases rose by just 163 against 379 on Thursday, but this was muddied by a recalculation of past data by the southern region of Campania, which subtracted previous cases and reported a total of -229 on Friday.

The northern region of Lombardy, where the outbreak was first identified, remains by far the worst affected of Italy’s 20 regions, reporting 272 new infections on Friday.

The second highest regional tally was in Emilia-Romagna, on Lombardy’s southern border, which recorded just 33.

The total number of confirmed cases nationwide now amounts to 236,305, the seventh highest global tally.

People registered as currently carrying the illness fell to 28,997 from 30,637 the day before.

There were 227 people in intensive care on Friday, down from 236 on Thursday, maintaining a long-running decline.

Of those originally infected, 173,085 were declared recovered against 171,338 a day earlier.

The agency said 2.784 million people had been tested for the virus as of Friday against 2.746 million on Thursday, out of a population of around 60 million.

5.03pm BST

A protester wears a face shield made of recycled plastic bottles by artist Leeroy New during a rally against a counter-terrorism bill on Independence Day in Manila, Philippines.
A protester wears a face shield made of recycled plastic bottles by artist Leeroy New during a rally against a counter-terrorism bill on Independence Day in Manila, Philippines. Photograph: Aaron Favila/AP

4.49pm BST

Pakistan’s ruling party has vowed to double healthcare spending as it unveiled a new budget which dramatically slashed other expenditure as the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc on the economy.

To a chorus of boos from the opposition, the government announced plans to cut the overall budget by 11% compared with last year, as revenues dried up and deficits soared in the impoverished nation.

“We have prepared this budget keeping the coronavirus pandemic in mind,” said Hammad Azhar, the minister of planning and industries, during a speech to the lower house of parliament.

Pakistan’s economy was already on life support before officials began shuttering large segments of the economy in March as an array of lockdown measures were rolled out in effort to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

The country has since called for debt forgiveness from international donors and the IMF as tax revenues cratered, inflation soared, the currency was devalued, and fiscal deficits widened.

“It is difficult to say anything with certainty about the coronavirus’s impact … but there is no doubt that our GDP – which we thought could grow around 3% – will now go down by around 0.4%,” Azhar told parliamentarians.

Pakistan has struggled for decades to collect sufficient taxes, piling pressure on successive governments over the decades to provide ample funding for the country’s ailing healthcare and education sectors.

Estimates suggest that only around 1% of the 200 million population filed a return in 2018.

A man watches a live broadcast of Hammad Azhar’s budget speech at a market in Karachi.
A man watches a live broadcast of Hammad Azhar’s budget speech at a market in Karachi. Photograph: Rizwan Tabassum/AFP/Getty Images

The unveiling of the budget came just days after the World Health Organization called on Pakistan to implement “intermittent” lockdowns to counter a surge in coronavirus infections that has come as the country loosened restrictions in recent weeks.

The prime minister Imran Khan has repeatedly lambasted the lockdown measures, saying the moves are disproportionately hitting the poor who are unable to absorb the economic damage.

Hospitals across Pakistan, however, say they are at or near capacity, and some are turning Covid-19 patients away.

4.39pm BST

The coronavirus outbreak is hitting South Africa’s mainly black townships harder than areas that were once the exclusive preserve of white people, according to new data that highlights the lasting impact of apartheid-era housing policies.

More than two decades after the end of white minority rule, South Africa remains one of the most unequal countries in the world, according to the World Bank, with urban areas starkly divided along racial lines.

Townships in the Western Cape province, South Africa’s main coronavirus hotspot, are suffering particularly high rates of infection, government tracking shows.

Nearly 12% of all infections in the Western Cape are in Khayelitsha, the largest township in Cape Town, even though it has just 6% of the province’s population.

By contrast Stellenbosch, known for its winelands and a university town, has just 1% of Western Cape’s cases and makes up about 4% of its population.

Other hotspots include Mitchells Plain township, which has 9% of infections, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reports.

“We are seeing townships become virus hotspots because we haven’t dismantled the apartheid city,” said Edward Molopi, a researcher with housing and human rights charity the Socio-Economic Research Institute in Johannesburg.

South Africans have taken to the streets in recent weeks to protest police brutality in townships in an echo of the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States.

A protest outside parliament in Cape Town about the killing of George Floyd in the United States and Collins Khosa, (pictured on poster), in Alexandra township near Johannesburg. Khosa’s family said he was beaten to death by law enforcement officers over a cup of beer left in his yard during the coronavirus lockdown.
A protest outside parliament in Cape Town about the killing of George Floyd in the United States and Collins Khosa, (pictured on poster), in Alexandra township near Johannesburg. Khosa’s family said he was beaten to death by law enforcement officers over a cup of beer left in his yard during the coronavirus lockdown. Photograph: Nardus Engelbrecht/AP

Human rights defenders have said security forces were deployed to enforce lockdowns mainly in poor black areas like high density townships, where overcrowding made it impossible to properly isolate.

South Africa has more than 58,500 confirmed coronavirus cases, and 1,284 deaths according to a tally by the Johns Hopkins university.

The government is expecting an escalation of cases ahead of a predicted August/September peak and rising community infection rates in townships.

But it is struggling with shortages of test kits, healthcare staff and hospital beds.

Molopi said the virus had exposed how little had changed in South African cities since apartheid ended.

During apartheid, black people had to live in sub-standard, crowded, unsanitary conditions, far from economic opportunity.

Not much has changed.

Updated at 4.44pm BST

4.20pm BST

Greece will not be initially accepting passenger flights from Britain as it reopens to tourism on Monday, the government said today.

And all passengers from Italy, Spain and the Netherlands are to undergo tests upon arrival, the tourism and health ministers said as the country prepares for foreign visitors for the first time since the Covid-19 lockdown in March.

“The ban on (passenger flights from) Great Britain remains in place” for the next two weeks, tourism minister Harry Theoharis said.

“Our goal is for Greece to remain a safe country looking forward to the tourism season,” said health minister Vassilis Kikilias.

Greece has announced a ‘bridge phase’ between 15 and 30 June, during which only the airports of Athens and Thessaloniki will receive regular passenger flights.

Other regional and island airports will open on 1 July.

Until 30 June, tourists from Italy, Spain and the Netherlands will only be able to fly into Athens.

UK passenger flights will be allowed from 1 July onwards.

Any travellers who test positive will have to quarantine for 14 days at a hotel paid by the Greek state.

A worker cleans a plexiglass divider at the entrance of the Acropolis in Athens.
A worker cleans a plexiglass divider at the entrance of the Acropolis in Athens. Photograph: Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images

With fewer than 190 coronavirus deaths among 11 million residents, Greece is looking to market itself as a healthy holiday destination.

Tourism is a crucial part of the Greek economy, accounting for 20% of its gross domestic product and the lockdown hit the country hard.

Seasonal hotels are to reopen on 15 June, two weeks after all-year hotels returned to business. Staff will be subject to regular tests, as will guests.

Rooms have also been set aside to quarantine anyone testing positive for the virus, and each hotel has to have a contracted physician on call.

In 2019, Greece posted a record year with over 34 million visitors, but operators say a realistic goal for this season is for up to a third of that number.

3.41pm BST

Japan is aiming to launch a smartphone contact tracking app next week to curb the spread of coronavirus, the health ministry has said.

Phones with the app installed can detect each other via Bluetooth and log those who have come into close contact.

If a user is found to be infected, people who spent more than 15 minutes within a radius of one metre (3.3 feet) of that individual over the previous 14 days will be notified that they were in close contact with a coronavirus-infected person, and be prompted to seek medical consultation.

Messages will only be sent if the infected individual gives consent, and those with a positive diagnosis will remain anonymous to receivers of the notification.

“By knowing the possibility of having come into contact with someone tested positive for the new coronavirus, (app) users can get early support from a public health centre such as an access to a diagnostic test,” a health ministry statement said on Friday.

“We expect an increase in the number of users will help prevent the spread of infection.”

3.23pm BST

My colleagues Hannah Ellis-Petersen and Amrit Dhillon have written a poignant report on how the pandemic has pushed the Indian healthcare system to the bring of collapse.

Cases in India, currently at 298,000, are now increasing by 10,000 per day and the country has overtaken the UK to be the fourth-worst hit in the world. India’s biggest cities of Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai are not only running out of beds, but also doctors and nurses to treat the unprecedented numbers of patients, and university medical professors have been seconded to work on Covid hospital wards out of desperation.

Private hospitals have been charging upwards of 80,000 rupees (£840) per night for those who are admitted with Covid symptoms, unaffordable prices for even middle-class let alone poorer Indians.

You can read the full story here:

I’m Amy Walker, taking over the global coronavirus blog while my colleague Jessica Murray takes a break. You can get in touch with me on Twitter (@amyrwalker).

Updated at 3.24pm BST

2.51pm BST

Turkish medical association says coronavirus lockdown eased too soon

Turkey’s top medical association has criticised the decision to ease coronavirus restrictions, saying moves were not backed by science and came too soon, before the country had overcome the pandemic’s initial wave.

Since 1 June, Turkey has lifted weekend stay-home orders, ended curbs on intercity travel, resumed some international flights and re-opened cafes, restaurants, parks, beaches and gyms.

The government has urged the public to remain cautious, while characterising the handling of the outbreak as a success.

Nearly 4,800 have died of Covid-19 so far in Turkey, according to official data, with the daily death toll falling in recent weeks to about 20.

But Cavit Işık Yavuz, a member of the coronavirus research team at the Turkish Medics Association’s (TTB), said there was still no proof that the outbreak was under control, and warned the lifting restrictions was resulting in more infections.

Yavuz told an online press conference:

At times, there is talk of when the second wave will hit, but we have not yet been able to overcome the first wave.

The early re-opening decisions that are not based on scientific facts, especially since June 1, have caused a rise in case numbers and the number of patients receiving treatment in ICUs and needing respirators.

Turkey’s daily tally of newly recorded coronavirus cases has hovered just below 1,000 for two weeks, according to government data. The figure had dipped as far as 786 on 2 June after a drop-off last month.

On Wednesday, health minister Fahrettin Koca said there had been a rise in daily cases in certain provinces, but said this had stabilised. President Tayyip Erdoğan also warned of an uptick last week even as he revoked the weekend lockdown, citing a public backlash.

Yavuz said:

We are looking for a scientific basis for nearly all the measures that are being eased, but we cannot find any.

We find it odd that in a pandemic where we lost nearly 5,000 citizens, there is an effort to find a success story.

2.44pm BST

Canada’s two largest grocery chains have announced plans to wind down ‘emergency’ pay for employees, despite taking in record profits during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic— a move that has prompted outrage from union leaders.

Loblaws and Metro have both rolled out a C/hour premium during the pandemic in recognition that employees faced increased risk as front line workers.

“Our supermarkets and pharmacies are performing well,” Loblaws head Galen Weston said in late March, when the pay increase was rolled out. “And the leaders in our business wanted to make sure that a significant portion of that benefit would go straight into the pockets of the incredible people on the front line.”

As of 13 June, both companies will end the pay increase. They will pay out a bonus to each employee: full time workers at Loblaws will receive C0 and those at Metro will be given C0.

Loblaws, which owns a number of grocery store brands across the country, recorded windfall profits in its first quarter, up to C0m from C8m the same quarter last year.

Metro also reported a surge in profit, banking C6m in its most recent quarter, compared to C2m the year before.

The decision to wind down pay has outraged union leaders, who say the pandemic is not over and the danger to workers remains present.

Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, said in a statement:

The pandemic is not over. The danger has not passed. These workers are no less at risk and are no less essential today than they were yesterday. There is no justification for ending pandemic pay now, or ever.

Retail workers have always been essential, and they have always deserved much better. The fact is, the pandemic did not make these workers essential and did not create the inequities in retail, it simply exposed them.

2.18pm BST

Prosecutors question Italy PM over handling of virus crisis

The Italian prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, was questioned for three hours on Friday by the prosecutor investigating an alleged failure by authorities to quarantine two Lombardy towns at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Conte was questioned, as a witness, by Bergamo prosecutor, Maria Cristina Rota, in Rome. Rota is leading an investigation into the failure to swiftly seal-off Alzano and Nembro, two towns in the worst-hit province of Bergamo, after outbreaks occurred in both.

Rota will also hear testimony from Roberto Speranza, the health minister, and the interior minister, Luciana Lamorgese.

The epidemic has killed over 34,000 in Italy, one of the hardest hit countries in the world, mostly in the country’s north.

The investigation has sparked a row between Lombardy’s leaders and central government, with each side claiming that the other was responsible for quarantine decisions.

Local newspaper Eco di Bergamo features several pages of obituaries in its 17 March 17 2020 edition, in Mediglia, Italy.
Local newspaper Eco di Bergamo features several pages of obituaries in its 17 March 17 2020 edition, in Mediglia, Italy. Photograph: Luca Bruno/AP

The investigation into criminal negligence has been pushed by the families of Covid-19 victims. The first 50 legal complaints were filed by members of NOI Denunceremo (we will denounce), a Facebook group set up in April, to Bergamo prosecutors on Wednesday.

Relatives of the deceased believe authorities made serious errors, especially at the beginning of the outbreak, such as only briefly closing a hospital in the town of Alzano Lombardo after the first coronavirus infection was detected there on 23 February and failing to quarantine the town and the nearby Nembro.

On Thursday, Conte said he welcomed the Bergamo investigation and was “not at all worried”.

I will conscientiously set out all the facts of which I have knowledge.

All investigations are welcome. The citizens have the right to know and we have the right to reply.

The Italian government is under pressure to reboot the economy.

On Saturday, Conte will begin nine days of talks with ministers and leaders from various industries to come up with measures linked to the European Union’s proposed €750bn recovery fund.

Christine Lagarde, the European Central Bank president, and Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF’s managing director, are expected to participate via video-link on Saturday.

Updated at 4.57pm BST

2.03pm BST

Your questions answered on what type of mask to wear to cut the risk of getting Covid-19:

Does it matter what sort of mask you wear?

Yes. Different types of mask offer different levels of protection. Surgical grade N95 respirators offer the highest level of protection against Covid-19 infection, followed by surgical grade masks.

However, these masks are costly, in limited supply, contribute to landfill waste and are uncomfortable to wear for long periods.

So even countries that have required the public to wear face masks have generally suggested such masks should be reserved for health workers or those at particularly high risk.

The evidence on the protective value of single-use paper masks or reusable cloth coverings is less clear, but still suggests that face masks can contribute to reducing transmission of Covid-19. Analysis by the Royal Society said this included homemade cloth face masks.

Are paper surgical single-use masks better or is a cloth mask OK?

The evidence on any mask use, outside of surgical masks, is still emerging: there appears to be some benefit, but the exact parameters of which masks are the best and the extent to which they protect the wearer or those around them are still being figured out.

A tighter fitting around the face is probably better, but the CDC suggests any covering, including a bandana, is better than none.

One US study investigated which household materials best removed particles of 0.3-1.0 microns in diameter, the typical size of viruses and bacteria, and concluded that good options include vacuum cleaner bags, heavyweight “quilter’s cotton” or multiple layers of material. Scarves and bandana material were less effective, but still captured a fraction of particles.

1.57pm BST

Kira Hilli of the Netherlands National Ballet dances in a tutu with a diameter of 3 metres. The so-called social distance tutu was made specially for safe-distance ballet
Kira Hilli of the Netherlands National Ballet dances in a tutu with a diameter of 3 metres. The so-called social distance tutu was made specially for safe-distance ballet. Photograph: Remko de Waal/EPA

Updated at 2.02pm BST

1.52pm BST

EU urges joint efforts by bloc’s states to buy Covid-19 vaccines

The European commission has received a political mandate from EU governments to negotiate on their behalf advance purchases of promising coronavirus vaccines, the EU’s top health official said, urging states to set aside parallel initiatives.

EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides told a news conference there was “overwhelming” support from EU governments for a commission plan to use a €2.4bn (.7bn) fund to buy coronavirus vaccines upfront.

Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands are already in talks with pharmaceutical companies to buy vaccines, a move that could weaken the EU’s joint approach.

Kyriakides said the two initiatives had the same goal, adding: “Both tracks should converge for the benefits of all 27. This is about working together and not in competition.”

Updated at 2.03pm BST

1.48pm BST

A South African court has started hearing a challenge by the main opposition party against a government-imposed ban on personal care services to limit the spread of coronavirus.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) party on Monday filed a lawsuit in the Western Cape high court to have the ban – which prevents hairdressers, beauticians and tattoo artists from working – declared “invalid and unconstitutional”.

Most other businesses have been allowed to resume their activities since South Africa moved into level three of a strict five-tier lockdown at the start of June. Personal care services such as hairdressing remained shut as they were deemed “high-risk” activities unable to ensure social distancing requirements.

DA leader John Steenhuisen said in a statement:

The reality is that the devastation from the continued economic lockdown will see more lives lost than the virus could ever harm. Government must stop driving fear and empower people to work and protect themselves and their livelihoods.

South Africa has the continent’s highest number of coronavirus cases, with more than 58,500 infections and at least 1,284 deaths recorded to date. But the economic costs of the lockdown have stoked disagreement between political parties and the opposition has grown increasingly critical of the government’s response to the outbreak.

Last month, the DA filed another legal challenge against some other coronavirus lockdown rules, including a ban on e-commerce and a night curfew.

Updated at 2.05pm BST

1.45pm BST

Britain’s government has brought in quarantine rules to protect public health, a spokesman for prime minister Boris Johnson has said, declining to comment on legal action brought by British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair.

“I would emphasise that we’ve obviously brought these quarantine rules into place to protect public health and ensure we don’t import the virus as cases in the community reduce,” the spokesman told reporters, adding that the government does not comment on “ongoing legal matters”.

1.35pm BST

French superchef Alain Ducasse is using a ventilation system similar to those in hospital operating theatres to reopen one of his Paris restaurants.

Ducasse, whose restaurants have 17 Michelin stars – the most of any chef in the world – is installing the sophisticated system in his historic Allard bistro in the Saint Germain des Pres district of the French capital so it can open later this month.

Paris restaurants have been allowed to serve on their terraces for 10 days but strict social distancing rules mean the interiors remain off limits.

Diners in Paris bistros and cafes traditionally sit almost elbow to elbow on small tables – a nightmare for restaurateurs who have been told by that tables must now be at least one metre a part.

“No restaurant can survive with only half of its customers,” Ducasse told AFP as he unveiled his air filtration system at the Allard, whose tables will also be screened off with sail cloth blinds.

Large white air “socks” decorated with drawings of the gods and goddesses of the wind hang over every table from the overhead ventilation pipes, gently pushing stale air away.

And customers will also be offered round transparent “separators” to be placed on their table for additional safety when French restaurants are due to fully reopen on 22 June.

French chef Alain Ducasse in his restaurant Allard in Paris, equipped with an anti-Covid filtering system.
French chef Alain Ducasse in his restaurant Allard in Paris, equipped with an anti-Covid filtering system. Photograph: Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images

Ducasse said his prototype will “give extra safety to customers in confined spaces” and was a possible solution for tightly packed bistros which could lose half their tables if distancing rules are rigidly applied.

Designer Patrick Jouin, whose work is displayed at MOMA in New York as well as the Paris Pompidou Centre, said he talked to scientists and virologists before coming up with the air system.

Updated at 1.58pm BST

1.29pm BST

Norway will allow travel to and from Finland, Iceland and the Swedish island of Gotland from 15 June, but is maintaining existing travel restrictions imposed on mainland Sweden due to its higher level of Covid-19 cases.

Denmark, Finland and Norway have lifted some of the travel restrictions they imposed to slow the spread of Covid-19, but they have kept most of the ones imposed on Sweden.

“I think we need to be honest and say that in the Nordics this is something of a difficult issue at the moment,” prime minister Erna Solberg told a news conference. She added:

At the same time we have a good conversation about how we’re doing it, and the fact that we’re applying objective criteria has been met with understanding.

Norway will assess the public health situation of each region in the Nordics separately and will review its travel advice every fortnight, starting 15 June, said Solberg.

Gotland, a Baltic island with close to 60,000 inhabitants, is the only Swedish region Norway will allow citizens to travel to without having to undergo a ten-day quarantine when going home.

Sweden adopted fewer lockdown restrictions and by 10 June 10 its Covid-19 deaths were 4,717 – four times the number in the other Nordic countries combined.

Updated at 1.41pm BST

1.27pm BST

Europe needs to become more independent in supplying itself with face masks and certain medicines as it battles the coronavirus outbreak, German health minister Jens Spahn has said.

Spahn told a news conference:

It’s not about calling globalisation into question – it’s about finding the right degree of globalisation.

When it comes to face masks and certain medications, we’ve seen that we should not make ourselves completely dependent on the global market.

Decisions should not be made in China about whether we have protective masks for carers or doctors in Warsaw, Amsterdam or Berlin.

Economy minister Peter Altmaier has previously said that the coronavirus pandemic has shown Europe is too reliant on other countries for some medical supplies, and European states should work together to further diversify international supply chains.

1.17pm BST

Delhi coronavirus deaths twice as high, say authorities

Deaths from coronavirus in New Delhi are almost twice as high as official figures show, a city leader said, as India overtook Britain with the fourth-highest number of cases worldwide.

With India’s lockdown being widely eased, the government has been reporting almost 10,000 new confirmed cases every day with infections totalling almost 300,000, including 8,500 deaths.

Densely populated megacities such as Delhi and Mumbai are the worst affected, stretching hospitals to breaking point.

But data in Delhi is understating the true scale of the outbreak, said Jai Prakash, standing committee head of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, one of the three sub-districts that make up the capital.

Citing data from the city’s busy crematoriums and cemeteries, Prakash said on Thursday that just over 2,000 people have died from the virus across the city – almost twice the official toll.

“These were corona positive cases. We have a separate record of funerals of some another 200 suspected cases,” Prakash told reporters.

People wait by the burning pyre of a person who died of Covid-19, at a crematorium in New Delhi, India.
People wait by the burning pyre of a person who died of Covid-19, at a crematorium in New Delhi, India. Photograph: Manish Swarup/AP

But the party that governs Delhi as a whole, which has come under fire for its handling of the health crisis, rejected the claims.

“This is a time to unite and save lives of people. This is not the time to make allegations,” the Aam Aadmi Party said in a statement.

Financial capital Mumbai is officially India’s worst affected city with almost 2,000 fatalities.

Parts of the Dharavi area in Mumbai, one of Asia’s largest slums, have been under strict months-long lockdown. The number of new cases has been easing, with 20 new infections confirmed on Friday.

The death toll in the southern city of Chennai is at least 460, more than double the official figure, media reports said this week.

Despite the surge in cases nationally, which is being mirrored elsewhere in South Asia, prime minister Narendra Modi’s government has declared the lockdown a success and has been steadily lifting restrictions

Updated at 1.18pm BST

12.55pm BST

Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, has tested positive for coronavirus, but her husband, president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and their two children have tested negative.

She wrote on Facebook on Friday:

Today I received a positive test for coronavirus.

Unexpected news. Especially considering that I and my family continue to follow all the rules – masks, gloves, a minimum of contacts.

Zelenska said she felt well, was not hospitalised, but was isolating from her husband and children.

Ukraine has reported 29,753 coronavirus cases, including 870 deaths.

Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, with her husband, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the president of Ukraine.
Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, with her husband, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the president of Ukraine. Photograph: Toms Kalniņš/EPA

Updated at 1.07pm BST

12.48pm BST

President Vladimir Putin has said an “absolute majority” of Russians back his controversial plan to change the constitution, as he made his first public appearance after weeks of lockdown.

Russia, which has the world’s third-largest coronavirus caseload, this week lifted tight restrictions as Putin set the stage for a vote on 1 July that could extend his hold on power until 2036.

Putin greeted his compatriots at an open-air flag-raising ceremony in western Moscow to mark Russia Day, a public holiday.

He was surrounded by allies, including the prominent paediatrician Leonid Roshal.

Appearing without a mask and smiling in the bright sunshine, the 67-year-old leader praised the spirit of the Russian people as well their traditions and culture. He said it was only natural that Russians wanted to see these “fundamental, basic premises” reflected in the constitution.

“I am sure that an absolute majority of our citizens share and support such a position,” Putin said.

Russian president Vladimir Putin attends a ceremony presenting Russian Hero of Labour gold medals on the Day of Russia, in Moscow.
Russian president Vladimir Putin attends a ceremony presenting Russian Hero of Labour gold medals on the Day of Russia, in Moscow. Photograph: Michael Klimentyev/SPUTNIK/KREMLIN POOL/EPA

During the ceremony, he also bestowed labour awards on Roshal, popular Soviet-era actor Yury Solomin and others.

Putin, who has dominated Russia for two decades, in January unleashed a political storm by proposing an overhaul of the constitution, the first changes to the basic law since 1993.

In a carefully choreographed move, he later agreed for the amendments to include a provision that would reset the clock on his term limits to zero, meaning he could potentially stay in power until 2036.

Even though Covid-19 infections have been declining in Russia, many doctors and Kremlin critics say the lockdown restrictions have been lifted prematurely in Moscow, the centre of the Russian outbreak.

Critics accuse Putin of rushing to drum up support ahead of the vote as his approval ratings fall, according to independent pollsters.

On Friday evening, authorities will stage a concert on Red Square, adding that those attending will respect physical distancing rules.

Updated at 2.36pm BST

12.26pm BST

Zoom has admitted it suspended the accounts of human rights activists at the behest of the Chinese government and suggested it will block any further meetings that Beijing complains are illegal.

On Thursday, the video conferencing platform was accused of disrupting or shutting down the accounts of three activists who held online events relating to the Tiananmen Square massacre anniversary or discussing the crisis in Hong Kong. None were given an explanation by Zoom.

Following media reports, late on Thursday Zoom said it had been contacted by the Chinese government in May and early June about four Zoom meetings to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre that were being publicised on social media.

The Chinese government informed us that this activity is illegal in China and demanded that Zoom terminate the meetings and host accounts. We did not provide any user information or meeting content to the Chinese government. We do not have a backdoor that allows someone to enter a meeting without being visible.

The statement raises questions about Zoom bowing to Chinese pressure. Unlike many western social media platforms, it is not blocked in China. The company did not explain under what law the meetings – which were hosted outside mainland China – were deemed to be illegal.

Updated at 12.40pm BST

11.47am BST

Beijing has said it will delay primary school students returning to school after three fresh coronavirus cases emerged in the capital – the first after two months of no infections in the city.

China has largely brought domestic coronavirus infections under control, and the majority of cases in recent months have been overseas nationals tested as they return home.

On Thursday, local authorities announced one new case with no recent travel history outside the capital, followed by two more cases on Friday.

The city’s education commission said on Friday it had cancelled first, second and third-graders’ planned return to school on Monday – affecting 520,000 students, Xinhua reported.

Fourth-graders attend a class at Yangfangdian central primary school in Haidian District of Beijing.
Fourth-graders attend a class at Yangfangdian central primary school in Haidian District of Beijing. Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

The commission said students who had already returned to school would carry on lessons as normal, but with stricter anti-epidemic measures in place.

Beijing students have gradually resumed lessons in waves since late April, after schools had been closed for three months during the coronavirus outbreak. The city’s last case before the recent spike was reported in mid-April.

In total, there have been 597 infections reported in the city – 174 of which were imported from overseas – and nine local deaths, according to official figures.

The recent announcements stoked fears of a fresh wave on social media.

“I’m living in Fengtai district [where the latest Covid-19 cases live], trembling with fear … Going to buy more masks. Hope it can be over soon!” wrote one user on Weibo, a Twitter-like social network.

Some called for mass Covid-19 testing in Beijing. China conducted similar testing campaigns on millions of residents in Wuhan – the original epicentre of the outbreak.

To protect the capital, Beijing is redirecting international flights through other cities where passengers are quarantined and tested before being allowed to proceed.

Updated at 12.42pm BST

11.40am BST

Afghanistan has declared a “public mobilisation” against Covid-19 as the number of confirmed infections passed 23,000.

In a WhatsApp message to reporters on Thursday, Ahmad Jawad Omani, the country’s new acting health minister called his five-part plan to fight against the virus “historic” and said “only a small part of health sector was to fight with coronavirus until today, but from now, all parts of the sector will get coordinated to fight against the virus. Today, I announce public mobilisation against coronavirus”.

According to the new plan, “from a clinic in a remote area to hospitals in the capital are mobilised to fight against the virus”.

Only government hospitals were allowed to treat Covid-19 patients in Afghanistan, but according to the plan, the private sector can now also treat and test.

Testing capacity will also be increased, but clinics with no testing labs are instructed to announce new patients through their symptoms. The acting health minister also said a mobile application will be created for health workers to upload new figures to.

Meanwhile, the country’s health ministry reported 656 new infections, taking the total to 23,546. The number of deaths in the country has risen by 20, to 446 fatalities. There have been 3,928 recoveries.

Most new cases (326) have been reported in the capital, Kabul, the country’s worst-affected area in both number of confirmed transmissions and deaths with 9,466 cases and 92 deaths.

Mohammad Yaghoub Heidari, the governor of Kabul, warned earlier this week “a catastrophe” is going on in the capital and the actual number of infections in Kabul is much higher than official figures show, maybe even “a million”.

Updated at 12.56pm BST

11.17am BST

Hi everyone, this is Jessica Murray, I’ll be steering the live blog for the next few hours – as always feel free to get in touch with any comments and suggestions – I’ll certainly read them all and do my best to respond to as many as I can:

Email: jessica.murray@theguardian.com
Twitter: @journojess_

11.10am BST

Germany’s health minister, Jens Spahn, has warned the nation against taking a carefree attitude towards the coronavirus, after the number of active cases in the country fell to around 5,300.

A total of 258 new cases were registered overnight, one of the lowest daily increases. He told a German broadcaster this morning: “We continue to have a low level of the virus, with new infections occurring every day, but on a scale that we can manage well … but we’re also seeing that from family parties to church services, the virus is still there.

“And if we make it too easy for the virus, if we are too carefree, then it will spread again very quickly”.

Spahn was referring to two local outbreaks that have received much attention. In the city of Göttingen, several family gatherings last month are known to have caused the virus to spread, leading to the closure of several schools and many people being sent into quarantine, while in Frankfurt am Main, a service held by a Baptist community also led to the infection spreading rapidly amongst worshippers and their acquaintances.

Germany has had 187,826 confirmed cases of coronavirus. The death toll stands at 8,947.

Updated at 1.02pm BST

10.50am BST

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte is being questioned by prosecutors investigating the lack of a coronavirus lockdown of two towns in Lombardys Bergamo province that turned into one of the hardest-hit areas of the country’s outbreak.

Doctors and virologists have said the two-week delay in quarantining Alzano and Nembro allowed the virus to spread in Bergamo, which saw a 571% increase in excess deaths in March compared with the average of the previous five years.

Lead prosecutor Maria Cristina Rota arrived with a team of aides Friday morning at the premiers office in Rome, Palazzo Chigi. In addition to Conte, she is expected to question the health and interior ministers. In previous days, Rota has interviewed the head of the Superior Institute of Health.

To date no one has been placed under investigation and it’s unclear what, if any, criminal blame will be assigned to public officials for decisions taken or not in the onetime epicenter of Europe’s outbreak.

Among other things, the probe is looking into whether it fell to the national government in Rome, or the Lombardy regional authorities, to create a so-called red zone” around the two towns.

After interviewing Lombardy regional officials last month, Rota said it appeared it was the national government’s responsibility. But Conte’s office has pointed to norms that delegate such authority to regions, and noted that other regions have instituted red zones” on their own.

AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici
Italy’s Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte Photograph: Burhan Özbilici/AP

Ten towns in the province, as well as a handful of towns outside Lombardy, were immediately locked down by the national government to try to contain the spread. Alzano and Nembro registered their first positive cases two days later, on 23 February, but the government didn’t quarantine them for two weeks until all of Lombardy was locked down 7 March.

Asked if, in hindsight, he should have locked down sooner, Conte told La Stampa daily on Friday that he was at peace with the decisions taken.

“I acted based on science and conscience,” he said.

10.24am BST

For doctors and healthcare workers in India’s financial capital Mumbai who are grappling with surging coronavirus infections, the onset of the annual monsoon poses a serious threat – a new wave of patients with vector-borne diseases.

Already stretched by a shortage of medics and critical care beds, the situation in Mumbai might turn uglier, health experts warn, as cases of malaria, dengue, leptospirosis and encephalitis are expected to soar in coming months.

“Mumbai will be dealing with a crisis in the monsoon,” said Kamakshi Bhate, professor emeritus of community medicine at the state-run King Edward Memorial (KEM).

Hospital in Mumbai, noting there is typically a surge in hospital bed occupancy due to such diseases during India’s annual June-September monsoon season.

Mourners in personal protective gear offer prayers before the burial of their relative who died of Covid-19 at a cemetery in New Delhi, India
Mourners in personal protective gear offer prayers before the burial of their relative who died of Covid-19 at a cemetery in New Delhi, India, on Wednesday. Photograph: Sheikh Saaliq/AP

Waterlogged streets are a common sight every monsoon across India. But in Mumbai, its most populous city, monsoons can often bring life to a standstill with flooding and water-logging, and result in a surge of diseases.

In a report, local NGO Praja Foundation said official data from only government-run hospitals showed Mumbai recorded about 32,000 malaria and dengue cases in 2018, but the NGO said its own household survey indicated more than 200,000 cases of just those two diseases in the city that year.

This year, the city’s hospitals are already overrun. Mumbai has been hit the hardest by Covid-19. About 25% of India’s 297,535 coronavirus cases and roughly 29% of the 8,498 deaths recorded have come from the city and its surrounding suburbs.

Suresh Kakani, an additional commissioner at Mumbai’s civic authority, said it was asking clinics and dispensaries, some of which had shut during a two-month long nationwide lockdown, to reopen.

A woman wearing a protective face mask walks past a graffiti, after authorities eased lockdown restrictions, in Mumbai, India
A woman wearing a protective face mask walks past a graffiti, after authorities eased lockdown restrictions, in Mumbai, India. Photograph: Hemanshi Kamani/Reuters

Drains are being cleaned and stored water in houses were being inspected for larvae, Kakani said, adding that while major hospitals were on treating covid patients, smaller nursing homes would be available to handle other cases.

But, with local hospitals already strained by significant staff shortages, heath experts fear the spread of diseases in Mumbai’s slums could compound issues for a healthcare network already reeling from Covid-19 cases.

Updated at 10.34am BST

10.17am BST

Twitter on Thursday said it removed more than 170,000 accounts tied to a Beijing-backed influence operation that deceptively spread messages favorable to the Chinese government, including some about the coronavirus.

The company suspended a core network of 23,750 highly active accounts, as well as a larger network of about 150,000 “amplifier” accounts used to boost the core accounts’ content.

Twitter, along with researchers who analysed the accounts, said the network was largely an echo chamber of fake accounts without much further traction.

Twitter is blocked in China, along with other American social media companies such as Facebook and Instagram.

The company also removed two smaller state-backed operations which it attributed to Russia and Turkey, both focused on domestic audiences.

Twitter said the Chinese network had links to an earlier state-backed operation dismantled last year by Twitter, Facebook and Google’s YouTube that had been pushing misleading narratives about political dynamics in Hong Kong.

The new operation likewise focused heavily on Hong Kong, but also promoted messages about the coronavirus pandemic, exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui and Taiwan, the researchers said.

Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP.
A woman holds a smartphone with the logo of US social network Twitter, in Nantes, western France. Photograph: Loïc Venance/AFP via Getty Images

Renee DiResta, at the Stanford Internet Observatory, said the network’s coronavirus activity increased in late January, as the outbreak spread beyond China, and spiked in March.

Accounts praised China’s response to the virus, while also using the pandemic to antagonise the US and Hong Kong activists, she said.

Updated at 10.35am BST

10.12am BST

The public health crisis caused by the Covid-19 epidemic in Europe is not over yet, the European Union’s top health official warned on Friday, urging governments to remain vigilant and plough ahead with testing and tracing the population.

“This is not behind us yet. We need to be vigilant,” the EU health commissioner, Stella Kyriakides, told EU health ministers in a video conference, amid fears of a fresh surge in infections as EU states gradually reopen business and borders and after mass protests in recent days across the continent.

Updated at 10.36am BST

9.56am BST

Trump rally attendees can’t sue if they contract virus

People attending an upcoming Donald Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, have been told they cannot sue if they contract coronavirus. The sign-up page for the president’s upcoming rally includes a disclaimer about the possibility of contracting the disease.

The president has implemented a policy that states rally attendees cannot sue the campaign or venue if they contract coronavirus at the event, the New York Times reports:

‘By clicking register below, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to Covid-19 exists in any public place where people are present,’ a statement on Mr. Trump’s campaign website informed those wishing to attend his June 19 rally in Tulsa, Okla. ‘By attending the rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to Covid-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors or volunteers liable for any illness or injury.’

Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Charlotte, North Carolina
Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

The rally will be Trump’s first since the pandemic forced most of the country into lockdown three months ago.

Oklahoma, a state Trump won four years ago, began lifting restrictions on businesses on 24 April and moved into phase 3 of its reopening on 1 June, allowing summer camps to open and workplaces to return with full staffing.

Updated at 10.37am BST

9.47am BST

Beijing city government on Friday reported two new confirmed Covid-19 cases, marking the second consecutive day of new infections being reported in the Chinese capital.

Beijing confirmed on 11 June its first locally transmitted case of COVID-19 after over 50 days without a local transmission.
A woman wearing a face mask walks through Beijing, China, 12 June 2020.
Photograph: Roman Pilipey/EPA

The two patients, both male, were reported from a different part of Beijing than the case reported on Thursday.

They both work at the same facility for the China Meat Food Comprehensive Research Center, which conducts research on subjects including meat processing, state media reported. It was not immediately clear how the two men were infected.

Updated at 9.52am BST

9.34am BST

If you have any stories and tips for the global liveblog please send them across to nazia.parveen@theguardian.com or follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/NParveenG to send me a message.

9.02am BST

Armenia said on Friday it had extended a state of emergency over the coronavirus outbreak until 13 July as the number of daily infections continues to rise.

Despite the extension of the state of emergency, almost all sectors of the Armenian economy are functioning after businesses reopened in early May to prevent it from collapsing.

Conspiracy theories and disinformation about coronavirus had undermined government efforts to fight the pandemic in Armenia, the authorities and analysts said as the outbreak overwhelmed hospitals in the Caucasus nation.
A woman wearing a face mask stand at her counter at the market in Yerevan on June 5, 2020, amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus. Photograph: Karen Minasyan/AFP/Getty Images

The government made it mandatory to wear face masks in public to try to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Armenia’s deputy prime minister, Tigran Avinyan, said last week the government planned to reopen international flights from mid-July to help the tourism industry.

Armenia, a country of 3 million, had registered 15,281 confirmed coronavirus cases and 258 deaths as of Friday. It is the worst-affected country in the South Caucasus region.

Updated at 9.54am BST

8.52am BST

Russia reported has reported 8,987 new cases of coronavirus today, bringing its nationwide tally of infections to 511,423.

Officials said 183 people had died in the last 24 hours, pushing the official national death toll to 6,715.

Russian capital has lifted the coronavirus lockdown earlier this week, allowing residents to walk and drive across the city without restrictions.
Passengers in protective masks ride in a subway car of Moscow’s Metro on June,11,2020 in Moscow, Russia.
Requirements to wear masks and gloves to combat a spread of the coronavirus is still in effect in Moscow.
Photograph: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Updated at 9.56am BST

8.40am BST

Earlier this week, an EU report said China and Russia had engaged in mass disinformation about the pandemic. Beijing has responded, saying yesterday that China is in fact the victim of misinformation, and accused the EU of speaking on behalf of the US.

The European commission had said Russia and China were running “targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns in the EU, its neighbourhood, and globally”.

While the charge against Russia has been levelled on many occasions, this was the first time the EU executive has publicly named China as a source of disinformation.

On Thursday, China’s ministry of foreign affairs spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said the accusation was “baseless” and was disinformation itself.

“Anyone with no bias can see clearly who is the biggest perpetrator to make and spread disinformation about the pandemic,” she said.

In the official transcript, Hua did not name any particular country, but a separate editorial in state media site the Global Times suggested it was a reference to the US.

Updated at 9.57am BST

8.23am BST

British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair have launched legal action against the UK government’s quarantine policy, asking for a judicial review to be heard as soon as possible, a statement from BA’s parent IAG said.

The airlines said earlier this week they would club together to try to end the 14-day quarantine rule for international arrivals which they say will deter travel and threaten more jobs.

April 1, 2020.
British Airways planes are seen parked at Bournemouth Airport, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continued. Photograph: Paul Childs/Reuters

Lawyers have said the government would have to show the scientific evidence that underpinned the need for a quarantine if judges allow a judicial review to go ahead.

Britain’s chief scientist said earlier in June that politicians decided the policy, adding quarantines worked best for restricting travel from countries with high infection rates.
The quarantine came into force on Monday.

In their statement, provided by BA’s parent company IAG , the airlines said there was no scientific evidence for such a severe policy.

They also dismissed the alternative of “air bridges”, the name given to bilateral deals between countries with low infection rates, which the government has presented as a potential alternative to the quarantine.

“The airlines have not yet seen any evidence on how and when proposed ‘air bridges’ between the UK and other countries will be implemented,” they said.

Updated at 8.49am BST

8.11am BST

Thailand will lift a nationwide curfew and ease more restrictions next week, a spokesman for its coronavirus taskforce said on Friday, after the country reported no local transmissions of the virus for 18 days.

Thailand is also planning to reopen to foreign visitors by creating so-called travel bubbles with countries that have also managed to contain the virus, though no target date was set, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

“The curfew will be lifted effective on 15 June along with the easing of some activities,” Taweesin said, adding that strict social distancing rules still needed to be observed in all public activities.

A tourist wearing protective mask walks in front of giant Buddha at Wat Pho temple in Bangkok, Thailand
A tourist wearing protective mask walks in front of giant Buddha at Wat Pho temple in Bangkok, Thailand. Photograph: Sakchai Lalit/AP

Schools with fewer than 120 students, exhibition halls, music concerts, film productions, playgrounds, amusement parks, sports competitions without spectators and sales of alcohol in restaurants can resume next Monday, he said.

Meanwhile, pubs, bars and karaoke outlets will remain closed, he said.

Travel could be reopened with countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and some Middle East nations, Taweesin said, as well as neighbours like Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.

“The target group is business travellers as well as those wanting medical services and treatment in Thailand,” he said. No date has been set on the easing of restrictions on international arrivals, which are still banned until the end of June.

Thailand has been gradually easing restrictions in an effort to revive its economy and after appearing to contain the virus. It has recorded 58 deaths so far and 3,129 confirmed cases – most of which have recovered.

Updated at 8.23am BST

7.58am BST

The Danish government plans to create a 10bn Danish crown (.52bn) fund to support companies hit by the coronavirus crisis, it said on Friday.

Companies with annual revenue over 500m crowns are eligible, the finance ministry said, and finance minister Nicolai Wammen said about 200 – none of which he named – would qualify.

The ministry said financial institutions and publicly owned companies would be excluded, and newspaper Borsen quoted Wammen as saying the airline SAS, part-owned by the Danish and Swedish states, would not be on the list either.

Wammen said the fund could exceed 10bn crowns if needed. Financing for it may be shared between the government and institutional investors, which will take non-voting stakes in companies that draw on it.

The minority Social Democratic government will need support from other parties in parliament the proposal to become law.

Updated at 8.06am BST

7.50am BST

South Korea will extend prevention and sanitation guidelines against coronavirus until daily new infections drop to single digits, the country’s health minister has said.

But he warned warned of a return to tough social distancing measures if needed.

The announcement came as such cases persist in the mid-double digits following a series of new clusters in the area around Seoul, the capital, with 56 new cases on Thursday taking the national tally to 12,003, and 277 deaths.

Authorities will review whether to return to intensive social distancing if 50 daily infections persist for more than two weeks, the health minister, Park Neung-hoo, told a briefing.

“These guidelines are aimed at cutting the series of infections centered in the Seoul area that could result in a return to social distancing,” he said.

People write down their personal information before they are tested for coronavirus (Covid-19) at a temporary coronavirus testing stationin Seoul
People write down their personal information before they are tested for coronavirus (Covid-19) at a temporary coronavirus testing stationin Seoul. Photograph: Sanghwan Jung/REX/Shutterstock

Updated at 7.52am BST

7.45am BST

Global demand for premium foods like wagyu beef, bluefin tuna and caviar has plunged, with thousands of restaurants shuttered and many economies sliding into recession amid the coronavirus pandemic.

As strict lockdown measures to contain the outbreak ravage global economic activity, Reuters reports that the luxury food industry could be among the worst hit since it heavily relies on restaurants and top hotels for demand for deluxe items from caviar to champagne.

While some gourmet food producers are tapping consumers directly to stay afloat, others have been forced to cut output as some products have lost nearly half their value since the start of the year.

Jean-Marie Barillere, co-chairman of champagne producers’ lobby CIVC in France, said he hoped people would celebrate the easing of lockdown with a bottle of champagne, but expected a difficult end to the year.

“This is really a period that looks like a war time,” he said.

A dish of Wagyu beef steaks in a restaurant, operated by Meat Companion Co., in Tokyo, Japan, in March 2014
A dish of Wagyu beef steaks in a restaurant, operated by Meat Companion Co., in Tokyo, Japan, in March 2014. Photograph: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Updated at 7.53am BST

7.40am BST

The relatively cautious approach taken by Spain to reopening its borders to international visitors is coming under increasing pressure, reports El Pais today.

While the government in Madrid planning to reopen borders on 1 July, when it will also lift its requirement for a 14-day quarantine, the EU commissioner for home affairs insisted on the recommendation that internal borders must “reopen as soon as possible.

Ylva Johansson added on Thursday that the main thing is for all states to open internal borders completely before opening the EU’s external borders to third-country travellers.

EU commissioner Ylva Johansson speaks about the gradual lifting of restrictions at borders at a press conference on Thursday
EU commissioner Ylva Johansson speaks about the gradual lifting of restrictions at borders at a press conference on Thursday. Photograph: Isopix/REX/Shutterstock

Updated at 7.57am BST

7.29am BST

In a region where live music is everything – both for audiences and for performers heavily reliant on live appearances to make a living – the widespread cancellation of festivals across southern Africa has hit the music business hard.

Silence Charumbira has written this piece on how coronavirus has forced events including AfrikaBurn and Bushfire to cancel, leaving performers without promotional platforms and income.

May should have seen the Bushfire festival in Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland), Zakifo and AfrikaBurn in South Africa, and Azgo in Mozambique. Next month would have been Zimfest in Zimbabwe.

All have been cancelled – or replaced with online versions – along with dozens of smaller live events that have been growing in recent years.

Crowds enjoying a performance at Bushfire festival 2019 in Eswatini
Crowds enjoying a performance at Bushfire festival 2019 in Eswatini. Photograph: Courtesy of Bushfire festival

Updated at 7.57am BST

7.23am BST

UK economy shrinks record 20.4% in April due to lockdown

Britain is learning today what a full month’s lockdown does to the UK’s economy and the data is not pretty: it slumped by 20.4% in April from the previous month as the coronavirus lockdown paralysed the country.

Richard Partington has that story here on a day when prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to come under sustained pressure from Conservative MPs to take further steps to open up the economy, amid calls for caution from other quarters.

A range of other indicators are also out while the ongoing ramifications of the public health crisis continue to be felt. On that front, lawyers representing 450 bereaved people whose relatives have died due to Covid-19 have called on Johnson and Britain’s health minister, Matt Hancock, to hold an immediate public inquiry into the government’s handling of the crisis to help prevent many more deaths.

The global blog is now being picked up here in the UK, where we’ll continue to bring you coverage of developments across the world.

Updated at 7.58am BST

7.02am BST

That’s it from me, Helen Sullivan for today. I’m off to frantically clean my apartment before my in-laws arrive for a visit. The brilliant Ben Quinn is here to take over the blog.

Thank you to those of you who got in touch with us today – always much appreciated.

Here’s our global wrap of the most important recent developments in the coronavirus pandemic:

7.00am BST

Three months into lockdown, things have moved on in the land of digital dance, from fun Instagram clips and online classes to some serious choreography. Here are the best of the lot:

6.52am BST

The British government is expected to backtrack on its Brexit plan to introduce full border checks with the EU from 1 January 2021 over fears of the economic impact of coronavirus, PA Media reports.

The cabinet office minister, Michael Gove, is anticipated to make an announcement on Friday over border operations for when Brexit fully comes into effect at the end of the transition period.

The UK had committed to introduce import controls on EU goods in the new year, but ministers are expected to adopt a more flexible approach to prevent the departure compounding the chaos from Covid-19.

A government source said: “We recognise the impact that coronavirus has had on UK businesses, and as we take back control of our laws and our borders at the end of this year, we will take a pragmatic and flexible approach to help business adjust to the changes and opportunities of being outside the single market and the customs union.”

Updated at 7.59am BST

6.42am BST

Summary

Here are the latest developments from the last few hours:

  • Global infections passed 7.5 million. There are 7,514,481 confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University data. There have been 420,993 known deaths so far. The true figures for deaths and infections are likely to be significantly higher due to time delays, differing testing rates and definitions, and suspected underreporting.
  • Beijing sees first local transmission case in several weeks. In Beijing, a 52-year-old man who has no history of travelling outside the city or contact with anyone coming in has been diagnosed with Covid-19. He is the first local transmission case in China for several weeks.The man lives in Xicheng district. On Wednesday he visited a clinic reporting an intermittent fever, chills and fatigue. He had no other symptoms, and had no relevant travel or contact history in the past two weeks.
  • Fu Xuejie, the wife of Dr Li Wenliang, has given birth to their son. Li was praised as a whistleblower in China, and made headlines earlier this year after he was reprimanded for warning colleagues about the emergence of a new Sars-like virus. Li later contracted the virus himself, and died in hospital on 6 February. Fu told local news she had given birth to a boy earlier this morning, describing him as “the last gift” Li gave her.“My husband, can you see us from heaven?” Fu wrote on her WeChat account on Friday morning.“The last gift you gave me was born today – I will work hard to love and protect them.”
  • Brazil confirms 30,000 cases in 24 hours. Brazil reported a total of 802,828 confirmed cases of coronavirus on Thursday, with 30,412 new infections in the last 24 hours in the world’s second worst outbreak after the US. With a further 1,239 fatalities, the death toll in Brazil has reached 40,919, the health ministry said, the world’s third highest after the US and the UK.
  • WHO warns pandemic accelerating in Africa. The speed the new coronavirus jumped from 100,000 to 200,000 confirmed cases in Africa shows just how quickly the pandemic is accelerating on the continent, the World Health Organization said Thursday. “It took 98 days to reach the first 100,000 cases, and only 18 days to move to 200,000 cases,” Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa, told a video briefing hosted by the UN press association in Geneva.
  • Dow sinks 1,800 as virus cases rise, deflating optimism. Stocks fell sharply Thursday on Wall Street as coronavirus cases in the US increased again. The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank more than 1,800 points, almost 7%, and the S&P 500 dropped 5.9%, its worst day since mid-March, when stocks went through repeated harrowing falls as the virus lockdowns began.
  • US president Donald Trump has introduced a policy stopping attendees at his rallies from suing the campaign or venue if they contract coronavirus at the events. A statement on the campaign website page for a rally in Tulsa says, “By clicking register below, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. By attending the Rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates … liable for any illness or injury.”
  • Pandemic risks pushing millions more into child labour: UN. A report released on Friday noted that relation between swelling poverty and a surge in child labour appears clear, pointing to studies from some countries indicating that a one-percent increase in poverty leads to at least a 0.7% rise in child labour. The report also stressed that the crisis could push children already working to put in longer hours under worsening conditions. Others could be forced into the worst forms of labour, seriously threatening their health and safety, it said.
  • Brazil, which is the second hardest-hit country after the US, confirmed 30,000 new cases in 24 hours on Thursday, taking its total past 800,000. Under the leadership of Jair Bolsonaro, who has sought to downplay the pandemic, 40,919 people have died. Infections have increased by more than 40% in 21 US states this week, as the effects of relaxed restrictions start to be felt.
  • New Zealand is relaxing its borders to grant exemptions for certain workers and partners of New Zealand citizens to enter the country. The relaxed rules, which will see America’s Cup sailors included, come after 21 days with no new Covid-19 cases across the country and no current live cases. Health officials have said the virus would be considered eliminated after 28 days of no new cases.
  • Tokyo is poised to end all restrictions on businesses next week and karaoke venues, game arcades and pachinko parlours were set to reopen today on Friday. Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, said the city had entered “a new stage of living with the coronavirus,” adding that authorities would expand testing and ensure medical facilities were able to cope with a resurgence of the virus, which is known to have infected more than 17,000 people in Japan and killed 922.
  • Japanese “non-regular” workers posted its biggest drop on record in April, declining by 970,000 to 2.02 million. Women accounted for 710,000 of the decline. Many of Japan’s women, many women lack the job security of male workers, with more than half holding vulnerable part-time, contract or temporary jobs.
  • Fujifilm Holdings Corp will spend 8m to double capacity at a drug manufacturing facility in Denmark, which it has pledged to use in producing Covid-19 treatments, as the Japanese company steps up its pivot towards healthcare, Reuters reports.

Updated at 8.05am BST

6.30am BST

Fu Xuejie, the wife of Dr Li Wenliang, has given birth to their son.

Li was praised as a whistleblower in China, and made headlines earlier this year after he was reprimanded for warning colleagues about the emergence of a new Sars-like virus. Li later contracted the virus himself, and died in hospital on 6 February.

Fu told local news she had given birth to a boy earlier this morning, describing him as “the last gift” Li gave her.

“My husband, can you see us from heaven?” Fu wrote on her WeChat account on Friday morning.

“The last gift you gave me was born today – I will work hard to love and protect them.”

6.15am BST

China is seeking volunteers who work at state-owned companies and are traveling overseas to test two potential vaccines, Reuters is reporting.

There is no proven vaccine for the coronavirus yet, although many are in the works and mass trials for some are expected to be underway soon. A vaccine normally has to go through large-scale “phase 3” trials to observe to what extent they provide protection against infection before receiving regulatory approval.

That ideally requires exposing people in a real-life environment with relatively high infection risk. Two vaccine candidates being developed in China are being tested on more than 1,000 people each, and employees of state-owned firms can volunteer.

The vaccines are among five candidates currently in Chinese clinical trials which showed “no distinct adverse reaction” in the first two phases of human trials.

Vaccinating people travelling abroad, especially those going to high-risk areas, is one option for conducting a Phase 3 trial, Zhu Fengcai, deputy director of a local branch of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told financial media service Caixin in April.

Other candidate vaccines currently in phase two are also seeking volunteers, South China Morning Post reported this week.

5.42am BST

Beijing sees first local transmission case in several weeks

In Beijing, a 52-year-old man who has no history of traveling outside the city or contact with anyone coming in has been diagnosed with Covid-19. He is the first local transmission case in China for several weeks.

The man lives in Xicheng District. On Wednesday he visited a clinic reporting an intermittent fever, chills and fatigue. He had no other symptoms, and had no relevant travel or contact history in the past two weeks.

On Thursday the vice-mayor of Xicheng district told media the man had worn a mask and traveled alone to the hospital. He was one of seven new cases reported in mainland China. The other six, including five people in Shanghai and one in Fujian, were all imported.

Mainland China currently has 65 confirmed cases in the country. Four people were discharged on Thursday, according to the national health commission.

People buy food from a street vendor near a subway exit in Beijing on 10 June 2020.
People buy food from a street vendor near a subway exit in Beijing on 10 June 2020. Photograph: Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images

Updated at 5.52am BST

4.53am BST

Charles Anderson reports for the Guardian:

New Zealand is relaxing its borders to grant exemptions for certain workers – including America’s Cup sailors – and partners of New Zealand citizens to enter the country.

The move comes after 21 days with no new Covid-19 cases across the country and no current live cases. Health officials have said the virus would be considered eliminated after 28 days of no new cases.

The most significant border rule change, to be enacted from the end of next week, removes the requirement for partners and dependents of New Zealand citizens and residents to travel together to return home.

It also establishes new “essential worker” rules, aimed at bringing “high-value workers” for “projects of national or regional significance” into the country.

This means exemptions will be granted for two America’s Cup sailing challengers who will compete against Emirates Team New Zealand in March 2021.

4.22am BST

On Thursday, Tokyo reported 22 new infections, with the daily figure staying below 20 over the previous four days. Of the 22, six were connected to nightclubs and similar establishments, while 10 had unidentified transmission routes, according to the Kyodo news agency. The city has reported a total of 5,448 infections, by far the highest among Japan’s 47 prefectures.

The Tokyo alert, announced on 2 June, advises the city’s 14 million residents to exercise caution and will be reissued if cases average 20 or more for seven days in a row, if officials are unable to trace infection routes for more than half of the new cases, or if the total number of infections rises from one week to the next.

A large screen on a building shows a live broadcast of Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s news conference at Shinjuku district in Tokyo.
A large screen on a building shows a live broadcast of Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s news conference at Shinjuku district in Tokyo. Photograph: Issei Kato/Reuters

Establishments where it is difficult to avoid the “three Cs” – closed spaces, crowded places and close contact – are expected to reopen on 19 June. They include live music venues and host and hostess clubs where close contact between employees and customers has been blamed for recent Covid clusters in the capital’s entertainment districts. In addition, restaurants will be allowed to stay open beyond midnight.

Japan’s seven-week state of emergency, which was lifted in late May, requested that businesses close or reduce their hours, but authorities did not have the legal powers to enforce the restrictions or punish those that refused to comply.

4.21am BST

Tokyo set to end business restrictions

Tokyo is poised to end all restrictions on businesses next week after local authorities lifted a citywide “red alert” warning about a possible second wave of coronavirus infections.

Karaoke venues, game arcades and pachinko parlors will reopen today (Friday), and restaurants and pubs will be able to extend their hours from 10 pm to midnight, according to Japanese media reports.

Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, said the city had entered “a new stage of living with the coronavirus,” adding that authorities would expand testing and ensure medical facilities were able to cope with a resurgence of the virus, which is known to have infected more than 17,000 people in Japan and killed 922.

Koike said the number of new daily cases and unidentified transmission routes had stabilised, enabling the city to take another step towards resuming its economic and social life.

Pedestrians walk with umbrellas in front of the entrance of Kanda Shrine in Tokyo on 11 June 2020.
Pedestrians walk with umbrellas in front of the entrance of Kanda Shrine in Tokyo on 11 June 2020. Photograph: Philip Fong/AFP/Getty Images

4.05am BST

South Africa accounts for nearly 25% of Africa’s total cases.

“The majority of countries still have fewer than 1,000 reported cases,” said Doctor Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa.

“There is community transmission in more than 50% of countries, however.”

A man leaps over pools of water along a flooded road in the Masiphumelele informal settlement in Cape Town, South Africa, 11 June 2020.
A man leaps over pools of water along a flooded road in the Masiphumelele informal settlement in Cape Town, South Africa, 11 June 2020. Photograph: Nic Bothma/EPA

Meanwhile more than 70% of the deaths have occurred in just five countries: South Africa, Algeria, Nigeria, Egypt and Sudan.

Moeti said that while it was possible that some asymptomatic and mild cases were going undetected, WHO Africa believed that large numbers of severe cases and deaths were not being missed on the continent.

Africa’s relatively young population compared to other continents, and in-built experience of dealing with disease outbreaks have been cited as reasons why Africa has not so far seen the death rates experienced on other continents.

Updated at 5.00am BST

3.46am BST

WHO warns pandemic accelerating in Africa

The speed the new coronavirus jumped from 100,000 to 200,000 confirmed cases in Africa shows just how quickly the pandemic is accelerating on the continent, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

According to an AFP tally, Africa topped the 200,000 mark on Tuesday.

Onion traders at Wakulima fresh produce market in Kenya.
Onion traders at Wakulima fresh produce market in Kenya. Photograph: Billy Mutai/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock

“It took 98 days to reach the first 100,000 cases, and only 18 days to move to 200,000 cases,” Doctor Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa, told a video briefing hosted by the UN press association in Geneva.

“Even though these cases in Africa account for less than three percent of the global total, it’s clear that the pandemic is accelerating.”

Africa has reached 5,635 deaths from 210,519 confirmed cases, according to AFP’s count at 11.00 GMT on Thursday.

In Africa, “the pandemic is still concentrated in and around capital cities but we are seeing more and more cases spread out into the provinces,” Moeti said.

She said that in most countries on the continent, the virus entered capitals through international flights from Europe.

Updated at 5.33am BST

3.29am BST

Global cases pass 7.5 million

There are 7,500,777 confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University data. There have been 420,993 known deaths so far.

The true figures for deaths and infections are likely to be significantly higher due to time delays, differing testing rates and definitions, and suspected underreporting.

The US, with more than 2 million cases and 113,803 deaths, is by far the worst-affected country worldwide in terms of number of cases and deaths.

Brazil has the next highest known number of cases, with 802,828, and deaths nearing 41,000.

Here are the ten countries with the highest number of infections:

  1. US: 2,022,488
  2. Brazil: 802,828
  3. Russia: 501,800
  4. United Kingdom: 292,860
  5. India: 286,605
  6. Spain: 242,707
  7. Italy: 236,142
  8. Peru: 214,788
  9. France: 192,493
  10. Germany: 186,691

Updated at 6.36am BST

3.08am BST

Please do get in touch with questions, comments, news and tips on Twitter @helenrsullivan or via email: helen.sullivan@theguardian.com.

2.53am BST

The White House is exploring the possibility that travel from Mexico may be contributing to a new wave of coronavirus infections, rather than states moves toward reopening their economies, AP reports.

The notion was discussed at some length Thursday during a meeting of the administrations coronavirus task force in the White House Situation Room that focused on identifying commonalities between new outbreaks. Officials also considered how to surge response capabilities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was deploying teams to Arizona and other hotspots to try to trace the outbreaks and contain them.

In addition to Arizona, other states experiencing recent spikes of infections include California, Texas and North Carolina particularly within the Hispanic community. As a result, the task force is looking at whether those spikes may be tied to legal travel between the US and Mexico, which is experiencing an ongoing severe coronavirus outbreak.

Two officials familiar with the discussions described them to The Associated Press, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to publicly describe internal conversations.

2.33am BST

Pandemic risks pushing millions more into child labour: UN

Millions of children could be pushed into work by the coronavirus crisis, the UN said Friday as it braced for the first rise in child labour in two decades. In a joint brief, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, noted that the number of children locked in child labour had declined by 94 million since 2000.

But the UN agencies warned that “the Covid-19 pandemic poses very real risks of backtracking.”

Friday’s report pointed out that the crisis would likely cause a significant rise in poverty. According to the World Bank, the number of people in extreme poverty could potentially skyrocket by up to 60 million this year alone.

“As the pandemic wreaks havoc on family incomes, without support, many could resort to child labour,” ILO chief Guy Ryder said in a statement.

The relation between swelling poverty and a surge in child labour appears clear, the report said, pointing to studies from some countries indicating that a one-percent increase in poverty leads to at least a 0.7% rise in child labour. The report also stressed that the crisis could push children already working to put in longer hours under worsening conditions. Others could be forced into the worst forms of labour, seriously threatening their health and safety, it said.

2.21am BST

Fujifilm Holdings Corp will spend 8m to double capacity at a drug manufacturing facility in Denmark, which it has pledged to use in producing Covid-19 treatments, as the Japanese company steps up its pivot towards healthcare, Reuters reports.

The investment in Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies will expand production lines for bulk drug substances and antibody drugs, Fujifilm announced on Tuesday. It bought the facility in Hillerod, Denmark, in August from Biogen Inc for about 0m.

A tablet of Avigan.
A tablet of Avigan. Photograph: Issei Kato/Reuters

Fujifilm previously announced that the Denmark site would offer future manufacturing capacity to the Covid-19 Therapeutics Accelerator to speed-up the response to the global pandemic.

It is an initiative launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and two other large charities, aimed at accelerating drug development and identifying a promising Covid-19 therapeutic candidate based on efficacy and safety data demonstrated in clinical trials.

Fujifilm’s pharma arm is testing its own anti-flu drug Avigan as a treatment for Covid-19. The company aims to achieve ‎¥‎100bn (8.68m) in sales in its bio-CDMO business by the fiscal year ending March 2022. Fujifilm shares rose 0.7% in Tokyo versus a 0.2% gain in the broader market.

2.03am BST

Trump campaign policy stops people suing if they contract coronavirus at rally

US president Donald Trump has implemented a policy that states rally attendees cannot sue the campaign or venue if they contract coronavirus at the event, the New York Times reports:

‘By clicking register below, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to Covid-19 exists in any public place where people are present,’ a statement on Mr. Trump’s campaign website informed those wishing to attend his June 19 rally in Tulsa, Okla. ‘By attending the rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to Covid-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors or volunteers liable for any illness or injury.’

Updated at 5.21am BST

1.56am BST

‘China’s lifeblood’: street hawkers make surprise return to fire up ailing economy

On a quiet street corner in a neighbourhood in Beijing known for families and retirees, Xue Min, 22 a recent graduate, swats her legs, fighting off mosquitoes, as she encourages passersby to browse the earrings and scrunchies she has laid out on a cloth, surrounded by fairy lights. “Have a look,” she says brightly to a couple that pause briefly before moving on.

Just before 10pm, two men arrive with a food cart – a gas stove, wok, and counter, attached to a motorbike and begin to prep their menu of fried rice and noodles. Xue and her neighbour, a woman selling books, toothbrushes and trinkets from abroad, murmur and watch with expectation. Business might pick up a little now.

Soon, more people begin to stop. Two young men, carrying a bag of cans of beer, browse the books. One picks up a translation of Pride and Prejudice before opting for a collection of stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. The other buys a journal. Meng, 35, one of the food stall owners, calls to delivery drivers as they stop their electric bikes by the curb: “Hey big brother, what will it be?”

It is a scene that should belong to another time, when Beijing’s sidewalks were often crowded with hawkers selling local street food and a surprisingly diverse selection of daily necessities – socks, flatware, DVDs, text books, lingerie and pets. Street vendors have come to be viewed as backwards and poor, pushed out by many city authorities in an effort to modernise the country’s urban centres.

1.44am BST

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has long made creating jobs for women central to his economic policy, but now women are suffering a bigger share of the pain as the country heads for its worst economic slump since World War Two, Reuters reports.

Helped by a worker shortage, female labour participation hit a decade-high of more than 70% under Abe’s campaign, often dubbed “Womenomics”. The catch: many women lack the job security of male workers, with more than half holding vulnerable part-time, contract or temporary jobs.

The number of such “non-regular” workers posted its biggest drop on record in April, declining by 970,000 to 2.02 million. Women accounted for 710,000 of the decline.

Women wearing face masks walk through Shibuya in Tokyo, Japan. A
Women wearing face masks walk through Shibuya in Tokyo, Japan. A Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images

1.33am BST

Mexico’s health ministry reported 4,790 new confirmed coronavirus infections along with 587 additional fatalities on Thursday, bringing the total in the country to 133,974 cases and 15,944 deaths.

The government has said the real number of infected people is significantly higher than the official count.

Relatives wait for their turn to talk through a computer screen with inmates of the Puente Grande Penitentiary Complex, Mexico, on 11 June 2020.
Relatives wait for their turn to talk through a computer screen with inmates of the Puente Grande Penitentiary Complex, Mexico, on 11 June 2020. Photograph: Ulises Ruiz/AFP/Getty Images

1.19am BST

In the UK, local authorities have called on the government to suspend the controversial “no recourse to public funds” immigration status for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, to prevent thousands from falling into destitution and homelessness.

High numbers of people who have this status attached to their visas have been approaching councils for emergency assistance during the pandemic. Many are struggling to survive during the exceptional circumstances of lockdown, with no safety net, according to the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils in England and Wales.

Hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the UK have an immigration status that allows them to work here, but which prevents them from accessing most benefits should they become unemployed. Many have lost their jobs because of the Covid-19 pandemic and are struggling to feed their families and pay rent. Many face losing their homes once restrictions on evictions are lifted.

Updated at 5.36am BST

1.09am BST

Brazil confirms 30,000 cases in 24 hours

Brazil reported a total of 802,828 confirmed cases of coronavirus on Thursday, with 30,412 new infections in the last 24 hours in the world’s second worst outbreak after the United States.

With another 1,239 fatalities, the death toll in Brazil has reached 40,919, the health ministry said, the world’s third highest after the United States and the UK.

A woman wearing a face mask stands near Black Lives Matter protests in the Metropolitan Region of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
A woman wearing a face mask stands near Black Lives Matter protests in the Metropolitan Region of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photograph: Fernando Souza/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock

12.39am BST

Dow sinks 1,800 as virus cases rise, deflating optimism

Stocks fell sharply Thursday on Wall Street as coronavirus cases in the US increased again, deflating recent optimism for a quick economic recovery and raising more doubts about how long the market’s scorching comeback can last, AP reports.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank more than 1,800 points, almost 7%, and the S&P 500 dropped 5.9%, its worst day since mid-March, when stocks went through repeated harrowing falls as the virus lockdowns began. The S&P 500 rallied 44.5% between late March and Monday, erasing most of its losses tied to the pandemic.

A trader walks in front of the New York Stock Exchange on 26 May 2020 at Wall Street in New York City.
A trader walks in front of the New York Stock Exchange on 26 May 2020 at Wall Street in New York City. Photograph: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

The selling comes as coronavirus cases rise in the US, with some of the increase likely tied to the reopening of businesses and the lifting of stay-at-home orders. Cases are climbing in nearly half the states, according to an Associated Press analysis, a worrying trend that could intensify as people return to work and venture out during the summer.

Investor optimism for a speedy recovery was also dimmed by the Federal Reserve, which warned Wednesday that the road to recovery from the worst downturn in decades would be long and vowed to keep rates low for the foreseeable future.

Those factors, along with the recent run-up in stock prices, set the stage for the wave of selling Thursday.

Updated at 12.41am BST

12.28am BST

Summary

Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

I’m Helen Sullivan and I’ll be taking you through the latest news from around the world for the next few hours. Please do get in touch with questions, comments, news and tips on Twitter @helenrsullivan or via email: helen.sullivan@theguardian.com.

Stocks fell sharply Thursday on Wall Street as coronavirus cases in the US increased again, deflating recent optimism for a quick economic recovery and raising more doubts about how long the market’s scorching comeback can last. The DOW Jones Industrial Average saw its worst day in weeks, closing down almost 7%.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell spoke of second wave fears, warning, “It could hurt the recovery, even if you don’t have a national level pandemic. Just a series of local ones, of local spikes, could have the effect of undermining people’s confidence in travelling, in restaurants and in entertainment,” he said. “It would not be a positive development.”

Powell said US unemployment could remain at levels close to the worst of the GFC at the end of the year, and that a second outbreak could mean that figure was optimistic.

  • Global cases near 7.5 million. There are currently 7,449,476 confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University, and 418,846 deaths.
  • Brazil reported a total of 802,828 confirmed cases of coronavirus on Thursday, with 30,412 new infections in the last 24 hours in the world’s second worst outbreak after the United States.With another 1,239 fatalities, the death toll in Brazil has reached 40,919, the health ministry said, the world’s third highest after the United States and the UK.
  • Brazilian officials have announced an agreement with China’s Sinovac Biotech to produce its coronavirus vaccine in Sao Paulo, where tests involving 9,000 volunteers are to begin next month.
  • More than a third of employees in some towns in Britain have been furloughed due to coronavirus, according to figures that also reveal the government’s job retention scheme has now cost almost £20bn.
  • British Airways plans to sell some of its multi-million-pound art collection in an effort to help it through the pandemic. The collection includes pieces by Damien Hirst, Bridget Riley and Peter Doig with one work believed to have been valued at more than £1 million.It is understood at least 10 pieces have been identified for sale by the airline.
  • In Australia, only one of the six commissioners on Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Covid-19 commission has volunteered to release their conflicts of interest, prompting calls for greater transparency from the publicly funded body. The Australian government has refused to release the conflict-of-interest declarations for members of its National Covid-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC), a prominent advisory body shaping non-health aspects of the Covid-19 strategy.
  • Almost half of asymptomatic coronavirus carriers detected in Bahrain were found to pose a risk of spreading the virus to others, according to research by the country’s coronavirus taskforce.
  • Deaths from Covid-19 in Italy climbed by 53 on Thursday against 71 the day before, Reuters reports, citing the country’s civil protection agency, pushing the total to death toll from the outbreak to 34,167.
  • European Union officials and experts have said that Europe could face a surge of coronavirus infections in coming weeks as a result of the mass anti-racism protests that have spread across the continent.
  • 10 countries account for nearly 75% of new cases – WHO. Nearly three-quarters of new cases of coronavirus are coming from 10 countries, mostly concentrated in the Americas and south Asia, the director general of the World Health Organization has said.Speaking at the UN health agency’s member state briefing on Thursday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the global situation was deteriorating, even as Europe appeared to be over the worst of the outbreak.

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