This article titled “US cases approach 2 million; Chile revises death toll to 2,290 – as it happened” was written by Clea Skopeliti (now); Jedidajah Otte and Rebecca Ratcliffe (earlier), for theguardian.com on Sunday 7th June 2020 23.46 UTC
Triple whammy’ of funding cuts has left UK arts vulnerable – report
British arts institutions have been hit with a “triple whammy” of funding cuts since 2008 – as public, local government and business investment all fell steeply – leaving them vulnerable during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a report.
The National Campaign for the Arts’ Arts Index survey, compiled in association with the Creative Industries Federation (CIF) and King’s College London, reveals that public funding for the arts per head of population fell by 35% since 2008, with local government investment decreasing by 43%.
As well as the drops in public funding and local government money, the report found that business sponsorship of the arts is down 39% since 2013, which it says equates to “tens of millions of pounds” disappearing from the arts economy.
Global deaths pass 400,000
According to Johns Hopkins University figures, known coronavirus deaths worldwide currently number 401,564.
The sombre milestone comes as cases approach 7 million, with 6,973,195 currently confirmed.
The US, with the highest deaths and infections globally, has 1,931,850 confirmed cases and 110,141 deaths.
Brazil is next highest, with 672,846 cases and 35,930 deaths.
In the UK, a campaign for a new investigation into Dominic Cummings over alleged breaches of the lockdown rules has been launched by lawyers with the backing of health workers and some families of coronavirus victims.
Read Matthew Weaver’s report here.
Updated at 10.43pm BST
Some 25,000 jobs could be under threat at London’s Heathrow Airport, its chief executive has warned, as new quarantine measures for international arrivals come into force.
Passengers arriving in the UK from Monday will need to self-isolate for 14 days under the latest government measure to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
There has been widespread concern that this will cause huge damage to the travel and aviation sectors as they recover from pandemic.
Speaking to the City AM podcast, The City View, Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye said he was now having to consider job cuts at the west London airport.
“76,000 people are employed at Heathrow,” he said. “That represents one-in-four households in the local community, so if we start cutting jobs on mass that has a devastating impact on local communities, including the Prime Minister’s own constituency, which is only a few miles from the airport.
“What we’ve heard already from the airlines is that they are cutting around a third of all employees, so that would be 25,000 people out of work. That would be a devastating blow to west London and the Thames Valley.”
Chile revises death toll, bringing total to 2,290
Chile revised its death toll linked to the coronavirus outbreak sharply higher on Sunday, adding deaths from databases that previously had not been included.
Health minister Jaime Mañalich said 653 additional deaths linked to Covid-19 had to be counted, bringing the total number to 2,290. That included 96 new deaths announced in the Sunday daily report.
Chile has one of the highest numbers of cases in Latin America, which has become an epicentre of the pandemic even as countries worldwide have begun to reopen. Brazil, Peru and Mexico have also been hard hit by the virus.
Mañalich said that databases on deceased persons certified by the civil registry had been reviewed and along with information from laboratories doing PCR tests for the virus had been consolidated into a single list.
Mañalich added that death certificate information would now be included if “in any way, directly or indirectly, it may be linked to Covid-19 as a cause associated with death.”
Chile had reported 134,150 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Sunday, health ministry data showed.
Updated at 9.46pm BST
UK prime minister Boris Johnson has said Black Lives Matter demonstrations have been subverted by “thuggery”, and those responsible will be held to account.
This comes as tens of thousands of people attended protests across the UK on Sunday, after a week in which growing numbers defied calls from politicians and police to avoid mass gatherings to rally against racial injustice.
Updated at 9.28pm BST
- Poland has recorded 575 new cases. The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Poland has increased by 575 and reached 26,561, the ministry of health announced on Sunday. Four more people have died, bringing the death toll to 1,157.
- US death toll is approaching 110,000, according to the CDC. The centre reported 1,920,904 cases of the coronavirus, an increase of 29,214 cases from its previous count, and said Covid-19 deaths in the US had risen by 709 to 109,901.
- India has recorded nearly 10,000 new cases. India on Sunday registered 9,971 new coronavirus cases, taking the country’s tally to 246,628 cases, with 6,929 deaths. The case numbers lags behind only the US, Brazil, Russia, UK and Spain. The country is preparing to reopen malls, restaurants, hotels and places of worship on Monday.
- France has registered 13 new deaths. The country’s coronavirus death toll rose by 13 on Sunday to reach 29,155, while the number of confirmed cases increased by 343 to 153,977. The number of people in hospital and ICU has continued to decline.
- Canada has reported 722 new cases. Canada has confirmed 722 new coronavirus cases, bringing its total to 95,057. The country has recorded 70 deaths, taking the death toll to 7,773, the Public Health Agency announced – an increase of 0.9%.
- Italy has reported 197 new cases, with the majority concentrated in the Lombardy region. The country has reported 53 Covid-19 deaths, against 72 the previous day, and 197 new cases, down from 270 the day before, the Civil Protection department said. Lombardy accounted for 125 of the 197 new cases reported despite making up just 16% of Italy’s population.
- Saudi Arabia has passed 100,000 confirmed cases. The number of coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia has passed 100,000, according to official figures. The ministry of health reported 3,045 new cases on Sunday, taking the total number of cases in the country to 101,914, the BBC reports.
- No new coronavirus deaths in Northern Ireland or Scotland for first time since lockdown. No new coronavirus deaths have been reported in Northern Ireland or Scotland for the first time since lockdown began. In Northern Ireland, the total deaths of those who tested positive for the virus stands at 537, while the number is 2,415 in Scotland. However, the Scottish health secretary cautioned it was “very likely” deaths would be registered in upcoming days, as there is often a delay in the recording of deaths over the weekend.
- A US senator has accused China of slowing down vaccine efforts. The Republican senator Rick Scott has claimed the US has evidence China is trying to slow down or sabotage the development of a Covid-19 vaccine by Western countries. He declined to give details of the evidence, saying it had come through the intelligence community.
Gym owners and trainers in several Indian cities held protests over the weekend demanding the re-opening of fitness centres as many other lockdown restrictions are set to ease.
As of Monday, shopping malls, restaurants, hotels and places of worship will be allowed to re-open, over 10 weeks after a nationwide shutdown was imposed in late March. Gyms, however, will remain shut.
The lockdown’s relaxation comes as India records a rising number of new daily virus cases. The South Asian country has reported almost 250,000 cases so far including nearly 7,000 deaths.
“We are running in losses for last three months and there is no clarity when the government plans to open the gyms,” Amritsar Gym Owners Association’s president, Dharminder Verma, told AFP on Sunday. Gym owners were still paying rent and staff salaries despite being shut, Verma said.
Similar protests were held in neighbouring Ludhiana district on Saturday, where topless bodybuilders did push-ups and flexed their pumped-up muscles.
Updated at 8.38pm BST
Poland records 575 new cases
The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Poland has increased by 575 and reached 26,561, the ministry of health announced on Sunday. Four more people have died, bringing the death toll to 1,157, local sources report.
This follows 576 new infections on Saturday – the highest daily level since the start of the pandemic – and 16 deaths. The spike is being linked to outbreaks in coal mines in the southern region of Silesia.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday reported 1,920,904 cases of the coronavirus, an increase of 29,214 cases from its previous count, and said Covid-19 deaths in the US had risen by 709 to 109,901.
The CDC figures do not necessarily reflect cases reported by individual states.
UK charities providing emergency food supplies to people with a limited immigration status known as “no recourse to public funds” have expressed concern at the prime minister’s refusal to offer support to a group pushed into destitution by the lockdown, Amelia Gentleman reports.
Hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the UK have an immigration status that allows them to work here but 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.
France’s coronavirus death toll rose by 13 on Sunday to reach 29,155.
The number of confirmed cases has increased by 343 to 153,977, while the number of people in hospital has fallen by 18 to 12,461. There has also been a decrease of six in the number of people in ICU, down to 1,053.
“The word most often used is ‘unprecedented’,” Jo Stubley, a consultant psychiatrist and clinical psychoanalyst in London says, “and it looks increasingly likely that the long-term consequences will also be unprecedented in scale. Given that mental health services have been starved of resources for years, one can only imagine the impact that a deep recession will have on an already beleaguered sector. So there is a lot of concern among health care professionals like myself about what will happen next.”
Liberia will open its international airport and hotels on 21 June, the government has said.
President George Weah announced that the state of emergency that was declared in April will not be renewed.
Restrictions such as a night-time curfew would remain in place, though it would start later, according to the statement released on Friday.
There were fears that the west African nation of some 4.8 million people would struggle to handle a large outbreak. The country was badly hit during the 2014-16 Ebola crisis, which killed more than 4,800 people in the country.
However, it has so far recorded only 334 coronavirus cases and 30 deaths from coronavirus.
Updated at 7.58pm BST
Canada reports 70 new deaths
Canada has confirmed 722 new coronavirus cases, bringing its total to 95,057. The country has recorded 70 deaths, taking the death toll to 7,773, the Public Health Agency announced – an increase of 0.9%.
Canada’s 10 provinces have all started to reopen their economies and relax restrictions on social gatherings.
Updated at 7.58pm BST
Italy reports 53 new deaths
Italy has reported 53 Covid-19 deaths, against 72 the previous day, and 197 new cases, down from 270 the day before, the Civil Protection department said.
The total death toll now stands at 33,899, the agency said, the fourth highest in the world after those of the US, the UK and Brazil.
The number of current infections fell to 35,262 from 35,877 the day before. There were 287 people in intensive care on Sunday, down from 293 on Saturday, maintaining a long-running decline.
The northern region of Lombardy, where the outbreak was first identified, remains by far the worst affected region, accounting for 125 of the 197 new cases reported on Sunday. Lombardy accounts for just 16% of Italy’s population.
The agency said some 2.627 million people had been tested for the virus as of Saturday, against 2.599 million on Saturday, out of a population of around 60 million.
Updated at 8.07pm BST
Here’s an analysis from Reuters as the number of confirmed cases in the US approaches 2 million:
The coronavirus has killed more than 110,000 people in the United States, according to a Reuters tally on Sunday.
About 1,000 Americans have died on average each day so far in June, down from a peak of 2,000 a day in April, according to the tally of state and county data on Covid-19 deaths.
Total US coronavirus cases are approaching 2 million, the highest in the world followed by Brazil with about 672,000 cases and Russia with about 467,000.
Several southern U.S. states reported sharp increases in Covid-19 infections, with Alabama, South Carolina and Virginia all seeing new cases rise 35% or more in the week ended 31 May compared with the prior week.
Globally, coronavirus cases are approaching 7 million with about 400,000 deaths since the outbreak began.
Of the 20 most severely affected countries, the US ranks eighth based on deaths per capita, according to a Reuters tally. The US has 3.3 fatalities per 10,000 people. Belgium is first with eight deaths per 10,000, followed by the UK, Spain, Italy and Sweden.
The EU is preparing to reveal a series of measures to better combat child sexual abuse following an increase in online demand for child abuse images during the coronavirus lockdowns, an EU commissioner has said.
Ylva Johansson, the EU’s home affairs commissioner, told Germany’s Die Welt daily that she wanted to lead “a more efficient fight” against the scourge of child abuse, including through closer cooperation with social media companies.
“Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand for material showing the sexual abuse of children has risen by 30% in some member states,” she said.
The new plan, which Johansson said would be presented “soon”, would include the creation of a new EU centre to help member states “investigate, prevent and combat child sex abuse” and facilitate cross-border information sharing.
She also called for tougher action against perpetrators.
“We need prevention strategies but we can’t rely on that alone,” Johansson said. “We also need to enforce our laws when they are broken and show that our values prevail, both on the internet and in real life.”
The internet is “sadly a decisive factor” for potential perpetrators looking for victims, she added, underscoring that more cooperation with internet companies was needed.
Updated at 7.59pm BST
Ireland’s coronavirus death toll has risen by one to 1,679, according to PA media. An additional 25 cases have also been confirmed, bringing the country’s total to 25,201, the Irish Times reports.
Updated at 4.21pm BST
- Saudi Arabia has passed 100,000 confirmed cases. The number of coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia has passed 100,000, according to official figures. The ministry of health reported 3,045 new cases on Sunday, taking the total number of cases in the country to 101,914, the BBC reports.
- No new coronavirus deaths in Northern Ireland or Scotland for first time since lockdown. No new coronavirus deaths have been reported in Northern Ireland or Scotland for the first time since lockdown began. In Northern Ireland, the total deaths of those who tested positive for the virus stands at 537, while the number is 2,415 in Scotland. However, the Scottish health secretary warned it was “very likely” deaths would be registered in upcoming days, as there is often a delay in the recording of deaths over the weekend.
- Philippines death toll has passed 1,000. The Philippines reported nine more fatalities from coronavirus on Sunday, taking its total death toll to 1,003. The country also recorded 555 more infections, bringing its total number of confirmed cases to 21,895, the department of health said in a bulletin.
- A US senator has accused China of slowing down vaccine efforts. The Republican senator Rick Scott has claimed the US has evidence China is trying to slow down or sabotage the development of a Covid-19 vaccine by Western countries. He declined to give details of the evidence, saying it had come through the intelligence community.
- Infections in Afghanistan have climbed above 20,000. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Afghanistan stands at 20,342, after the country recorded its biggest daily rise in the number of deaths from Covid-19 on Sunday. The health ministry has detected 791 new cases from 1,427 tests, according to the latest update.
Updated at 4.43pm BST
Rock fans in Thailand watched their favourite bands play via video-conferencing platform Zoom on Sunday as a live music festival went online, Reuters reports.
Public gatherings have been banned in Thailand since mid-March as part of the country’s coronavirus restrictions, but Sunday’s six-hour-long show gave people a chance to see and interact with artists from a distance.
“My favourite band hasn’t had a live performance during the lockdown, so being able to see them today will make me happy,” 21-year old Siriyagorn Aimchomchid told Reuters.
Some music fans gathered in small groups – allowed under the country’s restrictions – to watch the event, for which about 3,000 tickets were sold at 499 baht (.84) each.
“A virtual music festival allows audiences and artists to interact, and they can sing along and talk to each other,” said Samkwan Tonsompong, managing director of festival organiser What The Duck Music. “I think this is closer than being at an actual concert.”
But Sirinapa Darathum, a 15-year-old student who was watching with three friends, said the online format did not compare to the excitement of a live gig.
“Although I’m watching artists close up on the screen, I am still far apart from them because we are in different locations,”
Updated at 4.05pm BST
Iran’s spike in new infections is due to increased testing, the health ministry said on Sunday.
The government appeared to have brought the virus under control a month ago, but a second wave of the virus has steadily been gathering pace.
“The main reason for rising numbers is that we started identifying [people] with no or light symptoms,” said the health ministry’s head epidemiologist Mohammad-Mehdi Gouya.
There have been 171,789 confirmed cases in Iran, and the country’s death toll stands at 8,281, according to Johns Hopkins tracker.
Updated at 3.48pm BST
For those not directly affected, the ability to breathe more easily and see further has perhaps been the greatest consolation amid the trauma of the coronavirus pandemic.
As city after city begins to emerge from lockdown, urban planners and environmental campaigners are grappling with how to keep the clean air and blue skies that have transformed our view of the world. “Citizens around the world can see change is possible,” says Zoe Chafe, an air quality specialist with the C40 group of global megacities. “Just put yourself on the rooftop and imagine seeing mountains for the first time, and thinking how amazing it feels to realise this is possible.”
That rooftop could be in Kathmandu (where residents were astonished to make out Mount Everest for the first time in decades), Manila (where the Sierra Madre became visible again) or dozens of other cities across the world.
Not everywhere has seen air quality improvements in recent months. In some Asian cities, such as Hanoi and Jakarta, pollution has become worse. But, for the most part, people across the world are experiencing a healthier alternative to the smoke and smog that are responsible for an estimated 3 million deaths a year.
Saudi Arabia cases top 100,000
The number of coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia has passed 100,000, according to official figures.
The ministry of health reported 3,045 new cases on Sunday, taking the total number of cases in the country to 101,914, the BBC reports.
The number of new daily cases exceeded 3,000 for the first time on Saturday.
The official number of deaths from the virus is 712, according to the Sunday figures.
Scotland reports no new coronavirus deaths in last 24 hours
For the first time since 20 March the country has reported zero deaths of people with Covid-19.
Scotland’s official death toll stays at 2,415, but adding suspected cases the most up-to-date figure is 3,964, STV News reports.
Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, urged people to digest the news with caution.
“We can’t read too much into a single day’s figures – and we know registration of deaths are relatively low at weekends – but nevertheless this is a headline we’ve all longed to see,” Sturgeon tweeted.
Singapore won’t return to the open and connected global economy that existed before the island nation went into a partial lockdown two months ago, Bloomberg reports.
Singaporeans will have to prepare for a different, tougher future with rising unemployment as companies work to cope with slowing demand and movement restrictions from various governments, prime minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a televised address on Sunday.
Loong hinted that the city state might distance itself from its previously open, globalist approach that helped it become a hub for trade, investment and the financial market.
“Countries will have less stake in each other’s wellbeing,” he said. “They will fight more over how the pie is shared, rather than work together to enlarge the pie for all. It will be a less prosperous world, and also a more troubled one.”
Philippines death toll passes 1,000
The Philippines reported nine more fatalities from coronavirus on Sunday, taking its total death toll to 1,003.
The south-east Asian country also recorded 555 more infections, bringing its total number of confirmed cases to 21,895, the department of health said in a bulletin, according to Reuters.
Updated at 2.51pm BST
India records nearly 10,000 new cases
The city of New Delhi on Sunday ordered many of its hospital beds to be reserved solely for residents of the Indian capital, as the number of Covid-19 infections continued to rise, Reuters reports.
India on Sunday registered 9,971 new coronavirus cases, taking the country’s tally to 246,628 cases, with 6,929 deaths. The case numbers lags behind only the US, Brazil, Russia, UK and Spain.
New Delhi city alone has registered more than 10% of the country’s infection cases, making it the third worst-affected part of the country after the western state of Maharashtra, home to financial capital Mumbai, and southern Tamil Nadu state.
“Delhi is in big trouble … corona cases are rising rapidly,” state chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said in a video message on Twitter, where he announced that private and city government-run hospitals will be reserved for Delhi residents.
“If we open Delhi hospitals for patients from all over, where will Delhi residents go when they get infected with coronavirus?”
Typically about 60-70% of patients admitted to hospitals in Delhi are people traveling from other states to get treatment as the city’s hospitals.
A Delhi government coronavirus mobile app showed the city of more than 20 million people had 8,049 Covid-19 beds, but more than half were already occupied. Of the 60 hospitals, 11 had no beds available, the app showed on Sunday.
The Delhi city government has issued an order saying hospitals must admit every patient from the city with coronavirus symptoms, following complaints from some people on social media that people were being refused treatment.
Updated at 6.26pm BST
Malta reluctantly allowed 425 migrants held offshore for more than a month to disembark on Sunday after a group of them threatened to kidnap the crew of the chartered boats where they were being held, authorities said, according to Reuters.
Prime minister Robert Abela said the government had been forced to act after the crew of one of the boats called him directly for help.
“They gave us half an hour to act or they would kidnap the crew,” he said in a televised interview.
He said authorities decided against boarding the vessel by force and subduing the migrants after the military warned of the risk of injury to migrants and service personnel.
State-broadcaster TVM said the vessel was escorted to Valletta harbour by two army patrol boats.
Malta’s government started putting rescued migrants on chartered tourist boats at the end of April after insisting that Malta’s harbours were closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
AstraZeneca has approached its rival Gilead Sciences about a potential merger, Bloomberg News reported on Sunday.
Any merger, which would be the biggest healthcare deal on record, would bring together two of the companies leading the pharmaceutical industry’s efforts to develop a vaccine and treatments for Covid-19.
A combination of the two would be valued at about £200bn. AstraZeneca, which is valued at £110bn, recently overtook Royal Dutch Shell to become the UK’s largest company by market value. Gilead was valued at about bn (£74bn) at Friday night’s closing price.
Pope Francis has warned Italians to not let their guard down against coronavirus, now that infection rates have fallen, and urged them to obey government rules on social distancing and the wearing of masks.
Francis, addressing several hundred people in St. Peter’s Square for his Sunday blessing, reacted to applause that broke out when he said their presence, albeit reduced, was a sign that Italy had overcome the acute phase of the pandemic.
“Be careful. Don’t cry victory too soon,” he cautioned them, departing from his prepared text, Reuters reports.
Nearly 34,000 people have died in Italy from the coronavirus, the fourth highest toll in the world after the United States, Britain and Brazil.
The number of daily deaths in Italy has fallen from nearly 1,000 several months ago to 72 on Saturday. Italy entered the latest phase of an easing of restriction on 3 June, when people were allowed to travel between regions again.
However, some Italians, particularly young people, have flouted remaining rules on social distancing and wearing masks in public places. Authorities have warned of the danger of a second wave.
“We still have to follow the rules,” Francis said. “Thank God, we are leaving the worst part, but always by obeying the rules that the authorities have stipulated,” he said.
Updated at 12.50pm BST
Istanbul residents flocked to the city’s shores and parks on the first weekend with no coronavirus lockdown measures in place since 10 April, prompting a reprimand from the country’s health minister who warned that the pandemic still poses a threat, the Associated Press reports.
Images on social media and in the news media showed crowds picnicking and partying Saturday night without heeding social distancing or wearing masks.
Health minister Fahrettin Koca urged people to wear masks and keep their distance.
Restaurants, cafes, gyms, parks, beaches and museums began reopening Monday and domestic flights resumed.
Turkey has reported 4,669 deaths from Covid-19 and 169,218 confirmed infection cases.
A decision by the Interior Ministry to continue a weekend curfew in 15 provinces, including Istanbul, was overturned Friday by president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In a series of tweets, the president said he was reversing the decision on grounds that it would lead to different negative social and economic consequences.
Turkey opted for short weekend and holiday curfews during the pandemic instead of a total lockdown, fearing the negative effects on its already troubled economy.
People aged 65 and older and minors are still barred from leaving their homes except for allotted times during the week.
While sports around the world are emerging from coronavirus lockdowns with televised competitions, horseracing resumed in Beirut this week with no audience at all, Reuters reports.
Eight races went ahead on Thursday at the city’s Hippodrome with fans unable to watch or bet. For general director Nabil Nasrallah, it marked a new low point in a dramatic history since the track hosted monarchs and movie stars in the 1960s.
The grandstand was destroyed in fighting when Israel occupied Beirut in 1982 and stood on the frontline between warring factions during the country’s 15-year civil war.
The really tough times began late last year, when Lebanon’s currency began to slide, hiking prices and pushing many into poverty, Nasrallah said.
“We’ve lived through a lot … and this is the toughest time,” he added. “But we’re fighting to keep going.”
The jockeys had to wear masks and were sanitised before entering the track, which had closed for more than two months.
Lebanon, which has recorded 29 deaths from Covid-19, is now gradually lifting movement restrictions, allowing businesses to open at lower capacity and with safety guidelines.
Updated at 12.21pm BST
Britain’s delayed lockdown “cost many lives”, scientific adviser says
Britain’s failure to impose a nationwide lockdown to tackle the spread of the coronavirus sooner has cost many lives, one of the government’s scientific advisers said on Sunday.
Britain is one of the worst-hit countries in the world, with a death toll that is estimated to top 50,000 already.
Critics from a broad spectrum including medical professionals, scientists, and lawmakers, say the government has botched its response to the outbreak by being too slow in imposing crucial measures such as the lockdown and protecting the elderly in care homes.
Despite reservations from some of its own scientific advisers, the government is now easing nationwide lockdown measures that were introduced on 23 March.
John Edmunds, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), told the BBC: “We should have gone into lockdown earlier.”
Updated at 12.51pm BST
While the World Health Organization has signalled that Latin America is the new centre of the pandemic, cases in Cuba have fallen for two months.
My colleague Ed Augustin reports from Havana.
The South African government has struck a deal with private hospitals and medical practitioners, on whom it will have to rely in the treatment of severely ill Covid-19 patients if public hospitals run out of space.
The government has been in talks for months with private firms and medical associations ahead of a probable scenario where public hospitals run out of critical care beds.
Providers will be able to charge a daily fee of up to 16,000 rand (0) for Covid-19 patients that get treated in critical care beds in private hospitals, Anban Pillay, the health ministry’s deputy director-general for national health insurance, told Reuters.
The fee includes the cost of using the bed, paying a team of specialists to treat the patient and additional services including pathology and radiology.
Estimates vary widely as to how many critical care beds there are in the country. A ministry presentation in April put the total at around 3,300, with two-thirds of those in the private sector, while Healthcare provider Netcare estimates there are some 6,000 beds, with around 3,800 in private hospitals.
South Africa had recorded 45,973 coronavirus cases as of Saturday, the most in Africa, with the number rising more steeply in recent weeks.
Anti-racism protests attended by thousands of people in London and other major British cities “undoubtedly” risk causing an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases again, the British health minister Matt Hancock said on Sunday.
Thousands of people attended protests on Saturday to voice their anger at police brutality after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, ignoring restrictions that forbid gatherings of more than six people outside.
Asked during an interview on Sky News whether the number attending protests made an increase in infections more likely, Hancock said: “It is undoubtedly a risk.”
“I support very strongly the argument that is being made by those who are protesting … but the virus itself doesn’t discriminate and gathering in large groups is temporarily against the rules precisely because it increases the risk of the spread of this virus,” he said.
John Edmunds, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said that while the risk of spreading the virus is lower outside, the current estimate is that around one in 1,000 people in the country are infectious.
“If you have a crowd of a few thousand people then you would expect some of those people to be infectious … so it is a risk to have thousands of people congregating together,” he told the BBC.
With further protests planned for Sunday, London police chief Cressida Dick urged protesters to “find another way to make your views heard which does not involve coming out on the streets of London” due to the coronavirus risk.
Updated at 12.10pm BST
Kim Willsher in Paris
The French government has announced it intends to increase the fine for littering from €68 to €135, after complaints from street cleaners that people are throwing masks, gloves and tissues possibly contaminated with Covid-19 on to the streets.
A bill is expected to be presented to the lower house, the Assemblée Nationale, in the next 10 days as part of a clam down on littering and dumping, including throwing cigarette ends into the streets, another headache in French cities.
The move comes as the government is under pressure to ease restrictions further across the country ahead of the end of its three-week progressive deconfinement programme, after the country’s scientific advisory committee announced the epidemic is “under control” in France.
France has introduced measures to deal with the pandemic in three-week blocks, the next of which ends on 21 June.
Prof Jean-François Delfraissy, who heads the scientific committee, said there was a low circulation of the virus but advised the authorities to use the respite time to “prepare different state structures for an eventual return of the epidemic”.
Specialists cannot agree on the likelihood of a coronavirus “second wave”.
On Saturday, the Château de Versailles opened to the public for the first time in 82 days; about 70% of the château’s revenue comes from visitor ticket sales, but 80% of the visitors are tourists and France’s borders remain closed except for essential business and personal reasons. Château staff said there was a rush on the place on Saturday, but even so they have 4,000 visitors instead of the 20,000 a day on a normal June weekend.
France reported 31 new deaths from Covid-19 in the 24 hours to Saturday, bringing the total to 29,142 since March. The number of patients in intensive care with the virus is down to 1,059.
Updated at 11.11am BST
Poland’s attempts to contain the virus are hampered by outbreaks in coal mines in the southern region of Silesia, the Financial Times reports.
Like most of central Europe, Poland reacted quickly to the pandemic, closing its borders, shutting non-essential businesses and banning large gatherings, and suffered far fewer deaths (1,155) and infection cases (26,249) than many countries in western and southern Europe as a result.
But for the past six weeks, Poland has recorded roughly 300-400 new infections a day, and more than 50% of these have come from Silesia, which accounts for just 12% of the population.
Updated at 11.12am BST
More than 400 migrants disembarked in Malta overnight on Saturday from four tourist boats after the government U-turned and allowed them to land after nearly 40 days onboard.
The 425 migrants, who had been picked up in the Mediterranean during various rescue operations, had been in limbo since April on the chartered boats held outside Maltese waters, Agence France-Presse reports.
Malta had refused them entry, pointing to the closure of its ports due to the coronavirus emergency and also to its full detention centres.
But in an about-face late on Saturday, Malta’s government said it was not prepared “to endanger lives of both the migrants and the crew, due the lack of solidarity shown by European Union member states in terms of relocation”.
“No European country accepted these migrants despite talk of solidarity,” the government said in a statement.
Sources told AGI news service the decision was taken because the crew feared for their safety, with the government saying the situation became “very difficult and commotions arose”.
In the late hours of Saturday and early Sunday, the boats docked at Boiler Wharf in Senglea and the migrants disembarked. It was not immediately clear where they were taken.
Malta had come under fire from humanitarian groups for holding the migrants on the tourist boats, which are not designed for lengthy stays.
Updated at 10.55am BST
Africa’s long-distance truckers say they are facing stigma as they are increasingly accused of being carriers of coronavirus, the Associated Press reports.
While hundreds of truckers have tested positive for the virus in recent weeks, the drivers say they are being stigmatised and treated like criminals, and being detained by governments.
One side-effect is slowed-down cargo traffic, which has created a challenge for governments in much of sub-Saharan Africa, where many borders remain closed due the pandemic, on how to strike a balance between contagion and commerce.
Abdulkarim Rajab, a Kenyan who has been driving trucks for 17 years, said: “When I entered Tanzania, in every town that I would drive through, they would call me, ‘You, corona, get away from here with your corona!’”, and recalls the times in which drivers were being accused of spreading HIV during that outbreak.
Rajab and his load of liquefied gas spent three days at the Kenya-Tanzania border, where the line of trucks waiting to be cleared stretched into the distance and wound around the lush hills overlooking the crossing at Namanga.
Tanzania closed the border there this week, the second time the frontier was closed in less than a month, after many Tanzanian truckers with negative results started testing positive at the border.
Updated at 10.31am BST
Updated at 10.23am BST
US senator accuses China of slowing down vaccine efforts
The Republican senator Rick Scott claimed on Sunday the US has evidence China is trying to slow down or sabotage the development of a Covid-19 vaccine by Western countries.
“We have got to get this vaccine done. Unfortunately we have evidence that communist China is trying to sabotage us or slow it down,” he said during a BBC interview.
“China does not want us … to do it first, they have decided to be an adversary to Americans and I think to democracy around the world.”
Asked what evidence the US had, Scott declined to give details but said it had come through the intelligence community.
“This vaccine is really important to all of us getting our economy going again. What I really believe is whether England does it first or we do it first, we are going to share. Communist China, they are not going to share,” he said.
Last week, Scott had described China as “an adversary”, and called for a boycott of Chinese products, while urging his followers to “buy American”.
Updated at 10.19am BST
Indonesia reported 672 new coronavirus infections on Sunday, taking the total to 31,186, according to a health ministry official.
There were 50 new deaths, taking the total to 1,851, while 10,498 people have recovered, the official, Achmad Yurianto, said.
Updated at 11.07am BST
My colleague Robin McKie has taken stock of the world’s attempts to get a grip on the pandemic, six months into a crisis that has killed an estimated 400,000 people, saw 6 million people get infected and has changed the world.
Updated at 10.06am BST
The Australian government said on Sunday it will continue to underwrite domestic flights through September, extending its aid for airlines such as Qantas Airways and Virgin Australia Holdings hurt by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Deputy prime minister and transport minister Michael McCormack said the initial backing, due to expire on Monday, will be extended to cover shortfalls in operating flights on top domestic routes, even as airlines start to rebuild crushed capacity, according to Reuters.
Australia has barred its citizens from almost all outbound travel in order to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.
“The Australian government is doing everything possible to ensure the aviation industry is sustained throughout the pandemic so that it can rebound on the other side,” McCormack said in a statement.
With border closures and social distancing since March, Australia has avoided the high infections and casualties of many nations, reporting 102 deaths and 7,255 infections so far.
Updated at 9.39am BST
Malaysia will lift most coronavirus restrictions on businesses on Wednesday, including a ban on travel between its states, after a lockdown of nearly three months.
The country’s international borders will remain closed, however, Reuters reports.
Prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced in a televised address on Sunday that the coronavirus outbreak was under control and Malaysia would begin a new recovery phase that would last until 31 August.
Malaysia had gradually allowed businesses to reopen with social distancing guidelines over the past month, after shutting all non-essential businesses and schools, banning public gatherings and restricting travel on 18 March.
Malaysian health officials reported 19 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, taking the cumulative total to 8,322. So for, 117 deaths have been recorded.
Updated at 10.46am BST
Infections in Afghanistan climb above 20,000
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Afghanistan has topped 20,000 as the country recorded its biggest daily rise in the number of deaths from Covid-19 on Sunday.
The health ministry has detected 791 new cases from 1,427 tests, according to the latest update, bringing the total number of infections to 20,342. Thirty patients died overnight, taking the country’s Covid-19 death toll to 357. There have been 1,875 recoveries.
The capital Kabul has recorded its worst day of the crisis after 23 patients died in the last 24 hours to Sunday and 313 new cases were detected. The capital is the country’s worst affected area with 8,030 confirmed cases and 66 deaths.
Mohammad Yaghoub Heidari, the governor of Kabul, warned that the actual number of infections in the capital may be much higher than official figures show.
“There is a catastrophe going on in Kabul,” Heidari said, adding that the city had started carrying out burials during the night.
From Saturday, masks must be worn in public places, two-metre physical distancing must be maintained and gatherings of more than 10 people should be avoided, the health ministry announced. Elderly people have been advised not leave their homes and workplaces must be disinfected.
Updated at 9.41am BST
The exodus of migrant workers from big cities is plunging India’s factories into a crisis, Agence France-Presse reports.
An acute shortage of workers has turned the roar of machines to a soft hum at a footwear factory near New Delhi, just one of thousands in India struggling to restart after migrant workers decided to leave town during the virus lockdown.
India is slowly emerging from strict containment measures that were imposed in late March as leaders look to revive the battered economy, but manufacturers don’t have enough workers to man the machinery.
The big cities, once an attractive destination for workers from poor, rural regions, have been hit by reverse migration as millions of labourers flee back to their home villages, some uncertain if they will ever return.
Sanjeev Kharbanda, a senior executive with Aqualite Industries, which owns the footwear factory in the northern state of Haryana, said: “Sixty per cent of our labourers have gone back. How can we run a production unit with just one-third of our workforce?”
Kharbanda said the company’s sports shoe unit had been sitting idle as there were no skilled workers to operate the high-tech machines.
“We are running just one shift now. The cost of production has gone up and our profits are going down,” he said, a conveyor belt carrying semi-finished flip-flops running slowly in the background.
In Gujarat state’s Surat city – where 90% of the world’s diamonds are cut and polished – many factories have been unable to open after more than two-thirds of workers fled, Surat diamond association president Babu Kathiriya told AFP.
Meanwhile, the state’s salt refineries have started doubling salaries to lure staff back. But experts say the workers may not return anytime soon.
There are an estimated 100 million migrant workers – nearly a fifth of the labour force and contributing to an estimated 10% of GDP – across the nation of 1.3 billion people.
Many are employed as cheap labour across a vast range of sectors including textiles, construction, mines and small businesses.
Updated at 9.07am BST
Russia has reported 8,984 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours to Sunday, pushing the total number of infections to 467,673.
Officials said 134 people had died during the same period, bringing the official nationwide death toll to 5,859.
The coronavirus lockdown in Greece’s overcrowded migrant camps has been extended for another two weeks, while the rest of the country gears up to revive its tourism-dependent economy, Agence France-Presse reports.
“For residents of the reception and identification centres across the country, measures against the propagation of the Covid-19 virus are extended until 21 June,” the official Government Gazette said.
Greece has fared better than most of its European partners in the pandemic, with 180 deaths and 2,980 cases.
The country was quick to introduce strict confinement measures on migrant camps on 21 March and imposed a more general lockdown on 23 March.
More than 33,000 asylum seekers live in the five camps on the Aegean islands, with a total capacity of 5,400 people, and some 70,000 in other facilities on the mainland.
While no Covid-19 deaths have been recorded in the camps so far and only a few dozen infections, the measures have since been extended a number of times.
Rights groups have expressed concern that migrants’ rights could be eroded by the anti-virus restrictions.
Massive virus screening in the camps only started in early May.
Updated at 8.53am BST
Millions of people across the globe have relied on daily or even hourly updates from various media outlets during the pandemic, which saw new laws introduced, borders closed and restrictions amended, often overnight.
Updated at 8.40am BST
Taiwan will further ease its coronavirus restrictions, the government said on Sunday, as the island has kept the pandemic well in hand with only six active cases and no local transmission for 56 days.
Taiwan has never gone into total lockdown and life has continued largely as normal due to its early and effective prevention work and a first rate public health system, but has promoted social distancing and ensured broad public access to face masks, Reuters reports.
Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Centre said that it would lift restrictions limiting the number of people who could participate in “daily life and leisure events”, though people should continue to wear face masks if they were unable to socially distance.
However, border entry restrictions remain, with authorities wary of a second wave of infections coming in from countries where the pandemic is still raging, such as the United States and Britain.
Taiwan has reported 443 cases, the majority of which were in people who got infected overseas, and just seven deaths.
Updated at 8.25am BST
That’s all from me – I’m now handing over to my colleague in London, Jedidajah Otte, who will keep you updated with the latest coronavirus developments from around the world.
China has released a lengthy report on the country’s response to Covid-19, while officials have rejected allegations that information about the virus was withheld, the country’s state television channel CGTN reports.
The report praises officials’ response to the pandemic as a thorough and comprehensive effort.
China’s relations with other countries have been strengthened rather than undermined by the pandemic, Ma Zhaoxu, the country’s vice minister of foreign affairs, said, according to CGTN.
Australia’s deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly has said authorities could be forced to ask Australians who attended Black Lives Matter protests over the weekend to self isolate if clusters emerge among attendees, reports Elias Visontay in Canberra.
Kelly said he was encouraged by the sight of masks at Saturday’s protests and said he understood the right to protest, but reiterated the different state governments and the Australian Health Protection and Principal Committee had strongly suggested people not attend any of the mass gatherings.
He said that while people who attended the protests do not have to isolate or get tested if they don’t have symptoms, “if we were to start seeing cases crop up in the next week for example, then we might need to change that message”.
He also said the CovidSafe contact tracing app could help locate possible cases if there are reports of clusters among attendees.
Black Lives do matter, all lives matter, and I absolutely understand the depth of feeling that people expressed in those protests yesterday and are expressing in other ways over this matter.
It does bring people from widely dispersed parts of a city or a state that may not know each other into close proximity, which allows that virus to spread from person to person and then for people to widely scatter to within the city or the state…This is of concern if there was someone in one of those large protests yesterday with COVID-19, and they were infectious.
Kelly made the announcement during a national Covid-19 update. As of Sunday afternoon, there have been six new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, taking Australia’s total to 7260. However the number of active cases is now below 460, with less than 20 people in hospital and three people in intensive care units. The death rate remains at 102.
Updated at 7.39am BST
Care home residents are on course to make up more than half the deaths caused directly or indirectly by the coronavirus crisis in England, according to a new analysis.
The study warns that the death toll by the end of June from Covid-19 infections and other excess deaths is “likely to approach 59,000 across the entire English population, of which about 34,000 (57%) will have been care home residents”.
The estimate, produced by the major healthcare business consultancy LaingBuisson, includes people who list a care home as their primary residence, wherever they died – including those who died in hospital.
It is based on data from the Office for National Statistics, as well as the analyst’s own modelling of the number of care home resident deaths likely to have occurred in the absence of the pandemic.
The new study coincides with mounting concerns over the failure to protect care homes earlier in the pandemic. Senior care industry figures point to the decision to move some hospital patients back to care homes in mid-March. There have also been complaints that non-Covid-related healthcare became less accessible to homes during the height of the pandemic, leading to extra deaths.
Updated at 7.15am BST
Fujifilm Holdings Corp’s research on Avigan as a potential treatment for COVID-19 may drag on until July, a further setback in the Japanese firm’s race to find a vaccine, reports Reuters.
“There is a possibility that clinical trials will continue in July,” a Fujifilm spokesman said, responding to a Nikkei report that any approval will be delayed until July or later, due to a lack of patients for trials.
After the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave up on getting approval for the drug by the end of May, the aim was to complete clinical trials this month. But researchers have only been able to get around 70% of the patients needed for the trials, and because it takes 28 days to get results, the process will continue until at least July, the Nikkei business daily said, citing an unnamed source.
The spokesman said Fujifilm does not make public details of the progress of clinical trials but it has expanded the number of medical institutions that are cooperate in the trials. “We aim to complete clinical trials as soon as possible.”
A further Black Lives Matter protest is planned for Western Australia’s capital, Perth, next weekend after yet another Indigenous death in custody on Friday. Australian Associated Press has this report:
An Aboriginal prisoner who died in Western Australia had suffered health problems, the state government says, while urging people who plan to attend another Black Lives Matter protest in Perth to abide by Covid-19 rules.
The 40-year-old Acacia prison inmate was found collapsed on Friday but could not be revived and was pronounced dead in hospital.
Police said his death did not appear to be suspicious, but they are investigating and an inquest will be held given it is a death in custody.
The Department of Justice will also conduct an internal review.
“The initial advice we have is there were some health issues associated with this poor man,” premier Mark McGowan told reporters on Sunday.
He then called on the organisers of a Black Lives Matter rally planned for Hyde Park on Saturday to comply with coronavirus rules.
Updated at 6.59am BST
- The death toll from the coronavirus worldwide is approaching 400,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. In total, 6,891,213 cases have been confirmed worldwide. Roughly a third of those cases, almost 2 million infections, are in the US.
- The health ministry in Brazil, which has the world’s second-largest coronavirus outbreak, has removed data from a website that had documented the epidemic. The total number of cases, which have passed 672,000, and the death toll, almost 36,000, are now hidden from view.
- Australia’s finance minister Mathias Cormann has condemned Saturday’s mass protests to demand an end to Indigenous deaths in custody as reckless, selfish and self-indulgent. The deputy leader of the opposition, Richard Marles, said Cormann’s rebuke was “tone deaf”.
- Scientists working on a potential coronavirus vaccine have almost reached a breakthrough on an antibody treatment which could saves the lives of the elderly and vulnerable. An injection of cloned antibodies that counteract Covid-19 could prove significant for those in the early stages of infection, according to the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.
- Panama’s government on Saturday said it would reintroduce restrictions on the movement of people in two provinces following increases in new cases.
- Mexico’s health ministry on Saturday reported 3,593 new confirmed cases of coronavirus and 341 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 113,619 cases and 13,511 deaths.
- In the UK, places of worship will open for individual prayer from 15 June.
- The Covid-19 response in part of Northeast China’s Jilin Province has been downgraded to a low level, meaning the country no longer considers any of its regions to be at high risk of the virus.
Australian Associated Press has more on the concerns Victorian health authorities have about cases potentially spreading as a result of a Black Lives Matter protest yesterday in Melbourne, parts of which have had several recent cases of community transmission.
The deputy chief health officer Annaliese van Diemen said on Sunday the Black Lives Matter protest in Melbourne had increased the risk for cases.
“In terms of potential outbreaks related to the protest, it really will be at least a week and probably closer to two weeks before we have an idea of whether there’s been any transmissions or outbreaks related to that,” van Diemen said. The impact will take its time to show due to incubation periods, people developing symptoms, getting tested and waiting for results, she said.
More than 10,000 protesters flooded Melbourne’s CBD on Saturday in a show of solidarity for the US Black Lives Matter movement and to call for an end to Aboriginal deaths in custody.
Victoria police will fine the Melbourne organisers ,652 each for breaching the directions of the chief health officer amid the pandemic.
Organisers Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance posted online they were touched by supporters’ offers to pay their fines, but preferred the money be directed to families directly affected by deaths in custody.
Dr van Diemen urged people not to attend gatherings of more than 20 people as per the health directions. She didn’t attend the rally and refused to comment on the cause. “I am not going to make comment on the cause,” she said. Van Diemen previously issued a controversial tweet where she likened the impact of Covid-19 to Captain Cook’s arrival in Australia.
Updated at 7.01am BST
Here is Press Association’s full report on the antibody treatment that is being developed by the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. Scientists say an injection of cloned antibodies could help treat people already infected.
Thailand has reported eight new coronavirus cases, taking its total to 3,112 infections.
The new cases are all among returnees who remain in quarantine.
Since the start of the outbreak, 58 fatalities have been recorded. No new deaths were reported on Sunday.
Manufacturing output across the UK increased last month from its record low as firms started to emerge from the coronavirus lockdown, Press Association reports.
Business advisers BDO LLP said its resesarch suggested manufacturers regained some of the losses sustained between March and April as they benefited from the easing of lockdown measures.
Despite the news, output remained at historically low levels, with businesses expecting a “long and difficult” path to recovery, said the report.
Firms are grappling with social distancing restrictions while attention begins to re-focus on Brexit negotiations and international trade relationships, said the report.
Kaley Crossthwaite, of BDO LLP, said: “While the jump in manufacturing output offers a glimmer of hope, early signs point to this being a long road to recovery. The UK is experiencing the deepest economic contraction in living memory, and possibly in its history.
“Output remains drastically below where it would be in ordinary times, but the latest readings suggest we have passed the rock bottom of this crisis.”
China’s exports and imports fell in May as the economic slowdown abroad started to take its toll, and after a surprise jump driven by increased demand for anti-epidemic supplies, Agence France-Presse reports.
The country has worked to restart its economy after bringing activity to a standstill to curb the coronavirus spread, but consumer demand has remained muted and China’s key overseas markets are suffering downturns.
Exports from the manufacturing powerhouse fell 3.3 percent on-year last month, better than the 6.5 percent slide expected by a Bloomberg poll of analysts.
But the return to negative territory came after a surprise 3.5 percent jump in April, which was partly due to medical exports. Analysts have warned of signs that a larger downturn awaits.
Scientists close to breakthrough on antibody treatment – reports
Press Association has the following update on efforts to find a coronavirus treatment.
Scientists working on a potential coronavirus vaccine have almost reached a breakthrough on an antibody treatment which could saves the lives of the elderly and vulnerable, it has been reported.
An injection of cloned antibodies which allows the body to counteract Covid-19 could prove hugely significant for those in the early stages of infection, according to British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.
The company has already started to manufacture the Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine to ensure, if it does pass human trials, it can be made available in the autumn.
On Thursday, AstraZeneca signed a deal with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi) to help manufacture 300 million globally accessible doses of the coronavirus vaccine candidate being developed by the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford.
One member of the coalition is the Serum Institute of India, which The Sunday Telegraph reports is considering other “parallel” partnerships with AstraZeneca that may lead to the antibody treatment being funded as a stand-alone treatment.
AstraZeneca’s chief executive Pascal Soriot told the newspaper that the treatment being developed is “a combination of two antibodies” in an injected dose “because by having both you reduce the chance of resistance developing to one antibody”.
It comes as trials of the potential vaccine have started in Brazil, a new epicentre of the pandemic, to ensure the study can be properly tested as transmission rates fall in the UK.
The Jenner Institute and the Oxford Vaccine Group began development on a vaccine in January, using a virus taken from chimpanzees.
Meanwhile, UK-based vaccine manufacturer Seqirus announced it is working in partnership with parent company CSL, CEPI and the University of Queensland to help develop a candidate Covid-19 vaccine in Australia.
Its manufacturing base in Liverpool is producing an adjuvant, an agent which improves the immune response of a vaccine.
Updated at 7.20am BST
Western Australia has recorded no new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours. The state’s total remains at 599, of which 31 are considered active cases.
Of the active cases, 10 are Western Australians, one is from interstate and 20 are crew members from the Al Kuwait live export ship. The state Department of Health says there have been 115,507 COVID-19 tests performed in WA to date. Of those tested, 20,193 were from regional areas.
Germany has reported 301 new coronavirus cases, bringing the country’s total to 183,979, according to the Robert Koch Institute. The reported death toll has also risen by 22 to 8,668.
The Australian Capital Territory has recorded its first Covid-19 case since 4 May, after a man in his 40s who had recently returned from overseas tested positive.
ACT Health says he has been in quarantine since his arrival from overseas. A small number of close contacts have been identified and are also in quarantine. The man is the only known active case in the territory, which has had 104 cases in total.
The ACT’s chief health officer, Dr Kerryn Coleman, said this most recent case would be recorded as overseas-acquired.
“We are confident there has been no risk to the broader ACT community,” Coleman said. “The case is, however, a good reminder of the ongoing pandemic and the need for our community to continue to observe physical distancing and hygiene measures, and for people to stay home if they are unwell. The case is also a demonstration of how important it is for us to maintain a high level of testing in the community.”
The ACT has conducted 20,379 negative tests to date. “We expect that as restrictions are lifted and the movement of people around Australia increases, it is likely that cases will continue to be diagnosed around Australia, including in the ACT,” Coleman said.
Updated at 5.55am BST
Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele has for the second time vetoed emergency legislation passed to regulate the Central American country’s coronavirus policy and usher in a gradual reopening of its economy, Reuters reports.
Bukele’s legal counsel, Conan Castro, said Bukele had vetoed the law backed on May 30 by Congress because it breached a number of constitutional guarantees including the rights and health of workers and cooperation between organs of government.
Castro was speaking to reporters at a news conference in San Salvador with other members of Bukele’s legal team.
Bukele, who has been at loggerheads with Congress for weeks over coronavirus policy, had vetoed a similar law in May on the grounds it put the public’s health at risk. He had said he would do the same with the law passed last weekend.
Bukele has imposed some of the toughest measures in the Americas against the pandemic, repeatedly clashing with lawmakers over the scope of the lockdown he is pursuing.
Bukele’s administration is also ready to sanction any companies that restart operations on Monday without proper authorization, Labor Minister Rolando Castro told reporters at a separate news conference in the capital.
The country has recorded 2,934 coronavirus cases and 53 related fatalities.
The coronavirus crisis is battering media outlets across Africa that were already struggling for cash and often facing pressure from hostile authorities, Agence France-Presse reports.
In Kenya some media houses slashed wages by up to half, in Uganda a leading weekly halted printing, and in Namibia hours have been reduced and redundancy schemes fast-tracked. Qasim Akinreti, the chairman of the Lagos Union of Journalists said Nigeria had “lost hundreds of jobs in the past four months.”
The speed and severity of the current crunch has sparked calls for government bailouts – with private papers in Cameroon even holding a “dead press” day to denounce a lack of action.
Authorities in some countries have heeded the pleas for help. Kenya’s national regulator on Friday unveiled what it called a “historic” fund worth just under million to help some 150 broadcasters weather the storm.
“This challenge of COVID-19 has squeezed life from television and radio stations,” said David Omwoyo, the head of the Media Council of Kenya.
Officials from Nigeria’s journalist union said it had appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to provide emergency aid to distressed media. But there are fears that state aid would only increase political interference in sectors around Africa that are already often dominated by powerful vested interests.
Just as the spread of the virus has caused revenues to dwindle, it has also posed unprecedented logistical challenges to media outlets. While the official figures – more than 170,000 infections and 4,700 deaths across the continent – have risen slower than elsewhere on the planet, governments have still imposed tough restrictions.
Lockdowns have hampered reporting, social distancing has forced journalists to work remotely with poor internet or electricity supplies, and protective equipment has added new costs.
A man who flew to Queensland, Australia, while infectious with Covid-19 appears to have not yet caused an outbreak, Australian Associated Press reports.
The number of active coronavirus cases statewide has dropped to three and there have been no new positive tests overnight.
The 24-year-old flew to Brisbane on Monday, where he socialised with friends and family, before flying to Bundaberg, checked into shared accommodation and worked a shift at a strawberry farm.
Health officials are trying to track down everyone he came in contact with during his flight and while in Brisbane and Bundaberg.
Contact tracing is under way for anyone who travelled from Melbourne to Brisbane on Virgin VA313 on Monday and from Brisbane to Bundaberg on Virgin VA2905 on Tuesday.
Queensland’s borders remain closed, but the premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, is making a pitch for intrastate travel with the slogan – “good to go”.
“One in 10 Queenslanders work in the tourism industry and they’ve been doing it tough, but because of our health response, we can now open up Queensland and Queensland is good to go.”
Fengman district in Northeast China’s Jilin Province has downgraded its Covid-19 response level to low, meaning the country no longer considers any of its regions to be at high risk of the virus, according to the state-backed Global Times.
The Global Times quoted a health expert who warned sporadic infections were still possible, however, and that people should not lower their guard. “We should adapt to anti-epidemic normality in daily life,” Wang Peiyu, deputy head of Peking University’s School of Public Health, told Global Times.
Australian finance minister calls Black Lives Matter protesters ‘reckless’ and ‘selfish’
Australia’s finance minister, Mathias Cormann, this morning called Black Lives Matter protesters reckless, selfish and self-indulgent, after tens of thosands took to the streets across the country.
Cormann used an interview on Sky News to launch a full-throated attack on participants in yesterday’s rallies in several Australian cities because the protests proceeded in contravention of current health advice to avoid mass gatherings.
“It’s quite irresponsible what we’ve seen there,” Cormann said. “As I think about the heartbreak of families who haven’t been able to attend funerals for their loved ones because they were doing the right thing by taking the health advice, my heart just goes out to them.
“I mean, as they see people going recklessly to these sorts of demonstrations, that must be just awful for them to watch. I think it is incredibly selfish. It’s incredibly self-indulgent. And yes, it does impose unnecessary and unacceptable risk onto the community.”
The deputy leader of the opposition, Richard Marles, acknowledged that protests in the middle of a pandemic were a “vexed issue” but he said Cormann’s rebuke on Sunday was “tone deaf”.
Marles said he would not attend any mass gathering in contravention of the Covid-19 health advice, but he said prime minister Scott Morrison’s suggestion that anxiety about institutional racism was being imported from the US “is patently ridiculous”.
“To say to those who are standing up against it and to do something about it, that this is an act of selfishness and indulgence, is wrong,” Marles said on the ABC’s Insiders program this morning.
An International Cricket Council board meeting on Wednesday could see the global governing body uphold a recommendation to prohibit the use of saliva in order to stop the transmission of the coronavirus, Agence France-Presse.
Bowlers traditionally get the ball to move or swing in the air, thereby making it harder for batsmen to hit, by applying shine to one side via sweat – which can still be used – or saliva.
However, as a temporary measure to combat COVID-19, the ICC’s cricket committee has suggested banning the use of saliva.
It seems unlikely cricket chiefs will row back from the saliva ban but former South Africa paceman Shaun Pollock, even though he is a member of the ICC cricket committee, gave current swing bowlers a glimmer of hope by suggesting health checks in place for next month’s behind closed doors three-Test series between England and the West Indies might make it redundant.
“I think the environment that’ll end up being created is almost going to be like a bubble,” Pollock told the Following On Cricket Podcast. “People will get tested, they’ll go into a two-week camp where they’re just going to sit and monitor how the conditions of their bodies change.
“And if there are no symptoms, it doesn’t really matter about shining the ball then, because you’re in the bubble and no one you come into contact with will have coronavirus.
“So you can just get on with normal proceedings.”
My colleagues Luke Henriques-Gomes in Melbourne and Elias Visontay in Sydney have the following update on the Australian Black Lives Matter protests:
Tens of thousands of people marched through Australian cities and towns for Black Lives Matter protests yesterday, defying an attempt from the police to ban one demonstration through the courts and despite pleas from the prime minister and state leaders for people to stay home.
This morning, New South Wales police confirmed they had made an arrest and used pepper spray on protesters at Sydney’s Central Station after the rally finished. Police said a 21-year-old man had been charged with offensive behaviour and resisting police, after he allegedly “became violent” when officers “attempted to move a group of people through the station” last night.
Police said after he was arrested, the surrounding group of people in the station “became increasingly aggressive”, at which point “OC [pepper] spray was deployed”, and five people were treated at the scene from the effects of the spray. The Guardian has contacted NSW police for further comment about the decision to use pepper spray.
There is concern that the use of pepper spray could intensify the risk of coronavirus transmission by causing mucus, saliva, and tears to leave the nose, mouth, and eyes.
Updated at 5.15am BST
Brazil removes online data on pandemic, hiding soaring deaths
Here is a further update from Reuters on Brazil, which has removed from public view months of data on its Covid-19 epidemic.
The health ministry in Brazil – which has the world’s second-largest coronavirus outbreak – removed the data from a website that had documented the epidemic over time and by state and municipality.
The ministry also stopped giving a total count of confirmed cases, which have shot past 672,000, more than anywhere outside the United States, or a total death toll, which passed Italy this week, nearing 36,000 by Saturday.
“The cumulative data … does not reflect the moment the country is in,” Bolsonaro said on Twitter, citing a note from the ministry. “Other actions are underway to improve the reporting of cases and confirmation of diagnoses.”
Bolsonaro has played down the dangers of the pandemic, replaced medical experts in the health ministry with military officials and argued against state lockdowns to fight the virus, hobbling the country’s public health response. Neither Bolsonaro nor the ministry gave a reason for erasing most of the data on the covid.saude.gov.br website, which had been a key public resource for tracking the pandemic.
Updated at 5.13am BST
The Australian state that has been the second hardest-hit by coronavirus, Victoria, has reported four new cases, taking it to a total of 1,685, Merran Hitchick reports from Sydney.
Victoria has 70 active cases, including two in intensive care. The state’s chief health officer, Prof Brett Sutton, said there was ongoing evidence of community transmission in north and west Melbourne. He urged anyone who attended a Black Lives Matter protest yesterday to get tested if they developed any symptoms at all.
“While our testing message applies to all Victorians, it is especially relevant to residents in the north and west,” Sutton said on Sunday. “Our clear advice was not to attend yesterday’s protest as thousands of people flooding the city was a risk. If you attended and go on to develop any symptoms no matter how mild – it is critically important that you go and get tested.”
Of the new cases, Sutton said, one was a household contact linked to an outbreak last month at Fawkner McDonald’s. The three other cases were in returned travelers in hotel quarantine.
Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, has reported no new cases in the past 24 hours from 9,207 coronavirus tests. One previously counted case has now been ruled out, so the state has had a total of 3,109 cases altogether. There are 70 active cases and no Covid-19 patients in intensive care. NSW Health says testing clinics are open across the June long weekend, though there is reduced availability at some sites, and urges residents to get tested even if they only have mild symptoms. Locations and opening hours are available here.
Panama reimposes curbs after rise in cases
Panama’s government on Saturday said it would reintroduce restrictions on the movement of people in two provinces following increases in new cases, Reuters reports.
From Monday, Panama will re-apply restrictions to stem the transit of people in the provinces of Panama, which includes the capital city, and Panama Oeste, the government said. The curbs will alternate between men and women, as well as in accordance with the numbers on identification cards.
Nadja Porcell, director general of health, said in a televised address that the country was tightening its containment measures because the public was failing to uphold sanitary guidelines amid a recent surge in internal travel.
Panama still has the chance to win the battle against Covid-19 because the health system has not collapsed, but if the behavior observed this week were to continue… essential resources could run out,” Porcell said.
The curbs are a setback for Panama, which on June 1 switched from applying a total lockdown to a night curfew and began reopening the economy, allowing non-metals mining operations to restart, as well as public-sector construction.
During the past 24 hours, Panama’s confirmed cases of coronavirus infection increased by 541 to 16,004, while fatalities rose by 16 to 386 in total, the government said.
China reported six new cases of the novel coronavirus on Sunday, three more than the previous day, Reuters reports.
Five of the new cases, recorded by late Saturday, involved travellers arriving from abroad, the National Health Commission (NHC) said on its website. One locally transmitted case was found in the southern island province of Hainan.
The NHC also confirmed five new asymptomatic cases, or people who are infected with the virus but do not show symptoms, compared with two the previous day.
The total number of infections in China, where the virus first emerged late last year, stands at 83,036. With no new deaths reported, the death toll remained 4,634.
Updated at 4.31am BST
In Australia, the government is extending its support to the aviation sector to ensure the industry is sustained during the Covid-19 pandemic, Australian Associated Press reports.
More than .2bn of measures have been provided to support the air industry, while the government said it would ensure Australians have access to domestic air travel as coronavirus restrictions are relaxed.
Deputy prime minister Michael McCormack said the funding would “ensure Australian airlines and operators can maintain essential air services as we map out our economic recovery.”
The Domestic Aviation Network Support program will be extended to September 30, to maintain major domestic air routes and the Regional Airline Network Support program will be extended from September 30 to December 31, to ensure essential flights continue to regional communities.
The government will also allow leased federal airports to seek partial relief from land tax charges to December 31 in line with state government land tax relief arrangements.
Brazil reports 904 more coronavirus-related deaths
Brazil reported an additional 904 coronavirus deaths and 27,075 new cases over the last 24 hours, Reuters reports.
On Saturday, the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, threatened to pull out of the World Health Organization (WHO) over “ideological bias”. This follows US president Donald Trump announcement at the end of May that the US would sever all ties with the WHO.
Bolsonaro criticised the World Health Organization for suspending clinical trials of the drug hydroxychloroquine for Covid-19 – a decision it reversed this week – and threatened to follow in Trump’s footsteps by quitting.
“I’m telling you right now, the United States left the WHO, and we’re studying that, in the future. Either the WHO works without ideological bias, or we leave, too,” he said.
Bolsonaro has followed the US president in his handling of the pandemic, downplaying its severity, attacking stay-at-home measures and touting the purported effects of hydroxychloroquine against Covid-19.
Brazil is the second harest hit country for coronavirus cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. It has registered 35,930 total coronavirus deaths and 672,846 confirmed infections.
More than half of Australians ‘very lonely’ during pandemic – survey
More than half of Australians have felt challenged by their living situation during the Covid-19 outbreak, with many feeling very lonely, Australian Associated Press reports.
A survey of more than 730 people conducted in May by support provider Relationships Australia looked into how people’s relationships have been affected by the coronavirus restrictions.
The data suggests that 45% of people either agreed or strongly agreed they felt very lonely during May.
The survey suggests relationships with partners were more likely to be negatively affected during this time, with 42% of people experiencing a negative change in their relationship with their partner.
Just over half (55%) of respondents were challenged by their living arrangements.
The data, published today, suggests people who lived with their family reported an increase in the time and effort spent on their family relationships with 83% of respondents saying it had been necessary at the time.
Meanwhile, more than 90% of people reported no significant changes in their relationships with friends, children, parents, neighbours and colleagues.
One of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations, Phuket, will reopen its beaches next week as the country continues to ease its lockdown measures, the Bangkok Post reports.
The country has avoided a major outbreak, recording a total of 3,104 cases since January, and no community transmission for almost two weeks. Thailand’s tourism industry, however, has been hard hit by the suspension of global travel, and it is feared that the country’s economy could contract by as much as 6% this year. Phuket airport will reopen for domestic travel on 15 June, but Thailand remains shut to international travellers.
The government has said it is liaising with hotels to provide an additional 9,000 rooms to use as quarantine facilities for Thai citizens who are returning from abroad. All returnees are required to spend 14 days in state quarantine and undergo two coronavirus tests.
In addition to the standard state quarantine process, which can involve staying in military or relatively basic hotel facilities, some high-end hotels are now offering luxury quarantine packages.
Opec and Russia extend record oil production cuts
Opec, Russia and allies have agreed to extend record oil production cuts until the end of July, prolonging a deal that has helped crude prices double in the past two months by withdrawing almost 10% of global supplies from the market, Reuters reports.
The group, known as Opec+, also demanded countries such as Nigeria and Iraq, which exceeded production quotas in May and June, compensate with extra cuts in July to September.
Opec+ had agreed in April that it would cut supply by 9.7m barrels per day (bpd) during May-June to prop up prices that had collapsed due to the coronavirus crisis. Those cuts were due to taper to 7.7m bpd from July to December.
Updated at 2.47am BST
Mexico reports 341 new coronavirus deaths
Mexico’s health ministry on Saturday reported 3,593 new confirmed cases of coronavirus and 341 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 113,619 cases and 13,511 deaths, Reuters reports.
The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.
Updated at 3.40am BST
The number of coronavirus cases globally now stands at 6,852,810, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Social-distancing guidelines have been increasingly challenged by global protests over the killing of George Floyd, prompting concerns that cases could surge in some areas. Hundreds of thousands have marched in the US, while in Australia, tens of thousands of people turned out for protests across Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and elsewhere. Public health officials have voiced concern that demonstrators and police at anti-police brutality protests could spur Covid-19’s spread. Heavily criticized police techniques, such as using teargas and pepper spray on protesters, intensify this risk.
Some of the hardest hit countries are beginning to ease their lockdown measures. In the US, which has the highest number of confirmed cases globally, (1,917,080) some tourist hubs are reopening, including Universal Orlando and Las Vegas’s famed casinos. Meanwhile, in the UK, places of worship will open for individual prayer from 15 June.
In other developments:
- Brazil’s president Jai Bolsonaro has defended his decision to withhold some of the official data on country’s coronavirus pandemic.
- OPEC members and other oil producing nations have agreed to extend their output cuts through July.
- World number one tennis player Novak Djokovic has shed doubt on whether the US Open tournament will go ahead as planned in September, saying coronavirus restrictions would make it impossible.
- California is planning to allow film, television and music production to resume from June 12, depending on coronavirus conditions at that time.
- The organisers of anti-racism demonstrations in Northern Ireland will be reported to the public prosecution service for breaking coronavirus locked rules, police have said. It comes after thousands turned out for protests across the UK following the death of George Floyd.
If you have contributions for the coronavirus global live blog please do email me email@example.com, or I’m @rebeccarat on Twitter.
Updated at 3.17am BST
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