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Afghan schools, universities to remain closed until September

Distance learning via online, radio and TV broadcasts to replace traditional classrooms, officials say.

Schools and universities in Afghanistan will remain closed for another three months as the nation’s number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to climb, authorities have said.

Distance learning programmes taught online and via radio and television broadcasts will continue to replace traditional classroom teaching for the time being, the war-torn country’s education ministry said on Sunday.

“Students should not waste their time at home,” a ministry spokesperson told the DPA news agency.

Afghanistan has seen a surge in coronavirus cases in recent days, prompting the government to place restrictions on gatherings of more than 10 people and oblige people to wear masks in public.

Authorities recorded about 800 additional coronavirus cases and 30 new deaths in the 24 hours to Sunday, bringing the country’s confirmed caseload to more than 20,000, with 357 deaths.

Decades of war have left Afghanistan with a fragile health system and limited testing capacity has led to fears the true figures could be far higher.

Only 47,000 people have been tested for the coronavirus since the country reported its first case in February.

Many places are suffering from a lack of personnel and dire shortages of protective equipment to stem the spread of the virus.

According to United Nations children’s agency UNICEF’s annual report, 3.7 million Afghan children are currently out of school, and only 54 percent of enrolled children complete primary school.

Millions of Afghan children, particularly girls, are missing out on an education during the pandemic, UNICEF said.

The coronavirus lockdown has also left Afghans with a stark choice between starvation and the risk of catching the virus.

“Afghanistan currently has over 12 million people that are food insecure and with COVID-19, it is likely to get worse, unlike many other countries,” Vicki Aken, Afghanistan’s country director at the International Rescue Committee, told Al Jazeera.

“Afghans need to work every day just to put food on the table for that day. Social distancing and staying at home is not an option even if there are lockdown measures in place because in the choices between starvation and catching COVID-19, most Afghans will risk COVID-19.”

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Thousands protest in Brazil amid coronavirus crisis

Rival rallies held in Brazil’s largest cities as President Bolsonaro faces criticism over handling of the pandemic.

Thousands of people defied a coronavirus lockdown in Brazil to demonstrate against President Jair Bolsonaro as a public backlash grows over the government’s handling of the pandemic.

The demonstrations in multiple cities on Sunday saw people banging drums and setting off flares as they marched to denounce the far-right president for the first time in the capital, Brasilia, since the pandemic reached Brazil.

More:

  • Brazil stops publishing coronavirus numbers

  • What is next for Brazil in its coronavirus fight?

  • Bolsonaro threatens WHO exit as Brazil’s coronavirus toll soars

The virus is rapidly spreading in the Latin American nation that now has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases – 691,758 – and third-highest COVID-19 death toll at 36,455, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

On Saturday, the government stopped publishing a running total of coronavirus deaths and infections in an extraordinary move that critics called an attempt to hide the true toll of the disease in Latin America’s largest nation.

“I came out despite the quarantine because I have to fight for all of us,” Fernanda, a protester, told Al Jazeera. “Bolsonaro is a threat to democracy and our lives.”

Many also used the occasion to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement against racism and police killings inspired by demonstrations worldwide following the death of George Floyd in the United States. 

In downtown Rio de Janeiro, hundreds marched to denounce the killing of Black people in Rio’s favelas.

Carrying banners reading “Black Lives Matter” and the names of young Black people allegedly killed by police, the protesters gathered near the monument of Zumbi dos Palmares – one of the leaders of the resistance against slavery in the country – and marched near Candelaria Church.

“Bolsonaro doesn’t care about Black lives,” Bianca de Azus said. “Fifty-four percent of Brazilians are black and we are the ones being hardest hit by COVID-19 and poverty. That’s why he does nothing.”

Rival rallies

At the same time, smaller protests also took place in support of Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly tried to downplay the threat of the novel coronavirus.

His supporters regularly demonstrate at the weekend in the heart of Brasilia’s government district and have demanded an end to lockdown measures, railing against the Supreme Court and Congress. 

Police provided a cordon to keep the rival demonstrations apart in Brasilia on Sunday. 

Bolsonaro has regularly attacked state authorities over regional lockdown measures, and last weekend came under fire for ceasing to report Brazil’s total number of cases and deaths.

Experts have warned that Bolsonaro’s actions, an unequal health system, and easing of lockdowns will lead to more dire consequences.

Dr Esper Kallas, professor of infectious disease at the University of Sao Paulo Medical School, said Brazil’s response to the pandemic has been disjointed.

“We are very concerned about the numbers in Brazil,” he told Al Jazeera. “The Brazilian government is letting the states deal with the epidemic in their own way and, therefore, you see a difference in the way each state puts together a plan for this epidemic.”


Counting the Cost

Bolsonaro’s coronavirus response: A threat to Brazil’s economy

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Global coronavirus death toll nears 500,000: Live updates

Brazil to produce 30.4 million doses of vaccine by January while Italy reports lowest day-to-day deaths since March 1.

  • Italy has registered the lowest day-to-day tally of COVID-19 deaths on since March 1, a week before the country went into nationwide lockdown. There were eight additional deaths reported, raising the nationwide fatalities to 34,716. There were 175 new cases, bringing the overall count to 240,136.

  • The US reported at least 2.5 million cases of the new coronavirus, an increase of more than 44,000 cases from its previous count, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally. The death toll has already reached more than 125,000.

  • Brazil recorded 38,693 new cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours and 1,109 additional deaths, the Health Ministry said. The nation has now registered 1,313,667 total confirmed cases of the virus and 57,070 deaths.

  • More than 9.94 million people around the world have been diagnosed with COVID-19, while more than five million have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University. At least 498,100 people have died as of 0100 GMT on Sunday.

Here are the latest updates:

Sunday, June 28

01:08 GMT – Mexico reports 4,410 new cases, 602 deaths 

Mexico’s health ministry on Saturday reported 4,410 new confirmed coronavirus infections and 602 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 212,802 cases and 26,381 deaths, according to Reuters news agency.

The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

00:30 GMT – Serbian defence minister, speaker test positive of coronavirus

The Serbian government says Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Defense Ministry says in a statement issued on Saturday that Vulin has no symptoms of the virus and is feeling fine.

Vulin, known for his highly pro-Russian stance, was part of Serbia’s delegation led by President Aleksandar Vucic that attended a Victory Day parade this week in Moscow. Vucic met face to face with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but it was not clear whether Vulin did so as well.

Maja Gojkovic, the speaker of Serbia’s parliament, also tested positive, according to the state Tanjug news agency on Saturday.

Serbia has so far registered more than 13,500 cases and 265 deaths from COVID-19.

00:10 GMT – Brazil to jointly produce vaccine with Oxford, drug company

The Brazilian government has announced an agreement with Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to produce a promising coronavirus vaccine that is undergoing tests.

Brazilian Health Ministry authorities said in a news conference on Saturday that the country will pay $127m and receive material to produce 30.4 million doses in two batches in December and January, which would allow it to quickly start inoculation efforts if the vaccine is certified to be safe and effective.

The total deal is for 100 million vaccines for a country of about 210 million residents. It will be produced by local vaccine maker Fiocruz.

British researchers started testing the experimental shot in May aiming to immunise more than 10,000 people, including older people and children. The vaccine is one of about a dozen in the early stages of human testing.

Brazil, where coronavirus infections are still on the rise, counts more than one million confirmed cases and more than 55,900 fatalities.

___________________________________________________________________

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. For all the key developments from yesterday, June 27, go here. 

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'Crippling': ICRC says support vital as coronavirus hits incomes

Humanitarian group calls for action, saying pandemic could set in motion a vicious cycle of lost income and hunger.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has called for concerted action to protect livelihoods during the coronavirus pandemic, warning that failure to do so may foster a boom in aid-dependency in countries at conflict.

Citing new survey data from Nigeria, Libya, Iraq and Ukraine, the Red Cross said on Thursday the economic and food security impact of COVID-19 was massive and appeared likely to worsen over time.

More:

  • Coronavirus response: Hacking emergency food supply chains

  • ‘We’re facing a double pandemic’: UN body warns of ‘mega-famines’

  • Food supply chains do not care if people go hungry

“In countries at conflict, millions already live with little or no healthcare, food, water and electricity, as well as volatile prices and destroyed infrastructure. COVID-19’s impact could set in motion a vicious cycle of lost income, deepening poverty and hunger,” it said in a statement.

In Nigeria, 95 percent of people in a 313-person survey said their sources of income had suffered due to the pandemic.

In Iraq, 77 percent of 130 people interviewed said they had no savings to cope with the crisis, while 75 percent of 215 people surveyed in Ukraine reported an increase in the price of basic items.

In the Philippines, movement restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 further restricted farmers’ access to farms in conflict-affected areas such as Mindanao, the ICRC said.

‘Crippling’

Families that depend on remittances from relatives who have migrated overseas are also at risk, as income opportunities in wealthier countries deteriorate, it said. In Yemen, the Red Cross estimates that COVID-19 has resulted in a drop of as much as a 70 percent in remittances.

“COVID-19 is causing a tremendous financial shock for families, particularly in conflict zones. I fear that without coordinated action from governments and humanitarians, the long-term consequences will be crippling,” said Charlotte Bennborn, the head of ICRC’s economic security department.

 

The statement noted that the typical coping mechanism that families use to overcome lean times – asking for loans from neighbours or family, reducing purchases, or using savings – have been exhausted for many.

Governments and humanitarian actors must maintain or extend social protection programmes, with a focus on vulnerable groups, the ICRC said.

They must also reinforce existing humanitarian activities that are focused on food security and livelihoods, it added.

Globally, there are more than 6.4 million cases of coronavirus and nearly 386,000 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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Iran marks new daily record in coronavirus cases: Live updates

Concerns over a potential second wave as health officials record 3,574 new infections in the past 24 hours.

  • Iran marked its highest daily jump since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak with 3,574 coronavirus cases. The figures marked the third consecutive day that the country recorded more than 3,000 daily new infections.
  • After two months of restrictions, mosques, churches, ports, business activities, restaurants and cafes will be allowed to re-open from Sunday. 
  • The coronavirus death tolls in Brazil and Mexico have soared to new daily records, with 1,349 and 1,092 confirmed fatalities, even as the countries begin to ease lockdown restrictions. Brazil now has more than 32,000 deaths, while Mexico has over 11,000.
  • Around 6.5 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than 388,000 people have died, including some 107,000 in the US. More than 2.7 million people have recovered from the disease.

Here are the latest updates:

Thursday, June 4

20:56 GMT – Algeria to ease restrictions from Sunday

Algeria will resume some economic activities and allow a number of businesses to reopen from Sunday as part of a plan to end the coronavirus lockdown.

The prime minister’s office said the government would allow the construction and public works sector to resume activity to help ease the impact of the restrictions imposed in March.

The government will also permit the reopening of businesses such as home appliances, vegetable and fruit markets, pastries and men’s barbershops.

The second stage of the lockdown relaxation will start on June 14, allowing more businesses to resume, the government said, without giving details.

20:09 GMT – Iran braces for a potential second wave

Iran recorded 3,574 coronavirus cases, a new daily record, bringing the total number of known infections to 164,270. The overall death toll stood at 8,071 after the recording of 59 new fatalities.

The figures marked the third consecutive day that the country recorded more than 3,000 daily new infections, raising worries Iran could be on the verge of a second wave.

So far, Iran’s previous high was on March 30 when it marked 3,186 new cases in 24 hours. Iran was the first country in the Middle East to be swept by the pandemic.

“More serious compliance with physical distancing and more serious and smarter use of masks is an absolute necessity in the days ahead,” Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said on Wednesday in an interview with Iranian state TV news.

19:22 GMT – Authors retract hydroxychloroquine study that raised safety fears

Three of the four authors behind a large-scale study in The Lancet that raised safety fears over the use of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 retracted their paper.

The dataset used in the study, a retrospective analysis of patient records, had come under serious scrutiny in recent weeks, with dozens of scientists expressing concerns over its authenticity in an open letter.

One of the authors, Sapan Desai, who heads a little-known firm called Surgisphere that supplied the data, did not join the retraction.


18:49 GMT – British Airways, IAG no-show in meeting with UK interior minister 

British Airways and its parent company, IAG, did not attend a meeting with the United Kingdom’s Home Secretary Priti Patel to discuss the country’s new quarantine plans.

While an IAG spokesperson did not give an explanation on the reasons behind the company’s absence, the BBC earlier reported that the operator was upset at what it saw as a lack of consultation over the quarantine’s introduction.

The UK government imposed a 14-day quarantine to travellers entering the country

18:20 GMT – Countries’ latest figures 

Spain: 287,740 cases (+195), 27,133 deaths (+5)

Turkey: 167,410 cases (+988), 4,630 deaths (+21)

France: 152,444 cases (+767), 26,065 deaths (+44)

17:43 GMT – Jordan to lift ‘most’ coronavirus restrictions

After two months of restrictions, Jordanian Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz announced “a period of general easing” of the lockdown starting from Saturday.

The announcement comes amid a decline in confirmed new infections to less than 10 per day over the last week.

Mosques, churches, ports, business activities, restaurants and cafes will be allowed to re-open and travel between cities will also be authorised.

Tourism activities will also be permitted for Jordanian residents, with internal flights resuming and hotels re-opening.

17:15 GMT – US authorities urge protesters to get tested

Protesters in the United States should “highly consider” getting tested for coronavirus, said Robert Redfield, director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For several days, people across the US have taken to the streets to protest against police brutality and racial injustice following the killing of another Black man, George Floyd, at the hands of white officers.

“Those individuals that have partaken in these peaceful protests or have been out protesting, and particularly if they’re in metropolitan areas that really haven’t controlled the outbreak … we really want those individuals to highly consider being evaluated and get tested,” Redfield said before a House of Representatives committee.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made a similar appeal to demonstrators: “Coronavirus tests are available to all protesters. We ask protesters to be responsible. Wear a mask. Get tested,” he said on Twitter.

Qatar Airways is gradually resuming flights to more than 40 designations, including Bangkok, Barcelona and several cities in Pakistan. The airline also announced in a statement the upcoming resumption of flights to other hubs including Berlin and New York.

The company had to reduce some of its activities due to the coronavirus pandemic.

16:11 GMT – UK to make face coverings compulsory on public transport

Public transport users in the UK will have to wear face masks on public transportation starting from June 15. 

“The evidence suggests that wearing face coverings offers some, albeit limited, protection, against the spread of the virus,” said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. 

15:47 GMT – Curing flu and coronavirus could slam US health care system

As this fall’s flu season approaches, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is seeking emergency use authorization for a test to detect and differentiate flu from COVID-19. 

Fighting both the novel virus and the flu could put a tremendous burden on the health care system, said the agency’s director Robert Redfield in prepared testimony before a House of Representatives committee.

Redfield added that the agency was working with manufacturers to maximize the availability of the influenza vaccine.

15:22 GMT – GAVI alliance raises $567m to buy COVID-19 vaccines for poor

International donors have pledged $567 million for a financial instrument launched by the GAVI vaccines alliance set up to incentivising vaccine manufacturers to produce sufficient quantities of eventual COVID-19 vaccines, and to ensure access for developing countries.

“Today’s launch moves us one step closer to the essential vision of equitable access for all,” said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chair of the Gavi Board.

“By de-risking the cost of investing in high volumes of manufacturing against an unknown outcome – and making sure those investments are made now – the Gavi Covax AMC increases the likelihood that when we have a successful vaccine or vaccines, it will be available in sufficient quantities and affordable to developing countries,” he said. 

14:57 GMT – Ukraine may ease access to China, Australia, Arab states’ citizens

As a new strategy to attract more tourists, Ukraine is considering cancelling its visa requirement for travellers coming from China, Australia, New Zealand and Arab states.

“It is necessary to liberalise the visa policy: if countries cancel visa requirements for Ukrainians who come to them, we will cancel for them too. We need to compete for tourists,” Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said.

Increasing the flow of tourists would boost the country’s economy which is expected to shrink by 12 percent in the second quarter.

14:27 GMT – ‘Test, Trace, Treat’: African countries set up new strategy 

In an effort to ramp up testing, African states rolled out the Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT).

The initiative “is led by three pillars: test, trace, treat,” John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said on Twitter. 

#PACT is a continental strategy to help Member States limit #COVID19 transmission by ensuring uninterrupted supply of diagnostics and medical supplies, as well as frontline personnel, needed to support response at the country level. #TestTraceTreat #Africa pic.twitter.com/GE7CCv3kEP

PACT “goals include conducting 10 million COVID19 tests over the next few months; deployment of 1 million community health workers to respond; and training 100,000 healthcare workers to support COVID-19 response,” he added. 

Nkengasong also said that 3.4 million tests have been conducted in Africa so far, about 1,700 tests per 1 million people, compared to 37,000 tests per 1 million in Italy and 30,000 per 1 million in Britain.

13:54 GMT – More EU countries reopening borders

A number of European countries are gearing to up reopen their borders after months of closures due to the pandemic.

The Czech government will further ease travel restrictions from and to Austria, Germany and Hungary starting on Friday.

Slovenia will also open its border to Austria starting on Friday, while Croatian and Hungarian citizens are already allowed to travel to the country.

Germany has said it will drop border restrictions on June 15. Sweden will ease its travel restrictions from June 13.

Hi, this is Virginia Pietromarchi in Doha, Qatar and I will now take over the live blog from my colleague Arwa Ibrahim. 

13:09 GMT – UK PM Johnson met business minister Sharma, shortly before Sharma taken ill

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a 45-minute meeting with business minister Alok Sharma on Wednesday, just hours before Sharma was taken ill and tested for the coronavirus, Johnson’s spokesman said.

The spokesman said the meeting, also attended by finance minister Rishi Sunak, was socially distanced throughout and that Johnson would follow medical advice if Sharma’s COVID-19 test result came back positive.

12:24 GMT – Virgin Atlantic says to restart some flights on July 20

Virgin Atlantic said it would restart some flights that have been grounded by the COVID-19 pandemic on July 20 and aimed to restore further services in August.

The airline said that services to Orlando and Hong Kong from London Heathrow would resume on July 20, with flights to New York JFK, Los Angeles, and Shanghai set to restart on July 21.

11:47 GMT – China will promote resumption of tourism, culture and sports -state media

China will promote the resumption of the tourism, culture and sports sectors, a top-level meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang said, state radio reported.

11:33 GMT – France’s Bastille Day military parade replaced by ceremony in Paris

France’s Bastille Day military parade marking its national day will be replaced by a ceremony on the Place de la Concorde square in central Paris, President Emmanuel Macron’s office said.

The ceremony, which will include the traditional fly-over by the French air force, will honour the military’s participation in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic as well as frontline health care workers, the Elysee Palace said in a statement.

11:08 GMT – Malaysia reports 277 new coronavirus cases, no new deaths

Malaysian health authorities reported 277 new coronavirus cases after infections were detected in an immigration detention centre.

The rise in new cases pushed Malaysia’s cumulative total past the 8,000 mark to 8,247.

The health ministry reported no new deaths, keeping total fatalities at 115.

10:47 GMT – China says 95 foreign airlines can apply to resume flights

China’s aviation authority said that 95 foreign airlines that have suspended services to China can now apply to resume flights, according to the agency’s official newspaper.

It estimated the number of weekly international flights would increase by 50 from June 8, from 150 flights currently.

The average of passengers arriving per day would rise to 4,700, up from around 3,000 now, said the website of caacnews, the official newspaper for the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

10:23 GMT – Philippines reports 10 new coronavirus deaths, 634 more cases

The Philippine health ministry confirmed 10 more deaths from the coronavirus and 634 new infections.

In a bulletin, it said total deaths have increased to 984 while confirmed cases have reached 20,382, of which 4,248 have recovered.

10:03 GMT – Indonesia reports 585 new coronavirus infections, 23 deaths

Indonesia reported 585 new coronavirus infections, taking the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 28,818.

There were 23 new deaths, with coronavirus fatalities now at 1,721 since the outbreak started, said Achmad Yurianto, a health ministry official.

There are 8,892 people who have recovered and more than 251,000 have been tested.

9:43 GMT – Spain to open land borders with Portugal, France from June 22

Spanish Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said that all restrictions to border crossings with France and Portugal will be lifted from June 22.

The authorities closed the borders to everybody but Spaniards, cross-border workers and truck drivers from mid-March when the country went into lockdown to curb the coronavirus contagion.

9:20 GMT – Hong Kong confirms five new coronavirus cases; Cable TV says residents evacuated

Hong Kong confirmed five new cases of coronavirus, all imported, while Cable TV reported some residents of a housing estate were evacuated after a cluster of cases was reported.

The city has 1,100 confirmed cases of the disease, including one probable infection.

8:46 GMT – Russia’s coronavirus case tally edges past 440,000

Russia reported 8,831 new cases of the novel coronavirus, taking the total number of infections across the country to 441,108.

The country’s coronavirus crisis response centre said 169 people had died from the virus in the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide death toll to 5,384.

8:13 GMT – UK’s ‘useless and ineffective’ quarantine will hammer tourism, Ryanair boss says

Britain does not have a proper plan for its 14-day international quarantine and the introduction of such a “useless and ineffective” scheme will do untold damage to the country’s tourism industry, the head of Ryanair said.

Britain is due to introduce a 14-day quarantine for international arrivals from June 8 to prevent a second surge in the coronavirus pandemic.

“You don’t have a quarantine, people are going to be allowed to come in next week through Heathrow and Gatwick, they then get on the London Underground, the trains, the busses, the taxis, to get to their destination. They can stop off at the supermarket, they can play a round of golf,” Michael O’Leary told BBC TV.

“This is going to do untold damage to British tourism, the thousands of hotels and restaurants and guest houses all over the UK that depend on European visitors will be deterred by this useless and ineffective quarantine.”

7:56 GMT – Armed men in PPE rob supermarket in South Africa

A group of armed men, dressed as healthcare workers, took an undisclosed amount of money following a robbery at a pension point at the Scottsville Mall in Durban, South Africa on Wednesday morning. 

The men pretended to be Covid-19 health inspectors wearing PPE, lab coats, masks, face shields and gloves, reported local South African media. 

7:45 GMT – China reports one new COVID-19 case, four asymptomatic ones

China reported one new coronavirus case and four new asymptomatic COVID-19 cases for June 3, the health commission said.

The National Health Commission said all five of the cases were imported, involving travellers from overseas. For June 2, China reported one confirmed case and 4 asymptomatic cases.

China does not count asymptomatic patients, those who are infected with the coronavirus but do not exhibit symptoms, as confirmed cases.

The total number of infections in China stands at 83,022. The death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

7:36 GMT – US Senate passes bill lengthening coronavirus small business loan terms

The US Senate approved legislation giving small businesses up to 24 weeks to use Paycheck Protection Program loans created during the coronavirus pandemic, up from the current eight-week deadline.

The legislation, already passed by the House of Representatives, now goes to President Donald Trump to sign into law. The program was created in March to support small businesses during the pandemic and encourage them to retain their employees.

7:24 GMT – Pakistan register more than four thousand new coronavirus cases

Pakistan registered its highest single-day rise in coronavirus cases for the third consecutive day on Wednesday, with 4,801 new cases taking the country’s total tally to 85,264.

The country’s number of cases has now surpassed those officially reported in China, where the first outbreak of the novel coronavirus was reported, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University. World health authorities have, however, cautioned that the Chinese government’s official figures on infections and deaths from the coronavirus may not be accurate.

At least 85 patients died in Pakistan on Wednesday, taking the total death toll since the country’s outbreak began in late February to 1,813.

Among those who died on Wednesday were two provincial lawmakers – Shaukat Manzoor Cheema of the opposition PML-N party in the central province of Punjab and Mian Jamsheduddin Kakakhel of the ruling PTI party in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Their deaths came a day after Ghulam Murtaza Baloch, a minister in the Sindh provincial government, died after contracting the coronavirus.

7:00 GMT – Thailand reports 17 new coronavirus cases, no new deaths

 Thailand reported 17 new coronavirus cases and no new deaths, taking the total number of infections to 3,101, of which 58 were fatalities.

The new cases were Thai nationals in quarantine who recently returned from the Middle East, including 13 from Kuwait alone, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government’s COVID-19 Administration Centre.

There are 2,968 patients in Thailand who have recovered since the outbreak started.

—-

Hello. I’m Arwa Ibrahim in Doha, Qatar, taking over the blog from my colleague Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

05:00 GMT – Australia airport opens register for travellers to New Zealand

Canberra Airport has opened a register for travellers interested in flying from the Australian capital to New Zealand on July 1 in a proposed resumption of international travel, AP news agency reported.

Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron said the proposal to restart travel between the two countries with flights connecting the capitals was under discussion between the two governments as well as Qantas and Air New Zealand.

Under the proposal, the flights between Canberra and Wellington would not require the quarantine of passengers. Canberra Airport opened its register of interest on Thursday for the first flight on July 1 and 140 names were added within the first hour.

04:45 GMT – ICRC: Protect jobs or risk a boom in aid dependency

Economic hardships brought about by the coronavirus pandemic could increase aid dependency in countries in conflict without coordinated responses from governments and international institutions, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday.

“The ongoing economic and food security impact of COVID-19 is massive and appears likely to worsen over time,” it added, after releasing a survey on the effects of the pandemic.

In Nigeria, for example, 95 percent of people surveyed said their livelihoods had suffered because of the pandemic, resulting in reduced salaries or revenue. In Iraq the number was 83 percent, and 52 percent in Libya.

04:30 GMT – Japan to explore ‘simplified’ Olympic Games: Tokyo governor

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said on Thursday it may be necessary to a stage a “simplified” Olympics next year due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and that organisers were already discussing possible changes.

“Holding the Olympic and Paralympic Games calls for sympathy and understanding of Tokyoites and the Japanese people,” Koike told reporters.

Koike’s comments come after the Yomiuri newspaper reported that various options, such as mandatory coronavirus testing and having fewer spectators, were being considered by organisers.

John Coates, the head of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) inspectorate for Tokyo, has said a lack of a defence against the new coronavirus threatened the games and organisers had to start planning for what could be a “very different” Olympics if there were no signs of COVID-19 being eradicated.

04:04 GMT – North Macedonia reintroduces strict movement order

North Macedonia has reintroduced stringent movement restrictions in the capital, Skopje, and another three parts of the country, after registering a record number of new COVID-19 infections, according to AP news agency.

Health Minister Venko Filipce said an almost blanket curfew will be imposed from 9pm (local time) on Thursday till 5am (local time) on Monday in these areas. People will be allowed out to visit hospitals or pharmacies.

The health ministry said 101 new infections – a record since the country’s first case in late February – and four deaths were recorded in the previous 24 hours. That brings the total of infections to 2,492, with 145 deaths.

03:43 GMT – Philippines’ youngest coronavirus survivor dies

An infant, who contracted the coronavirus disease and later recovered, has died in the Philippines. 

According to an ABS-CBN report on Thursday, Kobe Manjares became infected with the coronavirus five days after he was born on April 12. He had been released from hospital on April 8.

He was later brought back to hospital due to complications, including blood infection and bloated stomach, ABS-CBN quoted his father as saying. The infant died early on Thursday.

The Philippines has reported more than 19,000 coronavirus cases and 974 deaths as of Wednesday.

03:08 GMT – South Korea reports 39 new coronavirus cases

South Korea has confirmed 39 additional cases of the coronavirus, all but three of them reported in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, as authorities are struggling to contain a resurgence of COVID-19.

AP news agency quoted the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as saying that the newly reported cases raised the country’s total to 11,629 with 273 deaths.

The agency says 10,499 of them have recovered while 857 people are still being treated for the disease.

02:23 GMT – Brazil looks to reopen despite record coronavirus deaths

Brazil has registered a record number of daily deaths from the novel coronavirus for a second consecutive day, according to the latest data from the health ministry, even as city and state authorities move aggressively to reopen commerce.

The nation recorded 1,349 new coronavirus deaths on Wednesday and 28,633 additional confirmed cases, the data showed. Brazil has now registered 32,548 deaths and 584,016 total confirmed cases.

President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly downplayed the threat of the virus, saying on Tuesday that death was “everyone’s destiny”.

02:08 GMT – New Zealand on verge of eradicating coronavirus

New Zealand is on the verge of eradicating the virus from its shores after it notched a 13th straight day with no reported new infections, the Associated Press news agecy reported.

Only a single person in the nation of 5 million people is known to still have the virus, and that person is not hospitalised. However, it remains likely that the country will import new cases once it reopens its borders, and officials say their aim remains to stamp out new infections as they arise.

The country has already lifted many of its virus restrictions and could remove most of those that remain, including limiting crowd sizes, next week. Just over 1,500 people contracted the virus during the outbreak, including 22 who died.

01:33 GMT – Mexico reports new one-day high of 1,092 coronavirus deaths

The coronavirus toll in Mexico has soared to a new daily high, with the health department reporting 1,092 test-confirmed deaths – more than double the previous one-day record and in line with numbers in the United States and Brazil, according to AP news agency.

The announcement was an embarrassment for officials, who have consistently predicted that cases in Mexico were about to start levelling off. The country began a gradual reopening of industrial and business activity on Monday.

Mexico has at least 101,000 cases and more than 11,000 deaths.

01:03 GMT – Baby among new fatalities of coronavirus in US

A nine-month-old infant who tested positive for COVID-19 was among another eight people whose deaths were related to the coronavirus in the US state of Kentucky, Governor Andy Beshear has announced.

The latest deaths raised the statewide death toll to 450 since the pandemic began. There are more than 107,000 fatalities across the US.

In announcing the infant’s death, Beshear said: “Far too often, people think that it’s something that only happens to medically compromised seniors. This is a reminder of how deadly this virus can be. How precious all of our lives are.”

00:20 GMT – China reports new COVID-19 cases

China reported on Thursday one new coronavirus case and four new asymptomatic COVID-19 cases as of the end of June 3, according to Reuters news agency quoting the health commission.

The national health commission said all five of the cases were imported, involving travellers from overseas. For June 2, China reported one confirmed case and 4 asymptomatic cases.

China does not count asymptomatic patients, those who are infected with the coronavirus but do not exhibit symptoms, as confirmed cases. The total number of infections in China stands at 83,022. The death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

00:05 GMT – Report raises coronavirus concerns about China, WHO; Beijing denies

At least two US senators said that China hid data from the World Health Organization (WHO) that could have altered the course of the coronavirus outbreak, even as a Chinese official denied delays in sharing information and said the government acted openly and transparently.

They were referring to an Associated Press investigation published this week that found China stalled on providing critical coronavirus information to WHO, which expressed considerable frustration in private even as it praised the country in public. Politicians said the report raised key questions and public health experts said it shed light on a story that has become highly politicised.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called the AP report “seriously inconsistent with the facts”. He read off a timeline of events that did not contradict the AP’s findings and added that China had always maintained “close and good communication and cooperation with WHO”.

00:01 GMT – Malaria drug fails to prevent COVID-19 in a rigorous study

A malaria drug US President Donald Trump took to try to prevent COVID-19 proved ineffective in the first large, high-quality study to test it in people in close contact with someone with the disease, AP news agency reported.

Results published by the New England Journal of Medicine show that hydroxychloroquine was no better than placebo pills at preventing illness from the coronavirus. The drug did not seem to cause serious harm, though – about 40 percent of people on it had few side effects, mostly mild stomach problems.

“We were disappointed. We would have liked for this to work,” said the study leader, Dr David Boulware, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Minnesota. “But our objective was to answer the question and to conduct a high-quality study,” because the evidence on the drug so far has been inconclusive, he said.

____________________________________________________________________

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Read all the updates from yesterday (June 3) here.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
World News

Indonesia to skip Hajj pilgrimage over coronavirus fears

Largest contingent of worshippers will not be doing the annual trip to Saudi Arabia.

Indonesia has cancelled plans to attend the Islamic Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia this year because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, removing the largest contingent of worshippers at the annual gathering.

More than 220,000 people from the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country were set to take part in this year’s Hajj, which all Muslims must perform at least once in their lifetime if able.

More:

  • Saudi tells Muslims to wait on Hajj plans amid coronavirus crisis

  • Epidemics, war have impacted Muslim worship throughout history

  • Hajj: An in-depth look at the sacred journey

But the global pandemic has plunged the ritual into doubt, with Saudi authorities yet to announce a final decision on whether it will go ahead with the end-of-July celebration.

“The government has decided to cancel the Hajj 2020 as the Saudi Arabian authorities failed to provide certainty,” Fachrul Razi, Indonesia’s religious affairs minister, said during a news conference in the capital, Jakarta.

“This was a very bitter and difficult decision. But we have a responsibility to protect our pilgrims and Hajj workers.”

Saudi authorities have already said the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages – which attract millions of travellers from around the world – will remain suspended until further notice.

Last month, Indonesia pressed Riyadh to announce its decision and President Joko Widodo later held a telephone call with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on the matter, Razi said.

Jakarta had considered allowing half the usual number of pilgrims to travel in order to limit the risk, but instead opted to keep them all at home, he added.

‘God has another plan’

Some 2.5 million pilgrims from around the world usually flock to Mecca and Medina cities for the week-long ritual scheduled to begin in late July.

The pilgrimage is also a significant source of income for the kingdom but risks becoming a major source of contagion if millions flock to Mecca’s religious sites.

The quota for Indonesian pilgrims this year was 221,000, with more than 90 percent already registered to go, according to the religious affairs ministry website.

Indonesia’s decision was a disappointment for some who have been on a pilgrimage waiting list for years.

“I knew this was a possibility, but now that it’s official I can’t help but be heartbroken. I’ve been waiting for years,” 37-year-old civil servant Ria Taurisnawati told AFP news agency as she sobbed.

“All my preparations were done, the clothes were ready and I got the necessary vaccination. But God has another plan.”

Dewi, an employee of a telecommunications company in Jakarta and registered to perform the pilgrimage this year, told Reuters News Agency while she had waited six years, she made peace with the news.

“If that is the decision, I will accept it,” said Dewi, who did not want to give her full name. “After all I believe that everything happens with God’s permission.”

City-state Singapore also announced last month that its citizens would not perform the Hajj this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Hajj has been cancelled because of war and past epidemics throughout history, but not since the founding of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932.

Source: Read Full Article

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World News

Spain extends coronavirus emergency until June 21: Live updates

Spanish lawmakers vote to extend the state of emergency for the sixth time as cases surpass 240,300.

  • Mosques have reopened for daily prayers in the Gaza Strip. The besieged enclave has recorded 61 confirmed infection cases, and one death during the health crisis.

  • Sweden’s top epidemiologist Anders Tegnell has said there was room for improvement in the country’s controversial softer approach to curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

  • More than 6.4 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than 381,000 people have died, including some 106,000 in the US. More than 2.7 million have recovered from the disease.

Here are the latest updates:

Wednesday, June 3

23:12 GMT – Mexican glass maker Vitro to shut two U.S. plants due to coronavirus

Mexican glass producer Vitro has announced that it will shut two plants in the United States before the end of the year after the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic hit demand from the automotive sector.

The two plants are in Evansville, Indiana, and Evart, Michigan, Vitro said in a statement to the Mexican stock exchange. Clients would not be affected, the firm added.

“The decision to permanently close all operations in these plants came because of the need to deal with the excess capacity caused by the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the automotive industry,” Vitro said.

20:50 GMT – Germany approves 130 bln euro coronavirus stimulus package 

Chancellor Angela Merkel said her conservatives and their Social Democrat coalition partners have agreed on a stimulus package worth 130 billion euros that is designed to speed up Germany’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The coalition partners resolved differences on incentives to buy new cars and relief for highly indebted municipalities, paving the way for a fiscal programme that is substantially bigger than similar packages by Germany’s euro zone partners. 

20:30 GMT – Democrats’ bid to immediately pass coronavirus small business bill stalls in US Senate 

US Republican Senator Ron Johnson on Wednesday stopped an attempt by Democrats to immediately pass a bill giving small businesses more flexibility in using new federal loans during the coronavirus pandemic.

Johnson said the legislation, which overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives on May 28, possibly could be passed later on Wednesday or on Thursday pending closed-door negotiations that were continuing.

19:35 GMT – UK business minister tested after feeling unwell: BBC

British business minister Alok Sharma has been tested for coronavirus and is self-isolating after feeling unwell in parliament, the BBC has reported, citing a spokesman.

Britain’s lower house of parliament reopened to legislators on Tuesday after the government ended measures allowing them to vote remotely, forcing them to stand in long queues to vote on replacement measures.

19:25 GMT – WHO set to resume hydroxychloroquine trial in battle against COVID-19

The WHO will resume its trial of hydroxychloroquine for potential use against the coronavirus, its chief has said, after those running the study briefly stopped giving it to new patients over health concerns. 

The UN agency last month paused the part of its large study of treatments against COVID-19 in which newly enrolled patients were getting the anti-malarial drug to treat COVID-19 due to fears it increased death rates and irregular heartbeats.

But the WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said its experts had advised the continuation of all trials including hydroxychloroquine, whose highest-profile backer for use against the coronavirus is US President Donald Trump.

19:05 GMT – Trump administration selects five vaccine candidates as finalists: Report 

The Trump administration has selected five companies, including Moderna Inc, AstraZeneca Plc and Pfizer Inc, as the most likely candidates to produce a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, the New York Times has reported, citing senior officials.

The other two companies are Johnson & Johnson and Merck & Co Inc, according to the paper. The selected companies will get access to additional government funds, help in running clinical trials, and financial and logistical support, the paper reported.

There is no approved vaccine for COVID-19 caused by the new coronavirus, and drugmakers as well as research organisations are racing to develop a vaccine.

18:40 GMT – Turkey not planning keeping weekend stay-at-home order

Turkey’s health minister has said his team would not recommend extending a weekend stay-at-home order nearly two months after it was imposed as the government continues to ease coronavirus containment measures.

Turkey has rolled out a series of measures against the outbreak since April 11, including weekend lockdowns, closure of shops and restaurants, intercity travel restrictions and more.

Speaking after a meeting with his coronavirus science team, Koca said the lockdown rule, due to expire on June 6, could be reimposed in certain provinces depending on the infection rate.

18:12 GMT – France death toll passes 29,000

France’s death toll has risen by 81 or 0.3 percent, to reach 29,021, which is the fifth-highest death toll in the world.

The rate of increase has decreased compared to Tuesday, when fatalities were up 0.4 percent, and the number of people hospitalised has continued its long-running decline, the health ministry said in a statement.

18:05 GMT – Dutch study: children are not big spreaders

A study by the Netherlands’ National Institute for Health (RIVM) has concluded that children under the age of 12 play little role in transmitting the new coronavirus.

The study in the country’s leading medical journal Nederlands Tijdschrift Voor Geneeskunde followed the progress of the disease in 54 families, including 227 people in all.

Studies in other countries have previously found that children are less often infected by the virus and, once infected, less often become seriously ill.

“Yes, children can become infected, but transmission takes place primarily between adults of similar age, and from adults to children,” the study said in its conclusion.

17:46 GMT – Mexico’s death toll could surpass 30,000: deputy health minister

Mexico’s death toll may reach 30,000, a senior health official has said in a newspaper interview, while suggesting fatalities could be even higher if social distancing measures were relaxed too fast.

With 10,637 deaths registered so far, Mexico has the seventh-highest coronavirus death toll in the world.

Hugo Lopez-Gatell, an epidemiologist, said the pandemic is “not yet (tamed), neither in Mexico nor in the world” and urged local governments and citizens to stick to social distancing.

“It is a range between 6,000 to 30,000, with an average of 12,500,” Lopez-Gatell told the El Universal newspaper in an interview, while cautioning that the death range would not hold if local governments opened up bars or businesses too quickly.

17:43 GMT – Spain extends emergency until June 21

Spanish lawmakers have voted to extend the state of emergency a final time through to June 21.

It is the sixth time the measure has been renewed, meaning the restrictions will remain in force, although they have been eased since the start of the lockdown in mid-March.

17:28 GMT – Qatar announces easing of coronavirus restrictions

Starting June 4, people can exercise outdoors without wearing a mask, and up to four people can be in the same vehicle.

Read more here.

17:16 GMT – UK’s Johnson tells EU workers to come back but to quarantine

Workers from the EU who left Britain while the lockdown shut much of the economy should come back, but must quarantine like other travellers, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.

“What I’d say to our Italian friends, Italians who’ve been living and working in the UK who now want to come back, I say come back,” Johnson said at a daily news conference in answer to an Italian journalist who asked about the impact of quarantine plans on EU workers.

“You’ve got to quarantine… but we want you back.”

17:13 GMT – Italy will receive 20 billion euros from EU job insurance plan

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said Italy would receive some 20 billion euros ($22.47bn) from a new European scheme to mitigate the impact on jobs caused by the epidemic.

Conte added at a news conference that Italy would also benefit from funds made available by the European Investment Bank, as part of a wider EU package designed to boost the bloc’s economic recovery.

More:

  • Novel coronavirus losing potency, top Italian doctor says

  • Coronavirus: Travel restrictions, border shutdowns by country

  • Which countries have made wearing face masks compulsory?

16:12 GMT – Italy records 71 more deaths, 321 new cases

Coronavirus-related deaths in Italy has climbed by 71, compared with 55 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the daily tally of new cases was roughly stable at 321 versus 318 on Tuesday.

The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on February 21 now stands at 33,601, the agency said, the third-highest in the world after the US and the UK.

There are 233,836 confirmed cases, the sixth-highest global tally behind the US, Brazil, Russia, Spain and the UK.

15:55 GMT – Afghanistan testing just 20 percent of suspected cases

Afghanistan is testing only about 20 percent of its daily suspected coronavirus cases, officials and experts have said, as infections surpassed 17,000 on Wednesday.

“The health ministry is really concerned about the spread of the virus,” Deputy Health Minister Waheed Majroh told reporters.

“Unfortunately, the number of cases nationwide is more than what we record daily. We have capacity to conduct up to 2,000 tests a day, but the demand is way more.”

15:44 GMT – UK doctors to trial ibuprofen in patients with breathing difficulties

UK doctors are trialling a formulation of anti-inflammatory ibuprofen to see if it reduces respiratory failure in patients with severe symptoms of COVID-19.

The trial involves a particular formulation of ibuprofen, which researchers said had been shown to be more effective than standard ibuprofen for treating severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a complication of COVID-19.

The formulation is already licensed for use in the UK for other conditions.

15:36 GMT – Spain reports first new COVID-19 death since Sunday, total at 27,128

Spain has reported its first death from the coronavirus since Sunday, health ministry data has showed, bringing the country’s total death toll to 27,128.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 increased by 219 from the previous day to 240,326, according to the ministry.

15:17 GMT – UK death toll rises by 359 to 39,728

The UK’s coronavirus death toll has risen by 359 to 39,728, the government has said.

15:14 GMT – Deaths in Canada rise to 7,414

Canada’s coronavirus death toll has risen to 7,414 from 7,344 a day earlier, according to official data.

14:56 GMT – Belgium to reopen businesses on June 8, borders on June 15

Belgium will allow almost all businesses to reopen on June 8, including cafes and bars, following its lockdown to combat the coronavirus, the country’s prime minister has said, although social distancing measures will remain.

Belgium will reopen its borders on June 15. However, cultural activities will continue without any public until July 1, when cinemas and other cultural spaces can open with a maximum of 200 people, Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes told a news conference.

14:54 GMT

Hi, this is Mersiha Gadzo in Doha, taking over the live updates from my colleague Elizabeth Melimopoulos.

13:00 GMT – Saudi Arabia records 30 new deaths, 2,171 new infections 

Deaths from the coronavirus pandemic in Saudi Arabia has climbed by 30, the Ministry of Health has reported, while it registered 2,171 new infections. 

The total death toll stands at 579, with 91,182 confirmed cases.

12:40 GMT – UN accuses Asian nations of censorship during pandemic

The United Nations rights chief Michelle Bachelet has warned that China and other Asian countries are using the coronavirus crisis as an excuse to clamp down on free expression and to tighten censorship.

The UN rights office said it had received information on “more than a dozen cases of medical professionals, academics and ordinary citizens who appear to have been detained, and in some instances charged, for publishing their views or other information on the situation related to COVID-19”, or for being critical of the government’s response to the crisis.

12:10 GMT – Japanese sportsmen test positive for COVID-19

Two Japanese baseball players and a striker in the J League have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, their clubs have announced, in a major blow for professional sport attempting to restart in the country.

Football team Nagoya Grampus announced that forward Mu Kanazaki tested positive for the virus, less than a week after the J League announced plans to restart the campaign on July 4, albeit without fans in stadiums, and as many clubs returned to full training.

Later on Wednesday, the Tokyo-based Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) team Yomiuri Giants announced that two players, shortstop Hayato Sakamoto and catcher Takumi Oshiro, had also tested positive.

More:

  • Global sports face ‘unprecedented’ test amid coronavirus outbreak

  • Coronavirus: What sporting events are affected by the pandemic?

  • ‘Playful escape’: How sport is tackling coronavirus pandemic

11:55 GMT – UK PM Johnson says quarantine vital to prevent COVID-19 reinfection

Quarantine measures the UK plans to introduce for almost all international travellers from June 8 are vital to ensure the country’s rate of COVID-19 infection does not increase again, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.

Asked by a lawmaker in Parliament why the UK was introducing the steps now, just as many other countries are lifting quarantine rules, Johnson said: “As we get the rate of infection down, with the efforts that we are making as a country, it is vital that we avoid reinfection.”

11:30 GMT – Mosques and nursery schools reopen in Gaza

Mosques have reopened for daily prayers and children returned to nursery schools in an easing of coronavirus restrictions in the Gaza Strip.

The enclave, whose borders are tightly controlled by Israel and Egypt, has recorded 61 confirmed infection cases, all in quarantine facilities, and one death during the health crisis.

Two million Palestinians live in Gaza.

More:

  • ‘I feel lost’: Palestinians stranded abroad urge for repatriation

  • Palestinian Authority rejects UAE aid sent via Israeli airport

  • Gaza reports first COVID-19 death amid outbreak fears

11:15 GMT – Novavax partners with contract drugmaker for vaccine manufacturing

US biotech firm Novavax Inc has entered into a deal with contract drugmaker AGC Biologics to manufacture its experimental COVID-19 vaccine.

An add-on component of Novavax’s vaccine that could help enhance the immune response against the coronavirus would be manufactured by privately held AGC Biologics, the contract drugmaker said.

11:00 GMT – Spain seeks to open up to some foreign tourism from June 22

Spain is working to gradually open up to tourists from countries considered more secure in the fight against COVID-19 from June 22, a tourism ministry spokesman has said.

Madrid has previously set July 1 as the date to reopen its borders to tourism, which accounts for some 12 percent of the country’s economy, after a months-long shutdown due to the pandemic.

Separately, Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya tweeted that Germany would lift a recommendation to its nationals to avoid travelling to Spain as soon as the country lifts restrictions on travel from abroad.

10:30 GMT – Austria to scrap controls at all land borders except Italy

Austria is lifting all coronavirus-related border restrictions including quarantines for new arrivals from all of its neighbouring countries except Italy as of Thursday, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg has said.

“We will lift all the coronavirus-related border and health checks in relation to seven bordering countries – those are Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

“We are thereby returning to the pre-corona situation regarding these countries,” he told in a news conference.

10:15 GMT – Putin declines UK invitation for coronavirus summit: Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin does not plan to take part in an online summit on a possible coronavirus vaccine being organised by the British government this week, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said.

Putin received an invitation to take part in the summit from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week, the Kremlin had said.

Scheduled to take place on June 4, the Global Vaccine Summit 2020 is designed to mobilise resources needed to ensure universal availability of the vaccine against the novel coronavirus.

10:00 GMT – Sweden should have done more to combat coronavirus, health chief says 

Sweden should have done more to combat the coronavirus and prevent a much higher national COVID-19 death rate than in neighbouring countries, the man behind the Public Health Agency’s pandemic strategy has said.

Nearly 4,500 Swedes have died in the outbreak, a higher mortality rate than in Denmark, Norway and Finland, and criticism has been growing over the government’s decision not to impose lockdown measures as strictly as elsewhere in Europe.

“If we were to run into the same disease, knowing exactly what we know about it today, I think we would end up doing something in between what Sweden did and what the rest of the world has done,” Anders Tegnell, the chief epidemiologist at the Public Health Agency, said

“Yes, I think we could have done better in what we did in Sweden, clearly.”

09:30 GMT – Germany to lift travel ban for EU, Schengen countries and UK 

Germany will lift a travel ban for European Union member states along with the UK, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland from June 15 as long as there are no entry bans or large-scale lockdowns in those countries, the foreign minister has said.

Speaking to reporters, Heiko Maas said all countries concerned met those criteria except Norway due to an entry ban, and Spain, where he said parliament was deciding whether to extend an entry ban.

09:00 GMT – US embassy declines UAE offer to test staff for COVID-19: FT

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has offered the US embassy hundreds of tests to screen embassy staff, but the gesture was “politely declined”, due to privacy concerns, the Financial Times reported. 

According to a US official, the offer raised a “red flag” due to the involvement of Chinese firms and technology. 

The UAE testing facility opened in late March by a joint venture between Chinese genomics company BGI and artificial intelligence group G42, which has links to the Abu Dhabi ruling family. 

08:45 GMT – Air Arabia lays off more staff due to COVID-19 impact

Air Arabia, the only listed carrier in the UAE, has made further job cuts due to the business impact of COVID-19, a spokesman has said. 

The Sharjah-based airline, which has about 2,000 employees, did not say how many employees had been affected. It laid off 57 employees in May.

The latest job cuts were a “last alternative” after the airline took a series of steps in past months to protect jobs, the spokesman said without elaborating.

08:30 GMT – Coronavirus pushes up German unemployment 

The coronavirus pandemic has contributed to another rise in unemployment in Germany in May.

Some 169,000 people were added to the jobless list between April and May, with the total number of unemployed now at 2.8 million, according to official figures.

08:15 GMT – Russia’s coronavirus case tally passes 430,000

Russia has reported 8,536 new cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing its nationwide tally to 432,277, the third-highest in the world.

The death toll reached 5,215 after the authorities said they had recorded another 178 deaths from the virus in the past day.

08:00 GMT – Kyrgyzstan to resume domestic flights, allow Chinese charter flights

Kyrgyzstan will resume domestic flights and bus service between its provinces and allow charter flights from China this month to bring in staff for numerous Chinese investment projects, the government in Bishkek said. 

Kyrgyzstan will also resume domestic flights and public transit between its provinces from June 5.

Employees of Chinese companies will be tested for novel coronavirus before and after the flights, Deputy Prime Minister Erkin Asrandiyev said.

07:45 GMT – NZ sport set for fans boost with end to COVID-19 curbs in sight

Professional sport in New Zealand could welcome fans back to stadiums as early as next week with the government set to decide whether to lift all social distancing restrictions imposed to due the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will decide on Monday whether the country is ready to bring its alert system down to level 1, which would lift limits on mass gatherings that were imposed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

That would open the door for fans to attend the opening round matches of New Zealand’s “Super Rugby Aotearoa” tournament starting on June 13. 

07:30 GMT – Myanmar court denies bail to Canadian preacher who defied virus ban

A Myanmar court has denied bail to a Canadian Christian preacher who held church services in defiance of a ban on gatherings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus that led to infections in dozens of people including himself.

David Lah, a Canadian of Burmese origin, and another man, Myanmar national Wai Tun, are facing up to three years in prison under a disaster management law over church services held in the city of Yangon in early April.

07:15 GMT – Lufthansa reports net loss of $2.3bn

German airline giant Lufthansa has said it will undergo “far-reaching” restructuring as it posted a first-quarter net loss of 2.1 billion euros ($2.3bn), hammered by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Global air traffic has come to a virtual standstill in recent months. This has impacted our quarterly results to an unprecedented extent.

“In view of the very slow recovery in demand, we must now take far-reaching restructuring measures to counteract this,” Chief Executive Carsten Spohr said in a statement.

07:00 GMT – Italy reopens to tourists from Europe

Italy has reopened to travellers from Europe, three months after the country went into coronavirus lockdown, with all hopes pinned on reviving the key tourism industry as the summer season begins.

Italy was the first European country to be hit hard by the coronavirus and has officially reported more than 33,000 deaths. It imposed an economically crippling lockdown in early March and has since seen its contagion numbers drop off dramatically.

06:45 GMT – Study shows coronavirus antibodies in 5.5 percent of Dutch blood donors

A study of Dutch blood donors has found that about 5.5 percent of them have developed antibodies against the new coronavirus, blood donation firm Sanquin revealed.

The study, conducted among 7,000 donors between May 10 and 20, gives an indication of what percentage of the Dutch population may have already had the disease.

A similar study in April showed antibodies in 3 percent of Dutch blood donors.

06:30 GMT – Pakistan provincial minister dies from coronavirus

Ghulam Murtaza Baloch, the Sindh provincial minister for human settlement in Pakistan, has died after  contracting the novel coronavirus.

Cases in the South Asian country have been spiking as the government has lifted restrictions on public gatherings and businesses.

On Tuesday, the country saw its highest single-day spike in cases for the second consecutive day, with 4,065 new cases taking the country’s tally to 80,463. 

06:15 GMT – India’s coronavirus cases cross 200,000 

India’s coronavirus infections have crossed 200,000, the health ministry said, and a peak could still be weeks away in the world’s second-most populous country.

Cases jumped by 8,909 over the previous day in one of the highest single-day spikes, taking the tally to 207,615. Six other nations, from the United States to the United Kingdom and Brazil, have a higher caseload.

More:

  • India to ease coronavirus lockdown despite record new cases

  • India now world’s No 7 in coronavirus cases as lockdown eases

  • A toddler trying to wake up dead mother shocks Indians

Hi, this is Elizabeth Melimopoulos in Doha taking over the live updates from my colleague Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

05:30 GMT

I’ll be handing over the blog to my colleagues in Doha shortly. Before I go, a quick recap of what happened over the past few hours. Brazil has reported a record number of coronavirus deaths for a single day; overall, it has the fourth-highest number of deaths in the world with little sign the outbreak is easing.

There have also been a couple of interesting developments in scientific studies – The Lancet is conducting an audit of the supporting data in a recent study on the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine, while scientists whose funding was pulled by the US have published the preliminary findings on bats and coronaviruses.

And in today’s “positive” news, it looks like New Zealand could lift the last of its coronavirus restrictions as early as next week. That means a return to normal life although New Zealanders still will not be able to travel overseas because borders will remain closed.

05:10 GMT – Recession alert: Australian economy shrank in the first quarter

Australia’s economy shrank in the first three months of 2020, setting the country up for its first technical recession in 30 years.

Official data shows the economy contracted 0.3 percent in the three months ended March 31, compared with the last three months of 2019, the first decline in nine years.

Read more on that story from our AJ Impact team here.

04:20 GMT – Mumbai braces for cyclone as coronavirus cases top 200,000

At least 100,000 people, including coronavirus patients, have been moved out of the path of Cyclone Nisarga, which is threatening India’s west coast and the city of Mumbai.

The cyclone is expected to make landfall on Wednesday afternoon, just south of Mumbai, which has not been hit by a cyclone in 70 years.

The Health Ministry said the number of coronavirus cases in the country has exceeded 200,000 with a rise of 8,909 cases in a single day.

“We are very far away from the peak,” said Dr Nivedita Gupta of the Indian Council of Medical Research.

01:05 GMT – Bolivia feels coronavirus strain as cases exceed 10,000

Authorities in Bolivia are making door-to-door checks in regions with severe coronavirus outbreaks to try and stem the spread.

The landlocked country registered its first cases on March 10, and until May 21 had reached 5,000 cases. That number has since doubled, government data shows.

More on that story here.

00:00 GMT – Brazil sets another daily record for coronavirus deaths

Some 1,262 people in Brazil died from coronavirus in the 24 hours to Tuesday evening, the country’s Health Ministry said.

It is another daily record for the South American country where the outbreak shows no sign of slowing down.

Brazil also confirmed 28,936 additional infections, bringing the total cases to 555,383. A total of 31,199 people in Brazil have died from coronavirus.

COVID-19 began in the country’s wealthy neighbourhoods and large cities where there were links with international travellers, but it is now making its way to poorer and more isolated areas to devastating effect. You can read more on that here.

23:30 GMT (June 2) – The Lancet raises new questions about hydroxychloroquine study

The Lancet has commissioned an independent audit of the data behind a study it published last month that found hydroxychloroquine increased the risk of death in COVID-19 patients.

The May 22 study was based on data provided by healthcare analytics firm Surgisphere and not a traditional clinical trial that would have compared hydroxychloroquine to a placebo or other medicine.

The editors of the British medical journal said serious scientific questions had been brought to their attention.

Several clinical trials into the use of the drug, including one by the WHO, were suspended after the paper was published. Hydroxychloroquine is usually prescribed for illnesses such as malaria or lupus, but has been trumpeted as a COVID-19 treatment by US President Donald Trump and other right-wing leaders.

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Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

Read all the updates from yesterday (June 1) here.

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