Spain to extend lockdown to 21st June – El Pais

BARCELONA (Reuters) – Spain’s prime minister said on Sunday he will ask parliament to agree to a last two-week extension of the state of emergency lockdown until 21st June, after which the government will no longer restrict citizens’ movements, newspaper El Pais reported.

Pedro Sanchez told regional government leaders during a video-conference meeting that this would be the last lockdown as Spain’s infection rates have reduced dramatically.

The country’s death toll rose by four on Saturday to 27,125, the health ministry said, reflecting a dramatic decline in daily fatalities as Spain brings the outbreak under control.

The number of COVID-19 infections increased by 271 overnight to 239,228 on Saturday.

One of the worst-hit nations by COVID-19, Spain imposed a state of emergency on 14 March which involved a strict lockdown under which people could only leave their homes to buy food, seek medical care or for jobs where they could not work from home. Children were initially confined inside all day. Restrictions are now being gradually eased.

Despite opposition to the last lockdown extension from parties on the right and demonstrations in the streets across Spain, Sanchez struck a deal with the Catalan separatist party Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) which should guarantee his minority government wins the parliamentary vote.

ERC, which has 13 deputies, reaffirmed on Saturday it would abstain from the vote, a senior party official said, which would allow the left-wing government to pass the motion.

The ERC said in a statement it had decided to abstain “provided that it is the last extension of the state of alarm.”

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Malta to reopen its airport on July 1

VALLETTA (Reuters) – Malta will reopen its airport to passenger flights on July 1, Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Sunday, as the Mediterranean island rolls back restrictions introduced in March to halt COVID-19 infections.

Tourism accounts for almost a quarter of Malta’s economy and hoteliers have been pressing the government to reopen the airport or risk mass unemployment.

The southern Mediterranean island has recorded some 600 coronavirus cases and nine deaths, having carried out an intensive testing and contact tracing program. Non-essential shops and restaurants were allowed to reopen in mid-May, but churches on the Roman Catholic island and schools remain closed. Bars and gyms will reopen next Friday.

“These are exciting time for Malta. We are returning to normality,” Abela said.

He said the government will also announce a budget on June 8 with the aim of encouraging consumption and investment. The budget is normally announced in October.

The government has been paying 800 euros ($888) per month per employee in order to discourage layoffs in companies impacted by the virus and says it will maintain the scheme until the economy picks up again.

Tourism authorities are negotiating ‘safe corridors’ for travel with countries which have low COVID-19 numbers, including Luxembourg, Norway, Serbia, Slovakia, Austria, Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania and Israel.

They have not yet given the green light for travelers from Britain, which traditionally has close tourism ties to Malta.

($1 = 0.9011 euros)

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Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque reopens after more than two months

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque reopened to worshippers on Sunday after a two-and-a-half month coronavirus closure, but Muslim authorities imposed some precautions as health officials warn of an uptick in local infections.

The resumption of prayers at Islam’s third-holiest site caps a sombre period for Jerusalem’s Muslims, who this year marked the holy fasting month of Ramadan and the Eid al-Fitr holiday without their usual daily visits to Al-Aqsa and the adjoining Dome of the Rock.

The Council of Islamic Waqf cited the slowed local spread of COVID-19 in lifting entry restrictions and reopening the compound’s iconic shrines, which shut on March 15.

Hundreds of Muslims chanted “God is the greatest” as they packed into the compound in Jerusalem’s walled Old City early on Sunday for dawn prayers, a Reuters witness said. Some got on their knees and kissed the ground as they entered.

But Muslim authorities imposed some measures to reduce the risk of contagion, as new cases in Israel spiked in recent days.

Worshippers must wear face masks and bring personal prayer rugs should they wish to pray inside the shrines or on the compound’s outdoor grounds, the council said in a statement.

The council did not say if there would be a limit on the number of people allowed in the 35-acre compound, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount.

Around 700 worshippers were present on the compound for dawn prayers, the vast majority of whom wore face masks and brought prayer rugs.

Muslims believe the site to be where the Prophet Mohammad ascended to heaven. Jews revere it as the site of the Jewish temples of antiquity.

There have been 17,000 coronavirus cases and 284 deaths in Israel, and 386 cases and three deaths in the occupied West Bank.

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LATAM's bankruptcy filing to delay its Brazil bailout to at least July: sources

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – LATAM Airlines Group’s (LTM.SN) U.S. bankruptcy filing this week will delay its potential bailout in Brazil to at least July and also push back aid to its rivals at least through the end of June, two sources said on Thursday.

The delays will add further strain to Brazil’s airlines, which were already in weak shape before the pandemic. Rivals Azul SA (AZUL.N) and Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA (GOLL4.SA) are also negotiating bailouts.

“The bailout will happen; what could happen is that it may be staggered due to LATAM’s situation,” said one source.

Neither LATAM nor Brazil’s state development bank, BNDES, which is coordinating the bailout, had an immediate comment.

LATAM’s bankruptcy filing this week has caused private banks to worry about the viability of Brazil’s airlines after the pandemic, the sources said.

LATAM’s Brazil subsidiary is not part of the U.S. bankruptcy, although executives acknowledge it is possible it might also go through a court restructuring.

Government and private banks are also worried layoffs will be unavoidable, which could have negative political implications, the sources said.

LATAM does not dispute it will lay off workers. LATAM’s Brazil CEO, Jerome Cadier, told Reuters this week the company will undergo downsizing and that layoffs are not prohibited under the government’s current draft of bailout conditions.

He added that if layoffs were banned, the rescue program would have to be much bigger. Currently, the bailout is valued at 6 billion reais.

LATAM’s bankruptcy has also raised questions about the collateral on any bailout loans.

One source said the Brazilian government is still figuring out how best to lend to LATAM considering its parent company is in bankruptcy protection. Usually the development bank asks for collateral from parent companies.

“What we would want is for that collateral to have priority over the rest of the company’s debts,” the source said.

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Masks, cleaning, filtration better than blocking middle seats: United CEO

(Reuters) – United Airlines Holdings Inc (UAL.O) Chief Executive Scott Kirby said on Thursday that facial masks, aircraft cleaning and air filtration systems are better measures for preventing the spread of the coronavirus on airplanes than trying to social distance.

“You can’t be 6 feet (1.83 meters) apart on an airplane, middle seat or not,” Kirby said at a conference.

While some rivals are capping the number of seats sold on an aircraft, United is giving passengers the option to re-book if their flight is full or nearly full.

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U.S. major airlines roll out more options to avoid staff lay-offs

(Reuters) – The top three U.S. airlines, hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, are rolling out fresh programs to induce tens of thousands of employees to accept voluntary leave or early retirement in the hope of avoiding widespread furloughs in the fall, company memos show.

Around 100,000 employees of American Airlines Group Inc (AAL.O), Delta Air Lines Inc (DAL.N) and United Airlines Holdings Inc (UAL.O) have already accepted offers for temporary or permanent leaves, memos show.

But airlines must continue reducing their workforces to match their businesses to a sharp downfall in air travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Delta, with around 91,000 employees, is to announce on Thursday details of an enhanced retirement package for long-term employees and a separate voluntary opt-out package. Both include cash severance, full healthcare coverage and travel benefits, a memo dated May 27 showed.

“Every voluntary departure helps to protect the jobs of those who most need them,” CEO Ed Bastian said in the memo to employees. He added: “I can’t emphasize enough how challenging the environment is, and will be for the foreseeable future.”

U.S. airlines cannot force any job or pay rate cuts until Oct. 1 under the terms of the federal CARES Act, which provides billions of dollars to help cover their payroll expenses until Sept. 30.

After that date, airlines have warned of involuntary reductions if overall workforces are still larger than needed.

American Airlines, with more than 100,000 employees, told its management and support staff on Wednesday that it must cut about 30% of their ranks, the same size of reductions planned by United for its management and administrative employees.

Both American and United are also discussing voluntary options with unions representing frontline employees, including pilots and flight attendants.

Delta is also in talks with its pilots union on early retirement options.

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Trump says coronavirus taskforce to continue work: Live updates

US President Donald Trump to announce new members of coronavirus taskforce Monday, as focus turns to medical treatment.

  • In a reversal from statements a day earlier, United States President Donald Trump said emergency taskforce handling his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak would not be wound down and would instead continue its work “indefinitely”.

  • China hits back at the United States over claims by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo the new coronavirus originated in a lab in Wuhan, saying he has no evidence, amid renewed US criticisms.

  • The United Kingdom now has the highest death toll in Europe even as cases rise rapidly in Russia, which reported more than 10,000 cases for the fourth successive day.

  • More than 3.6 million people around the world have been confirmed infected with the new coronavirus so far, and nearly 257,000 have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 1.2 million people have recovered.

Wednesday, May 6

21:30 GMT – Fauci, Birx will keep roles on coronavirus task force

US top infectious disease doctor Anthony Fauci and coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx will continue to hold their positions on the coronavirus task force moving forward, US President Donald Trump said.

Announcement comes after Trump said the emergency taskforce handling his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak would not be wound down and would continue its work “indefinitely”.

21:15 GMT – Bundesliga plans May 15 restart after government gives green light

Germany’s Bundesliga says it plans to re-start on May 15, making it the first of Europe’s top soccer leagues to get under way following the novel coronavirus stoppage, after being given the green light by the government.

The government said the Bundesliga and second-tier 2. Bundesliga could re-start in the second half of May without spectators, adding that the German soccer league (DFL) would decide on the exact dates.

Under the current schedule, the first match would be the relegation battle between Fortuna Duesseldorf and Paderborn, the first of the 26th round of matches.

“Today’s decision is good news for the Bundesliga and the 2nd Bundesliga,” said DFL chief executive Christian Seifert.

“It comes with a great responsibility for the clubs and their employees to implement the medical and organisational requirements in a disciplined manner.”

A government statement also said teams would have to go into quarantined training camps ahead of the restart.

21:00 GMT – US meat processing plants to be fully back up in a week to 10 days

US meatpacking plants that were shut down because of the novel coronavirus epidemic will be fully back in production in a week to 10 days, US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said.

Perdue was speaking at a White House event with President Donald Trump and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.

20:20 GMT – France reports rise in COVID-19 infections, deaths drop

France reported a surprising rise in novel coronavirus cases in with 4,183 additional patients nationwide, according to figures reported by the country’s Ministry of Health.

There were 278 fatalities compared with 340 on Tuesday – a drop of 62. Deaths in hospitals stood at 181 and raised the total to 16,237, while the tally of people who died in nursing homes rose to 9,572 after increasing by 97.

Hospitalizations also rose, with the number standing at 24,983, an increase of 209 patients over Tuesday. The number of those in intensive care fell to 3,147, down by 283 patients.

19:30 GMT – Organised sport in Netherlands can resume from Sept

Organised sport will only resume in the Netherlands from September 1 but recreational golf and tennis will be allowed from Monday, Dutch prime Minister Mark Rutte said as he announced an easing of COVID-19 lockdown measures.

All sports events had been prohibited until August 31 and Wednesday’s announcement opens the door for various codes to begin planning for a resumption in just over three months.

That includes the Dutch football league which can now look ahead to its next season after already calling off the 2019-20 campaign on April 24.

The Dutch can resume playing golf and tennis from Monday but clubhouses remain closed, Rutte said.

“These steps points to a return to a society free of the domination of the virus and gives the Netherlands and sport hope,” said the Dutch Olympic Committee in response to Rutte’s announcement.

18:35 GMT – Dutch to begin easing lockdown measures next week

The Netherlands will begin easing coronavirus lockdown measures next week nearly two months after they were imposed, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said.

The phasing out of the restrictions will be rolled out over the next four months. They could be curbed if the new coronavirus starts spreading more quickly, Rutte warned.

“Steps to slowly open the economy and public life will give our country the space to look forward and make plans for the future. We will do that as quickly as possible, but it is better to be safe now than sorry later.”

Face masks will be compulsory on public transport from June 1, he said.

18:20 GMT – Trump denies reports that US coronavirus taskforce to disband

In a reversal from statements he made only a day earlier, United States President Donald Trump said the emergency taskforce handling his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak would not be wound down after all and would instead continue its work “indefinitely”.

In a series of tweets, Trump said the taskforce may “add or subtract people” but will remain in place and focus on safely bringing the hard-hit country out of its economic lockdown.

11:45 GMT – Slovakia reopens businesses as cases ease

Slovakia reopened restaurant terraces, hotels, all shops outside large malls and other businesses, expediting plans to revive the economy thanks to better-than-expected progress in containing the coronavirus pandemic.

The government, which opened small shops on April 22, also gave the green light for religious services and weddings to take place with a limited number of guests.

Slovakia’s coronavirus lockdown loosened further as the government on Wednesday merged the second and third stages of its reopening plan, after tests showed 11 consecutive days of single-digit growth in new infections.

The latest figures showed 1,429 cases in total with 25 deaths, and more than half of those infected already recovered.

11:30 GMT – India plans airlift for 400,000 stranded overseas

India will begin special flights on Thursday to bring home some 400,000 citizens stranded overseas by travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, prompting some worries over the risk that imported infections could fuel contagion in the country.

Responding to the distress among India’s huge diaspora, the government has asked national carrier Air India to provide aircraft to bring back Indians who want to return from the Middle East, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Indian navy has also been asked to help by sending two ships to evacuate citizens from the Maldives, in the Indian Ocean.

“Priority will be given to workers in distress, elderly people, urgent medical cases, pregnant women, as well as to other people who are stranded in difficult situations,” the Indian consulate general in Dubai said.

11:20 GMT – Europe’s ‘historic’ recession threatens euro zone survival

The European Union forecast on Wednesday that the euro zone economy would contract by a staggering 7.7 percent in 2020, warning the wreckage from the coronavirus pandemic could endanger the single currency.

Calling it a “recession of historic proportions”, the EU executive said the 19-member single currency zone would rebound by 6.3 percent in 2021, but in a recovery that would be felt unevenly across the continent.

The European Commission insisted that, without some form of a common rescue plan, the EU project and the single currency could be ripped apart.

“Such divergence poses a threat to the single market and the euro area – yet it can be mitigated through decisive, joint European action,” Economic Affairs Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said.

10:30 GMT – Indonesia postpones local elections to December

Indonesia has postponed regional elections from September to December because of the coronavirus pandemic, the cabinet secretariat said. 

President Joko Widodo signed an emergency decree on the postponement on Monday, the secretariat said.

The elections to choose nine governors, 37 mayors and 224 district chiefs had been scheduled for September 23. They will now be held on December 9.

10:25 GMT – Which countries have made face masks compulsory?

More than 50 countries require people to cover their faces when they leave home. Here are some of them:

10:00 GMT – EU forecasts ‘historic’ 7.7 percent euro zone recession

The EU predicted “a recession of historic proportions this year” due to the impact of the coronavirus with a drop in output of more than 7 percent.

The group of 19 nations using the euro as their currency will see a record decline of 7.7 percent this year, and grow by 6.25 percent in 2021, the European Commission said in its spring economic forecast.

“Europe is experiencing an economic shock without precedent since the Great Depression,” EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said in a statement.

09:50 GMT – Qatar, Singapore keep virus death rate below 0.1 percent

Two tiny nations have the lowest fatality rates among countries which are experiencing major coronavirus outbreaks, Bloomberg reported.

In Qatar and Singapore, the death toll is less than 0.1 percent of reported infections.

“The two nations are also among some of the wealthiest in the world, which means they can better afford the test kits and hospital beds they need,” Bloomberg said in its report.

09:45 GMT – Pakistan mosques become coronavirus battleground issue

In Pakistan, tens of thousands of mosques across the country reopened late last month, after religious leaders prevailed upon the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan to allow them to restart congregational services.

The decision saw a push-and-pull between religious and political leaders.

Read Asad Hashim’s report here.

09:25 GMT – Pakistan concerned that workers returning from UAE are infected 

Pakistan has raised concerns with the United Arab Emirates that many citizens have been returning home from the Gulf Arab state infected with COVID-19 and that crowded living conditions for workers in the UAE may be helping to spread the virus, officials said.

Read the full story here.

09:15 GMT – Spain’s daily deaths rise above 200 after three days

The number of daily fatalities from the coronavirus in Spain picked up as health authorities registered 244 deaths, up from less than 200 on each of the three previous days.

The health ministry said the overall coronavirus death toll rose to 25,857 from 25,613 the day before.

The ministry also reported 996 new coronavirus cases, taking total infections to 220,325.

09:00 GMT – Czech study shows low COVID-19 incidence in population

A Czech “collective immunity study” testing the presence of COVID-19 antibodies in people without symptoms has shown a very low incidence of the disease, health authorities said.

The Czech Republic tested 26,549 people – some randomly selected – in four localities using antibody tests and found 107 new cases within the study that ended on May 1.

Ladislav Dusek, head of the Czech Institute of Health Information and Statistics, said the results show that “the degree of immunisation is very low”.

08:35 GMT – Taiwan eases restrictions for baseball games

Taiwan eased coronavirus restrictions on outdoor activities, including baseball games and mountain climbing, as the epidemic slows down in the island nation.

“We’ve agreed to allow up to 1,000 fans to attend a baseball game, starting Friday,” Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung told a news conference.

The country is also lifting restrictions on mass gatherings, for art and cultural activities as well as restaurants.

08:15 GMT – Philippines coronavirus infections surpass 10,000

Coronavirus infections in the Philippines have broken past the 10,000 mark, the health ministry said,

In a bulletin, the health ministry reported 320 additional infections, bringing the total to 10,004.

It also reported 21 new deaths, raising the total fatalities to 658.

08:05 GMT – Ecuador Indigenous community fears extinction from virus

Members of one of Ecuador’s Indigenous communities have fled into the Amazon rainforest after fears that they could be wiped out as coronavirus infections rise in their territory.

With about 744 members, the Siekopai nation, along the border between Ecuador and Peru, has 15 confirmed cases of the virus.

Read more here.

07:55 GMT – Philippine patients to undergo COVID-19 treatment trial

At least 100 coronavirus patients in the Philippines will be given the Japanese anti-flu drug Avigan as part of a clinical trial in treating the highly contagious disease, the Health Department said.

The department was preparing a protocol to choose the patients to be included, said Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

“We have the go signal to conduct the clinical trial in the coming days,” she said. “The Japanese government is providing supply for 100 patients. We already have the clearances from different institutions in the country.”

07:40 GMT – Russia reports over 10,000 cases again

The number of new coronavirus cases in Russia rose by 10,559 over the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide tally to 165,929, the country’s coronavirus crisis response centre said.

It was the fourth consecutive day that cases had risen by more than 10,000.

It also reported 86 new fatalities from COVID-19, bringing the total death toll in Russia to 1,537.

07:30 GMT – Qatar Airways to cut jobs amid pandemic

Qatar Airways is planning to cut a “significant” number of jobs because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on travel, according to a company notice.

“We have to face a new reality, where many borders are closed, rendering many of our destinations closed and aircraft grounded as a result, with no foreseeable outlook for immediate, positive change,” Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker said in the notice.

“The truth is, we simply cannot sustain the current numbers and we need to make a substantial number of jobs redundant – inclusive of cabin crew.”

More:

  • Coronavirus: Which countries have confirmed cases?

  • Timeline: How the new coronavirus spread

  • What is Madagascar’s ‘herbal remedy’ Covid-Organics?

07:00 GMT – UN chief says people with disabilities hard hit by virus

The United Nations head said the world’s 1 billion people living with disabilities are among the hardest-hit by the coronavirus and called for them to have equal access to prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

In a video message, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the pandemic is revealing the extent to which of marginalisation and is intensifying the inequalities that people with disabilities already face, such as poverty and higher rates of violence, neglect and abuse.

“We cannot let this continue,” he said. “We must guarantee the equal rights of people with disabilities to access health care and lifesaving procedures during the pandemic.”

06:45 GMT – Shanghai Disneyland to reopen next week

The Disneyland theme park in Shanghai will reopen on May 11 under “enhanced health and safety measures”, the company said.

Only limited attendance will be allowed initially, and visitors will need to book tickets and make reservations in advance.

Physical distancing will be maintained in lines for amenities, in restaurants, and on rides and other facilities; in addition, sanitisation and disinfection will be boosted, the company said in a news release.

06:15 GMT – Taiwan asks WHO for first-hand information

Taiwan’s health minister asked the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure the island had access to first-hand information about the coronavirus, saying that not having the full picture slows down work to halt the pandemic.

China, which considers the island one of its provinces, objects to Taiwan’s membership and the exclusion from WHO has infuriated Taipei.

“For Taiwan, what we want is first-hand information. Any second-hand information slows down any actions we take, and distorts our judgement about the epidemic, like we’re unable to see the woods for the trees,” Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said.

06:00 GMT – Germany to reopen shops and schools in May: Draft agreement

Germany will fully reopen shops and schools in May after weeks of shutdown imposed to control the spread of the coronavirus, according to a draft agreement between Chancellor Angela Merkel and regional premiers.

“Even after initial steps to open up were introduced from April 20, the number of new infections remained low,” the document read – with “no new wave of infection” so far detected – justifying the new measures.

05:44 GMT – Chinese students back to school in Wuhan

More than 120 schools reopened in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the original epicentre of the new coronavirus, for nearly 60,000 high school senior students after being closed for more than three months because of the pandemic

Wednesday’s back-to-school was the latest step in a gradual normalising of life in Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province.

Al Jazeera’s Katrina Yu, reporting from the capital, Beijing, said: “Many schools remain closed, particularly primary schools, and younger high school students are still not able to attend classes. These students we’re seeing going into class are the oldest high school students, and they have been prioritised because they have to prepare for their university entrance exams.”

Hello, this is Saba Aziz in Doha, taking over the updates from my colleague Kate Mayberry.

05:15 GMT – Indonesia’s president tells ministers to use ‘whatever means’ to control outbreak

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has told his ministers to use “whatever means” necessary to bring the country’s coronavirus outbreak under control and ensure the infection curve comes down in May.

“I ask that you exert all of your energy and concentrate on efforts to control COVID-19 and its impact,” Widodo said during a cabinet meeting that was broadcast on local television.

The country reported 484 new cases on Tuesday – the highest single daily increase since the outbreak began. Indonesia has confirmed a total of 12,071 cases – the highest in Southeast Asia after Singapore.

04:40 GMT – Hong Kong says more than 173,000 placed in compulsory quarantines

Hong Kong’s Department of Health has issued 103,543 quarantine orders to people arriving in Hong Kong from mainland China, Macau and Taiwan, and 69,685 to those arriving from other countries and territories, Sophie Chan, Hong Kong’s food and health secretary told the Legislative Council on Tuesday.

She said the government had “zero tolerance” for those who tried to evade the orders and had conducted 14,000 spot checks on those in quarantine.

Four people who violated the orders were each sentenced to prison terms ranging from 10 days to three months by magistrates’ courts, she said. Some 56 people who left their dwelling places before the expiry of their quarantine orders had been stopped at the border and were under investigation.

03:50 GMT – Top UK scientific adviser resigns after breaking lockdown rules

Neil Ferguson, the Imperial College epidemiologist whose modelling of the outbreak helped shape the British government’s response to the coronavirus, has resigned after it was revealed he breached lockdown guidelines.

Ferguson stepped down after The Daily Telegraph reported that he had broken the rules a month ago to meet his partner.

The professor was a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

“I accept I made an error of judgement and took the wrong course of action,” Ferguson said in a statement. “I have therefore stepped back from my involvement in SAGE.”

03:15 GMT – Germany updates on coronavirus outbreak

Germany has released the latest data on its coronavirus outbreak.

The Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases says the number of confirmed cases rose by 947 to 164,807.

A further 165 people died, bringing the toll to 6,996, it said.

02:00 GMT – Sanofi to enrol thousands in coronavirus vaccine trial

French drugmaker Sanofi says it plans to enrol thousands of people across the world in trials of an experimental coronavirus vaccine it is developing with Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

Sanofi Pasteur executives told Reuters the company hopes to start the trials in September and will be testing the vaccine on larger numbers of people to secure stronger data sooner. Late-stage trials comparing the vaccine with a placebo are expected to take place at the end of this year or early 2021.

01:50 GMT – Chinese border city loosens lockdown restrictions

Suifenhe, a Chinese town on the country’s northeastern border, is loosening coronavirus restrictions that were introduced after a surge in cases among travellers returning from Russia, according to the Global Times.

23:30 GMT (Tuesday) – Trump to wind down coronavirus taskforce

US President Donald Trump will wind down the government’s coronavirus taskforce as his focus shifts towards opening the economy.

Trump said Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, the two senior medics who took prominent roles in the taskforce, would remain as advisers.

“We can’t keep our country closed for the next five years,” Trump said when asked why it was time to wind down the taskforce. The taskforce had done a “great job”, he said during a visit to a factory making personal protective equipment, but the focus now was “safety and opening”.

More than 70,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US, more than anywhere else in the world. 

—-

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

Read the updates from yesterday (May 5) here.


Inside Story

Is China facing a global backlash over coronavirus?

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Don't abandon us, we don't transmit coronavirus, say Cairo dogs and cats

CAIRO (Reuters) – The doggies and kitties of a Cairo veterinary clinic have an important message, and they are taking it to the internet.

Don’t abandon us. We don’t spread the coronavirus.

“We started this campaign after noticing that there were many people leaving dogs and cats outside our clinic,” explained veterinarian Corolos Majdi at the Animalia clinic in the Egyptian capital.

Pets looked after at home are highly unlikely to spread any disease, but dogs or cats abandoned on the street can be dangerous, he said.

Doctors at the clinic decided to let the pets spread the message. They began photographing dogs and cats wearing signs explaining that keeping them is safe. The photos are posted on social media sites on the internet.

“I don’t transmit the coronavirus. Please don’t be frightened of me,” said Loola, a white French Poodle. Or rather that’s what was written on the sign she sported for her photoshoot.

Poosey, a 3-year-old long-haired cat, and Snowy, a white Griffon dog, took turns posing with a sign saying: “I love you. Please don’t throw me out in the street.”

“Please don’t worry, dogs don’t transmit the coronavirus,” said Snowy’s owner, a young girl named Julia Joseph. “God created these animals so we can care for them.”

Source: Read Full Article

Cuomo to press Trump on reviving U.S. economy with roads, bridges in White House meeting

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will press President Donald Trump to invest in the nation’s roads, bridges and rails during a White House meeting on Wednesday as U.S. states begin to reopen after the coronavirus outbreak left the economy in tatters.

Cuomo’s visit to Washington comes as his hard-hit state begins to see drops in rates of hospitalizations and deaths, while other states relax lockdowns and partygoers flout precautions aimed at curtailing the novel coronavirus.

The Memorial Day holiday weekend saw Americans flock to beaches and lakes in large groups even as U.S. health experts warned that reopening too quickly could trigger outbreaks of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Twenty U.S. states reported an increase in new cases for the week ended Sunday as the death toll nears 100,000, according to a Reuters analysis. Florida reported a nearly 6 percent increase, while New York registered a double-digit decline.

Businesses across the country are opening doors after shuttering in mid-March as states and local governments took drastic measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, almost bringing the country to a halt. The economy contracted at its deepest pace since the Great Recession in the first quarter and lost at least 21.4 million jobs in March and April.

With a focus on infrastructure as a way to revive the economy, Cuomo, a Democrat, will hit a topic close to Trump. The Republican president has long embraced the idea of updating the country’s infrastructure.

Cuomo, who has sparred with Trump over the federal government’s pandemic response, wants to revive the economy by undertaking major transport and other projects. He told reporters on Tuesday he would discuss a federal role in investments to modernize the nation’s bridges, roads and rail systems.

“This is one of the things I want to talk to the president about … You want to reopen the economy. Let’s do something creative, let’s do it fast, let’s put Americans back to work,” Cuomo said.

Trump has said he believed infrastructure spending could help the economy recover from the pandemic, embracing a massive $2 trillion plan at the end of March. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in April that legislation was separate from coronavirus spending and would have to wait.

States have sought more help from the federal government to get through the crisis. Democrats who control the House of Representatives passed legislation on May 15 that would provide nearly $1 trillion for state and local governments, but the bill was rejected by Trump and Republican leaders of the U.S. Senate.

Source: Read Full Article

Panic as deadly disease targeting children in Asia – fears for new terrifying outbreak

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According to health authorities, symptoms of Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) are similar to toxic shock and the deadly Kawasaki disease.

Symptoms include fever, rashes and heart inflammation.

Reuters report that the MIS-C cases have been recorded around the world in Britain, France, Italy, Spain and the United States.

New York reported more than 100 cases of the potentially deadly virus.

The rare virus is officially called Paediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome potentially associated with COVID-19.

As the COVID-19 outbreak began, researchers believed children were less likely to be badly impacted by the pandemic.

However, the new syndrome has increased fears that the coronavirus could pose a greater risk to children than was what originally believed.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said they found two suspected cases of MIS-C involving an 11-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl.

Both children had tested negative for COVID-19 but further analysis is being undertaken.

The boy has reportedly been released from hospital and the girl is expected to be discharged soon.

KCDC director Jeong Eun-kyeong said: “Both of the two children have recovered from the symptoms.

“We’re carrying out a COVID-19 antibody test on them to reconfirm whether they were infected, and will determine after the test whether they make the MIS-C cases.”

Kwak Jin, a KCDC official, said the children had both been treated as if they would for Kawasaki disease.

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Meanwhile, Kawasaki disease was linked to the COVID-19 virus last month by scientists.

Suni Sood, a paediatrician at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York, previously said cases of Kawasaki disease emerged around four to six weeks after a child had been infected.

He said: “They had the virus, the body fought it off earlier.

“But now there’s this delayed exaggerated immune response.”

In the UK, an eight-month-old baby passed away after he was admitted to Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital back in April suffering from a ruptured aneurysm.

He reportedly had no underlying health conditions.

Alexander Parsons was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease which caused blood vessels throughout the body to swell after a ‘pinprick’ rash, fever and swollen lymph nodes developed.

His mother, Kathryn Rowlands, 29, heartbreakingly said she will “never be whole again” as the baby tragically passed away in her arms.

She told the Mirror: “I can’t believe I carried him for longer than he was alive.

“I will never be whole again.

“And more parents will be in the same unimaginable position unless the Government starts to listen to the advice of scientists and stops gambling with people’s lives.

“The doctors and nurses who fought to save Alex were incredible – but if they’d known more about the Cover-Kawasaki link, they possibly could have done more.”

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