S Africa court rules some coronavirus curbs invalid: Live updates

South Africa’s gov’t said it was studying a High Court decision declaring its COVID-19 restrictions as unconstitutional.

  • South Africa’s cabinet has said it had taken note of a High Court judgement declaring its coronavirus restrictions as unconstitutional and that it was studying the judgment, though the lockdown remained in force for now.

  • India’s government has approved antiviral drug remdesivir for emergency use in treating COVID-19 patients. Remdesivir is the first drug to show improvement in COVID-19 patients in formal clinical trials. 

  • Africa’s coronavirus cases have surpassed 150,000 while more than 4,300 deaths have been confirmed across the continent.

  • More than 6.3 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than 378,000 people have died, including more than 105,000 in the US. At least 2.7 million have recovered from the disease.

Here are the latest updates:

Tuesday, June 2

20:22 GMT – Latvia to open borders to most European countries on Wednesday

Latvia will open its borders to most European countries on Wednesday without requiring visitors to self-isolate as the Baltic nation prepares to exit emergency coronavirus measures,  the government said.

Imposed self-isolation will be scrapped for people arriving from European countries where the infection rate is deemed to be low.

“It means that self-isolation … will have to be observed only for those travellers who have been in Sweden, the UK, Portugal, Belgium, Malta, Ireland or Spain over the past two weeks,” Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins told reporters.

Neighbouring Baltic states Lithuania and Estonia, which together with Latvia opened the first pandemic “travel bubble” within the EU in mid-May, resumed free travel to other countries in Europe based on the same criteria earlier this week.

“We are extending the Baltic ‘travel bubble’ to a good part of the common European region,” said Karins.

18:26 GMT – French daily death toll beyond the 100 mark 

France’s coronavirus death toll rose by more than a 100 for the first time in 13 days on Tuesday, as the country enacts a new easing of lockdown measures.

The French health ministry said that the number of fatalities had risen by 107, or 0.4 percent, to 28,940, the fifth-highest tally in the world.

France eased some its lockdown measures in the capital, Paris, on June 2 [Julien Mattia/Anadolu]

18:20 GMT – Mali teachers strike over virus concerns as schools reopen 

Teachers in the West African state of Mali went on strike on the first day schools reopened after being closed for two months, over fears of inadequate protection against coronavirus.

Details of the number of students affected were unavailable, but seven teachers’ unions are striking, officials said, in a move that will hit public primary and secondary schools, as well as teacher-training colleges.      

The government shut schools to curb coronavirus in late March. These reopened on Tuesday, but only for final year students who are facing exams.      

Sambou Diadie Fofana, the general secretary of Mali’s National Union of Secondary School Teachers, told AFP news agency that the strike was triggered by a “lack of measures (taken) in schools to protect everyone”.

18:18 GMT – Trump, Bolsonaro discussed research effort on using hydroxychloroquine

US President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro discussed a joint research effort on using the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as both a prophylaxis and treatment for the coronavirus, the White House said.

Trump and Bolsonaro “expressed their mutual appreciation for the longstanding collaboration on health issues between the two countries,” the White House said, discussing the US delivery of 2 million doses of the controversial drug to Brazil and “a joint research effort to help further evaluate the safety and efficacy of hydroxychloroquine for both prophylaxis and the early treatment of the coronavirus.” 

17:52 GMT – Yemen donor summit raises about half of required $2.4 bn: UN

International donors pledged $1.35bn in humanitarian aid to Yemen, ravaged by war and coronavirus, the United Nations said, around half the required $2.41bn.     

“A total of $1.35bn in pledges has been announced from a wide range of donors to the humanitarian response in Yemen including to fight COVID-19,” a UN spokeswoman told reporters.

Security men wearing protective masks stand on a street during a 24-hour curfew amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Sanaa, Yemen [File: Khaled Abdullah/Reuters]

17:28 GMT – US Army says reasonable to expect some sort of vaccine by year-end 

A senior US army vaccine researcher has said it was reasonable to expect that some sort of coronavirus vaccine could be available to some parts of the US population by the end of the year.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper vowed on May 15 that the US government would in collaboration with the private sector produce a vaccine to treat the American people and partners abroad by the year-end.

Col. Wendy Sammons-Jackson, director of the Military Infectious Disease Research Program, told a Pentagon news briefing it was “reasonable to expect that there will be some form of a vaccine that could be available at some level, to a certain population by the end of the year.” 

17:26 GMT – Black, Asian people in England more likely to die from COVID-19, says report

Black and Asian people in England are up to 50 percent more likely to die after becoming infected with COVID-19, an official study said, putting pressure on the government to outline plans to protect the most at-risk communities.

While the report by Public Health England (PHE) reinforced previous studies which indicated ethnic minority groups were more at risk from the virus, it was not accompanied by specific government advice for those people.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that equalities minister Kemi Badenoch would look at the issue further.

“We will put action in place as soon as we can. We won’t wait for a report,” Hancock said.

16:53 GMT – Armenia may face a new lockdown, prime minister says

Armenia may have to impose a new total lockdown if people do not follow hygiene rules, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said after the number of confirmed coronavirus cases topped 10,000.

Pashinyan, who tested positive along with other members of his family on Monday, warned that a new lockdown could cause a severe economic crisis.

“Either the rules are not followed and we go to complete restrictions accompanied by a curfew, subjecting the country to new social and economic shocks, or we cooperate and take control of the situation and achieve quick results,” Pashinyan said during a Facebook live video.

“We have 1-3 days to change this situation,” he added.

16:12 GMT – Zimbabwe tightens virus lockdown reinforcement as cases spike

Zimbabwean security forces have cleared Harare’s city centre and turned back thousands of commuters and motorists as authorities reinforced restrictions to combat the spread of coronavirus following a spike in new cases.

Using loudhailer, police drove around telling people to “leave town and go home”, according to AFP news agency. Shops were ordered closed.

In a statement, police said besides essential services workers, “the rest of the public should stay home in order for the nation to curtail the increase in new Covid-19 cases currently being recorded”.

Coronavirus cases spiked from 34 at the start of May to 203 on Tuesday, with the majority of the cases being citizens returning from abroad. The country has recorded four deaths.

A policeman washes his hands as he enters a sanitizing booth during a nationwide lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a court in Harare, Zimbabwe [Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters]

16:06 GMT – Italy records 55 new deaths, 318 new cases

Deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy climbed by 55, against 60 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the daily tally of new cases rose to 318 from 178 on Monday.

The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on February 21 now stands at 33,530, the agency said, the third-highest in the world after those of the United States and Britain.

The number of confirmed cases amounts to 233,515, the sixth-highest global tally behind those of the United States, Russia, Brazil, Spain and Britain.

16:04 GMT – S African High Court says some lockdown restrictions invalid, gov’t says 

South Africa’s cabinet has said it had taken note of a High Court judgement declaring its coronavirus restrictions as unconstitutional and that it was studying the judgment, though the lockdown remained in force for now.

A statement from the cabinet said the court had declared restrictions under the third and fourth levels of South Africa’s five-level lockdown system as invalid, but suspended the order for a period of 14 days. 

16:02 GMT – WHO director for Americas says region close to three million COVID-19 cases

The World Health Organization’s regional director for the Americas Carissa Etienne has said the COVID-19 epidemiological curve is still rising sharply in the region, with close to 3 million confirmed cases.

She said the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) hopes to continue working well with the United States despite the US withdrawal from the WHO.

Speaking in a virtual briefing from Washington, PAHO directors advised countries not to open their economies too fast and should avoid public crowds especially where coronavirus cases are still increasing.

15:54 GMT – Global airport group says pandemic safety rules to lengthen pre-departure waits 

New global guidelines featuring physical distancing to restart aviation safely during the pandemic could add up to two hours of pre-departure time for passengers at some airports during peak hours, the head of an international airports’ group said.

“A large airport with low volume, they should not need much more time for the passenger to come to the airport to keep the physical distancing,” Angela Gittens, director general of Airports Council International (ACI), told reporters.

“At a smaller airport or an airport that has peaking, I would say that it is going to be another hour or even two hours.”

A United Nations aviation agency-led task force has published guidance for airlines, airports and countries to achieve a uniform approach to flying safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

Travellers in protective suits are seen at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport after the lockdown was lifted in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province and China’s epicentre of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak [File: Aly Song/Reuters]

15:44 GMT – World Bank: coronavirus to leave ‘lasting scars’ on developing world 

The World Bank has said it expects the coronavirus and resulting recessions to leave “lasting scars” on developing and emerging market countries, with the worst damage on oil exporters and those suffering financial crises.

In analytical chapters of its new Global Economic Prospects report, the bank said that the average emerging market country suffering a financial crisis could see potential output fall by 8 percent over a five year period, with lost output for developing oil exporters falling 11 percent.

15:07 GMT – Spain reports no new COVID-19 deaths since Sunday 

Spain reported no new deaths from the coronavirus for the second day running on Tuesday, with cumulative deaths unchanged from Sunday’s total of 27,127, according to the health ministry.

Diagnosed cases of the disease rose by 137 from Monday to 239,932, the ministry said.

Healthcare workers demanding better working conditions and strengthening of public hospitals due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic protest outside the Gregorio Maranon Hospital in Madrid, Spain [Burak Akbulut/Anadolu]

14:49 GMT – UK’s Recovery COVID-19 drug trial expected in early July

The first results from the world’s largest randomised trial of drugs to treat COVID-19 patients could be available in early July, one of the scientists leading the UK-based study called Recovery said.

The first data from the study, which is testing a selection of existing drugs, is likely to come from a type of steroid called low-dose Dexamethasone and used to reduce inflammation, said Martin Landray, professor of medicine and epidemiology in the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford.

The trial has so far enrolled 11,000 patients ranging from one to 109 years of ages at 175 UK hospitals since it was set up in March, he told reporters at a briefing.

“There is unlikely to be a single big win” from the trials, which is why the project is testing several existing medicines to see if they might be able to be repurposed to help treat COVID-19, he said.

“At the moment we really don’t have any treatments, so the first results will give us a guide,” he said.

14:16 GMT – Funding shortfall hinders pandemic response: World Bank chief

The global economy is facing “staggeringly large” losses from the coronavirus pandemic and the recovery is hampered by a shortage of resources, World Bank President David Malpass said.

The initial estimate of $5 trillion in economic value destroyed by the measures against COVID-19 likely falls far short of the actual damage, Malpass told AFP news agency in an interview.  

The crisis will also force developing nations to rethink the structure of their economies, he said. 

14:09 GMT – Japan allows saliva-based tests to boost virus detection 

Japan has approved saliva-based tests for the coronavirus, offering a safer, simpler way to diagnose infection than nasal swabs as it looks to boost its testing rates.

Currently, nasal swabs are the main source for tests in Japan, but these can expose medical workers to coughs and sneezes at the time of collection, making it necessary for them to wear full protective gear.

The saliva-based tests are able to be given to those who have had symptoms for up to nine days, the health ministry said. It wasn’t immediately clear how much the change would boost overall testing capacity.

“This will vastly reduce burdens on patients as well as burdens that come with infection-prevention steps on the part of sample-collecting institutions,” Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told reporters.

A medical staff member holds a cotton swab for a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test during a rehearsal at a testing site outside Kashima Soccer Stadium on May 10, 2020 in Kashima, Japan [Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images]

13:59 GMT – Dubai announces full reopening of malls and private businesses 

Dubai will allow full reopening of malls and private sector businesses starting on Wednesday, the emirate’s media office announced in a statement. 

13:50 GMT – Tokyo issues stay-home alert after jump in new virus infections 

The Tokyo government warned citizens to stay at home unless they had urgent business and to practise social distancing after recording 34 new infections, the highest since early May.

13:46 GMT – UN chief says ‘race against time’ in war, virus-hit Yemen  

Aid workers face a “race against time” to prevent catastrophe in Yemen, a country ravaged by war and a fast-spreading novel coronavirus outbreak, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned.

“We are in a race against time. Tackling COVID-19 on top of the existing humanitarian emergency requires urgent action,” Guterres said at a virtual donor conference hosted by Saudi Arabia.

Hello, this is Farah Najjar taking over from my colleague Elizabeth Melimopoulos.

12:55 GMT – Virus, protests lay bare ‘endemic racial discrimination’ in US: UN rights chief

The United Nations rights chief has said the coronavirus pandemic’s disproportionate effect on ethnic minorities in the United States and the protests triggered by George Floyd’s death were exposing “endemic inequalities” that must be addressed.

“This virus is exposing endemic inequalities that have too long been ignored,” Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.

She added that: “In the United States, protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd are highlighting not only police violence against people of colour, but also inequalities in health, education, employment and endemic racial discrimination.”

12:30 GMT – Zimbabwe tightens coronavirus lockdown in capital Harare

Zimbabwean troops and police have tightened the coronavirus lockdown in the capital Harare, blocking many cars and buses from entering the central business district as cases of infections increased.

But the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government was trying to suppress protests over a worsening economy and to stop MDC supporters from gathering at the courts where the lawyer for its leader was due to appear after being arrested on Monday.

Coronavirus infections have more than tripled to 203 in the last few days. Mnangagwa had eased the lockdown since it was first imposed at the end of March.

12:00 GMT – Cases surpass 35,000 in South Africa, most around Cape Town

South Africa’s total confirmed coronavirus cases have jumped to more than 35,000 while the province anchored by Cape Town remains a worrying hot spot with more than 23,000.

The country has the most confirmed virus cases of any nation in Africa. 

11:45 GMT – Germany wants to swap EU travel warning for softer guidelines

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has said the German cabinet will discuss a resolution on downgrading the travel warnings currently in force for European Union countries and several other associated countries into softer guidelines.

“We are preparing a resolution for the cabinet tomorrow, which is still being agreed within the government,” Maas told reporters at a news conference with his Ukrainian counterpart on Tuesday.

“This week we want to start by turning the travel warning we have for the European Union and the associated countries into travel guidelines,” he added.

11:30 GMT – India approves emergency use of remdesivir to treat COVID-19 patients

India’s government said it has approved Gilead Sciences Inc’s antiviral drug remdesivir for emergency use for five doses in treating COVID-19 patients.

Remdesivir, which is administered intravenously in hospital, is the first drug to show improvement in COVID-19 patients in formal clinical trials and is at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19, which has no approved treatment or vaccine.

11:15 GMT – Iran bemoans ill-discipline as virus cases crest again

Iran has lamented that people were ignoring social distancing rules as it reported more than 3,000 new coronavirus infections in a second cresting wave.

“The fact that people have become completely careless regarding this disease” was of great concern, said Health Minister Saeed Namaki.

“They either have total confidence in us or think the coronavirus has gone. The latter is not true at all,” the ISNA news agency quoted him as saying.

11:00 GMT – Zimbabwe confirms coronavirus in jail: State media

State media has said Zimbabwe has confirmed its first coronavirus cases in prisons, with four inmates and two guards testing positive.

The Herald newspaper said authorities declared the prisons in Plumtree, which borders Botswana, and in Beitbridge, which borders South Africa, as “no-go areas”, Authorities also have suspended movement out of prisons resulting in some prisoners failing to attend court hearings.

10:45 GMT – Turkish Airlines to start flights from six European countries 

Turkish Airlines has said it will start direct flights from 16 cities in six European countries to 14 cities in Anatolia as of June 18, including new routes it had not flown to before.

The airline said it will resume international flights from Istanbul on June 10, and the new flights on June 18 will specifically be to Anatolia, the Asian territory which makes up the vast majority of Turkey.

The flights are planned with 16 cities in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands, and Denmark. 

10:30 GMT – Spain jobless figures down significantly as crisis eases

The number of new job seekers in Spain was close to 27,000 in May, around 10 times lower than in March and April during the coronavirus lockdown, the labour ministry has said.

Spain imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 14 to slow the spread of the virus, and that month it counted more than 302,000 new jobseekers and another 280,000 in April. 

But in May, as the lockdown was gradually eased, the government counted a total of 26,573 new jobseekers in the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy, where the total number of unemployed stands at 3.8 million.

10:15 GMT – Tunisia to reopen land, sea, air borders at end of June

Tunisia plans to reopen its borders at the end of June, after more than three months of being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After a meeting of the National Committee to Combat COVID-19, the government announced that the land, sea and air borders will reopen starting from June 27.

The government also decided that travel between cities will be resumed from Thursday [File: Reuters]

10:00 GMT – Can Bangladesh deal with mountains of COVID-19 medical waste?

Bangladesh was already struggling with poor medical waste management before the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, it is at risk of being hit hard by a “sudden onslaught” of single-use medical plastic.

Around 250 tonnes of medical waste was generated by hospitals last month, and sanitation workers often lack the protective gear to keep them safe from COVID-19.

Al Jazeera’s Tanvir Chowdhury reports from Dhaka, Bangladesh.

 

9:45 GMT – ‘Far from complete’: UK stats watchdog says of COVID-19 test data

The UK’s statistics regulator chided the government for publishing data on coronavirus tests that it said were “far from complete and comprehensible”.

“The aim seems to be to show the largest possible number of tests, even at the expense of understanding,” David Norgrove, the head of the UK Statistics Authority, wrote in a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

9:30 GMT – Novacyt shares fall on French refusal to refund virus test

Shares in healthcare and clinical diagnostics company Novacyt fell after a French regulator decided not to approve its novel coronavirus test for reimbursement, dampening Novacyt’s stellar stock market rally.

France, in common with other European countries, is betting on mass testing for the covonavirus that causes the respiratory illness COVID-19, as part of its strategy to emerge safely from the epidemic.

City laboratories in France that carry out testing almost exclusively use tests the country’s social security system reimburses [File: Reuters] 

9:15 GMT – China’s Wuhan finds no new COVID-19 cases in city-wide testing

The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus outbreak first emerged, has found no new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and 300 asymptomatic cases in city-wide testing that began in mid-May, officials have said.

The city launched its ambitious campaign on May 14, testing 9.9 million people, after a cluster of new cases in the city raised fears of a second wave of infections.

The central Chinese city, capital of Hubei province, was placed under a lockdown on January 23 [AFP]

9:00 GMT – Coronavirus deaths in Russia surpass 5,000

Coronavirus deaths in Russia have passed the 5,000 mark as authorities eased lockdown measures and prepared to announce steps to kickstart the economy.

Health officials registered 182 new fatalities in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 5,037.

The government tally also reported 8,863 new infections for a total of 423,741, the third-highest number after the US and Brazil.

8:45 GMT – Senegal postpones school restart after teachers test positive for COVID-19

Senegal has postponed the restart of schools until further notice after several teachers tested positive for the new coronavirus, the education ministry said.

Schools were scheduled to gradually resume on Tuesday, after weeks of shutdown due to the pandemic. Senegal has recorded 3,739 positive COVID-19 cases since the start of the outbreak, with 43 deaths.

8:30 GMT – Africa’s coronavirus cases have surpassed 150,000

Africa’s coronavirus cases have surpassed 150,000 while the World Health Organization (WHO) says the continent of 1.3 billion people is still the region least affected.

Concerns remain high as some of Africa’s 54 countries struggle with when to reopen schools and parts of their economies.

Rwanda, the first nation in sub-Saharan Africa to impose a lockdown, this week slowed the easing of it after reporting its first COVID19 death.

8:15 GMT – Ugandan to lose $1.6bn in tourism earnings as a result of COVID-19

Uganda will lose $1.6bn a year in earnings from tourism as visitors stay away due to the effect of the coronavirus pandemic, President Yoweri Museveni has said.

The president did not say what time frame he was referring to. Latest available data from the country’s statistics’ office shows Uganda earned $2bn from tourism activities in 2017, up from $1.7bn the previous year.

8:00 GMT – Virus deaths reach 375,000 as Latin America struggles

The global death toll from the coronavirus has topped 375,000 as the disease continued to tear through Latin America, but in Europe the return to normality gathered pace with the French heading back to cafes and restaurants.

Healthcare systems across Latin America risk being overwhelmed by the illness, the World Health Organization said, as fatalities from the disease in hard-hit Brazil neared 30,000.

7:45 GMT – US Marines arrive in Australia despite the pandemic

The first group of 200 US Marines have arrived in tropical northern Australia for their annual rotation despite the coronavirus pandemic border closures.

Defense Minister Linda Reynolds said the marines were tested for COVID-19 on arrival in Darwin and will be quarantined in military facilities for the next 14 days.

7:30 GMT – Iranian scientist detained in US on the way home

Iran’s foreign minister has said the Iranian scientist imprisoned in the US is now on his way back home.

Sirous Asgari had been pleading for weeks to be released from an immigration centre, after contracting COVID-19.

He has been in custody since 2017, while on trial for charges of fraud and selling state secrets. Asgari was acquitted last month, but was transferred into immigration custody over an expired US visa.

 

7:15 GMT – Indonesia cancels Hajj pilgrimage over coronavirus concerns

Indonesia has cancelled the Hajj pilgrimage this year for people in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation due to concerns over the coronavirus, the religious affairs minister has said.

Each year hundreds of thousands of Indonesians go on the Hajj to Saudi Arabia, where Islam’s two holiest sites – Mecca and Medina – are located. For many Indonesians, the religious pilgrimage is a once-in-a lifetime event, with the average wait time 20 years due to a quota system, according to the country’s cabinet secretariat.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has asked Muslims to defer preparations until there is more clarity about the pandemic. 

7:00 GMT – First Rohingya refugee dies from coronavirus in Bangladesh: Official

A 71-year-old man has become the first Rohingya living in vast refugee camps in Bangladesh to die from the coronavirus, an official said.

“He died on May 31. But last night we got the confirmation that he died of COVID-19,” said Toha Bhuiyan, a senior health official in the Cox’s Bazar district.

The man, who lived in the Kutupalong camp, was among at least 29 Rohingya to have tested positive for the virus in Bangladesh camps, which are home to nearly one million Rohingya who fled Myanmar.

6:45 GMT – Embargo and pandemic stoke autonomy drive in Qatar 

A Qatari arms factory that makes rifles and grenade launchers has added a product that saves rather than takes lives – ventilators, needed at home and abroad amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The venture is the latest salvo in Doha’s charm offensive to cement old partnerships and secure new friends as a bitter spat with Saudi Arabia and its allies drags into its fourth year this Friday.

The factory is preparing to churn out 2,000 life-giving ventilators weekly, in collaboration with US defence manufacturer Wilcox. Many are earmarked for export to what Qatar deems “friendly countries”.

6:30 GMT – French economy to shrink 11 percent this year: minister

The French economy is expected to shrink 11 percent this year, a “brutal” shock and worse than previous estimates for an eight percent contraction, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has said.

“The shock (from the coronavirus) is very brutal,” Le Maire said on RTL, adding: “I am absolutely certain that we are going to bounce back in 2021.”

6:15 GMT – Thais return to temples 

Thais are starting to visit temples again as the mostly Buddhist country emerges from a coronavirus lockdown, although visitors are taking precautions such as wearing masks and getting temperature checks before entering the grounds.

The Southeast Asian country has seen just over 3,000 COVID-19 infections and 58 deaths, but has reported no local transmission in the past week, helping accelerate moves to ease restrictions.

6:00 GMT – More than 30 coronavirus cases in Tokyo 

More than 30 new coronavirus infections were reported in Tokyo on Tuesday, Japan’s NHK public broadcaster said, marking the first time the number of daily cases has topped 30 in 19 days.

05:45 GMT – Pakistan coronavirus cases register highest single-day spike

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan reiterated his government’s position that a renewed lockdown was economically unviable, reopening the country’s tourism sector and allowing shops and businesses to remain open until 7pm each day, even as the country registered its highest single day spike in coronavirus cases.

Cases rose by 3,938 to 76,398, with 79 deaths taking the toll to 1,658, according to government data. Khan also announced that his government would be operating additional flights to allow overseas Pakistanis to return home if they so wish.


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


05:30 GMT –

I will be handing the blog to my colleagues in Doha shortly. A quick update on developments over the past few hours.

The UN and its partners are calling for more than $2bn to continue relief efforts in war-torn Yemen warning of a coronavirus-fuelled ‘tragedy’. In much of Asia, countries continue to ease social distancing restrutions with Singapore the latest to allow most people to return to work and children to attend school. And, a new study published in the Lancet shows masks, social distancing and handwashing are effective ways to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

05:10 GMT – Malaysia’s detention centres emerge as coronavirus hotspots

Malaysia’s immigration detention centres have become the country’s latest coronavirus hotspots amid a series of raids on undocumented migrants.

“These raids under the pretence of stopping the spread of COVID-19 have only served to further spread the virus,” Beatrice Lau, Head of Mission for Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF) in Malaysia told Al Jazeera. “The authorities had been warned about the risk of infection in detention centres many times.”

From 35 cases at a detention centre near Kuala Lumpur on May 22, by the end of the month there were 410 cases across four facilities. 

Malaysia has managed to largely contain the virus within the wider community and has had no deaths from the disease in ten days.

Read more on the story here.

Undocumented migrants handcuffed together as they are escorted to an immigration detention centre after a raid on May 20 in a residential area near Kuala Lumpur [Hasnoor Hussain/Al Jazeera]

04:15 GMT – Hong Kong reports four new cases; concerns of ‘super spreader’

Hong Kong has discovered four new cases of coronavirus and is concerned about a ‘super spreader’ at the housing estate where all the affected people live, according to the South China Morning Post.

The four people diagnosed with the virus are all neighbours of a 34-year-old woman who worked at a warehouse distribution centre and was found to have the coronavirus on Sunday. Her husband, two co-workers and the paramedic who took her to hospital have all been confirmed with the virus too.

“There may be super spreaders spreading the virus in the building,” the newspaper quoted Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, a microbiologist at the University of Hong Kong, as saying. “Initial investigations believe that greatest chance of spreading is from public facilities.”

Yuen was one of the experts sent to inspect the building.

03:45 GMT – Australia’s New South Wales to open up some sports facilities

The state of New South Wales, home to a third of Australians, is to open some sports facilities from the middle of June.

Gyms, indoor swimming pools and saunas will be allowed to reopen from June 13 and children’s community sport can start from July 1.

“Sport is in the DNA of everyone in Australia,” NSW Sport Minister Geoff Lee told reporters in Sydney. “It’s important not only for the mental wellbeing but for their physical fitness.”

03:00 GMT – Singapore begins to ease ‘circuit breaker’ imposed in March

Singapore has begun to ease some of the so-called circuit breaker measures it introduced in March.

Some children are returning to school, about three-quarters of businesses have been allowed to reopen and restrictions on gathering eased to allow families to meet and small-scale religious services to take place. 

The city state has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Southeast Asia, more than 90 percent of them among the more than 300,000 people brought from overseas to work in construction and other industries and housed in crowded worker dormitories.

The government on Monday announced new regulations for dormitories to improve facilities and give the men more space.

02:45 GMT – Wuhan doctor dies after four months with coronavirus

Wuhan Central Hospital doctor Hu Weifeng, who was diagnosed with coronavirus four months ago, has died, state media reported on Tuesday.

Dr Hu, whose face became darker during his treatment as a result of liver problems, was previously reported to have recovered. The Global Times said he had been treated with Polymyxin B, an antibiotic usually used for meningitis and sepsis.

02:00 GMT – South Korea mandates QR codes after nightclub cluster

South Korea will impose a new quick response (QR) code system to keep track of visitors to higher risk venues after a spike in coronavirus cases linked to a nightclub.

From June 10, visitors to clubs, bars, karaoke spots, indoor gyms and other entertainment venues will need to register with a QR code. The individual’s information will be logged in a database kept by the Social Security Information Service for four weeks before it is deleted. The system is currently being tested at 17 venues.

01:30 GMT – Study shows masks, social distancing effective 

Masks and social distancing can help control the coronavirus but hand washing and other measures are still needed, a new study has found.

Researchers concluded single-layer cloth masks are less effective than surgical masks, while tight-fitting N95 masks provide the best protection, according to the study published in the medical journal, The Lancet.

A distance of one metre (more than 3 feet) between people lowers the danger of catching the virus, while two metres (about 6 1/2 feet) is even better.

Eye protection such as eyeglasses or goggles can also help.

00:00 GMT – Millions in Yemen at risk from unfolding coronavirus-fuelled ‘tragedy’

The UN is appealing for $2.41bn to continue its humanitarian programmes in Yemen until the end of the year to prevent an unfolding “tragedy” driven by the coronavirus.

A UN-backed international pledging conference will take place later on Tuesday.

The UN and its partners have been providing humanitarian aid to some 10 million people a month as a result of the five-year conflict in the country.

Yemen reported its first case of coronavirus in April. The UN says initial findings from intensive care units suggests 20 percent of those treated after being confirmed with the virus are dying, compared with a global average of 7 percent. 

23:15 GMT (Monday) – Brazil reports thousands of new cases, 623 deaths 

Brazil’s Health Ministry has reported some 11,598 new cases of coronavirus and 623 deaths over the past 24 hours.

Brazil has the second-highest number of cases in the world (526,447) after the United States. Nearly 30,000 people have died from the disease. 

23:00 GMT (Monday) – Met Opera to remain closed until the end of the year

New York’s Metropolitan Opera will reopen only for its traditional New Year’s Eve performance, cutting short its 2020/2021 season because of the coronavirus.

“Social distancing and grand opera simply don’t go together,” general manager Peter Gelb said in a video message.

The 137-year-old company, one of the world’s leading opera houses, had planned to start its season in September. 

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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.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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