Far-right protests in Spain over lockdowns: Coronavirus updates

Spain eased restrictions but Madrid and Barcelona have remained in lockdown for longer because of more severe outbreaks.

Madrid protest
  • For the first time since they began reporting data in January, Chinese authorities registered zero new infections of coronavirus. 

  • Brazil confirmed a total of 330,890 coronavirus cases, overtaking Russia to become the world’s second hotspot for COVID-19.

  • Some 80 million infants could be at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases such as diphtheria, measles and polio due to disruption of routine immunisation caused by the pandemic, UN agencies warn.

  • More than 5.2 million people around the world are now confirmed to have the coronavirus, according to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University. More than 338,000 people have died globally while some two million people have recovered.

Here are the latest updates:

Saturday, May 23

23:09 GMT – Florida government employee reprimanded for revealing COVID-19 info

A woman who raised questions about Florida’s COVID-19 data after being removed as the data’s curator had been reprimanded several times for violating Health Department policy, including for posting political commentary about the information, state records show.

Rebekah Jones’ comments over the past week and a half in emails to researchers, interviews with a handful of media outlets and blog posts have sought to sow doubt about the credibility of the data now that she is no longer in that role.

State health officials strenuously deny any issue with the information’s accuracy as Republican Governor Ron DeSantis seeks to make a data-driven case for a step-by-step reopening of the state’s battered economy following safer-at-home orders.

21:00 GMT – UK police spoke to father of PM’s adviser Cummings 

British police said an officer had spoken to the father of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s senior adviser Dominic Cummings about his trip during the lockdown, contradicting an earlier statement issued by Downing Street.

“Mr Cummings’ father confirmed that his son had travelled with his family from London,” the Mirror newspaper cited the police as saying. “And officer made contact.”

Earlier on Saturday, Downing Street said in a statement: “At no stage was he or his family spoken to by the police about this matter, as is being reported.”

19:53 GMT – UK PM’s adviser Cummings made second 400 km trip during lockdown 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s senior adviser Dominic Cummings made a second 400-kilometre (250-mile) trip from London during the coronavirus lockdown, the Daily Mirror newspaper reported.

The Mirror said Cummings was spotted near the northern city of Durham on April 19, days after he had returned to London from his first trip in late March and early April.

19:15 GMT – US CDC reports total of 1,595,885 coronavirus cases, 96,002 deaths

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 1,595,885 cases of the new coronavirus, an increase of 24,268 cases from its previous count, and said the number of deaths had risen by 1,852 to 96,002.

The CDC reported its tally of cases of the respiratory illness known as COVID-19, caused by the new coronavirus, as of 4 pm ET (20:00 GMT) on May 22, compared with its count a day earlier.

18:38 GMT – Number of COVID-19 patients in France continues to slide

The number of people in hospital with coronavirus in France fell by 205 to 17,178, continuing a gradual decline that has lasted more than five weeks since a high of 32,292 on April 14.

The number of people in intensive care fell by 36 or 2.1 percent to 1,665.

France did not publish a revised number of deaths on Saturday and said the COVID-19 toll will be updated on Monday. As of Thursday, a total of 28,215 people had died from the virus

18:15 GMT – Spain’s coronavirus death toll climbs by 48

Spain’s overnight death toll from the new coronavirus rose by 48 to a total of 28,678, the health ministry said.

The number of diagnosed cases rose to 235,290 from 234,824 cases the previous day, the ministry added.

18:05 GMT – New York’s Cuomo says groups of up to 10 must aim to stay “safe”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo advised people to exercise good judgment and social distancing when gathering in groups of up to 10 people as allowed in an executive order loosening restrictions issued late on Friday.

In his daily briefing, he said New York recorded 84 coronavirus deaths on May 22 compared with 109 the day before, continuing a downward trend in the state’s toll from the pandemic.

“You can have a safe gathering of 10 people or you can have a wholly unsafe gathering of 10 people,” said Cuomo. “If you don’t have to be with a group of ten people don’t be with a group of ten people.”

DO NOT USE **** Cuomo
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo advised people to exercise good judgment and social distancing when gathering in groups of up to 10 [File: Bloomberg]

17:20 GMT – Italy’s daily coronavirus death toll dips, new cases steady

Italy recorded 119 new deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic against 130 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the daily tally of new cases rose marginally to 669 from 652 on Friday.

The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on February 21 now stands at 32,735, the agency said, the third-highest in the world after those of the United States and Britain.

The Civil Protection Agency said the total number of confirmed cases in Italy since the start of its outbreak now amounts to 229,327, the sixth-highest global tally behind those of the US, Russia, Spain, Britain and Brazil.

People registered as currently carrying the illness dipped to 57,752 on Saturday from 59,322 the day before.

16:57 GMT – UK PM Johnson gives adviser Cummings his ‘full support’

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has given his full support to his senior adviser Dominic Cummings after he travelled 400 km (250 miles) to northern England while his wife showed COVID-19 symptoms.

“I can tell you that the PM provides Mr Cummings with his full support,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told reporters.

British Prime Minister's Chief Advisor Investigated By Police For Breaking Lockdown Rules
Downing Street had confirmed to journalists on March 31 that Dominic Cummings was self-isolating with COVID-19 symptoms at his home in North London [Hollie Adams/Getty Images]

16:35 GMT – UK COVID-19 death toll rises 282 to 36,675

The United Kingdom’s death toll from confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose by 282 to 36,675, the government said.

“Tragically, 36,675 people have now died,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told reporters at a Downing Street briefing.

The government publishes the death toll based on those who definitely had COVID-19; broader figures based on suspected COVID-19 deaths give a bigger toll.

15:55 GMT  – More than 40 diagnosed with COVID-19 after Frankfurt church service

More than 40 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus following a church service in Frankfurt, Germany’s financial centre, earlier this month, the head of the city’s health department told a news agency.

“Most of them are not seriously ill. As far as we know only one person has been admitted to hospital,” Rene Gottschalk told the dpa agency.

The service took place on May 10 at a Baptist church, the department’s deputy chief Antoni Walczok told local newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau.

“The situation is very dynamic,” Walczok told the paper, adding the church did not violate official guidelines aimed at containing the spread of the virus.

15:35 GMT – One-hour COVID-19 test being tested at hospitals around London

A COVID-19 test that gives results in just over an hour and which requires no laboratory, potentially allowing for swifter testing of much larger numbers of people, is being rolled out at a number of London hospitals after getting regulatory clearance.

As Britain tries to ramp up testing to help revive the stalled economy, it is still mainly using laboratory tests that take around 48 hours to produce a result and either require people to travel often long distances to regional testing centres or receive by post at home.

Faster testing could allow more people to go back to work or permit testing on a more regular basis and could help Prime Minister Boris Johnson achieve his target of 200,000 tests a day, an important element in successfully ending the lockdown.

15:10 GMT – Palestinians report first coronavirus death in Gaza

A woman died in Gaza Strip after contracting coronavirus, the Palestinian enclave’s first fatality from the global pandemic, the health ministry said.

It said the 77-year-old woman had suffered from a prior chronic illness and had travelled to Gaza through neighbouring Egypt on May 19.

She had been quarantined as a precaution since then, the ministry said.

Hello, this is Arwa Ibrahim taking over the live blog from Doha, Qatar. 

13:57 GMT – Anti-viral drug effective against coronavirus, study finds

Anti-viral drug remdesivir cuts recovery times in coronavirus patients.

Complete results from the research, which was carried out by US government agency the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), were published by leading medical periodical the New England Journal of Medicine.

The United States authorised the emergency use of remdesivir in hospitals on May 1, followed by Japan, while Europe is considering following suit.

The study found that remdesivir, injected intravenously daily for 10 days, accelerated the recovery of hospitalised COVID-19 patients compared to a placebo in clinical tests on just over a thousand patients across 10 countries.

NIAID director Anthony Fauci has said preliminary evidence indicated remdesivir had a “clear-cut, significant and positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery”.

13:45 GMT – Malaysia says 2nd virus cluster breaks out at migrant detention centres

A new cluster of coronavirus infections has broken out in Malaysia at a detention centre for undocumented migrants.

Malaysia has this month arrested more than 2,000 foreigners for not having permits that allow them to be in the country following raids in areas under lockdown. The centres they are detained in are often crowded with dozens of migrants packed in a single cell.

The health ministry said on Saturday that 21 cases were identified at the Semenyih detention centre near Kuala Lumpur, which houses about 1,600 detainees.

It is the second detention centre at which a cluster of virus infections has broken out. About 60 cases were reported among the 1,400 detainees at the Bukit Jalil centre earlier this week.

The ministry’s Director General Noor Hisham Abdullah said the source of infections at the centres had not been identified.

13:00 GMT – Spain to reopen to international tourism, restart football

Spain will reopen to international tourism from July, says Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

He also announced that the country’s football league could return to action from June 8.

The country is emerging from one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns, implemented on March 14.

12:36 GMT – France allows religious gatherings

Worshippers in France are being allowed to attend religious gatherings as the government further eases coronavirus-related restrictions.

The places of worship, like all other publicly accessible institutions, must observe social distancing rules among other sanitary measures. All those responsible must ensure that believers wear a mask and disinfect their hands.

At the entrance to churches, synagogues and mosques, one person has to ensure that not too many believers enter at once.

12:10 GMT – EU ‘frugals’ oppose France-Germany plan for grants

EU member states Austria, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands stated their opposition on Saturday to a French-German plan for a 500 billion euro coronavirus recovery fund that would issue grants, calling for a loans-based approach instead.

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel made the surprise proposal on Monday to set up a fund that would offer grants to European Union regions and sectors hit hardest by the pandemic.

The idea of grants, however, is anathema to the EU’s self-styled “frugal four”, who generally oppose big spending and fear the proposal will lead to a mutualisation of member states’ debt.

“We propose to create an Emergency Recovery Fund based on a ‘loans for loans’ approach,” the four countries said in a so-called “non-paper” outlining their position to other member states and released by Austria.

11:44 GMT – Vatican Museums set to reopen 

The Vatican Museums will reopen their doors to tourists starting on June 1. Visitors will have access to some of the world’s greatest Renaissance masterpieces as well as ancient Roman and Egyptian artefacts, but only through reservations.

They will have their temperatures checked and will have to wear face masks and use hand sanitiser. Staff will wear masks and gloves, and health workers will be on hand.

The coronavirus pandemic has drained the Holy See’s coffers as the museums are its most reliable source of income, previously generating an estimated $100m annually.

A view shows a deserted entrance of the closed Vatican Museums on March 24, 2020 in the Vatican during the lockdown aimed at stopping the spread of the COVID-19 (new coronavirus) pandemic.
A view shows a deserted entrance of the closed Vatican Museums on March 24, 2020 in Vatican City during the lockdown aimed at stopping the spread of the COVID-19 (new coronavirus) pandemic [Andreas Solaro/AFP]

11:10 GMT – Protests erupt in Spain

The streets of Spain’s capital Madrid resounded with the honk of cars horns as thousands rallied in the city as part of a protest called by the far-right Vox party.

Protesters called for Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias to resign over their handling of the coronavirus crisis.

Spain, which imposed one of Europe’s toughest lockdowns on March 14, has started to ease restrictions, but Madrid and Barcelona have remained in lockdown for longer because of more severe coronavirus outbreaks.

“It is time to end the #stateofabuse that Pedro Sanchez and Pablo Iglesias are using to gag Spaniards,” Vox said in a statement, referring to a Twitter hashtag.

“It is time to make a big noise against the government of unemployment and misery that has abandoned our self-employed and workers.”

A demonstrator wearing a protective face mask carries a flag during a drive-in protest organised by Spain's far-right party Vox against the government's handling of the
A demonstrator wearing a protective face mask carries a flag during a protest organised by Spain’s far-right party Vox against the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic in Madrid, Spain [Sergio Perez/Reuters]

10:43 GMT – UK says PM’s adviser did not break lockdown rules

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s adviser Dominic Cummings did not break coronavirus lockdown rules when he took a journey of 400km (248 miles) while having COVID-19 symptoms in April, according to Downing Street.

“Owing to his wife being infected with suspected coronavirus and the high likelihood that he would himself become unwell, it was essential for Dominic Cummings to ensure his young child could be properly cared for,” a spokesman said.

“At no stage was he or his family spoken to by the police about this matter, as is being reported. His actions were in line with coronavirus guidelines. Mr Cummings believes he behaved reasonably and legally.”

It came as members of the opposition called for Cummings to step down. “If Dominic Cummings has broken the lockdown guidelines he will have to resign. It’s as simple as that,” Ed Davey, co-leader of the Liberal Democrats, said.

10:16 GMT – Basketball legend Patrick Ewing tests positive 

NBA legend Patrick Ewing said he has tested positive for the new coronavirus.

“This virus is serious and should not be taken lightly. I want to encourage everyone to stay safe and take care of yourselves and your loved ones,” Ewing, a former player with the New York Knicks, said in a Twitter post.

Georgetown University, where Ewing is coaching the men’s basketball team, said in a statement the Hall of Famer is under care and isolated in a hospital.

“I’ll be fine and we will all get through this,” Ewing was quoted as saying.

09:52 GMT – Turkey: High-speed train services set to resume

Starting on May 28, high-speed train services will resume in some parts of Turkey after being suspended for two months.

In a written statement, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoglu said the resumption will see 16 services per day in four routes: Ankara-Istanbul, Ankara-Eskisehir, Ankara-Konya and Konya-Istanbul.

Maintaining the physical distancing rules, the trains will operate at 50 percent capacity and passengers will sit leaving a seat in a row empty. People aged over 65 or under 20 will be required to have travel permits.

09:24 GMT – Peru extends nationwide lockdown until end of June

Peru has extended its state of emergency and a nationwide lockdown until the end of June, marking one of the world’s longest periods of mandatory isolation aimed at containing the coronavirus outbreak.

The extension on Friday is the fifth time the Andean nation of 32 million people has extended its shutdown, first imposed in mid-March.

Read the full story here

Peru coronavirus
A person dressed as a Kusillo, a traditional Andean harlequin, reminds people to wear face masks, gloves and maintain a social distance as a preventive measure against the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in Puno, Peru [Carlos Mamani/AFP]

08:51 GMT – Iran to reopen cultural and religious sites

Iran is moving ahead with plans to reopen religious and cultural sites, as well as businesses, further easing restrictions rolled out to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement broadcast on state television, President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday museums and historical sites will be allowed to welcome visitors again on Sunday to coincide with the Eid al-Fitr celebrations marking the end the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

To know more, read the full story here

08:25 GMT – Thousands of Palestinians stranded abroad urge for repatriation

“I’m not the priority of any country and this is how it is when it comes to being a Jerusalemite,” said Diya Hasheem, a 23-year-old Palestinian studying in Cyprus. 

The student is among thousands of Palestinians who have been stranded abroad, unable to return home during the pandemic, as no government authority has been able to help them.

Read Mersiha Gadzo’s full story here

07:48 GMT – Berlin church hosts Muslim prayer in sign of solidarity

A church in Berlin has helped a nearby mosque comply with social distancing guidelines by hosting Friday prayers in “an amazing sign of solidarity”.

Muslims pray inside the evangelical church of St. Martha's parish, during their Friday prayers, as the community mosque can't fit everybody in due to social distancing rules,
Muslims pray inside the evangelical church of St Martha’s parish in Berlin during their Friday prayers as the community mosque cannot fit everybody in [Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters]

The move came as the Dar Assalam mosque, which sees hundreds of Muslims on Fridays, can only accommodate 50 people at a time under restrictions, prompting the nearby Martha Lutheran church to offer to host Muslim prayers.

Read more here

07:15 GMT – Ivanka Trump draws derision in India 

US presidential adviser Ivanka Trump’s praise of an Indian teenager’s 1,200km-long (750 miles) bicycle ride home triggered a wave of criticism in India. 

“This beautiful feat of endurance & love has captured the imagination of the Indian people and the cycling federation!” Ivanka, daughter of US President Donald Trump, tweeted on Friday night.

Opposition political figures called her remarks insensitive to the plight of impoverished migrant workers who have to leave the big cities for their homes in other parts of India because the shutdown has sapped their savings.

“Her poverty & desperation are being glorified as if Jyoti cycled 1,200 KM for the thrill of it. Government failed her, that’s hardly something to trumpet as an achievement,” Omar Abdullah, a former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, tweeted in response to Ivanka’s message.

06:47 GMT – Australia urges younger people to get tested 

The state of New South Wales (NSW) in Australia urged its younger citizens to get tested as it gets ready to further ease restrictions on pubs and restaurants. 

The call came as the country’s most populous state, which includes the city of Sydney and is home to nearly half Australia’s roughly 7,100 coronavirus cases, recorded just three new cases.

“As we are freeing up our restrictions, particularly around clubs and hotels and so on, we need (to send) a very powerful message … that these young people who may think they are invincible are actually not invincible,” NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said in a news conference, reminding people of the importance of physical distancing and testing.

06:20 GMT – North Dakota governor calls for empathy

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum fought back tears at a press conference as he asked the US state’s residents to be empathetic about wearing face masks.

The governor called on people to not make masks an ideological issue as he pointed out that someone might be doing it “because they have a five-year-old child who has been going through cancer treatments or … vulnerable adults in their life who currently have COVID and are fighting”.

Getting emotional, he said: “I would just love to see our state, as part of being North Dakota smart, also be North Dakota kind, North Dakota empathetic.”

05:45 GMT – Latest figures:

Russia: 335,882 cases ( 9,434), 3,388 deaths ( 139)

Brazil: 330,890  cases ( 19,969) , 21,048 deaths ( 1,001)

Germany: 177,850 cases ( 638), 8,216 deaths ( 42)

Thailand: 3,040 cases ( 3), 56 deaths 

Hi, this is Virginia Pietromarchi in Doha, Qatar taking over the live blog from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed. 

04:55 GMT – UN warns cybercrime on rise during pandemic

The United Nations disarmament chief says the COVID-19 pandemic is moving the world towards increased technological innovation and online collaboration, but “cybercrime is also on the rise, with a 600 percent increase in malicious emails during the current crisis”.

Izumi Nakamitsu told an informal meeting of the UN Security Council (UNSC) on Friday that “there have also been worrying reports of attacks against health care organizations and medical research facilities worldwide”.

She said growing digital dependency has increased the vulnerability to cyberattacks, and “it is estimated that one such attack takes place every 39 seconds”.

04:29 GMT – Los Angeles dismisses warning over ‘unlawful’ lockdown

Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, has dismissed a Trump administration warning that the city’s continued coronavirus lockdown could be both arbitrary and unlawful.

“We are not guided by politics in this – we are guided by science, we are guided by collaboration,” Garcetti told reporters. “There’s no games, there’s nothing else going on. And that’s the way we’re going to continue to safely open.”    

Los Angeles has begun to reopen facilities from beaches and golf courses to restaurants and retail businesses offering curbside pick-up services, but lags behind other parts of California.

04:09 GMT – Donated plasma benefits COVID-19 patients in small US study

Plasma from people who had recovered from COVID-19 showed improved survival rates and were less dependent on oxygen support than other similar hospital patients, according to results of a small US study.

The study, published on Friday, detailed the preliminary outcomes of 39 patients hospitalised at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

Nearly 70 percent of the 39 patients were on high-flow oxygen and 10 percent were on mechanical ventilation. After two weeks, the disease worsened in 18 percent of the plasma patients and 24 percent of the control patients.

As of May 1, nearly 13 percent of plasma recipients had died, compared with more than 24 percent of the control patients.

“We are encouraged that our initial assessment offers evidence in support of convalescent plasma as an effective intervention, while remaining mindful that additional studies are needed to confirm these findings and draw more definitive conclusions in different populations,” said Dr Nicole Bouvier, an infectious disease specialist at Mt Sinai and the study’s lead author.

03:44 GMT – Hertz files for bankruptcy protection in US and Canada

The car rental company Hertz filed for bankruptcy protection in the US and Canada after its business was decimated during the coronavirus pandemic and talks with creditors failed to result in much-needed relief.

“The impact of COVID-19 on travel demand was sudden and dramatic, causing an abrupt decline in the Company’s revenue and future bookings,” Hertz said in a press release.

Hertz said it took “immediate action” to prioritise the health and safety of employees and customers and eliminate “all non-essential spending”. However, it said :”Uncertainty remains as to when revenue will return and when the used-car market will fully reopen for sales, which necessitated today’s action”.

Hertz’s main international operating regions, including Europe, Australia and New Zealand, were not included in the US Chapter 11 filing.

02:46 GMT – China reports no new cases for first time since pandemic began

China recorded no new confirmed COVID-19 cases on the mainland for May 22, the first time it had seen no daily rise in the number of cases since the pandemic began in the city of Wuhan late last year.

However, the National Health Commission said there were two new suspected cases: An imported one in Shanghai and locally transmitted case in the northeastern province of Jilin.

New asymptomatic cases of the coronavirus fell to 28 from 35 a day earlier, the NHC said.

02:31 GMT – Yemen’s Houthis ban gatherings ahead of Eid al-Fitr

Yemen’s Houthi rebels have announced strict antivirus measures targeted specifically at Eid al-Fitr, the festival that concludes the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

The health ministry’s restrictions ask citizens to wear masks in public and not leave their homes unless absolutely necessary.

The ban on social gatherings will prevent multi-generational families and friends from feasting together, and children from visiting their neighbours’ homes for gifts and sweets, as is traditional.

02:06 GMT – Protesters demand food aid in Chile’s capital

Residents of a poor neighbourhood in the Chilean capital, Santiago, protested on Friday, demanding food aid to cope with the lockdown in place in the city since late March.

One police officer was shot in an arm during the protest in Cerrillos, in which security forces also used tear gas and water cannon trucks to disperse the demonstrators.

“This is not the way, we have that clear,” one protester who did not give his name told The Associated Press news agency. “But it is the only way to get things done in this country, this is how we fight here, like this, this is how you can see the hunger of some people.”

Protesters were also seen holding a banner that read: “The people are poor, rebel and subversive, to the street!”

Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Santiago
People clash with riot police while protesting against the lack of help from the government at ‘Cerrillos’ area in Santiago, Chile, on May 22, 2020 [Ivan Alvarado/ Reuters]

01:54 GMT – Peru extends nationwide lockdown

Peru has extended its state of emergency and a nationwide lockdown to fight the coronavirus pandemic until the end of June, marking one of the longest periods of mandatory isolation in the world.

The Andean nation, which began the lockdown in mid-March, will have lived under it for more than three months by a June 30 expiration, outlasting restrictions in Italy, Spain and China, some of the hardest-hit countries in the pandemic.

Friday’s extension, announced by President Martin Vizcarra, came as Peru’s confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 111,698, the second-highest total in Latin America. The death toll stood at 3,244 on Friday.

01:20 GMT – France to allow faith gatherings

The French interior ministry says it will allow religious gatherings to resume after a two-month hiatus caused by the COVID-19 outbreak but worshippers will have to wear face masks.

The rules will be outlined in a decree in “the coming hours” the ministry said in a statement on Friday.

Under the decree, a ban on gatherings imposed in March would be rescinded. But collective worship would have to observe conditions, including the wearing of masks, a distance of at least one metre (3.3 feet) between worshippers and hand-washing.

France coronavirus
People wearing protective face masks while queueing at an ice cream shop on May 22, 2020, in Strasbourg, eastern France [Frederick Florin/ AFP]

 01:07 GMT – New York eases ban on gatherings

Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, dropped the coronavirus-hit state’s absolute ban on gatherings of any size, issuing an executive order saying up to 10 people are now allowed to be together as long as they abide by social-distancing guidelines adopted during the coronavirus pandemic.

That means people still need to stay at least 6 feet (1.8 metres) away from others, or wear a mask or face covering when they cannot maintain that distance in public.

The order represents one of the biggest steps yet the hard-hit state has taken to loosen rules adopted in March that have barred anyone but essential workers from getting together unless they live in the same household.

00:34 GMT – Brazil now has world’s second-highest coronavirus cases

Brazil confirmed a total of 330,890 coronavirus cases on Friday, overtaking Russia to become the world’s second hotspot for COVID-19.

The Health Ministry said there were 1,001 deaths in the previous 24 hours, bringing Brazil’s total death toll to 21,408.

In Sao Paulo, the worst-hit city, aerial video showed rows of open plots at the Formosa Cemetery as it rushed to keep up with demand.

00:18 GMT – Mexico cancels football season over virus concerns

Mexico’s top league has decided to cancel its football season without crowning a champion for the first time in its history.

Liga MX cited uncertainty generated by the coronavirus pandemic for the decision and declared the season over despite having played 10 of its 17 dates.

“It’s indisputable that we live in an unprecedented situation in this country that obliges the football industry in Mexico to act with absolute sensitivity and respond with unity to the demands that have presented themselves,” the league said in a statement.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives. 

You can find all the updates from yesterday, May 22, here

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies