Trump ‘terminates’ US contract with WHO: Coronavirus live updates

Trump, who had already frozen WHO funding in April, says money will be redirected to other groups.

coronavirus test iraq
  • US President Donald Trump has said the US is ‘terminating’ its relationship with the WHO, saying group hasn’t made coronavirus reforms.

  • The WHO and 37 countries have launched the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, an alliance aimed at making coronavirus vaccines, tests, treatments and other technologies available to all countries. 

  • Russia has announced that 232 more people have died from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours in a record one-day increase in the country.

  • India’s coronavirus death and case tolls have passed China’s, after the country recorded 175 new deaths and 7,466 new cases.

  • The English Premier League and Italy’s Serie A are set to resume in June after a near-three month suspension over coronavirus fears.

  • China again reported no new cases as US President Donald Trump renewed attacks on Beijing over the coronavirus pandemic. He called the virus “a very bad gift from China”.

  • More than 5.8 million cases of coronavirus have been confirmed around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Some 359,000 people have died, while more than 2.4 million have recovered.

Here are the latest updates:

Friday, May 29 

20:45 GMT – Are African countries staying ahead of the coronavirus?

When coronavirus started to spread around the world, aid workers warned of disaster for Africa.

Health systems are weak and poorly funded in many places, and crowded cities make physical distancing impossible.But the African countries appear to be managing.

Senegal and Ghana are among the countries praised for their approach to tackling the disease.

The number of infections and deaths in Africa is much lower than the United States, Europe and Latin America.

But scientists say the figures are misleading because of low testing rates. Al Jazeera’s Inside Story explores if we are getting a full picture of the situation?

Are African countries staying ahead of the coronavirus? I Inside Story

20:30 GMT – Egypt confirms new daily record of 1,289 cases

Egypt registered 1,289 new coronavirus cases and 34 deaths, the health ministry has said, marking another record of daily increases on both counts despite stricter curfew rules.

That brought the total number of fatalities to 879 and confirmed cases to 22,082, of which 5,511 people have recovered.

Infections rose this week during Eid al-Fitr celebrations, at the end of the Ramadan fasting month, despite the government bringing forward a coronavirus curfew by four hours to 5 PM and banning public transport for six days since Sunday.

20:15 GMT – Border bottlenecks slow food deliveries in East Africa

Bottlenecks at borders as government screen lorry drivers to contain the new coronavirus are putting the delivery of vital food supplies in East Africa at risk, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) has warned.

“We could have problems feeding our beneficiaries … if the situation doesn’t improve,” Julie MacDonald, WFP’s deputy director in Uganda told Reuters news agency. She said they only had enough food left for June.

The agency is shipping in 2,000 tonnes of beans and cooking oil to feed some of Uganda’s 1.4 million refugees. Some of it is stuck at Kenya’s Mombasa port and some is stuck at the Ugandan border, she said.

The line of lorries at the border town of Malaba between Kenya and Uganda stretched 60 km (37 miles) this week, said Mercy Ireri, an official from the Kenya Transport Association. Uganda requires truck drivers from neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania to take coronavirus tests before they are allowed to enter.

kenya lorry coronavirus
Truck drivers await test results at the Namanga one stop border crossing point between Kenya and Tanzania in Namanga, Kenya [Thomas Mukoya/Reuters]

19:45 GMT – Costa Rica to extend border closure until June 30

Costa Rica will extend the closure of its borders until June 30, Health Minister Daniel Salas has said, prolonging a key element of the country’s effort to contain the coronavirus.

The border closure was due to expire June 15.

Growing resistance against Latin America lockdowns

19:30 GMT – Florida officials approve Walt Disney World re-opening plans

Florida officials have approved plans for a phased reopening of Walt Disney World in Orlando starting on July 11, according to a memo from a state agency.

The state also cleared Sea World Entertainment Inc to reopen on June 10, said Halsey Beshears, secretary of Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation, in a memo sent to officials in Orange County, Florida.

19:00 GMT – Trump says US ‘terminating’ relationship with WHO

US President Donald Trump has said the US is ‘terminating’ its relationship with the WHO, saying group has not made coronavirus reforms because China has “total control” over the global organisation.

Trump said Chinese officials “ignored” their reporting obligations to the WHO and pressured the WHO to mislead the world when the virus was first discovered. He noted that the US contributes about $450 million to the world body while China provides about $40 million.

Trump has been a vocal critic of the WHO’s handling of the pandemic, officially freezing US funding in April. He said the funding would diverted to “other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs,” without providing specifics.

Read more here

US President Donald Trump froze funding to the WHO in April [Leah Millis/Reuters]

18:45 – Polish football supporters to return to stadiums from June 19

Polish football supporters will be able to attend matches from June 19, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Friday, but only 25 percent of the capacity of stadiums will be used in order to prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading.

Although several European leagues are restarting after the coronavirus outbreak, matches are being played behind closed doors and the Polish league will be one of the first to allow spectators back into stadiums.

“The Polish Football Association and the Premier League have chosen the 19th, so it will be possible to prepare everything according to the correct procedures,” Morawiecki said.

The league said in a statement that the exact number of spectators would depend on the stadiums but the maximum would be one quarter of capacity.

18:30 GMT – India’s Foreign Ministry asks some officials to quarantine after two positive

At least two people working at India’s Foreign Affairs Ministry have tested positive for COVID-19, and the government has asked several officials to self quarantine as a precaution, according to a source and internal e-mails seen by Reuters news agency.

One person who tested positive worked as a consultant in the ministry’s Central Europe division in New Delhi, while the other worked as a legal officer in the law division, the e-mails stated.

“As per protocol, all members of the CE Division have been asked to go for self quarantine for 14 days and work from home,” the ministry advised in an internal e-mail on May 27, which was reviewed by Reuters.

In a separate email on Friday, all officials who came into direct contact with the legal officer, who tested positive for the new coronavirus, were also asked to self-quarantine.

Indian workers’ rights suspended to restart the economy

18:15 GMT – France deaths again up less than a 100

France’s coronavirus death toll rose by less than a 100 for the ninth day running on Friday, as the country is gearing up for a new easing of lockdown measures.

The French health ministry said that the number of fatalities had risen by 52, or 0.2 percent, to 28,714, the fourth-highest tally in the world.

18:00 GMT – NYC on track to reopen on June 8: Cuomo

New York City is “on track” to enter phase one of reopening on June 8, New York Governor Cuomo has said as he announced that five upstate regions will now transition to phase two which includes businesses like barber shops and hair salons.

The most populous US city, which has become the epicenter of the country’s coronavirus pandemic, was on track to meet all the metrics the state has set for a safe phased reopening, Cuomo said.

“We are on track to open on June 8,” Cuomo told a daily briefing but warned that “reopening does not mean we’re going back to the way things were”.

Meet New York’s ‘patron saint of PPE’

17:45 GMT – Report: Drug maker Sanofi stops enrolling COVID-19 patients in hydroxychloroquine trials

Drug-maker Sanofi has temporarily stopped recruiting new COVID-19 patients for two clinical trials on hydroxychloroquine and will no longer supply the anti-malaria drug to treat COVID-19 until concerns about safety are cleared up, Reuters news agency reported. 

The moves come after the WHO paused its large trial of hydroxychloroquine, prompting several European governments to ban the use of the drug, also used in rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

That dealt a major blow to hopes for a treatment, touted by US President Donald Trump, as drugmakers and governments race to find ways to treat patients and control the novel coronavirus. Sanofi has been conducting two randomised, controlled clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19.

US President Donald Trump announced on May 18 he had been taking hydroxychloroquine for almost two weeks as a preventive measure against COVID-19 [George Frey/AFP]

17:30 GMT – Petition calling for UK PM’s aide to be sacked passes 1 million signatures

A petition calling for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s closest aide to be sacked after he took a long-distance journey during the country’s coronavirus lockdown has been signed by more than one million people.

Dominic Cummings travelled 400 km (250 miles) from London to the northern English city of Durham in March with his four-year-old son and his wife, who was sick with suspected COVID-19 at the time, to be close to relatives.

He has refused to apologise for that journey, or another to a local castle that he said he took to test his eyes and driving ability after falling ill, and which British police said may have breached lockdown rules.

The petition on the site, entitled “Dominic Cummings must be sacked” has so far been signed by more than 1,001,260 people. A separate petition on the site, in support of Cummings, has been signed by 37,000 people.

Dominic Cummings fuels British anger after flouting lockdown

17:15 GMT – One-year delay to Expo 2020 Dubai approved

The World Expo awarding body has said its general assembly has approved a one-year postponement of Expo 2020 Dubai due to difficulties posed by the coronavirus pandemic, and the event would now start in October 2021.

Earlier this month the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) said that the required consent of two-thirds of its 170 member states to delay the Expo had been surpassed. The event is a business and cultural gathering that lasts nearly six months and is held every five years.

“While this situation is unprecedented, the response by the Government of the UAE and by our Member States demonstrates the strong bonds that tie us and the shared commitment we have to delivering a truly inclusive World Expo,” BIE Secretary General Dimitri S. Kerkentzes said in a statement.

Asia’s ‘travel bubbles’ could change travelling post-pandemic

17:00 GMT – COVID-19 robot patrol rolled out in Belgian hospitals

Robots that speak more than 53 languages, detect fever and determine if people are wearing face masks properly have been rolled out in Belgium as a first line of control in hospitals and shops.

People arriving at the University Hospital Antwerp from Tuesday will answer questions online or at an interactive kiosk. The robot will scan a QR code, review their answers, check their temperature and determine if they are wearing a mask correctly.

Fabrice Goffin, chief executive of Belgium-based Zorabots, said his robots had been in hospitals, care homes and hotels since 2013, but had now found a new role. His robots will not test for COVID-19, but could provide useful signs.

“The big advantage of this robot relative to a fixed terminal is that the robot can move, can go towards people, can speak to people and speak in their native tongue. It speaks more than 53 languages,” he told Reuters news agency.

Belgium robot
A visitor at University Hospital Antwerp  interacts with a robot called CRUZR deployed to help support coronavirus safety measures [Yves Herman/Reuters]

16:45 GMT – WHO, 37 countries launch alliance to share tools to battle COVID-19

Thirty-seven countries and the WHO have appealed for common ownership of vaccines, medicines and diagnostic tools to tackle the global coronavirus pandemic, taking aim at patent laws they fear could become a barrier to sharing crucial supplies.

While the push by mostly developing nations, called the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, won praise from groups including Doctors Without Borders, a drug industry alliance questioned if the effort to pool intellectual property would really broaden access to medicines.

Developing and some small nations fear rich countries pumping resources into finding vaccines – more than 100 are in development – will muscle their way to the front of the queue, once a candidate succeeds

“Vaccines, tests, diagnostics, treatments and other key tools in the coronavirus response must be made universally available as global public goods,” said Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado, who first proposed the alliance. 

16:30 GMT – South Africa has backlog of over 96,000 test specimens

South Africa has a backlog of more than 96,000 unprocessed specimens awaiting coronavirus tests, the health ministry has said, reflecting what it called a global shortage of test kits.

The country has taken some of the most decisive measures on the African continent to tackle the spread of the virus, conducting the most tests and imposing one of its strictest lockdowns.

But it is finding it hard to ramp up testing as much as it would like because some global suppliers are unable to meet its demand for laboratory kits, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in parliament this week.

South Africa had recorded 27,403 confirmed coronavirus cases and 577 deaths as of Thursday, out of some 655,000 people tested.

Tanzania COVID-19 response: Government accused of a coverup 

16:15 GMT – Italy records 87 new deaths, 516 new cases

Deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy climbed by 87 on Friday, against 70 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency has said, while the daily tally of new cases fell to 516 from 593 on Thursday.

The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on Feb. 21 now stands at 33,229 the agency said, the third highest in the world after those of the United States and Britain.

The number of confirmed cases amounts to 232,248, the sixth highest global tally behind those of the United States, Russia, Spain, Britain and Brazil.

Tourists wearing protective masks are pictured at St. Mark's Square following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Venice, Italy, May 24, 2020. REUTERS/Manuel Silvestri/File Photo
Tourists wearing protective masks are pictured at St. Mark’s Square following the outbreak of the coronavirus in Venice, Italy [Manuel Silvestri/Reuters]

16:00 GMT – La Liga season to restart on June 11

Spanish soccer’s top-flight will resume on June 11 after a three-month pause due to the coronavirus pandemic with the local derby between Sevilla and Real Betis, the government’s department for sport (CSD) has said.

“At a meeting of the contact group they form alongside the CSD, the Spanish soccer federation (RFEF) and La Liga have agreed to the format of the final 11 rounds of fixtures of La Liga and the second division,” the government said in a statement.

15:45 GMT – Top Bosnian politician detained over respirators deal     

The prime minister of one of Bosnia’s two regions has been detained as part of a probe into the purchase of 100 respirators from China for coronavirus patients, his party has said.

Fadil Novalic, 61, who leads Bosnia’s Muslim-Croat federation, was taken in for questioning by federal police on Thursday, according to local media.

The chairman of his SDA party, the main Bosnian Muslim party, confirmed Novalic was in custody and asked the prosecutor’s office to “urgently present the evidence” against the politician.

The $6 million deal done in April first raised suspicions after it emerged that authorities had hired a local fruit and vegetable company – with no connection to the medical field – to procure the equipment.  Experts have said the respirators were not the right model for intensive care units where they are needed. 

UK’s elderly struggle with COVID-19 isolation

15:30 GMT – Spain reports two new deaths, bringing overall toll to 27,121

Spain’s Health Ministry has said recorded deaths from the coronavirus outbreak reached 27,121, increasing by two in the last 24 hours.

A total of 39 deaths were reported over the last seven days, while there have been 238,564 diagnosed cases since the beginning of the outbreak, the ministry’s figures showed.

The government has warned the data may fluctuate in coming days as it adjusts to a new methodology of logging cases.

15:15 GMT – France’s Louvre museum preparing to re-open on July 6

The Louvre museum in Paris has it is planning to re-open its doors on July 6 following new steps announced Thursday by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe to ease the country’s coronavirus lockdown.

In a statement, the France’s most visited museum says a booking system and a “new signage” will allow to offer visitors, asked to wear a mask and keep social distancing, “maximal security conditions” when coming to the premises.

louvre reopening
The Louvre museum in Paris was closed as France imposed a lockdown in March [Benoit Tessier/Reuters]

15:00 GMT – Singapore-China to open essential travel corridor in early June

Singapore and China plan to reopen essential travel for business and official purposes between the two countries early next month, the two countries have said in a joint statement.

The so-called “Fast Lane arrangement” will be first applied between the Southeast Asian city-state and six Chinese provinces and municipalities – Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing, Guangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang – before being gradually expanded.

“Both sides agreed to explore the increase of air links between the two countries for the Fast Lane,” the statement said, adding that COVID-19 prevention and control measures would be in place.

14:45 GMT – Azerbaijan extends restrictions until June 15

Azerbaijan’s government said on Friday it had extended its coronavirus restrictions and border closure until June 15.

The quarantine regime had been introduced on March 24 and extended twice until May 4 and then June 1.

Despite the extension, shopping centres, cinemas, restaurants and cafes will reopen starting from May 31. Sport competitions will be held at open air and without audience. The wearing of masks and social distancing will be mandatory in public spaces.

The South Caucasus country of about 10 million people has registered 4,759 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus and 56 deaths as of Friday.

Hundreds of Pakistan children under 10 in Sindh with COVID-19

14:30 GMT – Philippines records 21 new deaths, 1,046 more infections

The Philippines has reported 21 more novel coronavirus deaths and 1,046 additional infections.

In a bulletin, the health ministry said total deaths rose to 942 while confirmed cases reached 16,634. It said 122 more patients have recovered, bringing total recoveries to 3,720.

It marked the country’s highest single-day rise in confirmed infections since its first case in January. The ministry said confirmed cases jumped due to timely and complete submission of laboratory results, and the deployment of a better information system.

The government will relax strict quarantine measures in the capital in June to partially restart the economy despite backlogs in testing and validation of coronavirus cases.

Millions unemployed the Philippines amid COVID-19 lockdown

14:15 GMT – UAE to shorten curfew by two hours

The UAE will shorten from Saturday by two hours a nightly curfew meant to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the country’s state news agency said on Friday.

The curfew, officially called “the national sanitisation program”, will run from 10 PM to 6 AM as of Saturday. It currently starts at 8 PM and ends at 6 AM.

The country has reported a total of 33,170 cases and 260 deaths from the disease.

People wearing protective face masks and gloves shop at Dubai mall after the UAE government eased a curfew and allowed stores to open, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in Dubai
People wearing protective face masks and gloves shop at a Dubai mall [Rula Rouhana/Reuters]

14:00 GMT – EU watchdog reiterates caution on hydroxychloroquine

Healthcare professionals should closely monitor COVID-19 patients who are receiving malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, given the serious side effects associated with the medicine, the European health regulator has said.

Several EU countries have paused trials of the drug in patients infected by the new coronavirus over safety concerns, the European Medicines Agency said, adding the drug’s benefits have not been established for the illness.

The WHO also suspended testing the drug, which has been controversially touted by US President Donald Trump, in COVID-19 patients last week.

WHO suspends clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19

13:45 GMT – French mortality rate in May below previous years despite pandemic

French mortality rates between May 1 and 18 were six percent lower than for the same period last year and one percent below the rate seen over that period in 2018, despite the coronavirus epidemic, statistics agency INSEE has said.

During the peak of the epidemic between March 1 and April 30, French mortality rates were 26 percent higher than the year-earlier period and 16 percent higher than the corresponding period in 2018, provisional data showed.

“Since May 1… we no longer excess mortality compared to the two previous years” the agency said in a statement.

13:30 GMT – Indian monkeys snatch coronavirus samples

Monkeys mobbed an Indian health worker and made off with coronavirus test blood samples, spreading fears that the stealing simians could spread the pandemic in the local area.

After making off with the three samples earlier this week in Meerut, near the capital New Delhi, the monkeys scampered up nearby trees and one then tried to chew its plunder. Indian authorities often have to grapple with primates snatching food and even mobile phones. 

The sample boxes were later recovered and had not been damaged, Meerut Medical college superintendent Dheeraj Raj told the

“They were still intact and we don’t think there is any risk of contamination or spread,” Raj said, adding that the three people whose samples were stolen were retested for the virus.

Monkey india
A monkey crosses the road near India’s Presidential Palace in New Delhi, India [File: Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters]

13:15 GMT – Infant dies in Switzerland from COVID-19

An infant has died from COVID-19 in Switzerland, the first child to perish from coronavirus in the country, authorities have said.

Switzerland registered two new deaths from the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, including the child, the new head of the country’s coronavirus crisis response, Stefan Kuster, told reporters.

The wealthy Alpine nation has now registered more than 30,700 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 1,656 deaths.

Hello, this is Joseph Stepansky in Doha taking over from my colleague Umut Uras.

I will be handing over this blog shortly to another colleague in Doha.

Here is a quick summary of the latest developments:

  • Russia recorded 232 deaths from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, the highest daily increase 
  • India registered a new record daily increase in cases with 7,466 reported infections 
  • Pakistani authorities announced that the country will resume international flight operations

12:55 GMT – Pakistan to resume international flight operations

Pakistan will allow international flights to resume, an aviation official said, after largely closing its airspace to commercial flights since March to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Both national and foreign airlines shall be allowed to operate from all international airports of Pakistan with exception of Gwadar and Turbat,” said Abdul Sattar Khokhar, Senior Joint Secretary at the Civil Aviation Authority in a statement, adding that flights would be allowed from Saturday.

Pakistan has largely rolled back its lockdown measures and resumed domestic flights this month despite a rise in the rate of coronavirus infections. Some airlines received exemptions during the closure to enable international repatriation flights in and out of Pakistan.

12:40 GMT – Greece to open to tourists from 29 countries from June 15

The countries are: Germany, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Cyprus, Israel, Switzerland, Japan, Malta, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Australia, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Albania, Estonia, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Hungary, South Korea, Serbia, Montenegro, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Finland.

Visitors will be randomly tested, the tourism ministry said, and the government would monitor and evaluate developments related to the coronavirus. The list will be updated before July 1, the tourism ministry said.

The Mediterranean nation, which emerged from a decade-long debt crisis in late 2018, relies heavily on tourism – about 20 percent of its output – for an economic recovery.

Greece tourism
Greece relies heavily on tourism – approximately 20 percent of its output [Thanassis Stavrakis/AP]

12:20 GMT – Spain government to mull state of emergency extension with parties

The Spanish government will discuss with various political parties whether to seek another extension to a state of emergency over the coronavirus beyond June 7, government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero said.

She added that Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez would disclose during the weekend the government’s decision on such an extension, which has to be approved by parliament. The state of emergency was first established in mid-March, imposing some of the toughest restrictions in Europe.

12:00 GMT – Denmark and Norway create travel bubble, excluding Sweden: reports

Norway and Denmark will resume free travel between the two countries, three Norwegian media outlets reported, creating a travel bubble that excludes Scandinavian neighbour Sweden, where the number of COVID-19 infections is higher.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg are due to hold news conferences about travel restrictions at 12:00 GMT.

11:35 GMT – Qatar reports 1,993 new cases, three deaths

Qatar recorded 1,993 new confirmed coronavirus cases and three deaths in the last 24 hours, according to the ministry of public health.

The new data brings the total active cases in the country to 32,267 and coronavirus-related deaths to 36.

The ministry said that 5,205 people recovered from the disease, bringing the total number of recovered people in Qatar to 20,604. 

11:15 GMT – Pakistan firm to import potential COVID-19 treatment from Bangladesh

A pharmaceutical company in Pakistan plans to import the antiviral drug remdesivir, which has shown promise in treating coronavirus patients, from neighbouring Bangladesh, it said in a stock exchange filing.

The announcement by Searle Company Limited came a day after 56 virus deaths recorded by the south Asian nation, its highest toll in a single day.

The firm said it had entered into an exclusive licensing and marketing agreement with Bangladesh’s Beximco Pharmaceuticals, the first company in the world to introduce the generic variant of the drug.

10:50 GMT – World Bank lends Philippines $500m to counter virus impact

The World Bank Group approved a $500m loan for the Philippines to help it cope with the economic impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Bank said on Friday.

The Philippine government will begin easing from June 1 one of the world’s toughest and longest lockdowns for residents in the capital and other key cities, restoring much-needed activity to an economy facing its deepest contraction in nearly three decades.

The loan will support efforts to provide immediate relief to poor Filipinos and small business workers who have lost their jobs during the lockdown since mid-March, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said in a statement.

Shops install a makeshift plastic barrier as a protection from coronavirus disease, in Quezon City
The World Bank last month approved two sets of loans totalling $600m to support the Philippines’ emergency response [Reuters] 

10:30 GMT – Polish football fans to return to stadiums from June 19: PM

Polish football supporters will be able to attend matches from June 19, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said, but only 25 percent of the capacity of stadiums will be used in order to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.

“The Polish Football Association and the Premier League have chosen the 19th, so it will be possible to prepare everything according to the correct procedures,” Morawiecki said.

10:10 GMT – Portugal’s tourism collapses in April due to coronavirus

The number of overnight stays by tourists in Portugal dropped 98.3 percent to nearly 71,000 last month from the previous year, showing the sector’s collapse as lockdowns to contain the spread of the coronavirus grounded flights and kept visitors away.

The National Statistics Institute said in its flash estimate overnight stays by Britons, the main source of tourism for Portugal, fell 99.3 percent in April compared to the same period in 2019.

09:25 GMT – Indonesia reports 678 new coronavirus cases, 24 deaths

Indonesia has reported 678 new coronavirus infections, taking the total number of cases in the Southeast Asian country to 25,216, according to the health ministry official, Achmad Yurianto.

Yurianto reported 24 new deaths related to COVID-19, bringing the total to 1,520, while 6,492 people have recovered. 

epa08440338 An health official wearing a protective suit checks the body temperatures of people before attending Eid al-Fitr prayers amid the coronavirus pandemic, at Al Mashun Grand Mosque in Medan,
Indonesia reports 24 new deaths related to COVID-19, bringing the total to 1,520 [EPA]  

08:50 GMT – Russia reports record one-day rise in coronavirus deaths

Russia has reported 232 deaths from the new coronavirus in the last 24 hours, a record one-day amount that pushed the nationwide death toll to 4,374.

Officials said 8,572 new infections had been confirmed, bringing the national tally to 387,623, the third-highest reported total in the world after the United States and Brazil.

Coronavirus cases in Russia exceed 300 thousands
Officials say 8,572 new infections were confirmed in Russia, bringing the national tally to 387,623 [Anadolu] 

08:30 GMT – Bulgaria to end quarantine on travel from most of EU

Bulgaria plans to lift an obligatory 14-day quarantine from June 1 for travellers from some European Union countries, but not those states with the biggest coronavirus outbreaks, a senior health official said.

The quarantine will remain obligatory for travellers from Sweden, Belgium, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Malta, the country’s chief health inspector said, as well as the UK, which is in a transition period after leaving the EU.

The health minister still needs to approve the move. A ban on the entry of visitors from outside the EU will remain in place.

08:15 GMT – Which countries have not reported any coronavirus cases?

The new coronavirus has been labelled a pandemic and has been reported in at least 188 countries, according to Johns Hopkins University’s data.

However, a handful of countries have not yet reported any cases of the virus.

Find out those countries here.

07:50 – Thailand to ease restrictions, shorten curfew hours

Thailand will next week shorten curfew hours and ease restrictions on more businesses, the government has said, in response to its low numbers of locally transmitted cases of the novel coronavirus.

Starting from June 1, cinemas and theatres can reopen, but with no more than 200 people at a time and with strict social distancing measures, said Somsak Roongsita, secretary-general of the National Security Council.

A curfew will be shortened by one hour to last from 11pm to 3am local time and shopping malls, which reopened earlier this month, will also be allowed to extend their operating hours, he added.

The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Bangkok
Shopping malls in Thailand, which reopened earlier this month, will be allowed to extend their operating hour [Reuters] 

07:30 – UK needs to start tapering its COVID furlough scheme: minister

The UK cannot run its COVID-19 jobs protection scheme indefinitely and needs to start tapering it down as people slowly return to work, environment minister George Eustice said.

“The furlough scheme has been incredibly important in terms of keeping people on standby and ready to return to work,” he told Sky News. “Clearly as we start to emerge from the lockdown and start to get our economy back to work, we can’t keep people on that furlough scheme indefinitely.”

“We need to start identifying ways of moving them off the furlough scheme and back into work … We need a furlough scheme that can be tapered down as people return to work.”

07:10 GMT – Singapore health ministry confirms 611 new cases

Singapore’s health ministry said it has confirmed 611 new coronavirus cases, taking the city state’s tally for infections to 33,860.

The country reported 23 deaths in total.

singapore vending masks
Residents collect free protective face masks from vending machines in Singapore [Edgar Su/Reuters]

06:50 GMT – China to extend curbs on international flights until June 30: US embassy

Chinese civil aviation authorities plan to extend until June 30 their curbs on international flights imposed to restrain the spread of the coronavirus, the United States embassy in Beijing said in a travel advisory.

China drastically cut such flights since March to allay concerns over infections brought by arriving passengers. A so-called “Five One” policy allows mainland carriers to fly just one flight a week on one route to any country and foreign airlines to operate just one flight a week to China.

06:25 GMT – Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 741: RKI

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has increased by 741 to 180,458, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 39 to 8,450, the tally showed.

The reported death toll in Germany increased to 8,450 [Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images] 

06:00 GMT – Thailand reports 11 new coronavirus cases

Thailand has confirmed 11 new coronavirus cases and no new deaths, taking the number of infections to 3,076.

The new cases were all patients who had arrived from Kuwait and were in quarantine, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration.

The novel coronavirus has killed 57 people in Thailand since it was first detected in January.

Hello, this is Umut Uras in Doha taking over this blog from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed.

05:41 GMT – South Korea plans to limit number of students returning to class 

South Korea’s education ministry has announced plans to limit the number of students attending classes in schools in the Seoul metropolitan area amid a spike in new coronavirus infections. 

The move comes just days after in-person classes resumed as part of a phased reopening of schools. 

The Yonhap news agency quoted Park Baeg-beom, the vice education minister, as saying elementary and middle schools can only allow one-third of students to return to class while high schools can only take in two-thirds of their students. 

South Korea students
Students sit behind protective screens as a preventative measure against the COVID-19 novel coronavirus as they eat lunch at a high school in Daejeon, South Korea, on May 20, 2020 [Yonhap / AFP]

05:05 GMT – Surge in cases as India prepares to lift lockdown

India has registered another record daily increase with 7,466 new coronavirus cases.

The Health Ministry’s new figures on Friday show India now has 165,799 cases with 4,706 deaths, which both now exceed China.

India’s two-month lockdown is set to end on Sunday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is expected to issue new guidelines this weekend, possibly extending the lockdown in worst-hit areas as it promotes economic activity.

04:49 GMT – Brazil reports record cases, 1,000 deaths in 24 hours

Brazil registered a new record in COVID-19 cases and more than 1,000 deaths in a 24-hour period, according to official figures out Thursday.

The South American country has the world’s second-highest number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases – 438,238 – after the US. According to Health Ministry data, 26,417 new cases were confirmed in a 24 hour-period ending late on Thursday.

In that same period, Brazil experienced its third-highest number of virus deaths since the start of the pandemic: 1,156. That brought the total death toll to 26,754, the sixth highest in the world.

04:23 GMT – Colombia extends national quarantine until July

Colombia has extended a nationwide quarantine to contain the spread of the coronavirus until July 1, while allowing more freedom of movement in some parts of the country.

Thousands of businesses have begun to reopen in the Andean country, with new safety protocols and reduced staff, as a lockdown in place since late March was due to lift at the end of May.

Under the government-mandated extension that business restart will continue. Hairdressers and barbers are among the businesses allowed to reopen, along with museums and libraries, at the discretion of local mayors.

However, other broad restrictions will remain in place. Public transit between municipalities and domestic flights will remain barred and in many areas people are required to stay indoors.

04:13 GMT – WHO to reconsider role of China-based ambassador

The World Health Organization is reviewing the position of its goodwill ambassador, James Chau, who was involved in the airing of an alleged forced confession on Chinese state television, according to the Financial Times.

Chau, a television anchor with China’s state broadcaster, presented a programme that in 2013 aired a confession by British businessman Peter Humphrey, who claims he was filmed under duress.

“The matter is taken seriously, as any such complaint would be. It is currently under internal review, and therefore cannot be commented on,” the WHO said in a statement to The Financial Times.

03:38 GMT – Algeria extends partial lockdown until June 13

Abdelaziz Djerad, the prime minister of Algeria, has extended a partial lockdown in the majority of the country’s provinces for another 15 days.

Djerad lifted quarantine measures only in four provinces – Saida, Tindouf, Illizi and Tamanrasset – “following the favourable results” recorded there, according to Algeria Presse Service.

03:21 GMT – AIIB approves $750m loan for Philippines’ virus response

China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has said it had approved a $750m loan to the Philippines to help the country cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

The project, which will be co-financed by the Asian Development Bank, is intended to increase testing capacity, support vulnerable sectors like agriculture, and provide emergency assistance to poor households, according to a statement.

02:07 GMT – South Korea reports 58 cases

South Korea reported 58 new cases of the coronavirus for May 28, all in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, as officials scrambled to stem transmissions linked to a massive e-commerce warehouse near the capital.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun called for officials to examine working conditions at warehouses of online shopping companies, which have seen orders surge during the pandemic, and other congested workplaces where infection risks may be high.

South Korea has reported 177 new COVID-19 cases over the past three days, a resurgence that threatens to erase some of its hard-won gains against the virus and worsen a massive shock to the country’s trade-dependent economy.

01:55 GMT – India: Under Lockdown

Social distancing and good hygiene are essential weapons in the fight against COVID-19.

But how can you maintain social distancing in one of the world’s largest slums? How can you wash your hands regularly when there is no running water? And what happens when millions of people who survive on meagre wages are suddenly without work and struggling to feed themselves?

Check out this investigation from 101 East on how India’s poor fared under the world’s biggest lockdown.

01:40 GMT – Cricket-Twenty20 World Cup schedule under ‘very high risk’

Cricket Australia boss Kevin Roberts has downplayed the prospect of the Twenty20 World Cup going ahead in 2020, saying the October-November schedule was under “very high risk” due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Obviously, we’ve been hopeful all along that it could be staged in October-November but you would have to say there is a very high risk about the prospect of that happening,” Roberts told reporters in a video call.

“In the event that doesn’t happen, there are potential windows in the February-March period, October-November the following year.”

00:46 GMT – China reports no new coronavirus cases

Health authorities in China have reported no new confirmed coronavirus cases in the mainland as of the end of May 28.

The National Health Commission, however, did confirm five new asymptomatic coronavirus cases on May 28, down from 23 a day earlier.

Surveillance amid coronavirus outbreak (3:39)

00:28 GMT – Australia’s New South Wales state warns of COVID-19 budget toll

The Australian state of New South Wales has said the coronavirus pandemic could cost it as much 20 billion Australian dollars ($13.3bn) in lost revenues over the next four years, underscoring the urgency to revive the country’s stuttering economy.

Releasing its first estimate of the economic effect of coronavirus, NSW said budget deficits totalling 10-20 billion Australian dollars are expected over the next four years, a far cry from its previous estimate in December 2019 of an average budget surplus of 1.9 billion Australian dollars ($1.3bn) over four years.

“We are facing the type of economic challenge not seen in generations, perhaps not since people were hammering the last rivet into the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the 1930s,” said NSW state Treasurer Dominic Perrottet.

00:16 GMT – 14 million additional people could go hungry in Latin America

The World Food Programme has said some 14 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean could experience severe food insecurity this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is vital and urgent that we provide food assistance to the growing number of vulnerable people in the region, as well as those who depend on informal work,” said Miguel Barreto, WFP regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

“We still have time to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic from becoming a hunger pandemic.”

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 28 here.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies