Key developments in the global coronavirus outbreak today include:
Known global deaths pass 350,000
More than 350,000 people have now lost their lives in the coronavirus pandemic worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. The current toll stands at 350,456. The number of confirmed cases is 5,589,932, after the number of declared cases doubled in a month, with more than one million new cases registered in the last 11 days. There were 500,000 cases registered in just 48 hours, between Sunday, when cases passed 5 million, and Tuesday, when cases passed 5.5 million. True death tolls and cases are likely to be significantly higher due to differing definitions and testing rates, delays and suspected underreporting. The US alone accounts for less than a third of the global toll, with 98,916 deaths.
Tory unrest increases pressure on PM to sack Dominic Cummings
There is growing revolt within Boris Johnson’s party over his refusal to fire Dominic Cummings, his chief adviser, over his lockdown breach. A junior minister has resigned, and 30 other Conservative MPs have called for Cummings to go. Eight more Tory MPs were publicly critical of Cummings’ actions and three said privately that he should be forced out, according to the Guardian’s Heather Stewart, Rowena Mason and Kate Proctor.
The WHO says the Americas are the new epicentre of the disease
The World Health Organization’s regional director Dr Carissa Etienne said outbreaks were accelerating in countries such as Brazil, where the number of deaths reported in the last week was the highest in the world for a seven-day period since the coronavirus pandemic began. The number of coronavirus infections to accelerate in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua, she said.
New Zealand expects plan for safe travel with Australia in June
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday that a draft blueprint on safely starting travel between New Zealand and Australia will be presented to both governments in early June, Reuters reports. The neighbours have been discussing the possibility of a travel bubble between them as both have slowed the spread of the novel coronavirus to levels well below those in United States, Britain and some other European countries. New Zealand has also reported a fifth consecutive day of no new cases of Covid-19.
South Korea reports biggest daily jump in almost 50 days
South Korea South Korea has reported 40 new coronavirus cases for its biggest daily jump in nearly 50 days, causing alarm in a country where millions of children are returning to school. All but four of the new cases came from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where officials have been scrambling to stem transmissions linked to nightclubs, karaoke rooms and an e-commerce warehouse. Three cases were linked to international arrivals. South Korea has also jailed a man for four months for breaking quarantine rules, in the country’s first such prison sentence.
Vietnam to readmit foreigners
Vietnam will resume issuing e-visas to citizens from 80 countries from 1 July, the government said, though it was unclear whether quarantine measures would be lifted. The country imposed a blanket ban on foreigners entering the country in March as part of its aggressive response to the pandemic, which has also involved mass quarantines and expansive contact tracing.So far, Vietnam has not reported any coronavirus deaths.
Macron unveils €8bn French auto rescue, champions electric cars
President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday announced an €8bn (US$8.8bn) plan to revive France’s auto industry by making it the European leader in electric cars, boosting a sector brought to its knees by the coronavirus. Macron said the package would include one billion euros in subsidies to encourage purchases of electric and hybrid cars and set a target of France producing a million green cars annually by 2025.The “historic” intervention will aim to turn France’s rechargeable car industry into Europe’s biggest, the president said.
Germany extends distancing rules to end of June
Germany has extended social distancing rules aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus epidemic to 29 June, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government said on Tuesday. Merkel’s government had been embroiled in disagreements with the least-affected states, some of which wanted to ditch the measures and open up entirely. Germany’s virus caseload now tops 181,200 with just over 8,372 deaths - much lower than European counterparts such as Britain, France, Spain and Italy.
India backs hydroxychloroquine for virus prevention
India’s top biomedical research body has backed the use of the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine as a preventive against coronavirus, after the WHO suspended clinical trials of the drug over safety concerns. The endorsement from the Indian Council of Medical Research came a week after US President Donald Trump said he was taking the drug as a preventative measure. India - which accounts for 70% of global production of hydroxychloroquine - on Tuesday reported 145,380 cases of the virus including 4,167 deaths.
Spain begins 10 days of mourning
Starting on Wednesday, the country will mourn for the nearly 27,000 people who have died from coronavirus in the country. Flags will be hoisted to half-staff in more than 14,000 public buildings across the country and on Spanish naval vessels until 5 June. It marks the longest official mourning period in Spain’s four-decade-old democracy.