As the US approaches the milestone of 100,000 COVID-19 deaths, Trump continues pressure on state governors to reopen.
As the United States approached 100,000 coronavirus deaths, President Donald Trump continued his pressure on reopening the economy and allow the “transition to greatness” he has adopted as a new campaign slogan.
President Putin said Russia has passed the peak of the outbreak but stressed that all precautions should be taken to hold the annual Red Square parade next month.
- A global campaign to fund the development of vaccines and therapies against COVID-19 has so far raised $10.4bn, the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said.
The WHO warned of the risks of an “immediate second peak” as countries ease up on lockdowns, urging governments in Europe and the US to step up surveillance, testing and tracking measures.
Public anger continues to simmer in the UK over Dominic Cummings, PM Boris Johnson’s chief political adviser, who apparently flouted lockdown to drive from his London home to his parents’ house in the north when he suspected he had coronavirus.
More than 5.5 million cases of coronavirus have been confirmed around the world, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. More than 346,000 people have died, while more than 2.2 million have recovered.
Here are the latest updates:
Tuesday, May 26
Germany set to extend social distancing rules- source
Germany’s government and its state premiers have agreed to extend until June 29 social distancing rules used to contain the coronavirus pandemic, a senior government official has said.
Tuesday’s deal follows a row over how fast to ease lockdown measures that have helped Europe’s most populous country weather the outbreak with a relatively low number of deaths.
Chancellor Angela Merkel originally suggested extending social distancing rules of at least 1.50 metres until July 5 as the conservative leader is worried about a second wave of cases that could require another costly lockdown.
18:00 GMT – South Africa to allow places of worship to operate from June
South Africa’s President has announced that churches and other recognised places of worship will operate from June when the country eases lockdown restrictions further, but will be limited to 50 people or less.
“The faith community is an integral part of the South African life and has made a great contribution in the fight against the coronavirus,” Ramaphosa said in a televised address.
Rome Colosseum to open after three-month shutdown
The Colosseum will start receiving visitors again after three months of shutdown during COVID-19 containment measures.
To lower the risk of possible contagion at one of Italy’s most popular tourist attractions, tourists must wear protective masks and have their temperatures taken before entering the ancient arena, which re-opens to tourism on June 1.
Entrance times will be staggered to discourage crowding and tickets must be bought online.
A reduced-price ticket will be available for afternoon visitors in an effort to encourage Romans to visit the monument at the end of their working day, especially while Italy awaits for tourism from overseas to resume.
Growing resistance against Latin America lockdowns
There is growing anger as countries in the new hotspot of the coronavirus pandemic struggle to cope with the outbreak.
Poor people across Latin America say they are the ones suffering the most from lockdowns and expenditure cuts.
And it is leading to protests throughout the region. Al Jazeera’s Alexi O’Brien reports:
Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli says he had coronavirus
Renowned Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli said he had caught the novel coronavirus but was now recovered, describing the experience as “a nightmare”.
Bocelli, who has been blind since age 12, raised spirits in Italy during the pandemic, which has killed nearly 33,000 people, by singing alone in Milan’s Duomo on April 12.
That was just over a month after the 61-year-old had tested positive for the virus.
“It was a tragedy, my whole family was contaminated,” he told journalists at a hospital in Pisa where he had gone with his wife to donate their plasma for COVID-19 research.
Apple to reopen about 100 stores in US
Apple Inc has said it plans to reopen about 100 stores in the United States, most with curbside pickup but some with walk-in service.
Apple shuttered stores around the world as the novel coronavirus pandemic spread but has slowly opened them again, saying it examines local health data to make decision on a store-by-store basis.
Earlier this month, the company reopened a handful of stores in Alaska, Idaho and Alabam
Apple to reopen about 100 stores in US
European countries are appealing for money to help more than five million Venezuelan migrants who left their homes because of the economic crisis.
Most remained in Latin America where many are destitute.
Now the coronavirus pandemic is making their situation worse because they cannot return home.
Lucia Newman reports:
16:50 GMT – Tanzania summons US official over coronavirus warning
Tanzania said it had summoned the top official at the US embassy to object to an advisory that warned of “exponential growth” of COVID-19 cases in the East African nation.
The embassy’s “health advisory” published earlier this month contained inaccurate information, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
The advisory reported, for instance, that “many hospitals” in Dar es Salaam, the economic capital, “have been overwhelmed in recent weeks”. This claim “is not true and could cause panic among Tanzanians and foreigners”, the foreign ministry’s statement said.
16:30 GMT – Spain declares 10-day mourning period for for nearly 27,000 dead
The Spanish government has declared a 10-day mourning period to pay tribute to nearly 27,000 confirmed deaths from the coronavirus.
Starting Wednesday until June 5, flags will be at half-mast in more than 14,000 public buildings across the nation as well as on the navy’s vessels, the government announced on Tuesday.
King Felipe VI, as Spain’s head of state, will preside over a solemn ceremony to honour the dead once the country emerges from its strict lock-down rules.
16:10 GMT – Italy’s Red Cross calling for antibody tests
Italy’s health minister is appealing to citizens to answer the Red Cross call for a blood test to determine if they have antibodies to COVID-19.
Red Cross volunteers began making phone calls to a representative sample of people throughout Italy. Minister Roberto Speranza told Sky TG24 TV the goal is to better understand how many people have developed antibodies.
Experts say many people without COVID-19 symptoms in the country where Europe’s outbreak began were likely infected but were never tested. Speranza says the blood test results of 150,000 people can be applied to the entire country.
Dutch PM did not visit dying mother until end due to coronavirus rules: statement
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte did not visit his 96-year-old mother for more than eight weeks until hours before her death this month due to lockdown measures in the Netherlands, his office said.
Mieke Rutte-Dilling died on May 13, Rutte’s office announced on Monday. She did not have the coronavirus, although there were COVID-19 infections at the nursing home where she lived.
“The prime minister complied with all the coronavirus restriction measures and didn’t visit his mother for (more than 8) weeks,” the premier’s office said in a statement.
“However the restriction measures leave room to say goodbye to a dying family member during the very last phase and the PM stayed with his mother during her last night.”
The details emerged amid controversy in Britain about a decision by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s top adviser, Dominic Cummings, to drive 250 miles (400 km) out of London during a mandatory coronavirus lockdown.
Italy records 78 new coronavirus deaths, 397 new cases
Deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy climbed by 78, against 92 on Monday, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the daily tally of new cases increased to 397 from 300 on Monday.
The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on February 21 now stands at 32,955 the agency said, the third highest in the world after those of the United States and Britain.
The number of confirmed cases amounts to 230,555, the sixth highest global tally behind those of the US, Brazil, Russia, Spain and Britain.
15:42 GMT – Americas are new epicenter of coronavirus pandemic: WHO
The World Health Organization (WHO) considers the Americas the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, and now is not the time for countries to ease restrictions, officials have said in a briefing.
Carissa Etienne, WHO director for the Americas and head of the Pan American Health Organization, said via videoconference that 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 7-day period since the coronavirus pandemic began.
WHO says hydroxychloroquine safety findings expected by mid-June
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that a safety team would review data on hydroxychloroquine by next month, a day after officials cited safety concerns that prompted them to suspend use of the malaria drug in a global trial in COVID-19 patients.
The WHO called time on using the drug in its multi-country trial, called Solidarity, after a study published in British medical journal The Lancet found patients randomised to get hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) had increased mortality rates and higher frequency of irregular heartbeats.
US President Donald Trump and others have pushed HCQ as a possible treatment for the disease.
15:25 GMT – Crowded pool party slammed by US officials
US officials in Missouri have condemned raucous crowds who packed a pool at a popular holiday venue after video footage of the weekend partying spread on social media.
The party at Lake of the Ozarks attracted furious criticism from nearby St Louis county, where many people travelled to the lake over the Memorial Day holiday despite concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
Officials said that anyone who ignored protective measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 should self-quarantine for 14 days or until they test negative.
The US has started to lift coronavirus lockdowns, and the images of hundreds of party-goers in congested swimming pools fuelled the fierce public debate over the strategy.
15:20 GMT – France unveils 8 bn-euro plan to revive virus-hit auto sector
President Emmanuel Macron has announced an 8bn euro ($8.8bn) plan to revive France’s auto industry, brought to its knees by the coronavirus crisis, including a billion euros in green car subsidies.
The “historic” intervention will aim to turn France’s rechargeable car industry into Europe’s biggest, the president said, with annual production of more than a million “clean cars” by 2025.
US stocks surge 600 points as NYSE trading floor reopens
A slow march back to normalcy buoyed spirits on Wall Street as the floor of the New York Stock Exchange partially reopened since being closed more than two months ago, and investors focused on green shoots of economic activity and news on the race for a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average vaulted 600 points at the opening bell in New York to climb back above 25,000 while the S&P 500 – a proxy for the performance of US retirement and college savings accounts – jumped 2.2 percent to sail back over the 3,000-mark.
Both indexes hit levels not seen since early March, when coronavirus lockdowns started sweeping the United States, derailing entire sectors of the economy, decimating consumer spending and badly damaging investor confidence.
Read more here.
15:02 GMT – LATAM becomes largest airline yet driven to bankruptcy by coronavirus
Chile’s LATAM Airlines Group has filed for US bankruptcy protection, becoming the world’s largest carrier so far to seek an emergency reorganization due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The filing highlights the financial weakness of Latin America’s carriers and follows a similar bankruptcy reorganization earlier this month by its main rival, Colombia’s Avianca Holdings.
But unlike Avianca, which experienced management turmoil and losses, Chile’s LATAM posted profits for the last four consecutive years totaling more than $700m.
Latin American governments, many under severe budget constraints themselves, have been reluctant to bail out their key airlines, in contrast to the US and Europe. Most recently, Germany bailed out Lufthansa for a 20 percent stake.
14:55 GMT – Syria loosens coronavirus lockdown
Syrian authorities have loosened coronavirus lockdown restrictions by cancelling a nighttime curfew, allowing travel between provinces and announcing a reopening of mosques, state media said.
The decision comes as the country grapples with a crippling economic crisis and official cases of the COVID-19 respiratory disease continue to rise.
Damascus has announced 121 cases, including four deaths in government-held areas.In the Kurdish-run northeast, the United Nations has recorded six cases including one death.
In March, the Syrian government introduced a series of confinement measures to stem the spread of the virus.
14:48 GMT – Indonesia, major advocate of hydroxychloroquine, told by WHO to stop using it : Report
The World Health Organization has urged Indonesia, one of the world’s biggest advocates of two malaria drugs to treat the coronavirus, to suspend such treatment over safety concerns, a source familiar with the advice told Reuters.
Any decision by Indonesia to halt use of the drugs, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, in coronavirus patients would mark a major global shift away from a treatment which has been touted for months by US President Donald Trump.
Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous nation, had told doctors to use the drugs to treat all COVID-19 patients with symptoms from mild to severe. The country has ramped up production since March, granting two dozen licenses to local manufacturers who have churned out millions of doses. Chechen strongman reappears days after reported virus illness
The strongman leader of Russia’s southern Chechnya region Ramzan Kadyrov, who was reported to be hospitalised in Moscow with possible coronavirus last week, has reappeared at a government meeting, making no mention of an illness.
Reports on Thursday, including from Russian state news agencies, said Kadyrov was flown to a Moscow hospital for treatment, which officials in Chechnya never confirmed nor directly denied.
The 43-year-old regional leader posted on his Telegram account Tuesday that he oversaw a meeting about the coronavirus, adding that the situation was “stable” in Chechnya’s hospitals.
14:35 GMT – Hungary expects emergency virus powers to end June 20
Hungary aims to lift a state of emergency spurred by the coronavirus crisis on June 20, its justice minister has said, as the government prepared a bill ending the power to rule by decree which drew international condemnation.
Right-wing nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban obtained the powers without a time limit in a vote by parliament where his party holds a two-thirds majority, drawing European Union criticism about democratic backsliding in Budapest.
Orban said earlier that parliament could at any time cancel the special powers to manage the country without parliament’s consent, which he said were necessary to curb the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fall-out.
Brazil police raid Rio governor’s residences amid COVID-19 probe
Brazilian federal police raided the residences of Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel as part of a COVID-19 corruption probe, targeting one of President Jair Bolsonaro’s political foes as the pandemic sweeps the nation.
Two sources and a statement from the federal police said the search warrants were part of an investigation into alleged corruption involving the use of public money destined to fight the coronavirus pandemic in Rio de Janeiro state. No arrest warrants were issued, a source said.
In a statement, Witzel said he was innocent and accused Bolsonaro of “interference” in the probe. He said he was “surprised and outraged” to see social media posts that suggested the president’s allies in Congress had prior knowledge of the operation, suggesting leaks and the “construction” of a false narrative against him.
Read more here.
14:12 GMT – Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic to mutually open borders
Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic will open their borders to each others’ citizens from midnight on Tuesday, with some conditions, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has said.
Cross-border travel without having to undergo mandatory quarantine amid the coronavirus pandemic will be allowed for Hungarians, Slovaks and Czechs whose stay in the other country does not exceed 48 hours.
In addition, Hungarians can travel to the Czech Republic by crossing Slovakia but cannot cross Slovakia on their way back; they will have to detour through Austria, Szijjarto said. The same applies to Czechs returning home from Hungary. Hungary had also opened its southern border for Serbs from Monday morning.
No reason to keep Swedes out when Nordics reopen borders: Swedish Minister
Excluding Sweden from moves to open borders across the Nordic region as it recovers from the coronavirus pandemic would be a political decision and not justifiable on health grounds, Foreign Minister Ann Linde has said.
With many European countries looking to ease travel restrictions ahead of the summer, there are concerns elsewhere in the Nordic region that allowing Swedish tourists in could increase the risk of new infections.
More than 4,000 Swedes have died from COVID-19, nearly four times the combined total of the other Nordic countries. Still, Linde said the disease had mostly hit the capital with border areas such as Skane, in the far south, much less affected.
Sweden, which has not closed its borders to neighbours, opted against the hard lockdowns imposed by other Nordic countries and has kept most schools, bars and restaurants open.
Saudi Arabia allows mosques to open for Friday prayers
Saudi Arabia will allow mosques to open for Friday prayers, state TV has reported, as the kingdom eases restrictions on movement to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Mosques will be authorised to open 20 minutes before Friday prayers and should close 20 minutes after they finish, state TV said on Twitter, citing the ministry of Islamic affairs.
Saudi authorities said on Monday that restrictions would be lifted in three phases, culminating in a curfew ending – with the exception of the holy city of Mecca – from June 21.
- Mosques in West Bank reopen after virus closure
Mosques in the West Bank have welcomed worshippers as the Palestinian authorities lifted most of the restrictions put in place to fight the virus outbreak.
The reopening was welcomed by many Muslim faithful celebrating the last day of Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
“I felt a great relief, and I’m very very happy as the Eid’s celebration is now complete with the reopening of the mosque today,” said Mahmoud Adawi told the Associated Press news agency, one of the worshippers who prayed at a Bethlehem mosque.
Putin says Russia has ‘passed peak’ of coronavirus infections
President Vladimir Putin said Russia has passed the peak of coronavirus infections as he told his defence minister to prepare a postponed World War II parade in June.
“According to experts the peak can be considered passed,” Putin told Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu, ordering him to begin preparations for the parade marking 75 years since the defeat of Nazi Germany.
“We will do it on June 24, the day the legendary historic victors’ parade took place in 1945,” Putin said.
WHO warns that 1st wave of pandemic not over
As Brazil and India struggle with surging coronavirus cases, a top health expert is warning the world is still smack in the middle of the pandemic, dampening hopes for a speedy global economic rebound and renewed international travel.
“Right now, we’re not in the second wave. We’re right in the middle of the first wave globally,” said Dr Mike Ryan, the World Health Organization’s executive director. “We’re still very much in a phase where the disease is actually on the way up,” Ryan told reporters, pointing to South America, South Asia and other areas where infections are still on the rise.
India saw a record single-day jump in new cases for the seventh straight day. It reported 6,535 new infections Tuesday, raising its total to 145,380, including 4,167 deaths.