Indigenous women from the Parque das Tribos community mourn at a funeral of a tribe member who died of the novel coronavirus, in Manaus, Brazil, on May 14, 2020. (MICHAEL DANTAS / AFP)
GENEVA / RIO DE JANEIRO / MEXICO CITY / DAKAR / BERLIN / LONDON / MOSCOW / MADRID / PARIS / CAIRO / BRUSSELS / HELSINKI - Coronavirus is spreading fast through Brazil's indigenous populations, with deaths caused by the disease increasing more than five-fold in the past month, according to data collected by a national association of first peoples.
Many epidemiologists had hoped remote locations might protect the tribes, but the virus, which first took hold in Brazil's cosmopolitan state capitals of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, is increasingly devastating these far-flung communities where basic healthcare is often precarious. For many indigenous it harks back to a dark past.
Brazil registered a record number of daily deaths from the coronavirus for the second consecutive day, according to health ministry data released on Wednesday, even as city and state authorities move aggressively to open commerce back up.
The nation recorded another 1,349 deaths on Wednesday and 28,633 additional confirmed cases, the data showed. Brazil has now registered 32,548 deaths and 584,016 confirmed cases.
State and local authorities that have supported quarantining measures are loosening restrictions as hunger grows and public finances, shaky in the best of times, plummet deep into the red.
In Rio de Janeiro, the nation's second-largest city, many types of shops were allowed to open for the first time in months on Tuesday.
Separately on Wednesday, the country's health regulator, Anvisa, has approved human clinical trials for a potential coronavirus vaccine developed by scientists at Oxford University and supported by AstraZeneca Plc, it said earlier in the day.
The European Union (EU) is preparing to use an emergency 2.4-billion- euro (US$2.7 billion) fund to make advance purchases of promising vaccines against the new coronavirus, EU officials told Reuters.
The move was discussed at a meeting of EU ambassadors on Wednesday, after Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands said they were speeding up negotiations with pharmaceutical companies to secure access to vaccines currently under development.
The EU's push follows moves from the US to secure vaccines under development, which an EU official said was necessary to do so
The EU rainy-day fund, known as the Emergency Support Instrument (ESI), would also be used to increase vaccine production capacity in Europe and offer liability insurance to pharmaceutical companies, officials said, confirming a Reuters report in May.
The EU's push follows moves from the United States to secure vaccines under development. An EU official said it was necessary to do as the United States was doing, even if this meant losing money as many of the vaccines under development are unlikely to be eventually successful.
The EU is worried that not enough doses might be available to rapidly vaccinate its population of nearly 450 million if a vaccine is developed. It is working on a vaccination strategy to give priority to the people most in need, like medics, nurses and the elderly.
WHO to resume hydroxychloroquine trial
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday announced that based on the latest data review, the clinical trial of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients will continue.
Speaking at a virtual press conference, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that experts have been reviewing the data and recommended that "there are no reasons to modify the trial protocol."
"The Executive Group received this recommendation and endorsed continuation of all arms of the Solidarity Trial, including hydroxychloroquine," he said.
The WHO chief said that experts have been reviewing the data and recommended that "there are no reasons to modify the trial protocol"
The Solidarity Trial is a WHO-sponsored plan to evaluate the safety and efficacy of four drugs and drug combinations against COVID-19, which include hydroxychloroquine.
"The executive group will communicate with the principal investigators in the trial about resuming the hydroxychloroquine arm of the trial," Tedros told an online media briefing, referring to WHO's initiative to hold clinical tests of potential COVID-19 treatments on some 3,500 patients in 35 countries.
On May 25, the WHO decided to pause the trial of hydroxychloroquine due to fears it increased death rates and irregular heartbeats
"The Data Safety and Monitoring Committee will continue to closely monitor the safety of all therapeutics being tested in the Solidarity Trial," Tedros said.
In the same virtual briefing, WHO officials said they were especially worried about outbreaks in Central and South America as well as in Haiti, one of the world's poorest nations, where infections have been spreading rapidly.
"For several weeks, the number of cases reported each day in the Americas has been more than the rest of the world put together," Tedros said.
According to latest WHO figures, as of Wednesday afternoon, a total of 6,287,771 confirmed cases, including 379,941 deaths, in the world have been reported to the WHO.
The United States remains the hardest-hit country, with a total of 1,798,330 confirmed cases and 105,008 deaths being reported to the WHO. Brazil, the second hardest-hit nation in terms of caseload, has so far reported 526,447 infections, with 29,937 deaths.
Across the African continent, the number of confirmed COVID-19 positive cases across the African continent surpassed 162,673, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said Thursday.
More than 50 percent of COVID-19 patients in Bulgaria have recovered, the country's health ministry said Thursday.
According to the ministry, 25 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed across the country in the past 24 hours, taking the tally to 2,585. The number of recoveries reached 1,322 after another 116 such cases were reported.
Currently, 141 patients are hospitalized, with eight in intensive care, while the death toll rose to 147 after one more death was reported in the past 24 hours, it added.
A health worker in protective gear tests a 1-year-old boy for COVID-19 at his home after a family member fell ill. In Manacapuru, Amazonas state, Brazil, on June 3, 2020. (FELIPE DANA / AP)
The Chilean Ministry of Health on Wednesday said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country has risen to 113,628, with 1,275 deaths.
According to the ministry, 4,942 new cases and another 87 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, a record number of daily deaths since the pandemic began in the country.
Health Minister Jaime Manalich said that in the capital of Santiago and at least six neighboring towns, quarantine measures will continue until June 12, affecting around seven million people.
Egypt witnessed on Wednesday the lowest new daily COVID-19 infections in a week with 1,079 cases reported, bringing the tally in the country to 28,615, said the health ministry.
Thirty-six more deaths were also reported, pushing the death toll to 1,088, the ministry's spokesman Khaled Megahed said in a statement.
The country saw a record of daily recoveries with 523 patients completely cured and discharged from hospitals, raising the total number of recoveries to 7,350, according to the statement.
Earlier in the day, Health Minister Hala Zayed said during a cabinet video conference meeting that nearly 5,500 coronavirus patients have been receiving medical treatment nationwide while being self-isolated at their homes.
This photo taken on June 3, 2020 shows the contact-tracing app "StopCOVID" on a mobile phone in Paris, France. The French government launched the app on June 2. (GAO JING / XINHUA)
France's Bastille Day military parade marking its national day will be replaced by a ceremony on the Place de la Concorde square in central Paris, President Emmanuel Macron's office said on Thursday.
The ceremony, which will include the traditional fly-over by the French air force, will honor the military's participation in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic as well as frontline health care workers, the Elysee Palace said in a statement.
France's coronavirus death toll rose by 81 on Wednesday to reach 29,021, the fifth-highest death toll in the world, and the number of confirmed cases rose again after they went down Tuesday due to an adjustment in reporting.
In a statement, the health ministry said the daily death toll only includes hospital fatalities as those occurring in nursing homes will as of now only be included on a weekly basis on Tuesdays.
The number of confirmed cases, which declined by 0.5 percent Tuesday, was up 0.2 percent at 151.677.
A total of 151,677 people have tested positive for the coronavirus to date, including 352 new infections confirmed in the last 24 hours. The number of patients who have recovered stood at 69,455, a single-day increase of 668.
Coronavirus infections have slowed in Finland over the last two weeks despite the reopening of schools in mid-May, the health ministry said on Thursday.
Schools closed for summer holidays at the end of May, but scientists warned there was still risk of the epidemic regaining strength without social distancing.
Finland has recorded just 6,911 coronavirus infections and 321 deaths.
The ministry said it plans to launch an optional coronavirus mobile tracing application in August.
Germany and three other EU states are forging a new alliance aimed at securing access to coronavirus vaccines, once developed, and making sure they are distributed fairly around the world, business daily Handelsblatt reported.
Handelsblatt cited government sources as saying Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands were talking to several pharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca, about government research funds and purchase guarantees. The four were also talking to Britain, Norway, Singapore and Japan about possible cooperation.
Germany saw 242 new cases in the 24 hours through Thursday morning, bringing the tally to 184,121, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That compares with 285 infections the previous day. Fatalities increased by 39 to 8,602.
The reproduction factor of the virus, known as R-naught, fell to 0.71 on Wednesday from 0.89 the day before, according to the latest estimate from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).
According to data from RKI on Thursdya, the number of confirmed cases rose by 394 to 182,764. The death toll climbed by 30 to 8,581.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition on Wednesday agreed a 130 billion euros (US$146 billion) stimulus package to speed up Germany's recovery from the coronavirus. The stimulus program follows a 750 billion-euro rescue package agreed in March.
The number of COVID-19 cases in Ghana has increased to 8,548 after the addition of 251 more cases as of Wednesday, said the Ghana Health Service (GHS).
The GHS said 146 more patients have recovered, bringing the total number of recoveries to 3,132, while the death toll remains at 38.
Passengers wearing face masks wait for a train at Roma Termini Train Station in Rome, Italy, June 3, 2020. (CHENG TINGTING / XINHUA)
People in Italy will be allowed to move freely within the country from Wednesday and travel restrictions were also eased for travelers from the European Union (EU) and Schengen countries, as well as the United Kingdom, Andorra and Monaco.
As of Wednesday, travelers from those countries will be allowed to visit the country without being subjected to undergo a quarantine, according to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
"The trend of new cases is constantly decreasing in all our regions," Conte said in a nationally televised press conference.
Italy registered another 71 COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the country's toll to 33,601, according to fresh figures published Wednesday.
The number of active infections dropped by 596 to 39,297 cases, according to the Civil Protection Department.
The overall tally rose to 233,836 confirmed cases, an increase of 321 cases.
Kenya's Ministry of Health on Wednesday confirmed 123 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of infections to 2,216.
Rashid Aman, chief administrative secretary at the ministry, said another 54 people have recovered, the highest number since Kenya reported its first recovery on April 1, raising the total number of recoveries to 553.
Aman also said that three more deaths were reported, bringing the total number of fatalities to 74.
Libya's National Center for Disease Control said on Wednesday that 14 new COVID-19 cases were reported, bringing the tally to 196.
Out of the 14 new cases, 11 were detected in the southern city of Sabha, the center said.
It also said that the country registered another 52 recoveries and five deaths.
The Lithuanian government has approved a proposal to resume regular flights to the French cities of Paris and Nice, Danish cities of Copenhagen and Billund, and Finnish city of Turku, according to a press release issued by the government on Wednesday.
Previously, Lithuania had already resumed regular flights to Latvia, Estonia, Germany, Norway and the Netherlands.
On Monday, Lithuania lifted the 14-day self-isolation rule for travelers coming from 24 European countries excluding Malta, Ireland and Spain. Travel from Belgium, Sweden, Portugal and Britain is still prohibited.
According to the Ministry of Health, Lithuania has reported 1,684 confirmed COVID-19 cases by Wednesday morning, of which 71 have died and 1,260 have recovered.
Mexico overtook the United States in daily reported deaths from the coronavirus for the first time on Wednesday, with the health ministry registering a record 1,092 fatalities.
Wednesday saw a record 3,912 new infections, with the number of daily deaths more than twice the previous record of 501.
The total number of known cases in the country is now 101,238 and its death toll is 11,729, making it the seventh country with most deaths from the virus, according to the John Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell attributed the sharp jump in numbers to a new mortality committee established by the Mexico City government to better identify which deaths in the capital were caused by the virus.
Mexico had planned to start reopening the country from measures designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Instead, deaths and new infections have scaled new peaks this week, dampening expectations for major changes.
Mexico's toll may reach 30,000, Lopez-Gatell said in a newspaper interview published Wednesday, while suggesting fatalities could be even higher if social distancing measures were relaxed too fast.
Morocco's health ministry on Wednesday reported 56 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the North African country to 7,922.
The number of the recoveries rose to 6,866 after 456 new ones were added, Mouad Mrabet, coordinator of the Moroccan Centre for Public Health said at a press briefing.
The death toll remains at 206 as no additional fatalities were recorded in the last 24 hours, the official said.
This April 6, 2020 file photo shows an arrangement of hydroxychloroquine tablets in Las Vegas. (JOHN LOCHER / AP)
The number of people infected with the coronavirus in Mozambique has risen to 316, as the country registered nine more positive cases in the past 24 hours, said National Director of Public Health Rosa Marlene on Wednesday at a daily press conference in Maputo.
Eleven more patients have recovered, according to Marlene, raising the number of recoveries to 109.
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in North Macedonia reached 2,492 after 101 new cases of infection were registered on Wednesday, the Ministry of Health confirmed.
Of the 101 new cases, 59 were detected in the capital city of Skopje.
According to health authorities, 1,605 patients have so far recovered, including the 10 new recoveries reported in the past 24 hours.
Four more deaths were reported on Wednesday, raisingthe death toll to 145.
Peru has so far reported a total of 178,914 cases of COVID-19, including 4,894 deaths, said the Ministry of Health on Wednesday.
In its daily report, the ministry said that a total of 10,101 patients have been hospitalized to date, with 998 of them in intensive care units and on ventilators.
A planeload of 150 ventilators arrived in Russia from the United States on Thursday, Washington's embassy in Moscow said, to help fight the coronavirus in further medical aid collaboration between the two politically-estranged nations.
The aid from the United States came after a US Air Force plane delivered a first batch of medical supplies including 50 ventilators on May 21.
Russia reported 8,831 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, taking the tally to 441,108. Another 169 deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide death toll to 5,384.
On Wednesday, official data showed that Russia's second biggest city of St. Petersburg recorded a death rate last month 32 percent higher than last year, suggesting that there may be more people dying of COVID-19 than are being reported.
Protestors in Dakar set tyres on fire and threw stones at security forces on Wednesday night during protests over a nationwide dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed almost three months ago because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The unrest in Senegal's capital followed similar action in the holy city of Touba a night earlier, where crowds of people torched an ambulance, threw rocks and looted office buildings. There were also protests in the Kaolack region in the south of the country, a local official said.
Senegal's government has not faced major opposition to its handling of the pandemic, but the economy has been hard hit by measures like the overnight curfew and a ban on inter-regional travel.
The country has confirmed almost 4,000 confirmed cases, including 45 deaths. Dakar and Touba, which is both a trading hub and major pilgrimage destination, have been hardest hit.
A woman and a young girl cycle across Preseren Square in Ljubljana, Slovenia, June 3, 2020. (PENG LIJUN / XINHUA)
Slovenians will be able to cross the border without restrictions to all neighboring countries after Austria agreed to lift border restrictions for Slovenians.
Slovenia had introduced border checks and travelling restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus, including obligatory quarantine for most people entering the country. Over the past weeks it has lifted restrictions for citizens from neighbouring Croatia and Hungary.
Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg announced on Wednesday that the country will be lifting coronavirus-related border restrictions, including a quarantine, for people from all neighboring countries except Italy as of Thursday.
"Slovenia's epidemiologic picture is one of the best and this fact deserved recognition," ministry spokesman Aleksander Gerzina said.
Slovenia has so far reported a total of 1,477 coronavirus cases, with 109 deaths.
Somalia's health ministry said the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country has increased to 2,146 after 57 new cases were confirmed on Wednesday.
Health Minister Fawziya Abikar said the death toll remains at 79 as no deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours.
Abikar said 26 more patients have recovered from the respiratory disease, raising the total number of recoveries to 406.
Spanish Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said on Thursday that all restrictions to border crossings with France and Portugal will be lifted from June 22.
Spain will open up land borders with France and Portugal on June 22 and also aims to start welcoming tourists to some islands and other areas that have the coronavirus under control around the same time, a minister said on Thursday.
Maroto provided more details of this plan on Thursday, saying they were working on experimenting with tourism to certain regions in the second half of June, and tour operator TUI was due to bring 6,000 German tourists to visit the Balearic archipelago around the island of Mallorca.
The Spanish government on Wednesday secured parliament's backing for a final extension to the state of emergency imposed to tackle the coronavirus epidemic and which will now last until June 21.
Spain on Wednesday registered its first death from the coronavirus since Sunday, bringing the death toll to 27,128. Confirmed cases increased by 219 from the previous day to 240,326.
Data released by the National Statistics Institute (INE) revealed a 155 percent spike in mortality at the epidemic's early-April peak, though not all excess deaths can be directly linked to the coronavirus. Thanks to strict confinement measures, the government believed that the worst is now over, a claim borne out by the INE data, which shows mortality between May 18-24 was at roughly the same level as a year earlier.
Tunisia’s Ministry of Health on Wednesday announced that another COVID-19 death has been reported, bringing the death toll in the country to 49.
One new imported case was reported Wednesday, raising the total number of cases to 1,087. So far, a total of 965 recoveries have been recorded.
"From June 4, work will resume at 100 percent capacity in public administrations and in the other sectors of activity," said Lobna Jribi, the minister in charge of major national projects. All places of worship, hotels, restaurants and party halls will also reopen from June 4.
Various sporting activities can resume from June 8 without the public "for the moment" while respecting the preventive measures fixed by the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
Travel between all Tunisian governorates will also resume without authorization, said Jribi. Tunisian nationals abroad will be repatriated from June 4 to June 14.
Uganda's Ministry of Health on Thursday reported 15 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 522.
Thirty-three foreign truck drivers who have tested positive for COVID-19 were handed over to their respective countries of origin.
Out of the 522 cases, 82 have recovered and no one has died of the disease in the country, according to the ministry.
A resident wearing a face shield walks past a video screen showing social distancing measures. On Oxford Street in London, Britain, on June 3, 2020. (TIM IRELAND / XINHUA)
Nearly 30,000 COVID-19 tests which Britain sent to a U.S. lab for processing came back void, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman said on Thursday, adding to a mounting pile of questions over the UK's testing regime.
The admission comes in a week where the government has faced criticism by a statistics watchdog over incomplete test data, pressure over turnaround times for test results and teething issues with a new test and trace programme.
Meanwhile, Johnson held a 45-minute socially distanced meeting with business minister Alok Sharma on Wednesday, just hours before Sharma was taken ill and tested for the coronavirus, Johnson's spokesman said on Thursday.
British Home Secretary Priti Patel on Wednesday revealed details of the government's plans to impose a 14-day quarantine on almost all people entering or returning to Britain from June 8.
A breach of self-isolation could result in a 1,000 pounds (about US$1,260) fixed penalty notice in England, or potential prosecution, according to Patel.
Chairing the Downing Street daily briefing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the government's quarantine plans despite criticism from the opposition parties and the aviation sector.
Johnson said that there was a need to impose strict controls to stop the risk of imported cases. He added that "air bridges" will be considered with countries with similar or lower levels of the virus, but "only when it is safe to do so".
Noting that Britain was seeing a continuous downward trend in COVID-19 deaths, Johnson said: "we want to take more steps to unlock our society."
Another 359 deaths were registered in Britain as of Tuesday afternoon, bringing the death toll to 39,728, the Department of Health and Social Care said Wednesday. A total of 279,856 people have tested positive for the disease as of Wednesday morning, a daily increase of 1,871, said the department.
Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal announced on Wednesday that domestic air traffic will resume from Friday while international flights will resume from June 15.
Restaurants, bars, and religious organizations will reopen from June 5. Catering establishments, in particular, could provide services if safety measures are observed.
The country's health ministry said that a total of 24,823 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 735 deaths and 10,440 recoveries, were reported in Ukraine on Wednesday.
As of Wednesday, 1,791 children and 4,785 health workers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the beginning of the epidemic. In the past 24 hours, 483 new COVID-19 cases were registered.
As of Wednesday, 253 military soldiers in the Armed Forces of Ukraine have tested positive for COVID-19, of which 125 have recovered and four have died, reported the press service of Ukraine's Medical Forces Command.
President Donald Trump had no side effects from a two-week course of hydroxychloroquine after using it as a preventive measure against the coronavirus, his White House physician said on Wednesday.
The Trump administration has selected five companies, including Moderna Inc, AstraZeneca Plc and Pfizer Inc, as the most likely candidates to produce a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, the New York Times reported on Wednesday, citing senior officials.
Meanwhile in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday that outdoor dining will be allowed during phase two of reopening, with restaurants in seven of 10 regions given the green light beginning on Thursday.
In Chicago, economic activity resumed after a "stay-at-home" order that was in place for more than two months was lifted. Reopening under reduced capacities, restaurants can now handle outdoor dining, retail shops and personal services businesses can receive customers while other businesses such as hotels can resume operations again.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday reported 1,827,425 cases of the coronavirus, an increase of 24,955 cases from its previous count, and said the number of deaths had risen by 1,045 to 106,202.
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