/Africa hit by community spread of coronavirus: Live updates

Africa hit by community spread of coronavirus: Live updates


  • Cases of community transmission of the coronavirus are growing in Africa, particularly in Ethiopia, and a new strategy for testing is needed to prevent this, the head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has said.
  • European governments have moved to halt the use of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients, and a second global trial was suspended, further blows to hopes for a treatment promoted by US President Donald Trump.

  • More than 5.7 million cases of coronavirus have been confirmed around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Some 356,000 people have died, while more than 2.3 million have recovered.

Here are the latest updates:

Thursday, May 28

13:15 GMT – PM Johnson to set out UK’s next steps on easing coronavirus lockdown

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will set out the next steps on easing Britain’s coronavirus lockdown, describing what will be possible from June 1, his spokesman said.

Britain is poised to start relaxing measures and possibly allowing more social contact soon for millions of people who have been mostly stuck at home for weeks.

“The PM will be setting out later on what we will be able to do from June 1,” the spokesman told reporters.

12:23 GMT – Indonesia to keep prescribing two malaria drugs despite bans in Europe

Indonesia will continue to prescribe two anti-malarial drugs for coronavirus patients but monitor their use closely, a spokesman for Indonesia’s COVID-19 taskforce has said, after some European nations banned the drug over safety concerns.

The world’s fourth most populous nation has since late March recommended that chloroquine and its derivative, hydroxychloroquine, be widely administered, including to coronavirus patients with moderate to severe symptoms, according to Food and Drug Monitoring Agency guidelines.

WHO suspends clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19

12:10 GMT – Siberian zoo sees animal baby boom during lockdown

A Siberian zoo that closed its doors to visitors for over two months says the lockdown has encouraged a baby boom among its animals.

Among the zoo’s new arrivals are rare Egyptian goslings, reindeer calves, llama crias and a baby brown weeper capuchin monkey.

“Judging by the baby boom, the lockdown has clearly been good for us because there are a lot of interesting and beautiful baby animals now,” said Andrei Gorban, the director of Krasnoyarsk’s Royev Ruchey Zoo.

12:00 GMT – UK police to take no action against PM’s adviser Cummings: Telegraph

UK police have said Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s senior adviser Dominic Cummings did breach the coronavirus lockdown but that it was minor and they will take no further action, the Telegraph has reported.

“Dominic Cummings did break lockdown rules when he made a 50-mile (80km) journey to Barnard Castle, an investigation by Durham Police has concluded,” The Telegraph said.

The force “said it would not be taking any further action against Mr Cummings”.

‘I don’t regret it’: UK PM’s aide defends actions during lockdown

11:44 GMT – US, European trade groups press China to allow foreign staff back into the country

US and European trade groups are lobbying China to allow foreign workers back into the country after it shut its borders from late March to non-Chinese nationals.

Having managed to all but halt domestic transmission of the coronavirus, China now sees its biggest threat from cases imported from abroad.

So far, it has only relaxed rules to allow some business travel from South Korea and Germany. It has also consulted with Japan about easing border controls.

11:40 GMT – Africa hit by community spread of coronavirus: disease centre

Cases of community transmission of the coronavirus are growing in Africa, particularly in Ethiopia, and a new strategy for testing is needed to prevent this, the head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has said.

Community transmission refers to cases where patients had no travel history or known contact with infected people – worrying for health workers because it means the virus is moving undetected through the population.

“We are beginning to see sustained community transmission within Ethiopia and many other countries across Africa. That means we need to increase our public health measures like distancing, wearing of masks, washing of hands,” John Nkengasong told journalists.

11:38 GMT – Do not cut health spending during downturn, WHO warns

European governments should not cut healthcare spending during the current economic crisis sparked by the pandemic and associated lockdowns, the World Health Organization has warned.

“We are concerned that countries will respond to this crisis in the same way they did to the recession 10 years ago … by cutting public spending on health,” WHO regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge, told a press conference.”

“Those cuts prevented many people from accessing the healthcare that they needed.”

11:14 GMT – UK has highest death rate: FT analysis

The UK has suffered the highest death rate from the coronavirus among the most-affected countries with comparable tracking data, according to Financial Times research.

Official numbers from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released earlier this week show the UK has registered almost 60,000 more deaths than usual since the week ending March 20.

Subsequent analysis by the FT, which looked at data from 19 countries, show the virus has directly or indirectly killed 891 people per million in the UK, the highest comparable figure.

Syrian refugee’s message to Boris Johnson

10:55 GMT – Opening schools in Denmark did not worsen outbreak, data shows

A partial reopening of Danish schools has not lead to an increase in coronavirus infections among pupils, a doctor of infectious disease epidemiology and prevention at the Danish Serum Institute has said, citing new data.

Denmark was one of the first countries to reopen society on April 15 after a one-month lockdown, allowing students up to fifth grade back in school.

“You cannot see any negative effects from the reopening of schools,” Peter Andersen told Reuters, referring to data updated on Wednesday.

The latest data showed no significant increase in infections among children aged between one and 19 in the weeks after the partial reopening of schools.

10:54 GMT – GSK says science does not link pandemic H1N1 flu vaccine to sleep disorder

British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline has said that its previous flu pandemic vaccine, which used some of the same ingredients as COVID-19 vaccines currently under development, was not linked to a rise in cases of the sleep disorder narcolepsy.

A spokesman for GSK said the “science has moved on” since concerns were first raised about links between narcolepsy and its H1N1 vaccine, called Pandemrix.

Previous studies in several countries, including the UK, Finland, Sweden and Ireland, where GSK’s Pandemrix vaccine was used in the 2009-2010 flu pandemic, had suggested its use was linked to a significant rise in cases of narcolepsy in children.

Explainer: Battle against Coronavirus

10:48 GMT – WHO official: Spike in European deaths since March linked to COVID-19

About 159,000 more people in 24 European countries have died since early March than would have ordinarily been expected, a World Health Organization official has said, adding a “significant proportion” of the spike is linked to COVID-19.

“What we have seen very clearly is that the peak in excess mortality corresponds in those countries to the peak of the transmission of COVID-19,” Katie Smallwood, a WHO emergency official, told reporters.

“This gives us a very good indication that a very significant proportion of this excess deaths is linked and due to COVID-19.”

More:

10:45 GMT – International tourism faces biggest slump since 1950s

International tourism is set to fall by 70 percent this year, marking the sector’s biggest slump since records began in the 1950s, United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili has told newspaper Handelsblatt.

He said this prediction for the coronavirus-hit sector was based on the assumption that countries around the world would gradually open their borders from August.

09:45 GMT – Brazil records another 1,000-plus daily deaths

Brazil has recorded more than 1,000 new deaths from the coronavirus in the past 24 hours.

The 1,086 casualties, revealed on Wednesday, brought the total number of deaths to 25,598. With 20,599 new cases, the number of infected people has reached 411,821.

Read more here.

Relatives react during the burial of 64-year-old Raimunda Conceicao Souza, who died from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Vila Formosa cemetery, Brazil's biggest cemetery, in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Relatives attend the burial of 64-year-old Raimunda Conceicao Souza, who died from the coronavirus disease in Sao Paulo [File: Amanda Perobelli/Reuters]

09:31 GMT – Indonesia reports 687 new cases, 23 deaths

Indonesia has reported 687 new cases, bringing the total number of infections to 24,538, a health ministry official has said.

Indonesia also confirmed 23 new deaths from the coronavirus, bringing the total death toll to 1,496, the official, Achmad Yurianto, told reporters.

09:22 GMT – Kuwait Airways to lay off 25 percent of staff due to virus: Source

State-owned Kuwait Airways is planning to lay off 1,500 employees – 25 percent of its workforce – due to the pandemic’s impact on its business, a source has said.

The airline will lay off foreign staff only, Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Qabas reported, citing a source at the company.

Kuwaitis, those married to Kuwaitis and those who hold citizenship of other Gulf Arab states will not be affected by the job cuts, the newspaper said.

09:19 GMT – Ghana war veteran, 95, walks 23km to raise funds

A 95-year-old Ghanaian World War II veteran walked 23 kilometres (14 miles) in one week to raise funds for healthcare workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic in Africa.

Read about it here.

Private Joseph Hammond a 95 years old WWII veteran in Ghana [Screegrab/GUBA Foundation]

Private Joseph Hammond fought in World War II for Britain, like thousands of Africans [Screegrab/GUBA Foundation]

09:15 GMT – Nissan to close Indonesia, Spain auto plants after losses

Nissan has announced it is closing two auto plants in Spain and Indonesia, as it sank into the red for the first time in 11 years, while the pandemic sent global demand plunging and halted production.

Nissan’s Chief Executive Makoto Uchida told reporters the production in Europe will be centred at the British plant in Sunderland, and the production in Indonesia will move to Thailand, as the Japanese automaker reduces global production by 20 percent.

09:07 GMT – Malaysia reports 10 new cases

Malaysian health authorities have reported 10 new coronavirus cases, raising the total to 7,629 cases.

The health ministry reported no new deaths, keeping the total number of fatalities at 115.

08:47 GMT – Nearly half of closed UK firms don’t know when they will reopen

Nearly half of businesses in the UK which temporarily closed or paused trading because of the coronavirus lockdown are unsure when they will restart trading, a survey by the country’s official statistics office has shown.

Fourteen percent of the closed firms said they expected to resume business in the next two weeks and a further 31 percent expected to restart in more than four weeks, the Office for National Statistics said.

European Union unveils $824bn coronavirus recovery plan

08:39 GMT – ‘No evidence’ reopening of Finland schools spreads virus faster

Finland has seen no evidence of the coronavirus spreading faster since schools started to reopen in the middle of May, the top health official has said.

“The time has been short, but so far we have seen no evidence,” Mika Salminen, director of health security at the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare, told a news conference.

Finland started to reopen schools and daycare centres from May 14 following an almost two-month shutdown.

08:32 GMT – Dutch F1 Grand Prix motor racing postponed to 2021

The Dutch Formula One Grand Prix at Zandvoort has been postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organisers have said.

The race at the seaside circuit would have been the country’s first since 1985.

“I had to look forward to it for 35 years, so I can wait another year,” Dutch Grand Prix sports director Jan Lammers said on the race website.

More:

08:18 GMT – Philippines confirms 539 new cases, largest single-day increase

The Philippines’ health ministry has reported 17 more coronavirus deaths and 539 new infections, the largest number of cases reported in a single day since the virus was first detected in the country.

The ministry said total infections have risen to 15,588 and 921 people have died. The number of recovered patients was 3,598.

An inter-agency panel on coronavirus has recommended that President Rodrigo Duterte ease the strict lockdown measures in the capital, which accounts for most of the coronavirus cases and deaths, to restart economic activity.

blog entry philippines

A city worker finishes submitting a blood sample for an antibody test at a coronavirus testing centre in Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines [Rolex Dela Pena/EPA-EFE]

08:04 GMT – Women’s sport faces generational loss from COVID-19 cuts: NZ agency

Women’s sport might need a generation to recover recent gains if it is left “by the wayside” during the pandemic as organisations focus on getting men’s competitions back on track, the head of a New Zealand women’s advocacy agency has told Reuters.

Rachel Froggatt, chief executive of Women in Sport Aotearoa, said that while the New Zealand government had pledged support for women’s sport, the coronavirus shutdown threatened to stifle the momentum of the last few years.

Women’s cricket, soccer, Australian Rules, rugby league and rugby union competitions have gained traction in Australia and New Zealand but many organisations have been quick to pull funding and end seasons for women’s sport during the pandemic.

07:57 GMT – Pandemic worsens pain of periods for women across the world: NGO

Millions of women worldwide are facing shortages of sanitary products, price hikes and worsened stigma while managing periods during the coronavirus pandemic, a charity has warned.

About three-quarters of health professionals in 30 countries surveyed by Plan International, from Kenya to Australia, reported supply shortages, while 58 percent complained of rising and prohibitive prices of sanitary products.

Around half the respondents cited reduced access to clean water to help manage periods, and a quarter worried about greater stigma or discriminative cultural practices linked to menstruation for women who were trapped at home by lockdowns.

07:45 GMT – Russia’s coronavirus death toll passes 4,000

Russia has reported 174 deaths in the previous 24 hours, matching its record daily rise for fatalities and raising the total death toll to 4,142.

The country’s coronavirus crisis response centre said the number of infections had risen by 8,371 to 379,051.

Moscow extends lockdown until May 31 as COVID-19 infections soar

07:34 GMT – EasyJet will not fly to Italy with distancing on planes: Report

EasyJet will not fly to Italy if Rome prolongs social distancing rules on planes beyond June 15, the budget airline’s chief executive has said in a newspaper interview.

“It would be impossible for companies to operate with only a third of the seats sold,” Johan Lundgren was quoted as saying by Corriere della Sera.

07:27 GMT – Singapore’s health ministry confirms 373 new coronavirus cases

Singapore’s health ministry has confirmed 373 more coronavirus cases, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 33,249.

07:23 GMT – South Korea reimposes some social restrictions to curb new outbreaks

South Korea has reimposed a series of coronavirus social distancing measures, as a series of clusters threatens to challenge its success in containing the epidemic.

Museums, parks and art galleries in the Seoul metropolitan area will all be closed again for two weeks from Friday, said health minister Park Neung-hoo, while companies were urged to readopt flexible working practices, among other measures.

“We have decided to strengthen all quarantine measures in the metropolitan area for two weeks from tomorrow to June 14,” he said.

07:00 GMT – UK employers should pay wages of those asked to isolate by COVID-19 trace system: Minister

Employers should pay the wages of anyone told to stay at home by England’s COVID-19 test and trace system, British health minister Matt Hancock has said.

The service is aimed at allowing the loosening of lockdown measures for most of the population. From Thursday, contacts of those who test positive will be instructed to isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms.

Asked during an interview on Sky News if employers were being asked to step in and pay people’s wages while they isolate, Hancock said: “Yes”.

“If you are instructed by the NHS, for public health reasons, to stay at home then that is the equivalent in employment law to being ill and it is very important that employers are flexible about this,” he said.

Meet New York’s ‘patron saint of PPE’

06:24 GMT – GSK to produce one billion doses of adjuvant vaccine booster in 2021

UK drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline Plc will expand production of vaccine efficacy boosters, or adjuvants, to produce one billion doses in 2021 for use in shots for COVID-19, the company has said.

The company added it was in talks with governments on backing the programme, which would allow the expansion of the scale of production of future successful vaccines for the COVID-19 disease.

06:20 GMT – Britain’s EasyJet to axe up to 30 percent of its workforce

British low cost airline EasyJet said it plans to slash up to 30 percent of its staff and shrink its fleet, to fit the smaller market it expects to emerge from the collapse in air travel due to the pandemic.

EasyJet said it would launch a consultation process with its staff in the coming days, joining many of its airline peers in announcing job cuts.

06:15 GMT

Hello, this is Mersiha Gadzo in Doha taking over the live updates from my colleague Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur.

05:36 GMT – Turkey resumes intercity train services as coronavirus curbs ease

Turkey began operating intercity trains on Thursday after a two-month gap, as it gradually eases coronavirus curbs in a bid to restore normal life and reopen an economy facing the threat of recession.

At 04:00 GMT, an intercity train left the capital, Ankara, for Istanbul for the first time since the March 28 halt in services. Trains will make 16 trips daily, although individuals aged 20 or less and 65 or older cannot travel

To fight the virus, Turkey had imposed weekend stay-at-home orders, halted most travel between large cities, shut restaurants and schools, and mostly sealed its borders. But the government has begun rolling back some measures as the spread of the virus slows, saying it aims to normalise life until August.

05:02 GMT – Stranded Colombians plead for COVID-19 airlift out of Brazil

More than 200 Colombian nationals, who have been camped out inside Brazil’s Sao Paulo’s international airport, have asked their government to send a special flight to bring them home.

The stranded passengers are camping out in the airport in hopes that their plight will prod Colombian authorities in Brazil to charter a humanitarian flight home. Anything to get them back to Colombia and far from Latin America’s coronavirus hot spot.

“We don’t have money or anything to do in Brazil. We want to ask Colombia’s president to please help us. We’re only eating thanks to donations,” Jose Avila Saavedra, one of the people stranded, told the Associated Press news agency.

04:50 GMT – Thailand reports 11 new coronavirus cases, no new deaths

Thailand on Thursday reported 11 new coronavirus cases and no new deaths, bringing its total to 3,065 confirmed cases and 57 fatalities since the outbreak started in January.

The cases were Thai nationals in quarantine who recently returned from overseas, including four from Kuwait, six from Qatar and one from India, Reuters news agency reported, quoting Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government’s coronavirus task force.

There are 2,945 patients who have recovered since the outbreak started.

04:22 GMT – Washington DC to begin gradual reopening 

The US capital, Washington DC, will begin to gradually reopen on Friday, even as Mayor Muriel Bowser warns that it probably will result in more coronavirus infections, according to an AP news agency report.

Restaurants will be permitted to seat guests outdoors, barbers and hair salons will open with limited capacity and nonessential businesses will be allowed to offer curbside or front-door pickup services.

Dog parks, tennis courts and golf courses will reopen, but playground equipment and public pools will remain closed. Sports that involve close contact, including football, soccer and basketball, are still banned.

03:45 GMT – Germany’s coronavirus cases rise by 353 to 179,717

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 353 to 179,717, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Thursday.

The reported death toll rose by 62 to 8,411, the tally showed, according to Reuters news agency.

03:38 GMT – UN warns 14 million could go hungry in Latin America 

The United Nations World Food Programme is warning that at least 14 million people could go hungry in Latin America as the coronavirus pandemic rages on, shuttering people in their homes, drying up work and crippling the economy.

“We are entering a very complicated stage,” said Miguel Barreto, the WFP’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “It is what we are calling a hunger pandemic.”

In Haiti, hunger could more than double, from 700,000 to 1.6 million, according to the AP report.

Mexico - coronavirus At least 3.4 million people have experienced severe food insecurity in Latin America in 2019, the US said [Carlos Jasso/Reuters]

03:08 GMT – China reports two new cases from abroad

China announced two new cases of coronavirus, both from abroad, on Thursday as it moves to close the annual session of its ceremonial legislature that had been delayed for more than two months by the outbreak.

No new deaths were reported and just 73 people remained in treatment, while another 518 remain under isolation and observation on suspicion of having the virus or testing positive without showing any symptoms, AP news agency reported, quoting health officials.

China has reported a total of 4,634 deaths from COVID-19 among 82,995 cases.

02:49 GMT – Philippines task force backs easing Manila lockdown

The Philippines’ coronavirus task force has recommended President Rodrigo Duterte ease one of the longest lockdowns in the world for residents in the capital who have endured nearly 11 weeks of restrictions.

Manila’s lockdown will this weekend surpass the 76-day quarantine of Wuhan, the Chinese city where the first outbreak of the highly infectious novel coronavirus was detected, according to Reuters news agency.

The recommendation came even as daily infections this week were the highest since April 6. Confirmed cases in the past six days comprise nearly 11 percent of the total 15,049 recorded, of which 904 led to deaths.

02:04 GMT – S Korea reports 79 new cases – largest rise since April 5 

South Korea reported 79 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, in the largest one day increase since April 5, according to the Reuters news agency’s tally.

This was as of midnight on Wednesday, and brings the country’s total to 11,344 cases and 269 deaths.

At least 69 of the new cases were domestic infections, and come as health authorities battle a growing outbreak linked to an e-commerce firm’s logistics facility.

Coronavirus - South Korea

Students eat lunch with transparent dividers separating them at the canteen of Geumbyeong Elementary School in Chuncheon, South Korea on Wednesday [Yonhap via EPA]

01:50 GMT – China to allow flights from seven more countries

China will soon relax its border controls for seven more countries, the country’s civil aviation agency said, allowing domestic and foreign airlines to apply for the so-called “green channels” for chartered flights to the mainland.

Among those countries are Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore and Switzerland. South Korea was the first country to establish the “green channel” with China earlier this month.

01:28 GMT – EU governments ban hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19

European governments moved to halt the use of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients, and a second global trial was suspended, further blows to hopes for a treatment promoted by US President Donald Trump.

The moves by France, Italy and Belgium followed a World Health Organization decision on Monday to pause a large trial of hydroxychloroquine due to safety concerns.

A UK regulator said that a separate trial was also being put on hold, less than a week after it started. The study, being led by the University of Oxford and partly funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was expected to involve as many as 40,000 healthcare workers.

01:09 GMT – South Korea logistics centre reports spike in COVID-19 cases

South Korea on Thursday reported a continued spike in new coronavirus cases linked to a logistics centre in a city west of Seoul, according to Yonhap news agency.

A total of 69 cases had been traced to the logistics centre operated by the country’s leading e-commerce operator, Coupang Inc in Bucheon, as of early Thursday, Yonhap quoted health officials as saying.

The company said all employees at the facility who had contact with the patient were put under self-isolation and that the facility has been shut down.

00:38 GMT – Colombia to begin easing restrictions from the start of June

Colombia will begin easing restrictions put in place to control the spread of the coronavirus starting from June, President Ivan Duque has announced, though he asked the public to continue isolating at home and keep using measures to contain the disease.

Colombia has reported more than 24,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, as well as 803 deaths. The country began a nationwide quarantine in late March.

00:10 GMT – Egypt reports country’s highest daily rate of infections

Egypt’s health minister announced 910 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in the past 12 hours, the country’s highest daily rate of infections since the virus was detected in mid-February, according to The Associated Press.

The ministry also reported 19 new deaths from COVID-19. Wednesday’s figures have brought Egypt’s tally to 816 deaths among 19,666 confirmed cases.

Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, has the highest announced deaths from COVID-19 in the Arab world, and the third in the Middle East, tailing Iran and Turkey, according to a tally by The Associated Press.

Egypt - coronavirus

Egypt has the highest announced deaths from COVID-19 in the Arab world [File: Mohamed Hossam/EPA]

00:01 GMT – Turkey’s average number of cases hovers around 1,000 daily

Turkey’s health minister has announced 34 new deaths, bringing the death toll from COVID-19 to 4,431.

Fahrettin Koca tweeted Wednesday 1,035 new infections were confirmed in the past 24 hours. The total number of cases has reached 159,797.

Turkey ranks ninth in a tally by Johns Hopkins University for the number of cases, but experts believe the rate of infections globally could be much higher than reported. The average number of new cases has hovered around 1,000 this week, AP news agency reported.

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Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Read all the updates from yesterday (May 27) here.

Original Source