Three members of the White House coronavirus task force, including Anthony Fauci, have come into contact with someone who has tested positive to COVID-19 and will continue to carry out their duties while in quarantine.
Seoul has closed down more than 2,100 bars and other nightspots because of a new cluster of coronavirus infections, while Germany is scrambling to contain fresh outbreaks at slaughterhouses.
This story was being updated throughout Sunday. You can also listen to the latest episode of the Coronacast podcast.
Sunday’s top stories:Restrictions to be eased in NSW, WA sets out roadmap to recovery
New South Wales has announced two new cases of coronavirus, after 9,500 people were tested in the past 24 hours.
The Premier Gladys Berejiklian has again urged social distancing with the easing of restrictions starting on Friday, May 15.
From Friday, outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed in the state for recreational purposes.
“Just because you catch up with very close friends, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t maintain social distancing,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“Quite the opposite. The last thing we want is to pass on the virus to those we care about the most.”
Western Australia has again recorded no new cases of COVID-19, and the state has just seven active cases.
This chart uses a logarithmic scale to highlight coronavirus growth rates. Read our explainer to understand what that means — and what we can learn from countries that have slowed the spread.
WA has set out a roadmap to recovery with four phases.
The number of coronavirus cases in Victoria has risen by 10, taking the overall tally to 1,487.
One of the cases is linked to the outbreak at an abattoir in Melbourne’s west, which has now recorded 76 cases.
The Government said more than 154,000 have been conducted over the past fortnight, in a testing blitz that was due to finish on Sunday.
Queensland has recorded two new cases of coronavirus overnight; one is in Brisbane, and is related to a cruise ship, the second in Cairns.
The ACT is the only jurisdiction with no active cases.
Three members of White House virus task force in quarantine
Three members of the White House coronavirus task force, including Anthony Fauci, placed themselves in quarantine after contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
Dr Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a leading member of the task force, has become nationally known for his simple and direct explanations to the public about the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease it causes.
Also quarantining are Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Stephen Hahn.
Dr Fauci’s institute said that he had tested negative for COVID-19 and would continue to be tested regularly.
It added that he was considered at “relatively low risk” based on the degree of his exposure, and that he would be “taking appropriate precautions” to mitigate the risk to personal contacts while still carrying out his duties.
Japan wants to end state of emergency in some areas ahead of deadline The Japanese Government will look at weekly case rates before announcing any relaxation of the emergency declaration.(Reuters: Kim Kyung-Hoon)
The Japanese Government is looking to lift the state of emergency in areas not among the hardest-hit by the coronavirus pandemic before the nationwide deadline of May 31.
Japanese Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who is in charge of the country’s coronavirus response, said the Government would assess data including the declining trend in the weekly number of new infections before deciding.
Japan extended its nationwide state of emergency last week to the end of May but will reconsider the situation at a coronavirus task force meeting on May 14.
Out of Japan’s 47 prefectures, the Government has designated 13 including Tokyo and Osaka where the virus has spread rapidly, as “the prefectures under specific cautions”.
Mr Nishimura said some of the 13 prefectures could also be among the areas to be brought out of lockdown measures before the deadline.
About 15,777 coronavirus infections and 624 deaths have been confirmed in the country so far.
Lebanon’s churches welcome worshippers for first time in two months Christian worshippers were sprayed with disinfectant before being allowed into church for Mass.(AP: Bilal Hussein)
Most churches were closed to the public to limit the spread of coronavirus, but Lebanese authorities have started easing restrictions that were imposed in March.
Churches and mosques are now permitted to welcome worshippers for congregational prayers on Sundays and Fridays as long as capacities are limited and other safety guidelines including social distancing measures are respected.
Many worshippers entering churches around Lebanon on Sunday were sprayed with disinfectant and had their temperatures checked before they were allowed in to sit at a distance from others.
Masses including the Easter prayers were held in empty churches for the first time in Lebanon’s recent history last month.
Even during the country’s civil war from 1975–1990 did not stop its people from going to places of worship.
Lebanon has the largest percentage of Christians in the Middle East, about a third of the country’s 5 million people.
The country has registered 809 cases of the coronavirus with 26 deaths attributed to COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Rise in infections in China could cause worries about speed of lifting restrictions It has been almost a month since China’s last coronavirus death.(Reuters: Martin Pollard)
China has reported its first double-digit rise in cases in 10 days, with 14 new cases detected, 12 of them domestic and two from abroad.
Eleven of those domestic cases were in the north-eastern province of Jilin and one was in Hubei province, where the capital Wuhan is considered to have been the epicentre of the global pandemic.
Jilin shares a border with North Korea, where the virus situation is unclear. China has offered to help North Korea in dealing with any outbreak, given its health system is vastly inadequate.
There have been no virus deaths in China for almost a month. Authorities have reported a total of 4,633 deaths from 82,901 cases.
The jump in new cases could fuel concerns over how quickly countries should lift strict social-distancing measures and reopen schools and other public institutions.
Infections increase in Russia after daily record of new cases
Russia’s count of coronavirus infections has climbed above 200,000 after its highest daily tally of new cases.
Figures released on Sunday included 11,012 new cases of the virus for a total of 209,688, with 1,915 deaths attributed to COVID-19.
The country’s coronavirus task force said 88 people had died in the past day.
Russian officials said the sharp rise in numbers can be attributed to increased testing, at least in part.
More than half of the total cases and deaths were in Moscow, which will remain under a lockdown for the rest of the month.
Russia’s coronavirus cases overtook French and German infections this week to become the fifth-highest in the world.
Obama calls Trump Administration’s coronavirus response a ‘chaotic disaster’ Former U.S. President Barack Obama addresses a town hall of young leaders from across Europe at an Obama Foundation event in Berlin, Germany April 6, 2019.(Reuters: Fabrizio Bensch)
Former US president Barack Obama says the Trump Administration’s “what’s in it for me” attitude has hampered its coronavirus response.
Mr Obama made the comments during a phone hook-up with former members of his administration, the ABC’s James Glenday reports from Washington.
He said the United States’ current situation was a reminder of why strong government is important, and urged all Democrats to become actively engaged with Joe Biden’s White House campaign.
He declared this year’s US election is not just a fight against an individual or a party, but a battle against long-term trends that had seen the nation become more divided.
Mr Obama added that the pandemic would have been difficult for any administration.
But he accused the Trump White House of approaching it with a “what’s in it for me” attitude and said its response had been an “absolute chaotic disaster”.
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Here’s what Mr Obama said during the call, according to Yahoo News and confirmed by Reuters:
“What we’re fighting against is these long-term trends in which being selfish, being tribal, being divided, and seeing others as an enemy — that has become a stronger impulse in American life.
“And by the way, we’re seeing that internationally as well. It’s part of the reason why the response to this global crisis has been so anaemic and spotty.
“It would have been bad even with the best of governments. It has been an absolute chaotic disaster when that mindset — of ‘what’s in it for me’ and ‘to heck with everybody else’ — when that mindset is operationalised in our government.”
South Korea and Germany struggle with clusters despite extensive testing South Korea has been widely praised for its efforts controlling the coronavirus outbreak.(Reuters: Kim Hong-Ji)
South Korea’s capital closed down more than 2,100 bars and other nightspots on Saturday because of a new cluster of coronavirus infections, while Germany scrambled to contain fresh outbreaks at slaughterhouses.
Germany and South Korea have both carried out extensive testing and contact tracing and have been hailed for avoiding the mass deaths that have overwhelmed other countries.
But even there, authorities have struggled to find the balance between saving lives and salvaging jobs.
Seoul shut down nightclubs, hostess bars and discos after dozens of infections were linked to people who went out last weekend as the country relaxed its social-distancing guidelines.
Many of the infections were connected to a 29-year-old man who visited three nightclubs before testing positive.
At least 15 of South Korea’s 34 new coronavirus cases have been traced to that man.
The new infections were confirmed on Sunday, in what is the highest daily increase in cases detected in a month.
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Mayor Park Won-soon said health workers were trying to contact some 1,940 people who had been at the three clubs and other places nearby. The mayor said gains made against the virus are now threatened “because of a few careless people”.
Health officials in Germany faced outbreaks at three slaughterhouses in what was seen as a test of the Government’s strategy for dealing with any resurgence of the virus during the easing of the restrictions. At one slaughterhouse, in Coesfeld, 180 workers tested positive.
Musk threatens to exit California over virus restrictions Musk has been complaining about the stay-home order for weeks.(Reuters: Aly Song)
Tesla chief executive officer Elon Musk has threatened to pull the company’s factory and headquarters out of California in an escalating spat with local officials who have stopped the company from reopening its electric vehicle factory.
On Twitter, Musk also threatened to sue over Alameda County Health Department coronavirus restrictions that have stopped Tesla from restarting production its factory in Fremont south of San Francisco.
“Frankly, this is the final straw,” he tweeted. “Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately.”
He wrote that whether the company keeps any manufacturing in Fremont depends on how Tesla is treated in the future.
Mr Musk has been complaining about the stay-home order since the company’s April 29 first-quarter earnings were released, calling the restrictions fascist and urging governments to stop taking people’s freedom.
Indonesia relaxes lockdown laws despite increase in cases
Indonesia is already relaxing bans on public transport and domestic flights — two weeks after they began — sparking fears of a rapid spread of coronavirus throughout the country.
Indonesia correspondent Anne Barker reports that domestic flights banned late last month are already resuming across the country, and a ban on public transport is also being eased.
The bans were meant to last till the end of May. But the Government will allow exemptions for people with emergency health reasons, migrant workers returning home, health sector employees and members of the security forces.
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The move comes after Indonesia posted a record daily increase in coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infections to almost 14,000.
In its biggest daily increase since the pandemic began Indonesia recorded 533 new cases and 16 more deaths.
The confirmed death toll is now approaching 1,000, though many scientists believe the true number is far higher but unconfirmed.
Indonesia has only tested about 108,000 people in total, or 400 per 1 million people — one of the lowest testing rates in the world.
Civil society groups accuse the Government of prioritising the economy over public health.
Half of Spain to reopen from Monday Spain remains one of the hardest-hit countries with a cumulative total of cases exceeding 222,000.(AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Some 51 per cent of Spain’s population will progress to Phase 1 of a four-step easing plan on Monday after the Government decided the regions in which they lived met the necessary criteria.
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In regions that made the cut, such as the Canary and Balearic Islands, bars, restaurants and shops will open at reduced capacity, and museums, gyms and hotels will open their doors for the first time in nearly two months.
The country’s two biggest cities — Madrid and Barcelona — do not currently meet the criteria for easing and will remain on Phase 0.
Emergency Health chief Fernando Simon on Saturday urged Spaniards not to think of it “as a race” and said it was possible Madrid would be ready to move onto the next stage within a week.
Spain’s daily death toll from the coronavirus fell to 179 on Saturday, down from 229 the previous day and a fraction of highs above 900 seen in early April.
A national period of mourning will be called once the whole country had passed to Phase 1.
Three New York children die from syndrome possibly linked to COVID-19
Three children have now died in New York state from a possible complication linked to the coronavirus involving swollen blood vessels and heart problems.
At least 73 children in New York have been diagnosed with symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease — a rare inflammatory condition in children — and toxic shock syndrome. Most of them are toddlers and primary school age children.
There is no proof that the virus specifically causes the syndrome.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the children had tested positive for COVID-19 or the antibodies but did not show the common symptoms of the virus when they were hospitalised.
“This is the last thing that we need at this time, with all that is going on, with all the anxiety we have, now for parents to have to worry about whether or not their youngster was infected,” Mr Cuomo said at his daily briefing.
At least 3,000 US children are diagnosed with Kawasaki disease each year. It is most common in children younger than 6 and in boys.
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