2.07am BST

Wisconsin supreme court strikes down governor’s stay-at-home order

Wisconsin’s supreme court struck down the state’s stay-at-home order on Thursday, ruling that Governor Tony Evers overstepped his authority by extending the order through the end of May.

The ruling reopens the state, lifting caps on the size of gatherings, allowing people to travel as they please and allowing shuttered businesses to reopen, including bars and restaurants. The Tavern League of Wisconsin swiftly posted the news on its website, telling members, “You can OPEN IMMEDIATELY!”

The 4-3 decision, written by the court’s conservative justices, also chips away at Evers’ authority to slow the spread of coronavirus and will force the Democratic governor to work with the Republican legislature as the state continues to grapple with the outbreak.

2.02am BST

Trump has just tweeted:

Donald J. Trump


May 14, 2020

So it seems a good time to repost Guardian Washington Correspondent David Smith’s piece on why Trump might be doing this:

“Donald Trump has ratcheted up his “Obamagate” conspiracy theory to implicate Joe Biden and other former White House officials in what critics say is a desperate attempt to distract from the coronavirus pandemic”:

1.45am BST

It is regularly cited as the most hated word in the English language and even Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has visibly struggled while using it. But now the word “moist” is being deployed for good – in a song written by a New Zealand school principal that aims to helps children observe social distancing guidelines.

Shirley Șerban of Lake Brunner school in the South Island penned the song Moist Breath Zone as a health and safety message for students returning to school after the Covid-19 lockdown.

“I’ll share my news, but my food’s for me alone. If I smell your breath, I will go sit on my own. Always wash your hands – make them soapy, full of foam,” she sings.

“And stay out of my moist breath zone!”

A moist breath zone is the area in which you can feel or smell someone else’s breath.

The song has been welcomed by New Zealand’s Ministry of Education, which called Șerban’s effort “fantastic”.

Ministry of Education NZ

In case you missed it – this fantastic song by Lake Brunner School principal Shirley Șerban was made to help children understand the expectations when they are back in school in Alert Level 2.

Ka mau te wehi – fantastic work, Shirley! https://t.co/oVqDwX0klh

May 13, 2020

1.31am BST

Japan is expected to lift the state of emergency for 39 of its 47 prefectures on Thursday, local media reported, while the capital Tokyo is set to keep restrictions in place until it sees a convincing containment of the coronavirus, Reuters reports.

The world’s third-largest economy declared a nationwide state of emergency a month ago, urging citizens to reduce person-to-person contact by 80% in an effort to slow the pace of new infections and ease the strain on medical services. The government had said it would reassess the situation in mid-May.

Dotonbori, one of Osaka’s most popular tourist areas, 13 May 2020 in Osaka, Japan. Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images

The declaration gives governors added authority to tell people to stay home and close schools and businesses, but there is no penalty for non-compliance. Some non-essential businesses even in hard-hit areas have gradually started to reopen ahead of the government’s review.

Japan has reported 16,100 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, excluding those from a cruise ship previously quarantined in Yokohama, and 696 deaths to date from the disease it causes, Covid-19, according to public broadcaster NHK.

While Japan has avoided the kind of explosive growth seen in the United States and elsewhere, its testing has also been among the lowest, at 188 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests per 100,000 people, versus 3,159 in Italy and 3,044 in Germany.

1.09am BST

Italian doctors find link between Covid-19 and inflammatory disorder

Doctors in Italy have reported the first clear evidence of a link between Covid-19 and a rare but serious inflammatory disorder that has required some children to undergo life-saving treatment in intensive care units.

The mysterious condition emerged last month when NHS bosses issued an alert to doctors after hospitals admitted a number of children with a mix of toxic shock and symptoms seen in an inflammatory disorder known as Kawasaki disease.

On Tuesday, medics at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital announced the death of a 14-year-old boy, the first known fatality from the condition in Britain. Between 75 and 100 children are now receiving treatment across the country. Typical symptoms include a fever, skin rashes, red eyes, cracked lips and abdominal pain.

Doctors suspected early on that coronavirus played a role in the new disorder by triggering an excessive immune reaction in the children, but there was no proof that the two were linked.

1.01am BST

Organizations conducting research into Covid-19 may be targeted by computer hackers linked to the Chinese government, according to the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

Neither agency cited any specific examples Wednesday, AP reports, but they warned that institutions and companies involved in work on vaccines, treatments and testing for the novel coronavirus should take additional security measures to protect data and be aware of the potential threat.

“China’s efforts to target these sectors pose a significant threat to our nations response to Covid-19,” said a statement from the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. “This announcement is intended to raise awareness for research institutions and the American public and provide resources and guidance for those who may be targeted.”

It comes amid heightened tensions between the two countries over the source of the outbreak and Trump administration complaints that China did not adequately alert the world to the danger posed by the new coronavirus.

The warning also echoes long-standing US complaints that China has engaged in the wholesale theft of technology and trade secrets to build its economy.

at 1.09am BST

12.49am BST

In the US, coronavirus could sweep through camps where firefighting crews are stationed, ready to fight wildfires, according to a federal document obtained by The Associated Press.

From the AP:

The US Forest Service’s draft risk assessment predicts that even in a best-case scenario — with social distancing followed and plenty of tests and protective equipment available — nearly two dozen firefighters could be infected with COVID-19 at a camp with hundreds of people who come in to combat a fire that burns for months.

The worst-case scenario? More than 1,000 infections.

Forest Service officials have declined to answer questions about the document other than saying it’s outdated and being redone. They didn’t immediately respond to additional questions Wednesday.

“The report is being reviewed and updated with the most current data and is not ready to share,” the agency said Monday in an email.

The Forest Service declined to release a copy of the draft or say what changes are being made. The AP obtained the document from an official who has access to it and didn’t want to be named.

12.40am BST

Moscow says it ascribed over 60% of coronavirus deaths in April to other causes

The city of Moscow said on Wednesday it had ascribed the deaths of more than 60% of coronavirus patients in April to other causes as it defended what it said was the superior way it and Russia counted the number of people killed by the novel virus, Reuters reports.

At 242,271, Russia has the second-highest number of confirmed cases in the world after the United States, something it attributes to a massive testing programme which it says has seen almost 6 million tests conducted.

But with 2,212 coronavirus deaths, Russia also has one of the world’s lowest mortality rates. Moscow, the epicentre of the country’s outbreak, accounts for 1,232 of those deaths.

Smolensky Metro Bridge over the Moskva River displays a message reading “We thank construction workers carrying on for us”, with the House of Government in the background, Moscow, Russia. Photograph: Mikhail Tereshchenko/TASS

The disparity between the high number of cases and the relatively low number of deaths has prompted Kremlin critics and various Western and Russian media outlets to question the veracity of Russia’s official death statistics.

Data published at the weekend showing that the total number of deaths registered in Moscow rose sharply in April compared with the same month last year and was also significantly higher than the number officially confirmed as having been caused by the new virus raised further suspicions.

Moscow’s Department of Health acknowledged in a statement on Wednesday that the number of deaths in April, 11,846, had been 1,841 higher than the same month last year and almost triple the number of people registered as having died of the virus.

But it flatly denied it had been dishonestly lowering the Russian capital’s coronavirus death toll. Tatyana Golikova, Russia’s health minister, has also denied any falsification of the statistics.

12.31am BST


Hello and welcome to today’s coverage of pandemic news from around the world.

I’m Helen Sullivan, with you for the next few hours. Get in touch on Twitter @helenrsullivan.

Coronavirus could become endemic like HIV, the World Health Organization has said, warning against any attempt to predict how long it would keep circulating and calling for a “massive effort” to counter it.

Meanwhile Trump has dismissed Dr Anthony Fauci’s comments in testimony at the US senate regarding the dangers of reopening the economy too soon, telling reporters at the White House, “to me it’s not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools.”

Meanwhile Russia, with the second-highest number of infections worldwide, has one of the lowest official death tolls.

The city of Moscow said on Wednesday it had ascribed the deaths of more than 60% of coronavirus patients in April to other causes as it defended what it said was the superior way it and Russia counted the number of people killed by the novel virus. More on this shortly.

Here are the key recent developments:

At least 4.3 million people are known to have been infected with the coronavirus worldwide, while at least 295,671 people have died. The figures collected by Johns Hopkins University are likely to be a great underestimate of the true scale of the pandemic.
Trump says Fauci’s warning over reopening the economy too soon as “not an acceptable answer”. US President Donald Trump on Wednesday described as not acceptable a warning given by top US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci this week about the dangers of reopening the economy too quickly. “To me it’s not an acceptable answer especially when it comes to schools,” Trump told reporters at the White House, noting he was surprised by the response Fauci gave to lawmakers in testimony to the US Senate on Tuesday.
Virus may never be eradicated – WHO. The coronavirus that causes Covid-19 could become endemic like HIV, the World Health Organization has said, warning against any attempt to predict how long it would keep circulating and calling for a “massive effort” to counter it.
Every African country is now affected by the outbreak, after Lesotho announced its first case. The virus was detected in one of 81 people tested after arriving last week from Saudi Arabia and neighbouring South Africa, Lesotho’s health ministry said.
Former UK spy chief dismisses Wuhan lab conspiracy theory. In the UK, the former director general of the domestic intelligence service has poured cold water on White House speculation that Covid-19 may have emerged via a leak from a coronavirus research laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Public Health England approves antibody test – report. Public Health England (PHE) has reportedly approved an antibody test kit, the first to receive such an endorsement. The kit is made by the Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG, the Daily Telegraph has reported. The newspaper added that it understands the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care is in negotiations with Roche to buy millions of the kits.
Afghanistan reached 5,000 confirmed cases, as the country’s health ministry warned that easing lockdowns would bring a “catastrophe”. Out of 619 suspected patients tested in the last 24 hours, 259 came back positive, pushing the total number of infections to 5,226. The death toll reached 132, after five more patients died overnight. The number of recoveries is 648.
Sweden announced it would hire up to 10,000 more care workers to address shortcomings in elderly care exposed by the pandemic. About half of the Sweden’s 3,460 coronavirus-related deaths have been among nursing home residents, and another quarter among those receiving care at home.
Mexico said it would reopen parts of economythe economy after 51 days of lockdown, despite the country reporting its highest number of daily deaths so far. Mexico has confirmed 1,992 new cases and 353 deaths, bringing the total death toll to 3,926 and the total number of cases to 38,324.
Hotels and restaurants across Europe have been asked to enforce physical distancing between guests to allow Europeans to take their annual summer holiday. The EU executive called for a “gradual and careful easing of lockdown restrictions across the continent”.
The car manufacturer Ford announced plans to restart production, including at two factories in the UK. Work will resume on 18 May at the company’s engine plants in Dagenham in Essex and Bridgend in south Wales. The move, along with the reopening of the Valencia engine plant in Spain, will open all of Ford’s European manufacturing facilities.

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