Bali could reopen to tourists as early as October, thanks to its success in controlling the coronavirus outbreak. Meanwhile Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have established the European Union’s first travel bubble.

In Australia, National Cabinet has adopted a mental health plan and a “case out of nowhere” has been confirmed in central Queensland.

This story is being updated throughout Friday. You can also listen to the latest episode of the Coronacast podcast.

Friday’s top storiesBali to reopen to tourists in October Foreign tourist arrivals into Indonesia plunged more than 60 per cent in March amid the coronavirus pandemic.(ABC News: Gian De Poloni)

Indonesia’s tropical holiday island of Bali could reopen to tourists in October, thanks to its success in controlling the coronavirus outbreak.

Bali has reported 343 coronavirus cases and four deaths, a much lower fatality rate compared to 16,496 cases and 1,076 deaths in the whole archipelago.

If the infection curve continues to improve, the tourism ministry is looking to revitalise destinations and do promotional work for some parts of the country, including Bali, between June and October, according to Secretary of the Ministry Ni Wayan Giri Adnyan said.

Bali’s economy depends largely on visitors. Its gross domestic product (GDP) contracted 1.14 per cent on-year from January to March, compared to a 2.97 per cent GDP expansion nationally.

Foreign tourist arrivals into Indonesia plunged more than 60 per cent in March, compared to the year-earlier month, with Chinese arrivals sliding more than 97 per cent.

Scope of fatalities in British nursing homes revealed British authorities initially weren’t attributing deaths to coronavirus unless they occurred in hospitals.(AP: Jacob King/PA)

Official British statistics show that more than 12,000 residents of nursing homes have died with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.

The Office for National Statistics says 12,526 aged care residents in England and Wales died with confirmed or suspected coronavirus infections between the start of the outbreak and May 1, accounting for 27 per cent of the 45,899 total deaths of residents during the period.

Britain has struggled to get a full picture of the scale of the epidemic in nursing homes. At first, the Government recorded only COVID-19 deaths that occurred in hospitals, though that has now changed.

The country’s official death toll stands at 33,614, the highest number of coronavirus deaths in Europe.

Baltic ‘travel bubble’ opens up Estonian police and border guards celebrated the reopening with coffee and cake.(Reuters: Ints Kalnins)

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have opened their common borders, creating the first “travel bubble” within the European Union in a bid to jump-start economies broken down by the coronavirus pandemic.

A dozen Estonian border guards removed all signs directing vehicles to stop at the border and huddled together at the roadside for cake and coffee.

“We have the little celebration because the border is now open again,” one officer said as the first cars sped through.

Citizens and residents of the three Baltic nations are now free to travel within the region, though anyone entering from outside will need to self-isolate for 14 days.

The neighbours opened as the EU executive sought to coax the 27 member states to reopen internal borders and restart wider travel.

New coronavirus infections in the three countries have slowed to a trickle, with none of them reporting more than a dozen new cases on Thursday. The region as a whole has recorded fewer than 150 deaths from the disease.

Further to the south-west, Germany is loosening quarantine rules for travellers arriving from the European Union, the Schengen passport-free zone and the United Kingdom.

Authorities will only recommend travellers go into quarantine if they arrive from countries with elevated numbers of infections, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said.

A mandatory two-week quarantine still applies for travellers from countries outside the EU.

This chart uses a logarithmic scale to highlight coronavirus growth rates. Read our explainer to understand what that means — and how COVID-19 cases are spreading around the world.National Cabinet adopts mental health plan

The Federal Government says it will spend an additional $48.1 million on mental health following National Cabinet’s adoption of a National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan.

If you or anyone you know needs help:

Health Minister Greg Hunt outlined how that money would be spent:

$7.3 million will go towards collecting mental health data$29.5 million will go towards outreach to vulnerable communities$11.3 million will be spent on communication, including a national “it’s OK not to be OK” campaign

The plan was put together by National Health Commission chief executive Christine Morgan and Mr Hunt said states and territories would be making their own contributions.

He said the pandemic had created “specific mental health challenges”, including the loneliness of isolation and anxiety about jobs and finances.

“Everyone here will have seen or felt, in amongst their own families or friends or circles, the pressures that are in place right across Australia,” he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also announced that mental health consultations had returned to pre-pandemic levels, adding that half of those were being done through telehealth.

National Cabinet was also briefed on the economic impacts of the crisis by the heads of Treasury, the Reserve Bank and APRA.

Yesterday, Australia recorded its largest-ever monthly jump in unemployment. Nearly 600,000 people lost their jobs, while a further 600,000 saw their working hours cut back.

Elective surgeries back on the table It will be up to states and territories to decide how quickly to resume with elective surgeries.(Rawpixel: Chanikarn Thongsupa)

The Prime Minister and National Cabinet also agreed today to restart all elective surgeries.

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy flagged the increases would depend on the pressure on each state’s or territory’s health system from coronavirus.

“Clearly in those states that are having essentially no cases, they want to go fairly quickly back to full elective activity,” he said.

“Those states that still have some transmission are probably going to take it a bit more gently.

“But everybody is now heading towards full elective surgery, which is a really important thing.”

Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreakChina marks a month since last coronavirus death Wuhan has set a goal to test all 11 million residents in just 10 days.(Reuters: Aly Song)

China has gone a month without announcing any new deaths from the coronavirus, with authorities reporting there are currently fewer than 100 patients in treatment.

The National Health Commission reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, all local cross-infections in the north-eastern province of Jilin, where a cluster of uncertain origin has been detected in recent days.

Just 91 people remain in treatment for COVID-19 and 623 others are in isolation for being suspected cases or for having tested positive without showing symptoms. That includes 11 new cases.

In total, China has reported 4,633 deaths among 82,933 cases since the virus was first detected late last year in the central city of Wuhan.

Some buildings are testing residents for the virus as Wuhan attempts to test all its 11 million people in 10 days.

The city ordered local communities to test everyone after six new cases surfaced last weekend, the first infections there in more than a month.

It has managed to test more than 3 million residents since April, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

It will now focus on those who have not been tested before, people living in residential complexes where previous cases have been confirmed, as well as old or densely populated estates.

Once the tests of everyone living in the city are completed, authorities should have a clear indication of the number of asymptomatic cases.

Global death toll passes 300,000 More than a quarter of all global deaths have occurred in the US alone.(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

The global death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 300,000 as of Friday morning, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

These are the countries with highest individual tolls:

United States (85,906)United Kingdom (33,693)Italy (31,368)France (27,428)Spain (27,321)

The US, UK and Italy alone account for half of all fatalities worldwide.

Eight new cases in NSW as restrictions ease, Victoria adds 21Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.WatchDuration: 1 minute 41 seconds1m 41s Nurse tests positive for COVID-19 at Rockhampton aged care facility

New South Wales health authorities have confirmed eight new coronavirus infections from 12,212 tests.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said five of those cases were from known sources while the remaining three were “community transmission but from existing hotspots”.

She said the eased restrictions from today came with added personal responsibility.

“Easing restrictions have failed in so many places around the world and I don’t want that to happen in New South Wales,” she said.

People in the state can now go to restaurants, pubs and clubs, as well as churches and pools, but restrictions still apply.

In Victoria, 21 new cases were confirmed overnight, with three of those cases linked to the Fawkner McDonald’s and Cedar Meats outbreaks in Melbourne.

One earlier case in the state has been reclassified, meaning Victoria’s tally has only gone up by 20.

Two cases were added to Queensland’s coronavirus tally overnight, including a nurse at an aged care facility in Rockhampton.

“It is of some concern … We are not out of the woods,” Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

The State Government says a rapid-response team from Brisbane has been sent to Rockhampton to quarantine staff and residents who may be contacts of the nurse.

Before today, the last confirmed case in Rockhampton was on March 30. Queensland’s Chief Health Officer, Jeannette Young, called it a “case out of nowhere”.

There are no more cases left in Western Australia’s hospitals as of today, with just seven active cases left in the state.

Domestic travel could be back on the cards by July The PM says with international travel off the cards, domestic tourism will be an important part of rebuilding the economy.(ABC Open contributor Josh Kilner)

With states and territories successfully moving through the first stage of easing coronavirus restrictions, Prime Minister Scott Morrison expects domestic holidays are not that far away.

Mr Morrison says as restrictions ease, “borders will fall” across Australia, opening the domestic tourism market to potentially billions of dollars in business.

“Australians can hopefully soon return to domestic holidays and to move around the country more widely, and particularly with school holidays coming up again in July,” he said.

The latest Australian Tourism Satellite Account estimated that tourism generated $60.8 billion in 2018-2019, or more than 3 per cent of Australia’s GDP, employing more than 5 per cent of the workforce.

Mr Morrison said with international tourism closed off for the foreseeable future, a concerted effort would be needed to improve domestic tourism.

Find out moreTemporary crisis accommodation available for international students in NSW Students will be housed in approved student accommodation or with homestay providers.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

The NSW Government has announced it will fund temporary crisis accommodation for stranded international students.

The $20 million package includes a temporary housing scheme delivered through approved student accommodation or homestay providers.

Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee said the state would also increase support through the International Legal Service NSW and a new 24/7 international student support service via the state’s COVID-19 hotline offering free advice.

NSW business groups and union leaders have been lobbying the Government to do more to help international students.

Slovenia declares an end to coronavirus in the country

Slovenia has become the first European country to proclaim an end to the coronavirus epidemic at home.

The Government announced on Friday that the COVID-19 spread was under control and there was no longer a need for extraordinary health measures.

EU residents are free to cross into Slovenia from Austria, Italy and Hungary at predetermined checkpoints, while most non-EU nationals will have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

The first coronavirus case in Slovenia, a person returning from neighbouring Italy, was recorded on March 4. The nationwide epidemic was proclaimed on March 12.

By May 13, there were 1,467 confirmed cases and 103 deaths in Slovenia.

Parts of Japan emerge from coronavirus restrictions Commuters returned to work in Fukuoka, one of the 39 prefectures where restrictions have been lifted.(Reuters/Kyodo)

Large parts of Japan have marked the first day out of a state of emergency, while Tokyo and Osaka remain under coronavirus restrictions.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted the state of emergency for 39 of Japan’s 47 prefectures, which account for about 55 per cent of the population.

The emergency gives governors more authority to tell people to stay at home and to close schools and businesses, but there is no penalty for non-compliance.

“Even in areas where the emergency has been lifted, we would like to see people refrain from moving between prefectures as much as possible, at least during this month,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

“We hope that people will be able to return to their daily lives in stages.”

Mr Abe said experts would re-evaluate infection levels next Thursday to reconsider whether the remaining state of emergency measures could be lifted.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said restrictions in the capital would remain in place until at least the end of May, stating that new daily infections would have to be below 20 before changes are made.

“We need to solidify a ‘new normal’ in view of a long fight against the virus. Telecommuting and staggered commuting would be among the concepts that we’d like to create with residents,” Mr Koike said.

Japan now has more than 16,000 confirmed cases, with almost 700 deaths. The number of new cases has significantly decreased nationwide.

Queensland criticised for delaying coronavirus testing in Indigenous communities

The Queensland Government has been accused of “stalling” rapid coronavirus testing machines earmarked for use in remote Indigenous communities.

Last month, the Federal Government announced it was investing $3.3 million in a point-of-care testing program for COVID-19, involving 80 remote communities across Australia.

While some remote Indigenous communities currently wait up to 10 days for a COVID-19 test result, researchers have said the Xpert SARS-CoV-2 point-of-care tests, which were approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, could deliver an outcome within 45 minutes.

The rollout is happening across New South Wales, Western Australia, Northern Territory, South Australia and Victoria, but Queensland has so far resisted approval.

The ABC has been told between 10 and 20 machines had been earmarked for Queensland during initial discussions, but these could be at risk of being allocated to other states and territories if the deadlock is not resolved soon.

Transport for London secures 1.6 billion pounds to cover coronavirus losses Journeys on the London Underground have been down 95 per cent, according to TfL.(Reuters: Henry Nicholls)

London’s transport operator has secured 1.6 billion pounds ($3 billion) in government funding to cover a shortfall in revenue caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Transport for London (TfL), which runs the city’s buses and underground Tube trains among other services, said it had lost more than 90 per cent of its revenue from fares and advertising on its network since the lockdown began.

Measures imposed in March have restricted people’s movements across the United Kingdom, with businesses shut and many people working from home.

TfL said demand had declined steeply, with journeys on London Underground down 95 per cent and on London buses down 85 per cent.

London’s transport commissioner, Mike Brown, said the support package would help to get London moving and working again, safely and sustainably.

“We have been operating up to 70 per cent of peak Tube services and over 80 per cent of bus services with many of our staff ill, shielding or in self-isolation,” he said.

“From next week, we will further increase services beyond this as we progressively build towards restoring services to pre-COVID levels.”

NRL reveals draw for first games to be played when season restarts The Brisbane Broncos will get an early chance to get revenge on Parramatta for last year’s finals thumping, when the two teams meet in round three.(AAP: Joel Carrett)

The NRL has revealed the games that will make up rounds three and four when play resumes at the end of the month.

When the season was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic after just two completed rounds, there were six undefeated teams: Parramatta, Newcastle, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and Penrith.

The NRL has decided that two of those teams, Parramatta and Brisbane, will kick off the rest of the season on Thursday May 28.

All games will be played in Queensland and New South Wales — although venues are yet to be confirmed.

No teams with players refusing to take their flu shot will travel to Queensland in the opening two rounds, avoiding a possible headache for the NRL and its clubs.

Mexico sends in the clowns to help Metro passengers maintain hygiene The clowns offer antibacterial gel and face masks to passengers entering Metro stations.(AP: Eduardo Verdugo)

Clowns are being used at the Mexico City Metro as part of a program to make sure passengers wear masks, disinfect their hands and respect social distancing rules.

As metro users enter the station every morning, the clowns provide antibacterial gel and masks if needed and chant to remind them to protect themselves and others.

The campaign uses the slogan “don’t let the clown carry you”, referring to the Mexican idiom “being carried by a clown”, which means to go badly or die.

Mexico City has reported more than 10,000 of the country’s 42,595 coronavirus cases.(AP: Eduardo Verdugo)

On an average day, Mexico City Metro transports more than 5 million people, making it potentially a high-contagion area.

The densely populated capital is currently at the most critical point of the pandemic, having reported more than 10,000 cases including more than 1,123 deaths, according to national authorities.

Mexico has confirmed more than 42,595 coronavirus cases including 4,477 deaths.

Fears death toll in Somalia’s capital may be 10 times higher than official figures Official figures put the country’s death toll at 52, but the Mayor of Mogadishu fears it is far higher.(AP: Farah Abdi Warsameh)

The Mayor of Mogadishu has warned the coronavirus death toll in Somalia’s capital could be 10 times higher than official figures, estimating that hundreds may already have died from COVID-19.

According to Johns Hopkins University figures, Somalia has so far confirmed 1,219 cases of COVID-19, including 53 deaths.

But Mogadishu Mayor Omar Mohamud Mohamed said the highest daily count in the capital city was 49 people in a single day. Based on the deaths he had seen so far, he predicted that the death toll could be “almost 500 people”.

The comments by the mayor are echoed by workers in one of the city’s largest cemeteries, who said they were preparing more funerals than ever before.

“I remember a few days ago, we were burying between 15 to 25 dead bodies a day, and this has never happened before,” grave digger Ali Dhere said.

Many families in Somalia do not register deaths, but prefer to bury their dead on the day they die in accordance with Islamic customs.

Most patients are also more likely to stay at home than seek medical care in a country where many cannot afford to be hospitalised.

Fears of humanitarian disaster after coronavirus detected in refugee camp Bangladesh has reported 18,863 cases of COVID-19.(AP: Altaf Qadri)

Coronavirus has been detected for the first time in one of the southern Bangladesh camps that are home to more than a million Rohingya refugees.

Bangladesh’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner said the individual who tested positive had been taken to a “an isolation centre”.

It was the first confirmed case in camps more densely populated than most crowded cities on Earth, and aid workers warned of a potential humanitarian disaster if there was a significant outbreak.

Coronavirus infections have been gathering pace in recent days in Bangladesh, which has reported 18,863 cases of COVID-19 and 283 deaths.

“There are only an estimated 2,000 ventilators in all of Bangladesh, serving a population of 160 million people,” said Dr Shamim Jahan, Save the Children’s health director in Bangladesh.

More than 730,000 Rohingya arrived from Myanmar in late 2017 after fleeing a military crackdown.

People with guns protest at Michigan’s Capitol building The latest protest took place in heavy rain.(Reuters: Seth Herald)

Hundreds of people, including some carrying guns, have protested in heavy rain outside Michigan’s Capitol building, demanding an end to the US state’s lockdown.

Some protesters flouted social distancing and a scuffle broke out at one point, but there were no arrests.

The demonstration on Thursday (local time) involved about 200 people and was smaller than previous rallies.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently extended Michigan’s stay-at-home order — one of the strictest in the United States — until at least May 28.

The Senate had cancelled its session so the Capitol could be closed during the protest, weeks after some armed protesters entered the building during a rally.

NT restrictions lift, but not all restaurants planning to reopen yetSpace to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.WatchDuration: 3 minutes 31 seconds3m 31s NT bars and cafes prepare for eased restrictions

Pubs, cafes, and restaurants in the Northern Territory are now open after restrictions lifted at midday.

However, some rules still apply — for instance, customers can only dine for two hours and can only buy alcohol if they’re seated and having a meal.

Over 2,000 hospitality workers are expected to be back in a job this weekend. But not all businesses are ready to open their doors.

Simon Matthews, co-owner of upmarket restaurant Pee Wee’s at the Point, is keeping doors shut for another three weeks, until early June.

“It’s very difficult for a business like Pee Wee’s to do a normal trade in two hours — it’s very difficult for us to police,” he said.

Gyms and churches are also opening their doors in the territory. The plan is for all businesses to be up and running by early next month.

AFL to restart 2020 season in a month Full training will resume on May 25.(AAP: Michael Dodge)

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has announced the code’s season will resume on June 11.

Teams will be permitted to do non-contact training from next week, with full-contact training to resume on May 25.

“The return of footy doesn’t mean the work is complete. We must continue to follow the advice of the Government and medical authorities, and continue to play our role in helping flatten the curve,” McLachlan said.

The four teams from Western Australia and South Australia will relocate to the Gold Coast due to state-based restrictions.

Read more about coronavirus:All students to return to school in Queensland within weeks

The Queensland Government says all students will return to school in the state from May 25.

“This is possible given the low transmission rates in Queensland,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk tweeted.

The youngest and oldest students had already returned to classrooms last Monday.

“I want to thank all the schools for all the work they have done,” Education Minister Grace Grace said.

Brazil confirms record number of new cases Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he wanted to bring the economy back to life.(AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

Brazil has registered a daily record 13,944 new cases of coronavirus, with 844 additional deaths.

According to health ministry data, the country has now tallied a total of 202,918 confirmed cases and 13,933 deaths since the pandemic began.

However, the actual figures are believed to be much higher because of limited testing.

While President Jair Bolsonaro said he was sorry for people dying with COVID-19, he said more would die as a consequence of the economic crisis caused by lockdown measures.

“We have to have the courage to face the virus. People are dying, they are! I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. But more will die if the economy continues to be destroyed by those measures,” he said.

The far-right president said he was open to talking with governors of the states, and wanted them to finish with what he called the “absurd” restrictions.

Spain records highest death toll in a week Madrid protesters have called for the resignation of the Spanish Prime Minister.(AP Photo: Manu Fernandez)

Spain’s daily coronavirus death toll has risen to its highest in a week, as authorities warn that a second wave of the outbreak is possible.

The number of daily fatalities rose to 217 from 184 on the previous day, bringing the total toll to 27,321, the health ministry said.

It is the first time the daily number has gone above 200 since May 8.

The number of diagnosed cases in Spain now stands at 229,540, although the antibody testing of 60,000 people across the country pointed to as many as 2.3 million people having had the disease.

In Madrid, residents took to the streets on Thursday (local time) for a fifth night running to protest against the Spanish Government’s handling of the outbreak.

Banging saucepans and blowing whistles, protesters demanded the resignation of Socialist Party leader and Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

They blame the left-wing coalition Government for poor preparation in the weeks before the outbreak hit and for damaging the economy during Spain’s prolonged lockdown, which has been going for two months.

Trump rips into China, says trade deal ‘doesn’t feel the same’ Donald Trump has again taken a shot at China, casting doubt on the future of their trade deal.(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

US President Donald Trump says the worldwide pandemic has cast a shadow over his US-China trade deal.

“I’m very disappointed in China,” Mr Trump told the Fox Business Network.

“They should have never let this happen. So I make a great trade deal and now I say this doesn’t feel the same to me. The ink was barely dry and the plague came over. And it doesn’t feel the same to me.”

Under the first phase of the deal, signed in January, Beijing pledged to buy at least $US200 billion in additional US goods and services over two years while Washington agreed to roll back tariffs on Chinese goods in stages.

A Chinese state-run newspaper has reported that some government advisers in Beijing were urging fresh talks and possibly invalidating the agreement, but Mr Trump said he was not interested in renegotiating.

Mr Trump added that the pandemic showed he was “right” about the importance of US manufacturing and moving supply chains out of China.


Italian Mafiosi released over virus fears are back behind bars

Italian convicted mobsters who were temporarily transferred from prison to house arrest last month over fears of coronavirus contagion are being brought back behind bars after their release triggered heavy criticism.

Justice Minister Alfonso Bonafede came under fire after more than 370 convicted mobsters and drug traffickers successfully argued they needed to be temporarily released to avoid becoming infected while in prison.

Mr Bonafede has now confirmed that mobsters are being ordered back to prison.

Local media reported that one of the first inmates returned to prison was a convicted Cosa Nostra boss, Antonio Sacco.

He was one of a handful of top Mafiosi who won temporary release despite being incarcerated in a cell on his own under strict prison rules for mobsters, which also include extremely limited occasions to mingle with other inmates.

A judge in Milan denied a bid for the temporary release of convicted crime boss Nitto Santapaola for the same reason — the court ruled that Santapaola ran little risk for catching COVID-19, precisely because he is imprisoned under rigid rules for top Mafiosi.

Early in Italy’s coronavirus outbreak, inmates in several jails and prisons rioted to protest overcrowded cells they said put them at high risk for contagion.

Similarly to Spain, Italy has also recorded a rise in deaths overnight. The death toll in Italy climbed by 262, against 195 the day before, while the daily tally of new cases rose to 992 from 888.

It was the largest number of deaths in one day since May 7.

Serbia looks to China for tourism Landlocked Serbia lacks the beaches that attract tourists to neighbouring Croatia and Montenegro, but it has warm summers and mountain resorts, and the cities of Belgrade, Novi Sad and Nis are popular attractions.(AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Serbia is pinning its hopes of a tourism revival on Chinese visitors as it emerges from its coronavirus lockdown.

However, the Balkan country faces a battle with other European nations to woo tourists from China as it tries to make up for a huge drop in tourism revenues because of the virus.

“The whole world is fighting for Chinese tourists … when better times return, if ever, we must be ready to regain them,” said Rasim Ljajic, Serbia’s tourism and trade minister.

The number of foreign tourists visiting Serbia was close to zero in April and the first half of May, according to tourism officials.

Last year, Chinese tourists made up 10 per cent of foreign tourists in Serbia, a five-fold increase from 2018 after the two countries reached an agreement on visa-free entry.

Foreign currency from tourism accounts for around 2.5 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product, and about 3 per cent of the workforce is employed in tourism.

US condemns attempts by alleged China-linked hackers to steal virus research

The United States has condemned attempts by China-linked “cyber actors and non-traditional collectors affiliated” to steal US intellectual property and data related to coronavirus research.

“While the United States and our allies and partners are coordinating a collective, transparent response to save lives, [China] continues to silence scientists, journalists, and citizens, and to spread disinformation, which has exacerbated the dangers of this health crisis,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

Mr Pompeo’s comments come a day after the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued a joint statement to raise awareness against what they called threats to coronavirus-related research from actors related to China.

It said the FBI was investigating digital break-ins at US organisations by China-linked “cyber actors” that it had monitored “attempting to identify and illicitly obtain valuable intellectual property (IP) and public health data related to vaccines, treatments, and testing from networks and personnel affiliated with COVID-19-related research.”

The Chinese Embassy in Washington condemned the allegations as “lies”.

Canadian zoo sends pandas home to China The pandas will only eat a specific type of bamboo which, in recent times, has been difficult to obtain and sometimes arrived at the zoo past its expiry point, Mr Lanthier said.(Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP)

Two giant pandas have booked tickets on a one way flight to China after the Canadian zoo they lived in conceded it could no longer keep up with the feed demands of the pair.

Er Shun and Da Mao have been living in the Calgary Zoo on loan from China since 2018 and weren’t planning on moving for another five years.

But the scarcity of international flights during the COVID-19 pandemic has caused problems with the delivery of enough bamboo to feed the animals.

The zoo’s president, Clement Lanthier, said the facility spent months trying to overcome transportation barriers in acquiring fresh bamboo and decided it was best for the animals to be in China, where their main food source is abundant.

“It’s about the animals. At the end of the day, we cannot pretend that we care for animals if we don’t take those tough decisions,” Mr Lanthier said.

“We believe the best and safest place for Er Shun and Da Mao to be during these challenging and unprecedented times is where bamboo is abundant and easy to access.”

Giant pandas have unique nutritional requirements and 99 per cent of their diet is made up of fresh bamboo. Each adult consumes about 40 kilograms daily.

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