11.58am BST

UN refugee agency says its work is approaching “breaking point” in Yemen

A humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in Yemen, a country ravaged by five years of war that finds itself uniquely vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a virtual briefing today, the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, said it was seeing a “growing number of families resorting to harmful coping mechanism” such as begging, child labour and marrying of children to survive.

UNHCR spokesman Charlie Yaxley said:

“We are reaching a potential breaking point in our programmes where if we don’t receive further funding soon, many of our programmes and particularly our cash assistance programmes to internally displaced Yemenis may have to stop.”

At the same briefing, the UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs said it had only received around 15% of the funding required for the $3.38bn (€3bn) aid package for Yemen this year, with the US the top donor.

About 80% of Yemen’s population already relies on humanitarian help but the World Food Programme said it expects Covid-19 to “push many more children in Yemen into acute malnutrition”.

at 12.19pm BST

11.43am BST

Britain will provide the anti-viral drug remdesivir to some Covid-19 patients after clinical trials found that it could shorten the recovery period by four days.

The UK government said it was working with the manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, to test the drug on an unspecified number of patients for whom it could provide the greatest benefit.

The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) last week said that data from its trial of remdesivir showed that the drug offers the most benefit for coronavirus patients who need extra oxygen but do not require mechanical ventilation.

The researchers also said that “given high mortality despite the use of remdesivir,” it is likely that the anti-viral drug would be more effective in combination with other treatments.

This comes after the news that the World Health Organization had suspended its trial of a different drug, hydroxychloroquine – the malaria drug Donald Trump said he is taking as a precaution — from its global study after safety concerns.

The WHO’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the decision was taken in light of a paper published last week in the Lancet that showed people taking hydroxychloroquine were at higher risk of death and heart problems than those who were not.

at 11.49am BST

11.14am BST

Hello. It’s Josh Halliday here in Manchester, England. I’ll be providing you with all the latest developments from around the globe on the coronavirus pandemic until the end of the day.

As ever, we really value your contributions so please do feel free to contact me through the channels below. If there’s something you think we should be looking into, get in touch.

Email: josh.halliday@theguardian.com

Twitter: @JoshHalliday

11.08am BST

That’s all from me, Simon Burnton, for today. Josh Halliday will be taking over from here. I leave you with news of the Czech Tennis Association’s charity tournament to raise funds for those affected by Covid-19, which started this morning in Prague. Competitors include Karolina Pliskova, the world No3, and the 2011 and 2014 Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova. Ball boys and ball girls are clad in masks and gloves:

The Czech tennis player Karolina Muchova in action against Kristyna Pliskova during the Czech Tennis President’s Cup charity tournament in Prague. Photograph: Martin Divíšek/EPA

Ballgirls wearing gloves hold balls during the match between Karolina Muchova and Kristyna Pliskova, as play resume, following the outbreak of Covid-19. Photograph: David W Černý/Reuters

10.56am BST

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, has announced that the pledging marathon led by her organisation to raise funds for the development of a vaccine has raised €9.5bn from governments, institutions, foundations and individuals since 4 May:

Ursula von der Leyen #UnitedAgainstCoronavirus

Great result, reaching 1st milestone of #GlobalResponse pledging marathon led by @EU_Commission. Since 4 May, govs, institutions, foundations & individuals have donated €9.5 billion to fight #coronavirus. A world living up to solidarity! Stay tuned, more will follow on Thursday.

May 26, 2020

10.51am BST

Saudi Arabia has announced that it will end its nationwide coronavirus curfew from 21 June, except in the holy city of Mecca, after more than two months of stringent curbs, reports AFP. Prayers will also be allowed to resume in all mosques outside Mecca from 31 May, the interior ministry said in a series of measures announced on state media.

A phased lifting of restrictions will start this week, with the curfew relaxed between 6am and 3pm between Thursday and Saturday. From Sunday until 20 June the curfew will be further eased until 8pm, the ministry added, with the lockdown to be lifted entirely from 21 June.

“Starting from Thursday, the kingdom will enter a new phase and will gradually return to normal based on the rules of social distancing,” health minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said on Monday.

at 10.52am BST

10.45am BST

Emmanuel Akinwotu, the Guardian’s west Africa correspondent, has filed this report on test kit shortages in the area:

As coronavirus lockdowns adopted in Africa ease and urban populations become more mobile, the low supply of test kits to measure outbreaks of Covid-19 is of increasingly urgent concern, public health experts have warned.

Countries on the continent have adopted a range of testing strategies, but fierce international competition for test kits and a lack of global coordination of resources have meant many African countries are testing with significantly limited reach.

More than half of African countries are experiencing community transmission as lockdown measures relax.

Kate Dooley, the director for west Africa at the Tony Blair Institute, said many states were running low on supplies at a critical time.

“Most governments are currently rationing their use of test kits given limited supplies. We are aware of some cases where African governments who placed orders in early March are still yet to receive the supply, six to eight weeks later,” he said.

More here:

at 10.48am BST

10.40am BST

UK Covid-19 death toll passes 47,000

The number of deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK has topped 47,000, according to the latest available data.

The total includes new figures published on Tuesday by the Office for National Statistics that show that 42,173 deaths involving coronavirus occurred in England and Wales up to 15 May (and had been registered up to 23 May).

Meanwhile, the latest figures from the National Records of Scotland, published last week, showed 3,546 deaths involving Covid-19 had been registered in Scotland up to 17 May.

And the latest figures from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, also published last week, showed 664 deaths involving Covid-19 had been registered in Northern Ireland up to 20 May.

Together these figures mean that so far 47,343 deaths have been registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, including suspected cases.

at 11.52am BST

10.33am BST

Reuters has field a report from Mumbai on the spread of coronavirus to India’s rural areas as migrant labourers leave the big cities:

Indian states witnessing millions of migrant labourers returning from the big cities are recording rising coronavirus infections, officials said on Tuesday, fearing that the pandemic could spread through villages where medical care is basic at best.

Officials from the home and railway ministries said at least 4.5 million workers had migrated home from economic hubs in the two months since prime minister Narendra Modi declared a lockdown.

On Tuesday, India had recorded a total 145,380 infections and a death toll of 4,167, low figures for the world’s second-most populous country when compared with some countries in Europe.

But the eastern state of Bihar registered more than 160 infections on Monday, its highest one-day rise, taking its tally to more than 2,700 cases. In the past 36 hours, more than 75 people tested positive in Odisha and 35 in three isolation homes in the desert state of Rajasthan.

The latest cases have forced authorities to stretch limited testing resources.

“Dozens of labourers who travelled from New Delhi have tested positive. We are ensuring that no one enters their village with this infection,” said Gaurav Sinha, a senior health official in Bihar’s capital, Patna.

at 10.49am BST

10.26am BST

The Guardian’s Daniel Hurst in Canberra reports on the actual origins of the splash in Australia’s Daily Telegraph, which purported to reveal that Covid-19 originated in a Wuhan laboratory:

Rupert Murdoch’s Sydney tabloid, the Daily Telegraph, went big with a Saturday morning splash and six pages of reporting attributed to “a dossier prepared by concerned western governments” – and the story was quickly amplified and exaggerated by Trump’s media backers in the United States.

It gathered steam in subsequent reporting as something even more weighty: the New York Post called it “a damning dossier leaked from the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence alliance” while Fox News host Tucker Carlson asked why it was so hard for some people to accept “objectively that the evidence suggests [coronavirus] came from a lab” in Wuhan, China. Carlson’s program contained a graphic that claimed: “Dossier was compiled by intel agencies of the US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand.”

But there was a problem: the document at the heart of the reporting did not contain any genuinely new information, it did not outline any direct evidence of the lab leakage theory, and it wasn’t culled from intelligence gathered by the Five Eyes network.

More here:

at 10.49am BST

10.23am BST

The British government has lost its first minister as a result of the Dominic Cummings affair, with Douglas Ross, the MP for Moray, announcing today that he is stepping down as a Scotland Office minister, saying he accepted Cummings felt he had acted in the best interests of his family but these were “decisions others felt were not available to them”.

10.19am BST

From my colleague Philip Oltermann in Berlin:

It’s not just in Britain that political figures have come under the spotlight for breaching lockdown laws. In Austria, president Alexander Van der Bellen has apologised for staying in the garden of an Italian restaurant beyond the 11pm curfew. Police spotted the 76-year-old head of state in the outside dining area of the Vienna restaurant shortly after midnight on Sunday. Van der Bellen has said he lost track of time during his first restaurant visit since the start of the pandemic, and said he would shoulder any fine issued on the restaurant.

In Germany, meanwhile, one sector of the economy feels they are being unfairly left out of the latest wave of social distancing relaxations. The country’s Federal Association for Sexual Services has issued a statement insisting sex workers are not “super spreaders” of the virus and proposing a three-step programme to reopen brothels, sex clubs and tabledance bars. The umbrella group argues that in most such establishments the “working situation” is one of one-on-one contacts and thus comparable to hair salons or massage parlors. A cross-party group of 16 Bundestag MPs had last week proposed a long-term shutdown of all forms of prostitution in the wake of the pandemic: “Prostitution has the effect of a virus super spreader”, the group said in an open letter. “Sexual acts are generally non-negotiable with social distancing.”

at 10.50am BST

10.13am BST

Indonesia has today reported 415 new confirmed cases of Covid-19, and 27 deaths. This brings its total number of infections to 23,165, with 1,418 fatalities. Malaysia today reported 187 new coronavirus cases, and no new fatalities.

at 10.18am BST

10.11am BST

Global confirmed Covid-19 cases exceeds 5.5m

As of a few minutes ago, the total number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 worldwide now stands at 5,508,904, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker. The number of deaths worldwide as a result of the coronavirus stands at 346,326. True death tolls and cases are likely to be significantly higher due to differing definitions and testing rates, delays and suspected under-reporting.

at 10.19am BST

9.54am BST

The controversial French doctor Didier Raoult has dismissed a study suggesting the drug he hails as a miracle treatment for the coronavirus is ineffective at best and possibly life-threatening at worst.

Raoult, who is regarded as either a saviour or a charlatan in France, remains convinced the anti-viral drug hydroxychloroquine can help treat patients with Covid-19. The scientist said the latest study suggesting otherwise was “messy” and dismissed it as done with “big data” by “people who have not seen any patients”.

The study, published in the Lancet, looked at the records of 96,000 patients in hundreds of hospitals. It found giving coronavirus patients hydroxychloroquine increased the risk of them dying.

Raoult says his hands-on experience at a hospital in Marseille shows otherwise. “We’ve had 3,600 come through our hospital. You don’t think I’m going to change because there are people who do ‘big data’, which is a form of delusional fantasy … Nothing will change what I have seen with my own eyes,” he said in a video on his hospital website.

The World Health Organization has announced it is suspending trials of the drug on Covid-19 patients over safety concerns. French president Emmanuel Macron met Raoult at his hospital in April but insisted the visit was not formal “recognition” of the doctor’s methods. “I’ve no idea if elsewhere, hydroxychloroquine kills, but here it’s saving people,” Raoult added in the video.

at 10.19am BST

9.43am BST

Philippine president confirms no school before vaccine

The Philippine health ministry has reported 13 deaths and 350 new cases of Covid-19 today, the largest single-day increase in infections in seven weeks. The total number of confirmed cases now stands at 14,669 and deaths have reached 886.

The president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, said late last night that he will not allow students to go back to school until a vaccine is available. Children were due to return to school at the end of August after classes for more than 25 million primary and secondary students were shut down in March. But Duterte said he believed the risk was too great, even if it held students back academically.

“Unless I am sure that they are really safe it’s useless to be talking about opening of classes,” the president said. “For me, vaccine first. If the vaccine is already there, then it’s OK. If no one graduates, then so be it.”

9.07am BST

The first ward has been completed at the temporary field hospital being set up at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in South Africa. The hospital will eventually have 850 beds.

The temporary field hospital to deal with an expected surge in cases of coronavirus at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Photograph: Mike Hutchings/Reuters

The temporary field hospital to deal with an expected surge in cases of coronavirus at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Photograph: Mike Hutchings/Reuters

at 10.20am BST

8.53am BST

I’m getting plenty of mail about Dominic Cummings, from some of the many people who were apparently unconvinced many by his eye-test driving yarn. Our UK coronavirus blog is live now and focusing on this issue:

8.47am BST

This is from Elias Visontay and AAP in Australia:

A Covid-19-infected live export ship was apparently cleared by a federal department to dock at Fremantle port, where local workers went on board. The Al Kuwait arrived on Friday after sailing from the United Arab Emirates and six of the 48 multinational crew on board have since tested positive to the virus.

On Tuesday Western Australian police commissioner Chris Dawson said half a dozen Fremantle port workers went on to the ship and authorities knew who they were but he was not aware if they had been placed in quarantine.

The WA premier, Mark McGowan, said he had been advised the federal Department of Agriculture was told crew members had a fever but didn’t pass that information on to Fremantle Port Authority before the vessel berthed.

“I don’t want to point fingers at this point in time,” McGowan said on Tuesday. “We’re just trying to find out exactly what has gone on. Obviously we’re very concerned and to a degree, disappointed.”

More here:

Source link