Japan launches remote cheering app to boost atmosphere in empty stadiums
When Japan’s coronavirus-hit football league finally resumes in a few weeks’ time, it will be in stadiums devoid of supporters. But a new smartphone app could mean the action won’t unfold in atmosphere-sapping silence.
The Remote Cheerer system developed by the Japanese firm Yamaha allows fans following the match on TV, the radio or online to encourage – or berate – players via their smartphones, their voices reverberating around the stadium in realtime via loudspeakers.
In a recent field test, users in multiple remote locations chose from a range of on-screen options that sent their cheers, applause, chants and boos into the 50,000-seat Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa via 58 speakers set up among the empty seats.
The app does not, as yet, allow fans to question the referee’s eyesight, or the eating habits of players who struggled to stay match-fit during the league’s virus-enforced break.
South Korea jails man for 4 months for breaking quarantine rules
A South Korean man was jailed for four months on Tuesday for breaking coronavirus quarantine rules, authorities said, in the country’s first such prison sentence.
The man, 27, left home while under 14-day self-isolation and was then moved to a quarantine facility, which he also left without permission.
South Korea endured one of the worst early outbreaks of the virus, but appears to have largely brought the spread under control thanks to an extensive “trace, test and treat” programme, AFP reports.
Macron unveils €8bn French auto rescue, champions electric cars
President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday announced an €8bn (US$8.8bn) plan to revive France’s auto industry by making it the European leader in electric cars, boosting a sector brought to its knees by the coronavirus.
Macron said the package would include one billion euros in subsidies to encourage purchases of electric and hybrid cars and set a target of France producing a million green cars annually by 2025.
The “historic” intervention will aim to turn France’s rechargeable car industry into Europe’s biggest, the president said.
French President Emmanuel Macron wears a face mask, as he speaks to a worker during a visit at the Valeo manufacturer plant, in Etaples, northern France, Tuesday 26 May 2020. Photograph: Ludovic Marin/AP
Visiting a car factory in Etaples in northern France, Macron said his government would seek to boost flagging customer demand with a subsidy of 7,000 euros for each individual buying an electric car, 5,000 for each company purchase, and 2,000 per hybrid rechargeable car.
Starting 1 June, there would also be an aid of €3,000 for converting from a petrol-fuelled car to a less-polluting one – and as much as €5,000 to upgrade to an electric vehicle, the president said.
He said that some three quarters of French people would be eligible for the incentives.
“In total, the state will provide a bit more than €8bn in aid to the sector,” said Macron.
India backs hydroxychloroquine for virus prevention
India’s top biomedical research body on Tuesday backed the use of the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine as a preventive against coronavirus, after the WHO suspended clinical trials of the drug over safety concerns.
The endorsement from the Indian Council of Medical Research came a week after US President Donald Trump said he was taking the drug as a preventative measure. Observational and case control studies in India showed there were “no major side effects” of taking the drug as a prophylactic, ICMR Director-General Balram Bhargava said. Cases of nausea, vomiting and heart palpitations were noted, he added.
A chemist displays hydroxychloroquine tablets in New Delhi, India, Thursday, 9 April 2020. Photograph: Manish Swarup/AP
On Monday, the WHO said it was halting testing of the drug as a Covid-19 treatment after studies questioned its safety, including one that found it actually increased the risk of death.
Under India’s clinical guidelines for coronavirus treatment, hydroxychloroquine can be administered, but only to patients “with severe disease and requiring ICU management”.
India – which accounts for 70% of global production of hydroxychloroquine – on Tuesday reported 145,380 cases of the virus including 4,167 deaths. The country ramped up output of the drug amid increased demand, after Trump pushed for hydroxychloroquine as a potential shield or treatment for the virus.
As always, you can get in touch with me directly on Twitter @helenrsullivan or via email: helen.sullivan[at]theguardian.com. Comments, tips, news from your part of the world are all much appreciated.
Surgical masks wash up on Sydney beaches after 40 containers fall off cargo ship
Residents of Sydney’s east have woken to beaches covered in face masks, plastic containers and other items after 40 shipping containers fell off a ship on the weekend.
Hundreds of face masks have washed up on Coogee beach, Sydney, Australia on Wednesday, 27 May. Photograph: Aliy Potts
The APL England lost the cargo in rough seas on Sunday while en route from China to Melbourne, forcing the ship to turn around and head to Brisbane.
The containers lost overboard held a wide range of goods including household appliances, building materials and medical supplies.
Australian Maritime Safety Authority officials received reports of face masks “washing up between Magenta Beach and The Entrance”, north of Sydney.
In Australia, Aboriginal people in prisons are going without soap, and children in out-of-home care are being refused contact with their families under “punitive” restrictions enforced due to Covid-19, a report released on Wednesday has said.
Aboriginal people are disproportionately affected by Covid-19 policy responses at a state, territory and commonwealth level, the report by the Change the Record coalition, said.
Change the Record is the Aboriginal-led justice coalition including Amnesty International, the Law Council of Australia, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (Natsils) and National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (Naccho), representing hundreds of services across Australia.
The report said there have been increased use of lockdowns and isolation within correctional facilities, and a reduced access to education, family and legal visits.
More from New Zealand now:
New Zealand sheltered its homeless during Covid-19 – but can it last?
Charlotte Graham-McLay reports for the Guardian from Wellington:
It was an unexpected outcome of the strict lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19 in New Zealand: after one month rough sleeping appeared to have been all but eliminated in the country. Advocates said it was the closest New Zealand had come in modern times to ensuring everyone had shelter, with only “a handful” of people living on streets in the country.
But in a country facing a severe housing shortage and affordability crisis – where home construction is slow work and the public housing waiting list reaches a new high each quarter – the social sector has warned of obstacles to cementing progress made during the most stringent weeks of the Covid-19 shutdown.
New Zealand deputy PM breaks ranks to urge Ardern to lift Covid-19 lockdown
Charlotte Graham-McLay reports for the Guardian from Wellington:
The deputy leader of New Zealand’s government has broken ranks with the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, decrying her refusal to drastically loosen the country’s lockdown rules and immediately establish a trans-Tasman travel “bubble” with Australia.
“We’ve been in compulsory lockdown for far too long,” said Winston Peters, who is the deputy prime minister and foreign minister, but is not a member of Ardern’s Labour party.
“Everybody who has put their heart into the future, the country’s future, and their family’s future realise there is only one way out of this – to think smart and work harder,” he added, during a radio interview on Tuesday. He had been asked by the interviewer whether he supported Ardern’s suggestion of extra public holidays to bolster the country’s flailing tourism sector.
The comments from Peters – who is the leader of New Zealand First, a populist minor party, but holds his ministerial portfolios in power-sharing agreement with Labour – were also widely seen as a form of election-year jockeying for position as he tries to differentiate his own party from Ardern’s ahead of the vote in September.
New Zealand sees 5th day in a row with no new cases, no patients currently in hospital
Charlotte Graham-McLay reports for the Guardian from Wellington:
New Zealand has reported a fifth consecutive day of no new cases of Covid-19 recorded in the country.
There is no longer anyone in hospital with the virus, health officials are telling reporters at a news conference in Wellington, and only 21 cases across the nation are still considered active.
Fewer than 1,500 people have been confirmed infected with Covid-19 in New Zealand.
21 people have died of the coronavirus since it arrived in the country, a result widely attributed to a swift, strict national lockdown that began in late March before any deaths had been recorded.
These are the ten worst-affected countries in terms of number of confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins data:
US: 1,680,625 (Deaths: 98,902)
Brazil: 391,222 (Deaths: 24,512)
Russia: 362,342 (Deaths: 3,807)
United Kingdom: 266,599 (Deaths: 37,130)
Spain: 236,259 (Deaths: 27,117)
Italy: 230,555 (Deaths: 32,955)
France: 182,847 (Deaths: 28,533)
Germany: 181,200 (Deaths: 8,372)
Turkey: 158,762 (Deaths: 4,397)
India: 150,793 (Deaths: 4,344)
Known global deaths pass 350,000
More than 350,000 people have now lost their lives in the coronavirus pandemic worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, which relies on official data.
The current toll stands at 350,423. The number of confirmed cases is: 5,588,299.
The number of declared cases has doubled in a month and more than one million new cases of Covid-19 have been registered in the last 11 days, according to AFP.
There were 500,000 cases registered in just 48 hours, between Sunday, when cases passed 5 million, and Tuesday, when cases passed 5.5 million.
True death tolls and cases are likely to be significantly higher due to differing definitions and testing rates, delays and suspected underreporting.
The US alone accounts for less than a third of the global toll, with 98,902 deaths.
at 2.07am BST
Germany extends distancing rules to end of June
Germany has extended social distancing rules aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus epidemic to 29 June, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government said on Tuesday.
Up to 10 people will be allowed to gather in public places but Germans should be in contact with as few people as possible, according to the rules agreed between the federal government and 16 states.
Merkel’s government had been embroiled in disagreements with the least-affected states, some of which wanted to ditch the measures and open up entirely.
Germany’s virus caseload now tops 181,200 with just over 8,372 deaths – much lower than European counterparts such as Britain, France, Spain and Italy.
Officials warned that further restrictions could be imposed if local outbreaks made them necessary.
Who is Dominic Cummings, and why has his lockdown car trip convulsed UK politics?
The Rose Garden at 10 Downing Street is normally reserved for British prime ministers to make set-piece announcements. But on Monday it was the scene of epic political theatre when Boris Johnson’s Svengali-like aide Dominic Cummings sat down and explained to a frenzied British media pack why he had broken the Covid-19 lockdown rules – or not.
The scene tells us a great deal about the country’s politics in the first two decades of the 21st century. Cummings is the embodiment of the bewildering change that has transformed the country from clubbable member of the globalised world into a reckless, Brexit-voting outlier that is now enduring the biggest failure of statecraft since the 1930s. But how did an unelected adviser get to be the most powerful person in the UK after the prime minister? And what will his uncomfortable moment in the spotlight mean for Britain’s immediate future?
Starting with his portrayal by Benedict Cumberbatch in a TV drama about his triumphant leadership of the Brexit campaign, Cummings has seeped slowly into the public consciousness. However, he remained a slightly mysterious figure to most Britons outside political circles until this weekend.
Walt Disney Co will present its proposal for a phased reopening of its Orlando, Florida, theme parks to a local task force on Wednesday, the company said in a statement.
Disney closed theme parks around the world starting in January to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. It began reopening the parks earlier this month by allowing a limited number of guests into Shanghai Disneyland with social distancing and other safeguards. Guests must wear masks and have their temperatures checked, among other measures, Reuters reports.
A guest wears a distinctive hat at Disney Springs in Orlando on Wednesday, 20 May 2020. Photograph: Stephen M Dowell/AP
A Disney executive will detail the company’s plans for Walt Disney World in Orlando to the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force on Wednesday. The county must approve Disney’s plan before sending it to the governor’s office, which also must sign off before the parks can open their gates to the public.
Disney operates four theme parks at Walt Disney World that attracted 157.3 million visitors in 2018, according to the Themed Entertainment Association. They rank as the most-visited theme parks in the world.
Last week, shops and restaurants at the Disney Springs shopping area outside the Orlando parks reopened to visitors for the first time since March. Sea World Entertainment Inc also will present a reopening plan to the Orange County task force on Wednesday, a statement from the county said.
Iconic sites reopen as world eyes life after lockdown
The Church of the Nativity and the ruins of ancient Pompeii reopened to pilgrims and tourists on Tuesday, as countries further eased coronavirus controls and reopened shuttered economies, AFP reports.
Many of the hardest-hit nations, including Italy and Spain, are trying to salvage their summer tourism seasons – the latest tentative steps out of lockdown buoying world markets.
People visit the ancient city of Pompei, located in the zone of Pompei Scavi, in Pompei, near Naples, Italy, which reopened to the public 26 May 2020. Photograph: Cesare Abbate/EPA
In Bethlehem, the Church of the Nativity – built on the spot where Christians believe their saviour Jesus was born – reopened its doors after more than two months. The church’s opening “gives hope to the world that this pandemic will end”, said Rula Maaya, Palestinian Tourism Minister.
Fear of the virus spreading forced most countries to mothball their tourism industries. Nevertheless, in Italy, the ruins of the Roman city of Pompeii, destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 79 AD but preserved in a layer of ash, welcomed visitors for the first time in weeks. But the site, which attracted four million visitors last year, was largely deserted on Tuesday as foreign visitors are still banned from travel to Italy until next month.
“It’s only us guides, and journalists,” sighed 48-year-old Valentina Raffone, noting a “sense of emptiness, of sadness” as if after a disaster on the scale of the city’s end.
The Vatican too has relaxed its lockdown, announcing that Pope Francis will address the faithful once more from his window overlooking Saint Peter’s Square on Sunday.
Hello and welcome to today’s live global coverage of the coronavirus pandemic with me, Helen Sullivan.
As always, please do get in touch on Twitter @helenrsullivan or via email: helen.sullivan[at]theguardian.com. Comments, tips, news from your part of the world are all much appreciated.
The Spanish government declared 10 days of mourning starting on Wednesday for the nearly 27,000 people who have died from coronavirus the country. It will be the longest official mourning period in Spain’s four-decade-old democracy.
Flags will be hoisted to half-staff in more than 14,000 public buildings and on Spanish naval vessels until 5 June and King Felipe VI, as Spain’s head of state, will preside over a solemn memorial ceremony.
Meanwhile, known deaths worldwide are nearing 350,000, with 349,894 currently confirmed, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The US alone accounts for under a third of these, with 98,852. But the true US death toll will probably have passed the sombre milestone of 100,000 days before the official tallies reflect it.
Here are the latest developments from around the world:
Known deaths worldwide near 350,000. According to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker, known infections worldwide number at least 5,584,091. The known death toll stands at 349,894. True death tolls and cases are likely to be significantly higher due to differing definitions and testing rates, delays and suspected underreporting.
Tory unrest increases pressure on PM to sack Dominic Cummings. There is growing revolt within Boris Johnson’s party over his refusal to fire Dominic Cummings, his chief adviser, over his lockdown breach. A a junior minister has resigned, and 30 other Conservative MPs have called for Cummings to go. Eight more Tory MPs were publicly critical of Cummings’ actions and three said privately that he should be forced out, according to the Guardian’s Heather Stewart, Rowena Mason and Kate Proctor.
Twitter added a fact-check warning to the bottom of a tweet by US President Donald Trump for the first time. Trump tweeted: “There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed. The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone…..” Bellow the tweet there is now a link with the warning text “Get the facts about mail-in ballots”. On Sunday Trump suggested that supporters of mail-in voting were using the coronavirus outbreak to perpetrate a “scam”.
Trump said he thought it was “very unusual” that Joe Biden wore a face mask yesterday while attending a Memorial Day ceremony. The president has resisted wearing a mask in public, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that Americans cover their faces while out in public and around other people.
The Pentagon’s deputy inspector general resigned. Recently, the president effectively removed Glenn Fine from his role leading a coronavirus relief spending oversight committee, and the defence department official has now become the latest inspector general to step down in recent weeks.
The trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange was reopened after two months. Cuomo rang the opening bell to cheers from traders, who will still have to wear masks and stay six feet apart from each other when they’re on the floor.
The WHO says the Americas are the new epicentre of the disease. The World Health Organization’s regional director Dr Carissa Etienne said outbreaks were accelerating in countries such as Brazil, where the number of deaths reported in the last week was the highest in the world for a seven-day period since the coronavirus pandemic began. The number of coronavirus infections to accelerate in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua, she said.
The UN refugee agency said Covid-19 had pushed its humanitarian work to near “breaking point” in Yemen, a country devastated by five years of war. It said a growing number of families were resorting to begging, child labour and marrying of children to survive. A separate UN agency said it had only received around 15% of the funding required for the $3.38bn (€3bn) aid package for Yemen this year.
Spain has declared 10 days of mourning starting on Wednesday for the nearly 27,000 people who have died from coronavirus in the country. Flags will be hoisted to half-staff in more than 14,000 public buildings across the country and on Spanish naval vessels until 5 June. It marks the longest official mourning period in Spain’s four-decade-old democracy.
The UK death toll passed 47,000, according to new figures from the country’s Office for National Statistics. This figure is higher than the latest figure given by the UK government – nearly 37,000 – because it includes deaths in which Covid-19 is given as a “suspected” cause. The UK government figure only includes deaths of patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Russia reports record one-day rise in deaths. Russia has announced that 174 people with coronavirus have died in the past 24 hours, a record one-day amount that has pushed the nationwide death toll to 3,807. Officials reported 8,915 new cases, pushing its overall case tally to 362,342 – but Vladimir Putin said the country has “passed the peak” of the virus.
Mexico City records thousands more deaths than usual, amid doubt over the official Covid-19 toll. This year, Mexico City has issued 8,072 more death certificates than the average for the same period in the past four years, according to a study that suggests the country’s coronavirus death toll could be significantly higher than the official figure of nearly 7,400. The report’s authors found 37% more death certificates were issued in April 2020 than that month’s average during the previous four years. By the end of May they estimated the number may grow to 120%.