Staying on China for a moment, Reuters has footage of a pro-democracy lawmaker being forcibly removed from the legislature during a debate over the national security law that has just been passed.
Two pro-democracy lawmakers were removed from Hong Kong’s Legislative Council where lawmakers were debating a bill that would make disrespect of China’s national anthem a criminal offense https://t.co/v6qCFEWOko pic.twitter.com/iGcp4de8MO
May 28, 2020
China’s legislature has approved a decision to force a controversial national security law on Hong Kong, in an extraordinary and unprecedented move aimed at bringing the semi-autonomous territory further under Beijing’s control.
On Thursday, China’s National People’s Congress voted and passed a draft decision that paves the way for anti-sedition laws to be directly enacted in Hong Kong, bypassing the semi-autonomous territory’s legislature. The Legislative Council (LegCo) has been unable to pass similar legislation on its own because of widespread public opposition.
Now, a detailed law will be drafted and could be enacted in a matter of weeks, according to Chinese state media.
The move by China has prompted widespread condemnation and anxiety inside and outside Hong Kong about Beijing’s plans for the semi-autonomous territory. Riot police were deployed across Hong Kong to stop any potential protests.
Read the full story here.
Deaths in Russia pass 4,000
Russia has reported 174 new coronavirus deaths, matching its record daily rise for fatalities and taking the overall death toll to 4,142.
The country’s coronavirus crisis response centre said the overall number of infections had risen by 8,371 to 379,051.
Comparing death rates between countries is notoriously difficult. For one, not all countries report the same data in their death statistics. Secondly, each country is at a different stage in its own epidemic, making comparisons tricky.
But the Financial Times reports that it has compiled data from national statistics agencies in 19 countries where “sufficient information exists to make robust comparisons”. The figures include all of the European countries hit hard by coronavirus, and the US. The periods for comparison are from when death rates in individual countries climbed above five-year averages.
Its conclusions are stark: the UK has suffered the highest rate of deaths from Covid-19 among these countries 19 countries, including the US, Italy, Spain and Belgium. It also found that the UK has had the highest global excess death rate per million, and only Peru has had a higher increase in deaths.
Chris Giles, the FT’s economics editor, said the data shows the UK suffered excess deaths across all nations and regions, whereas other countries such as Italy and France had “definitive hotspots” but other areas with lower than normal death rates. He adds:
As many experts say, the UK was late to lockdown and that cost many lives
May 28, 2020
at 8.26am BST
Easyjet has announced plans to cut up to 4,500 jobs – 30% of its total global workforce – as the travel industry continues to be battered by Covid-19.
The low-cost airline said it will start flying on 15 June but doesn’t expect demand to return to 19 levels until 2023.
Johan Lundgren, its chief executive, said:
“We realise that these are very difficult times and we are having to consider very difficult decisions which will impact our people, but we want to protect as many jobs as we can for the long term.
“We remain focused on doing what is right for the company and its long-term health and success, following the swift action we have taken over the last three months to meet the challenges of the virus. Against this backdrop, we are planning to reduce the size of our fleet and to optimise the network and our bases.”
In April EasyJet secured a £600m loan from the UK Treasury and Bank of England’s emergency coronavirus fund after its founder and biggest shareholder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, claimed it would run out of cash by the year end regardless.
Rodrigo Duterte, the hardline president of the Philippines, has been urged to ease one of the toughest and longest lockdowns in the world for resident in the capital Manila.
The country’s coronavirus task force has advised Duterte to gradually lift the nearly 11-week lockdown in Manila when he addresses the nation later on Thursday. The city’s 1.8 million residents have endured restrictions longer than the 76-day quarantine imposed in Wuhan, China, when the outbreak first emerged.
The recommendation came even as daily infections this week were the highest since 6 April, the news agency Reuters reported. Confirmed cases in the past six days comprise nearly 11% of the total 15,049 recorded, of which 904 led to deaths.
“This is really a compromise. The need to reopen the economy and the need to contain the spread of Covid-19,” said presidential spokesman Harry Roque.
The news that South Korea has seen a spike in new cases will be met with international concern. Government scientists in the UK and beyond are closely watching events in South Korea, a country widely praised for its rapid and expansive efforts to crack down on the disease when the first clusters emerged in February.
Scarred by its encounter with Middle East respiratory syndrome in 2015, South Korea implemented a comprehensive test, trace and contain policy that brought the number of daily cases down from a peak of 909 on 29 February to the dozens by late March and single figures a few weeks later. The country of 51 million people started lifting its lockdown earlier this month.
It’s worth looking closer at the latest outbreak. Health officials have said at least 69 of the new cases this week have been linked to a cluster of infections at a distribution centre operated by the e-commerce firm Coupang, where workers have been fulfilling the ever-rising demand for online shopping.
People suspected of being infected with coronavirus wait for a test Bucheon, South Korea, on Thursday 28 May 2020 Photograph: Yun Hyun-tae/AP
The new outbreak appears also to be connected to an earlier cluster of infections that emerged in several Seoul nightclubs and bars earlier this month, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).
As a result, health officials said they would be conducting on-site inspections of logistics centres across the country – a huge operation – while Coupong said it had closed the facility in Bucheon on Monday and closed a separate warehouse in a Seoul suburb after an employee tested there.
The new spike in cases will be seen as a warning to scientists across the world – but South Korea’s apparently swift response will also be seen as instructive.
Hello from Manchester, England. It’s Josh Halliday here to guide you through the next few hours.
As ever, we’ll bring you the latest developments from around the world on the coronavirus pandemic as some countries, particularly in Europe and the Middle East, begin to cautiously ease out of lockdown while others, in Africa and the Americas, brace for the worst that may yet be to come.
Do get in touch to share news tips or insight from where you are. You can contact me on:
‘Things have to change’: tourism businesses look to a greener future
No planes in the sky, empty hotels and deserted attractions: with the world at a standstill, the tourism industry has been one of the industries worst-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. International arrivals this year could be down by 80% compared with 2019, according to the World Tourism Organization, and more than 100 million jobs are under threat.
But as destinations slowly start to emerge from lockdown and borders tentatively reopen, many in the sector are wondering if this is a chance for tourism to rebuild in a greener, more sustainable way.
WHO launches foundation to put finances in better health
The World Health Organization on Wednesday launched a new foundation for private donations, as US President Donald Trump threatens to pull the plug over its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, AFP reports.
The UN health agency launched the independently-run WHO Foundation, which the organisation hopes will give it greater control to direct philanthropic and public donations towards pressing problems such as the coronavirus crisis.
Trump, accusing the WHO of mismanaging the pandemic, has frozen US funding and could pull out of the organisation next month if he does not see what he believes to be satisfactory changes. Trump claims the WHO is too close to Beijing and covered up the initial outbreak in China.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus insisted the new grant-making funding stream was not related to Trump’s threat to freeze its contributions.
“It has nothing to do with the recent funding issues,” he said, detailing that greater financial flexibility had been among his long-term reform plans since taking over the organisation in July 2017.
The vast majority of the WHO’s budget is in voluntary contributions which go straight from countries and other donors to their chosen destination. The WHO therefore only has control over the spending of countries’ “assessed contributions” membership fees, which are calculated on their wealth and population.
The new foundation will facilitate contributions from the general public, individual major donors and corporate partners to the WHO. Its goal is to help the organisation achieve more sustainable and predictable funding.
Given the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the WHO Foundation will focus initially on emergencies and pandemic response.
UK front pages, Thursday 28 May
The fallout from Dominic Cummings trip to Durham continues to be splashed across the front pages, including the news that senior ministers are breaking ranks over the beleaguered advisor’s trip.
The Guardian says “Tories defy PM to pile pressure on Cummings”, including 61 MPs who are refusing to heed Boris Johnson’s calls to “move on”. It says two of those condemning Cummings are government whips, in addition to Penny Mordaunt, now the paymaster general, who said there were “inconsistencies” in Cummings’ account of the trip.
The Guardian also gives prominence to Emily Maitlis, who was replaced as the BBC’s Newsnight presenter on Wednesday after a statement from the broadcaster said she broke impartiality rules on Tuesday’s programme, when she said Cummings broke the rules and: “the country can see that and is shocked the government cannot”. The programme’s editor, Esme Wren, wrote on Twitter that Maitlis “hasn’t been replaced tonight in response to the BBC statement”.
Guardian front page, Thursday 28 May 2020: Tories defy PM to pile pressure on Cummings pic.twitter.com/8Vb8jpRAnf
May 27, 2020
Thursday’s FINANCIAL TIMES: “Johnson brushes aside Cummings inquiry demands despite backlash” #BBCPapers #TomorrowsPapersToday pic.twitter.com/ow184Tm2f0
May 27, 2020
Tomorrow’s Telegraph front page: “Public told they have ‘duty’ to test and trace”#TomorrowsPapersToday pic.twitter.com/qEudlm5hJi
May 27, 2020
Tomorrow’s #frontpage – Why don’t YOU do YOUR duty…#tomorrowspaperstoday pic.twitter.com/k2B5f1jjjD
May 27, 2020
Thursday’s TIMES: “Do your duty and we can defeat virus, Britain told” #BBCPapers #TomorrowsPapersToday pic.twitter.com/C89wxA7TOn
May 27, 2020
A full roundup of the papers at the link below:
Trump silent on US death toll
Donald Trump remained silent on the death of more than 100,000 Americans from Covid-19 as the US mourned the milestone. The president made no comment on Twitter about the momentous day, but used the platform to attack tech companies for trying to censor him, a day after Twitter put a fact-check warning on one of his claims.
As US deaths from Covid-19 topped 100,000 and infections neared 1.7 million, White House officials on Wednesday said Trump would sign an executive order that could threaten punishment on social media companies on Thursday, sparking a fall in the share prices of both Twitter and Facebook.
“Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning. “We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.”
Eric Trump, the president’s son, also attracted criticism for ignoring the coronavirus fatalities, instead tweeting about the day’s stock market’s surge.
The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross said it has recorded 208 Covid-19-related attacks against health workers and installations in 13 countries since March, a striking contrast to the cheers and clapping in gratitude for their work in many nations, AP reports.
Peter Maurer said health workers are being attacked and abused and health systems are being targeted at a time when they are most needed.
The Covid-19 crisis is fast threatening to become a protection crisis,” he told the UN Security Council. Maurer told reporters the ICRC compiled data from 13 countries in the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, the Americas and Africa where it operates, and its likely the actual numbers are much higher than what we calculated.
He said the incidents range from verbal threats to burning down facilities reportedly housing Covid-19 patients.
Maurer said 23% of incidents included physical assaults, 20% were discriminatory-related attacks on health workers, and the rest included the deliberate failure to provide or deny assistance, verbal assaults and threats, and a disregard for health personnel protective measures.
Here are the latest developments from the last few hours:
Known global cases near 5.7m, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. According to their tally of official figures at least 5,693,066 people are known to have contracted the virus since the pandemic began, while at least 355,653 people are known to have died.
US deaths pass 100,000. Data from Johns Hopkins University shows that the United States has recorded more than 100,000 deaths from Covid-19, moving past a sombre milestone even as many states relax mitigation measures to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. The US has recorded more deaths from the disease than any other country in the pandemic, and almost three times as many as the second-ranking country, Britain, which has recorded more than 37,000 Covid-19 deaths. The latest count of fatalities is 100,442. Earlier this month, president Donald Trump said 100,000 deaths would be “horrible”, but he claimed that actions by his administration had prevented a much higher toll.
Military virus aid could look different if 2nd wave hits, says US defence secretary. US Defence Secretary Mark Esper said that as the US military prepares for another potential wave of the coronavirus, it may do things a bit differently, providing more targeted aid for cities and states and possibly shorter quarantine times for troops, AP reports.
South Korea faces return to coronavirus restrictions after spike in new cases. South Korea has reported its biggest daily increase in coronavirus cases in 53 days, triggering warnings it may have to revert to stricter social distancing measures after appearing to have brought the outbreak under control.The Korean Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 79 new infections on Thursday with 67 of them from the Seoul metropolitan area, home to about half of the country’s population of 51 million.
UN: Virus could push 14 million into hunger in Latin America. The UN World Food Program is warning that upward of at least 14 million people could go hungry in Latin America as the coronavirus pandemic rages on, shuttering people in their homes, drying up work and crippling the economy, AP reports.
Coronavirus knocks a third of European Foreign Direct Investment – survey. Over a third of European foreign direct investment projects announced in 2019 have been either delayed or cancelled outright because of the coronavirus pandemic, an annual survey by professional services group EY found. Some 65% of the 6,412 projects in question are already in place or continuing “albeit with downgraded capacity and recruitment”, EY said. A further 25% were delayed and 10 percent cancelled, its Europe Attractiveness survey found.
Ireland faces record recession: think tank. Ireland is facing its deepest ever recession as the coronavirus lockdown devastates jobs and strains the public finances, a think tank said Thursday. A report by Ireland’s Economic and Social Research Institute predicts the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) will decline 12.4% this year. That was the “most likely” scenario under a government plan to lift the lockdown in August but with the economy struggling to return to pre-pandemic levels owing to physical distancing measures, ESRI said.
Britain temporarily closes its embassy in North Korea. Britain has temporarily closed its embassy in North Korea and all its diplomatic staff have left the country, the UK ambassador said on Thursday, the latest foreign delegation to leave amid strict coronavirus restrictions.
61 Conservative MPs continued to defy British PM Boris Johnson’s calls to “move on” from the Dominic Cummings crisis as a senior minister broke ranks to accuse the special adviser of inconsistencies in his account of his behaviour during lockdown.The intervention of Penny Mordaunt deepened the turmoil within government following revelations by the Guardian and Daily Mirror that Cummings had travelled 260 miles to his family estate in Durham with his wife suffering coronavirus symptoms.The former chancellor Sajid Javid also said the journey was not “necessary or justified” as the number of backbenchers calling for Cummings to resign or be sacked grew to 44, with more than 60 Tory MPs weighing in to criticise him.Two of those condemning Cummings are government whips.
at 6.39am BST
As the coronavirus spreads into indigenous lands in Brazil, killing at least 40 people so far by the government’s count, the first two Covid-19 deaths were registered this week in the Xingu area, one of the biggest reserves in the world, the AP reports.
The two fatalities were in the Kayapo indigenous group, which has reported a total of 22 virus cases. The community’s leader, Megaron, told The Associated Press he wants President Jair Bolsonaro and other officials to stop loggers, miners and fishermen from illegally entering the territory, incursions he believes have sped up the spread of the virus.
In February, representatives of the Yanomami and Kayapo indigenous groups petitioned Prime Minister Boris Johnson to condemn Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro’s “attempts to destroy our lands and lives.” Photograph: Peter Summers/Getty Images
Bolsonaro has encouraged development in the Amazon, regardless of indigenous lands, although the state-run indigenous agency, FUNAI, issued an order in mid-March barring access to those lands because of the virus. Still, reports in Brazilian media have said missionaries, health care agents, loggers and miners carried the virus into those areas.
“It is not us that are leaving and taking (the virus). There are people seizing this disease to invade indigenous land,” Megaron said.
Megaron, who is a nephew of acclaimed environmentalist Raoni Metuktire, said his community now lives in fear because of the coronavirus.
“It is the government’s obligation to take care of our land, our community, give us help, care, even more now because this disease is killing a lot of people. Our request is to be isolated in our village until the government or the health ministry say there is no more Covid-19,” he said.