Taiwan’s Government says it approved Gilead Sciences’ potential COVID-19 treatment, remdesivir, to treat the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Brazil, which now has the second-largest outbreak in the world behind the United States, registered 1,124 deaths from the virus and 26,928 additional cases.
This story will be regularly updated throughout Saturday.
Saturday’s key moments:Russia plans coronavirus vaccine clinical trials in two weeks
Russian scientists plan to start clinical trials within two weeks on a vaccine to combat coronavirus, the country’s Health Minister was quoted as saying on Saturday.
Russia has the world’s third-highest toll of coronavirus infections after the US and Brazil, and Kremlin officials have said the nation’s researchers are working on almost 50 different vaccine projects.
“The tests are under way and we plan to start clinical trials in the next two weeks,” Health Minister Mikhail Murashko was quoted as saying by the TASS news agency.
He said volunteers had been selected to take part in the trials.
There are currently about 10 coronavirus vaccines being tested in humans and experts have predicted that a safe and effective vaccine could take 12 to 18 months from the start of development.
One of the Russian vaccine projects is being undertaken by the state-run Vektor Institute in Siberia, and the institute’s director general, Rinat Maksyutov, said on Saturday he hoped to complete clinical trials in mid-September.
Russia on Saturday reported 181 deaths from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours — down from the record 232 deaths registered the previous day, pushing up the nationwide death toll to 4,555.
Officials said 8,952 new infections had been confirmed, bringing the national tally to 396,575 cases.
President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Moscow, the epicentre of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, had succeeded in preventing what he called worst-case scenarios as the city announced it would ease tough lockdown measures within days.
Taiwan approves drug remdesivir to treat COVID-19 California-based Gilead Sciences has said it will donate 1.5 million doses of remdesivir.(Reuters: Ulrich Perrey)
Taiwan’s Government says it has approved Gilead Sciences’ potential COVID-19 treatment, remdesivir, to treat the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
Governments are racing to bolster supplies of remdesivir, which United States regulators approved for emergency use.
California-based Gilead has said it will donate 1.5 million doses of remdesivir, enough to treat at least 140,000 patients, to combat the global pandemic.
Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Centre said the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration took into account “the fact that the efficacy and safety of remdesivir has been supported by preliminary evidence” and its use was being approved by other countries.
On that basis, the centre said the conditions had been met for approval of the drug for use in patients with “severe” COVID-19 infection.
Taiwan has been successful at preventing the coronavirus from spreading, thanks to early detection and prevention work and a successful public health system.
It has recorded 442 cases and only seven deaths. The vast majority of people have recovered, with just 14 active cases.
There is currently no approved medication or vaccine for COVID-19, but EU countries are already administering remdesivir to patients under compassionate use rules.
Japan and the United Kingdom have both cleared the drug for use and moved to begin supplying it to patients.
The United States, the world’s biggest pharmaceutical market, has yet to approve the broader use of the drug.
Mosques in Iran to resume daily prayers
Government employees have returned to work in Iran and President Hassan Rouhani said mosques are to resume daily prayers throughout the country, even though some areas are seeing high levels of coronavirus infections.
Mr Rouhani also said on state television that the hours of shopping malls, which had been allowed to open only until 6:00pm, will be extended, a further step in the Government’s plans to ease coronavirus restrictions.
“Doors to mosques across the country will open to public for daily prayers,” Mr Rouhani said, adding that social distancing and other health protocols should be observed.
He did not say when they are due to reopen.
Authorities are taking tougher measures to ensure that health regulations are observed, including barring commuters not wearing masks from buses and metro trains, Iranian media reported.
Alireza Zali, head of the Government-led Coronavirus Taskforce of Tehran, told state TV the situation in the capital was “still not favourable,” adding that the easing of restrictions should be accompanied by “more serious observance” of regulations.
Iran has recorded 146,668 coronavirus infections, and 7,677 deaths.
Concern in US after person who attended crowded pool parties tests positive
US health officials say that they are seeking to “inform mass numbers of unknown people” after a person who attended crowded pool parties over Memorial Day weekend at Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks tested positive for COVID-19.
Camden County Health Department said in a release that the resident of Boone County in mid-Missouri tested positive on Sunday after arriving at the lake area a day earlier.
Officials said there had been no reported cases of the virus linked to coronavirus in residents of Camden County, where the parties seen in videos and photos posted on social media took place.
Because “mass numbers of unknown people” need to be notified, the officials released a brief timeline of the person’s whereabouts last weekend, including stops at a bar called Backwater Jacks, a bar and restaurant that has a pool, as well as a dining and pool venue called Shady Gators and Lazy Gators.
Backwater Jacks owner Gary Prewitt said previously in a statement that no laws were broken, though the images appeared to show people violating the state order requiring social distancing.
The state allowed businesses and attractions to reopen on May 4, but the state order requires 2 metre social distancing through at least the end of May.
Brazil surpasses Spain in number of deaths A police officer wearing a mask stands in front of the statue of Christ the Redeemer.(Reuters: Pilar Olivares)
Coronavirus deaths in Brazil have reached 27,878, the Health Ministry says, surpassing Spain to rank fifth in the number of dead.
In the past 24 hours, Brazil, which now has the second-largest outbreak in the world behind the United States, registered 1,124 deaths from the virus and 26,928 additional cases.
Asked about the growing virus crisis in Brazil, US President Donald Trump said the country is “having a hard time”.
But he said he didn’t want to be critical of President Jair Bolsonaro who has shunned social distancing measures and urged citizens to get back to their normal lives because he “went a different way”.
Brazil, with a population of about 210 million people, is the Latin American country hardest hit by the coronavirus, with more than 465,000 confirmed cases. Experts say those figures are significantly underestimated due to insufficient testing.
The Trump administration instituted a travel ban on Brazil this week as the virus numbers continue to climb.
Mr Trump said the ban would be lifted “as soon as we can”.
India on the path to ‘victory’ despite recording highest single-day jump in cases India started easing lockdown restrictions earlier this month.(AP: Rajanish Kakade)
India has registered another record single-day jump of 7,964 coronavirus cases and 265 deaths, a day before the two-month lockdown across the country of 1.3 billion people is set to end.
The Health Ministry put the total number of cases in India at 173,763 with 4,971 deaths. The total infections included 86,422 active cases and 82,369 recoveries.
India has surpassed China, both in terms of confirmed cases and deaths from the disease.
More than 70 per cent of coronavirus cases in India are concentrated in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, New Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan states.
In an open letter, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted that India was traversing on the path to “victory” in its battle against the virus.
He said India would set “an example in economic revival” and asked the countrymen to show a “firm resolve”.
The Government is expected to issue a new set of guidelines this weekend, possibly extending the lockdown in worst-hit areas.
India started easing lockdown restrictions earlier this month, allowing reopening of shops and manufacturing and resumption of some trains and domestic flights and vehicles’ movement.
Israel considers reimposing restrictions as cases rise again Israel first put restrictions into place on March 11.(AP: Oded Balilty)
Infection rates have risen in Israel, particularly in schools, since the Government began easing restrictions in mid-April.
The number of positive tests rose to 101 on Friday from four last Saturday and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet ministers and senior health officials over the weekend to decide whether to again close schools for some grades.
Breaking into a public holiday to sound a note of caution, Health Ministry director general Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov said some people had not been vigilant enough regarding social distancing, hygiene and wearing masks.
Though the number of daily tests has not changed, the rate of positive results has jumped to 1.5 per cent from 0.5 per cent, he told reporters.
“Sadly the disease is still here,” Mr Bar-Siman-Tov said.
“The atmosphere of loosening up among the Israeli public is out of place.
“I understand there are complaints that we have one policy and then change it, but that is how it works around the whole world.”
Idris and Sabrina Dhowre Elba sound alarm as hunger crisis looms The couple launched a United Nations fund in April to support rural food systems.(AP: Jordan Strauss, file)
Idris Elba has called for urgent action and creative solutions to prevent a looming hunger crisis in poor countries, where food production and transport have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The British actor and filmmaker said the issue was personal to him and his wife, model and activist Sabrina Dhowre Elba, since both of their families came from Africa.
The couple launched a United Nations fund in April to support rural food systems and spoke in an online panel on Friday with experts from the International Fund for Agricultural Development.
With 60 per cent of employment in Africa in agriculture, “that’s an awful lot of people who are going to suffer and not eat because of the crisis and ongoing effects,” Elba said.
“At the beginning stages of this pandemic … everyone was looking at themselves. And I think what’s happened now is we’ve realised that we’re all connected somewhat.”
Coronavirus is set to almost double global hunger by the end of the year, putting an additional 130 million people at risk because of cut-off trade flows and loss of income, according to the World Food Programme. Most will be in Africa.
Monkeys attack lab assistant, escape with COVID-19 blood samples Coronavirus has been detected in animals, though there has been no confirmation that the disease can be passed to humans from them.(AP: Anupam Nath)
A troop of monkeys has attacked a laboratory assistant and escaped with a batch of coronavirus blood test samples from a hospital in India, according to authorities.
The incident began as the lab assistant, who was not seriously injured in the attack, was transporting newly collected samples outside the Meerut Medical College in Delhi.
Head of the hospital, SK Garg, said the sample box contained packets of blood from people who had tested positive to COVID-19.
After grabbing the samples, the monkeys fled to a nearby residential area. They then climbed trees and were seen chewing the packets before throwing them away.
No individuals were believed to have come into contact with the samples, and hospital authorities have sanitised the area.
Virus outbreak in Mexican migrant shelter The migrants who have been diagnosed with coronavirus are from Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.(AP: Rebecca Blackwell)
Twelve migrants have tested positive for coronavirus at a government-run shelter in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, the Labour Ministry says.
The gritty industrial city neighbouring El Paso in the US state of Texas, has received thousands of migrants under a Trump administration policy that sends US asylum seekers to Mexico to await the outcomes of their cases.
The migrants who have tested positive in the Leona Vicario centre, which houses 337 people, have been isolated to prevent further spread of the virus, the ministry said in a statement.
“People with COVID-19 symptoms receive medical treatment in a timely manner and remain in an isolation area to monitor their progress,” it added.
The migrants who have been diagnosed with coronavirus are from Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, the director of the centre said.
Fourteen migrants considered to be high-risk, including pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions, were transferred to another facility, the Government said.
Migrants in the shelter, one of Mexico’s largest along the border, have been in isolation for more than two months. Many had found work in Ciudad Juarez to support their families, but have been forced to give it up amid the pandemic.
Pakistan resumes international flights despite no reduction in virus spread Pakistan has recorded 1,317 coronavirus deaths.(AP)
Pakistan will allow outbound international flights to resume from this weekend, an aviation official says, after largely closing its airspace to commercial flights to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement came as Pakistan reported its largest one-day spread of the infection, with 2,636 cases and 57 deaths in 24 hours. Pakistan has recorded a total of 64,028 cases.
“Both national and foreign airlines shall be allowed to operate from all international airports of Pakistan,” Abdul Sattar Khokhar, Senior Joint Secretary at the Civil Aviation Authority, said in a statement.
“The airlines … may carry passengers from Pakistan to international destinations,” Mr Khokhar said, adding that passengers would have to follow standard precautions to help contain the virus for both the local and the international flights.
International and local flights have been suspended since March, with exemptions for some flights to enable international repatriation in and out of Pakistan.
Despite a rising rate of infection, Pakistan has rolled back almost all lockdown measures, primarily to avert an economic meltdown.
More of Europe to reopen borders as restrictions are tentatively lifted Denmark will open its borders to three countries: Germany, Norway and Iceland.(Ritzau Scanpix: Liselotte Sabroe via AP)
Norway and Denmark have reached an agreement to allow tourists to travel freely, though border crossings with Sweden, which sits between the two countries and has a much higher number of infections, will remain restricted.
Denmark will also welcome tourists from Germany and Iceland. All foreign visitors will need to book at least six nights accommodation before arriving and they will not be allowed to stay in the capital Copenhagen, where most of the country’s cases are.
The idea of travel bubbles, or travel corridors, is gaining traction with governments around the world as a way to restart international travel while limiting the risk of spreading the virus.
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have already opened their common borders, creating the first travel bubble within the European Union.
Greece has announced it will open to visitors from 29 countries, including Australia and New Zealand, from June 15, days before its peak tourism season begins. Tourists will be subject to random testing for the virus during their time on holiday.
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