New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says all remaining restrictions to limit the spread of the coronavirus may be lifted next week

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announces a $66 million fund to support research into vaccines and clinical trials.

Meanwhile, a new study funded by the World Health Organization finds that masks and social distancing can help control the coronavirus but hand washing and other measures are still needed.

This story was regularly updated throughout Tuesday.

Tuesday’s key moments:New Zealand could lift all coronavirus restrictions next week

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says all remaining restrictions to limit the spread of the coronavirus may be lifted next week, after the country all but eliminated the virus domestically.

Ms Ardern said the nation could move to alert level 1 next week, which means all social distancing measures and curbs on mass gatherings will be lifted.

“Our strategy of go hard, go early has paid off … and in some cases, beyond expectations,” Ms Ardern said at a news conference.

The cabinet will decide on June 8, earlier than the planned date of June 22.

Borders would still remain closed.

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New Zealand recorded no new cases of coronavirus for an 11th consecutive day on Tuesday, and has just one active case in the country.

This was largely because of a strict lockdown enforced for nearly seven weeks, in which most businesses were shut and everyone except essential workers had to stay at home.

“We will be one of the first countries in the world to return to this level of normality so quickly,” Ms Ardern said.

Health Minister announces funding for vaccine research Greg Hunt said the Government would spend $66 million on research and trials.(ABC News: Matt Roberts)

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says millions will be spent on vaccine research and clinical trials.

“I’m delighted to announce that the Australian Government will invest $66 million in research into vaccines, into antivirals, and also into respiratory clinical trials as well as health system management,” Mr Hunt said.

“This funding is about saving lives and protecting lives and it’s part of our dual process of containment and flattening the curve and increasing the ability of our health system to respond, in particular in relation to the containment.”

Mr Hunt said Australians could be confident the systems in place would protect them.

“We should be confident that we have the systems in place to protect Australians. Our case numbers are very low,” he said.

“Our transmission rates within the community are minimal. We see some occasional cases in other states, but very, very few.

“So firstly, have confidence that as we return to our daily lives within the appropriate guidelines of each state and territory that we are safe, and that we have the systems to respond. And confidence that that, in turn, will help give people economic security.”

Masks and social distancing work, new analysis finds The World Health Organization, which funded the new analysis, has said healthy people need to wear a mask only if they are caring for a person with COVID-19.(AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

Masks and social distancing can help control the coronavirus but hand washing and other measures are still needed, a new analysis has found.

Researchers concluded single-layer cloth masks were less effective than surgical masks, while tight-fitting N95 masks provided the best protection.

They also said a distance of 1 metre between people lowered the danger of catching the virus, while 2 meters was even better.

Eye protection such as goggles or eyeglasses can help too. None of the strategies work perfectly and more rigorous studies are needed, according to the analysis published on Monday.

With the coronavirus still new, health officials have relied on studies involving its cousins, severe acute respiratory syndrome and Middle East respiratory syndrome.

Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap.

The findings come from a systematic review of 44 studies, including seven involving the virus causing COVID-19. The remaining focused on SARS or MERS.

“This puts all that information clearly in one place for policymakers to use,” said study co-author Dr Derek Chu of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

Still to come are results from more rigorous experiments in Canada and Denmark that are testing masks in randomly assigned groups of nurses and the general public. Until then, the new study in the journal Lancet provides reassurance that masks do help.

Public health officials have given conflicting advice about masks.

The World Health Organization, which funded the new analysis, has said healthy people need to wear a mask only if they are caring for a person with COVID-19, while Australian authorities have recommended members of the general public only wear masks is they have COVID-19 or suspect they might.

First virus death of Rohingya refugee in Bangladesh camp recorded

An elderly Rohingya refugee has become the first person to die from coronavirus in the camps in southern Bangladesh, officials said on Tuesday.

The man aged 71, died on May 31 while undergoing treatment at the camp’s isolation centre according to Bimal Chakma, a senior official of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission.

“Today we got the confirmation that he tested positive for COVID-19,” he said.

At least 29 Rohingya have tested positive for the virus so far since the first case was detected in the camps on May 14.

Officials said 332 tests have been conducted among Rohingya in the camps so far.

Bangladesh has reported 49,534 coronavirus cases and 672 deaths.

Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreakUganda’s President says country will tourism industry will lose $US1.6 billion Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni says coronavirus will cause a major hit to the country’s tourism.(Reuters: Jok Solomun)

Uganda will lose $US1.6 billion ($2.3 billion) a year in earnings from tourism as visitors stay away due to the impact of the coronavirus, President Yoweri Museveni said.

Tourism is one of Uganda’s economic mainstays as the East African country attracts visitors to see a range of game including lions, giraffes, buffalos and others that roam its savannahs.

Others are drawn by the mountain gorillas in forests in the south-west of the country on the border with Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.

“Already Uganda will lose $US1.6 billion per annum from the loss of tourism,” Mr Museveni said in a speech late on Monday referring to the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.

The President did not say what time frame he was referring to. Latest available data from the country’s statistics office shows Uganda earned $US2 billion from tourism activities in 2017, up from $US1.7 billion the previous year.

South Korea mandates QR codes to log customers after nightclub outbreak South Korea is asking people to generate a personal QR code for themselves.(Reuters: Kim Hong-Ji)

South Korea is testing a new quick response (QR) code system this week to log visitors at high-risk entertainment facilities, restaurants and churches in a bid to track coronavirus cases and prevent further spread of the disease.

The decision to mandate QR codes to register visitors’ identities came after authorities struggled to trace people who had visited a number of nightclubs and bars at the centre of a virus outbreak last month after much of the information on handwritten visitor logs was found to be false or incomplete.

From June 10, visitors to nightclubs, bars, karaoke clubs, daytime discos, indoor gyms that hold group exercises, and indoor standing concert halls, will be required to use any of a number of commercially available apps to generate a one-time, personalised QR code that can be scanned at the door.

Local governments may also designate other high-risk facilities such as libraries, hospitals, restaurants or churches.

The person’s information will be logged in a database kept by the Social Security Information Service for four weeks, before it is automatically deleted, according to South Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare.

Human drug trial expected to begin next month

South Korea expects clinical trials of Celltrion Inc’s experimental COVID-19 treatment to begin in Europe next month and aims to secure sizable supplies of the drug by the first half of next year, a senior health official said on Tuesday.

Drugmakers worldwide are rushing to develop treatments for the flu-like illness caused by the new coronavirus that has killed more than 374,000 globally since it first emerged late last year in China.

Celltrion said on Monday its experimental antibody COVID-19 treatment demonstrated an up to 100-fold reduction in viral load of the disease in animal testing, saying it aims to start human clinical trials in late July.

10 new cases in Victoria, another aged care facility and kindergarten locked down Health Minister Jenny Mikakos says Victoria now has 1,663 cases of coronavirus.(ABC News)

Victoria has recorded 10 new cases of coronavirus overnight, including four household contacts linked to the Rydges quarantine hotel cluster in Melbourne’s CBD.

A kindergarten teacher at McLeod Preschool in the city’s north-east is also among the new cases, and the kindergarten has been closed today for deep cleaning.

Meanwhile, a staff member at Embracia Aged Care in Reservoir in the city’s north has returned a positive result.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos says all staff and visitors are considered close contacts and will be placed into quarantine.

“All of the staff and the residents at that aged care home will be tested today. That nursing home, as per standard protocol, is now in lockdown and they will be having a thorough clean.”

Protesters encouraged to get tested for COVID-19 Demonstrators block the street as a Los Angeles Fire Department ambulance tries to get through.(AP Photo: Mark J. Terrill)

California Governor Gavin Newsom has been encouraging people to get tested if they think they may have been exposed to coronavirus amid days of widespread protests over the death of George Floyd across the state.

Health experts are concerned that protests erupting across the nation and the law enforcement response to them will upend efforts to track and contain the spread of coronavirus just as those efforts were finally getting underway.

In Los Angeles, the city’s mayor announced on Saturday that COVID-19 testing centres were being closed because of safety concerns related to violent protests. Testing in Minneapolis will be affected because some of the clinics that provide the service have been damaged in the protests.

Mr Newsom assured the public during a briefing that “people are being tested substantially.”

No deaths in Spain for first time since early March

Spain on Monday reported no official deaths from the new coronavirus in a 24-hour period for the first time since March.

The development is “very, very encouraging,” emergency health response chief Fernando Simon said.

Also, Spain recorded only 71 new COVID-19 infections over the past 24 hours, he told a news conference.

“We are in a very good place in the evolution of the pandemic,” Simon said. “The statistics are following a trend. They are going in the right direction.”

Bars and cafes in parts of Spain are back open as restrictions have eased.(AP: Paul White)

Spain reported its first two deaths on March 3. Another was reported two days later. Spain’s number of infections and death jumped exponentially. On April 2, it recorded 950 deaths in 24 hours – the peak death toll.

The official death toll now stands at 27,127, with 240,000 confirmed cases.

Spain was the second European country after Italy to be forcefully hit by the pandemic before it also spread death in France and Britain. One of the world’s strictest lockdowns was put into place in mid-March and managed to eventually reduce the pressure on hospitals after some were overwhelmed with patients suffering from the virus.

The lockdown is gradually being relaxed as the medical situation improves.

WHO reveals pandemic’s impact on healthcare provision Healthcare systems globally have braced for coronavirus overwhelming staff and infrastructure.(AP: John Minchillo)

The World Health Organization says that about half of countries surveyed in a new analysis have had partial or complete disruption of services for people with high blood pressure and diabetes treatment during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a survey of 155 countries last month, the UN health agency found worrying problems in the provision of health care for people with non-communicable diseases, many of whom are at higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19.

“Many people who need treatment for diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes have not been receiving the health services and medicines they need since the COVID-19 pandemic began,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.

“It’s vital that countries find innovative ways to ensure that essential services … continue even as they fight COVID-19.”

The survey also found that 42 per cent of countries had interrupted services for cancer patients and 31 per cent for heart emergencies.

In more than 90 per cent of countries, health care staff had been partially or fully reassigned to pandemic duties.

African cases near 145,000 South Africa has recorded the most coronavirus cases on the continent.(AP: Jerome Delay)

Nearly 145,000 people have now tested positive for the coronavirus in Africa, the World Health Organization’s regional office for the region says.

So far out of those cases reported by the 54 countries on the continent, more than 61,100 people have recovered and 4,100 have died.

South Africa, sub-Saharan Africa’s most industrialised nation, has the most cases, while Egypt, on the other end of the continent, has counted the most deaths.

This comes as authorities in Malawi and Zimbabwe reported last week that hundreds of people had fled from coronavirus quarantine zones, sparking fears that the two countries’ health systems could be overwhelmed by an surge in cases.

Iran records a jump of almost 3,000 cases in a day Iran was one of the first countries outside of China to record coronavirus cases.(AP: Vahid Salemi)

Iran has counted its most new cases of coronavirus on any day for nearly two months, with 2,979 more people testing positive for the virus since yesterday, according to the health ministry.

The last time Iran counted more new infections was 1 April, when 2,988 were detected.

The latest surge suggests the country is now in the grip of a second wave of widespread infection.

Saeed Namaki, the health minister, warned the epidemic could come back stronger than before.

“The outbreak is not over yet and at any moment it may come back stronger than before,” he was quoted as saying by Reuters.

“If our people fail to respect the health protocols … we must prepare ourselves for the worst situation.”

Government employees went back to work and mosques resumed daily prayers on Saturday as part of the continuing relaxation of the lockdown, which last week saw cafes and restaurants reopening in some parts of the country.

But authorities had to reimpose restrictions in the southern provinces of Khuzestan and Sistan Baluchestan in mid-May after an uptick of cases there.

Russia’s reopening questioned as cases climb As Russia reopens, some people fear infection rates are much higher than official figures.(AP: Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr)

Parks and shopping centres in the Russian capital reopened and people were allowed out for walks and limited exercise for the first time in nine weeks.

President Vladimir Putin announced last week the country had passed the peak of its outbreak.

But infections are still rising, and some question lifting restrictions.

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Russia reported another 9,035 confirmed cases and 162 deaths on Monday.

In total the country has recorded 414,878 infections — the third highest number in the world after the US and Brazil — and a death toll of 4,855.

Officials say the low numbers of dead is due to high testing numbers. Critics however fear the true number is far higher

A further 162 people have died in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall toll from the virus to 4855.

Russia’s coronavirus response centre said the nationwide tally of infections had risen to 414,878.

Rome’s Colosseum reopens after three months Italy has begun to re-open after experiencing a severe outbreak of coronavirus.(AP: Domenico Stinellis)

The Colosseum in Rome reopened on Monday morning (local time) after almost three months of closure due to the coronavirus.

Thermo-scanners, social distancing and disinfectant dispensers at the entrance, together with mandatory bookings, one-way paths and limited number of visitors, aim to help make visiting one of the most famous monuments in the world as safe as possible during the pandemic.

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the ancient Roman arena of the gladiators was normally visited by 7.5 million people a year.

But Director of the Colosseum Archaeological Park Alfonsina Russo said that from now, the site would usher in “a more sustainable tourism, compatible with our cities and with the wellbeing of the citizens”.

The Italian ministry of culture will support with a special fund all museums and cultural sites that will see a sharp decrease of tickets bookings.

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.


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