Latvia said Tuesday it will drop coronavirus quarantine rules for travellers from more than 20 European countries, a move already adopted by its Baltic eurozone neighbours Estonia and Lithuania, AFP reports.
Mandatory two-week self isolation will no longer apply to visitors arriving from “low risk countries” from Wednesday, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins told reporters in the capital Riga.
The foreign ministers of Lithuania, Poland, Estonia and Latvia arrive a four-way meeting in Tallinn, Estonia, 2 June 2020. Photograph: Piotr Nowak/EPA
A free travel list published by Latvia’s Centre for Disease Prevention and Control did not include countries like Sweden and Britain, where the rate of infection remains high. Borders with neighbouring Russia and Belarus will also remain sealed for passengers, but open to goods.
With the pandemic believed to be virtually extinguished in Latvia, authorities plan to lift all emergency measures on 9 June.
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania reopened their shared borders on May 15, becoming among the first in Europe to allow citizens free movement for business and pleasure after two months of restrictions.
A country of 1.9 million people, Latvia has confirmed 1,071 cases of coronavirus, including 24 deaths.
Health experts cast doubt on UK hopes for holiday ‘air bridges’
The Guardian’s Peter Walker and Jamie Grierson report:
Public health experts and officials have warned that the idea of “air bridge” links between the UK and overseas holiday destinations may prove impossible this summer, amid continued concern over how they could operate safely.
A number of Conservative MPs are pushing for air bridges – mutual agreements with other countries to allow travellers to fly in and out without coronavirus quarantine restrictions – ahead of the imposition of the UK’s 14-day quarantine system next week.
The home secretary, Priti Patel, is to announce how the quarantine process will work in a statement to the Commons on Wednesday, and is coming under significant pressure from Tory MPs to signal a willingness to implement air bridges amid fears over the new measures’ effect on the tourism and hospitality sectors.
Writing in Wednesday’s Telegraph alongside the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, Patel said: “We owe it to the victims of Covid-19 to impose quarantine,” arguing it was crucial and tourism would be up and running faster if tough measures were taken.
In Japan, facilities have been warned against using devices that atomise hypochlorous acid to disinfect against coronavirus, The Mainichi reports:
An increasing number of facilities in Japan are suspending use of devices to atomize hypochlorous acid solution as a disinfectant, which has been commonly been adopted by schools, day cares and public facilities to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, following a government call for caution.
On May 29, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) introduced guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) stating that in indoor spaces, “routine application of disinfectants to environmental surfaces by spraying or fogging (also known as fumigation or misting) is not recommended for COVID-19.”
METI is still evaluating the effectiveness of the solutions as a disinfectant on object surfaces contaminated with viruses. But misting of the solutions is not recommended in terms of effectiveness or safety.
The true number of Covid-19 infections among inmates at Manhattan’s federal lockup was likely about seven times what the Bureau of Prisons has previously publicly reported, a government lawyer conceded Tuesday.
The bureau’s website says five inmates at the Metropolitan Correctional Center have had the virus. But Assistant US Attorney Jean-David Barnea, representing the MCC’s warden at a court hearing, said at least 34 inmates had been quarantined with symptoms because they were believed to have it, AP reports.
Barnea made the revelation at a federal court hearing for a lawsuit that seeks court oversight over conditions for the nearly 800 inmates at the MCC. Despite conceding the number of virus cases was probably much higher than five, Barnea fought claims that the caseload could’ve been more than a few dozen.
The MCC has been able to keep the epidemic under control at the prison, he said, adding that no inmates have been found to have the virus since 23 April. The judge did not immediately rule.
Lawyers for inmates estimated that 75 to 150 inmates infected by the coronavirus went largely untreated.
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Here is the full story on Mumbai bracing for a historic storm, ahead of which authorities in the financial capital, which is struggling to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, evacuated nearly 150 virus patients from a recently built field hospital to a facility with a concrete roof as a precautionary measure:
Zoom booms as teleconferencing company profits from coronavirus crisis
The teleconferencing company Zoom has seen a massive increase in profits and has doubled its annual sales forecast, driven by a surge in users as more people work from home and connect with friends online during the coronavirus crisis, AP reports.
The once-obscure Zoom Video Communications, which has rapidly emerged as the latest Silicon Valley gold mine, released financial results on Tuesday showing the astronomical growth that has turned it into a stock market star.
Zoom’s boom has come despite privacy problems that enabled outsiders to make uninvited and sometimes crude appearances during other peoples video conferences.
Zoom’s revenue for its fiscal first-quarter between February and April more than doubled from the same time last year to $328m, turning a profit of $27m compared with $198,000 a year ago.
The numbers exceeded analysts already heightened expectations, providing another lift to a rocketing stock that has more than tripled in price so far this year. After a big run-up leading up to Tuesday’s highly anticipated announcement, Zoom’s stock gained nearly 3% in extended trading to $213.60 – more than five times the company’s initial public offering price of $36 less than 14 months ago.
British poverty campaigners have called for an emergency cash support scheme to help struggling low-income households after UK food bank charities reported that the first full month of coronavirus lockdown was their “busiest ever”.
The charities said their experience of record food bank use in April, following a huge surge in food aid in March, showed it was clear that current social security safety net measures were not enough to prevent poorer families being swept into destitution.
The Trussell Trust, the UK’s biggest food bank network, said it gave out 89% more food parcels in April, compared to the same month last year, while the Independent Food Aid Network (Ifan) recorded a 175% increase over the same period.
The number of families with children who received food parcels almost doubled in April compared to the the same period last year, the Trussell Trust said, a rise it described as unprecedented.
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Brazil deaths pass 30,000 after record daily rise
A record 1,262 Covid-19 deaths have been recorded in Brazil today – taking the country’s total death toll to 31,199 – but the president continues to downplay the pandemic.
The figures were announced on Tuesday evening by Brazil’s health ministry, which also said the number of coronavirus cases had risen to 555,383, second only to the United States.
An anti-government demonstrator wearing a protective face mask holds a poster with the message “30,000 deaths, so what?”, during a protest named “Amazonas for Democracy” in Manaus, Brazil, 2 June 2020. Photograph: Bruno Kelly/Reuters
The South American country is now on the verge of overtaking Italy, where 33,530 deaths have been recorded, as the country with the third highest number of deaths.
But Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, who has dismissed Covid-19 as a “little flu”, again brushed off the tragedy on Tuesday.
“I regret each of the deaths – but that’s everyone’s destiny,” Bolsonaro told supporters outside his palace in the capitalBrasília.
Brazil’s most populous state, São Paulo, registered a record number of deaths on Tuesday taking the total number of fatalities there to nearly 8,000. Rio de Janeiro has Brazil’s second highest death toll with 5,686 deaths, followed by the northeastern state of Ceará where 3,421 people have died.
For all Bolsonaro’s dismissiveness, scientists and medical experts believe the situation is dire and likely to get worse. “Not even in our most dreadful nightmare could we have imagined the situation we are now in,” Drauzio Varella, a doctor and broadcaster, wrote in one of Brazil’s top newspapers last week.
India evacuates 100,000 from homes, virus hospital ahead of cyclone
At least 100,000 people, including some coronavirus patients, were being moved to safer locations according to officials Tuesday, as India’s west coast braced for a cyclone, the first such storm to threaten Mumbai in more than 70 years, AFP reports.
Authorities in India’s financial capital, which is struggling to contain the pandemic, evacuated nearly 150 Covid-19 patients from a recently built field hospital to a facility with a concrete roof as a precautionary measure, officials said.
A message written on the Arabian Sea coast in Mumbai, India, Tuesday, 2 June 2020. Photograph: Rajanish Kakade/AP
The chief minister of Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital, said people living in flimsy homes near the shore were being moved to safer places before Cyclone Nisarga makes its scheduled landfall on Wednesday afternoon or evening.
“Slum-dwellers… in low-lying areas have been instructed to evacuate,” Uddhav Thackeray said in a message posted by his office on Twitter.
In Maharashtra’s Palghar district, more than 21,000 villagers were being evacuated, local media reported, citing officials.
Indian meteorologists have warned of heavy rainfall – with winds of 100-110 kilometres (60-70 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 120 kph – causing damage to thatched huts, power lines and one to two metre-high (three to 6.5 feet) storm surges inundating low-lying areas of Maharashtra.
Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
I’m Helen Sullivan, and I’ll be bringing you the latest global updates for the next few hours.
As always, I’d love to hear from you – please get in touch on Twitter @helenrsulivan or via email: helen.sullivan[at]theguardian.com with comments, questions and news tips from where you live.
As India’s West coast braces for what is expected to be its strongest cyclone in 70 years, authorities have moved 100,000 people to safer locations – including coronavirus patients.
In Brazil, meanwhile, the death toll has passed the sombre milestone of 30,000 deaths, after a record increase of 1,262. The current toll is 31,199.
Here are the latest developments from the last few hours:
Key developments in the global coronavirus outbreak today include:
The number of officially confirmed cases of coronavirus around the world has passed 6.3 million. According to researchers from Johns Hopkins University, 6,340,811 people are known to have been infected, while 378,359 are known to have died since the outbreak began.
Brazil deaths pass 30,000. A record 1,262 Covid-19 deaths have been recorded in Brazil today – taking the country’s total death toll to 31,199 – but the president continues to downplay the pandemic. The figures were announced on Tuesday evening by Brazil’s health ministry, which also said the number of coronavirus cases had risen to 555,383, second only to the United States. The South American country is now on the verge of overtaking Italy, where 33,530 deaths have been recorded, as the country with the third highest number of deaths.
Yemen aid funding falls short by US$1bn. Yemen remains on the brink of “a macabre tragedy”, the UN has warned after a humanitarian fundraising summit raised only $1.35bn for this year, around $1bn short of the target and only half the sum raised at the equivalent pledging conference last year. Dr Abdullah al-Rabiah, the head of the King Salman Centre for Relief and Humanitarian Aid in Saudi Arabia, which co-hosted the virtual summit, put the overall shortfall down to the impact of coronavirus on national budgets and concerns about the restrictions on aid flows imposed by the parties to Yemen’s five-year civil war.
Hopes were raised of the possible availability of a vaccine. A senior US army researcher said it was reasonable to expect that some sort of vaccine could be available to some parts of the US population by the end of the year.
France’s death toll rose by more than a 100 in a 24-hour period for the first time in 13 days. It came as the country enacts a new easing of lockdown measures.
Iran confirmed its second highest number of new cases in a 24-hour period since its outbreak began, with the health ministry saying 3,117 people tested positive. The number of new daily infections in Iran has now returned to levels previously seen at the peak of its outbreak in late March.
Germany’s travel warning for Europe will be lifted on Wednesday, its foreign minister, Heiko Maas, announced. The worldwide travel warning still applies. But, for the countries of the EU and associated states, the warning will be replaced by travel advice that will give travellers detailed information about the situation in each state.
The pandemic is exposing “endemic inequalities” that must be addressed, according to the UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, who highlighted the protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd and data showing the crisis has had a worse impact on ethnic minority groups.
The UK’s official death toll passed 50,000, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics. The total differs from the government’s daily counts, which only include deaths in hospitals and care homes where the person had tested positive.
The UK statistics watchdog criticised the government’s testing data. Whitehall’s use of testing data appears to be aimed more at making it look like a lot is being done than actually painting a clear picture, the chairman of the UK Statistics Authority warned the health secretary, Matt Hancock.
A Wuhan doctor who worked with the whistleblower Li Wenliang died of the virus last week, Chinese state media reported. Hu Weifeng, a urologist at Wuhan central hospital, reportedly became China’s first Covid-19 fatality in weeks when he died on Friday after being treated for more than four months.
Meanwhile, Chinese officials sat on releasing the genetic map of the coronavirus for more than a week after multiple government labs had fully decoded it, according to an Associated Press report.
The rise in unemployment slowed in Spain. The number of new jobseekers was close to 27,000 in May, about 10 times lower than in March and April during the country’s lockdown, the labour ministry said.
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