8.57am BST

Russia has confirmed 7,113 new cases of coronavirus, pushing its tally to 613,994.

Officials said 92 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 8,605.

8.41am BST

Hawaii will implement a pre-travel covid-19 testing option for travellers to the U.S. state as an alternative to a two week travel quarantine, its governor said.

The announcement came hours after the Department of Justice backed a lawsuit challenging the quarantine.

Tourists to Hawaii will now be exempted from the quarantine rule upon arrival from different states if they carry a valid coronavirus test result prior to the visit, Governor David Ige said late on Wednesday.

“Beginning 1 August we will be implementing pre-travel testing program for travellers to Hawaii as an alternative for 14-day mandatory quarantine,” Ige said.

The current 14-day mandatory quarantine for everyone traveling into the state began in March, with the governor later extending it until the end of June.

Earlier on Wednesday, the DOJ gave its support to a lawsuit challenging the state’s coronavirus measures, saying visitors are being denied rights granted to most island residents. The lawsuit was filed by Nevada and California residents who own property in Hawaii.

A surfboard concession stand is closed on Waikiki Beach due to the business downturn caused by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S. Photograph: Marco Garcia/Reuters

Tourism is a big part of Hawaii’s economy – more than 10.4million visitors came to the islands last year, supporting some 216,000 jobs in a population of around 1.4million, according to the state tourism authority.

The state at one point considered sweeping use of GPS-enabled ankle bracelets or smartphone tracking apps to enforce stay-at-home orders given to arriving air passengers.

However, that plan was put on the back burner after the Hawaii attorney general’s office raised concerns.

8.06am BST

Japan is to disband a panel of medical experts advising Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet on the response to the novel coronavirus after criticism of its transparency and lack of independence.

Japan has been spared the kind of explosive coronavirus outbreak seen elsewhere, with some 18,000 cases and 969 deaths, but it is far from over and questions about the government’s response linger.

The number of daily new cases in the capital, Tokyo, climbed to 55 on Wednesday, after a cluster of infections was found at an office.

A young woman wearing a face mask walks through the Nakamise shopping street at Asakusa district in Tokyo. Photograph: Franck Robichon/EPA

The panel’s independence from government influence has come into question and Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Wednesday it would be disbanded and a new one created with a broader range of specialists.

“About a month has passed since the lifting of the state of emergency, and maintaining a balance between infection prevention and social and economic activities has become the thrust of our responses,” top government spokesman Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference on Thursday.

“At this time, we’ve decided to review the panel that gives us expert advice.”

The way the panel, led by Takaji Wakita, chief of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, has been run has came under criticism after it was revealed last month that it kept no minutes of its discussions.

Media has also reported that the panel refrained from saying in a March statement that the virus could be transmitted from asymptomatic people – those with the virus who do not show symptoms – as the government asked it not to do so to avoid causing panic.

7.43am BST

Senegalese President Macky Sall is quarantining for two weeks after coming into contact with someone who has since tested positive for the coronavirus, state television said on Thursday.
The measure is precautionary as an initial COVID-19 test of Sall has come back negative, it said.

Senegal’s President Macky Sall hold a news conference in Berlin. Photograph: Annegret Hilse/Reuters

7.32am BST

Morning, I will be updating the Global liveblog. As ever, if you have any tips, stories or things which you feel we should be covering please do get in touch via email on nazia.parveen@theguardian.com or follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/NParveenG to send me a DM

7.26am BST

Despite successfully containing its coronavirus outbreak, Vietnam has no plans to open up to international tourists yet, the country’s prime minister said on Wednesday.

Thanks to an aggressive, targeted testing programme and a centralised quarantine system, Vietnam has contained infections numbers to a relatively low 352 cases, most of whom have recovered. There have been no reported deaths.

A woman sweeps the street next to banners for the 36th ASEAN Summit by the International Convention Centre in Hanoi on June 25, 2020, a day before the summit is set to be held online due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Photograph: Nhac Nguyen/AFP/Getty Images

“There is no story of rushing to open the doors,” Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said in a statement posted to the government website.

“Vietnam is not yet ready to welcome back international tourists. Foreign experts, high level workers and investors into Vietnam are welcomed but will be closely monitored.”

Highly skilled foreign experts such as engineers have been allowed to enter Vietnam on special flights and quarantine at hotels in a bid to keep the economy afloat throughout the global pandemic. Phuc said the frequency of such flights should be increased.

For over two months, Vietnam has reported no community transmission of the coronavirus. In early June, Vietnam said it was planning to resume flights to some virus-free countries that had registered no cases of coronavirus for 30 days or more.

Other Southeast Asian countries with slowing infections are considering travel bubble arrangements in the months ahead, such as Malaysia and Thailand, to include countries such as China, South Korea and Japan.

Thailand has been 31 days without a domestic transmission and will allow entry of some short-term business travellers and medical tourists from next month.

7.13am BST

That’s it from me, Helen Sullivan, for today. Thanks for following along – my esteemed colleague Nazia Parveen will be with you for the next few hours.

7.02am BST

Texas Covid-19 cases soar weeks after state lifts lockdown restrictions – video

Texas reported an all-time daily high of 5,489 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, weeks after the state became one of the earliest in the US to ease its coronavirus lockdown measures. The significant increase in cases has left hospitals in Houston near capacity, with some adult ICU patients treated at Texas Children’s hospital:

Texas Covid-19 cases soar weeks after state lifts lockdown restrictions – video

6.42am BST

‘Like kicking a puppy’: outcry as New Zealand minister picks on health chief in Covid-19 blame game

Charlotte Graham-McLay reports from Wellington:

New Zealand’s minister of health might just have chosen the wrong fall guy after repeatedly blaming Ashley Bloomfield, the mild-mannered civil servant and wildly popular director general of health, for failures in the coronavirus quarantine system.

David Clark faced growing calls on Thursday to share some of the responsibility after an excruciating video went viral in which he volunteered that Bloomfield had taken the blame for the problems.

In response to questions from reporters about why dozens of people had been allowed to leave isolation early without tests, Clark said: “The director general has accepted that the protocol wasn’t being followed.

“He has accepted responsibility for that, and has set about putting it right,” Clark added. The camera panned to Bloomfield – standing just behind Clark – who usually has a good poker face, but on this occasion appeared utterly crestfallen.

6.31am BST


Here are the key developments from the last few hours:

Cases worldwide passed 9.4 million on Thursday, with the WHO saying it expected global infections to pass 10 million by the end of the week. At least 480,000 people have died so far.
Cases continue to surge in the Americas, with the United States confirming its second-highest one-day total in the pandemic so far, according to Oxford University data project Our World in Data, with 34,700 new infections. It is the highest since 26 April, when a record 48,529 cases were confirmed in 24 hours. Researchers from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicted that US deaths would reach 180,000 by 1 October, up from the current toll of 121,969.
Mexico confirmed its second-highest daily coronavirus death toll so far, with 947 fatalities on Wednesday. The highest daily toll came on 3 June with 1,092 deaths. Mexico has 196,847 known cases.Judge orders Bolsonaro to resume publishing Brazil Covid-19 dataRead more6The death toll from the coronavirus in Latin America is expected to skyrocket to 390,000 by October, with Brazil and Mexico accounting for two-thirds of fatalities as other nations in the region contain their outbreaks, the University of Washington said on Wednesday. This week, deaths in the region passed 100,000 and cases have tripled from 690,000 one month ago to 2 million.
The World Health Organization has warned that hospitals are facing a shortage in oxygen concentrators, which are needed to support the breathing of Covid-19 patients suffering from respiratory distress, as 1 million new cases of coronavirus are confirmed worldwide per week. “Many countries are now experiencing difficulties obtaining oxygen concentrators,” WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “Demand is currently outstripping supply.”
New Zealand citizens returning home from coronavirus hotspots are facing a backlash from some as people worry that the arrivals will bring a resurgence in cases.
Australia’s Qantas airlines announced 6,000 job losses and 15,000 employees to be stood down as it predicted that most international flights were unlikely to resume until mid-2021. The airline also cancelled a $200m dividend payment it was due to make to shareholders in September.
In Victoria, Australia, more than 1,000 Australian defence force personnel will door-knock two suburbs at the heart of the latest outbreak of Covid-19, with residents offered free testing, as 33 more cases of the virus were identified in the state overnight.
Brothels in the Netherlands can reopen on 1 July after being shut for more than three months, the government announced on Wednesday
Volunteers in the UK, Brazil and South Africa received their first doses of an experimental vaccine as part of a human trial run by Oxford University, as cases continue to rise and concerns grow over potential access to life-saving treatments
The pilots of a plane that crashed last month in Pakistan, killing 98 people, were preoccupied by the coronavirus crisis and tried to land with the aircraft’s wheels still up, according to initial official reports.
In the US, democrats will hold an almost entirely virtual presidential nominating convention in Milwaukee using live broadcasts and online streaming. Joe Biden plans to accept the presidential nomination in person during the 17-20 August convention, but it remains to be seen whether there will be a significant in-person audience there to see it.
German airline Lufthansa’s top shareholder said on Wednesday he would back a €9bn government rescue package, removing the threat of a last-minute veto that could have plunged the airline into bankruptcy, AFP reports.
China reported 19 newly confirmed cases of coronavirus amid mass testing in Beijing, where a recent outbreak appears to have been brought under control. Of the new cases it reported Thursday, 13 were in Beijing and one in the neighbouring province of Hebei. Officials say the other five were brought by Chinese travellers from outside the country. No new deaths were reported.

6.21am BST

Eiffel tower reopens

Anyone visiting the Eiffel Tower in Paris when it reopens on Thursday after three months will have to take the stairs – all 674 of them – because France’s iconic monument is keeping the lifts shut.

Coronavirus-era rules for visitors listed on the tower’s website include:

all visitors (from 11 year’s old) shall wear a face mask ;
at first, only visits by the stairs will be available (second floor tickets by stairs including visit of the first floor). To ensure that ascending and descending visitors do not meet in the stairs, ascent will take place from the East pillar and descent by the West pillar;
a limited number of visitors on the esplanade and on each floor will be secured;
significant signage and ground markings are installed to implement physical distancing ;
daily cleaning and disinfection of public spaces at the Tower.

A screen with words D-1 Before Opening informs people that the Eiffel Tower is on the eve of its reopening in Paris, France. Photograph: Chesnot/Getty Images

5.57am BST

Global report: WHO warns of global shortage of oxygen equipment

As 1 million new cases of coronavirus are confirmed worldwide per week, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that hospitals are facing a shortage in oxygen concentrators needed to support the breathing of Covid-19 patients suffering from respiratory distress.

“Many countries are now experiencing difficulties obtaining oxygen concentrators,” WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “Demand is currently outstripping supply.”

The health agency has bought 14,000 oxygen concentrators from manufacturers and plans to send them to 120 countries in coming weeks, Tedros said. A further 170,000 concentrators – worth about US$100m – will be potentially available over the next six months.

Cases worldwide passed 9.4 million on Thursday, with the WHO saying it expected global infections to pass 10 million by the end of the week. At least 480,000 people have died so far.

5.39am BST

Walt Disney Co said the reopening of theme parks and resort hotels in California will be delayed until Disneyland receives approval from state officials, as the state is hit by a huge spike in new coronavirus cases.

Disney had originally planned to reopen the Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park on 17 July.

“California has now indicated that it will not issue theme park reopening guidelines until sometime after July 4,” Disney said in a statement on Wednesday.

An employee cleans the grounds behind the closed gates of Disneyland Park in California. Photograph: David McNew/AFP/Getty Images

An alarming surge in coronavirus infection rates around the country have prompted calls for a delay in reopening of theme parks and other facilities where big crowds gather.

California witnessed its largest ever spike in confirmed new cases on Tuesday, with an additional 7,149 infections taking the state total to 190,222.

Disney had received pushback from unions representing 17,000 workers at its Disneyland Resort in Southern California, who said they were not convinced the theme park would be safe enough to reopen by the company’s target date.

It has also come under pressure to delay the 11 July reopening of its Orlando, Florida-based Walt Disney World.

5.34am BST

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 630 to 192,079, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Thursday.

The reported death toll rose by 13 to 8,927, the tally showed.

5.12am BST

Residents in Beijing are celebrating a quiet Dragon Boat Festival as the city continues to keep areas locked down following a new outbreak of the coronavirus of more than 250 cases.

Workers wearing face masks prepare food amid a Quiet Dragon Boat festival in Beijing. Photograph: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

Health authorities have asked residents to celebrate a “cloud” Dragon Boat Festival, usually marked by eating zongzi, rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves, and dragon boat racing. Citizens are invited to take part in virtual races and zongzi wrapping events. During the three day break, officials issued a notice to citizens to: “Relax over the holiday but don’t relax personal protection.”

Residents should not gather or eat together, and those living in areas deemed medium or high risk should not go out to public spaces. Residents in the city are also restricted from leaving the capital unless they have taken a nucleic acid test for the virus in the last seven days. Tourist sites have been ordered to limit capacity to 30% while tour groups can only arrange events within the capital.

5.01am BST

Cases pass 9.4 million

Cases worldwide passed 9.4 million on Thursday, with the WHO saying it expected global infections would pass 10 million by the end of the week. At least 480,000 people have died so far.

Known infections currently stand at 9,407,078, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, which relies on official government data.

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