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Confirmed coronavirus cases hit 5 million worldwide: Live updates | News

  • More than five million people around the world have now been confirmed to have the new coronavirus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. More than 328,000 people have died globally while nearly 1.9 million people have recovered.
  • Brazil‘s could soon have the second-highest number of cases in the world as the Health Ministry reported 888 new deaths and nearly 20,000 new infections in a single day, pushing the total cases to 291,579 and almost 19,000 deaths.

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) reported 106,000 cases globally, the highest in a single day yet, raising concerns over the spread of COVID-19 in poor nations.

  • The central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the global coronavirus pandemic is believed to have originated, has issued a total ban on the hunting, breeding and human consumption of wild animals.

Here are all the latest updates:

Thursday, May 21

07:26 GMT – UK dealing with technical issues of track and trace app: minister

The UK is dealing with technical issues of its track and trace app, but will use traditional tracking means until it is rolled out, the security minister has said.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a “world-beating” programme to test and trace those suspected of having been in contact with people who have tested positive for COVID-19 would be in place by June 1.

The test and track programme is seen as a key measure to reopen the country, but has also been dogged by criticism after opposition lawmakers said an earlier promise of a nationwide roll-out of a National Health Service (NHS)-developed smartphone app had slipped from the middle of this month.

07:20 GMT – Singapore confirms 448 more cases

Singapore’s health ministry confirmed another 448 coronavirus cases, taking the city-state’s tally of infections to 29,812.

07:00 GMT – EasyJet to restart flights in June with passengers and crew in masks

British low-cost airline easyJet said a small number of flights would restart on June 15 and that passengers and cabin crew would all be required to wear masks when travelling.

EasyJet’s planes have been grounded since late March when the coronavirus spread across Europe, but the airline said it would restart domestic flights in the UK and France from June 15, before adding other destinations later.

06:30 GMT – How coronavirus cases reached five million worldwide

More than five million people have now been infected by the new coronavirus worldwide.

The landmark figure was reached almost five months after the first reported case in the Chinese city of Wuhan last December.

The US, Russia and Brazil have emerged as the countries with the highest number of confirmed cases.

Read more here.

Made with Flourish

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Hi, this is Mersiha Gadzo in Doha taking over the live updates from my colleague Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur.

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04:48 GMT – Indonesia warned against premature easing of restrictions

Civil groups in Indonesia have warned the government that it should not rush the easing of restrictions in the country, as the number of cases and deaths continue to rise.

Lapor COVID-19, a civil society alliance, was quoted by Jakarta Post as saying that fatalities among suspected coronavirus cases in 18 provinces have hit 3,833 as of May 15. Combined with the 1,242 deaths among confirmed cases as of May 20, the group said the total number of deaths was at least 5,075.

indonesia blog entry

Staff in protective suits talk to a woman as people sit spaced apart to practice social distancing while waiting for their turn to enter a community health center in Jakarta, Indonesia [Achmad Ibrahim/AP]

04:28 GMT – Greece seeks to jumpstart tourist season on June 15

Greece’s long-awaited tourist season will begin on June 15 with the opening of seasonal hotels.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis says international flights will begin heading directly to tourist destinations on July 1.

In a televised address to the nation on Wednesday, Mitsotakis says visitors would be subject to sample coronavirus testing and “our general health protocols will be adhered to”.

There are 2,850 cases and 166 deaths reported in the country of nearly 11 million people.

greece blog entry

A guardian of antiquities stands on duty in the Acropolis archaeological site, in Athens, Greece [Orestis Panagiotou/EPA-EFE]

03:45 GMT – Japan ending emergency order in Osaka, two other areas

Japan’s economy minister says experts have approved a government plan to remove a coronavirus state of emergency in Osaka and two neighboring prefectures in the west where the infection is deemed to be slowing, while keeping the measure in place in the Tokyo region and Hokkaido.

Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters that experts at the meeting approved the plan to lift the measure in Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo.

The measure will be kept in place in Tokyo and three neighbouring prefectures, as well as Hokkaido, where the infections have slowed but the containment needs further improvement, according to the AP news agency report.

japan blog entry

Commuters wearing protective masks head to work amid the coronavirus outbreak in Osaka, Japan [Kyodo/via Reuters]

03:13 GMT – Trump threatens funds for US states easing voting during pandemic

President Donald Trump has threatened to hold up federal funds for two election battleground states of Michigan and Nevada that are trying to make it easier and safer to vote during the coronavirus pandemic.

He later backed away from that threat but stuck with his unsupported claim that widespread voting by mail promotes “a lot of illegality”. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends voting by mail as a safe option during the pandemic.

Trump has said repeatedly, without evidence, that mailed ballots allow widespread fraud and has worried publicly that wide availability could lead so many people to vote that Republicans would lose in November.

02:50 GMT – Cambodia lifts entry ban from six countries as coronavirus eases

Cambodia has announced the lifting of a travel ban of tourists from Iran, Italy, Germany, Spain, France and the US.

In an announcement late on Wednesday, the country’s health ministry said visitors from those countries need to present a certificate no more than 72 hours old confirming that they are free from the virus, as well as proof of $50,000 health insurance coverage.

The visitors are also required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

02:09 GMT – Recession-hit Japan’s exports, imports fall due to pandemic

Recession-hit Japan’s exports plunged nearly 22 percent in April, the country’s worst drop in more than a decade as the coronavirus pandemic slammed global demand, AP news agency reported.

The Finance Ministry also said on Thursday that imports fell 7 percent.

The drop in exports is the worst since the 2008 financial crisis, as export-dependent Japan struggles to juggle the health risks of COVID-19 with the dire need to keep the economy going.

Japan is in a technical recession after a contraction that began in the last quarter of last year deepened in the January-March quarter. Analysts say worse may be ahead, given the economic pain of the pandemic may be prolonged.

Japan - coronavirus

Shoppers in the Japanese city of Yokohama take a stroll in one of the city’s business centres on Tuesday [Koji Sasahara/AP]

01:38 GMT – Merkel says Germany not cutting foreign aid

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the country won’t be cutting foreign aid due to the coronavirus pandemic, and further relief for poor nations is needed.

Speaking on Wednesday after a video meeting with heads of the World Bank, the International Monetary fund and three other global economic bodies, Merkel noted last month’s agreement to freeze poor countries’ debt obligations and said that “as far as the sustainability of debt is concerned further steps need to follow”.

But she did not spell out whether Germany would go so far as agreeing to debt relief.

01:17 GMT – New Zealand’s Ardern proposes four-day work week

New Zealand’s prime minister wants employers to consider switching to a four-day work week as a way to promote tourism, which has been hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Jacinda Ardern said in a Facebook Live video that people had learned a lot about flexibility and working from home during the nation’s lockdown, which was eased last week.

New Zealand’s tourism industry had accounted for about 10 percent of the economy, but has ground to a halt during the outbreak, according to the Associated Press news agency.

The South Pacific nation’s borders remain closed, but Ardern said that as much as 60 percent of tourism was domestic and that more flexible working arrangements could allow New Zealanders to travel more within their own country.

00:56 GMT – South Korea’s exports of coronavirus test kits surge

South Korea’s exports of coronavirus test kits are expected to gather momentum down the road thanks to high overseas demand, Yonhap news agency reported on Thursday, quoting industry sources.

Yonhap quoted the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety as saying that 72 test kits manufactured by 46 companies have been approved for exports. The figure includes six products that have won approval for emergency use locally.

Several test kit makers have already clinched more orders this year than last year’s total, with Sugentech Inc securing $49m worth of deals to export coronavirus test kits since April 1. The company has been producing two million kits per week this month.

Test Kits

Sample testing devices used in diagnosing coronavirus are checked on a production line near Seoul [File: Ed Jones/AFP]

00: 28 GMT – China reports 2 new coronavirus cases, 31 new asymptomatic cases

China’s health commission reported on Thursday two new coronavirus cases as of the end of Wednesday, including one imported case.

The health agency also reported 31 new asymptomatic cases in the mainland, slightly up from 16 the previous day.

00:19 GMT – Russia sets up quarantine facility in Siberia

The Russian military has set up a quarantine facility at a Siberian gold mine where hundreds of workers have been infected with the novel coronavirus.

The Olimpiada mine in the town of Yeruda has emerged as a top spot of contagion, with more than 800 workers testing positive for COVID-19. The new facility can accommodate as many as 2,000 patients.

Russia has ranked second behind the United States in the number of infections, with more than 300,000 coronavirus cases.




Mexico eases restrictions despite increase in COVID-19 deaths

00:01 GMT – Large contingent of Cuban doctors help Mexico with coronavirus

At least 500 Cuban health workers are helping tackle the new coronavirus in Mexico City, Mexican officials told Reuters news agency, making it likely the largest contingent the communist-led island has deployed globally as part of its response to the pandemic.

Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum has publicly acknowledged the presence of “several” Cuban doctors working in the city’s hospitals to help make up staffing shortfalls, but she has not confirmed the scale of the deployment.

A federal health ministry told Reuters there were now 600 Cuban health workers on the ground. Both sources asked not to be identified. Cuba has for decades sent medical professionals to countries across Latin America and as far afield as Africa to help during health crises.

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Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Read all the updates from yesterday (May 20) here.

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