Coronavirus live news: Trump rally attendees told they cannot sue if they contract Covid-19

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Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte is being questioned by prosecutors..... outbreak.

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte is being questioned by prosecutors investigating the lack of a coronavirus lockdown of two towns in Lombardys Bergamo province that turned into one of the hardest-hit areas of the country’s outbreak.

Doctors and virologists have said the two-week delay in quarantining Alzano and Nembro allowed the virus to spread in Bergamo, which saw a 571% increase in excess deaths in March compared with the average of the previous five years.

Lead prosecutor Maria Cristina Rota arrived with a team of aides Friday morning at the premiers office in Rome, Palazzo Chigi. In addition to Conte, she is expected to question the health and interior ministers. In previous days, Rota has interviewed the head of the Superior Institute of Health.

To date no one has been placed under investigation and it’s unclear what, if any, criminal blame will be assigned to public officials for decisions taken or not in the onetime epicenter of Europe’s outbreak.

Among other things, the probe is looking into whether it fell to the national government in Rome, or the Lombardy regional authorities, to create a so-called red zone” around the two towns.

After interviewing Lombardy regional officials last month, Rota said it appeared it was the national government’s responsibility. But Conte’s office has pointed to norms that delegate such authority to regions, and noted that other regions have instituted red zones” on their own.

AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici
Italy’s Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte Photograph: Burhan Özbilici/AP

Ten towns in the province, as well as a handful of towns outside Lombardy, were immediately locked down by the national government to try to contain the spread. Alzano and Nembro registered their first positive cases two days later, on 23 February, but the government didn’t quarantine them for two weeks until all of Lombardy was locked down 7 March.

Asked if, in hindsight, he should have locked down sooner, Conte told La Stampa daily on Friday that he was at peace with the decisions taken.

“I acted based on science and conscience,” he said.

For doctors and healthcare workers in India’s financial capital Mumbai who are grappling with surging coronavirus infections, the onset of the annual monsoon poses a serious threat - a new wave of patients with vector-borne diseases.

Already stretched by a shortage of medics and critical care beds, the situation in Mumbai might turn uglier, health experts warn, as cases of malaria, dengue, leptospirosis and encephalitis are expected to soar in coming months.

“Mumbai will be dealing with a crisis in the monsoon,” said Kamakshi Bhate, professor emeritus of community medicine at the state-run King Edward Memorial (KEM).

Hospital in Mumbai, noting there is typically a surge in hospital bed occupancy due to such diseases during India’s annual June-September monsoon season.

Mourners in personal protective gear offer prayers before the burial of their relative who died of Covid-19 at a cemetery in New Delhi, India
Mourners in personal protective gear offer prayers before the burial of their relative who died of Covid-19 at a cemetery in New Delhi, India, on Wednesday. Photograph: Sheikh Saaliq/AP

Waterlogged streets are a common sight every monsoon across India. But in Mumbai, its most populous city, monsoons can often bring life to a standstill with flooding and water-logging, and result in a surge of diseases.

In a report, local NGO Praja Foundation said official data from only government-run hospitals showed Mumbai recorded about 32,000 malaria and dengue cases in 2018, but the NGO said its own household survey indicated more than 200,000 cases of just those two diseases in the city that year.

This year, the city’s hospitals are already overrun. Mumbai has been hit the hardest by Covid-19. About 25% of India’s 297,535 coronavirus cases and roughly 29% of the 8,498 deaths recorded have come from the city and its surrounding suburbs.

Suresh Kakani, an additional commissioner at Mumbai’s civic authority, said it was asking clinics and dispensaries, some of which had shut during a two-month long nationwide lockdown, to reopen.

A woman wearing a protective face mask walks past a graffiti, after authorities eased lockdown restrictions, in Mumbai, India
A woman wearing a protective face mask walks past a graffiti, after authorities eased lockdown restrictions, in Mumbai, India. Photograph: Hemanshi Kamani/Reuters

Drains are being cleaned and stored water in houses were being inspected for larvae, Kakani said, adding that while major hospitals were on treating covid patients, smaller nursing homes would be available to handle other cases.

But, with local hospitals already strained by significant staff shortages, heath experts fear the spread of diseases in Mumbai’s slums could compound issues for a healthcare network already reeling from Covid-19 cases.

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Twitter on Thursday said it removed more than 170,000 accounts tied to a Beijing-backed influence operation that deceptively spread messages favorable to the Chinese government, including some about the coronavirus.

The company suspended a core network of 23,750 highly active accounts, as well as a larger network of about 150,000 “amplifier” accounts used to boost the core accounts’ content.

Twitter, along with researchers who analysed the accounts, said the network was largely an echo chamber of fake accounts without much further traction.

Twitter is blocked in China, along with other American social media companies such as Facebook and Instagram.

The company also removed two smaller state-backed operations which it attributed to Russia and Turkey, both focused on domestic audiences.

Twitter said the Chinese network had links to an earlier state-backed operation dismantled last year by Twitter, Facebook and Google’s YouTube that had been pushing misleading narratives about political dynamics in Hong Kong.

The new operation likewise focused heavily on Hong Kong, but also promoted messages about the coronavirus pandemic, exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui and Taiwan, the researchers said.

Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP.
A woman holds a smartphone with the logo of US social network Twitter, in Nantes, western France. Photograph: Loïc Venance/AFP via Getty Images

Renee DiResta, at the Stanford Internet Observatory, said the network’s coronavirus activity increased in late January, as the outbreak spread beyond China, and spiked in March.

Accounts praised China’s response to the virus, while also using the pandemic to antagonise the US and Hong Kong activists, she said.

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The public health crisis caused by the Covid-19 epidemic in Europe is not over yet, the European Union’s top health official warned on Friday, urging governments to remain vigilant and plough ahead with testing and tracing the population.

“This is not behind us yet. We need to be vigilant,” the EU health commissioner, Stella Kyriakides, told EU health ministers in a video conference, amid fears of a fresh surge in infections as EU states gradually reopen business and borders and after mass protests in recent days across the continent.

Updated

Trump rally attendees can't sue if they contract virus

People attending an upcoming Donald Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, have been told they cannot sue if they contract coronavirus. The sign-up page for the president’s upcoming rally includes a disclaimer about the possibility of contracting the disease.

The president has implemented a policy that states rally attendees cannot sue the campaign or venue if they contract coronavirus at the event, the New York Times reports:

‘By clicking register below, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to Covid-19 exists in any public place where people are present,’ a statement on Mr. Trump’s campaign website informed those wishing to attend his June 19 rally in Tulsa, Okla. ‘By attending the rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to Covid-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors or volunteers liable for any illness or injury.’

Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Charlotte, North Carolina
Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

The rally will be Trump’s first since the pandemic forced most of the country into lockdown three months ago.

Oklahoma, a state Trump won four years ago, began lifting restrictions on businesses on 24 April and moved into phase 3 of its reopening on 1 June, allowing summer camps to open and workplaces to return with full staffing.

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Beijing city government on Friday reported two new confirmed Covid-19 cases, marking the second consecutive day of new infections being reported in the Chinese capital.

Beijing confirmed on 11 June its first locally transmitted case of COVID-19 after over 50 days without a local transmission.
A woman wearing a face mask walks through Beijing, China, 12 June 2020.
Photograph: Roman Pilipey/EPA

The two patients, both male, were reported from a different part of Beijing than the case reported on Thursday.

They both work at the same facility for the China Meat Food Comprehensive Research Center, which conducts research on subjects including meat processing, state media reported. It was not immediately clear how the two men were infected.

Updated

If you have any stories and tips for the global liveblog please send them across to [email protected] or follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/NParveenG to send me a message.

Armenia said on Friday it had extended a state of emergency over the coronavirus outbreak until 13 July as the number of daily infections continues to rise.

Despite the extension of the state of emergency, almost all sectors of the Armenian economy are functioning after businesses reopened in early May to prevent it from collapsing.

Conspiracy theories and disinformation about coronavirus had undermined government efforts to fight the pandemic in Armenia, the authorities and analysts said as the outbreak overwhelmed hospitals in the Caucasus nation.
A woman wearing a face mask stand at her counter at the market in Yerevan on June 5, 2020, amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus. Photograph: Karen Minasyan/AFP/Getty Images

The government made it mandatory to wear face masks in public to try to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Armenia’s deputy prime minister, Tigran Avinyan, said last week the government planned to reopen international flights from mid-July to help the tourism industry.

Armenia, a country of 3 million, had registered 15,281 confirmed coronavirus cases and 258 deaths as of Friday. It is the worst-affected country in the South Caucasus region.

Updated

Russia reported has reported 8,987 new cases of coronavirus today, bringing its nationwide tally of infections to 511,423.

Officials said 183 people had died in the last 24 hours, pushing the official national death toll to 6,715.

Russian capital has lifted the coronavirus lockdown earlier this week, allowing residents to walk and drive across the city without restrictions.
Passengers in protective masks ride in a subway car of Moscow’s Metro on June,11,2020 in Moscow, Russia.
Requirements to wear masks and gloves to combat a spread of the coronavirus is still in effect in Moscow.
Photograph: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Updated

Earlier this week, an EU report said China and Russia had engaged in mass disinformation about the pandemic. Beijing has responded, saying yesterday that China is in fact the victim of misinformation, and accused the EU of speaking on behalf of the US.

The European commission had said Russia and China were running “targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns in the EU, its neighbourhood, and globally”.

While the charge against Russia has been levelled on many occasions, this was the first time the EU executive has publicly named China as a source of disinformation.

On Thursday, China’s ministry of foreign affairs spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said the accusation was “baseless” and was disinformation itself.

“Anyone with no bias can see clearly who is the biggest perpetrator to make and spread disinformation about the pandemic,” she said.

In the official transcript, Hua did not name any particular country, but a separate editorial in state media site the Global Times suggested it was a reference to the US.

Updated

British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair have launched legal action against the UK government’s quarantine policy, asking for a judicial review to be heard as soon as possible, a statement from BA’s parent IAG said.

The airlines said earlier this week they would club together to try to end the 14-day quarantine rule for international arrivals which they say will deter travel and threaten more jobs.

April 1, 2020.
British Airways planes are seen parked at Bournemouth Airport, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continued. Photograph: Paul Childs/Reuters

Lawyers have said the government would have to show the scientific evidence that underpinned the need for a quarantine if judges allow a judicial review to go ahead.

Britain’s chief scientist said earlier in June that politicians decided the policy, adding quarantines worked best for restricting travel from countries with high infection rates.
The quarantine came into force on Monday.

In their statement, provided by BA’s parent company IAG , the airlines said there was no scientific evidence for such a severe policy.

They also dismissed the alternative of “air bridges”, the name given to bilateral deals between countries with low infection rates, which the government has presented as a potential alternative to the quarantine.

“The airlines have not yet seen any evidence on how and when proposed ‘air bridges’ between the UK and other countries will be implemented,” they said.

Updated

Thailand will lift a nationwide curfew and ease more restrictions next week, a spokesman for its coronavirus taskforce said on Friday, after the country reported no local transmissions of the virus for 18 days.

Thailand is also planning to reopen to foreign visitors by creating so-called travel bubbles with countries that have also managed to contain the virus, though no target date was set, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

“The curfew will be lifted effective on 15 June along with the easing of some activities,” Taweesin said, adding that strict social distancing rules still needed to be observed in all public activities.

A tourist wearing protective mask walks in front of giant Buddha at Wat Pho temple in Bangkok, Thailand
A tourist wearing protective mask walks in front of giant Buddha at Wat Pho temple in Bangkok, Thailand. Photograph: Sakchai Lalit/AP

Schools with fewer than 120 students, exhibition halls, music concerts, film productions, playgrounds, amusement parks, sports competitions without spectators and sales of alcohol in restaurants can resume next Monday, he said.

Meanwhile, pubs, bars and karaoke outlets will remain closed, he said.

Travel could be reopened with countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and some Middle East nations, Taweesin said, as well as neighbours like Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.

“The target group is business travellers as well as those wanting medical services and treatment in Thailand,” he said. No date has been set on the easing of restrictions on international arrivals, which are still banned until the end of June.

Thailand has been gradually easing restrictions in an effort to revive its economy and after appearing to contain the virus. It has recorded 58 deaths so far and 3,129 confirmed cases – most of which have recovered.

Updated

The Danish government plans to create a 10bn Danish crown ($1.52bn) fund to support companies hit by the coronavirus crisis, it said on Friday.

Companies with annual revenue over 500m crowns are eligible, the finance ministry said, and finance minister Nicolai Wammen said about 200 – none of which he named – would qualify.

The ministry said financial institutions and publicly owned companies would be excluded, and newspaper Borsen quoted Wammen as saying the airline SAS, part-owned by the Danish and Swedish states, would not be on the list either.

Wammen said the fund could exceed 10bn crowns if needed. Financing for it may be shared between the government and institutional investors, which will take non-voting stakes in companies that draw on it.

The minority Social Democratic government will need support from other parties in parliament the proposal to become law.

Updated

South Korea will extend prevention and sanitation guidelines against coronavirus until daily new infections drop to single digits, the country’s health minister has said.

But he warned warned of a return to tough social distancing measures if needed.

The announcement came as such cases persist in the mid-double digits following a series of new clusters in the area around Seoul, the capital, with 56 new cases on Thursday taking the national tally to 12,003, and 277 deaths.

Authorities will review whether to return to intensive social distancing if 50 daily infections persist for more than two weeks, the health minister, Park Neung-hoo, told a briefing.

“These guidelines are aimed at cutting the series of infections centered in the Seoul area that could result in a return to social distancing,” he said.

People write down their personal information before they are tested for coronavirus (Covid-19) at a temporary coronavirus testing stationin Seoul
People write down their personal information before they are tested for coronavirus (Covid-19) at a temporary coronavirus testing stationin Seoul. Photograph: Sanghwan Jung/REX/Shutterstock

Updated

Global demand for premium foods like wagyu beef, bluefin tuna and caviar has plunged, with thousands of restaurants shuttered and many economies sliding into recession amid the coronavirus pandemic.

As strict lockdown measures to contain the outbreak ravage global economic activity, Reuters reports that the luxury food industry could be among the worst hit since it heavily relies on restaurants and top hotels for demand for deluxe items from caviar to champagne.

While some gourmet food producers are tapping consumers directly to stay afloat, others have been forced to cut output as some products have lost nearly half their value since the start of the year.

Jean-Marie Barillere, co-chairman of champagne producers’ lobby CIVC in France, said he hoped people would celebrate the easing of lockdown with a bottle of champagne, but expected a difficult end to the year.

“This is really a period that looks like a war time,” he said.

A dish of Wagyu beef steaks in a restaurant, operated by Meat Companion Co., in Tokyo, Japan, in March 2014
A dish of Wagyu beef steaks in a restaurant, operated by Meat Companion Co., in Tokyo, Japan, in March 2014. Photograph: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Updated

The relatively cautious approach taken by Spain to reopening its borders to international visitors is coming under increasing pressure, reports El Pais today.

While the government in Madrid planning to reopen borders on 1 July, when it will also lift its requirement for a 14-day quarantine, the EU commissioner for home affairs insisted on the recommendation that internal borders must “reopen as soon as possible.

Ylva Johansson added on Thursday that the main thing is for all states to open internal borders completely before opening the EU’s external borders to third-country travellers.

EU commissioner Ylva Johansson speaks about the gradual lifting of restrictions at borders at a press conference on Thursday
EU commissioner Ylva Johansson speaks about the gradual lifting of restrictions at borders at a press conference on Thursday. Photograph: Isopix/REX/Shutterstock

Updated

In a region where live music is everything – both for audiences and for performers heavily reliant on live appearances to make a living – the widespread cancellation of festivals across southern Africa has hit the music business hard.

Silence Charumbira has written this piece on how coronavirus has forced events including AfrikaBurn and Bushfire to cancel, leaving performers without promotional platforms and income.

May should have seen the Bushfire festival in Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland), Zakifo and AfrikaBurn in South Africa, and Azgo in Mozambique. Next month would have been Zimfest in Zimbabwe.

All have been cancelled – or replaced with online versions – along with dozens of smaller live events that have been growing in recent years.

Crowds enjoying a performance at Bushfire festival 2019 in Eswatini
Crowds enjoying a performance at Bushfire festival 2019 in Eswatini. Photograph: Courtesy of Bushfire festival

Updated

UK economy shrinks record 20.4% in April due to lockdown

Britain is learning today what a full month’s lockdown does to the UK’s economy and the data is not pretty: it slumped by 20.4% in April from the previous month as the coronavirus lockdown paralysed the country.

Richard Partington has that story here on a day when prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to come under sustained pressure from Conservative MPs to take further steps to open up the economy, amid calls for caution from other quarters.

A range of other indicators are also out while the ongoing ramifications of the public health crisis continue to be felt. On that front, lawyers representing 450 bereaved people whose relatives have died due to Covid-19 have called on Johnson and Britain’s health minister, Matt Hancock, to hold an immediate public inquiry into the government’s handling of the crisis to help prevent many more deaths.

The global blog is now being picked up here in the UK, where we’ll continue to bring you coverage of developments across the world.

Updated

That’s it from me, Helen Sullivan for today. I’m off to frantically clean my apartment before my in-laws arrive for a visit. The brilliant Ben Quinn is here to take over the blog.

Thank you to those of you who got in touch with us today – always much appreciated.

Here’s our global wrap of the most important recent developments in the coronavirus pandemic:

Three months into lockdown, things have moved on in the land of digital dance, from fun Instagram clips and online classes to some serious choreography. Here are the best of the lot:

The British government is expected to backtrack on its Brexit plan to introduce full border checks with the EU from 1 January 2021 over fears of the economic impact of coronavirus, PA Media reports.

The cabinet office minister, Michael Gove, is anticipated to make an announcement on Friday over border operations for when Brexit fully comes into effect at the end of the transition period.

The UK had committed to introduce import controls on EU goods in the new year, but ministers are expected to adopt a more flexible approach to prevent the departure compounding the chaos from Covid-19.

A government source said: “We recognise the impact that coronavirus has had on UK businesses, and as we take back control of our laws and our borders at the end of this year, we will take a pragmatic and flexible approach to help business adjust to the changes and opportunities of being outside the single market and the customs union.”

Updated

Summary

Here are the latest developments from the last few hours:

  • Global infections passed 7.5 million. There are 7,514,481 confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University data. There have been 420,993 known deaths so far. The true figures for deaths and infections are likely to be significantly higher due to time delays, differing testing rates and definitions, and suspected underreporting.
  • Beijing sees first local transmission case in several weeks. In Beijing, a 52-year-old man who has no history of travelling outside the city or contact with anyone coming in has been diagnosed with Covid-19. He is the first local transmission case in China for several weeks.The man lives in Xicheng district. On Wednesday he visited a clinic reporting an intermittent fever, chills and fatigue. He had no other symptoms, and had no relevant travel or contact history in the past two weeks.
  • Fu Xuejie, the wife of Dr Li Wenliang, has given birth to their son. Li was praised as a whistleblower in China, and made headlines earlier this year after he was reprimanded for warning colleagues about the emergence of a new Sars-like virus. Li later contracted the virus himself, and died in hospital on 6 February. Fu told local news she had given birth to a boy earlier this morning, describing him as “the last gift” Li gave her.“My husband, can you see us from heaven?” Fu wrote on her WeChat account on Friday morning.“The last gift you gave me was born today – I will work hard to love and protect them.”
  • Brazil confirms 30,000 cases in 24 hours. Brazil reported a total of 802,828 confirmed cases of coronavirus on Thursday, with 30,412 new infections in the last 24 hours in the world’s second worst outbreak after the US. With a further 1,239 fatalities, the death toll in Brazil has reached 40,919, the health ministry said, the world’s third highest after the US and the UK.
  • WHO warns pandemic accelerating in Africa. The speed the new coronavirus jumped from 100,000 to 200,000 confirmed cases in Africa shows just how quickly the pandemic is accelerating on the continent, the World Health Organization said Thursday. “It took 98 days to reach the first 100,000 cases, and only 18 days to move to 200,000 cases,” Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa, told a video briefing hosted by the UN press association in Geneva.
  • Dow sinks 1,800 as virus cases rise, deflating optimism. Stocks fell sharply Thursday on Wall Street as coronavirus cases in the US increased again. The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank more than 1,800 points, almost 7%, and the S&P 500 dropped 5.9%, its worst day since mid-March, when stocks went through repeated harrowing falls as the virus lockdowns began.
  • US president Donald Trump has introduced a policy stopping attendees at his rallies from suing the campaign or venue if they contract coronavirus at the events. A statement on the campaign website page for a rally in Tulsa says, “By clicking register below, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. By attending the Rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates … liable for any illness or injury.”
  • Pandemic risks pushing millions more into child labour: UN. A report released on Friday noted that relation between swelling poverty and a surge in child labour appears clear, pointing to studies from some countries indicating that a one-percent increase in poverty leads to at least a 0.7% rise in child labour. The report also stressed that the crisis could push children already working to put in longer hours under worsening conditions. Others could be forced into the worst forms of labour, seriously threatening their health and safety, it said.
  • Brazil, which is the second hardest-hit country after the US, confirmed 30,000 new cases in 24 hours on Thursday, taking its total past 800,000. Under the leadership of Jair Bolsonaro, who has sought to downplay the pandemic, 40,919 people have died. Infections have increased by more than 40% in 21 US states this week, as the effects of relaxed restrictions start to be felt.
  • New Zealand is relaxing its borders to grant exemptions for certain workers and partners of New Zealand citizens to enter the country. The relaxed rules, which will see America’s Cup sailors included, come after 21 days with no new Covid-19 cases across the country and no current live cases. Health officials have said the virus would be considered eliminated after 28 days of no new cases.
  • Tokyo is poised to end all restrictions on businesses next week and karaoke venues, game arcades and pachinko parlours were set to reopen today on Friday. Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, said the city had entered “a new stage of living with the coronavirus,” adding that authorities would expand testing and ensure medical facilities were able to cope with a resurgence of the virus, which is known to have infected more than 17,000 people in Japan and killed 922.
  • Japanese “non-regular” workers posted its biggest drop on record in April, declining by 970,000 to 2.02 million. Women accounted for 710,000 of the decline. Many of Japan’s women, many women lack the job security of male workers, with more than half holding vulnerable part-time, contract or temporary jobs.
  • Fujifilm Holdings Corp will spend $928m to double capacity at a drug manufacturing facility in Denmark, which it has pledged to use in producing Covid-19 treatments, as the Japanese company steps up its pivot towards healthcare, Reuters reports.

Updated

Fu Xuejie, the wife of Dr Li Wenliang, has given birth to their son.

Li was praised as a whistleblower in China, and made headlines earlier this year after he was reprimanded for warning colleagues about the emergence of a new Sars-like virus. Li later contracted the virus himself, and died in hospital on 6 February.

Fu told local news she had given birth to a boy earlier this morning, describing him as “the last gift” Li gave her.

“My husband, can you see us from heaven?” Fu wrote on her WeChat account on Friday morning.

“The last gift you gave me was born today – I will work hard to love and protect them.”

China is seeking volunteers who work at state-owned companies and are traveling overseas to test two potential vaccines, Reuters is reporting.

There is no proven vaccine for the coronavirus yet, although many are in the works and mass trials for some are expected to be underway soon. A vaccine normally has to go through large-scale “phase 3” trials to observe to what extent they provide protection against infection before receiving regulatory approval.

That ideally requires exposing people in a real-life environment with relatively high infection risk. Two vaccine candidates being developed in China are being tested on more than 1,000 people each, and employees of state-owned firms can volunteer.

The vaccines are among five candidates currently in Chinese clinical trials which showed “no distinct adverse reaction” in the first two phases of human trials.

Vaccinating people travelling abroad, especially those going to high-risk areas, is one option for conducting a Phase 3 trial, Zhu Fengcai, deputy director of a local branch of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told financial media service Caixin in April.

Other candidate vaccines currently in phase two are also seeking volunteers, South China Morning Post reported this week.

Beijing sees first local transmission case in several weeks

In Beijing, a 52-year-old man who has no history of traveling outside the city or contact with anyone coming in has been diagnosed with Covid-19. He is the first local transmission case in China for several weeks.

The man lives in Xicheng District. On Wednesday he visited a clinic reporting an intermittent fever, chills and fatigue. He had no other symptoms, and had no relevant travel or contact history in the past two weeks.

On Thursday the vice-mayor of Xicheng district told media the man had worn a mask and traveled alone to the hospital. He was one of seven new cases reported in mainland China. The other six, including five people in Shanghai and one in Fujian, were all imported.

Mainland China currently has 65 confirmed cases in the country. Four people were discharged on Thursday, according to the national health commission.

People buy food from a street vendor near a subway exit in Beijing on 10 June 2020.
People buy food from a street vendor near a subway exit in Beijing on 10 June 2020. Photograph: Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images

Updated

Charles Anderson reports for the Guardian:

New Zealand is relaxing its borders to grant exemptions for certain workers – including America’s Cup sailors – and partners of New Zealand citizens to enter the country.

The move comes after 21 days with no new Covid-19 cases across the country and no current live cases. Health officials have said the virus would be considered eliminated after 28 days of no new cases.

The most significant border rule change, to be enacted from the end of next week, removes the requirement for partners and dependents of New Zealand citizens and residents to travel together to return home.

It also establishes new “essential worker” rules, aimed at bringing “high-value workers” for “projects of national or regional significance” into the country.

This means exemptions will be granted for two America’s Cup sailing challengers who will compete against Emirates Team New Zealand in March 2021.

On Thursday, Tokyo reported 22 new infections, with the daily figure staying below 20 over the previous four days. Of the 22, six were connected to nightclubs and similar establishments, while 10 had unidentified transmission routes, according to the Kyodo news agency. The city has reported a total of 5,448 infections, by far the highest among Japan’s 47 prefectures.

The Tokyo alert, announced on 2 June, advises the city’s 14 million residents to exercise caution and will be reissued if cases average 20 or more for seven days in a row, if officials are unable to trace infection routes for more than half of the new cases, or if the total number of infections rises from one week to the next.

A large screen on a building shows a live broadcast of Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s news conference at Shinjuku district in Tokyo.
A large screen on a building shows a live broadcast of Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s news conference at Shinjuku district in Tokyo. Photograph: Issei Kato/Reuters

Establishments where it is difficult to avoid the “three Cs” – closed spaces, crowded places and close contact – are expected to reopen on 19 June. They include live music venues and host and hostess clubs where close contact between employees and customers has been blamed for recent Covid clusters in the capital’s entertainment districts. In addition, restaurants will be allowed to stay open beyond midnight.

Japan’s seven-week state of emergency, which was lifted in late May, requested that businesses close or reduce their hours, but authorities did not have the legal powers to enforce the restrictions or punish those that refused to comply.

Tokyo set to end business restrictions

Tokyo is poised to end all restrictions on businesses next week after local authorities lifted a citywide “red alert” warning about a possible second wave of coronavirus infections.

Karaoke venues, game arcades and pachinko parlors will reopen today (Friday), and restaurants and pubs will be able to extend their hours from 10 pm to midnight, according to Japanese media reports.

Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, said the city had entered “a new stage of living with the coronavirus,” adding that authorities would expand testing and ensure medical facilities were able to cope with a resurgence of the virus, which is known to have infected more than 17,000 people in Japan and killed 922.

Koike said the number of new daily cases and unidentified transmission routes had stabilised, enabling the city to take another step towards resuming its economic and social life.

Pedestrians walk with umbrellas in front of the entrance of Kanda Shrine in Tokyo on 11 June 2020.
Pedestrians walk with umbrellas in front of the entrance of Kanda Shrine in Tokyo on 11 June 2020. Photograph: Philip Fong/AFP/Getty Images

South Africa accounts for nearly 25% of Africa’s total cases.

“The majority of countries still have fewer than 1,000 reported cases,” said Doctor Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa.

“There is community transmission in more than 50% of countries, however.”

A man leaps over pools of water along a flooded road in the Masiphumelele informal settlement in Cape Town, South Africa, 11 June 2020.
A man leaps over pools of water along a flooded road in the Masiphumelele informal settlement in Cape Town, South Africa, 11 June 2020. Photograph: Nic Bothma/EPA

Meanwhile more than 70% of the deaths have occurred in just five countries: South Africa, Algeria, Nigeria, Egypt and Sudan.

Moeti said that while it was possible that some asymptomatic and mild cases were going undetected, WHO Africa believed that large numbers of severe cases and deaths were not being missed on the continent.

Africa’s relatively young population compared to other continents, and in-built experience of dealing with disease outbreaks have been cited as reasons why Africa has not so far seen the death rates experienced on other continents.

Updated

WHO warns pandemic accelerating in Africa

The speed the new coronavirus jumped from 100,000 to 200,000 confirmed cases in Africa shows just how quickly the pandemic is accelerating on the continent, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

According to an AFP tally, Africa topped the 200,000 mark on Tuesday.

Onion traders at Wakulima fresh produce market in Kenya.
Onion traders at Wakulima fresh produce market in Kenya. Photograph: Billy Mutai/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock

“It took 98 days to reach the first 100,000 cases, and only 18 days to move to 200,000 cases,” Doctor Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa, told a video briefing hosted by the UN press association in Geneva.

“Even though these cases in Africa account for less than three percent of the global total, it’s clear that the pandemic is accelerating.”

Africa has reached 5,635 deaths from 210,519 confirmed cases, according to AFP’s count at 11.00 GMT on Thursday.

In Africa, “the pandemic is still concentrated in and around capital cities but we are seeing more and more cases spread out into the provinces,” Moeti said.

She said that in most countries on the continent, the virus entered capitals through international flights from Europe.

Updated

Global cases pass 7.5 million

There are 7,500,777 confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University data. There have been 420,993 known deaths so far.

The true figures for deaths and infections are likely to be significantly higher due to time delays, differing testing rates and definitions, and suspected underreporting.

The US, with more than 2 million cases and 113,803 deaths, is by far the worst-affected country worldwide in terms of number of cases and deaths.

Brazil has the next highest known number of cases, with 802,828, and deaths nearing 41,000.

Here are the ten countries with the highest number of infections:

  1. US: 2,022,488
  2. Brazil: 802,828
  3. Russia: 501,800
  4. United Kingdom: 292,860
  5. India: 286,605
  6. Spain: 242,707
  7. Italy: 236,142
  8. Peru: 214,788
  9. France: 192,493
  10. Germany: 186,691

Updated

Please do get in touch with questions, comments, news and tips on Twitter @helenrsullivan or via email: [email protected]

The White House is exploring the possibility that travel from Mexico may be contributing to a new wave of coronavirus infections, rather than states moves toward reopening their economies, AP reports.

The notion was discussed at some length Thursday during a meeting of the administrations coronavirus task force in the White House Situation Room that focused on identifying commonalities between new outbreaks. Officials also considered how to surge response capabilities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was deploying teams to Arizona and other hotspots to try to trace the outbreaks and contain them.

In addition to Arizona, other states experiencing recent spikes of infections include California, Texas and North Carolina particularly within the Hispanic community. As a result, the task force is looking at whether those spikes may be tied to legal travel between the US and Mexico, which is experiencing an ongoing severe coronavirus outbreak.

Two officials familiar with the discussions described them to The Associated Press, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to publicly describe internal conversations.

Pandemic risks pushing millions more into child labour: UN

Millions of children could be pushed into work by the coronavirus crisis, the UN said Friday as it braced for the first rise in child labour in two decades. In a joint brief, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, noted that the number of children locked in child labour had declined by 94 million since 2000.

But the UN agencies warned that “the Covid-19 pandemic poses very real risks of backtracking.”

Friday’s report pointed out that the crisis would likely cause a significant rise in poverty. According to the World Bank, the number of people in extreme poverty could potentially skyrocket by up to 60 million this year alone.

“As the pandemic wreaks havoc on family incomes, without support, many could resort to child labour,” ILO chief Guy Ryder said in a statement.

The relation between swelling poverty and a surge in child labour appears clear, the report said, pointing to studies from some countries indicating that a one-percent increase in poverty leads to at least a 0.7% rise in child labour. The report also stressed that the crisis could push children already working to put in longer hours under worsening conditions. Others could be forced into the worst forms of labour, seriously threatening their health and safety, it said.

Fujifilm Holdings Corp will spend $928m to double capacity at a drug manufacturing facility in Denmark, which it has pledged to use in producing Covid-19 treatments, as the Japanese company steps up its pivot towards healthcare, Reuters reports.

The investment in Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies will expand production lines for bulk drug substances and antibody drugs, Fujifilm announced on Tuesday. It bought the facility in Hillerod, Denmark, in August from Biogen Inc for about $890m.

A tablet of Avigan.
A tablet of Avigan. Photograph: Issei Kato/Reuters

Fujifilm previously announced that the Denmark site would offer future manufacturing capacity to the Covid-19 Therapeutics Accelerator to speed-up the response to the global pandemic.

It is an initiative launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and two other large charities, aimed at accelerating drug development and identifying a promising Covid-19 therapeutic candidate based on efficacy and safety data demonstrated in clinical trials.

Fujifilm’s pharma arm is testing its own anti-flu drug Avigan as a treatment for Covid-19. The company aims to achieve ‎¥‎100bn ($928.68m) in sales in its bio-CDMO business by the fiscal year ending March 2022. Fujifilm shares rose 0.7% in Tokyo versus a 0.2% gain in the broader market.

Trump campaign policy stops people suing if they contract coronavirus at rally

US president Donald Trump has implemented a policy that states rally attendees cannot sue the campaign or venue if they contract coronavirus at the event, the New York Times reports:

‘By clicking register below, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to Covid-19 exists in any public place where people are present,’ a statement on Mr. Trump’s campaign website informed those wishing to attend his June 19 rally in Tulsa, Okla. ‘By attending the rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to Covid-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors or volunteers liable for any illness or injury.’

Updated

‘China’s lifeblood’: street hawkers make surprise return to fire up ailing economy

On a quiet street corner in a neighbourhood in Beijing known for families and retirees, Xue Min, 22 a recent graduate, swats her legs, fighting off mosquitoes, as she encourages passersby to browse the earrings and scrunchies she has laid out on a cloth, surrounded by fairy lights. “Have a look,” she says brightly to a couple that pause briefly before moving on.

Just before 10pm, two men arrive with a food cart - a gas stove, wok, and counter, attached to a motorbike and begin to prep their menu of fried rice and noodles. Xue and her neighbour, a woman selling books, toothbrushes and trinkets from abroad, murmur and watch with expectation. Business might pick up a little now.

Soon, more people begin to stop. Two young men, carrying a bag of cans of beer, browse the books. One picks up a translation of Pride and Prejudice before opting for a collection of stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. The other buys a journal. Meng, 35, one of the food stall owners, calls to delivery drivers as they stop their electric bikes by the curb: “Hey big brother, what will it be?”

It is a scene that should belong to another time, when Beijing’s sidewalks were often crowded with hawkers selling local street food and a surprisingly diverse selection of daily necessities – socks, flatware, DVDs, text books, lingerie and pets. Street vendors have come to be viewed as backwards and poor, pushed out by many city authorities in an effort to modernise the country’s urban centres.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has long made creating jobs for women central to his economic policy, but now women are suffering a bigger share of the pain as the country heads for its worst economic slump since World War Two, Reuters reports.

Helped by a worker shortage, female labour participation hit a decade-high of more than 70% under Abe’s campaign, often dubbed “Womenomics”. The catch: many women lack the job security of male workers, with more than half holding vulnerable part-time, contract or temporary jobs.

The number of such “non-regular” workers posted its biggest drop on record in April, declining by 970,000 to 2.02 million. Women accounted for 710,000 of the decline.

Women wearing face masks walk through Shibuya in Tokyo, Japan. A
Women wearing face masks walk through Shibuya in Tokyo, Japan. A Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images

Mexico’s health ministry reported 4,790 new confirmed coronavirus infections along with 587 additional fatalities on Thursday, bringing the total in the country to 133,974 cases and 15,944 deaths.

The government has said the real number of infected people is significantly higher than the official count.

Relatives wait for their turn to talk through a computer screen with inmates of the Puente Grande Penitentiary Complex, Mexico, on 11 June 2020.
Relatives wait for their turn to talk through a computer screen with inmates of the Puente Grande Penitentiary Complex, Mexico, on 11 June 2020. Photograph: Ulises Ruiz/AFP/Getty Images

In the UK, local authorities have called on the government to suspend the controversial “no recourse to public funds” immigration status for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, to prevent thousands from falling into destitution and homelessness.

High numbers of people who have this status attached to their visas have been approaching councils for emergency assistance during the pandemic. Many are struggling to survive during the exceptional circumstances of lockdown, with no safety net, according to the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils in England and Wales.

Hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the UK have an immigration status that allows them to work here, but which prevents them from accessing most benefits should they become unemployed. Many have lost their jobs because of the Covid-19 pandemic and are struggling to feed their families and pay rent. Many face losing their homes once restrictions on evictions are lifted.

Updated

Brazil confirms 30,000 cases in 24 hours

Brazil reported a total of 802,828 confirmed cases of coronavirus on Thursday, with 30,412 new infections in the last 24 hours in the world’s second worst outbreak after the United States.

With another 1,239 fatalities, the death toll in Brazil has reached 40,919, the health ministry said, the world’s third highest after the United States and the UK.

A woman wearing a face mask stands near Black Lives Matter protests in the Metropolitan Region of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
A woman wearing a face mask stands near Black Lives Matter protests in the Metropolitan Region of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photograph: Fernando Souza/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock

Dow sinks 1,800 as virus cases rise, deflating optimism

Stocks fell sharply Thursday on Wall Street as coronavirus cases in the US increased again, deflating recent optimism for a quick economic recovery and raising more doubts about how long the market’s scorching comeback can last, AP reports.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank more than 1,800 points, almost 7%, and the S&P 500 dropped 5.9%, its worst day since mid-March, when stocks went through repeated harrowing falls as the virus lockdowns began. The S&P 500 rallied 44.5% between late March and Monday, erasing most of its losses tied to the pandemic.

A trader walks in front of the New York Stock Exchange on 26 May 2020 at Wall Street in New York City.
A trader walks in front of the New York Stock Exchange on 26 May 2020 at Wall Street in New York City. Photograph: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

The selling comes as coronavirus cases rise in the US, with some of the increase likely tied to the reopening of businesses and the lifting of stay-at-home orders. Cases are climbing in nearly half the states, according to an Associated Press analysis, a worrying trend that could intensify as people return to work and venture out during the summer.

Investor optimism for a speedy recovery was also dimmed by the Federal Reserve, which warned Wednesday that the road to recovery from the worst downturn in decades would be long and vowed to keep rates low for the foreseeable future.

Those factors, along with the recent run-up in stock prices, set the stage for the wave of selling Thursday.

Updated

Summary

Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

I’m Helen Sullivan and I’ll be taking you through the latest news from around the world for the next few hours. Please do get in touch with questions, comments, news and tips on Twitter @helenrsullivan or via email: [email protected]

Stocks fell sharply Thursday on Wall Street as coronavirus cases in the US increased again, deflating recent optimism for a quick economic recovery and raising more doubts about how long the market’s scorching comeback can last. The DOW Jones Industrial Average saw its worst day in weeks, closing down almost 7%.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell spoke of second wave fears, warning, “It could hurt the recovery, even if you don’t have a national level pandemic. Just a series of local ones, of local spikes, could have the effect of undermining people’s confidence in travelling, in restaurants and in entertainment,” he said. “It would not be a positive development.”

Powell said US unemployment could remain at levels close to the worst of the GFC at the end of the year, and that a second outbreak could mean that figure was optimistic.

  • Global cases near 7.5 million. There are currently 7,449,476 confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University, and 418,846 deaths.
  • Brazil reported a total of 802,828 confirmed cases of coronavirus on Thursday, with 30,412 new infections in the last 24 hours in the world’s second worst outbreak after the United States.With another 1,239 fatalities, the death toll in Brazil has reached 40,919, the health ministry said, the world’s third highest after the United States and the UK.
  • Brazilian officials have announced an agreement with China’s Sinovac Biotech to produce its coronavirus vaccine in Sao Paulo, where tests involving 9,000 volunteers are to begin next month.
  • More than a third of employees in some towns in Britain have been furloughed due to coronavirus, according to figures that also reveal the government’s job retention scheme has now cost almost £20bn.
  • British Airways plans to sell some of its multi-million-pound art collection in an effort to help it through the pandemic. The collection includes pieces by Damien Hirst, Bridget Riley and Peter Doig with one work believed to have been valued at more than £1 million.It is understood at least 10 pieces have been identified for sale by the airline.
  • In Australia, only one of the six commissioners on Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Covid-19 commission has volunteered to release their conflicts of interest, prompting calls for greater transparency from the publicly funded body. The Australian government has refused to release the conflict-of-interest declarations for members of its National Covid-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC), a prominent advisory body shaping non-health aspects of the Covid-19 strategy.
  • Almost half of asymptomatic coronavirus carriers detected in Bahrain were found to pose a risk of spreading the virus to others, according to research by the country’s coronavirus taskforce.
  • Deaths from Covid-19 in Italy climbed by 53 on Thursday against 71 the day before, Reuters reports, citing the country’s civil protection agency, pushing the total to death toll from the outbreak to 34,167.
  • European Union officials and experts have said that Europe could face a surge of coronavirus infections in coming weeks as a result of the mass anti-racism protests that have spread across the continent.
  • 10 countries account for nearly 75% of new cases - WHO. Nearly three-quarters of new cases of coronavirus are coming from 10 countries, mostly concentrated in the Americas and south Asia, the director general of the World Health Organization has said.Speaking at the UN health agency’s member state briefing on Thursday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the global situation was deteriorating, even as Europe appeared to be over the worst of the outbreak.
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