Coronavirus: Free movement across Italy to be allowed from June 3
Read the latest on the spread of the novel coronavirus around the world here
Almighty cleanup: St. Peter's in Rome gets coronavirus scrub-down
About a dozen, covered head-to-toe in protective gear, sprayed, sprinkled and swept as they disinfected the largest church in Christendom in preparation for its full reopening, expected soon.
Standing at the base of the massive columns, they resembled white ants as they cleaned the floor, with a surface of more than 15,000 square metres (160,000 square feet), as well as railings and statues close to floor level.
Doctor Andrea Arcangeli, deputy director of the Vatican’s Health and Hygiene department, said the cleaning materials included chlorine, ozone, alcohol and silver salts.
“Clearly these substances must be used correctly because we don’t want them to damage precious surfaces and works of art,” he told the official Vatican News website.
WHO head says vaccines, medicines must be fairly shared to beat Covid-19
Scientists and researchers are working at "breakneck" speed to find solutions for Covid-19 but the pandemic can only be beaten with equitable distribution of medicines and vaccines, the head of the World Health Organization said on Friday.
"Traditional market models will not deliver at the scale needed to cover the entire globe," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing in Geneva.
Ireland to press ahead with partial reopening of economy
Ireland will begin the partial and gradual reopening of its economy as planned from Monday, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Friday.
Ireland introduced stay-at-home measures at the end of March, shutting down all but essential services such as supermarkets and petrol stations to slow the spread of the virus, and its reopening plan is one of the most conservative in Europe.
Building sites, garden centres and repair shops are among the limited group allowed to resume operations in the first of five three-week phases. It will also permit people to meet in non-household groups of four outdoors, and play golf or tennis.
Chinese envoy says US undermining global economy, virus fight
A Chinese envoy has accused the United States of undermining the global economy by building trade barriers and artificially prolonging the global coronavirus pandemic by halting funding to the World Health Organization.
China’s ambassador to the United Nations in Vienna, Wang Qun, made the unusually harsh remarks at a meeting with officials from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), headquartered in Vienna.
US President Donald Trump on Thursday signalled a further deterioration in relationship with China over the virus outbreak, saying he had no interest in speaking to President Xi Jinping right now and going so far as to suggest he could even cut ties with the world’s second-largest economy.
Norway likely to keep travel restrictions until August 20
Norway will likely maintain travel restrictions it has imposed until Aug. 20, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said on Friday, as the Nordic country negotiates a path between restarting economic activity and preventing a new wave of coronavirus infections.
The restrictions include official advice against travelling abroad unless necessary, a 10-day quarantine for all people returning from abroad and barring entry to most non-Norwegians who do not have the right to live and work in Norway.
“We do not wish to maintain these (restrictions) longer than we have to, and at the same time we want to give people as well as the travel industry in this country as much predictability as we can,” Solberg told a news conference.
Review contradicts Boris Johnson on claims he ordered early lockdown at UK care homes
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Britain's parliament on Wednesday that his government moved swiftly to protect the country's vulnerable care homes. Under increasing pressure to defend his record on fighting Covid-19, he said: "We brought in the lockdown in care homes ahead of the general lockdown."
An examination by Reuters of the guidance issued to care homes, as well as interviews with three care home providers, has provided no evidence that any such early lockdown was ordered.
The government's handling of care homes has emerged as a major controversy in parliament. According to a Reuters analysis of official figures the pandemic has resulted in over 20,000 deaths in UK care homes.
Denmark reports no Covid-19 deaths in past 24 hours
Denmark reported no coronavirus-related deaths in the past day for the first time since March 13, data from public health authorities showed on Friday.
Denmark’s total number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose by 78 to 10,791 since Thursday, with the number of hospitalisations falling by 10 to 137. The death toll remained unchanged at 537.
US companies discover the dark side of a Covid-19 business boom
Kevin Kelly has discovered the many ways a deadly pandemic can be both a boom and a burden on some US businesses.
As the nation clamped down with stay-at-home orders, Kelly said his company, Emerald Packaging Inc. in Union City, Calif, saw demand for the factory's output explode. Emerald churns out plastic bags for produce, like baby carrots and iceberg lettuce, and Kelly attributed the growth, in part, to the perception that packaged produce is a safer alternative to unwrapped items.
Emerald represents the other side of the current novel coronavirus crisis, which has seen unemployment surge to levels not seen since the Great Depression. The jobless rate hit 14.7 percent in April. While many companies face a slump, some are rushing to add workers, including delivery services like Instacart. A recent survey by the Atlanta Fed concluded there have been three jobs added to the US economy for every 10 layoffs.
Zambia reopens border with Tanzania after Covid-19 closure: sources
Zambia reopened its Nakonde border with Tanzania on Friday after a five-day closure of the key transit point for copper and cobalt exports and fuel imports, three sources told Reuters.
President Edgar Lungu had shut the border on Sunday after the town of Nakonde recorded 76 cases of Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, the highest number registered by Africa’s No. 2 copper producer in a day.
“We have trucks that have already crossed,” a logistics official said, adding that they had not yet seen an official confirmation from the provincial government. Muchinga Province Minister Malozo Sichone did not immediately reply to Reuters’ requests for comment.
Delayed survey data blurs India's coronavirus picture
ndia has lost two weeks in its bid to get a picture of the spread of the coronavirus in its population because of poor Chinese testing kits, a member of a national task force said, complicating a decision on opening up from a lockdown.
The kits were for antibodies to the virus, meaning authorities could determine who had been exposed to it as part of a broad survey to assess its spread.
But hundreds of thousands of kits had to be returned to China after inconsistent results, and the government does not have all of the data it should have to decide on how and when to loosen the lockdown, first imposed on March 25.
At least 153 cases linked to nightclub cluster in South Korea
At least 153 confirmed cases of Covid-19 have been linked to the Itaewon nightclub cluster in the South Korean capital of Seoul, according to the country's Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (KCDC).
So far, about 46,000 tests have been conducted in relation to the cluster in the Itaewon district, KCDC Director Jung Eun-kyeong said Friday.
An estimated 5,500 people visited the five affected nightclubs and around 4,300 of those have been tested, reports the CNN.
Some of the clubs are frequented by members of South Korea's gay community, a detail which has led to an outpouring of hate speech towards the country's already-embattled LGBTQ population.
BAT says potential Covid-19 vaccine using tobacco leaves ready for human trials
World's No.2 cigarette company British American Tobacco said on Friday it was ready to test its potential Covid-19 vaccine using proteins from tobacco leaves on humans, after it generated a positive immune response in pre-clinical trials.
The maker of Lucky Strike cigarette said once it gets approval from the US Food and Drug administration (FDA) for the vaccine, it would progress to Phase 1 trials or testing on humans.
The company raised eyebrows in April when it said it was developing a Covid-19 vaccine from tobacco leaves and could produce 1 million to 3 million doses per week if it got the support of government agencies and the right manufacturers.
Virus-hit German economy plunges into recession
The German economy plunged into a recession after suffering its steepest quarterly contraction since the 2009 financial crisis as shops and factories were shut down in mid-March to fight the spread of the coronavirus, preliminary data showed on Friday.
The 2.2 percent first-quarter contraction was a foretaste of worse to come. Economists expect a deeper slump in the second quarter as the lockdown extended well into April and early May and sectors like tourism and in-door gastronomy remain shut.
Still, Germany appears to be fairing better than neighbouring France and Italy, whose economies contracted by 5.8 percent and 4.7 percent respectively in the first quarter.
'May Allah remove the virus': Pandemic a grim addition to Afghanistan's woes
Delkhah Sultani scrubs laundry outside her home in Kabul as her young daughter watches on. She says she once got paid around $3 a day to wash clothes for other households but since the coronavirus outbreak hit, work has dropped and she now earns $1 every few days to support her and her four children.
Like millions of Afghans, Sultani is facing economic distress and hunger from two disasters - the pandemic and the damage from decades of civil war.
“Since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan (in late April), I have not been able to find jobs for myself because people don’t invite me to their homes to wash their clothes anymore due to the fear of the coronavirus,” said Sultani. She said her husband was killed six years ago in a suicide bomb attack.
“I don’t have money to take my son to the barbershop or buy food. Most of the time, we don’t even have anything to eat to break our fast.”
Taiwan rejects China's main condition for WHO participation
Taiwan’s health minister rejected on Friday China’s main condition for the island to be able to take part in the World Health Organization - acceptance that it is part of China - before a WHO meeting being held during the coronavirus pandemic.
Non-WHO member Taiwan has lobbied to take part as an observer in next week’s virtual meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA), the WHO’s decision-making body. This has raised objections from Beijing, which considers Taiwan one of its provinces. Taiwan says the coronavirus pandemic has made it more urgent than ever for it to have proper access to the WHO.
China says Taiwan can participate only under the “one China” principle, involving acceptance that it is a part of China.
China’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party refused to do this, so the political foundation for Taiwan’s WHO participation had “ceased to exist”.
Free movement across Italy to be allowed from June 3: draft decree
Italy is set to allow free travel across the country from June 3, according to a draft decree seen by Reuters on Friday, as the government moves to unwind its coronavirus lockdown and revive the battered economy.
Italy was the first European country to impose rigid nationwide restrictions in March in an effort to halt the disease and is slowly rolling back the curbs as the number of new cases fall.
The draft decree, which is expected to be approved later on Friday but could still be modified ahead of time, said all movement within separate regions would be allowed from May 18, with inter-regional travel bans due to be lifted on June 3.
The end to travel curbs will represent a major milestone on Italy’s road to recovery, with the government hoping to salvage the forthcoming holiday season, when Italians traditionally escape the cities for their annual summer breaks.
Indonesia reports 490 new coronavirus cases, 33 new deaths
Indonesia reported 490 new coronavirus infections and 33 new deaths, taking the total number of cases to 16,496 and deaths to 1,076, health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said on Friday.
The Southeast Asian country has tested 132,060 people, Yurianto said.
Yurianto said 34,360 patients with suspected acute respiratory illnesses were being treated across the country.
Caught in Trump-China feud, WHO leader under siege
When the head of the World Health Organization returned from a whirlwind trip to Beijing in late January, he wanted to praise China's leadership publicly for its initial response to the new coronavirus. Several advisers suggested he tone the message down, according to a person familiar with the discussions.
After meetings with President Xi Jinping and Chinese ministers, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was impressed by their knowledge of the new flu-like virus and their efforts to contain the disease, which by then had killed scores in China and started to spread to other countries.
The advisers encouraged Tedros to use less effusive language out of concern about how he would be perceived externally, the person familiar with the discussions said, but the director general was adamant, in part because he wanted to ensure China's cooperation in fighting the outbreak.
Malaysia reports 36 new coronavirus cases with no new deaths
Malaysia reported 36 new coronavirus cases on Friday with no additional deaths, the health ministry said.
The country has recorded a total of 6,855 infections with 112 fatalities.
Thailand reopening more businesses as coronavirus eases
Thailand will begin allowing department stores, shopping malls and other businesses to reopen from Sunday as new coronavirus cases dwindle, the government said.
Stores selling electronics, furniture and office supplies will be among the businesses allowed to resume operations, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government’s Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.
The global pandemic has forced many countries to impose strict lockdowns. In Thailand, large stores aside from grocery shops and pharmacies have been closed since late March when daily cases surged above 100.
“I expect our numbers to remain good so that we can further relax restrictions in the next phases to return to normalcy,” Taweesin said.
China's Wuhan says tested almost a third of residents for coronavirus since April
Wuhan, the original epicentre of the new coronavirus outbreak in China, has tested over 3 million residents for the pathogen since April, and will now focus its testing efforts on the rest of its 11 million population, according to state media.
Wuhan will conduct tests on everyone in the city, with the goal of getting a clear number of asymptomatic cases as businesses and schools reopen, the official Xinhua News Agency reported late Thursday.
The priority will be residents who have not been tested before, people living in residential compounds that had previous cases of the virus, as well as old or densely populated estates, Xinhua said, citing a Wuhan government meeting.
Baltics open Europe's first pandemic 'travel bubble' as curbs ease
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia opened their common borders at the stroke of midnight, creating the first “travel bubble” within the European Union in a bid to jump-start economies broken down by the coronavirus pandemic.
A dozen Estonian border guards removed all signs directing vehicles to stop at the border and huddled together at the roadside for cake and coffee.
“We have the little celebration because the border is now open again,” officer Martin Maestule told Reuters on Friday just after midnight as the first cars sped through on the region’s reopened main road.
Citizens and residents of the three generally sparsely populated Baltic nations are now free to travel within the region, though anyone entering from outside will need to self-isolate for 14 days.
Philippines' coronavirus infections top 12,000, deaths pass 800 mark
The number of novel coronavirus cases in the Philippines’ has passed the 12,000 mark, and more than 800 people have now died, the health ministry said on Friday.
In a bulletin, the ministry reported 16 more coronavirus deaths, bringing the total to 806. It recorded 215 additional infections, increasing the total tally to 12,091. But 123 more patients have recovered, bringing total recoveries to 2,460.
Two more migrants quarantined on Lesbos test positive for Covid-19
Two asylum seekers recently arrived on Greece’s Lesbos island, the site of the country’s biggest migrant camp, have tested positive for the coronavirus, migration ministry sources said on Friday.
The cases, doubling the island’s Covid-19 infection tally on to four, were among 70 arrivals there so far during May.
Since March 1, all migrants who reach Lesbos have been quarantined away from the island’s camps. Those include the overcrowded Moria facility, hosting more than 17,500 asylum seekers by the latest official count on May 13 and frequently criticised by aid groups for poor living conditions.
There have been no documented coronavirus cases there, however.
Pandemic stirs Wall Street’s social conscience
Worker welfare is having a moment on Wall Street.The need to restart production lines and reopen offices idled by the coronavirus pandemic mean issues such as sick pay and working conditions are suddenly a top priority for the C-suite and, for some investors, a golden opportunity to apply the principles of ethical investing.
Buying into companies based on environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors was growing in popularity before the virus started spreading. But the focus was largely on how companies were dealing with climate change and overly generous executive pay – the E and G – rather than social issues such as the well-being of staff.
The virus is driving a reassessment.
Coronavirus could last years, says Japanese economist urging more tests, support
Japan should boost coronavirus testing and offer more generous cash payouts to households as the epidemic could last for several years, an economist appointed to a government panel on the virus response said on Friday.
The government can fund huge spending on the coronavirus by issuing more bonds, which the central bank can buy to avoid causing a rise in long-term interest rates, said Keiichiro Kobayashi, who was appointed on Tuesday to join a committee advising the government on measures to combat the pandemic.
“It could take up to four years,” he said, referring to the time needed to develop and distribute an effective vaccine or medicine to combat the virus.
Consumption will fall globally during that time, he said.
Japan's regions emerge from virus emergency while Tokyo enters 'new normal'
Large parts of Japan marked the first day out of a state of emergency on Friday while Tokyo’s governor asked residents to prepare for the “new normal” as restrictions stay in place in the capital and major cities.
Softbank Corp. and McDonald’s Japan said they would start returning to normal operations in 39 of Japan’s 47 prefectures that are now exempt from the emergency declaration. The 39 prefectures account for about 55 percent of Japan’s 126 million people.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted the state of emergency for these prefectures on Thursday but said the urban centres of Tokyo and Osaka and six other prefectures will remain under restrictions until there is convincing containment of the coronavirus. The emergency gives governors more authority to tell people to stay at home and to close schools and businesses, but there is no penalty for non-compliance.
Spain's coronavirus death toll climbs by 138 on Friday: health ministry
Spain’s death toll from coronavirus registered its lowest increase since Monday as health authorities registered 138 new fatalities on Friday, the health ministry reported.
The overall coronavirus death toll rose to 27,459 on Friday, while the number of diagnosed cases rose to 230,183 cases from 229,540 on Thursday, the ministry said.
Bangladesh reports 15 more deaths from coronavirus, 1,202 new cases
Bangladesh today confirmed 15 more deaths from the novel coronavirus and 1,202 new cases of infection testing 8,582 samples in the last 24 hours.
With this, the death toll from the deadly virus rose to 298 and the number of total infections stood at 20,065. Some 279 patients recovered during this time.
Additional Director General of Health Directorate Nasima Sultana made the disclosure during a virtual briefing today.
The virus has killed 303,636 people globally and infected 4,541,148 so far.
Trump says doesn't want to talk to Xi, could even cut China ties
US President Donald Trump signaled a further deterioration of his relationship with China over the coronavirus outbreak, saying he has no interest in speaking to President Xi Jinping right now and going so far as to suggest he could even cut ties with the world's second largest economy.
In an interview with Fox Business Network broadcast on Thursday, Trump said he was very disappointed with China's failure to contain the disease and that the pandemic had cast a pall over his January trade deal with Beijing, which he has previously hailed as a major achievement.
"They should have never let this happen," Trump said. "So I make a great trade deal and now I say this doesn't feel the same to me. The ink was barely dry and the plague came over. And it doesn't feel the same to me."
UN to boost health tech production for Covid-19
The United Nations Technology Bank, together with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the World Health Organization (WHO), launched the Tech Access Partnership (TAP) on May 13 as part of a coordinated approach to strengthen developing countries' responses to Covid-19 and increase access to lifesaving health technologies.
As demand for personal protective equipment, medical devices and diagnostics increases exponentially amid the global pandemic, countries with limited resources are often unable to purchase or produce the tools they need to mount effective responses to Covid-19.
Lack of access to technical expertise, training and regulatory frameworks also limit local production of essential equipment in these regions, particularly for more complex products like ventilators.
Covid-19’s global cost may reach $8.8tr: ADB
The global economy could suffer between $5.8 trillion and $8.8 trillion in losses—equivalent to 6.4 percent to 9.7 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP)—as a result of the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, says a new report released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) today.
The report titled "Updated Assessment of the Potential Economic Impact of Covid-19", finds that economic losses in Asia and the Pacific could range from $1.7 trillion under a short containment scenario of 3 months to $2.5 trillion under a long containment scenario of 6 months, with the region accounting for about 30 percent of the overall decline in global output.
The People's Republic of China (PRC) could suffer losses between $1.1 trillion and $1.6 trillion.
South Korea, China, Japan to hold video meeting on coronavirus
The meeting is the first between top health officials of the East Asian neighbours since the outbreak emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
"The ministers will exchange views on the latest Covid-19 situation and related policy of each country," South Korea's Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip told a briefing, referring to the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
"We're planning to introduce our work on information sharing, special entry procedures and large-scale treatment facilities."
Pompeo says TSMC's $12 billion investment to increase US economic independence from China
Chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co's $12 billion investment in the United States will increase US economic independence from China, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement early on Friday.
TSMC, a major supplier to Apple Inc announced on Friday it will build a $12 billion chip factory in Arizona, in what the company called a "strong partnership" with the US government. Pompeo said the investment will strengthen US- Taiwan ties.
"TSMC's announcement comes at a critical juncture, when China is competing to dominate cutting-edge technology and control critical industries. The TSMC facility in Arizona will increase US economic independence", Pompeo said on Friday.
PETA video shows live animal markets still operating across Asia
A grim footage was captured by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) from inside numerous wet markets across Asia.
When coronavirus continues to infect and kill people and warning of next deadly pandemic before the current one is over hangs in the air, the markets are not shut down, reports Newsweek.
The videos, provided to Newsweek and filmed by the organization's investigators in Asia throughout April, reveal animal markets in China, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines are selling wild animals including bats, monkeys and civet cats—even as the novel coronavirus continues to claim lives around the globe.