The number of global coronavirus infections has surged past 4.5 million, with over 306,000 deaths and 1.7 million recoveries. Here are more coronavirus-related developments for May 15:

A handful of pedestrians walk through Times Square as streets remain relatively quiet due to the continuing outbreak of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the Manhattan borough of New York US, May 5, 2020.
A handful of pedestrians walk through Times Square as streets remain relatively quiet due to the continuing outbreak of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the Manhattan borough of New York US, May 5, 2020. (Reuters)

Friday, May 15, 2020

New York opens five regions; beaches set for Memorial Day

After two months of strict limits on business and social distancing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo welcomed the first loosening of restrictions in many parts of the state Friday and announced that beaches would be allowed to open in time for the Memorial Day weekend.

State and municipal beaches throughout the state will be allowed to open the Friday before the holiday, but with limits, the Democrat said.

Capacity will be limited to no more than 50 percent of normal, with parking limited to trim crowds.

Group activities will not be allowed. Picnic areas and playgrounds will stay closed. Employees need to wear masks.

Stricter restrictions for Chile

Chile’s capital is increasing restrictions on movement as of Friday night to battle an upsurge in cases.

The 8 million people in metropolitan Santiago have accounted for more than 80% of the 39,542 confirmed cases in the country of 18 million people. Cases have almost duplicated over the past week. There have been nearly 400 deaths in all.

Under the new restrictions, people will have to receive a police permit to leave home — though the online system allows as many as seven per week. Food markets and pharmacies will remain open and workers in fields such as health, water and energy services are exempt.

Violators can be fined the equivalent of thousands of dollars.

The Ministry of Health said critical care units at hospitals in the region are at at 90% to 95% capacity.

Hours before the new restrictions were to take effect, highways were crowded with people trying to have the city for the coast in spite of prohibitions on people using second homes to ride out the quarantine. Long lines formed at supermarkets.

Some Canada schools to reopen part time June 1

Canada’s Pacific Coast province of British Columbia is allowing schools to reopen on June 1 but on an optional and part time basis.

British Columbia Education Minister Rob Fleming says kindergarten through grade five will be open two or three days. Fleming says there will be staggered lunches and recesses.

Fleming says grade six through 12 students will likely only attend school once a week. 

Parents will be given the choice to allow their children to attend. British Columbia Premier John Horgan says these steps will pave the way for a full start in September if it is safe. 

The province has roughly 2,392 of Canada’s 74,532 confirmed cases.

Virus vaccine available by end of the year - Trump

President Donald Trump said on Friday that he's hopeful to have a vaccine on the market by the end of the year or shortly thereafter.

Speaking at a Rose Garden event, Trump said the government and private sector has been working since early January to create a vaccine and they've "literally been working 24 hours a day."

The president said countries around the world are working together to ensure the effort is a global one. And he said there are "no egos."

Italy reports 242 new deaths 

Italy reported 242 more fatalities from the virus, bringing the toll to 31,610, as the government finalises new rules for shops and restaurants that would reopen from Monday.

Data released by the country's Civil Protection Department confirmed the peak of the outbreak was left behind, while the economic and social consequences of the two-month-long lockdown are now emerging.

The tally of active infections fell by another 4,370, placing the total at 72,070.

France reports more deaths, raising total to 27,529

French health authorities reported 104 more deaths, bringing the total to 27,529, still the fourth-highest in the world.

The number of confirmed cases had risen to 179,433 according to Worldometre tracker.

UK coronavirus death toll rises to 33,998

The number of people who have died in the United Kingdom after testing positive rose by 384 to 33,998, said Britain's health ministry.

The number of deaths was as of 1600 GMT on Thursday, the government said. 

A total of 236,711 people had tested positive for the virus as of 0800 GMT. 

Dutch dog, three cats infected with virus 

A dog and three house cats in the Netherlands have been confirmed to be infected with the virus, broadcaster RTL reported, citing the country's agriculture minister.

Other animal infections have been occasionally reported around the world during the current pandemic.

The Netherlands' National Institute of Health says that the risk an animal could infect humans is very small.

Brazil's health minister resigns amid virus crisis

Brazil's health minister Nelson Teich handed in his resignation, his office said, after less than a month on the job as the country becomes a world hotspot for the virus.

Teich, who disagreed with right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, will hold a press conference later Friday. Brazil has now surpassed Germany and France and had more than 200,000 confirmed cases of the virus as of Thursday.

ATP, WTA and ITF extend suspensions

The ATP Tour and International Tennis Federation (ITF) have extended their suspensions of professional tennis until July 31 due to the pandemic, they said.

The ATP and WTA had announced in April that they were suspending all tournaments until July 13, with the WTA saying on Friday that it will next month provide an update on events scheduled for the latter half of July.

ATP events in Hamburg, Bastad, Newport, Los Cabos, Gstaad, Umag, Atlanta, and Kitzbuhel will not go ahead as scheduled while WTA events in Bastad, Lausanne, Bucharest, and Jurmala scheduled for July will not be held.

Virus tips Germany into recession

Europe's economic powerhouse Germany tipped into a recession in the first quarter, with its economy shrinking by 2.2 percent due to the pandemic.

Portugal's gross domestic product dropped 3.9 percent in the first quarter.

The British government is to pump up to 1.6 billion pounds ($1.9 billion) into London's public transport system to restore services and help prevent overcrowding as people return to work.

China reaches out to US

China urges the United States to strengthen cooperation in the fight against the pandemic after President Donald Trump threatened to sever bilateral ties over its handling of the crisis.

Kazakhstan hotspot

More than 400 people have tested positive at Kazakhstan's top-producing Tengiz oil field, in the Atyrau region, health officials say.

Slovenia reopens borders

Slovenia declares an end to its coronavirus epidemic and opens its borders, despite new infections still being reported.

The three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania lift restrictions on movement and set up a free movement zone between themselves. 

Poland and Finland could join the zone in the near future.

Kawasaki disease

A nine-year-old boy has died in France from a Kawasaki-like disease believed to be linked to coronavirus, the first such death in the country as similar child fatalities are investigated in New York and London.

Record US package

US Democrats will aim to pass a record $3 trillion coronavirus response package through the House of Representatives on Friday. 

President Trump and Republicans say it will be "dead on arrival" in the Senate.

US FDA investigating test with false negatives

US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Steve Hahn says it will be up to the White House to determine whether it continues to use a virus test that has falsely cleared patients of infection.

Hahn Told CBS on Friday the FDA will keep “providing guidance to the White House regarding this test” but whether to keep using the test “will be a White House decision.”

The test is used daily at the White House to test President Donald Trump and key members of his staff, including the coronavirus task force. 

The FDA said late Thursday it was investigating preliminary data suggesting Abbott Laboratories’ 15-minute test can miss Covid-19 cases, producing false negatives.

Hahn told CBS the test is on the market and the FDA continues to “recommend its use or to have it available for use.” But he suggested if doctors or patients suspect they’ve received a false negative, they should do another test.

Iran reports highest single day infections in over month

Iran reported its highest number of new coronavirus infections in more than a month as it warned of clusters hitting new regions.

Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 2,102 new cases were confirmed across the country in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall number to 116,635.

That figure is the highest Iran has announced for a single day since April 6.

Free movement across Italy to be allowed from June 3

Italy is set to allow free travel across the country from June 3, according to a draft decree seen by Reuters, as the government moves to unwind the coronavirus lockdown and revive the battered economy.

Rigid restrictions were imposed on Italy in March in an effort to halt the disease and with the death rate now falling, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is rolling back the curbs.

The draft decree, which could still be modified before it is approved, also said all travel within separate Italian regions would be allowed from May 18. 

Germany loosens quarantine restrictions

Germany will loosen coronavirus quarantine rules for travellers arriving from the European Union, the Schengen passport-free zone and Britain, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said on Friday.

Authorities will only recommend travellers go into quarantine if they arrive from countries with elevated numbers of infections, he said at a regular news conference.

A mandatory two-week quarantine still applies for travellers from countries outside the EU, the spokesman said. 

Spain's death toll climbs by 138

Spain's death toll from coronavirus registered its lowest increase since Monday as health authorities registered 138 new fatalities, 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.

Britain approves Abbott's Covid-19 antibody test

Britain has given the green light to Abbott Laboratories to produce a Covid-19 antibody test, shortly after it gave the same approval to Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding, health officials said on Friday.

Mass antibody testing with millions of kits is being considered by many countries as a way to speed the reopening of economies devastated by lockdowns and to introduce more tailored social distancing measures.

Novartis CEO says any new vaccine will take two years

Any vaccine to fight the new coronavirus will not be ready for use for at least two years, the chief executive of Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis , which no longer makes vaccines itself, told a German newspaper.

Novartis sold its vaccine business in 2015 to GlaxoSmithKline, one of many companies around the world now racing to make a drug. Some companies are already testing vaccine candidates on humans.

"The results of the first clinical studies on the vaccine candidates should be available in autumn," Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

"If everything goes as we hope, it will take 24 months before we have a vaccine."

For instance, Moderna Inc has sped up plans for its experimental Covid-19 vaccine and said it expected to start a late-stage trial in early summer.

But experts have said no vaccine is expected to be ready for use until at least 2021, as they must be widely tested in humans before being administered to hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people to prevent infection.

Thailand reports 7 new cases, all from overseas

Thailand reported seven new coronavirus cases, while the number of deaths remained unchanged at 56.

The new cases were all patients who arrived from Pakistan last week and have been in state quarantine, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government's Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

Thailand has confirmed a total of 3,025 cases since the coronavirus outbreak started in January and earlier in the week reported zero new daily cases for the first time in two months. 

Germany's cases rise by 913 to 173,152 – RKI

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 913 to 173,152, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 101 to 7,824, the tally showed. 

First case detected in Rohingya camps in Bangladesh

The first coronavirus case has been confirmed in the crowded camps for Rohingya refugees in southern Bangladesh, where more than 1 million refugees are sheltered.

The person from the Rohingya community and a local person who lives in the Cox's Bazar district who also tested positive have been isolated, Mahbub Alam Talukder, the country’s refugee commissioner, said.

Nationwide, Bangladesh has confirmed 18,863 cases, including 283 fatalities. But the toll is thought to be higher since adequate testing facilities are a challenge in the South Asian nation of 160 million people.

Yemen reports first cases in southern province

Yemen's Saudi-backed government reported the first cases of novel coronavirus in the southern province of Al Dhalea, underlining fears that the infection had found a foothold in the war-torn country.

The government's coronavirus committee said on Twitter seven more cases have been confirmed in the port city of Aden where it is based and that Al Dhalea had recorded its first three infections, bringing the total in areas under its control to 85 cases with 12 deaths.

The country is divided between the Aden government and the Iran-aligned Houthi movement that controls the capital, Sanaa, and most large urban centres.

Houthi authorities have reported only two cases with one death, both in Sanaa.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday that the virus "has been circulating undetected and unmitigated in Yemen for some weeks", increasing the likelihood that a surge in infections could overwhelm its shattered health system.

Coronavirus puts 4 million girls at risk of child marriage

Four million girls are at risk of child marriage in the next two years because of the new coronavirus pandemic, a global charity said on Friday, as campaigners warned that the crisis could undo decades of work to end the practice.

Deepening poverty caused by the loss of livelihoods is likely to drive many families to marry off their daughters early, World Vision said.

"When you have any crisis like a conflict, disaster or pandemic rates of child marriage go up," the charity's child marriage expert Erica Hall told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"If we don't start thinking about how to prevent it now it will be too late. We can't wait for the health crisis to pass first."

Vietnam reports 24 new cases, all imported

Vietnam reported 24 new coronavirus infections on Friday, all of which were imported cases involving Vietnamese citizens returning from Russia who were placed under quarantine on arrival, the country's health ministry said.

The Southeast Asian country has gone 29 days without a domestically transmitted infection and has registered a total of 312 cases, with no deaths, the ministry said.

Over 90 percent of Vietnam's confirmed cases have recovered.

China reports 4 new cases

China reported 4 new coronavirus cases for May 14, up from 3 cases a day earlier, the country's health commission said.

All of the new cases were locally transmitted, the National Health Commission said in a statement.

The number of new asymptomatic cases fell slightly to 11 from 12 a day earlier.

The total number of cases now stands at 82,933 while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,633. 

US Republicans open to future coronavirus relief bill

US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he is open to another relief bill that might help alleviate economic pain inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic, and is even talking to members of President Trump's administration about possible legislation.

The top Republican in the US Congress, though, declined to say in an interview with Fox News when his party might begin negotiating a bill and said their "red line" is including liability protection for companies and other institutions.

Mexico reports record one-day virus surge

Mexico's health ministry on Thursday confirmed 257 additional coronavirus deaths and 2,409 new infections, the biggest one-day rise in cases since the pandemic began.

The new infections brought confirmed coronavirus cases to 42,595 and 4,477 deaths in total, according to the official tally. 

CDC alerts doctors to Covid-19 linked condition in children

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning doctors about a serious rare inflammatory condition in children linked with the coronavirus.

In an alert issued Thursday, the CDC called the condition multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children. The agency’s case definition includes current or recent Covid-19 infection or exposure to the virus, a fever of at least 100.4 for at least 24 hours, severe illness requiring hospitalisation, inflammatory markers in blood tests, and evidence of problems affecting at least two organs that could include the heart, kidneys, lungs, skin or other nervous system organs.

The name and definition are similar to those used in Europe, where the condition was first reported several weeks ago.

The condition has been reported in at least 110 New York children and in several kids in other states. A few children have died.

Trump's Mar-a-Lago club to partially reopen 

US President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club will partially reopen to members this weekend as South Florida slowly reopens from the coronavirus lockdown.

An email sent Thursday to members says the Palm Beach resort's Beach Club restaurant, its pool and its whirlpool will reopen Saturday after being closed two months, but that its main building, which includes hotel rooms, the main dining area and the president's private residence, will remain closed. 

Members will have to practice social distancing and lounge chairs will be set two metres apart. They will have to bring their own towels.

At least 43 migrants infected – Panama 

The government of Panama said Thursday that 43 migrants have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and 119 others are in quarantine at relief stations near the border with Colombia.

Panama’s national migration office said there have been no deaths among the migrants, 41 of whom are receiving medical care at a shelter in Lajas Blancas. The 119 quarantined migrants had contact with the confirmed cases. Two other migrant cases were detected earlier in the year.

Brazil registers record 13,944 new cases 

Brazil registered a daily record 13,944 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Thursday and 844 additional deaths, according to health ministry data.

Brazil has now tallied 202,918 confirmed cases of the virus since the outbreak began and 13,933 deaths.

Chile digs thousands of graves for Covid-19 surge

Thousands of fresh graves are being dug in the Chilean capital’s main cemetery amid a spike in the South American country’s Covid-19 cases, authorities said Thursday.

Chile’s infection rate soared this week, prompting the government to declare a mandatory lockdown of Santiago’s seven million people from Friday.

The country recorded between 350 and 500 new infections a day until a surge in cases at the weekend. By Wednesday, 2,600 infections were registered in a 24-hour period, with almost the same number on Thursday.

Qatar makes wearing masks outside mandatory

Qatar's interior ministry announced on Thursday that wearing masks will be mandatory to go outside starting Sunday and that those who do not comply will be fined up to $53,000.

Violators could also be jailed up to three years, or either of those punishments, according to a statement on the ministry's Twitter account.

The statement added that the only exception would be people driving solo.

Qatar reported 1,733 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, with a total of 28,272 cases and 14 deaths.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies