The global coronavirus pandemic has affected over five million people, with around 327,000 deaths. Here are more coronavirus-related updates for May 20:

Elderly people wearing protective face masks, stroll along the seaside near the Buyuk Mecidiye mosque, also known as ortakoy mosque on May 10, 2020, at Ortakoy in Istanbul.
Elderly people wearing protective face masks, stroll along the seaside near the Buyuk Mecidiye mosque, also known as ortakoy mosque on May 10, 2020, at Ortakoy in Istanbul. (AFP)

May 20, 2020

Turkey's daily coronavirus cases drops below 1,000

Turkey's daily Covid-19 cases dropped below 1,000 for the first time since March 25 according to an announcement by the country's health minister.

The country registered 972 new cases, bringing the total to 152,587, while the number of active cases dropped to 34,378, Fahrettin Koca said.

A total of 113,987 people had recovered from the virus as 1,092 more patients were discharged from hospitals over the past day.

The death toll from the outbreak is at 4,222 after the country reported 23 new fatalities over 24 hours.

France's virus deaths on the rise again, at 28,132

French health authorities reported 110 new virus deaths, an increase of 0.4%, bringing the total to 28,132, still the fourth-highest in the world behind the US, Britain and Italy.

On Tuesday, the death toll had gone down due to adjustments reported by regional health centers in nursing homes.

The number of confirmed cases increased by 418 to 181,227, an increase of 0.3%, in line with the average rise per day seen since the end of a lockdown on May 11. 

On Tuesday, the number of cases rose by 524. 

UK death toll rises to 35,704

The death toll in the United Kingdom from confirmed cases rose to 35,704, an increase of 363 on the day, culture minister Oliver Dowden said at a daily briefing.

He said Britain was looking at how competitive sports can resume behind closed doors in the near future, under a new task force examining how the recreational and leisure sector can restart.

Dowden said the task force would "help us think through how we can get sport back safely in a way that works for both clubs, players and supporters alike."

Spain reports less than 100 Covid-19 deaths for fourth day 

Spain reported 95 more deaths and 416 new infections. 

This is the fourth day in a row that the daily death count has been under the 100 mark. 

In total, the health ministry has confirmed that 27,888 people have lost their lives to the infectious disease in the country so far. 

The number of new infections jumped up from 295 to 416. The highest numbers of new cases were seen in Madrid, Catalonia and Castile-La Mancha. 

Madrid and Barcelona both remain under Spain''s strictest lockdown. 

Italy reports 161 new deaths

Italy reported 161 more fatalities from the virus, bringing the death toll to 32,330, as the government survived a key political test.

Data released by the country's Civil Protection Department confirmed the peak of the outbreak was left behind. 

The tally of active infections fell again by 2,377, placing the total at 62,752.

Meanwhile, recoveries continued to climb, reaching 132,282, as more patients left intensive care, easing pressure on Italy's overwhelmed health care system.

WHO reports most cases in single day

There were 106,000 new cases of virus infection recorded worldwide in the last 24 hours,  the most in a single day yet, the World Health Organization said, expressing concern for poor countries even as rich ones emerge from lockdown.

"We still have a long way to go in this pandemic," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference. 

"We are very concerned about rising cases in low and middle income countries."

Greece hotels to open in June, flights in July

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

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

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

66 inmates test positive in Ethiopian prison

Ethiopian health officials said 66 inmates of a prison in the capital, Addis Ababa, tested positive for the virus.

They say contact made between one inmate and his lawyer led to the mass infection. 

The country has just 389 cases, but health officials say the past two weeks has presented more cases than the previous months combined.

Officials say more people with no travel history are testing positive, indicating a rise in community spread.

Germany seeks EU support to roll back travel ban

Germany hopes to reach agreement with fellow European countries on rolling back travel restrictions in time for the summer holiday season.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said “we hope to be able to lift the worldwide travel warning at least for the European Union after June 14 and replace it with lower level travel advice.”

Maas said countries had gotten “a good bit closer” to that goal with Germany’s nine neighbors and an earlier round of negotiations with 11 other European countries this week.

Netherlands extends support package for business

The Dutch government has extended and expanded a multibillion-dollar support package for businesses hit by the crisis.

The measures include loans, tax relief and help paying salaries. It's worth more than $14 billion.

The government says the aim is to protect as many jobs as possible for Netherlands businesses reeling from the economic fallout of the global pandemic. 

It follows a package announced in mid-March that’s been tapped by hundreds of thousands of businesses.

France says no infection rise after lockdown ends

French authorities said they have observed no signs of increase in the numbers of people infected with the virus 10 days after the country ended its lockdown.

French Health minister Olivier Veran saaid the number of patients arriving each day at hospitals is decreasing, along with people treated in intensive care units.

He cautioned “this doesn’t mean the virus isn’t there” as the country gradually lifts restrictions. 

Veran also promised that health workers in hospitals and nursing homes will see their salary increase as part of a new government plan for the public health system.

Cruise ship stranded for weeks docks in Croatia

Croatian authorities said a cruise ship with 756 crew members has docked in the country’s Adriatic Sea town of Dubrovnik after weeks of being stranded at sea because of the virus.

The Carnival Magic cruise ship will remain at Dubrovnik’s port of Gruz on Wednesday and Thursday when the crew members will gradually disembark and head to their home countries.

Authorities said they would check the temperature of each crew member coming out of the ship but don’t expect any infections.

The state Croatian television HRT said that five Croatian nationals are among the crew in addition to people from Ukraine, Romania, Slovakia and other countries in the region.

Japan to lift emergency in western prefectures

Japan plans to lift the state of emergency in the western prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto, and Hyogo from the list of eight remaining ones but keeping curbs in Tokyo area and the northern island of Hokkaido, public broadcaster NHK reported.

The government is expected to hold an advisory panel meeting and make a decision on Thursday, according to NHK.

Ukraine approves further easing of virus lockdown

Ukraine's government decided to ease nationwide lockdown measures to contain the virus pandemic from May 22, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said at a televised government meeting.

The government will allow hotels to reopen and public transport to resume operations in cities from May 22, while kindergartens will be allowed to reopen from May 25 after implementing some precautionary measures.

Earlier in May, Ukraine opened parks and recreation areas, and allowed some shops, such as those specialising in household goods or textiles, to open.

Pakistani legislator dies 

Pakistan’s first lawmaker who was tested positive for the virus has died at a hospital in the eastern city of Lahore.

According to doctors and her Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf ruling party, Shaheen Raza, 69, was hospitalised three days ago. Her condition deteriorated and she died at a government hospital.
Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan expressed his grief and sorry of the death of his party’s senior lawmaker.

Usman Buzdar, the chief minister in the Punjab province, confirmed her death from the virus. She was a lawmaker at the provincial Punjab Assembly.

Spain makes masks compulsory in public, even for children

Everyone in Spain aged six and above must wear a mask in public places where social distancing is not possible, officials said.

A government decree declared the new rule would be enforced from Thursday, without specifying penalties for failing to comply.

Commuters are already obliged to wear masks on public transport in Spain, one of the hardest-hit countries with almost 28,000 deaths from the pandemic.

But the death rate has slowed and the  strict lockdown measures are being gradually eased, although population centres including Madrid and Barcelona have not been allowed to relax their rules.

Iran death toll rises to 7,183

Iran confirmed 64 more fatalities from coronavirus during the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide death toll to 7,183.

A further 2,346 people tested positive for Covid-19, raising the overall count to 126,949, Iran's state broadcaster reported, citing a Health Ministry statement.

The statement added that 98,808 patients have recovered and been discharged from hospitals s o far, while 2,673 patients remain in critical condition.

Malaysia reports 31 new cases

Malaysia's health ministry reported 31 new coronavirus cases, taking the cumulative total to 7,009 infections.

No new deaths were recorded, leaving the total number of fatalities at 114.

Cambodia lifts entry ban from six countries

Cambodia has lifted a ban on entry of visitors from Iran, Italy, Germany, Spain, France and the United States that had been put in place to curb the spread of coronavirus, the health ministry said.

Despite the easing, foreign visitors would still need to have a certificate no more than 72 hours old confirming that they are not infected with the novel coronavirus and proof of $50,000 worth of health insurance while in Cambodia, the ministry said.

They also would be quarantined for 14 days after arrival at government designate place and tested for the coronavirus, a ministry statement said, but did not specify where.

Indonesia reports biggest daily rise in infections

Indonesia reported 693 new coronavirus infections, the Southeast Asian nation's biggest daily rise and taking the total number of cases to 19,189, according to the website of Indonesia’s Covid-19 task force.

The task force reported 21 additional deaths, taking the total to 1,242, while 4,575 people have recovered.

Russia's coronavirus cases pass 300,000

Russia's 8,764 new novel coronavirus infections took the nationwide total to 308,705. But the daily increase was the lowest since May 1.

The overall death toll edged up to 2,972, with 135 new fatalities reported in the past 24 hours, the country's coronavirus response centre said.

Dr. Melita Vujnovich, the WHO's Russia representative, said that she believed the situation had entered a stabilisation phase, the TASS news agency cited her as saying.

Virus could push millions of Africans into poverty - UN chief

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the coronavirus pandemic threatens Africa’s progress and could push millions into extreme poverty.

The UN chief said in a video message launching a policy report on “The Impact of Covid-19 in Africa” that countries on the continent have responded swiftly to the crisis, and as of now reported cases are lower than feared with more than 2,500 deaths.

The virus is present in all African countries with most recording fewer than 1,000 cases, the 28-page UN report said.

Thailand says it expects coronavirus vaccine next year after tests in mice

Thailand expects to have a vaccine for the novel coronavirus ready next year, a senior official said, after finding positive trial results in mice.

Thailand will begin testing the mRNA (messenger RNA) vaccine in monkeys next week after successful trials in mice, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, spokesman for the government's Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

"The Thai vaccine is expected to be used next year,” he said. The Thai vaccine is being developed by the National Vaccine Institute, the Department of Medical Science and Chulalongkorn University’s vaccine research centre.

More than 100 potential vaccines for COV ID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, are being developed, including several in clinical trials, but the World Health Organization in April had warned that a vaccine would take at least 12 months.

Dutch farm worker contracted coronavirus from mink - agriculture minister

A person who worked on a farm where mink are bred to export their fur contracted the coronavirus from the animals, the Dutch Agriculture Minister said in a letter to parliament.

Outbreaks on mink farms in the Netherlands were first reported in April, when keepers noticed some animals having difficulty breathing, prompting a wider investigation.

In her letter, Carola Schouten acknowledged that earlier advisories from her office that people could infect animals, but not the other way around, wer wrong. Her letter did not specify details of the affected worker's condition.

After pressure from animal rights activists, the Dutch government banned new mink farms in 2013 and said existing ones would have to close by 2024.

Thailand reports one new case, no new deaths

Thailand confirmed one new coronavirus case, bringing its total cases to 3,034.

There were no additional deaths reported. The new case, a Thai citizen travelling from Bahrain, was a detected during quarantine, said spokesman for the government's coronavirus task force, Taweesin Wisanuyothin.

There have been 56 deaths overall from coronavirus in Thailand and 2,888 patients have recovered.

Germany's confirmed cases rise to over 176,000 - RKI

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 797 to 176,007, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 83 to 8,090, the tally showed.

Polish schools may remain closed until the end of June

Polish schools will most probably remain closed until the end of June, when children start summer holidays, government spokesman Piotr Muller told public radio.

Schools have been closed since March, when Poland confirmed its first case of coronavirus. By May 25 they will start offering day care for the youngest children, although teaching will still be conducted online.

The current school year ends on June 26, followed by a two-month long holiday in July and August.

Brazil surpasses 1,000 coronavirus deaths in 24 hours

Brazil registered 1,179 coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said, as the pandemic exacted its worst daily toll yet in the hardest-hit Latin American country.

The overall death toll in Brazil now stands at 17,971, the ministry said.

This was the first time the daily toll exceeded 1,000.

New infections in the past 24 hours totaled 17,408, bringing the total to 271,628.

Colombia quarantine extended until end of May

Colombia's mandatory quarantine has been extended by a further  week until May 31, President Ivan Duque said on Tuesday, the fourth extension to a lockdown meant to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The Andean country has nearly 17,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and more than 600 deaths. It began quarantine in late March.

The country's health state of emergency, which had been set to end on May 31, will instead be extended until the end of August, Duque added.

Mexico coronavirus cases hit new daily record of 2,713

Mexico registered 2,713 new cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday, the health ministry said, its biggest daily increase yet in infections, bringing its overall tally to 54,346 cases.

Authorities also registered 334 more fatalities, only the second time that the daily death toll has exceeded 300. 

The country has now tallied 5,666 overall deaths from the virus.

US records more than 1,500  deaths in past 24 hours

The United States recorded another 1,536 coronavirus deaths over the past 24 hours, the Johns Hopkins University tracker said.

The US tops the global rankings both for the highest death toll and the highest number of infections, with more than 1.5 million cases.

Brazil to issue new chloroquine protocol 

Brazil's health ministry will issue new guidelines on Wednesday expanding the recommended use of chloroquine for treating the novel coronavirus, President Jair Bolsonaro said, days after the health minister quit under pressure to sign the new guidelines.

Interim Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello, an active duty army general, will sign the new protocol and stay in the top job for now, the president said in an online interview on Tuesday evening.

Bolsonaro said he kept a box of the anti-malarial drug incase his 93-year-old mother needed it, noting US President Donald Trump said he was taking it preventively.

Trump considering Brazil travel ban

US President Donald Trump said he is considering imposing a halt on all travel coming from Latin America and Brazil amid worsening coronavirus outbreaks in the region.  

"We are considering it," Trump said when asked by a reporter about possibly imposing the sweeping travel ban.

 "Brazil has gone more or less herd, and they're having problems."

US death toll predicted to cross 113,000 by mid-June

Coronavirus-related deaths among Americans are projected to surpass 113,000 by mid-June, a modeling average released on Tuesday showed, underlining the US status as the nation worst affected by the pandemic.

The United States has recorded more than 1.5 million confirmed COVID-19 infections and 91,600 fatalities as of Tuesday, but a projection compiled from nine models from separate institutions predicted roughly 22,000 more Americans would succumb to the disease over the next 25 days.

"The new forecast for cumulative US deaths by June 13 is about 113,000, with a 10 percent chance of seeing fewer than about 107,000 and a 10 percent chance of seeing more than 121,000," the Covid-19 Forecast Hub at the University of Massachusetts said on its website.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies