The global coronavirus pandemic has affected more than five million people, with over 334,000 deaths. Here are coronavirus-related updates for May 22:

Passengers wearing protective face masks are seen at Heathrow Airport, amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak in London, Britain, May 22, 2020.
Passengers wearing protective face masks are seen at Heathrow Airport, amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak in London, Britain, May 22, 2020. (Reuters)

Friday, May 22, 2020

UK to impose 14-day quarantine for international arrivals

Britain will introduce a 14-day quarantine for almost all international travellers from June 8, Interior Minister Priti Patel said, with anyone breaking the rules facing a $1,218 fine.

The government said there would be some exemptions, including road haulage and freight workers, medical professionals travelling to help with the fight against the coronavirus and those coming from Ireland.

The virus has now killed 36,393 people in the UK, which has the second-highest virus death toll in the world along with 254,195 infections

Turkey records under 1,000 new cases 

New cases of virus stood under 1,000 despite the high number of tests, Turkey's health minister announced.

Turkey confirmed 952 new cases, bringing the total to 154,500, according to Health Ministry data shared by Fahrettin Koca.

Recoveries from the disease hit 116,111 as 1,121 more patients were discharged from hospitals over the past day, Koca said.

The death toll from the outbreak rose to 4,276 as the country reported 27 new fatalities in the last 24 hours, according to the ministry data.

Trump calls on churches to reopen this weekend

US President Donald Trump said he has deemed churches and other houses of worship “essential" and called on governors to allow them to reopen this weekend despite the threat of the virus.

“Today I’m identifying houses of worship — churches, synagogues and mosques — as essential places that provide essential services," Trump said during a hastily arranged press conference. 

He said if governors don't abide by his request, he will “override" them, though it's unclear what authority he has to do so.

Italy reports 130 new deaths 

Italy reported 130 more fatalities from the virus, as the country prepares to further relax lockdown restrictions in early June.

The death toll in the country surged to 32,616, according to data released by the Italian Civil Protection Department.

The department confirmed the peak of the outbreak was left behind. The tally of active infections fell again, by 1,638, pl acing the total at 59,322.

Meanwhile, recoveries continued to rise, reaching 136,720, as more patients left intensive care, easing pressure on Italy's overwhelmed health care system.

Spain’s daily death toll remains well under 100

Spain’s daily death toll remained well under 100 fatalities for a sixth consecutive day, when the health ministry reported 56 deaths. That took the tally from the start of the pandemic to 28,628 deaths.

The ministry also said 13 of its 19 regional governments did not need to admit any Covid-19 patients to critical care units in the previous 24 hours.

At the height of the out break in late March and early April, Spain’s critical care units were overrun with virus cases in hot spots and deaths spiked above 900 a day.

Spain partly lifts lockdown in Madrid

Spanish authorities will lift part of the lockdown restrictions over Covid-19 pandemic in Madrid on Monday after the pace of the coronavirus contagion in the region slowed down, the Madrid regional health department said.

The restrictions in Madrid are now the same as in most of the country that started phasing out the lockdown in early May.

Bars and restaurants in the capital will be allowed to reopen terraces and groups of up to 10 people will be allowed to meet too.

Indonesia apologises to citizens for virus

Indonesian Vice President Ma’ruf Amin apologised to all Indonesians as the threat of virus in the country is not over yet.

As of Friday, the government announced there are 634 new cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 20,796. About 1,300 deaths and more than 5,000 recoveries have been recorded.

“We, the government, apologises as the danger of coronavirus is not over yet. It is not easy to eliminate it. Besides being a difficult virus to fight, Indonesia has a high population number, compared to other ASEAN countries, and a wide region from Sabang to Merauke."

Malaysia's prime minister tests negative

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had a virus scare after an official at Wednesday’s post-cabinet meeting that he chaired was diagnosed with the virus.

The prime minister’s office said Muhyiddin, a cancer survivor, underwent a virus test Friday morning and was negative. But it said in a statement that Muhyiddin will observe a 14-day quarantine.

It said all other officials at the meeting have also been ordered to test for the virus and to quarantine themselves. 

The statement said strict health measures and social distancing were practiced in all meetings at the prime minister’s office.

Portugal says tourists are welcome

Portugal’s foreign minister said tourists are welcome in his country and no quarantine will be imposed on people arriving by plane.

Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva said that “minimal health controls,” which he did not specify, will be enacted at airports.  

Santos Silva said in an interview with Observador radio station that Portugal’s public health system has coped well with the new coronavirus outbreak, though doctors and nurses have complained of shortcomings.

Also, Portugal has issued rules so that beaches, hotels, restaurants and national monuments can reopen, Santos Silva noted.

Pakistan's cases surge past 50,000

Virus cases in Pakistan surged past 50,000, as the country began easing lockdown across the country ahead of Eid al Fitr.

The south Asian country's total number of infections now stands at 50,694 and the total fatalities at 1,067, according to a tracker.

Singapore's infections cross 30,000

Virus cases in Singapore topped 30,000 as the city-state continues to report hundreds of new infections in cramped migrant worker dormitories each day.

The lowly-paid workers represented the vast majority of the 612 new cases reported on Friday, a daily infection rate that is one of the highest in Asia, taking Singapore's total cases to 30,426.

Russia reports record rise in new deaths

Russia reported 150 new fatalities from the virus in the past 24 hours, a record daily rise, taking the country's official nationwide death toll from the virus to 3,249.

The country's virus crisis response centre reported 8,894 new cases, bringing the total number of infections to 326,448.

India reports biggest 24-hour rise in virus cases

India registered some 6,000 new cases, the country's biggest jump in 24 hours, as New Delhi eases a nationwide lockdown and airlines prepare to resume some domestic flights.

The country of 1.3 billion people reported a total of over 118,000 confirmed cases, a roughly five percent increase from Thursday's figures. Included in the total are 3,583 deaths.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extended a lockdown, begun on March 25, to May 31, but relaxed rules in areas with lower numbers of cases and allowed state governments to issue their own guidelines on some matters.

Poland to extend ban on international flights until June 6

Poland plans to extend a ban on international flights by two weeks until June 6 due to the pandemic, state-run news agency PAP said, citing infrastructure ministry documents.

A ban on domestic flights will be extended by eight days until May 31, PAP also said.

Poland's state-owned airline PLL LOT said earlier in May that it would not resume flights before the end of May. 

As of Thursday, Poland has reported 19,983 coronavirus cases, including 965 deaths.

UK's study aims to vaccinate more than 10,000

British researchers testing an experimental vaccine against the virus are moving into advanced studies and aim to immunise more than 10,000 people to determine if the shot works.

Last month, scientists at Oxford University began immunising more than 1,000 volunteers with their vaccine candidate in a preliminary trial designed to test the shot’s safety. 

The scientists announced they now aim to vaccinate 10,260 people across Britain, including older people and children.

Thailand reports no new cases, no new deaths

Thailand reports no new infections or deaths, maintaining the total of 3,037 cases and 56 fatalities since the outbreak started

There are 2,910 patients who have recovered and returned home since the outbreak started, the government's coronavirus task force said in an update.

China has made 'major strategic achievements' against virus

China has made "major strategic achievements" in its response to the outbreak, Premier Li Keqiang said at the opening of the National People's Congress.

"At present, the epidemic has not yet come to an end, while the tasks we face in promoting development are immense," he told thousands of delegates in Beijing.

At least 59 test positive at centres for migrants in Panama

At least 59 migrants in Panamanian migration centres have tested positive for the virus, a health official said, as thousands of migrants in the Central American nation wait to advance on their journey north.

More than 2,500 migrants became stranded in Panama in March when the border with neighbouring Costa Rica was closed in an attempt to contain the rapidly spreading coronavirus, according to figures from Panamanian migration authorities.

Nearly 2,000 of those migrants are being held in migration centres in the Darien province, located on the edge of a remote swath of jungle that separates Panama and Colombia, according to migration officials.

Mexico posts record 2,973 cases in single day

Mexican health authorities on Thursday reported 2,973 more virus cases, a daily record for new infections, bringing the country's total tally to 59,567 cases.

Mexico also registered another 420 deaths, just slightly lower than its record one-day death toll the prior day. A total of 6,510 coronavirus deaths have been reported in Mexico since the start of the pandemic.

Brazil suffers record 1,188 daily deaths

Brazil registered a record of 1,188 daily virus deaths on Thursday, with more than 20,000 total fatalities from the outbreak, the health ministry said.

Brazil now has 310,087 confirmed cases, the ministry said, just a few thousand fewer than world number two hotspot, Russia, which trails the United States.

Cameroon president breaks media silence 

Cameroon's 87-year-old President Paul Biya has made a televised address to his people, ending more than two months of silence as the central African nation deals with a burgeoning virus crisis.

Biya's long silence was for supporters a sign of gravitas, but for critics, one of failure.

"Like most countries in the world Cameroon is suffering from Covid-19," Biya said Tuesday night on state channel CRTV.

"The number of people infected rises day after day, bringing proof that the fight against the pandemic is complex and difficult."

Biya urged people to respect "measures taken by the government, such as the obligatory wearing of masks".

US flags will lower to half-staff to honour virus victims

President Donald Trump tweeted he would order US flags lowered to half-staff for three days in honour of Americans who have died from the virus.

"I will be lowering the flags on all Federal Buildings and National Monuments to half-staff over the next three days in memory of the Americans we have lost to the coronavirus," Trump said.

"On Monday, the flags will be at half-staff in honour of the men and women in our military who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation," he added.

Monday marks the US Memorial Day holiday, observed in remembrance of those who have died in service.

IMF reaches staff agreement for $5B Ukraine financing

The International Monetary Fund said it has reached a staff-level agreement with Ukraine for a new $5 billion, 18-month Stand-By Arrangement to help the Eastern European country address the economic shock caused by the virus pandemic.

The agreement, subject to approval by the IMF's executive board, aims to provide balance of payments and budget support and "will ensure that Ukraine is well poised to return to growth and resume broader reform efforts when the crisis ends," IMF Ukraine mission chief Ivanna Vladkova Hollar said in a statement. 

Coronavirus detected in Haiti's largest prison

Nearly a dozen detainees in Haiti's largest prison have tested positive for the virus, an administrator told AFP Thursday, as fears mounted that the disease could spread like wildfire through the country's dirty and overcrowded correctional system.

Last week, approximately 50 prisoners in the Port-au-Prince penitentiary reported having a fever, prompting health officials to test 12 inmates as a sample.

Results indicated that 11 were positive for Covid-19.

"I can confirm that Covid-19 entered the prison," said Charles Nazaire Noel, director of the national prison system.

Virus data used in decision to reopen Georgia flawed

Data on Covid-19 infections that was a key driver in Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s aggressive push to reopen the state was flawed and may have distorted perceptions of progress against the virus.

Georgia Department of Public Health spokeswoman Nancy Nydam said in an emailed statement on Thursday that the department included antibody tests when calculating the total number of tests conducted “since early April," using the same methodology as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

She said about 57,000 of the 407,000 total tests reported to the state have been antibody tests.

The inclusion of antibody tests in state testing data was first reported by the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.

Antibody tests look for the presence of a protein that the body makes in reaction to the virus, while other, more common tests, called viral tests, look for the virus itself.

Latin America passes US, Europe in daily cases

Latin America has surpassed the US and Europe in the number of new daily virus infections, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO noted Wednesday that 106,000 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours, the highest daily figure since the outbreak began, with many of them in Latin American countries.

US military will no longer ban Covid-19 survivors from serving

The Pentagon on Thursday announced that the US military would no longer bar people who had been hospitalised with virus from serving in its ranks.

Defence department personnel head Matthew Donovan said he had "rescinded" rules on the matter, which the military had put in place in early May out of concern over long-term respiratory damage from the disease.

"There was some interim and draft guidance ... that I rescinded," Donovan told reporters during a press conference.

However, if a new recruit has not yet fully recovered from Covid-19 or is still suffering from ongoing side effects, he or she may not be able to join the armed forces immediately.

Each branch of the military is able to issue waivers concerning the matter. 

The US military has suffered a total of 5,888 cases as of Thursday, 129 of which had to be hospitalised and two of which have died. 

South Africa reports 30 more deaths

South Africa has recorded 30 new virus-related deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities in the country to 369, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced Thursday.

“We wish to express our condolences to the loved ones of the deceased and thank the healthcare workers who treated these patients,” Mkhize said in a statement.

Mkhize said 1,134 more infections were also confirmed, bringing the total number of cases in South Africa to 19,137.

Covid-19 claims 124 more lives in Peru

Peru reported 124 new deaths from the virus in the past 24 hours, the country’s health ministry said Thursday.

The ministry said the death toll climbed to 3,148, while the number of confirmed cases rose to 108,769, with 4,749 new additions.

Nearly 42,000 people have fully recovered from the disease.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies