Novel coronavirus has infected more than 6.4 million people around the world. Here are pandemic-related updates for June 2:

Artists perform with red balloons at a protest in honour of people who died from coronavirus disease during its outbreak in Brasilia, Brazil on June 1, 2020.
Artists perform with red balloons at a protest in honour of people who died from coronavirus disease during its outbreak in Brasilia, Brazil on June 1, 2020. (Reuters)

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Covid-19 epidemiological curve rising sharply in Americas

The World Health Organization's regional director for the Americas Carissa Etienne said on Tuesday that the Covid-19 epidemiological curve is still rising sharply in the region, with close to three million confirmed cases.

She said the Pan American Health Organization hopes to continue working well with the United States despite the US withdrawal from the WHO.

Speaking in a virtual briefing from Washington, Pan American Health Organization directors advised countries not to open their economies too fast and should avoid public crowds especially where coronavirus cases are still increasing.

French daily toll beyond the 100 mark

France's coronavirus death toll rose by more than a 100 for the first time in 13 days onTuesday, as the country enacts a new easing of lockdown measures.

The French health ministry said that the number of fatalities had risen by 107, or 0.4 percent, to 28,940, the fifth-highest tally in the world.

Turkey's daily death toll shrinks to 22

Nearly 130,000 patients have so far recovered in Turkey from the novel coronavirus, the country's health minister said on Tuesday.

Some 786 new cases were reported in the country, bringing the total to 165,555, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter.

The total number of recoveries from the disease hit 129,921 as 974 more patients were discharged from hospitals over the past day, Koca added.

The death toll from the outbreak rose to 4,585 as the country reported 22 new fatalities over the last 24 hours.

Meanwhile, Turkish Airlines said on Tuesday it will start direct flights from 16 cities in six European countries to 14 cities in Turkey as of June 18, including new routes it had not flown to before.

Italy sees new 55 deaths

Deaths from the Covid-19 epidemic in Italy climbed by 55 on Tuesday, against 60 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the daily tally of new cases rose to 318 from 178 on Monday.

The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on Feb. 21 now stands at 33,530, the agency said, the third highest in the world after those of the United States and Britain.

The number of confirmed cases amounts to 233,515, the sixth highest global tally behind those of the United States, Russia, Brazil, Spain and Britain.

Of the 318 new infections registered on Tuesday, 187 were in the northern region of Lombardy, by far the worst affected since the start of Italy's outbreak.

Spain reports no new deaths

Spain reported no new deaths from the coronavirus for the second day running on Tuesday, with cumulative deaths unchanged from Sunday's total of 27,127, according to the health ministry.

Diagnosed cases of the disease rose by 137 from Monday to 239,932, the ministry said. 

First Rohingya refugee dies from Covid-19 in Bangladesh

A 71-year-old man has become the first Rohingya living in vast refugee camps in Bangladesh to die from the coronavirus, an official said Tuesday.

Health experts have long warned that the deadly virus could race through the vast network of settlements housing almost a million refugees in the country's southeast.

"He died on May 31. But last night we got the confirmation that he died of Covid-19," said Toha Bhuiyan, a senior health official in the Cox's Bazar district.

The fatality was in Kutupalong, the largest of the camps, which is home to roughly 600,000 people.

The man was among at least 29 Rohingya to have tested positive for the virus in the camps.

Bhuiyan said the victim died in an isolation centre run by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders and was buried in the camp the same day.

More than 740,000 Rohingya fled a brutal 2017 military crackdown in Myanmar to Cox's Bazar, where around 200,000 refugees were already living.

Indonesia cancels hajj pilgrimage 

Indonesia has cancelled the Hajj pilgrimage this year for people in the world's largest Muslim-majority nation due to concerns over the coronavirus, said the religious affairs minister.

Each year hundreds of thousands of Indonesians go on the Haj to Saudi Arabia, where Islam's two holiest sites –– Mecca and Medina –– are located. 

For many Indonesians, the religious pilgrimage is a once-in-a lifetime event, with the average wait time 20 years due to a quota system, according to the country's cabinet secretariat.

Saudi authorities have already said the Haj and Umrah pilgrimages –– which attract millions of travellers from around the world –– will remain suspended until further notice.

UK records almost 62,000 excess deaths

Some 62,000 more people than usual have died in the United Kingdom during this year's coronavirus pandemic according to the latest available data, an expert from the Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday.

Epidemiologists say excess mortality – deaths from all causes that exceed the five-year average for the time of year – is the best way of gauging the number to have died from a disease outbreak because it is internationally comparable.

Indonesia reports 609 new cases, 22 deaths

Indonesia reported 609 new coronavirus cases, taking the total number in the Southeast Asian country to 27,549, said health ministry official Achmad Yurianto.

Yurianto announced 22 new deaths related to Covid-19, bringing the total to 1,663, while 7,935 have recovered. 

Hong Kong to extend restrictions on foreign visitors

Hong Kong will extend restrictions on foreign visitors by another three months and an eight-person limit on group gatherings by two weeks, HealthSecretary Sophia Chan said.

Both measures were due to expire later in June.

Travellers to Hong Kong need to undergo a mandatory 14 day quarantine period.

Germany's cases rise by 213 to 182,028

The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Germany increased by 213 to 182,028, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 11 to 8,522, the tally showed.

Paris cafes, restaurants partially reopen post-lockdown

Parisians who have been cooped up for months with takeout food and coffee will be able to savour their steaks tartare in the fresh air and cobbled streets of the City of Light once more – albeit in smaller numbers.

The city famed for its vibrant cafe society and coffee culture will get some of its pre-lockdown life back as cafes and restaurants partially reopen.

The Paris City Hall authorised the opening of outside seating areas, but indoors will remain closed to customers until at least June 22.

Dampening the mood of new freedom, social distancing of one metre between tables will be obligatory and drastically reduce the numbers.

Back to school in masks as Singapore eases curbs

Pupils wearing face masks returned to school in Singapore on Tuesday and some workplaces re-opened as coronavirus restrictions were eased in the hard-hit city-state.

The country has recorded over 35,000 cases ––  the highest official tally in Southeast Asia –– with the vast majority among workers from the dorms. The death toll stands at 24.

Authorities imposed a partial lockdown in early April, with schools and most workplaces told to close, and people only allowed to leave home for essential purposes.

The government began easing measures Tuesday, with certain age groups allowed back to school and some workplaces re-opening.

Japan allows saliva-based tests to boost virus detection

Japan's government said it has approved saliva-based tests for the new coronavirus, offering a safer, simpler way to diagnose infection as well as boosting the number of tests being carried out using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology.

Currently, nasal swabs are the main source for PCR tests in Japan.

Coughs and sneezes at the time of collecting samples can expose medical workers to the risk of potential infection, making it necessary for them to wear full protective gear when taking samples.

The saliva-based PCR tests can be given to those who have had symptoms for up to nine days, Japan's health ministry said. 

It wasn't immediately clear how much the change would boost overall testing capacity.

As of May 20, Japan conducted 3.4 tests per 1,000 people, far below Italy's 52.5 and 39 in the United States, according to Oxford University data. South Korea has carried out tests on 15 people per 1,000 people.

Japan has nearly 17,000 infections and 898 deaths so far, according to NHK public broadcaster.

Mexico's coronavirus death toll crosses 10,000

Mexico's death toll surpassed 10,000 after the health ministry reported an additional 237 deaths in the country.

Total deaths reached 10,167, while an additional 2,771 cases brought total known infections to 93,435, although health officials have said the real number is higher.

Brazil registers over 11,000 cases in 24 hours

Brazil registered 11,598 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 623 additional deaths in the last 24 hours, the nation's Health Ministry said on Monday evening.

Brazil now has registered 526,447 confirmed cases and 29,937 deaths attributed to the virus.

Michigan lifts nearly 10-week coronavirus stay-at-home order

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has lifted Michigan’s nearly 10-week stay-at-home order, letting restaurants reopen to dine-in customers next week and immediately easing limits on outdoor gatherings while keeping social-distancing rules intact.

The governor on Monday moved regions comprising 93 percent of the state’s population to phase 4, “improving” two weeks after she announced that northern Michigan could advance to that stage. 

Businesses where close contact is necessary, such as gyms, hair salons, theatres and amusement parks, will remain closed under a new order.

Retailers can reopen to customers without an appointment on Thursday and restaurants can offer dine-in service on June 8, with capacity limits. 

Children’s day camps, pools, libraries and museums can also reopen June 8. Groups of up to 100 can gather outside if they stay 6 feet apart, up from a threshold of 10 people. In-home services such as housecleaning can resume.

People must continue to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces.

Oklahoma to stop releasing nursing home infections info

Officials in Oklahoma say they will no longer release specific information about infections and deaths in nursing homes, cities or by zip code.

Oklahoma State Department of Health Agency spokeswoman Donelle Harder said attorneys at the department and in the governor’s office agreed state law prohibits the release of such detailed information but that they did so under the powers granted to the governor under the Catastrophic Health Emergency Powers Act. Those powers were not renewed by the legislature and expired on Monday.

A recent analysis of the state’s 334 deaths shows nearly half have been residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities .

The head of the Oklahoma Press Association, a trade group that represents newspapers across the state, immediately denounced the agency’s decision.

“It boggles the mind to understand why OSDH would take a highly informative report and render it useless to local citizens throughout Oklahoma,” said OPA’s Executive Vice President Mark Thomas. 

“Knowing Covid-19 by zip code and city allows citizens to be fully informed during this time of high anxiety.”

Louisiana to allow bars, spas to reopen this coming weekend

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has announced that he’s allowing bars and spas that have been shuttered because of the outbreak to reopen this coming weekend, as he further eases restrictions on businesses in a state once one of the nation’s hot spots in the pandemic.

Edwards said Monday the state is “headed in the right direction,” but he cautioned its residents to remember that “there still is a lot of Covid out there.”

The latest loosening of the rules will start Friday, under the plans announced by the Democratic governor, and they will be in effect until June 26. They won’t take effect in New Orleans, however, where city officials say they want more time to gather data.

In the rest of Louisiana, bars, massage facilities, bowling alleys, recreational pools and tattoo shops will be able to restart operations, with heavy restrictions on how they interact with customers. 

Churches, restaurants, hair salons and other businesses that have reopened at 25 percent capacity since mid-May can move to 50 percent of their occupancy rate. Bars without a food permit will be restricted to 25 percent capacity, with patrons required to be seated.

The requirements outlined Monday are based on what are known as “Phase 2” reopening guidance issued by the White House.

Two of world’s largest casinos partially reopen 

Electronic signs are warning travellers to two of the world’s largest casinos about Covid-19 on the first day they partially reopen to the general public over the governor’s objections.

Four portable signs installed by the state Department of Transportation near Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun flashed: “Avoid Large Crowds, Don’t Gamble With COVID” as cars, many with Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York license plates, passed by.

Democratic Governor Ned Lamont had asked the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, owners of the Foxwoods Resort Casino, and the Mohegan Tribe, owners of Mohegan Sun, to delay their reopenings, to no avail.

Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot tribe, conceded the signs were “kind of catchy” and credited Lamont with not taking stronger action.

Nicaragua medical associations call for 3-4 week quarantine

 Nearly three dozen medical associations in Nicaragua have called on people to observe a “national quarantine” of at least three or four weeks in an attempt to slow the pandemic, a step the government has not taken.

“The exponential increase of Covid-19 cases has caused the collapse of the public and private health systems,” the groups said in an open letter Monday.

They said hospitals were full, there weren’t enough beds, medicines were lacking and essentials like oxygen were in short supply.

The government of President Daniel Ortega has not enacted the social distancing measures of its neighbours despite growing evidence of the virus’ spread. Schools remain open and the government has continued to organise mass gatherings even as Nicaraguans report that some people are being rushed from hospitals to immediate burial by workers wearing protective suits.

The medical associations called for the voluntary closure of nonessential businesses, urged people to remain in their homes, limit grocery shopping to once a week, maintain a safe distance from others and wear masks.

Czech opens travel to 29 EU countries from June 15

The Czech government says that as of June 15 Czechs will be allowed to travel to 29 European countries.

The citizens of 19 countries that are considered safe will be able to travel to the Czech Republic without any restrictions. Those countries are: Austria, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Ten other countries –– Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Portugal, Spain, Andorra and Italy –– are considered more risky due to their current outbreak situation and their citizens can cross the Czech border only if they present a negative test or will otherwise have to be quarantined.

Malta to open to tourists on July 1

The Mediterranean island of Malta will open on July 1 to tourists from 16 European countries, Israel and two Italian islands, Sicily and Sardinia, but not from all of Italy, where the outbreak began in Europe.

Malta announced that Maltese citizens can visit those same places and return home without being required to quarantine.

With rich history, lively nightlife and sea resorts, Malta is a tourist mecca, mostly attracting arrivals from Britain, Italy, Germany and France. But only Germany is on the list of countries whose tourists will be able to visit Malta starting next month.

The tiny nation has registered 619 cases of coronavirus infection and nine deaths.

Americas witnessing most intense transmission globally

The emergencies chief of the World Health Organization said Central and South America are currently witnessing the most intense transmission of the coronavirus worldwide, but it’s difficult to predict when the epidemic might peak there.

In the last 24 hours, Dr Michael Ryan said five of the 10 countries reporting the highest number of cases are in the Americas: the US, Brazil, Peru, Chile and Mexico. He said that while the growth was not exponential in all those countries, officials were seeing a progressive increase in cases and that hospitals were starting to strain under the pressure.

“We’re particularly concerned about places like Haiti because of the inherent weaknesses in the system,” Ryan said at a press briefing on Monday.

“I think we now absolutely need to focus on supporting particularly Central and South America,” he said. He added that while officials previously had very serious concerns about Covid-19’s impact in South Asia and Africa, outbreaks in those regions, although difficult, were now stable.

“I don’t believe we’ve reached the peak” in the Americas, Ryan said, noting that several factors in the region, including the number of urban poor and fragile health systems, made out breaks in those countries particularly dangerous.

Pakistan relaxes more restrictions

Pakistan’s prime minister says he is relaxing more restrictions implemented in March, including a ban on tourism, as authorities reported 60 more deaths.

Imran Khan said Monday Pakistanis must learn how to live with the virus, as lockdown is not a treatment for the disease.

His blunt televised remarks drew criticism on social media when he said the virus would continue to spread, causing more deaths if people did not observe social distancing rules.

Pakistan has registered 1,543 fatalities amid 72,460 cases.

The country has witnessed an increase in coronavirus-related deaths since it eased lockdown ahead of the holiday of Eid al Fitr that marks the end of Ramadan.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies