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A nurse puts on his Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) before starting to work in the Intensive care unit for patients infected by the novel coronavirus at the Policlinico di Tor Vergata hospital, in Rome on April 8.

Coronavirus cases approach 6 million – Global Virus Update

A nurse puts on his Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) before starting to work in the Intensive care unit for patients infected by the novel coronavirus at the Policlinico di Tor Vergata hospital, in Rome on April 8.

Key Developments:

India to Ease Lockdown in Stages

India announced a phased lifting of the nationwide lockdown by allowing malls, restaurants and places of worship to open from June 8, the interior ministry said in a statement.

The country, which had enforced sweeping and strict stay-at-home orders from March 25, will limit the stringent rules to areas that have a large number of active cases. Authorities will decide to open schools and colleges in July, while international air travel will resume in the final phase. The exit plan comes even as India has been unable to flatten its curve despite the restrictions which have left its already troubled economy in deep disrepair.

Merkel May Skip G-7

German Chancellor Angela Merkel indicated she may not travel to the US in June to attend a physical meeting of the Group of Seven leaders, an event that President Donald Trump heralded as a great sign of “normalization.”

“Given the current state of events, in view of the overall pandemic situation, she’s unable to confirm her personal participation,” a government spokesperson said in an emailed statement on Saturday. “She will continue to monitor further developments of the pandemic.”

EU Urges US to Reconsider WHO Decision

The European Union called on the U.S. to reconsider its decision to terminate its relationship with the World Health Organization, which President Donald Trump has accused of being too deferential to China.

“Global cooperation and solidarity through multilateral efforts are the only effective and viable avenues to win this battle the world is facing,” according to a joint statement Saturday from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the bloc’s chief foreign envoy, Josep Borrell. “We urge the U.S. to reconsider its announced decision.”

Portugal’s Virus Cases Slow

Portugal reported 257 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, taking the total to 32,203, after recording more than 300 infections in each of the two previous days, the government said. The increase in new cases has been mostly in the greater Lisbon area and led the government on Friday to delay the planned reopening of malls in that region. The number of cases in intensive care units fell to 63 on Saturday, remaining at the lowest level since March.

Iran Reports Fewer New Cases

Iran’s infection tally rose to 148,950 as the daily number of new cases dropped to 2,282 from 2,819 on Friday, the highest daily number of cases in eight weeks. The virus death toll reached 7,734 with 57 more deaths overnight.

Indonesia Gears Up for Post-Holiday Return

Indonesia’s capital Jakarta is anticipating one million vehicles will enter the city as people return from Eid al-Fitr holidays. Traffic, including motorcycles, is projected to peak from Saturday to Monday, according to a Cabinet Secretariat statement. While the figure is lower compared to the 2.8 million vehicles recorded last year, the flow of so many travellers is raising concern as the nation’s coronavirus cases grow.

Indonesia now has the highest coronavirus death toll in Southeast Asia, with 1,573 people succumbing to the disease as of Saturday. New cases have more than doubled in May, with the total reaching 25,773.

Singapore Reports 506 New Cases

Singapore reported 506 new infections as of Saturday, according to a statement from its Health Ministry. A vast majority of the additional infections are of work permit-holders who live in foreign workers’ dormitories, according to the statement. The ministry is expected to provide additional details in the evening, it added.

Iran Lifts Restriction on Shopping Hours

Iran has lifted a restriction on the operating hours of shopping malls in the latest step of reopening the economy. Meanwhile, all mosques in the country will be open to worshipers for daily prayers three times a day, President Hassan Rouhani said in a national coronavirus taskforce briefing broadcast on state TV.

South Korea Has Outbreak at Distribution Center

South Korea reported 39 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours as health officials seek to control a new outbreak at a distribution center for Softbank-backed Coupang Corp., an e-commerce company.

A total of 108 infections are related to the center, the vice head of the Korea CDC said in a briefing. That tally includes 73 employees and 35 people who might have come into contact with the employees. A separate outbreak related to nightclubs in Itaewon, Seoul have increased to 269 infections as of Saturday, Kwon said.

Singapore, China to Allow Essential Travel Starting

Singapore and China have agreed to allow essential travel for business and official purposes between the two countries in early June, according to a joint emailed statement.

The Fast Lane arrangement will be first applied between Singapore and six Chinese provinces or municipalities directly under the central government, and will gradually expand to include additional areas. Covid-19 prevention and control measures will remain in place.

The agreement comes as countries cautiously seek to begin so-called “travel bubbles” after the pandemic shut down borders. China, where the coronavirus first emerged, appears to have brought its cases under control, while Singapore is moving toward opening its economy after wrestling to contain an outbreak among thousands of foreign workers.

United Airlines Will Add Back International Flights in July

United Airlines Holdings Inc. will add back some international flying in July, saying demand has “risen modestly” in some markets after the Covid-19 pandemic all but wiped out travel.

Flights will resume or increase on 40 international routes in July, United said in a statement Friday. The Chicago-based airline will serve only 27 foreign routes in June. United has said its overall schedule will be down about 75% from a year earlier in July, compared with a 90% reduction currently.

Brazil Deaths Go Past Spain

Brazil eclipsed Spain and now ranks fifth worldwide in coronavirus deaths with no sign the pandemic is slowing in Latin America’s largest economy. The country reported 1,124 new deaths Friday, pushing the total to 27,878, past Spain with 27,121. Brazil registered 465,166 cases, trailing only the U.S.

Infections are reported in 70% of Brazilian cities, the Health Ministry said on Friday. Earlier this week, the ministry said the curve of cases was still growing, and a report by UBS published Wednesday said that six of Brazil’s 27 states are peaking, while total deaths are increasing in 21 states.