A doctor prepares his PPE inside Moscow City Clinical Hospital 52.

COVID-19 deaths approach 400,000 — Global virus update

A doctor prepares his PPE inside Moscow City Clinical Hospital 52.

Key Developments:

  • Virus Tracker: Cases pass 6.7 million; deaths exceed 395,000
  • US jobs returning from lockdowns, but an ugly summer looms
  • Wall Street doubts Fed’s $600 billion lending plan can succeed
  • It’s COVID code red in Latin America with no signs of peaking
  • Post-lockdown Mideast shows signs of virus trouble returning
  • US economy may return to normal in 2021, port chief says

London Protesters Ignore ‘Real Threat’

Thousands gathered in cool and drizzly central London to protest the killing of George Floyd despite government warnings not to attend demonstrations amid social distancing rules. The outbreak remains a “real threat,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Friday.

The UK reported another 204 deaths on Saturday, bringing the total to 40,465, and cases rose by 0.5% to 284,868.

No Link Between Opening, Cases: FDA Chief

The White House Coronavirus Task Force has yet to see a relationship between states reopening and increased cases of COVID-19, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn said. “I do worry about the protests and the lack of masks,” Hahn said on an HHS podcast, noting daily demonstrations in major cities.

Hahn said the federal government’s “Operation Warp Speed” to develop a vaccine can become a pathway to “expediting medical product development” for other diseases. “Let’s make this
a permanent change at the FDA, if we can, in fact, show that it works, and I’m confident that we can,” he said.

Once a vaccine is approved, The Trump administration is considering if people who are most vulnerable, like the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, should be “among the first to get the vaccine,” depending on its safety and effectiveness, Hahn said.

Chinese Drug Developer Gets FDA Approval for Covid Test

Genetron Holdings Ltd., a Chinese developer of cancer treatments, said it got emergency approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to sell a test for the novel coronavirus. Chinese authrities also licensed it for export.

Iran Eases Restrictions as New Cases Slow

The number of cases in Iran reached 169,425 as the country recorded 2,269 new infections overnight, slowing from a peak of 3,574 cases on Thursday. The total death toll rose to 8,209 with 75 more deaths in the past 24 hours.

Iran announced the easing of some coronavirus restrictions on Saturday despite being gripped by the second wave of infections. Movie theaters and concerts will be allowed at 50% capacity from June 21. Kindergartens, language centers and other educational institutes will be allowed to reopen and domestic tours to be held as of June 13.

Indonesia Infections Top 30,000 as Jakarta Plans Easing

Indonesia reported a record increase in new coronavirus cases, taking its total number of infections to more than 30,000. The country had its largest daily increase as diagnoses spiked by 993 on Saturday, the government’s COVID-19 task force spokesman, Achmad Yurianto, said at a briefing. The latest infections were driven by cases in East Java, and the death toll stands at 1,801.

The record number of new cases comes as the nation’s capital Jakarta is set to ease restrictions put in place, with authorities pushing to reopen Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.

Russia Cases Increase 2% to 458,659

Russia reported 8,855 cases over the last day, bringing the total number to 458,689, according to data from the government’s virus response center. The death toll increased by 197 to 5,725 people.

Iran President Pleads for Social Distancing

Iran President Hassan Rouhani pleaded with the public to observe social distancing measures more seriously after the country was hit by a record peak in the daily number of infections this week.

The government has “no choice but to keep the factories running and the stores open” in the face of sanctions, and people should “put aside any false hope” of the weakening of the Covid-19 disease, Rouhani said in a national coronavirus briefing taskforce broadcast on state TV.

Mexico’s Pemex Reports 7 New Worker Deaths

Mexico’s state-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos reported seven more deaths from Covid-19 among its workers, taking the company’s total to 102.

Pemex said 1,949 of its employees, retirees and their family members have been confirmed as having COVID-19. Of those, 307 have died.

China’s Australia Travel Warning

China warned its citizens not to travel to Australia in the latest sign of deteriorating relations. The Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism published a statement Friday night saying discrimination and violent behaviour against Chinese and Asians are rising due to the pandemic.

The warning is the latest sign of deteriorating relations between Australia and its largest trading partner after Prime Minister Scott Morrison led calls for an independent probe on the origins of the coronavirus in Wuhan.

Brazil Deaths Climb by 1,005

Brazil registered 1,005 new COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 35,026, according to data from the Health Ministry. The number of cases rose by 30,830 to 645,771.

Mexico Reports 625 More Deaths

Mexico reported 4,346 new cases, bringing the country’s total to 110,026, according to Health Ministry data released Friday. The number of deaths from the virus rose by 625 to 13,170.

Mexico now has 19,015 confirmed active cases and 48,822 suspected cases of Covid-19.

California Live Sports Can Resume June 12

Live sports and film production can restart in California as soon as June 12, according to state officials. The most populous U.S. state still isn’t allowing sports to have live audiences, though teams can resume training and competition.

The state also said counties may move into the next phase of reopening — including bars, restaurants and hotels — as of June 12 if they meet certain guidelines. It issued guidance for schools to reopen in the fall, saying it plans no-touch thermometers for every facility, face shields for teachers, more than 14 million cloth coverings for staff and students, and 143,000 gallons of hand sanitiser.

Brazil May Join US in Quitting WHO

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro said the government is considering withdrawing from the World Health Organization, following the move of US President Donald Trump, who has criticized the agency’s handling of the outbreak.

Bolsonaro told reporters on Friday that Brazil will leave if the agency continues with an ideological bias. He said the nation doesn’t need outsiders commenting on its public health matters and taking money away will help WHO change its thinking.

Trump Signals Further Stimulus

President Donald Trump said he’ll ask Congress for more economic stimulus to boost chances of a recovery from the pandemic, even after the surprise improvement in US unemployment in May.

House Democrats passed a $3.5 trillion stimulus bill last month, aimed at assisting states and hospitals. But Republicans leading the Senate rejected that proposal. Trump administration officials increasingly expect to spend up to $1 trillion on new relief. Larry Kudlow, the president’s top economic adviser, told Bloomberg Television some sort of return-to-work cash incentive is possible.