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People walk past a mural on May 26, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images) Photographer: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

Japan considers scaling back Olympics: Global virus update

People walk past a mural on May 26, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images) Photographer: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

Key Developments:

  • Virus Tracker: Cases pass 6.5 million; deaths exceed 386,000
  • Swedish faith in country’s Covid-19 strategy sinks
  • Roche gets emergency approval for test for severe cases
  • UK minister’s virus test sets Up tracing challenge for Johnson
  • Merkel stimulus seals German shift from frugality to largess

Japan Mulls Scaling Back Olympics: Yomiuri

The country is weighing options to scale back the delayed games — set to be held in summer 2021 — including limiting spectators and reducing the size of ceremonies, Yomiuri reported, citing several unidentified government and organizing committee officials.

It’s also considering mandatory testing for all athletes, officials and spectators, the outlet said, as well as limiting the movement of competitors to the Olympic Village. The report cited an unidentified government official as saying avoiding cancellation, which would be the “worst case scenario,” was of the utmost importance.

CDC Developing Dual Flu-Coronavirus Test

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is developing a test that can check for seasonal influenza and COVID-19 infections at the same time, the agency’s director said in testimony to Congress.

Symptoms of the two illnesses are similar, and when seasonal influenza season arrives later this year it will be important for public-health authorities and health workers to be able to differentiate between the two viruses. Such a test would help determine whether COVID-19 infections are experiencing a second wave, or if patients are showing up with normal seasonal flu.

CDC Director Robert Redfield announced the plan in prepared testimony to Congress ahead of a hearing on the agency’s budget later Thursday in Washington.

EBay Raises Outlook as Business Moves Online

EBay Inc. raised its forecast for revenue and earnings in the current quarter as people flock to the digital marketplace amid the pandemic.

Moderna Names New CFO at Pivotal Moment

Moderna Inc. named a new chief financial officer as its coronavirus vaccine moved ahead in wider testing. David Meline takes over the top finance role as the company leads the race to develop a shot. Moderna has also come under scrutiny as executives have sold millions of dollars worth of the firm’s highly valued shares.

US Jobless Claims Persist

As business re-openings picked up nationwide, Americans filed nearly 2 million applications for unemployment benefits last week, reflecting a slowing — though far from a halt — in job losses.

Initial jobless claims for regular state programs totalled 1.88 million in the week ended May 30, Labor Department figures showed Thursday, down from 2.13 million the prior week. It was the first reading below 2 million since the coronavirus-related layoffs began en masse in mid-March.

‘Social Bubbles’ Can Limit Spread: Oxford Study

The best way to reduce the spread of the coronavirus post-lockdown is for people to limit their interactions to a few repeated contacts, or so-called social bubbles, research from the University of Oxford showed. Strategically reducing contacts can lower infection rates and flatten the curve considerably more than simple social distancing can, according to the study published in the journal Nature Human Behavior.

Iran Records Highest Number of Daily Cases

Iran reported the largest number of daily cases as it entered a second wave of the pandemic. The 3,574 positive tests exceeded the previous record, in March, by almost 400. The country now has a total of 164,270 infections and 8,071 deaths.

Malaysia Reports Biggest Daily Increase in Cases

Malaysia reported the steepest daily increase in cases since the pandemic started. The country added 227 new positive results, bringing the total to 8,247.

German Envoy Sees Rapid Deal on EU Recovery Plan

The European Union will soon reach agreement on a proposed 750 billion euro ($840 billion) plan to recover from the pandemic, said Michael Clauss, Germany’s ambassador to the bloc. Member states realize that a deal is urgent, he said.

Israel Cancels Knesset Meetings

Israel’s Knesset cancelled meetings and told non-essential workers to stay home after a lawmaker tested positive for coronavirus. The country recorded a surge in infections in recent days following the easing of restrictions and the reopening of most of the economy.

Japan to Grant Foreign Residents Re-Entry

Japan will allow some resident foreigners to re-enter the country on humanitarian grounds. A notice on the Justice Ministry’s website says permission to land may be granted “depending on the individual situation if there are special exceptional circumstances, particularly such as when there are circumstances that require humanitarian consideration.”

Swedish Faith in COVID Strategy Plunges

Swedish citizens’ confidence in the government’s handling of the pandemic fell to less than half the population, as the scientist behind the strategy acknowledged having made mistakes. A poll showed an 18 percentage point slump in support for the authorities’ response, including the controversial decision to leave much of society open even as swaths of the world shut down.

Tokyo Finds 28 New Cases of Coronavirus: NHK

The city found 28 new infections Thursday, Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported, citing an unidentified local government official. Tokyo had earlier issued a warning for its residents to be more vigilant against the virus as authorities see signs of a second wave.

Germany’s Cases Fall, Infection Rate Declines

Germany recorded a small decline in new cases, while the infection rate fell further below the key threshold of 1.0. There were 242 new cases in the 24 hours through Thursday morning, bringing the total to 184,121, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That compares with 285 infections the previous day and almost 7,000 at the peak of the pandemic in late March.

The government is trying to keep the figure below 1.0 to prevent exponential growth in the number of cases and a second wave of infections. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition earlier agreed to a 130 billion-euro ($146 billion) stimulus package to help Europe’s biggest economy recover from the coronavirus crisis. The deal includes tax relief for companies, money for families, car-sales incentives and aid to municipalities.

Singapore Says Testing Migrant Workers to Take Time

Testing all the migrant workers in the Southeast Asian financial center could take some time and go on until August or September, Singapore Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said in parliament. An outbreak among low-wage migrant workers staying in cramped dormitories has led the city-state to record one of the largest virus tallies in Asia.

Brazil, Mexico Report Record Daily Deaths

Brazil reported a record number of daily deaths from COVID-19 as the pandemic continued to spread in Latin America’s largest nation. It had 1,349 new fatalities on Wednesday, bringing the total to 32,548. Brazil also recorded 28,633 new cases, pushing the total to 584,016, behind only the U.S. The nation of 210 million people has become an epicenter of the virus, and health experts say the peak of the outbreak is still to come.

Mexico also registered a record daily rise of 1,092 deaths as President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador resumed traveling across the country. Total deaths reached 11,729, according to data released by the Health Ministry on Wednesday night. The country now has the seventh-deadliest outbreak worldwide.

China Reports One Imported Case

China’s only additional coronavirus case on June 3 was reported in Guangdong province, according to a statement from its National Health Commission. Four so-called asymptomatic cases were also reported, with all of them found in people who had come from abroad, it said.

The country, where the virus first emerged late last year, now has 326 asymptomatic cases under medical observation. It has 83,022 total cases, with its death toll standing at 4,634.