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A commuter wearing protective face masks wait on a platform at Alexanderplatz U-Bahn train station in Berlin, Germany, on Monday, May 4, 2020.

Spain to end quarantine requirement for foreign travellers: Global virus update

A commuter wearing protective face masks wait on a platform at Alexanderplatz U-Bahn train station in Berlin, Germany, on Monday, May 4, 2020.

Key Developments:

  • Virus Tracker: Cases top 5.4 million; deaths over 345,000
  • Republicans risk political backlash in Trump’s haste to reopen
  • COVID-19 patients not infectious after 11 days, study shows
  • Social unrest is lurking in Chile as virus spreads
  • Hertz says pandemic devastated revenue, leading to bankruptcy
  • Using computer simulations to find a COVID-19 treatment: graphic

Spain to End Quarantine Requirement for Foreign Travellers

Spain will end mandatory quarantines for foreign tourists on July 1 as it prepares to reboot its key tourism industry. The decision was made Monday by a ministerial crisis group. Spain will “gradually open borders,” Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez said on Twitter.

Dutch Deaths Fall to Lowest in 10 Weeks

The Netherlands reported eight new fatalities from the virus, the lowest daily increase since March 17. New hospital admissions also fell to 8, the smallest number since the country began reporting the metric in late March. Confirmed cases rose 0.5%, in line with recent trends, to 45,445.

Hungary to End Decree Rule)

Hungary’s government will file a bill on Monday or Tuesday requesting an end to decree rule as the first wave of the pandemic recedes, Orban said. The powers, granted in March to fight the coronavirus, added to concerns about the future of democracy in the country, a European Union member.

Iran Deaths Lowest Since Feb. 28

Iran reported 2,023 new confirmed infections and 34 fatalities in the past 24 hours — its lowest daily death count in almost three months. Total cases reached 137,724, with 7,451 deaths since its outbreak started.

Malaysia Cases Rise by Most in Six Weeks

Malaysia reported 172 new cases on Monday, the highest daily increase since April 11, three weeks since it relaxed lockdown measures. That brings the total to 7,417 infections and 115 deaths.

The government allowed nearly all sectors to reopen starting on May 4 as each day of the lockdown had cost 2.4 billion ringgit ($550 million) of losses to the economy, even as it cautioned people to refrain from leaving their homes unless necessary.

Montenegro Reports 19 Days Without New Infections

Montenegro said it’s the first “coronavirus-free” country in Europe as it hasn’t detected any new cases for 19 days and most of the infected have recovered. The small Adriatic state, once part of Yugoslavia, was also the last in Europe to report its first coronavirus case. A total of 324 people contracted the disease and nine have died in the country, which has a population of about 620,000.

Russia’s Reported Cases Rise 2.6% to 353,427

Russia reported 8,946 new cases, with almost half of those being asymptomatic. The country is surpassed only by Brazil and the U.S. in total number of reported infections. More than a quarter of the new cases were in Moscow.

German Businesses See Gradual Economic Rebound

German businesses are counting on an improvement in the economy in the second half after the coronavirus pandemic depressed private spending and investment and plunged the economy into a recession.

Companies surveyed by Ifo showed cautious optimism in May, with a gauge of expectations rising after the previous month’s plunge. A full-fledged recovery though is still a long way off as consumers wary of infections keep away from shops and restaurants, and firms struggling with subdued demand cut jobs.

Hungary Fully Reopens Serb Border

Hungary reopened its border with Serbia entirely Monday as the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic receded in both countries, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in a Facebook video. While Hungary is a member of the European Union, Serbia isn’t.

South Korea Nightclub-Linked Cases Rise to 237

South Korea said the number of virus cases linked to nightclubs in Itaewon, Seoul, rose to 237 as of noon, from 233 previously. About 82,000 people were tested for possible infection related to the clubs, according to a briefing earlier by South Korea’s healthy ministry.

There’s “no need yet” to strengthen the daily distancing advisory as the infections are manageable despite the increase, the ministry said. The incubation period for infections through clubs in Itaewon from the end of April and early May has practically ended, but officials continue to monitor for secondary infections.

German Cases Rise as Infection Rate Increases

Germany’s coronavirus infection rate rose to 0.94, but stayed below the key threshold of 1.0. The so-called reproduction factor represents how many additional people become infected by a single positive case.

The total number of cases increased by 342 to 180,328 in the 24 hours through Monday morning, a slight increase from 276 the previous day. The country registered 22 deaths, bringing the total to 8,283. New fatalities have remained below 100 for more than 10 days.

Boris Johnson Faces Political Strain Over Aide’s Breach

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing the most political pressure since he won a huge parliamentary majority last year, as lawmakers from all sides publicly attack his top aide even after Johnson put his own authority on the line to back him.

Facing a furor over Dominic Cummings breaking the nation’s lockdown rules, Johnson said he understood why his key adviser had travelled more than 250 miles (402 kilometres) to seek care for his 4-year-old child when he was supposedly self-isolating with coronavirus symptoms. The premier said that while he understood the public’s anger and confusion, Cummings’s actions were “sensible and defensible.”

Trump Says Schools Should Open ‘ASAP’

“Schools in our country should be opened ASAP. Much very good information now available,” Trump said in a tweet.

RNC Sues California Governor for Mail-in Ballot Order

The Republican National Committee and two other groups filed a lawsuit against California Governor Gavin Newsom to block his executive order allowing mail-in ballots at the November polls, calling it an “illegal and brazen power grab.”

Following the coronavirus outbreak, the Democratic governor said earlier this month that every registered voter in the state would receive a mail-in ballot for the November election. While in-person voting options will be available, “no one should be forced to risk their health to exercise” their right to cast their ballot.

Economists See China Holding Stimulus in Check

Economists broke down China’s annual policy-document dump and concluded that Beijing is holding stimulus measures in reserve in case the global impact of the coronavirus pandemic worsens significantly.

The government reports released on the first day of the National People’s Congress on Friday were revolutionary in that they dispensed with an explicit target for gross domestic product growth, but otherwise stuck to the path of moderately increasing support to the economy.

China Reports 11 Cases, All From Abroad

China reported 11 additional coronavirus cases, with all of them from abroad, according to a statement from the National Health Commission. Ten of the new infections were reported in Inner Mongolia. The cases emerged as an outbreak in China’s northeast region has intensified worries over a second wave of infections.

The country also reported 40 asymptomatic cases, two of them from abroad. It had no coronavirus deaths for May 24.

Japan Says Time Right to Lift Tokyo Emergency

The Japanese government was set to end its nationwide state of emergency by lifting the order for Tokyo, its surrounding areas and Hokkaido, allowing more parts of the economy to re-open as new coronavirus cases tail off.

Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura laid out the plan Monday at the opening of a meeting of a government advisory panel, setting off a process to lift the measure later in the day for the areas still under the decree, a week ahead of schedule.

US Restricts Travel from Brazil

The Trump administration is restricting entry for non-US travellers who have been in Brazil, after a jump in cases pushed the Latin American nation to second place for infections. The ban takes effect at the end of the day May 28, the White House said.

American citizens and their spouses are exempt, the White House said, along with commercial goods destined for U.S. markets.

“The potential for undetected transmission of the virus by infected individuals seeking to enter the United States from the Federative Republic of Brazil threatens the security of our transportation system and infrastructure and the national security,” President Donald Trump said in the proclamation.

Italy’s Hard-Hit Region Has Zero Deaths

Italy’s hard-hit northern Lombardy region, center of the country’s outbreak, for the first time Sunday reported no fatalities, according to statistics from the regional government. New cases fell nationally.

No hospitals or municipalities in the region, which includes Milan, reported fatalities for the 24-hour period, a first since the onset of the pandemic, the government said in a statement.

Nationally, Italy reported 531 new cases, down from 669 a day earlier, and total infections of 229,858. Fatalities fell to 50 from 119 on Saturday. Total fatalities are now 32,785.

US Cases Up 1.3%, Below Week’s Average

US cases increased 1.3% from the same time Saturday to 1.63 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The increase was below the average daily increase of 1.4% over the past week.

Deaths inched up 1% to 97,424 from a day earlier. The US has added fewer than 1,000 fatalities in the past two days, after four straight days of 1,200 or more.

Brazil Chief Judge on COVID Leave

The chief justice of Brazil’s Supreme Court will stay on medical leave for seven days after showing some of the respiratory signs of COVID-19, according to the court’s press office.

Dias Toffoli, 52, was hospitalized Saturday to remove an abscess and had no complications during surgery, though he showed signs that suggested the presence of the virus. On May 20, he tested negative.

If his diagnosis is confirmed, Toffoli will be the latest official to get infected, following the Minister of the Institutional Security Office Augusto Heleno and Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel.

Cuomo: Normal Isn’t ‘Enough’

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said returning to pre-outbreak activity levels will be inadequate and the state will need to rebuild better after experiencing the nation’s worst outbreak.

“I don’t believe this economy just bounces back,” Cuomo said, citing many small businesses shutting permanently, corporations laying off employees, and people who won’t want to return to their workplaces. “I don’t believe it is going to be enough just to go back to where the economy was.”

Cuomo, conducting his daily briefing at popular Jones Beach on Long Island that’s open at half capacity for Memorial Day weekend, said government will need to stimulate the economy by getting “some big projects going,” such as building a new airport.

South Africa to Ease Lockdown June 1

South Africa will allow most businesses to reopen next month even as coronavirus infections continue to mount heading into winter.

The nation will drop its disease alert by one level June 1, allowing 8 million people to return to work, President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a televised speech. Africa’s most-industrialized economy went into lockdown on March 27.

Under the new rules, limited alcohol sales for home use will be allowed to resume, while a night-time curfew and a restriction on when people can exercise will be dropped. Tobacco sales will remain banned because of the health risks. Restaurants, bars, sporting venues, places of worship and conference centers will remain shut.

Iran Begins to Reopen Businesses

Iran has recorded 7,417 deaths and 135,701 confirmed cases, Kianush Jahanpur, spokesman for Iran’s Health Ministry, said in an interview with state TV as the nation begins to reopen the economy.

The head of a trades union association in Tehran said all businesses, including those deemed “high risk,” should reopen on Tuesday, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported. Mosques and shrines are due to reopen on Monday, after the Muslim holiday of Eid.