September 25, 2020

News and current affairs from USA and around the world | FT

TOP STORIES, World News,german news,european news,african news,Asian news,current affairs,Germany,European Union,breaking news

Coronavirus latest: Angela Merkel says Germany has ‘gained better control’ over virus


Chancellor Angela Merkel said that although Germany was still at the beginning of the pandemic, the country now had better grip on the coronavirus. The death toll in the US has reached 100,000.


  • The EU Commission proposes a €750 billion package to boost EU economies
  • Trump said that he is committed to holding Fourth of July celebrations despite concerns from some members of the Congress 
  • WHO says that Latin America is outpacing Europe and the US in the number of daily infections
  • The global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has surpassed 350,000, with more than 5.6 million confirmed cases

All times in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC/GMT). 


22:20 Over 100,000 people have now died of the coronavirus in the United States, according to a tally by the US-based Jonhs Hopkins University. The country leads the globe in both caseload and fatalities, with 100,047 deaths and nearly 1.7 million infections confirmed as of Wednesday.

The virus, which originated in China late last year, has so far killed over 350,000 people across the world. The true death toll is believed to be much greater. The virus reached the US in January with the first patient dying in late February. The US government declared a state of emergency on March 13.


21:20 Here are some of the major coronavirus developments that emerged in Europe on Wednesday:

European Union: The executive arm of the EU unveiled an ambitious €750 billion aid package to help the bloc recover from the pandemic. The European Commission’s plan envisions a mixture of grants and loans to offer financial support for investment. The plan requires the backing of all 27 member-states; Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark have criticized elements of the proposal.

Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that despite loosening restrictions, “the virus is still there” and basic measures like wearing masks and keeping distance from others were still necessary. Meanwhile, airline giant Lufthansa said it couldn’t approve the German government’s rescue plan for the company over concerns the conditions could be too stringent. The Frankfurt Book Fair also announced it will take place as scheduled in October this year.

FranceFrench lawmakers approved the country’s contact-tracing smartphone app, which is now set to launch over the weekend. The app, which has raised data protection concerns, will use Bluetooth signals to detect which other phones have come in close contact to each other. The French government also banned doctors from using the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 after studies found the drug was dangerous for patients.

Spain: Spain began a 10-day mourning period for those who have died of the virus, with the royal family and government officials holding a minute of silence. An analysis of the country’s mortality data, however, indicates that the actual death toll from the virus could be much higher.

Switzerland: The Alpine country announced plans to ease most of its remaining lockdown restrictions by June 6. Events with up to 300 people will once again be permitted, allowing UN agencies and other international organizations headquartered in Switzerland to resume their operations.

Italy: The death toll crossed the 33,000 threshold as the hard-hit country moves to ease lockdown measures. The northern region of Lombardy registered nearly 400 new cases on Wednesday, substantially more than other regions.

Lithuania: The government extended the country’s state of emergency for two weeks until June 16 with restrictions on entering the country remaining in place. At the same time, the government will relax restrictions on public events and businesses serving food starting on June 1.


19:30 A fire swept through a makeshift coronavirus ward at a hospital in Bangladesh, killing at least five people.

Officials said the blaze broke out around 10:00 p.m. local time at the United Hospital in the capital of Dhaka, located in an upscale neighborhood. The hospital is considered one of the country’s best healthcare facilities.

The bodies of four men and four women aged between 45 and 75 were recovered from the debris of the newly-constructed COVID-19 unit.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known and an investigation has been launched. Brigadier General Sajjad Hossain, chief of the fire brigade, said he suspected the COVID-19 unit did not have enough fire protection measures.

Bangladesh has logged nearly 38,300 COVID-19 cases and 544 deaths since the start of the pandemic.


18:25 The small European country of Luxembourg launched a mass testing program to check its entire population for the novel coronavirus.

The program aims to test its 600,000 residents as well as cross-border workers over the next nine weeks. Testing is voluntary, but authorities hope enough people will participate to prevent a potential second-wave of infections.

“The first aim is to break these infection chains throughout the whole population, to basically dampen a second potential wave that might ensue,” said Paul Wilmes, Luxembourg’s COVID 19 task force spokesperson.

Authorities have set up 17 drive-through, walk-through and cycle-through testing stations. After undergoing a throat swab, people will know their results in two days.

Nurses, police, hairdressers and others most at risk to exposure will be invited to be tested first — and they will be invited back to get re-tested every two weeks.

Luxembourg, the second-smallest country by area in the EU, is located in between Germany, France and Belgium. The country has logged nearly 4,000 COVID-19 cases and 110 deaths.

Luxembourg will test the population at a network of drive, walk and cycle-through stations

18:20 The Frankfurt Book Fair, the world’s largest trade fair for books, will still take place in October despite the coronavirus pandemic, the fair’s organizers announced.

“This year, it’s more important than ever for the Frankfurt Book Fair to take place,” the fair’s director, Juergen Boos, said in a statement, adding it will generate publicity for the authors, the industry and the topics presented at the fair.

This year’s fair, which will take place from October 14 – 18, will include on-site book events as well as a “future-oriented digital formats,” Boos said.

City and state officials approved the plans organizers put forward to ensure health and safety, although the plan will continue to be reviewed as the pandemic develops.

The Frankfurt Book Fair regularly draws 300,000 visitors to the western German city who come to see thousands of exhibitors from over 100 countries. Several other major literary events in Germany, such as the Leipzig Book Fair and Lit.Cologne have been canceled or moved online due to the pandemic.


18:15 US aerospace and defense contractor Boeing announced that it was cutting 12,000 jobs through layoffs and buyouts as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt air travel. The company also said more cuts were likely in the future.

Most of the pink slips will come this week, while the rest of the cuts will be made over the next several weeks. Employees around the US city of Seattle, home to Boeing’s commercial airplane sector, are expected to be hit hardest.

US air travel plummeted since the COVID-19 outbreak began, and while numbers have slightly recovered in recent weeks, Boeing CEO David Calhoun said the company will have to constantly adjust business plans due to the pandemic.


17:40 Danish researchers have developed a robot that can carry out coronavirus screening tests so health care workers are not exposed to a risk of infection in taking samples.

The equipment, developed by the University of Southern Denmark, uses a 3D-printed disposable arm that is automatically swapped after each patient. The robot takes a throat swab, which it then drops in a jar.
The development means health care workers might be relieved from the monotonous work of testing and be used elsewhere.

“I was one of the first to be swabbed by the robot,” project leader Professor Thiusius Rajeeth Savarimuthu told the university website. “It went really well. I’m still sitting here.

“There are prospects in developing a throat swab robot so that robots can take over the throat swabbing work both in relation to COVID-19, but also in all future viruses,” he added.


16:45 As Spain began a 10-day mourning period for coronavirus victims on Wednesday, a newspaper report found that the actual death toll is likely much higher than official figures show.

Spanish newspaper El Pais analyzed mortality statistics for the country and found that 43,295 more people died in the country between March 1 and May 12 compared to the same period last year.

Out of the country’s total number of deaths, tests confirmed that 27,302 were due to COVID-19, the paper reported. That leaves 15,993 deaths that have not been officially tallied as coronavirus deaths, although many of them are believed to have been caused by the virus.

The excess mortality rate for Spain was 52%, putting it on par with Italy, which was also hit hard by the pandemic. The impact on Spain’s elderly population could also be seen in the drop of people collecting pension payments, which fell for the first time in May compared to the previous month.


16:30 Russia announced that this July’s BRICS summit as well as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit will have to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The international summits were due to be held in Saint Petersburg from July 21-23.

The decision was made “taking into account the global coronavirus pandemic and the associated temporary restrictive measures,” the Kremlin said in a statement on its website.

The BRICS summit brings together the leaders of five emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. It was last hosted by Brazil in November before the COVID-19 outbreak came to light. The SCO summit would have convened the leaders of Russia, China, India, Pakistan and several Central Asian countries.

Russia currently has the third-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world after the United States and Brazil. But as case numbers fell for the second day in a row on Wednesday, officials in Moscow announced that the Russian capital would begin easing its lockdown measures starting on June 1, with certain retail stores due to reopen for business.


16:15 The World Health Organization (WHO) is creating a new foundation that will enable the body to access new sources of funding, including from the general public.

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced the measure on Wednesday, saying the new WHO Foundation will be able to raise funds from “non-traditional sources” and will enable the body to address global health challenges.

“We are still vulnerable,” he said, noting that the body’s annual budget of $2.3 billion (€2.1 billion) compares to that of a medium-sized hospital in a developed country.

Tedros also said the creation of the new foundation has nothing to do with “recent funding issues” — a likely reference to US President Donald Trump’s threat to halt funding altogether if the body doesn’t take on Washington’s reforms within 30 days. The United States is the UN body’s top donor.


14:50 Switzerland has unveiled plans to ease restrictions by allowing planned public events of up to 300 people from June 6, with spontaneous gatherings of up to 30 people being permitted.

The move would end the current ban on meetings of more than 5 people.

“We can enjoy all the things that are now possible again,” Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga told reporters. “With today’s decision we can prepare ourselves for a new normality.”

The government will also decide on June 24 whether to also lift a ban on events with up to 1,000 people. Larger events than that will not be possible until the end of August, the government said.

The Swiss government has also said it aims to restore free movement of people with other Schengen zone member countries by July 6.

In a statement, Switzerland reaffirmed plans with neighboring France, Germany and Austria to lift all travel restrictions among the four countries on June 15, given a declining trend in COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the Alpine nation told southern neighbor Italy — which has been badly hit by the pandemic — that a decision announced by Rome to halt border controls from June 3 was “too early.”

Officials said Switzerland would coordinate further steps with Italy and its other neighbors in the coming weeks.

The number of new cases in Switzerland has decelerated, rising by 15 on Wednesday to 30,776, while the death toll reached 1,649.


14:25 Coronavirus infections in Germany’s refugee homes have spiked for a second time. In the Bavarian city of Regensburg, a cluster of cases was identified during routine testing at a refugee center. The State Office of Health cautioned that people should not be overly concerned as the source of the infection has been located and could be contained.

According to data from the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s public health agency, the Bavarian administrative district is currently the only district that has reached the threshold of 50 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days. A further outbreak cluster was reported at a refugee shelter in Mainz after 35 of its residents tested positive. Residents at the shelter have been in quarantine since May 19.


13:40 Although a vaccine and treatment for the coronavirus are still a ways off, “we’ve gained better control,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday.

“We are still at the start of the pandemic,” she told reporters. “We can see … how fast it can happen that infections spread so we have to be very careful.”

The larger responsibility for monitoring the virus in Germany now increasingly lies with the leaders of the country’s 16 states, many of whom have been pushing to relax further restrictions such as limitations on people meeting in public and privately.


13:30 Coronavirus-hit airline Lufthansa has said its supervisory board is “unable to approve” a €9 billion ($9.9 billion) rescue plan from theGerman government because of fears that conditions imposed by Brussels might be too stringent.

“Conditions currently indicated by the EU Commission … would lead to a weakening of the hub function at Lufthansa’s home airports in Frankfurt and Munich” and must be “analyzed intensively,” the company said in a statement. “Against this background, the Supervisory Board was unable to approve the stabilization package in connection with the EU conditions.”

The airline, Germany’s national carrier, is losing huge amounts of cash as the coronavirus pandemic has grounded most of its flights.

Following weeks of negotiation, the German government and Lufthansa struck a deal on state aid on Monday, including secured loans and a 20% government shareholder stake in the airline.

But first, EU competition regulators must evaluate whether the government aid package restricts competition in the European aviation sector.


13:15 The coronavirus pandemic could create a “lockdown generation” among young people who could face lower wages and higher unemployment for years to come, said the head of International Labor Organization (ILO), Guy Ryder, commenting on a survey conducted by the UN-body.

The survey found that a sixth of the world’s young people have been forced to stop working since the start of the pandemic. The pandemic is also hurting young people’s chances of entering the labor market, as around 10% of students expect that they will not be able to complete their current education. Half said their studies would be delayed.

The ILO was “extremely concerned for the welfare of young people,” Ryder added during an online press briefing. The ILO pointed out that global youth unemployment before the current pandemic already stood at 13.6% in 2019, above the level seen before the 2008 global financial crisis.

The ILO survey was based on answers from 11,000 respondents between the ages of 18 and 29.


12:45 The southern European nations Greece and Cyprus have announced steps to lure back summer tourists.

Cyprus has pledged to cover all costs for anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 while on vacation on the island, including food and lodging, and that the offer would apply to any family members as well, reported the Associated Press citing a government document. The government also plans on ensuring ample bed space for COVID-19 patients: a 100-bed hospital will cater exclusively to foreign travelers who test positive, along with a 500-bed “quarantine hotel.”

Greece is planning to allow travelers from several countries, including Germany, Cyprus and Israel, to visit from mid-June without having to be quarantined, government officials said. “There will be some 20-25 countries whose nationals will be allowed to come,” a government source said. The full list of countries will be announced later this week.

Greece and Cyprus are heavily reliant on tourism with the industry directly accounting for 13% of Cyprus’ economy, and 20% of Greece’s. This year, Cyprus expects to lose as much as 70% of the €2.6 billion ($2.85 billion) in tourism-generated revenue.


12:02 People in Poland be allowed to go outside without protective masks from May 30, ahead of cinemas, theaters and gyms reopening on June 6, said its government during a news conference. Other measures set to be relaxed in the coming days include allowing public gatherings of up to 150 people and lifting limits on the number of people in churches.

“At the moment the number of sick people is falling, also the number of deaths is falling, which is the best measure of control over the epidemic,” said Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski. A large number of beds and respirators set aside for COVID-19 patients are not in use, added Szumowski.

During the conference, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki reiterated the government’s desire to hold a delayed presidential election in June.

Limits will soon be lifted on the number of people attending religious ceremonies in Poland

11:43 The European Commission has unveiled its proposal for a €750-billion ($821-billion) aid package to help Europe’s economic recovery from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed over 350,000 people globally.


11:25 South Korea reported its highest daily rise in seven weeks, with 40 new recorded cases.

It comes as the Education Ministry delayed reopening some schools over virus fears. More than 2 million high school juniors, middle school seniors, first- and second-graders and kindergartners were expected to return to school on Wednesday, as a part of a staggered reopening.

Tracing and testing had stabilized the country’s outbreak from its March highs, allowing for officials to ease social distancing guidelines. But a steady rise in cases in the capital city’s Seoul greater area in recent weeks has raised concerns.


10:34 Serbia has put a stop to inbound flights from Montenegro’s flag carrier, Montenegro Airlines, after the neighboring country refused to open its borders to citizens arriving from Serbia.

As a result, Serbia’s directorate for civilian aviation made the move to block the airline as Montenegro’s action affected reciprocity in air transportation.

Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic said his country was free of COVID-19 on Monday and declared it would open borders to travelers from countries reporting no more than 25 infections per 100,000 people. Serbia, where the rate is higher, was not on the list of countries announced by the Montenegrin PM.


09:45 The European Commission will reportedly propose a €750 billion ($821 billion) coronavirus stimulus package, according to news agencies DPA and Reuters. The recovery plan will reportedly include €500 billion in grants and €250 billion in loans, unnamed sources told the outlets.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is set to officially announce the plans later today. The announcement will be followed by likely-fraught negotiations on how best to finance the bloc’s economic recovery. 

The Commission proposal will reportedly raise money on capital markets, backed by indirect member state guarantees which will be jointly repaid over decades. However this will require unanimous approval. 

Italy and Spain are expected to get the largest portion of the proposed recovery fund, according to EU sources. The countries have been hardest-hit by the virus in the EU.

According to unnamed sources, Italy could get €173 billion — made up of grants worth €82 billion and loans of €91 billion. Spain could be getting a total of €140 billion, comprising of €77 billion in grants and €63 billion in loans.

EU nations had agreed on the need for financial stimulus to boost their pandemic-stricken economies but there has been a disagreement over how best to provide the funds. Essentially, northern European, fiscally-conservative countries such as the Netherlands, Austria and Denmark preferred financial stimulus in the form of loans to boost pandemic-stricken economies. Southern European nations, such as Spain and Italy, and supported by France, favored stimulus in the form of grants.


08:59 French doctors have been prohibited from using hydroxychloroquine as a treatment COVID-19 patients, according to new government rules that have been introduced with immediate effect.

The announcement comes after two French advisory bodies said the drug could pose serious health risks.

The antimalarial and anti-inflammatory drug has been promoted by US President Donald Trump, despite a lack of sufficient trials on its effectiveness and many experts warning of its negative effects when used inappropriately.


08:43 The chemical industry in Germany has been told to anticipate a significant drop in its output for 2020.

The VCI chemical makers’ group said it “expects a significant reduction in production and revenues in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry in Germany,” as it published a report on first-quarter activity.

Roughly 75% of member firms are expecting their European revenues for this year to fall. In January-March, the sector “did not feel the full force of the coronavirus pandemic,” as demand for certain pharmaceuticals, “various hygiene products” and packaging remained high. But as the true force of the pandemic didn’t hit Europe until March it is in the sector’s second quarter that the true impact is likely to be felt. Indeed, now “falling orders, disrupted supply chains and lacking transport capacity are all posing problems for companies,” the VCI said.

With firms ranging from global giants Bayer and BASF to much smaller companies, the chemical industry is Germany’s third-largest by revenue after automobiles and machine tools.


08:13 The United Nations patent agency has urged potential vaccine creators to not let copyright disagreements stymie the push for finding immunization against COVID-19.

“What we need in the first place here is innovation,” Francis Gurry, the head of the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), said via a virtual news conference. World Health Organization member states last week adopted a resolution recognizing that a vaccine would be a force for “global public good,” and once found that it should be fairly distributed to all.

Some members, including South Africa, are demanding a vaccine should be patent-free. But that notion has been dismissed by pharmaceutical companies and the US government, which opposes any challenge to international intellectual property rights.

However, Gurry said that “there are provisions in international legal instruments and there are provisions in national legal instruments which allow access, or intellectual property rights to be overridden in certain circumstances.”


07:44 German Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) recognizes that Germany’s federal states want to make their own decisions over easing coronavirus restrictions, and that they are free to do so.

“We have the common goal of reducing the number of new infections and keeping them under control, but the different situations then naturally allow for different approaches,” Spahn told the newspaper Augsburger Allgemeine

There are certain federal responsibilities, he said, but it has always been clear that the concrete decisions are made locally by the states and municipalities. Spahn’s comments come in the wake of Thuringia state premier, Left Party politician Bodo Ramelow, saying that his state would lift all general restrictions on June 6.


07:19 The number of cases in India has surpassed the 150,000 mark after once again recording more than 6,000 infections in one day. The news comes as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government prepares a new set of guidelines, with the fourth phase of the lockdown across India set to end on Sunday.

The Health Ministry confirmed that 151,767 people had contracted COVID-19, an increase of 6,387, with 4,337 deaths, up 170 on the previous day’s figure. India began easing restrictions earlier this month, allowing shops to reopen and manufacturing to restart. Some trains and domestic flights have also resumed.


06:24 France’s economy could contract as much as 20% in the second quarter, according to the national statistics agency INSEE.

The INSEE said activity was resuming “prudently” after lockdown measures were relaxed in France earlier this month. Although the agency recognized consumer spending was returning it also said consumer confidence was still suffering. 

“Households are displaying a marked pessimism concerning France’s economic situation,” said INSEE. “Indicators about future activity have stopped plunging, but the declarations about the outlook remain bleak.”


05:40 A company in Japan has developed a smartphone application that allows fans to cheer remotely for their teams playing in empty sports venues. Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league is set to restart on June 19, with J-League soccer expected to resume on June 27 or July 4. However, no fans will be in attendance in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The Remote Cheerer system, an app designed by Yamaha Corporation, allows armchair supporters to cheer, or boo, the players during games via their smartphones, sending either a pre-recorded shout-out or their own personal message.

The messages of support, or disapproval, will then be sent, and in turn reverberate around the stadium via loudspeakers.


05:38 Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak has said casinos will be reopening in the state as of June 4, encouraging tourists to return to the gambling mecca of Las Vegas, which has been closed for business for the past 10 weeks. “We welcome the visitors from across the country to come here, to have a good time, no different than they did previously, but we’re gonna be cautious,” Sisolak said.
The governor also said he would be giving the go-ahead for in-person religious services of up to 50 people as of Friday May 29.


04:05 South Korea has reported its biggest daily jump in coronavirus cases in almost 50 days, raising concerns at a time when the country is starting to reopen its schools.

Health authorities reported 40 new infections in the last 24 hours, almost all of them in Seoul, bringing the national tally to 11,265, including 269 deaths. South Korea has been conducting extensive testing and tracing to keep a lid on the outbreak, after a rapid surge in infections early on in the pandemic. Meanwhile, a 27-year-old South Korean man was handed a four-month jail term on Tuesday for violating quarantine rules, a first for the country.


03:58 The President of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, said that he is taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive healthcare measure, despite his country having removed it from its list of potential coronavirus treatments.

“I use it as a prophylaxis, President Trump uses it as a prophylaxis, most of the world’s leaders use it as a prophylaxis,” said Bukele.

El Salvador has been under a nationwide lockdown since March 21, with Bukele’s approach meeting domestic resistance. Last week, the country’s Congress passed a law to accelerate the reopening of the economy before the June 6 target set by Bukele.

The US ambassador to El Salvador, Ronald Johnson, said that he approved of Bukele’s handling of the pandemic: “In crisis situations, oftentimes people must give up a little bit of their freedoms in order to favor the rights and freedoms of the majority and of the whole,” Johnson said.


03:45 The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has risen by 362 to 179,364 in the last 24 hours, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The national death toll climbed to 8,349 after 47 new deaths were reported.

Here are the German figures from the past several days:
Tuesday, May 26: 432 new cases; 45 new deaths
Monday, May 25: 289 new cases; 10 new deaths
Sunday, May 24: 431 new cases; 31 new deaths
Saturday, May 23: 638 new cases; 42 new deaths
Friday, May 22: 460 new cases; 57 new deaths
Thursday, May 21: 745 new cases; 27 new deaths
Wednesday, May 20: 797 new cases; 83 new deaths
Tuesday, May 19: 513 new cases; 72 new deaths


02:52 Bus companies hit by the coronavirus pandemic are planning to stage rallies across Germany on Wednesday to demand support from the government. A total of 800 vehicles are expected to converge on the capital, Berlin, with three convoys of 300 coaches to roll through the central government district at around midday. Similar actions are expected in the cities of Düsseldorf, Kiel, Mainz, Wiesbaden and Stuttgart. Passenger numbers on transport services have dropped dramatically since coronavirus restrictions were implemented in mid-March, bringing some businesses close to collapse. The Federal Association of German Bus Operators called for state subsidies and for the resumption of bus travel nationwide.

The protest comes after the federal government said it planned to inject at least €5.5 billion ($6 billion) into struggling partly state-owned rail operator Deutsche Bahn, which has seen passenger numbers on its long-distance services drop to 10-15% of normal levels.


02:30 The coronavirus has now killed more than 350,000 people worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University, which updates figures in real-time. The United States has the highest death toll, with almost 100,000 fatalities, followed by the UK, Italy, France, Spain and Brazil.


01:45 The number of coronavirus cases in Colombia has risen above 23,000, after health authorities reported 1,022 new infections on Tuesday. A further 26 people died, bringing the death toll to 776. It’s only the second time since the pandemic began that more than 1,000 cases have been registered in a 24-hour period. Most of the country’s confirmed cases have been in the capital, Bogota.

Argentina’s Health Ministry says the coronavirus death toll has climbed by 19 to 490, while the number of cases rose by 600 to 13,338. Social distancing measures imposed on March 20 are expected to remain in place until June 7. Authorities say they are carrying out virus tests in poorer neighborhoods in and around Buenos Aires, where most of the new cases are concentrated.


01:35 The US recorded 657 deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, taking its total death toll up to 98,875. This is the third consecutive day that the death toll is below 700. The country has 1.68 million active cases of the virus.


01:15 US President Donald Trump is committed to hold celebrations on Fourth of July, the White House has confirmed. White House spokesman said that the independence day celebration will “have a different look than 2019 to ensure the health and safety of those attending.” The announcement after some members of the Congress raised concerns about holding the celebrations during the coronavirus pandemic.


00:42 Mainland China reported 1 new case of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, according to China’s National Health Commission. The commission said that the case was imported into the region. The mainland currently has 82,993 cases.


00:40 Peru recorded its highest surge in COVID-19 cases in 24 hours. The country recorded 5,800 cases on May 26, taking its total tally up to about 130,000, according to the country’s health ministry. About 3,780 people have died from the virus in Peru.


00:21 Mexico reported its largest single-day rise in deaths till date from COVID-19 on May 26. The country recorded 501 deaths, taking its death toll to 8,134. Mexico has 74,560 active cases of COVID-19.


00:01 Carissa Etienne, WHO director for the Americas and head of the Pan American Health Organization said that the Americas were now considered to be the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, advising countries in the region not to ease restrictions. Etienne said that that Latin America was currently outpacing Europe and the United States in the number of daily infections. She added that Brazil’s daily COVID-19 death toll was expected to peak at around 1,020 by the third week of June.


00:00 Brazil now has 391,222 cases of Sars-Cov-2 (COVID-19 coronavirus), as 16,324 new cases were added to the tally. The second-highest infected country in the world reported 1,039 new deaths over 24 hours, taking the total tally to 24,512, according to Brazil’s health ministry.


00:00 You can catch up on our rolling updates from May 26 here


jsi, am, nm/aw (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters) (DW)