December 3, 2020

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Coronavirus latest: Spain anti-lockdown protest draws thousands of far-right supporters

Several thousand followers of Spain’s far-right VOX party have staged a vehicle rally through Madrid against the lockdown. In Germany, the number of protesters saw a sharp drop. 

  • Globally there are more than 5.25 million cases of COVID-19
  • Spain’s far-right Vox party has called out thousands of supporters to protest the government’s handling of the coronavirus
  • Germany has seen far fewer people attending anti-lockdown demonstrations 
  • New York state reports its lowest coronavirus death toll since March

Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)

23:59 We are now closing this live updates article. For all the latest, read Friday’s article: Coronavirus latest: Wuhan lab denies leak caused pandemic

22:37 A furor has broken out in the Democratic Republic of Congo where Government officials have denied any manipulation of its COVID-19 figures.

The controversy came as health officials announced the central African country’s latest figures. So far 63 deaths from the virus have been declared while 2,025 cases have been registered, with the majority of them coming in the capital, Kinshasa.

DR Congo is one of the world’s poorest countries and reported its first case on March 10.

Late on Friday, the Congolese government said that a doctor and a hospital administrator had been detained before later being released over accusations of falsely declared coronavirus cases. The arrests were made after “a controversy over a patient who died this month,” said a government news bulletin.

The country’s Council of Ministers convened on Friday after President Felix Tshisekedi asked the health minister to investigate suggestions of fake patient deaths linked to the virus.

“A negative media campaign is being waged against our country by some foreign media, with the aim of tarnishing its image in connection with the management of COVID-19,” the Council of Ministers said in the minutes of the meeting.

22:12 US President Donald Trump started the summer season with his first round of golf in more than two months, underlining his determination for a return to normality in the country.

Trump visited the Trump National Club in Sterling, Virginia, some 35 minutes from the White House. The avid golfer wore a white shirt and dark trousers on the warm sunny day as he practiced his swing and dusted down his clubs after not playing since March 8.

With the country beginning to open up again and the president increasing his travels, Trump also confirmed he would be attending a space launch in Florida next week.

21:22 Bundesliga player Dimitrij Nazarov said he ignored COVID-19-related rules to hug his team manager, who the midfielder said “saved our lives” after a traffic accident on the way to Bavaria, southern Germany.

The 30-year-old Azerbaijan international, who plays for second division Erzgebirge Aue, embraced Thomas Romeyke, who also doubles as the team’s bus driver, after scoring in the 1-1 draw at FC Nürnberg.

“I hope that the DFL (German Football League) will turn a blind eye. I know that none of this is allowed and hope that they show some humanity,” Nazarov told broadcaster MDR. Nazarov wanted to thank Romeyke for his quick-thinking at the wheel on the way to the game.

Romeyke remained calm when the team bus was struck by flying vehicle parts from an accident on the highway and managed to apply the emergency brake. “He just saved our lives. Who knows what would have happened if he hadn’t reacted so quickly? That’s why the goal celebrations went to him,” said Nazarov.

The Aue players on board were unharmed but the driver and passenger in the other vehicle that crashed were taken to hospital with serious injuries.

20:46 Infection rates in France continued to slow as the number of patients in hospital and intensive care also maintained its decline, health ministry data showed.

It is now almost two weeks since lockdown ended in France and the health ministry figures showed the number of confirmed cases rose by 250 on Saturday, bringing the total to 144,806 infections. This daily increase of 0.2% is below the average 0.3% of the past seven days and well below the average 0.8% increase seen in the last week of lockdown.

France’s death toll from the virus currently stands at 28,332, the fourth highest in Europe.

20:10 Health officials in the German state of Lower Saxony said Saturday they are investigating a COVID-19 outbreak this week traced to a restaurant where people allegedly failed to follow hygiene and distancing regulations.

Authorities said at least 10 people, including the restaurant’s owner, were infected with COVID-19 in the rural municipality of Moormerland in Germany’s northwestern coastal region of East Frisia. None of the cases have been reported as serious. 

19:17 Iraq’s Health Ministry has reported a one-day rise of 308 new cases, the steepest single-day spike since the government began recording cases in late February.

The sharp increase comes one day ahead of Eid celebrations that mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Curfew hours had been relaxed during the month of fasting, which may have contributed to higher daily rates of infection.

18:45 Spain’s death toll from COVID-19 rose by 48 in the past day to 28,678, the health ministry said. The number of diagnosed cases rose to 235,290 up from 234,824 the previous day, added the ministry.

The figures were released as thousands of people, led by the country’s right-wing Vox Party, gathered in cars and motorbikes in Madrid and other cities to protest the Spanish government’s handling of the nation’s coronavirus crisis.

Vox accused Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’ government of lying about the impact of the health crisis and of violating rights by confining people to their homes and closing businesses during the lockdown.

18:30 New York state has reported its lowest coronavirus death toll since March with 84 deaths recorded Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a daily press conference.

The state was the hardest hit in the US during the pandemic, with more than 360,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and about 29,000 deaths. At one point at the height of the crisis in April, the daily death toll was around 800.

“The news is good news. It’s a sign that we’re making real progress,” said Cuomo, while announcing that the mid-Hudson area north of New York City is set to begin reopening on Tuesday.

18:24 Coronavirus cases in Europe have topped 2 million, according to a tally collated by news agency AFP, collating World Health Organization (WHO) figures.

Nearly two-thirds of all cases have been recorded in Russia, the UK, Spain, Italy and France.

While Europe is currently the most affected continent from the virus, the WHO declared Latin America “a new epicenter” of the coronavirus pandemic, as Brazil’s death toll surged to 21,000 on Friday from over 330,000 infections.

17:55 France will require travelers from Britain and Spain to enter a 14-day quarantine, said the French Interior Ministry on Saturday. The rule will apply for air passengers arriving from Spain on Monday.

Both Spain and Britain previously announced plans for similar requirements on travelers. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Saturday that the country would not open its borders to foreign tourists until July.

British Home Secretary Priti Patel said on Friday that a mandatory 14-day quarantine will apply to almost all foreign travelers from June 8.

17:30 Turkey will resume travel on some of its intercity train routes next week, the country’s transport minister Adil Karaismailoglu says.

Trains will make 16 trips daily between Istanbul, Ankara and the central Anatolian cities of Eskisehir and Konya as part of a “normalization period.” The service is set to begin on Thursday, after two months of suspension.

Trains will only be allowed to fill half the number of available seats and passengers will be required to leave spaces between themselves and other travelers. Anyone 20 years and younger and 65 and older will need to obtain special permission from local authorities to be able to travel — these age groups have been ordered to stay home and are only allowed out for a limited time on certain days of the week.

17:22 Italy has recorded 119 new deaths from the COVID-19 virus, down from 130 the day before, its Civil Protection Agency said. The daily tally of new cases rose marginally to 669 from 652 on Friday.

The country’s death toll now stands at 32,735 – the third highest in the world after the US and the UK. Its total infection tally amounts to 229,327, putting it sixth behind US, Russia, Spain, the UK and Brazil. Italy has so far tested over 2 million people for the virus, out of a population of around 60 million.

17:00 The densely populated Gaza strip has recorded its first death from the coronavirus. The Palestinian health ministry said the deceased was a 77-year-old woman who had underlying health problems. She had been hospitalized at a special field hospital close to the Rafah border crossing point following her arrival from Egypt.

The United Nations has warned that a coronavirus outbreak in Gaza could be disastrous, given the high poverty rates and weak health system in the coastal strip that has been under an Israeli blockade since 2007. The strip is home to over 2 million people and is one of the world’s most densely populated tracts of land.

So far, there have been a total of 55 confirmed cases after Gaza’s authorities, led by the militant group Hamas, reported 35 new infections this week.

16:37 The UK’s death toll from confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose by 282 to the “tragic” figure of 36,675, said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps at a government briefing. The country has the second-highest death toll rate the US. The UK’s official government’s statistics are based on those who were confirmed to have contracted COVID-19, while broader figures based on suspected COVID-19 deaths give a bigger death toll.

The country’s rising death toll was announced amid growing calls for a top government advisor, Dominic Cummings, to step down from his position. He allegedly breaking lockdown rules by traveling across the country while displaying symptoms of the virus.

15:45 Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden have put forward a counter-proposal to France and Germany’s recently submitted €500 billion ($545 billion) coronavirus economic recovery plan, a source reports.

Many saw  Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron’s initiative as an important step towards stronger European Union financial relations. 

However, the four fiscally conservative states – already reputed in the bloc as the frugal four – are seeking a unique emergency fund to re-strengthen the EU’s economy.

The four countries have indicated that they will neither agree to a mutualization of debt nor an increase in the EU budget.

15:14 Professor Stefan Homburg of the Leibniz University of Hanover booted out a group of students from his online lecture, for opposing his anti-lockdown views in a joint letter, German newspaper, the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung (HAZ) reported.

The professor of public finance has gained notoriety in the recent weeks for his outspoken opposition to the German government’s handling of the coronavirus epidemic and become a darling of the anti-lockdown movement.

Opposition to public health measures, however, is only shared by a minority of Germans.

14:32 Chinese health authorities in the city of Wuhan said they conducted over 1,470,000 nucleic acid tests for SARS-CoV-2 in a single day on Friday. This follows over a million tests on Thursday.

Wuhan, a metropolis of 11 million where the coronavirus pandemic originated, lifted its lockdown on April 8. It started a mass-testing campaign on May 14, going district by district to look for asymptomatic carriers of the virus after a new cluster of infections was detected earlier in May.

People who carry the virus, but show no signs of infection, pose a challenge to tracking and containing new outbreaks as lockdowns are lifted.

Authorities had originally promised to test all 11 million Wuhan residents in 10 days, although it now appears the testing will take longer.

The number of people tested has not been independently confirmed, and Chinese authorities have not shared the number of new positive cases already detected during the campaign. According to the official Communist Party publication China Daily, over half of Wuhan residents had been tested on May 21.

13:48 A cluster of 40 coronavirus infections in Frankfurt am Main and the surrounding area have been linked back to a Baptist church service that took place on May 10, reported German news outlet der Tagesspiegel.

“The vast majority of them are not especially ill,” reported the newspaper, citing Rene Gottschalk, the Frankfurt health authority’s chief. “According to our current information, only one person has been hospitalized,” added Gottschalk.

Despite the high infection rate, the Baptist church broke no rules in holding the religious service — church services have been permitted in Hesse, the state where the church is based, from May 1 as long as social distancing and hygiene measures are followed.

At least 16 infection cases in the town of Hanau, 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) east of Frankfurt, have been traced back to the church service, said Hanau authorities.

“It’s a very dynamic event,” Antoni Walczok, head of Hanau’s health authority, said in comments to German daily newspaper, Frankfurter Rundschau. As a result of the new infections, the town has called off a fasting and prayer gathering for more than 1,000 participants from several Muslim institutions in the Rhein-Main region. The risk for further infections was “too high,” explained Hanau mayor Claus Kaminsky.

12:55 Spain will allow international tourism from July, says Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, as the government relaxes some of the world’s toughest lockdown measures. The country’s La Liga soccer league can also resume from June 8.

Spain banned visits from international travelers in March in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus and this has hit the country’s tourism industry hard – an important sector for the southern European country’s economy.

All organized soccer in Spain was provisionally suspended on March 12, although clubs in the top two divisions have since returned to group training.

Sanchez made the announcement as thousands protest against the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, led by the right-wing Vox Party.

11:33 Spain’s far-right Vox party has called out thousands of supporters to protest the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. Politicians urged followers to drive to central Madrid in their cars and motorbikes to skirt the current prohibition on social gatherings under the nation’s two-monthlong state of emergency.

“Let your desire be heard for the resignation of the government,” Vox leader Santiago Abascal said from the open-top bus leading the cars inching down a Madrid boulevard. Vox called the protest the “Caravan for Spain and Liberty.”

Most cars were decked with Spanish flags and there were also small groups of people who participated on foot, with some not respecting the two-meter social distancing rules.

Other protests were held in Barcelona, Seville and other provincial capitals.

Spain’s government is easing some of the world’s toughest restrictions against the pandemic in four stages, depending on the severity of the contagion in each area of the country.

10:04 UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing calls to sack his chief adviser Dominic Cummings after reports that he broke lockdown rules by traveling 400 kilometers (248 miles) while ill with COVID-19 symptoms.

Cummings, who masterminded the 2016 campaign to leave the European Union during the Brexit referendum, drove to Durham in northern England in late March, when a strict lockdown was already in place, The Guardian and Mirror newspapers reported.

British guidelines say people should stay at home and refrain from visiting family members unless they need essential items such as food or medication.

The BBC’s political editor quoted an unidentified source close to Cummings as saying he traveled to Durham during lockdown as he needed his parents’ help with childcare while he was ill.

A Downing Street spokesperson insisted that Cummings had not broken lockdown guidelines.

But the opposition Labour Party said the revelations showed that the aide thought he was above the law.

09:28 German Chancellor Angela Merkel has defended the country’s coronavirus restrictions and called on her compatriots to keep respecting social distancing rules.

She said in her weekly video message Saturday that the measures were necessary, and that officials must continue to justify why some restrictions can’t be lifted while ensuring that they are proportionate.

The country has seen frequent protests against lockdown curbs despite starting to ease the measures from April 20. Further protests were due to take place in Berlin, Stuttgart, Munich, Frankfurt, and Hanover on Saturday.

Merkel added that Germany has “succeeded so far in achieving the aim of preventing our health system being overwhelmed.”

09:16 Anti-viral drug remdesivir cuts recovery times in coronavirus patients, according to the full results of a trial published Friday night. The study found that when injected intravenously daily for 10 days, remdesivir sped up the recovery of hospitalized COVID-19 patients compared to a placebo in clinical tests on just over a thousand patients across 10 countries.

The research was carried out by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

But the authors of the trial wrote that the drug did not prevent all deaths. “Given high mortality despite the use of remdesivir, it is clear that treatment with an anti-viral drug alone is not likely to be sufficient,” they said.

08:17 France is allowing religious services to resume starting Saturday after a legal challenge to the government’s ban on such gatherings. To prevent further spread of the virus, visitors to places of worship must wear masks, wash their hands upon entering, and keep a distance of at least one meter (three feet) from other people.

The French government had barred religious services until June 2 even though stores and other businesses started reopening last week. The Council of State, the country’s highest administrative body, struck down the ban, and the government published a decree Saturday allowing services to resume.

The French Bishops Conference said it would work with church leaders to prepare for reopening, notably for Pentecost Sunday services May 31. The rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris said that it will not be ready to reopen for services Sunday marking Eid al-Fitr, the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

07:52 Russia has recorded 9,434 new cases over the last 24 hours, pushing its nationwide tally to 335,882. The country’s coronavirus crisis response center said there had been 139 new fatalities after a record of 150 deaths the day before, bringing the death toll to 3,388.

Russia has the third-largest number of infections in the world after the United States and Brazil.

Authorities have warned that the mortality rate is likely to increase in May. Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said on Friday that some 109,000 people are currently hospitalized —  an increase of 39,000 since May 6 —  with some 2,500 of those in intensive care. 

06:58 A small cluster of cases in northwestern Germany has been linked to the reopening of a restaurant following the easing of the nationwide lockdown. At least seven people who visited the eatery in Leer district, in Lower Saxony, have tested positive for the coronavirus.

“The infections are probably related to a visit to a restaurant,” said a statement from the district authorities. Lower Saxony, which lies next to the Dutch border, was one of the first states to allow restaurants to reopen from May 11.

Around 50 people who came into contact with those infected have been told to quarantine themselves. According to public broadcaster NDR, it is unclear whether staff or customers had ignored social distancing/hygiene rules.

They include a 2-meter (6 ½-foot) distance between tables, masks for waiters and an obligation to take the name, address
and phone number of guests so that possible infections can be traced.

06:20 The UK is planning to require companies to cover 20% to 30% of the wage subsidy paid to furloughed workers from August to reduce the state’s share of the pandemic-related aid package. The Times reports that employers would also be required to restart paying their share of national insurance contributions, which amount to 5% of a worker’s wage.

Earlier this month, the UK extended its job retention scheme — which covers up to 85% of a temporarily laid-off worker’s salary up to 2,500 pounds (€2,789, $3041) per month — until October but said it would ask employers to share the cost. The government has put a similar scheme in place for the self-employed.

05:48 Muslims around the world are preparing to celebrate the three-day Eid al-Fitr – one of their biggest holidays – as the dawn-to-dusk fasting of Ramadan comes to an end. The holiday begins on Saturday or Sunday, depending on the sighting of the new moon. Saudi Arabia has declared Eid will begin on Sunday. This year, the holiday will be marked with hundreds of millions of people confined to their homes during what is usually a festive time of traveling, visiting families, shopping and gatherings with loved ones.

Egypt: The government has moved its curfew four hours earlier to 5 p.m. local time and has banned all public transport for six days from Sunday. 

India: The government has banned large gatherings while in some states, Muslims have launched campaigns encouraging people to refrain from shopping for new clothes for the holiday and instead give alms to those in need. India’s 172 million Muslims have faced increased stigma, threats and boycotts by some Hindus who blame the coronavirus outbreak on a three-day convention of Islamic missionaries held in March.

Indonesia: The Southeast Asian country has seen a spike in new coronavirus cases in recent days as millions of people prepare for Eid. Although President Joko Widodo has banned people traveling home for the holiday amid fears this could give rise to transmission, thousands have reportedly made the journey this week. 

While many Indonesians, particularly migrant workers, have become stranded with no income amid economic hardship due to the impacts of the pandemic, thousands are turning to smugglers and fake travel documents to reach their hometowns in time for celebrations this evening.

Iraq: Streets have been seen filled with people busy shopping for clothes, toys and home appliances in the days leading up to the holiday. Most businesses have been allowed to reopen in the last few weeks but authorities plan to reinstate a 24-hour curfew over Eid. 

Iran: Health Minister Saeed Namaki warned people not to travel during Eid. Iran has suffered the deadliest outbreak in the Middle East with nearly 130,000 cases and more than 7,000 deaths. Ahead of the celebrations, authorities have canceled mass prayers in Tehran traditionally led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Malaysia: Authorities will allow Malaysians to visit relatives who live nearby, but such gatherings are limited to 20 people. People are encouraged to wear face masks and to refrain from physical contact and sharing plates. Some mosques have reopened, but congregations are limited to 30 people.

Turkey: Ankara has imposed its first nationwide lockdown before the holidays. The four-day curfew went into effect across all 81 provinces at midnight local time (2100 UTC Friday), on the eve of Eid festivities. People are not allowed to attend large gatherings or travel to visit family and friends. Congregational prayers in mosques have been suspended since March 16.

Saudi Arabia: Home to the holy Islamic cities of Mecca and Medina, people will only be authorized to leave their homes to buy food and medicine.

United Arab Emirates: Parks and private beaches will be open but groups will be limited to five people. Children under 12 and adults over 60 are banned from malls in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, while restaurants can only operate at 30% of capacity.

West Bank, Jerusalem: Palestinian authorities have announced that a lockdown in the town of Bethlehem will be re-imposed during the three days of the festival. Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound –  the third holiest site in Islam – will remain closed until after the holiday.

05:27 A police officer has been shot in Chile during protests against restrictions on public movement to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Police said in a tweet that a bullet hit the officer’s left arm during riots in the Cerrillos neighborhood, part of the greater Santiago de Chile area.

Police targeted demonstrators with a water cannon before a person ran into the street and fired in their direction, a video published by a radio station showed. The greater Santiago de Chile area remains under quarantine, so many people cannot go to work.  Although the government has announced the distribution of food parcels, delivery has been delayed. 

So far in Chile, 61,857 people have been confirmed to be infected and 630 people have died.

04:29 The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 638, bringing the total to 177,850 infections, the Robert Koch Institute said on Saturday. The death rose by 42 to 8,216, a rise from the day before.

Here are the German figures for recent days:

Thursday, May 21: 460 new cases; 27 new deaths

Wednesday, May 20: 797 new cases; 83 new deaths

Tuesday, May 19: 513 new cases; 72 new deaths

Monday, May 18: 342 new cases; 21 new deaths

Sunday, May 17: 583 new cases, 33 new deaths

Saturday, May 16: 620 new cases; 57 new deaths

Friday, May 15: 913 new cases; 101 new deaths

Thursday, May 14: 933 new cases; 89 new deaths

Wednesday, May 13: 798 new cases; 101 new deaths

Tuesday, May 12: 933 new cases; 116 new deaths

03:35 Demonstrations against coronavirus restrictions are once again expected to take place in several German cities this weekend, with protests announced in Berlin, Stuttgart, Munich, Frankfurt, and Hanover. 

The demonstration in Stuttgart is forecast to be smaller than the one last weekend that drew 5,000 people. In Cologne, some 500 people plan to make a human chain. In Bavaria, 60 separate protests are expected.

Last weekend, thousands gathered in cities around Germany to protest restrictions on public life put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Many argue that the restrictions violate rights guaranteed by Germany’s constitution. 

Other groups also turned out for counter-demonstrations against conspiracy theories and right-wing groups that police have warned could exploit the current situation.

03:33 Car rental company Hertz Global Holdings Inc filed for bankruptcy protection in the US and Canada after a massive drop in sales due to the coronavirus pandemic. Its operating regions in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand were not included in the filing.

“With the severity of the Covid-19 impact on our business, and the uncertainty of when travel and the economy will rebound, we need to take further steps to weather a potentially prolonged recovery,” CEO Paul Stone said.

The century-old company had racked up $18.7 billion in debt by the end of March, with only $ 1 billion of available cash.

Hertz had laid off 12,000 workers and furloughed another 4,000 in late March.

02:35 China reported zero new cases of the coronavirus for the first time since the country’s National Health Commission started releasing data. Yesterday, Premier Li Keqiang said the country has “made major strategic achievements in our response to COVID-19.”

The number of cases in China reached its peak in mid-February but dwindled rapidly as the country appeared to have brought the contagion under control. The number of deaths stands at 4,634.

The reliability of China’s official figures has been doubted, particularly by the United States. Beijing has denied accusations of a coverup, insisting it has been transparent in sharing information with the World Health Organization. The virus, which first emerged in the city of Wuhan late last year, has since spread worldwide, killing more than 335,000 people. 

02:11 New York state has lifted a complete ban on gatherings of any size, allowing up to 10 people to be together as long as they follow social distancing guidelines.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the executive order ahead of the Memorial Day, which honors US veterans who died while serving in the armed forces. “Please be safe and wear a mask,’’ the governor’s spokesperson said on Twitter.

The order is a significant step in easing restrictions imposed in March that barred all non-essential gatherings.

00:05 Here’s a roundup of the latest news from Latin America:

Brazil has reported 330,890 cases of the coronavirus, the country’s health ministry said, overtaking Russia as the second most affected country after the United States. The country also registered 1,001 new deaths, taking the total number of fatalities to 21,048. 

Most of the cases are in the densely populated Sao Paulo, whereas the highest rate of infection is in the state of Amazonas — 490 people infected per 100,000 population, said WHO emergencies director Mike Ryan. Unlike in the US and Europe where the elderly were the worst-hit, a significant number of deaths in Brazil are among younger people. 

Peru has extended its state of emergency and national lockdown until the end of June, as its confirmed cases rose to 111,698, the second-highest in Latin America. It has also reported 3,244 deaths. 

While the lockdown, which began in mid-March, has been extended for the fifth time, there will be easing of certain restrictions, as the Andean nation gradually reopens its economy. 

By June 30, Peru will have been under lockdown for more than three months. “We must move to a new coexistence, which allows us as a society to be more caring, more responsible, disciplined, respectful of the minimum standards of behavior so as not to harm the people we love the most,” President Martin Vizcarra said.

Cuba said it has curbed its coronavirus-related death toll by using two drugs produced by its biotech industry. The drugs, used on severely ill COVID-19 patients since April, reduces hype-inflammation, the government said. 

The country has reported just two virus-related deaths among the more than 200 active cases over the past nine days. 

One of the drugs is Itolizumab, a monoclonal antibody produced in Cuba and elsewhere. The other is a peptide that Cuba says its biotech industry discovered and has been testing for rheumatoid arthritis in Phase II clinical trials.

“Some 80% of patients who end up in critical condition are dying. In Cuba, with the use of these drugs, 80% of those who end up in critical or serious condition are being saved,” Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said.

Mexico has been downplaying the coronavirus outbreak for weeks, and the government said it had the situation under control, even as the country emerges as one of the global hotspots for the pandemic.

Mexico reported its first case in February and has since recorded 62,527 cases and 6,989 deaths. About a quarter of all cases and deaths were reported in the past week. Many of the deaths categorized as “atypical pneumonia” are believed to COVID-19 but are not included in the official count. The country has neither imposed a strict lockdown as seen in neighboring countries nor has it ramped up testing.

00:00 Catch up on yesterday’s coronavirus news here:

(DW)