COVID-19 UPDATES : More than 20,000 have died in Brazil, WHO says US$800m pledged to pay its response to coronavirus, vaccine could be ready by December, says Dr.Fauci


23rd May 2020 – (Hong Kong)  Total worldwide COVID-19 cases have reached 5,258,940 with 337,013 deaths as of 2am today.

The World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says almost US$800 million has been pledged to help pay for its response to the coronavirus pandemic this year.


Travellers arriving in the United Kingdom from 8th June will be required to self-isolate for 14 days, the British Home Secretary Priti Patel announced on Friday.

The UK’s death toll from confirmed coronavirus cases has risen by 351 to 36,393, the health ministry said. A total of 254,195 people had tested positive for the coronavirus as of 0800 GMT on 22nd May. A group of leading British scientists has warned it is not safe to reopen schools in England on 1st June, according to a draft report published Thursday.

The United Kingdom decided to end mass testing and contact tracing of those with or suspected of having COVID-19 in March because a surge in new cases at that time would have been beyond the system’s capacity, government advisers said.

George Soros, the billionaire financier, has cautioned that the European Union’s survival was threatened by the novel coronavirus unless it could issue perpetual bonds or “consols” to help weak members such as Italy.

Oxford University and AstraZeneca are recruiting around 10,000 adults and children in Britain for trials of an experimental coronavirus vaccine, a day after receiving US backing worth up to $1.2bn.

Italy has recorded 130 new deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic against 156 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the daily tally of new cases rose marginally to 652 from 642 on Thursday.

Spain’s overnight death toll from the new coronavirus has risen by 56, raising the total to 28,628, the health ministry said.The number of diagnosed cases rose to 234,824 cases from 233,037 on Thursday, the ministry added. The coronavirus mortality rate among some of the poorest Catalans is five times higher than among the wealthiest residents of the Spanish region, a study showed, in the latest evidence of how COVID-19 hits the needy hardest. Spanish authorities will lift part of the lockdown restrictions in Madrid on Monday after the pace of the coronavirus contagion in the region slowed down, the Madrid regional health department said.

Cyprus will reopen its airports to commercial flights from June 9 after nearly three months of lockdown, Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos has said. The phased reopening will initially allow passengers to fly to the small EU state from about 20 countries.

Czech health authorities believe the spread of the new coronavirus is under control despite a tick-up in cases in recent days, as the country prepares to open pubs, hotels and relax mask-wearing rules on Monday.

Bulgaria, which has started to ease its lockdown, has scrapped a ban on the entry of visitors from the European Union and Schengen visa zone countries, the health ministry said in a statement.

U.S. and Canada

Rising tensions with China sent US stocks down at the open. Not as much as other stock markets around the world, mind you: Global stocks got hammered today. The Hang Seng Index had its worst day since 2015. Still, the Dow was down 100 points at the open, and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq both fell about 0.3%.

Another 2.4 million Americans filed for first-time benefits last week on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Department of Labor reported on Thursday. In total, 38.6 million people have filed for initial unemployment aid since mid-March, when lockdowns began in full force across the country. 

The United States is calling on the World Health Organization (WHO) to immediately begin work on an investigation into the source of the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent timeline of events.

Two of the US military’s most senior leaders issued a stark warning Thursday that the threat from the coronavirus is still high and stressed they are preparing for a possible second wave.

White House Economic Advisor Kevin Hassett said “it’s pretty likely that there will be a fourth phase of stimulus” and said we could see it “sooner rather than later.”

Washington, DC’s primary election will be held on schedule on 2nd June, Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a news conference Friday. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday that it is “conceivable” the US could have a coronavirus vaccine by December.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo announced 170 new positive COVID-19 cases today, bringing the state’s total to 13,736.

The unemployment rate in Nevada has risen to 28.2%, Gov. Steve Sisolak said in a series of tweets Friday.

California’s unemployment rate rose to a record 15.5% in April, which is a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the state’s Employment Development Department (EDD).

New York City continues to meet two of the three thresholds it still needs to meet the state’s criteria to reopen the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. New York City will open an additional 13 miles of open streets to help with social distancing around the city ahead of Memorial Day, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday morning. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there were 225 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, based on a three-day rolling average, which is at a “level now that is lower than we first began.” There were 109 coronavirus-related deaths in New York on Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news briefing today.

The World Health Organization on Friday reiterated its stance on the drug hydroxychloroquine as it pertains to COVID-19: “Reserve it for randomized trials where it is approved for emergency use in clinical settings under close clinical supervision because of its potential side effects.”

New Jersey will increase the number of people permitted to gather outdoors from 10 to 25 people, Gov. Phil Murphy announced in a news conference Friday morning.

Miami-Dade County is planning to reopen beaches and hotels to guests other than essential lodgers on 1st June, according to a news release issued by Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s office.

All restrictions on youth activities in Florida, including summer camps, are being lifted immediately, according to Gov. Ron DeSantis in a press conference today.

Seriously ill COVID-19 patients who were treated with hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were more likely to die or develop dangerous heart arrhythmias, according to a large observational study published Friday in the medical journal The Lancet.

The Navajo Nation has announced another weekend lockdown, which will begin on Friday evening and end early Monday morning.

Canada will ramp up COVID-19 testing and contact tracing as it gradually lifts restrictions and is working closely with Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google on a mobile phone app to help, the prime minister said on Friday.

China and Hong Kong

President Xi Jinping said the Communist Party of China (CPC) is willing to protect people’s life and health at all costs, as it always puts people’s interests first. 

Hong Kong reported two new imported cases yesterday.

Elsewhere in the world

Russia has reported 150 new deaths from the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, a record daily rise, taking the country’s official nationwide death toll from the virus to 3,249. The country’s coronavirus crisis response centre reported 8,894 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infections to 326,448.

South America has become a new epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic with Brazil the hardest hit, the WHO has said. 

More than 20,000 people have so far died from COVID-19 in Brazil as the country registered its highest one-day toll. The health ministry said on Thursday the 1,188 deaths recorded over the previous 24-hour period pushed the overall tally to 20,047.

South Africa could see up to 50,000 coronavirus deaths and as many as three million infections by the end of the year as the southern hemisphere winter leads to a higher rate of infection, scientific models showed.

The number of foreign visitors arriving in Turkey has plummeted by 99.26 percent year-on-year in April to 24,238, data from the tourism ministry showed, as the coronavirus outbreak in the country shut down airports and tourism.

The number of new coronavirus cases in Qatar has risen by 1,830, the highest daily increase since the outbreak began, bringing the total confirmed infections in the country since the outbreak began 40,479. 

Coronavirus is believed to be spreading throughout Yemen, where the health care system “has in effect collapsed”, the United Nations said, appealing for urgent funding.

Hundreds of freight trucks have been stuck on the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua as the two countries remain locked in a squabble over measures to contain the coronavirus.

A wedding in northern Jordan led to 85 people being infected with COVID-19, resulting in one death, a new study published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.

New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, has said restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus will be eased to allow cafes, restaurants and pubs to have up to 50 seated patrons.  Australia extended its ban on cruise ship visits for three months until 17th September.

India has registered some 6,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus, the country’s biggest jump in 24 hours, as New Delhi eases a nationwide lockdown and airlines prepare to resume some domestic flights. The country of approximately 1.3 billion people reported a total of over 118,000 cases on Friday, a roughly 5% increase from Thursday’s figures. To date, India has recorded 3,583 fatalities due to the virus, according to the health ministry. India has registered some 6,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus, the country’s biggest jump in 24 hours, as New Delhi eases a nationwide lockdown and airlines prepare to resume some domestic flights.

Thailand will maintain its state of emergency over the coronavirus until the end of June, its COVID-19 task force said, in an effort to keep infections under control as the government prepares to ease restrictions further. Thailand reported no new coronavirus infections or deaths on Friday, maintaining the total of 3,037 confirmed cases and 56 fatalities since the outbreak started in January.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Singapore topped 30,000 on Friday, with 614 new cases reported as of noon. This brings the total number of cases in the country to 30,426.

Indonesia registered 634 new cases of coronavirus infection, taking its total to 20,796, according to health ministry official Achmad Yurianto.

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will be home quarantined for 14 days after an officer who attended a meeting with him this week tested positive for the new coronavirus, the prime minister’s office said in a statement. Malaysian health authorities have reported 78 new coronavirus cases, raising the cumulative total to 7,137.