COVID-19 UPDATES : Record number of coronavirus deaths reported in Brazil, domestic air travel will resume in India on 25th May, every US state will be partially reopened by today


20th May 2020 – (Hong Kong)  Total worldwide COVID-19 cases have reached 5,018,464 with 325,669 deaths as of 10.30pm today.


Four European countries will propose a tougher alternative to a huge Franco-German fund to help the economy through the coronavirus crisis, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised contact tracing system will be up and running in the UK by 1st June.

The University of Cambridge has said it will scrap all face-to-face lectures until mid-2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The British National Education Union (NEU) has called the proposed reopening plans “reckless,” and urged the government to share the data and models they are basing their evaluations on. The British government is still working on the details of how it will implement quarantine measures for people arriving in the country, interior minister Priti Patel said.

British clothing-to-food retailer Marks & Spencer announced a slump in annual profit as it booked a sizeable charge late on from the coronavirus outbreak and said it was slashing costs. Net profit collapsed 49.5 percent to £27.4 million ($33 million, 30 million euros) in the 12 months to March 28 from a year earlier, M&S said in an earnings statement.

Aircraft engine maker Rolls-Royce is cutting at least 9,000 jobs because of the collapse in demand for air travel caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Britain’s government stands ready to help those affected by a plan at engine maker Rolls-Royce to cut at least 9,000 jobs, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

Dutch authorities believe that a mink may have infected a human with COVID-19, and are instituting mandatory testing at all mink farms in the Netherlands.

People in Spain are now required to wear face masks in public spaces when a minimum two-meter (about 6.5 feet) distance can’t be guaranteed, the Health Ministry announced in a decree today. Facing growing political opposition and protests in the street, Spain’s Pedro Sanchez called for unity as his minority government sought parliament’s approval for an extension of the lockdown.

The German government gave itself new powers to veto hostile foreign takeover bids for healthcare companies, a measure designed to ensure a continuous supply of essential products during the coronavirus crisis.

Polish schools will most probably remain closed until the end of June, when children start summer holidays, government spokesman Piotr Muller told public radio.

Estonia has started testing one of the world’s first digital immunity passports, according to Back to Work, a coalition of technology firms, medical experts and local government officials developing the app.

U.S. and Canada

President Trump is expected to finish taking hydroxychloroquine in the coming days, two sources familiar with the matter tell CNN. He hinted yesterday that he won’t take it on a regular basis. 

US President Donald Trump again lashed out at China over the coronavirus pandemic, blaming Beijing for “mass Worldwide killing”.

US stocks opened higher on Wednesday, rebounding from the prior day’s session when all three major indexes broke their three-day winning streaks. The Dow opened 1.3%, or 322 points, higher.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday praised Taiwan’s coronavirus response, calling it a reliable partner, in a statement congratulating President Tsai Ing-wen on her second term; words that stood in sharp contrast to recent US criticism of China.

Chef and restauranteur Thomas Keller said he spoke to President Trump yesterday at the White House about the fallout of the restaurant industry during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Every US state has begun lifting measures enacted weeks ago to curb the spread of coronavirus though daily case rates still are rising in parts of the country.

New York City now has enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for the rest of the month of May, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a news conference Wednesday.   New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a four-part plan Wednesday to address the needs of seniors, especially those in nursing homes. There are 169 nursing homes in the city, many of which are for-profit enterprises.

Vaccination rates in New York City have been falling during this crisis, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.

New Orleans’ world famous coffee stand will reopen on Friday, Café Du Monde manager Kenny Swafford tells CNN. 

When college seniors entered their final year last fall, the national unemployment rate was at a near-record low of 3.7%. Today, the jobless rate for those aged 20 to 24 is at 25.7%, CNN’s Bianna Golodryga reports. 

Restaurants, offices, retail stores and outdoor museums and zoos in the state will reopen with certain restrictions today.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said offices in the city will begin reopening on 1st June, but there will be regulations in place to prevent a spike in coronavirus cases.

A spokesperson confirmed Monday that the Texas health department had been combining antibody test numbers with active infection test numbers when reporting overall data to the public, an indication that the positivity rate number could be skewed, though it’s not clear by how much. 

Purdue University President Mitch Daniels said the school is taking a hybrid approach to education as it gears up for the upcoming semester, plus implementing new safety measures for students. 

Switzerland will allow people to attend places of worship again starting on 28th May, the Swiss Federal Council announced. This includes services and celebrations of all religions.

The border between the two countries will remain closed to nonessential traffic until 21st June, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

China and Hong Kong

Accusations that China is using coronavirus aid to boost its geopolitical influence and vie for global leadership are “narrow-minded,” Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC)’s spokesman Guo Weimin has said.

Wuhan conducted 856,128 coronavirus tests on 19th May, up from 467,847 tests on 18th May, the city’s Municipal Health Commission said.

According to CGTN report, the “political virus” made by some Western countries cannot eliminate the “natural virus,” said Lin Songtian, president of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), stressing the need for cooperation in the fight against COVID-19. Lin made the remarks on Tuesday in a video meeting with leaders of civil organizations from 10 countries that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

No new cases reported in Hong Kong again today.

Elsewhere in the world

Ukraine may move its plans to ease lockdown forward, citing positive trends in the rate of new coronavirus cases, its President Volodymyr Zelensky said Wednesday. Ukraine has 19,230 recorded cases of coronavirus with 564 deaths.

An Israeli court rejected a request by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be absent from the opening of his corruption trial next week, saying he must abide by the practice of hearing the charges in person.

Cuba has gone a week without any coronavirus-related deaths, health officials said Wednesday, as the numbers of cases in the country continue to drop. Cuba has so far recorded nearly 1,900 coronavirus cases with 79 deaths.

Venezuela has imposed new curfews in a number of towns along its border with Colombia and Brazil after a jump in coronavirus cases.

The country recorded 5,611 new coronavirus cases today, its biggest one-day jump since the pandemic started. Daily case numbers have been climbing steadily all month, and surged this past weekend, with 10,000 new cases within two days.

Russia reported 8,764 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the country’s total to 308,705, according to the Russian coronavirus response headquarters. Russia’s coronavirus outbreak is entering a more stable phase, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said, while warning that restrictions should be lifted carefully in the 17 regions where such moves have been authorised.

Iran has reported 64 new coronavirus-related deaths over the past 24 hours, two more than yesterday, the Ministry of Health said Wednesday.

India’s domestic flight operations will resume next Monday “in a calibrated manner,” the country’s Civil Aviation Minister announced today. Domestic air travel will resume in India on May 25 after a two-month shutdown introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic, a top minister announced.

A local legislator in Pakistan has died after contracting COVID-19, hospital officials said, marking the first death of a political figure in the South Asian nation from the disease.

The coronavirus pandemic is complicating cyclone evacuation efforts in India and Bangladesh, as relief teams grapple with how to get millions of people to safety while also protecting them against the risk of COVID-19.

Kenya has reported 66 new coronavirus cases in the past day, it’s highest daily jump so far, bringing the overall number of cases to more than 1,000, its health ministry said Wednesday.

Myanmar police have arrested a Canadian pastor for allegedly holding a service in defiance of a coronavirus ban on mass gatherings, after which he and dozens of his followers and their families became infected.

Dozens of schools in Incheon city, west of Seoul, have been closed again on the first day back to school since the outbreak after two COVID-19 cases were found among the student body.

Brazil’s Lower House of Congress approved a proposed law Tuesday, which would make masks mandatory in public spaces amid the coronavirus pandemic. Brazil’s daily death toll from the new coronavirus reached a record 1,179 on Tuesday. The highest daily toll before that had been on 12th May when 881 people died. The pandemic has killed at least 17,971 people in Brazil, according to the Health Ministry.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian says people living in New South Wales will be able to take holidays within the Australian state from the beginning of June.

The Philippines’ health ministry recorded 279 additional confirmed coronavirus cases, the highest daily increase in nine days, and five additional deaths. Malaysia’s health ministry reported 31 new coronavirus cases, taking the cumulative total to 7,009 infections.

A Malaysian man has been sentenced to hang in Singapore via a Zoom video-call, the first time the city-state has delivered a death sentence remotely for a drug offence. The number of COVID-19 cases in Singapore crossed the 29,000 mark on Wednesday, with 570 new infections reported as of noon.   Singapore will gradually allow travellers to transit through Changi Airport from 2nd June, as it prepares to ease some COVID-19 restrictions and reopen its borders.

Thailand expects to have a coronavirus vaccine ready next year, a senior official said, after finding positive trial results in mice.