The Latest: UK virus-related deaths rose to 52,000 by June 5
French President Emmanuel Macron listens to researchers as he visits an industrial development laboratory at French drugmaker's vaccine unit Sanofi Pasteur plant in Marcy-l'Etoile, near Lyon, central France, Tuesday, June 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani, Pool)
Britain’s statistics agency says the total number of coronavirus-related deaths across the UK has reached almost 52,000 by the week ending June 5.
The updated figure from the Office for National Statistics is around 10,000 higher than the government’s daily tally, which is based on the initial cause of death assessments. Those from the statistics agency are collated from death registrations, which can take a couple of weeks to be issued.
The statistics agency also said there were around 64,500 more deaths across the UK than the five-year average over the period of the pandemic. The UK recorded its first virus-related death in early March.
Excess deaths are widely considered to be the best gauge of the virus’ impact as they provide a clear guide over historical periods and include all-cause mortality.
Excess deaths in the UK have been declining over the past few weeks, along with a decline in the daily coronavirus death toll.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
DHAKA, Bangladesh — Bangladesh on Tuesday reported 53 new deaths from coronavirus in a day, the highest in a daily count, bringing the death toll to 1,262.
Nasima Sultana of the Health Directorate said 3,862 people tested positive, raising the total caseload to 94,481.
The new figures came amid calls to control new infections by locking down many areas in the capital, Dhaka, and elsewhere. Bangladesh, a nation of 160 million, has only 61 laboratories for testing. Experts say the country’s healthcare facilities have already been overwhelmed.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia has surpassed 40,000 coronavirus cases but will allow some schools to reopen.
A spokesman for the national COVID-19 task force, Achmad Yurianto, said there are 1,106 new COVID-19 cases in Indonesia in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 40,400 cases and 2,231 deaths.
The government will allow schools in “‘green zone” areas to reopen, which includes about six percent of students. But Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Makarim said 94 percent of the students in Indonesia cannot have face-to-face academic activities as they are located in 429 districts in high and medium-risk areas. The new school year is scheduled to begin on July 13.
BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungary’s parliament has voted to ask the government to end to its state of emergency declared because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tuesday’s proposal was supported by opposition parties and approved in a vote of 192-0. It will be up to Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government to end the state of emergency in place since March, which it is expected to do later this week.
Opposition parties also criticised another bill approved Tuesday that will give the government to right declare a “public health emergency” upon the recommendation of Hungary’s chief medical officer, granting it special powers to operated without parliamentary approval.
Watchdog groups said this will “allow the government to again rule by decree” for an indefinite period.
TIRANA, Albania - Albania has noted a significant increase of new virus cases in the last week, culminating Tuesday with 82, the highest daily figure since the pandemic began.
Health authorities said the increased infections were seen at both private businesses and public institutions with many employees.
Many cafes and other businesses have been fined for not respecting hygiene rules. A kindergarten was closed in the capital Tirana and many offices were closed. Albania has reported 37 confirmed deaths and 1,672 cases.
BERLIN — The German government plans to introduce an obligation that any cases of coronavirus in pets be reported to authorities. It says the move is needed to assist research into the virus.
Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner said Tuesday that the plan is for the move to be considered by parliament next month.
Kloeckner said that there will be no obligation for people to test their pets, but it would make sense to do so in certain situations – for example, if a cat living in a household with human coronavirus cases itself shows symptoms. She stressed there’s no evidence so far that pets can transmit COVID-19 to humans.
Germany has about 31 million pets and 83 million people. The head of the country’s animal disease research center said there has only been one known animal case there so far.
LONDON — Scientists at Imperial College London will start immunizing people in Britain this week with their experimental coronavirus shot, becoming the latest entry into the race to find an effective vaccine to stop the pandemic.
In a statement, the British government said 300 healthy people will be immunised with two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed at Imperial, which has been backed by 41 million pounds ($51 million) in government funding.
So far, the vaccine candidate developed by Imperial College London has only been tested in animals and in the laboratory, where it produced much higher levels of antibodies than would normally be seen in infected people.
Many scientists have warned that the pandemic might only be stopped with an effective vaccine, which typically takes years to develop.
TOKYO — Japan’s central bank echoed the Federal Reserve’s pledge of support for financial markets by beefing up its support for corporate lending. The Bank of Japan ended its policy meeting Tuesday without a change to its minus 0.1 percent benchmark interest rate and ultra-lax monetary stance.
It did expand its “Special Program,” including purchases of commercial paper and corporate bonds and its lending programs for commercial banks, from 75 trillion yen to 110 trillion yen ($690 billion to $1.02 trillion).
The Bank of Japan said the economy “is likely to remain in a severe situation for the time being due to the impact of COVID-19,” though it expects economic activity to resume gradually.
BOJ Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda told reporters that recovery for the world’s third-largest economy could come in the latter part of the year if the effects of the outbreak are mitigated. He stressed that the central bank's board agreed on taking extra action if needed.
KYIV, Ukraine — The wife of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has been hospitalized with double-sided pneumonia after getting infected with the new coronavirus.
Zelenskiy’s office said in a statement Tuesday that Olena Zelenska’s condition was stable and the president himself and the couple’s children tested negative for the virus on Monday.
Zelenska said she tested positive for the virus on Friday.
Ukraine’s authorities started to gradually ease lockdown restrictions in late May, resuming the operation of public transport, reopening malls and gyms. On Monday, the country’s authorities resumed international flights to several countries.
LYON, France — France’s president and the CEO of drugmaker Sanofi are visiting a vaccine lab amid a worldwide race to develop a vaccine for the new coronavirus.
Tuesday's visit comes after rival pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca this weekend announced a deal to supply 400 million vaccine doses to EU countries, including France. The company is hoping to have it ready by the end of the year.
Efforts by AstraZeneca and Sanofi are among dozens of vaccine candidates being pursued around the world. The race has prompted concerns that an eventual vaccine will go to the richest countries first.
Last month, Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson prompted outrage in France by promising to give the United States first access to the company’s eventual vaccine, because the US had invested more in its research. After pressure from the French government, Sanofi backtracked and said it would be available in all countries.
HELSINKI — Finland says it has lifted the emergency powers act adopted by the lawmakers in mid-March to tackle the coronavirus crisis.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said the measure to end the state of emergency, effective Tuesday, was taken as the COVID-19 infection rate has slowed down in the Nordic nation.
Marin said there was no need anymore for the exceptional measure act allowing bigger powers for the government and Finland would now gradually return to normal conditions.
She however stressed that “the end of the emergency act does not mean the threat of the epidemic is over” and urged Finns to continue practising social distancing and pay attention to hygiene.
ISLAMABAD — Authorities in Pakistan are taking action to seal off high-risk areas in the country’s 20 biggest cities after an increase in coronavirus infections.
Pakistan’s National Command and Control Center says raids are being carried out to impose fines and shut markets, industries and shops where social distancing regulations were being violated.
The sealing of high-risk areas began after Pakistan reported a big jump in COVID-19 deaths and a steady increase in infections.
Pakistan put its entire population of 220 million under lockdown from March until last month, when Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government loosened restrictions, saying it was necessary to save the country’s economy.
Critics say the government’s gamble resulted into a sharp increase in infections and deaths.
On Tuesday, Pakistan reported 111 new COVID-19 fatalities. It raised the overall death toll from the virus to 2,839 among 148,921 confirmed cases.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey has made the wearing of face masks mandatory in five more provinces, following an uptick in COVID-19 cases.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted early Tuesday that the wearing of masks was now compulsory in 42 of Turkey’s 81 provinces.
In the remaining provinces, residents are required to wear masks on public transportation and in shops and malls, and are being advised to wear masks and keep to social distancing practices elsewhere.
Koca tweeted: “We cannot struggle against the virus without masks.”
Turkey is seeing an upward trend in the daily number of infections after the government authorized cafes, restaurants, gyms, parks, beaches and museums to reopen, lifted inter-city travel restrictions and eased stay-at-home orders for the elderly and young at the start of June. The daily number of infections climbed to above 1,500 in the past five days after hovering around 800-900 previously.
JOHANNESBURG — Africa’s coronavirus cases are now above a quarter-million after South Africa registered a series of daily record-high new cases over the weekend.
South Africa further loosened its lockdown measures on June 1, allowing alcohol sales, more business openings and religious gatherings limited to 50 people.
The country has more than a quarter of the cases on the 54-nation African continent with more than 73,000. It saw its highest jump in cases on Sunday with more than 4,300.
South Africa’s struggle to balance measures to slow the spread of the virus and relieve economic pain are common throughout Africa, where the World Health Organisation last week said the pandemic is now “accelerating.”
ATHENS, Greece — Hundreds of health care workers have marched through central Athens demanding the hiring of permanent workers for the health sector, while Greece’s hospital doctors’ union declared a 24-hour strike Tuesday.
The union for state hospital workers also declared a seven-hour work stoppage for the Greek capital and a 24-hour strike for the rest of the country with the same demands.
Greece’s center right government hired hundreds of workers for state hospitals on fixed-term contracts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. Unions are demanding permanent hires, and for funding for the country’s health care system.
NEW DELHI — India recorded another 10,000-plus coronavirus infections as patients swamp health services in its largest cities.
The Health Ministry on Tuesday also reported a 24-hour increase of 380 deaths due to COVID-19, driving the death toll to 9,900.
The 10,667 new cases raise the nation’s total to 343,091, fourth-highest in the world behind the US, Brazil and Russia. The actual numbers, like elsewhere in the world, are thought to be far higher due to a number of reasons such as limited testing.
Maharashtra, the western state that is home to Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment capital, continues to have the highest state toll. Mumbai, Chennai and the capital New Delhi are seeing rising infections swamp their health services.
New Delhi is a growing concern with the federal government criticising its contact tracing and hospital capacity. The capital has about 10,000 beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients, half of which are already occupied. Hotels and sports stadiums are being considered for use as field hospitals.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand is no longer free from the new coronavirus after two women who flew from London to see a dying parent tested positive.
The new cases sparked a round of testing for anybody who might have been close to them, including their flight’s fellow passengers and crew, staff members at a hotel and a family member.
The women are isolated and have delayed the funeral of their parent until they have recovered.
New Zealand has counted 22 deaths from COVID-19, and until Tuesday, everyone else among the 1,500 people known to have been infected had recovered.
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine officials have placed a central city back under strict lockdown and retained quarantine restrictions in the capital for another two weeks as coronavirus infections continue to spike alarmingly.
President Rodrigo Duterte approved in a televised meeting Monday night with key Cabinet officials a recommendation to lock down Cebu city anew and retain quarantine restrictions in metropolitan Manila, where many of the nearly 26,500 infections and more than 1,000 deaths have been recorded.
First imposed in mid-March, the COVID-19 restrictions in metropolitan Manila have been among the longest in the world.
“The battle with COVID isn’t over,” Duterte said. “I can’t stop you from going out and I can’t catch all of you ... don’t blame us. Do not forget that we warned you about the grave consequences.”