Coronavirus: South Korea warns of second wave as Germany sees spike in cases

World round up: Spain marks lowest daily death toll since mid-March; 4m cases recorded globally

 Barbara shows her baby Luca, only three months old, for the first time to her grandparents Adriana and Luciano in Piazza Transalpina between the wire mesh that divides Piazza Transalpina on Friday in Gorizia, Italy. Photograph: Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

Barbara shows her baby Luca, only three months old, for the first time to her grandparents Adriana and Luciano in Piazza Transalpina between the wire mesh that divides Piazza Transalpina on Friday in Gorizia, Italy. Photograph: Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

 

Coronavirus has infected more than 4 million people and killed more than 279,000, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. Here are the latest updates on the Covid-19 pandemic from around the world:

South Korea

South Korea warned of a second wave of the novel coronavirus on Sunday as infections rebounded to a one-month high, just as the authorities were starting to ease some pandemic restrictions.

“It’s not over until it’s over,” president Moon Jae-in told the nation, saying a new cluster shows the virus can spread widely at any time, and warning of a second wave late this year.

The Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 34 new infections, the highest such figure since April 9th, after a small outbreak emerged around a slew of nightclubs, prompting the authorities to temporarily close all nightly entertainment facilities around the capital Seoul.

The death toll remained at 256.

Health minister Park Neung-hoo said the government will decide on whether it will reopen schools in stages starting from May 13th as planned after examining the impact of the nightclub cases for two to three days.

The government had been easing some social distancing restrictions and moving to fully reopen schools and businesses, in a transition from intensive social distancing to “distancing in daily life”.

Germany

Germany, which managed to push daily new infections below 1,000 before deciding to loosen restrictions, has seen regional spikes in cases linked to slaughterhouses and nursing homes. By Saturday, the country’s public health authority said new infections were above 1,000 again. German officials have expressed concerns about the growing number of large demonstrations in the country, including one in the southwestern city of Stuttgart that drew thousands of participants. Police in Berlin stepped in on Saturday after hundreds of people failed to respect social distancing measures at anti-lockdown rallies in the German capital. Chancellor Angela Merkel and the governors of Germany’s 16 states last week cleared the way for restaurants, hotels and remaining stores to reopen.

Spain

Spain’s daily death toll from the coronavirus fell to 143 on Sunday, down from 179 the previous day, its health ministry reported. It marks the lowest daily death toll since mid-March. Overall deaths rose to 26,621 from 26,478 on Saturday and the number of diagnosed cases rose to 224,390 from 223,578, the ministry said. Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez has said loosening the nearly two-month lockdown will be for nought if people do not obey social distancing rules. He reminded Spaniards on Saturday, two days before 51 per cent of the nation of 47 million will be allowed to sit at outdoor cafes, “the virus has not disappeared”. Residents in some Spanish regions will be able to enjoy limited seating at bars, restaurants and other public places beginning on Monday, but Madrid and Barcelona, the country’s largest cities, will remain shut down.

France

The number of people who have died from coronavirus infections in France rose by 70 to 26,380 on Sunday, its health ministry said, a smaller increase than the previous day, as France prepared to emerge from lockdown on Monday. The ministry said the number of people in intensive care units – a key measure of a health system’s ability to deal with the pandemic – fell by 36 to 2,776, down from a peak of 7,148 seen on April 8th.

Italy

Deaths from the Covid-19 epidemic in Italy rose by 165 on Sunday, against an increase of 194 the day before, Italy’s Civil Protection Agency said, as the daily tally of new cases fell to 802 from 1,083 on Saturday.

The total death toll since the outbreak came to light in the country on February 21st now stands at 30,560, the agency said. Sunday’s figure was the lowest daily death toll since March 9th. For the first time since early March new cases were under 1,000, with the total number of confirmed cases now amounting to 219,070, the third-highest such tally in the world behind those of the US and Spain.The number of people registered as currently carrying the virus fell to 83,324 from 84,842 the day before. There were 1,027 people in intensive care on Sunday, edging down from 1,034 on Saturday, maintaining a long-running decline.

Italy had started to gradually lift draconian restrictions the government had imposed in early March to contain the outbreak, allowing people to leave their homes more freely and companies to reopen. Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte has said he may further ease Italy’s lockdown earlier than planned, while urging the EU to ensure that resources from a new recovery fund are available in the second half of the year to help the country’s devastated economy.

Opposition parties in Italy have filed a motion of no-confidence in the justice minister, Alfonso Bonafede, who was criticised for releasing 376 top mafiosi from prison because of the risk of coronavirus infection. During the pandemic, Italian judges have released hundreds of elderly mobsters owing to their vulnerability to Covid-19 complications, but prosecutors, anti-mafia associations and opposition parties have warned that mafia members could abuse this to secure their release.

UK

The UK’s Covid-19 death toll has risen by 269, according to figures announced on Sunday by the UK department of health. The figures comprise deaths in all settings following positive coronavirus tests and cover the period up to 4pm on Saturday.

The number of deaths involving Covid-19 that have been registered across the UK currently stands at 33,021. Sunday’s figures from NHS England show that a further 3,782 hospital patients who had tested positive for Covid-19 died between April 25th and May 9th — which, together with the total figure of registered deaths, suggests the overall death toll for the UK has now passed 36,800. Prime minister Boris Johnson on Sunday in a televised address unveiled a coronavirus warning system as he outlined his plans to gradually ease the lockdown.

China

China’s National Health Commission reported 14 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Saturday, the highest number since April 28th, including the first for more than a month in the city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected late last year.

While China had officially designated all areas of the country as low-risk last Thursday, the new cases, according to data published on Sunday, represent a jump from the single case reported for the day before. The number was lifted by a cluster of 11 in Shulan city in northeastern Jilin province.

The new Wuhan case, the first reported in the epicentre of China’s outbreak since April 3rd, was previously asymptomatic, according to the health commission. The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in mainland China reached 82,901 as of May 9th, while the total death toll from the virus stood at 4,633, according to the commission.

China also issued a lengthy rebuttal of what it said were 24 “preposterous allegations” by some leading US politicians over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak. A 30-page, 11,000-word article posted on the foreign ministry website on Saturday night repeated and expanded on the refutations made during recent press briefings.

Russia

The Russian authorities said on Sunday they had recorded 11,012 new cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours, bringing the nationwide tally to 209,688. Russia’s coronavirus taskforce said 88 people had died from the virus in the past day, pushing the national death toll to 1,915. Russian coronavirus cases overtook French and German infections this week to become the fifth highest in the world.

Australia

Australia’s most populous state, home to Sydney, will allow restaurants, playgrounds and outdoor pools to reopen on Friday as extensive testing has shown the spread of coronavirus has slowed sharply, New South Wales state’s premier said on Sunday. The state has been worst hit by coronavirus in Australia, with about 45 per cent of the country’s confirmed cases and deaths. The planned moves are in line with a three-step plan to relax lockdown measures outlined by the Australian government on Friday, which would see nearly 1 million people return to work by July. Separately, health minister Greg Hunt said Australia’s government supports an EU motion for an independent investigation into the origins of Covid-19 in China.

North America

Three members of the White House coronavirus taskforce, including Dr Anthony Fauci, have placed themselves in quarantine after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19. Dr Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a leading member of the taskforce, has become nationally known for his simple and direct explanations to the public about coronavirus. Dr Fauci’s institute said that he has tested negative for Covid-19 and will continue to be tested regularly.

The US has seen 1.3 million infections and nearly 80,000 deaths in the pandemic, the most in the world by far, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Coronavirus patients were being turned away from hospitals in the Mexico City on Saturday, as both public and private medical facilities quickly fill up and the number of new infections continues to rise.

Brazil

Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has continued to brush off coronavirus, taking a spin on a jet-ski to a floating barbecue and attacking Covid-19 “neurosis” as his country’s death toll rose to more than 10,000.

Mr Bolsonaro has faced domestic and international condemnation for his dismissive attitude toward the pandemic. The rightwing populist continues to play down the disease despite the growing evidence of its deadly impact on Brazil. On Saturday morning, the public outcry appeared to be having an effect, after Mr Bolsonaro scrapped a large barbecue and kick-about he had intended to hold at his presidential palace, in violation of his own health ministry’s recommendations. Critics had called it his “barbecue of death”. Within hours of the cancellation, however, Mr Bolsonaro was taking the jet-ski ride on Brasilia’s Paranoa lake. The excursion – which came as Brazil’s official Covid-19 death toll rose to 10,627, with nearly 156,000 confirmed cases and thousands of families mourning lost loved ones – sparked anger and revulsion.

India

An Indian navy warship carrying Indians stranded in the Maldives because of a coronavirus lockdown has docked at a port in Kochi, the capital of the southernmost state of Kerala. The INS Jalashwa, with 698 returning citizens on board, is the first vessel to arrive as part of India’s massive repatriation mission. India is also using national carrier Air India to bring back thousands of stranded citizens from the Persian Gulf, the UK and elsewhere in Asia. India’s lockdown has now entered a sixth week. Nationwide, the pace of Covid-19 infection is growing, and India has reported 60,829 cases, including 19,357 recovered patients, and 2,109 deaths.

Middle East

Turkey’s senior citizens got their first chance to venture outside in seven weeks on Sunday under relaxed coronavirus restrictions. People aged 65 and over, the age group most at risk from the virus, were subjected to a stay-at-home curfew on March 21st. As part of a rolling programme of reduced controls, they are now allowed out for four hours a day.

Israel partly reopened nurseries and kindergartens, increasing the number of children who have returned to daycare as part of efforts to revive the economy.

Africa

Africa has more than 60,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to a tally from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The Africa CDC says that all but one of the continent’s 54 countries, tiny Lesotho, has confirmed cases of the virus. South Africa has the most, with more than 9,400 registered. The widespread shortage of testing capacity continues to be a challenge and means the true figures are likely to be much higher. Some countries are easing lockdowns even as cases rise, arguing that people have to make a living and feed their families despite the risks.

Japan and Singapore

More than 90 per cent of hospital beds secured for Covid-19 patients in Tokyo have already been occupied, the Japanese health ministry said on Sunday, underscoring the pressing need to curb the further spread of coronavirus there.

Singapore registered 876 new coronavirus infections, its health ministry said on Sunday, taking the city-state’s total to 23,336 cases. The vast majority of the newly infected people are migrant workers living in dormitories, the health ministry said in a statement. Three are permanent residents. –Reuters, PA, Guardian, Bloomberg