I will be handing over to my colleagues in London shorty, so here’s a summary of the main stories over the past few hours.
- New Zealand has recorded two new cases of Covid-19, their first cases in weeks. The two women, who are related, had travelled from the UK and were released from government quarantine and allowed to drive 650km from Auckland to Wellington on compassionate grounds.
- China has banned high-risk travellers from leaving Beijing. The move comes after a further 27 cases were reported in the cluster connected to a market in the city. A total of 106 cases have been diagnosed since Thursday. All high-risk people in Beijing, such as close contacts of confirmed cases, are not allowed to leave the city. Authorities described the city’s coronavirus outbreak as “extremely severe” as dozens more cases emerged, sports and entertainment sites were closed.
- Global cases have passed 8 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. It said there were now 8,018,742 cases and 436,406 deaths across the world.,
- The US Food and Drug Administration has revoked its emergency use authorisation for hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19, the drug championed by president Donald Trump. Despite the FDA’s actions, the president said on Monday other countries had provided great reports on the effectiveness of the drug on Covid-19.
- A study has estimated 20% of global population is at risk of serious illness if infected with Covid-19. An estimated 1.7 billion people risk becoming severely infected with Covid-19 due to underlying health problems such as obesity and heart disease, according to analysis carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and published in the Lancet medical journal.
- South Korea has reported 34 new Covid-19 cases. It’s the third day in a row its new infections tally has been below 40. South Korea has been one of the most successful countries in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, but recent clusters around the capital have caused concern, and a two-week period of toughened prevention measures in Seoul has been extended indefinitely.
- UK vaccine trials to start this week. Scientists will begin testing another possible coronavirus vaccine on humans this week. Researchers at Imperial College London will begin clinical trials in 300 people, to see whether their jab produces an effective immune response against Covid-19. The healthy participants, aged between 18 and 70, will all receive two doses of the vaccine over the coming weeks, and the hopes are that tests could then move on to 6,000 volunteers if they are successful.
- Thailand reports no new infections. On Tuesday the country reported no new coronavirus infections or deaths and marked 22 successive days without a domestic transmission.
- Some US-China flights to resume. The United States and China will each allow four weekly flights between the two countries, the US Transportation Department said on Monday, easing a standoff on travel restrictions in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
- Mexico passes 150,000 infections There are now a total 150,264 confirmed coronavirus cases and 17,580 deaths, though the government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the official count.
- Washington University predicts that US infections could pass 200,000 by October. The forecast projects 201,129 deaths in the US due to Covid-19 by October, mainly due to the reopening measures under way, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington said on Monday. It’s an 18% rise on its previous estimate. It said Florida would be among the hardest hit states, with an estimated 18,675 deaths, up 186% from a previous estimate. The institute raised its estimate for deaths in California by 72% to 15,155 and increased its outlook for Arizona by 56% to 7,415 fatalities.
Let’s take a quick look at that the British papers are saying about coronavirus this morning … and the Guardian’s headline is “Lengthy queues as shops in England reopen” alongside a large photo of the crowds.
The Times and the Scotsman both focus on education, with “Millions of pupils doing no work” and “Parents lead backlash over ‘chaotic’ back to school plan”, respectively.
The Telegraph quotes former Tory leader William Hague saying “Lockdown a ‘disaster for society’”.
The i has “Retail therapy aids stricken UK economy”, while the FT says “Retail renewal draws crowds”.
Thailand on Tuesday reported no new coronavirus infections or deaths and marked 22 successive days without a domestic transmission.
The country has recorded a total 58 deaths related to Covid-19 among some 3,135 confirmed cases, of which 2,993 patients have recovered.
It was the third time in six days that no cases were reported. All recent cases have been found in quarantine among Thais returning from abroad, said Panprapa Yongtrakul, a spokeswoman for the government’s Covid-19 Administration Centre.
We are getting more details now of the two new Covid-19 cases in New Zealand – the first cases there for 24 days.
The two women had travelled from the UK and were released from government quarantine and allowed to drive 650km from Auckland to Wellington on compassionate grounds.
The country’s health chief, Ashley Bloomfield, said the women had not put the public at risk, however questions will be asked about why they were not tested for Covid-19 before they set out on the trip.
After both women tested positive on Monday, one reported that in hindsight, she had been experiencing symptoms but had attributed them to a pre-existing health condition.
The New Zealand Herald reports that Bloomfield said that the women’s conditions might have been picked up if the daily health check in managed isolation had been done properly, including asking them about every individual Covid-19 symptom.
“My understanding is the person who had the symptoms was asked, ‘Are you okay?’ … The protocol is to go through each individual symptom,” he said at a press conference.
The women, aged in their 30s and 40s, arrived in New Zealand together on 7 June on a flight from the UK via Doha and Brisbane.
You can read our full story below:
The father of Minnesota’s Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar has died from complications from Covid-19. In a tweet she said it was with “ tremendous sadness and pain” that she said goodbye to her father, Omar Mohamed.
Ilhan Omar became one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress in 2018, along with Rashida Tlaib, from Michigan. Omar was the first Somali-America elected to Congress.
I’ve done a couple of posts today about China’s reaction to the new cluster in Beijing, which numbers 106 cases. Beijing has now banned high-risk people from leaving the Chinese capital and halted some transportation services to stop the spread of a fresh coronavirus outbreak to other cities and provinces.
China’s financial hub of Shanghai demanded some travellers from Beijing be quarantined for two weeks, as 27 new Covid-19 cases took the capital’s current outbreak to 106 since Thursday.
All high-risk people in Beijing, such as close contacts of confirmed cases, are not allowed to leave the city, state media reported on Tuesday, citing municipal officials.
All outbound taxi and car-hailing services have also been suspended. Some long-distance bus routes between Beijing and nearby Hebei and Shandong provinces were suspended.
The state-sponsored Global Times news outlet is also reporting that all samples of food and fresh produce taken in Shanghai have returned negative tests for coronavirus.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 378 to 186,839, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Tuesday. The reported death toll rose by nine to 8,800.
Germany has faired better than many of its European neighbours during the outbreak. Italy has recorded 237,000 cases and 34,000 deaths. France has had 194,000 infections and 29,000 deaths. The UK has faired the worst in Europe with 298,000 cases and nearly 42,000 deaths.
In a move likely to cause further tension between the US and the World Health Organization, the WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is scheduled to give a commencement speech to students at the elite Tsinghua University in Beijing in June.
Tedros will deliver an online speech to Tsinghua’s School of Economics and Management on 21 June, according to a notice from the university.
Donald Trump said in May the United States was ending its relationship with the WHO over the body’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, accusing the UN agency of becoming a puppet of China.
Scientists will begin testing another possible coronavirus vaccine on humans this week.
Researchers at Imperial College London will begin clinical trials in 300 people, to see whether their jab produces an effective immune response against Covid-19, Press Association reports.
The healthy participants, aged between 18 and 70, will all receive two doses of the vaccine over the coming weeks, and the hopes are that tests could then move on to 6,000 volunteers if they are successful.
Rather than giving people a weakened form of the illness, the Imperial vaccine instead uses synthetic strands of genetic code based on the virus’ genetic material.
The research has been funded by $51m from the UK Government, as well as $6.3m of other donations, and comes after a separate vaccine from experts at Oxford University started undergoing human clinical trials
The work has been praised by Business Secretary Alok Sharma, who said: “The fast progress of Imperial’s vaccine is testament to the ingenuity and tenacity of Britain’s researchers.
“If these trials are successful a vaccine will not only help us tackle coronavirus but also emerging diseases now and into the future.”
Australia’s most populous state will nearly double its public transport capacity from 1 July, allowing more locals to avoid driving as it continues to ease curbs designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The relaxation of rules in New South Wales will allow more passengers to board buses, trains and ferries, where capacity has been restricted.
The state premier, Gladys Berejiklian, urged people to travel outside rush hours if possible to avoid any community spread of the virus.
NSW, which includes Sydney, reported three new cases of the virus on Tuesday – all returned travellers who are in mandatory hotel quarantine.
Starting 1July 1, a 50-person limit on indoor venues such as restaurants and churches in the state will be scrapped, so long as they only allow one person for every four square metres.
The neighbouring state of Victoria reported nine new cases, including a grade 5 student at a public school. Of the new cases, three are linked to known outbreaks, two are in hotel quarantine, one was detected through routine testing and three are currently under investigation.
South Korea has reported 34 new Covid-19 cases, the third day in a row its new infections tally has been below 40. The new cases included 21 local infections according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
All but four of the locally transmitted cases were reported in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province that surrounds the capital, where up to half of the country’s population lives.
South Korea has been one of the most successful countries in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, but recent clusters around the capital have caused concern, and a two-week period of toughened prevention measures in Seoul has been extended indefinitely, Yonhap reports.
The Chinese state media tabloid the Global Times says the 27 new cases in the capital, Beijing, today takes the total in the past five days to 106, as per the graph below.
At least 29 local communities in Beijing are under lockdown as a result of the new cluster.
The Global Times also says that after the cluster of infections found in a Beijing market, Wuhan, where the virus outbreak began, started a three-day inspection of its supermarkets, wet markets and vegetable markets on Saturday. In a tweet, the Global Times said “all 6,178 samples took (sic) from those markets, including chopping boards, kitchen knives, tested negative for #coronavirus”.
An estimated 1.7 billion people – more than 20% of the world’s population risk becoming severely infected with Covid-19 due to underlying health problems such as obesity and heart disease, according to analysis carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and published in the Lancet medical journal.
The study analysed global data sets of illnesses including diabetes, lung disease and HIV used these to estimate how many people are at heightened risk of serious Covid-19 infection. It found that one in five people have at least one underlying health problem putting them in greater danger.
While not all of those would go on to develop severe symptoms if infected, the researchers said around 4% of the global population, or around 350 million, would likely get sick enough to require hospital treatment.
“As countries move out of lockdown, governments are looking for ways to protect the most vulnerable from a virus that is still circulating,” said Andrew Clark, who contributed to the study.
“This might involve advising people with underlying conditions to adopt social distancing measures appropriate to their level of risk.”
Clark said the findings could help governments make decisions on who receives a Covid-19 vaccine first when one becomes available.
The study found that less than 5% of people aged under 20 have an underlying risk factor, compared with two thirds of over 70s. Countries with younger populations have fewer people with at least one underlying condition, but risks vary globally, according to the analysis.