Key developments in the global coronavirus outbreak today include
Japan ends state of emergency
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe has lifted the state of emergency imposed due to the coronavirus crisis. He said on Monday that the country had managed to get the spread of the virus under control in under two months. Social distancing curbs were loosened for most of the country on 14 May as new infections fell, but the government has kept Tokyo and four other prefectures under watch.
Restrictions ease in Madrid and Barcelona
Major parks and cafe terraces reopened in Madrid for the first time in more than two months as the capital and the surrounding region moved into the second phase of the loosening of lockdown restrictions. The Barcelona metropolitan area and parts of Castilla y León also joined Madrid in the same phase, which allows groups of up to 10 people to meet as long as they maintain physical distancing. Small shops can also open without prior appointments and places of worship can reopen at 30% capacity.
Germany enters recession in first quarter
Falling consumer spending, capital investments and exports pushed the German economy into a recession in the first three months of the year, the national statistics office said this morning, as the virus continued to hurt the major economies. Capital investments slumped by 6.9%, private consumption by 3.2% and exports by 3.1% between January and March compared with the last three months of 2019.
Global cases pass 5.4m
There are currently 5,424,718 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. The death toll stands at 345,296. Both figures are likely to be higher, due to differing test rates, definitions and deliberate underreporting.
China says virus pushing US ties to brink of ‘Cold War’
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said that Washington seemed infected by a “political virus” but that Beijing would nevertheless be open to an international effort to find the coronavirus source. “Some political forces in the US are taking China-US relations hostage and pushing our two countries to the brink of a new Cold War,” Wang said. Speaking on Sunday, Robert O’Brien, Donald Trump’s national security adviser, likened China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak to the Soviet Union’s cover-up of the meltdown at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986.
US bars travellers who have been in Brazil in last two weeks
The White House has announced it is prohibiting foreigners from travelling to the US if they have been in Brazil in the last two weeks, two days after the South American nation became the world’s second-worst affected country in terms of coronavirus cases. Brazil meanwhile registered 15,813 new cases and 653 new deaths in 24 hours, taking the total number of fatalities to 22,666, and cases to 363,211 confirmed cases, the Health Ministry said.
Boris Johnson under pressure to sack senior aide
Pressure on Boris Johnson to sack Dominic Cummings has intensified, as at least 19 Conservative MPs publicly called on the adviser to face the consequences of breaking lockdown rules. The UK prime minister backed his senior aide at a defiant press conference on Sunday, saying it had been within the rules for Cummings to drive his family 264 miles to his parents’ estate in Durham while his wife was suffering coronavirus symptoms.
Chile’s healthcare system ‘very close to the limit’
The Chilean president,Sebastián Piñera, said on Sunday that the country’s healthcare system is under strain and “very close to the limit”, as the number of confirmed novel coronavirus infections approached 70,000, after a rapid increase in recent days. The Ministry of Health reported 3,709 new cases in the last day, bringing the total to 69,102. The death toll is at 718.
South Africa announces further easing of lockdown
South Africa will further relax coronavirus lockdown restrictions from 1 June, the president, Cyril Ramaphosa, has announced, allowing large areas of the economy to fully reopen. “Cabinet has determined that the alert level for the whole country should be lowered from level four to level three,” he said in an address broadcast on television, describing the move as a significant shift in approach to the pandemic.