16:12 GMT09 July 2020
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    Countries Ease Lockdown Measures While COVID-19 Cases Surpass 4 Mln Worldwide (197)

    The global death toll from the coronavirus infection has reached 332,924; over 5.1 million cases of the infection have been detected, and over 1.94 million of those patients have recovered, according to Baltimore, Maryland's Johns Hopkins University, which tracks and compiles data from national and local authorities, the media and other sources.

    The United States remains the country with the highest coronavirus death toll (94,702) and the largest number of confirmed cases (1,577,287). The US is followed by Russia with 317,554 cases, and Brazil with 310,087 cases.

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    • 03:29

      Number of Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in South Korea Rises by 23 to 11,165 – KCDC

      SEOUL (Sputnik) – The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Korea has risen by 23 to 11,165 over the past day, the Health Ministry's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said on Saturday.

      Out of 23 new cases, 19 resulted from the internal transmission. The majority of new cases, 13 ones, has been recorded in the province of Gyeonggi, while four more in the capital of Seoul.

      The death toll has risen by two to 266 people over the past day. The number of recovered people has reached 10,194.

      The country has conducted more than 780,000 coronavirus tests, with the results of 21,569 tests being processed now.

      A day earlier, South Korea registered 20 new cases of COVID-19 and one fatality.

    • 02:10

      China Records No COVID-19 Cases in 24 Hours for 1st Time Since Pandemic Start

      BEIJING (Sputnik) – China has registered no new cases of COVID-19 within the past 24 hours for the first time since the start of the pandemic, the National Health Commission said on Saturday.

      At the same time, the authorities reported about 28 new asymptomatic cases.

      No people have died of the coronavirus disease in China over the past 24 hours.

      The total number of COVID-19 cases registered in China stands at 82,971, with 78,258 recoveries, 4,634 deaths, and 79 currently ill people.

      The number of confirmed cases in Hong Kong stands at 1,065 people, with four patients having died and 1,029 more having been discharged from hospitals. Forty-five people have been infected with the disease in Macao, and all of them have already been released from medical facilities. The number of infected people in Taiwan amounts to 441, with seven of them having died and 408 others recovered.

    • 01:13

      Death Toll From COVID-19 in Mexico Rises by 479 to 6,989 People – Health Ministry

      MEXICO CITY (Sputnik) – The number of people, who have died of COVID-19 in Mexico, has risen by 479 to 6,989 within the past 24 hours, the Ministry of Health said.

      The ministry's director of epidemiology, Jose Luis Alomia, also said on late Friday that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases had increased by 2,960 to 62,527 within the same period of time.

      A day earlier, the Latin American nation has recorded 2,973 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 420 fatalities.

    • 23:01

      US Justice Dept. Backs Lawsuit to Halt Illinois' 'Sweeping' COVID-19 Orders

      WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US Department of Justice announced that it moved to support a lawsuit against the severity of restrictions imposed by Governor Jay Pritzker to counter the coronavirus outbreak in the state of Illinois.

      “The Department of Justice today filed a statement of interest in an Illinois federal court in support of a lawsuit filed by Illinois state representative Darren Bailey challenging certain actions of Governor J.B. Pritzker in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement said on Friday. “The Governor of Illinois has, over the past two months, sought to rely on authority under the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act to impose sweeping limitations on nearly all aspects of life for citizens of Illinois, significantly impairing in some instances their ability to maintain their economic livelihoods.”

      The Department of Justice argued that the governor’s actions are not authorized by state law, as they exceed the 30-day period allowed for the exercise of emergency powers.

      The statement is part of US Attorney General William Barr’s review of state and local policies “to ensure that civil liberties are protected during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

      WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US Department of Justice announced that it moved to support a lawsuit against the severity of restrictions imposed by Governor Jay Pritzker to counter the coronavirus outbreak in the state of Illinois.

      “The Department of Justice today filed a statement of interest in an Illinois federal court in support of a lawsuit filed by Illinois state representative Darren Bailey challenging certain actions of Governor J.B. Pritzker in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement said on Friday. “The Governor of Illinois has, over the past two months, sought to rely on authority under the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act to impose sweeping limitations on nearly all aspects of life for citizens of Illinois, significantly impairing in some instances their ability to maintain their economic livelihoods.”

      The Department of Justice argued that the governor’s actions are not authorized by state law, as they exceed the 30-day period allowed for the exercise of emergency powers.

      The statement is part of US Attorney General William Barr’s review of state and local policies “to ensure that civil liberties are protected during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

    • 22:48

      Serbia Records No COVID-19 Deaths in 24 Hours for 1st Time Since 23 March

      BELGRADE (Sputnik) – No people have died of the coronavirus in Serbia within the past 24 hours, for the first time since 23 March, a representative of the response center Predrag Kon said.

      "Within the past 24 hours, no people have died of the coronavirus in Serbia. Each day without fatalities is a victory," Kon told reporters on late Friday.

      According to the Serbian authorities, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country has risen by 105 to 11,024 within the past 24 hours.

      Serbia lifted the state of emergency on 6 May, and most state institutions and companies have been reopened. At the same time, social distancing measures and wearing face masks remain obligatory. Public events are still banned.

    • 22:01

      Turkey Records 952 New COVID-19 Cases Over 24 Hours, Lowest Number Since 25 March – Minister

      ANKARA (Sputnik) – The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Turkey has risen by 952 to 154,500 within the past 24 hours, which is the lowest daily increase since 25 March, Turkish Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca said.

      "Today, 952 new cases have been discovered, the total number of those infected has reached 154,500. We have lost 27 patients today, the death toll amounts to 4,276 people," the minister wrote on his Twitter page on late Friday.

      The number of recoveries has increased by 1,121 to 116,111 within the same period of time.

    • 20:34

      COVID-19 Case Count in Egypt Rises by Record Daily 738 to Almost 16,000, Health Ministry Says

      CAIRO (Sputnik) - The Egyptian Health Ministry registered on Friday a new daily record of 738 COVID-19 cases, with the total number approaching 16,000.

      "[A total of] 738 positive tests for coronavirus were registered. They were detected by monitoring people who were in contact with sick people. Eleven people died from the disease over the past day," Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed said in a statement obtained by Sputnik.

      The official added that all new patients were in COVID-19 hospitals and were receiving medical care in accordance with the guidelines set by the World Health Organization.

      "The total number of patients with coronavirus in Egypt is 15,786 people, 4,374 people have recovered, and 707 people have died," Megahed said.

      Last weekend, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said that the authorities would close many public spaces and extend the curfew during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr to limit the spread of the coronavirus. During the five-day holiday period, which starts 24 May, all shopping malls, restaurants, entertainment facilities, beaches and parks will be closed. All public transportation will be stopped.

    • 20:25

      Global Coronavirus Case Tally Approaches 5Mln, Death Toll Tops 327,000 - WHO

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The global coronavirus case count currently has risen by 100,284 to almost 5 million in the past 24 hours, and the number of deaths stands at 327,738, the World Health Organization said on Friday.

      According to the WHO dashboard, the total number of COVID-19 cases now amounts to 4,993,470, while the number of deaths has increased by 4,482 in the given period.

      The highest number of cases has been registered in the Americas – 2,220,267, a rise by 54,264 in the past 24 hours, with 131,605 deaths; followed by Europe with 1,966,244 cases and 171,327 fatalities.

      According to Johns Hopkins University, the global case tally stands at 5,159,674, with 335,418 deaths and 1,985,656 recoveries.

    • 19:48

      US Capital Has Highest COVID-19 Positivity Rate in Country - White House Task Force

      WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US national capital has the highest COVID-19 positivity rate out of all cities in the country, White House task force coordinator Deborah Birx told reporters on Friday.

      “The number one metro [area] with the highest positivity rate is the District of Columbia which includes Northern Virginia and Maryland Montgomery county and PG [Prince George’s] county,” Birx said at a White House briefing.

      The capital is followed by Baltimore, Chicago and Minneapolis.

      “These are the places where we have seen really a stalling or an increase of cases,” she added.

      Bird explained that high proportion of positive cases in the total number of people tested still means that the rates are under 20 percent.

      “All the other metros... are below ten percent. We see this great progress across the board in the metro areas,” she said.

    • 18:37

      Esper Says 'Absolutely Possible' to Have COVID-19 Vaccine Delivered to Public by 2021

      US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said on Friday that it is very possible to have a vaccine for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) available to the public by the end of the year.

      "Absolutely it's possible," Esper said. "We will deliver on time the vaccines."

      Esper expressed confidence in US medical researchers working on the vaccines, adding that the Defense Department has the capability to handle the logistics and get the manufacturing done.

    • 18:35

      Pentagon Reports 32 Dead, Nearly 9,000 Infected Among Its Soldiers, Civilians

      The number of novel coronavirus cases in the US armed forces, including soldiers, family members, civilian staff and contractors, has surpassed 8,950 with 32 deaths, the Department of Defense said in an updated fact sheet on Friday.

      The Defense Department also said 4,711 of the infected individuals have recovered from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

      The US Navy reported 2,330 novel coronavirus cases followed by the Army with 1,295 cases, the National Guard with 1,219, the Marine Corps with 517 and the Air Force with 469, the fact sheet revealed.

    • 18:34

      UK's COVID-19 Death Toll Rises by 351 to 36,393 Over Past 24 Hours

      The United Kingdom has reported a further 351 deaths from the coronavirus disease in the past 24 hours, taking the total death toll to 36,393, Home Secretary Priti Patel said at a briefing on Friday.

      The overall case total in the UK now stands at 254,195, an increase of 3,287 from the day before.

      Public health authorities in the UK announced 338 deaths and 2,615 active cases on Thursday.

    • 16:53

      South America New Epicenter of COVID-19, Brazil Most Affected - WHO

      South America has become a new epicenter for the coronavirus, with Brazil impacted heavily, Executive Director of the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies Programme Michael J. Ryan said Friday.

      "In a sense, South America has become a new epicenter for the diseases. We've seen many South American countries with increasing numbers of cases, and clearly there's a concern across many of those countries, but certainly the most affected is Brazil at this point," Ryan told a briefing.

      The WHO official also commented on the Brazilian government's decision to approve the hydroxychloroquine malaria for broader use.

      "We do point to the fact that our current clinical and systematic reviews carried out by Pan-American Health Organization and the current clinical evidence do not support the widespread use of hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19, not until the trials are completed and we have clear results," the WHO official said.

    • 16:51

      RDIF, ChemRar Name New Drug Undergoing Trials to Treat COVID-19 Avifavir

      A new drug that has shown its effectiveness at combating COVID-19, which is being produced as a joint venture between the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and the ChemRar Group, will be called Avifavir, according to a statement published by the RDIF on Friday.

      According to the organization, Avifavir is currently undergoing clinical trials and early results are promising. The RDIF stated that it is the first Russian antiviral drug that has shown its effectiveness in clinical trials.

      "Avifavir shows better results compared to other drugs that are currently being tested in Russia and abroad. RDIF and ChemRar are cooperating with both leading medical institutions and state regulatory bodies. We look forward to receiving approval for the production of Avifavir in the near future," RDIF CEO Kirill Dmitriev said in the statement.

      On Thursday, the Russian Ministry of Health gave the green light to begin trialing Avifavir on 330 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, the RDIF stated.

      In the first stage of trials, no side-effects were observed and the efficacy rate was over 80 percent.

    • 16:02

      Spain Allows Madrid, Barcelona to Ease Coronavirus Curbs

      Spain's central government on Friday allowed Madrid and Barcelona to move into the first phase of easing limits on public life after local authorities threatened to sue it.

      The national capital and the main Catalan city were left out of the lockdown phaseout, imposed nationwide to stem the spread of the coronavirus, for having high infection rates.

      "Sanitary zones in Barcelona... as well as the entire autonomous community of Madrid are moving into phase one," Health Minister Salvador Illa told reporters.

      The cities will allow outdoor dining, religious services and construction work starting on Monday. Museums, libraries, concert halls and culture centers will reopen and gatherings of up to 10 people will be permitted.

      Madrid's right-wing authorities threatened this week to take legal action against Spain's Socialist government for keeping the city under strict lockdown out of what they claimed were political considerations.

      The entire country has now taken the first step toward loosening coronavirus restrictions after Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he was hopeful it would return to normal by July.

      Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez said last week that the nation needed to end the shutdown sooner to bring tourists back. Spain plans to reopen beaches and will use drones to monitor compliance with social distancing rules, El Mundo daily said.

    • 15:58

      Russian Embassy in US Lowers Flag to Half-Staff to Honor COVID-19 Victims

      The Russian Embassy in the United States has lowered its flag to half staff in solidarity with the American people who mourn and honor the individuals who died from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Ambassador Anatoly Antonov said on Friday.

      “President Donald Trump decided to lower flags to half staff on official buildings to mourn and honor people we lost,” Antonov said. “Today, we also lowered the flag over the Russian Embassy to honor the victims.”

      On Thursday, Trump announced that flags on all federal buildings and national monuments will be lowered to half staff over the next three days to honor Americans who died from COVID-19.

    • 15:53

      Canada’s COVID-19 Case Total Hits 81,765, Death Toll at 6,180 - Health Agency

      The number of Canadians who have contracted the novel coronavirus grew by 1,210 cases in 24 hours to 81,765 on Friday, updated data from the Public Health Agency revealed.

      The COVID-19- related death toll rose by 2 percent to 6,180, the data also showed.

      The province of Quebec remains the epicenter of the outbreak in Canada, accounting for more than half of all confirmed cases - 45,495 - and 3,800 deaths.

      The province of Ontario trails with 24,628 confirmed cases and 2,021 COVID-19-related fatalities.

    • 15:48

      First Results of Russia's COVID-19 Vaccine Human Trials Expected in Early July - Official

      First results of human trials of a vaccine from COVID-19 are expected in Russia in early July, Alexander Gorelov, deputy director of Research Institute of Russian consumer rights watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, said on Friday.

      "A vaccine is not a medicine. ... Safety is formed in lengthy tests on different types of animals from cell lines, and then they are tested on volunteers. Given the phase and that the tests on volunteers have been carried out, the vaccine is usually assessed after 30 to 45 days. In our country, the first results will appear in early July, which will indicate that the strategy chosen by scientists turned out to be right or wrong," Gorelov said.

    • 15:15

      Half of Americans Now Working Remotely Want to Continue After Virus Crisis Ends - Poll

      About half of Americans working remotely would prefer to make the arrangement permanent once the coronavirus pandemic ends, a Gallup poll revealed on Friday.

      "Half of remote workers say that if it were up to them, they would continue to work from home because they prefer it. This includes 22% for whom that's the only reason and another 27% who cite concerns about the coronavirus in addition to personal preference," a press release accompanying the poll said.

      Overall, 70 percent of respondents said they were either always or sometimes working remotely.

      Now that some employees may be able to return to their workplace, it appears only a quarter are emotionally ready, according to the poll. Another quarter are reluctant to return specifically because of concerns about contracting COVID-19.

    • 14:46

      US Army, Navy Partner to Make COVID-19 Test Swabs - Pentagon

      The US Army and Navy inked a deal to jointly produce and distribute nasal test swabs needed for COVID-19 tests of military members, the Defense Department said in a press release on Friday.

      "Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, and the US Army Medical Materiel Development Activity at Fort Detrick, Maryland, finalized a memorandum of agreement to support the production and delivery of 3D-printed nasopharyngeal test swabs needed to support diagnostic testing for COVID-19," the release said.

      The swabs, once sterilized, can be used by the Defense Department in conjunction with COVID-19 testing kits that have received emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the release said.

      These swabs are 3D printed using surgical grade resin specifically designed for medical devices, and are similar in size to a coffee stirrer. The bristled ends on the swab are designed to collect a sample from the nasal cavity. After a sample is collected, the swab is placed into a sterile vial of a testing medium, capped, and delivered to a laboratory for COVID-19 testing, according to the release.

    • 14:23

      Drug Promoted by Trump as COVID-19 Treatment Increases Risk of Death, Study Says

      A study involving more than 96,000 COVID-19 patients around the world found those who took an anti-malarial drug promoted by President Donald Trump had a higher risk of death than those who did not, the medical journal The Lancet reported on Friday.

      “We were unable to confirm a benefit of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, when used alone or with a macrolide, on in-hospital outcomes for COVID-19,” the Lancet report said. “Each of these drug regimens was associated with decreased in-hospital survival and an increased frequency of ventricular arrhythmias when used for treatment of COVID-19.”

      The study involved 96,032 patients, some of whom received hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine alone, while others took those drugs in combination with other medications, and the remainder were included in a “control group.”

      “After controlling for multiple confounding factors, when compared with mortality in the control group hydroxychloroquine, hydroxychloroquine with a macrolide, chloroquine, and chloroquine with a macrolide were each independently associated with an increased risk of in-hospital mortality,” it added.

      The study concluded that there was no confirmed benefit of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 and warned that these drugs were associated with increased frequency of arrhythmias in patients.

      On Monday, Trump revealed that he has been taking hydroxychlorquine under the supervision of the White House doctor as a preventive measure for COVID-19. Trump said he was taking the drug in tandem with zinc and the Z-Pak, or azithromycin, a type of macrolide.

    • 13:46

      Russia to Launch COVID-19 Antibody Study in Late June - Public Health Chief

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The study for the coronavirus immunity will begin in Russia in the last two weeks of June, the head of the consumer health watchdog, Anna Popova, said Friday.

      "We will move on to a population study, we have to understand how many people in the population have immunity ... We are starting this work in the third decade of June so that people will have formed the immunity that we need to determine," Popova said.

    • 13:44

      Tokyo Registers Lowest Daily Increase in COVID-19 Cases in 2 Months - Reports

      MOSCOW, May 22 (Sputnik) - Tokyo registered only three new cases of the COVID-19 infection on Friday, which is the smallest number of daily injections in the Japanese capital over the past two months, media reported, citing health officials.

      According to NHK broadcaster, since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in Japan, over 5,100 people have tested positive for the virus in Tokyo.

      The news comes amid the government's plans to lift the state of emergency in the Tokyo metropolitan area next week.

      Earlier in May, Tokyo mayor Yuriko Koike said that the authorities were not planning to lift the state of emergency in the capital until the end of May. According to the official, the lifting of the state of emergency in Tokyo requires keeping the daily increase in COVID-19 cases at no more than 20.

      The broadcaster said, citing Koike, that Tokyo currently meets the criteria set by the central government for lifting the state of emergency.

      The Japanese government has so far lifted coronavirus restrictions introduced in April for 42 out of 47 prefectures after the infection rate slowed down.

    • 13:37

      Serbia Reports 105 New COVID-19 Cases, Zero Fatalities in a Day

    • 12:58

      Number of COVID-19 Cases in Indonesia Approaching 20,800 - Health Ministry

      MOSCOW, May 22 (Sputnik) - Indonesia has confirmed 634 new cases over the past 24 hours, a significant decrease from the highest single-day number of infections registered earlier this week, which brings the country's tally to 20,796, the Health Minister said on Friday.

      On Thursday, the authorities registered a record high daily increase of 973.

      So far, the death toll from the disease has reached 1,326, while over 5,000 patients have recovered.

      In late March, Indonesian President Joko Widodo declared a health emergency in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19, which was later extended until May 29. At the same time, the Indonesian authorities have recently begun the gradual relaxation of the lockdown measures. In particular, the government eased some travel restrictions for several categories of employees and officials last week and plans to gradually lift social restrictions in June.

    • 12:54

      Russia Enters COVID-19 Plateau - Public Health Chief

      MOSCOW, May 22 (Sputnik) - Russia has entered the COVID-19 plateau, Anna Popova, the head of the country's public health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, said on Friday.

      Scientists note that the situation is stabilizing, with a clear trend toward the reduction in new cases, Rospotrebnadzor chief noted at the meeting on the epidemiological situation in Russia.

      "I would like to stress again that the current situation, which is quite stably determined as a confident plateau, confident stabilization and further decrease, still calls for a special attention and strict compliance with all the requirements ... so that the situation does not deteriorate," Popova said.

    • 12:47

      Senior US Health Official Urges WHO to Start Reforms to Avoid COVID-19 Pandemic in Future

      MOSCOW, May 22 (Sputnik) - US Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services Brett P. Giroir on Friday called on the World Health Organization (WHO) during the WHO’s 147th Executive Board meeting to immediately start the reforming process needed to avoid the coronavirus pandemic in the future.

      "As President [Donald] Trump just made clear in his May 18 letter to Director-General Tedros [Adhanom Ghebreyesus], there is no time to waste to begin on the reforms needed to ensure such a pandemic never happens again," Giroir, the Executive Board member for the United States, said in a statement.

      The US representative also welcomed the appeal for an impartial, independent, and comprehensive review of the WHO's work during the pandemic, adding that the process should begin now.

      "We believe the WHO Secretariat can immediately initiate organizational processes for the review, pulling together independent public health experts and establishing terms of reference in keeping with the resolution, and it can do this in such a manner as to not interfere with WHO’s pandemic response," Giroir added.

      According to the US official, the review will ensure that the member states have a complete and transparent understanding of the source of the pandemic and the decision-making process for the WHO’s response to it.

      Earlier this week, the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution calling for solidarity and for an intensified joint response to the pandemic, with equal and fair access to COVID-19 treatments. The resolution also suggests an evaluation of the agency-led response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

    • 12:25

      UK to Set Out Further Details on Schools Re-opening Soon - PM's Spokesman

      The UK will set out more details on the reopening of schools to some pupils "as soon as we can", 'Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman said on Friday.

      "We continue to work closely with teachers, schools and the unions to address their concerns. The roadmap sets out plans to get more children into schools in the safest possible way from June 1 at the earliest and we will set out more details on our plans as soon as we can...We trust headteachers to know the best course of action for their own schools," the spokesman said, as quoted by Reuters.

    • 12:09

      Belgium's Daily COVID-19 Deaths Drop to 26, Toll Exceeds 9,200 - Ministry

      BRUSSELS, May 22 (Sputnik) - Another 26 deaths as a result of either confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases have been registered in Belgium over the past 24 hours, which is the lowest figure this week, taking the toll to 9,212, the Health Ministry’s data showed on Friday.

      On Thursday, the country reported 37 fatalities. At the beginning of the week, the daily fatalities were at 28.

      The case tally has risen by 276 to 56,511. A day prior, the case increase was 252.

      Another 56 people with COVID-19 have been hospitalized over the past 24 hours. A total of 268 patients remain in intensive care, which is a decrease from 277 on Thursday. Another 135 patients have been discharged from hospitals.

      On May 4, Belgium began relaxing its coronavirus-related restrictions. Businesses that do not require direct contact with customers were allowed to resume operations. All stores and street stalls were allowed to reopen and Belgians were allowed to receive guests, but with certain limitations — up to four people belonging to the same family and preferably in gardens and other outdoor venues.

      Restaurants, bars and night clubs are expected to reopen on June 8.

    • 11:36

      COVID-19 Case Count in Afghanistan Exceeds 9,000 Amid Lockdown Violations - Reports

      MOSCOW, May 22 (Sputnik) – The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Afghanistan has risen by 542 to 9,216, which is in line with the upward trend of recent days, as officials argue that lockdown violations are widespread in the country, the TOLO News broadcaster reported on Friday, citing the Health Ministry.

      On Thursday, Deputy Health Minister Waheed Majroh called on citizens to stay at home during the holy month of Ramadan and the upcoming Eid al-Fitr holiday celebrated this weekend and added that continued violations of the lockdown regime would lead the country to a health catastrophe.

      According to the news reports, 12 COVID-19 carriers have died in the preceding 24 hours, taking the death toll to 205. Meanwhile, the cumulative number of recoveries reached 993.

      The majority of the new cases were detected in Kabul, with 316.

    • 11:35

      India Lifts COVID-19 Entry Ban for Some Holders of Its Overseas Citizen Card - Ministry

      NEW DELHI, May 22 (Sputnik) - India allows a limited category of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders to travel to the country, reversing the coronavirus-induced entry ban for them, the Ministry of Home Affairs said on Friday.

      According to the ministry’s memorandum, those allowed to come back to India include children of OCI cardholders, university students who are OCI cardholders but whose parents are Indian nationals living in India, couples where one spouse is an OCI and the other is an Indian national, OCIs who wish to come to India for emergencies like death in family.

      Since the constitution prevents Indian nationals from holding dual citizenship, the country launched an OCI scheme in December 2005 to allow foreign citizens of Indian origin to live and work in India indefinitely, while retaining its ban on dual citizenship. OCIs have economic, financial and educational rights in India, but have no political rights.

      The relaxation of the blanket entry ban comes as India continues evacuating its nationals stranded abroad amid the pandemic.

      As of Friday, the country updated its COVID-19 tally by another record 6,088 cases to 118,447. The death toll has risen by 148 to 3,583.

    • 11:29

      Thailand's Vaccine Against COVID-19 to Be Available No Earlier Than 2021 - Authorities

      BANGKOK, May 22 (Sputnik) - A vaccine against the COVID-19 infection developed in Thailand and currently being tested in the United States and Canada will be available in hospitals no earlier than 2021, Taweesin Visanuyothin, a spokesman for the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration, said on Friday.

      Earlier this week, media reported, citing Suvit Maesincee, the Thai minister of higher education, science, research and innovation, that a prototype vaccine against COVID-19 developed by Thailand's Chulalongkorn University and recently successfully tested on mice was being prepared for manufacturing in the United States and Canada ahead of human trials. According to Thailand's The Nation newspaper, the prototype vaccine will be tested on monkeys next week. After production facilities in the United States and Canada are created, scientists will begin human trials of the vaccine. Still, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha called media hype over the potential early availability of the vaccine premature.

      "Yes, the vaccine has been developed by our scientists and successfully tested on animals. Its validity has been confirmed by researchers of the university in Pennsylvania in the United States. It is also true that jointly with the United States and Canada, a technology for its mass production is already being developed. However, there is still a long way to the mass production and use of the vaccine. The vaccine will not be ready for nationwide use until next year," the spokesman said.

      According to the official, it may take up to two years to make a transition from successful experiments of the vaccine on animals to the mass production for vaccinating people.

      Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in Thailand, a total of 36,037 cases of the disease have been registered. As many as 2,910 patients have recovered and 81 remain in hospitals, according to the spokesman. The death toll from the disease stands at 56.

    • 11:28

      Russia Grateful for US Assistance on COVID-19 Response - Deputy Foreign Minister

      MOSCOW, May 22 (Sputnik) - Russia is grateful to the United States for the assistance on COVID-19 response, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Friday.

      "Yesterday, we received the first batch, which included 50 artificial lung ventilators, from the US. We believe such gestures are absolutely natural, they are of a purely humanitarian nature. We are grateful to the US side for the assistance it provides at this stage," Ryabkov said at online talks organized by the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Foundation.

      Next week, Russia is expected to receive 150 more artificial lung ventilators from the US.

      The countries maintain intense dialogue, the deputy foreign minister said, recalling that Russian President Vladimir Putin had held six phone conversations with his US counterpart, Donald Trump, since the end of March. Over the same period of time, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has held four conversations with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and dialogue between embassies continues as well, according to Ryabkov.

      Although sanctions make relations between the two countries more complicated, Russia will never ask the US to ease the restrictions, Ryabkov reaffirmed.

    • 10:36

      Over 660,000 People Displaced Globally in 2 Months Due to Conflicts During Pandemic - NGO

      MOSCOW, May 22 (Sputnik) - Conflicts across the globe have forced more than 660,000 people across 19 countries to leave their homes in the period from March 23 - May 15, despite the United Nations' appeal for a global ceasefire amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Norwegian Refugee Council said on Friday.

      "Armed conflict forced more than 660,000 people around the world to flee their homes between March 23 and May 15, leaving people more exposed to Covid-19, and is preventing global efforts to control the pandemic," the organization said in a press release.

      According to the NGO, conflicts across the world have continued even in the countries that expressed support for the United Nation's appeal, such as Yemen. Of those internally displaced since March, the highest number was recorded in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo — more than 480,000 people were forced to flee their homes. 

      "The NRC appeals to UNSC [the UN Security Council] members to issue a clear call to warring parties to halt the conduct of hostilities and to settle their conflicts through talks and allow for a systematic response to the pandemic," the NGO added.

      In late March, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a global ceasefire to focus together on fighting COVID-19. Following his appeal, France and Tunisia prepared in April a document urging for increased international coordination and an immediate halt to hostilities across the world amid the COVID-19 crisis. While a total of 114 governments supported the document and wanted a relevant resolution to be adopted at the UN Security Council, the body was still unable to proceed to a vote due to disagreements regarding the document's content.

    • 10:34

      World Bank Approves $98 Mln Package for Belarus' COVID-19 Response

      MINSK, May 22 (Sputnik) - The World Bank said on Friday that it had green-lighted 90 million euros ($98 million) aid package to prop up Belarus’ health sector amid the coronavirus pandemic.

      In early May, the country’s First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Krutoy said that Minsk expected to get 90 million euros from the financial institution soon to support the health care system. The World Bank is currently financing nine projects worth $942 million in Belarus.

      "The World Bank has approved a €90 million package to help Belarus take effective and timely action to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by strengthening the country’s national healthcare system," the institution said in a statement.

      The aid, according to the bank, would address the health sector’s "immediate needs for medical equipment, supplies, and training to treat severe cases of COVID-19, including through provision of modern ventilators, pain medication, and antibiotics, as well as personal protective equipment for health workers."

      In addition, the project will strengthen public health laboratories and finance awareness campaign on social distancing and hygiene measures.

      The World Bank country manager, Alex Kremer, stressed that all these measures would have the most effect when combined with social distancing, such as canceling large gatherings, reducing physical presence in workplaces and educational facilities, as well as limiting non-essential movements.

      Belarus has refrained from introducing economic lockdown or movement restrictions. As of Friday, the country updated its COVID-19 tally to 34,303 cases. For more than two weeks, daily increase has been over 900 cases. A total of 190 people have died since the start of the epidemic.

    • 10:33

      Armenia’s COVID-19 Case Count Nears 6,000 Amid Eased Lockdown - Health Ministry

      YEREVAN, May 22 (Sputnik) – The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Armenia has risen by 322 to 5,928 over the past 24 hours, which is in line with the upward trend seen after some restrictions were lifted, the Health Ministry said on Friday.

      Since May 18, when kindergartens, gyms and shopping malls were allowed to reopen, Armenia has been registering over 300 new cases almost every day. In April, when the lockdown measures were more stringent, the country was detecting less than 100 daily cases on average.

      “Armenia has confirmed 5,928 cases of the coronavirus. In total, 2,874 patients have recovered. The death toll is 74,” the ministry said, adding that four patients had died over the given period.

      According to the health authorities, 2,952 patients are currently being treated in hospitals, and the country has already conducted over 47,000 COVID-19 tests.

    • 10:25

      Young Adults Hospitalised With Kawasaki-Like Disease Linked to COVID-19 in US - Reports

      MOSCOW, May 22 (Sputnik) – Several people in their early 20s have been hospitalized across the United States with Kawasaki-like severe inflammatory syndrome, which usually affects children and is linked to the coronavirus, the Washington Post reported on Thursday, citing doctors.

      The Kawasaki-like disease among children has been registered in several countries, including Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the US. Three kids with this syndrome have died across the US, and similar deaths have been registered in France and the UK.

      According to the newspaper, a 20-years-old patient with a similar condition was hospitalized in California’s San Diego, and several other cases of the syndrome hitting adults have been discovered in the state of New York.

      Jennifer Lighter, a pediatric infectious diseases doctor at the New York-based NYU Langone medical center, told Washington Post that "the older ones [patients] had a more severe course."

      Meanwhile, Jane Burns, the head of the Kawasaki Disease Research Center at the University of California, said that the syndrome was harder to detect among adults, as doctors have "never seen Kawasaki disease [among adults] before because that is a disease of children."

      Children usually experience symptoms similar to the traditional Kawasaki disease, with fever and rashes, while adults have more severe symptoms, as the disease can affect their heart or other organs, the Washington Post said, citing health care experts.

    • 10:24

      Singapore's COVID-19 Tally Tops 30,000, Most Cases Still Among Migrants - Health Ministry

      MOSCOW, May 22 (Sputnik) - Singapore’s COVID-19 tally has exceeded 30,000 after 614 new cases have been confirmed in the past 24 hours, which is the largest increase this week, the Health Ministry’s data showed on Friday.

      The case count now stands at 30,426. A day before, the country reported 448 new cases. Since late April, the daily increase has not exceeded 1,000.

      The bulk of new infections is still being registered among foreign workers living in dormitories, with only four cases involving Singaporeans or permanent residents. The death toll remains at 23.

      Last week, the city state partially eased lockdown restrictions, allowing certain businesses to resume, provided that stringent hygiene standards are met.

    • 10:23

      Number of Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Pakistan Surpasses 50,000 - Government

      MOSCOW, May 22 (Sputnik) - The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan has increased by 2,603 to 50,694, the country's government said on Friday.

      Since May 10, the number of those infected in the country has increased by over 20,000.

      A total of 1,067 patients died of the infection in Pakistan, while 15,201 others have recovered.

      Among the most affected provinces are Sindh with 19,924 cases and Punjab with 18,455, the government said.

      Earlier in May, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said that lockdown measures would be eased, citing the economic difficulties Pakistan is facing amid the epidemiological crisis.

    • 09:32

      Scottish Government Will Not Publish Advance Timetable of Set Dates for Lockdown Easing

    • 09:31

      Public Health England’s Agency Not Rejecting South Korean Model of Mass Coronavirus Testing

    • 09:30

      14-Day Isolation or £1,000 Fine: UK Reportedly to Introduce New COVID-19 Rules for Visitors in June

      Plane Shadow

      14-Day Isolation or £1,000 Fine: UK Reportedly to Introduce New COVID-19 Rules for Visitors in June

      Downing Street has revealed that, beginning June 1, those arriving in the United Kingdom, including Britons returning from abroad, must self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days, as part of the country’s efforts to lessen the likelihood of a second wave of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
      Read more
    • 08:59

      Italy’s Veneto Sees No New COVID-19 Cases for 1st Time Since Start of Outbreak

      Italy’s northern region of Veneto, one of the epicenters of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, has for the first time since the outbreak began, not registered any new coronavirus cases over the last day, Andrea Crisanti, a virologist and a professor at the University of Padua, said on Thursday.

      Veneto, with 19,038 cases, is among the regions hit hardest by COVID-19, after Lombardy with 86,091, Piedmont with 29,990 and Emilia-Romagna with 27,417. Meanwhile, the regional authorities have conducted more coronavirus tests per capita than most other regions, including Lombardy.

      “Zero cases - this is the positive result, which should be maintained by the responsible behavior,” Crisanti, who advises regional authorities on the COVID-19 response, said.

      Crisanti was among the researchers who proposed experimental mass testing in Veneto's Vo commune back in March. The virologists mass-tested all 3,000 residents of the municipality, including people with no COVID-19 symptoms at all, which allowed the local authorities to prevent the uncontrolled spread of the infections and led to an early lockdown exit.

    • 08:39

      Malaysia Reports 78 New Coronavirus Cases, Increasing Total to 7,137

    • 07:40

      Russia Registers 8,894 COVID-19 Cases Over Past 24 Hours

      Russia has registered 8,894 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours (8,849 yesterday), bringing the total count to 326,448, the national coronavirus response centre said on Friday.

      "Over the past 24 hours, 8,894 COVID-19 cases have been registered in 84 regions. Of these, 3,751 (or 42.2 percent) have been detected actively, with people showing no clinical symptoms," the center said in a statement.

      This brings the total tally to 326,448 (+2.8 percent) in 85 regions across Russia.

      Of all the new cases, 2,988 have been registered in Moscow, 824 in Moscow region and 389 in St. Petersburg (compared to yesterday's 2,913, 892 and 408, respectively).

      The country's COVID-19 death toll has increased by a record 150 (127 yesterday) to 3,249.

      As many as 7,144 COVID-19 patients have recovered in Russia over the past 24 hours (7,289 yesterday), bringing the total number of cured people to 99,825.

    • 07:23

      China to Issue Public Bonds Worth 1 Trillion Yuan to Fight COVID-19 Pandemic

      China is going to issue public bonds worth 1 trillion yuan (about $141 billion) in 2020 to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the government's report issued on Friday said.

      "The deficit-to-GDP ratio this year is projected at more than 3.6 percent, with a deficit increase of one trillion yuan over last year. On top of this, one trillion yuan of government bonds for covid-19 control will also be issued. These are extraordinary measures for an unusual time," the report said.

      According to the report, these funds will be transferred in full to local governments for the benefit of businesses and people.

    • 07:12

      Over 8.1Mln COVID-19 Tests Conducted in Russia

      Over 8.1 million tests to detect the coronavirus have been conducted in Russia since the beginning of the outbreak, and 277,000 suspected carriers of COVID-19 remain under medical monitoring across the country, the national public health watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, said on Friday.

      "Over 8.1 million coronavirus tests have been conducted in the Russian Federation. A total of 277,000 people remain under medical monitoring," Rospotrebnadzor said in a statement.

      As many as 285,000 tests have been conducted in the country over the past 24 hours, the watchdog specified.

    • 06:41

      Russia Should Hold Major COVID-19 Antibody Study at Least 7 Weeks After Peak - Official

      It is too early to hold a population-level COVID-19 antibody survey in Russia, it should be held at least seven weeks after the peak is reached, but there is already a concept of this study, Anna Popova, the head of the country's public health watchdog, has said in an interview with Sputnik.

      "I believe it is still too early to hold this survey. We have started working on it, we have already laid out work in different regions, we have determined the cohort. There is an understanding of how this will be done, and there is enough time to prepare," Popova added.

      Scientists believe that at least seven weeks should pass after the peak of the epidemic to make such a survey expedient, Rospotrebnadzor chief added. This is when it will be possible to detect the antibodies ensuring immune response in case of any further "meeting" with the virus.

    • 06:41

      Home Secretary Will Set Out Quarantine Measures for International Arrivals Later Today - UK Northern Ireland Secretary Lewis

    • 06:21

      Britain Extends COVID-19 Mortgage Payment Holiday by Three Months

      "Everyone's circumstances will be different, so when homeowners can pay some or all of their mortgage, they should work with their lender on a plan; but if they are still struggling, I want them to know that help is there," John Glen, economic secretary to the Treasury said in a statement.

    • 04:47

      Kyrgyzstan: Total COVID-19 Cases Reach 1,350

    • 04:46

      Germany Records 460 New COVID-19 Cases, Total Reaches 177,212

      Germany has confirmed 460 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, with the total count reaching 177,212, the Robert Koch Institute said on Friday.

      The death toll has grown by 27 to 8,174 people within the same period of time.

      A day earlier, the country confirmed 745 new cases and 57 fatalities.

      More than 159,000 COVID-19 patients have recovered in Germany since the beginning of the outbreak.

    • 04:45

      Thailand Reports No New Coronavirus Cases, No New Deaths

    • 04:44

      Australia's Most Populous State to Relax Restrictions on Hospitality Sector

      On 1 June New South Wales, Australia is easing restrictions which previously limited cafes and restaurants to 10 customers at a time.

      "Losing 221,000 jobs in April was a disaster," state premier Gladys Berejiklian said. "We don't want to see that continue.".


    • 04:41

      Highest Spike in New COVID-19 Cases Reported in India: 6,088 New Cases and 148 Deaths in 24 Hours

      The COVID-19 case curve continues to rise in India, with the country's tally increasing by another record 6,088 cases to a total of 118,447 over the past 24 hours, despite an ongoing lockdown, the Health Ministry said on Friday.

      The daily increase in the number of coronavirus in the country stood at 5,609 on Thursday and 5,611 on Wednesday.

      According to the ministry, 148 coronavirus-related fatalities have been registered over the past day, bringing the death toll to 3,583. There are currently 66,330 active cases in India, and the number of recoveries has increased by 3,234 to 48,533 in total.

      The central Maharashtra state continues to be the epicenter of the outbreak in the country, with 41,642 confirmed cases, followed by the southeastern Tamil Nadu state with 13,967 cases and the westernmost Gujarat state with 12,905 cases.

    COVID-19 Live Updates: Global Coronavirus Case Tally Approaches 5Mln, Death Toll Tops 327,000 - WHO
    Countries Ease Lockdown Measures While COVID-19 Cases Surpass 4 Mln Worldwide (197)
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