Here are the most important developments from around the world.
Global confirmed cases near 4.9 million.
According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, at least 323,286 people are known to have died while at least 4,897,567 are confirmed as having been infected since the outbreak began. The figures, which are based on official and media reports, are likely to significantly underestimate the scale of the pandemic due to differing testing and statistical recording regimes, as well as suspected undercounting.
Donald Trump claimed scientists carried out hydroxychloroquine study because they oppose him politically.
The study of hundreds of patients at US veterans health administration medical centers showed that those who took hydroxychloroquine had a 27.8% death rate, while those who did not had an 11.4% death rate. Trump said: “That was a false study done. Where they gave it very sick people. Extremely sick people. People that were ready to die. It was given by obviously not friends of the administration” .
Trump also said the US having the highest cases worldwide is a ‘badge of honour’.
The US President told reporters at a cabinet meeting that the high number of cases in the US – far higher than any other country – is a “badge of honour”, because it means the US is testing the most. Trump told reporters: “You know when you say that we lead in cases, that’s because we have more testing than anybody else. ”He said he looks at the number “in a certain respect, as being a good thing because it means our testing is much better.”
UN chief praises Africa’s efforts to stem virus.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday that the developed world could learn lessons from the preventative measures taken by many African countries to stem the spread of the coronavirus. There have been fewer than 3,000 Covid-19 deaths from 88,000 cases of the disease registered throughout the African continent, relatively low numbers compared to over 320,000 deaths worldwide.
Brazil confirms record daily rise in deaths and cases.
Brazil has confirmed a record 17,408 cases in the last 24 hours and a record 1,179 deaths. The country now has 271,628 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 17,971 people have died. Hospital officials say more than 85% of intensive care beds in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo are full.
Covid-19 crisis will push 60m into poverty says World Bank chief.
Coronavirus shutdowns around the world could undo three years of gains in alleviating poverty, the president of the World Bank has said.In the latest apocalyptic prediction by a member of the global financial elite, David Malpass said that up to 60 million people could be pushed below the poverty line, according to World Bank estimates, as the global economy shrinks by around 5%.
Jacinda Ardern flags four-day working week as way to rebuild country.
New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern has suggested employers to consider a four-day working week and other flexible working options as a way to boost tourism and help employees address persistent work/life balance issues. In a Facebook live video Ardern said people had suggested everything from the shorter work week to more public holidays as a means to stimulate the economy and encourage domestic tourism, while the borders remain closed to foreign nationals.
High schools open in South Korea.
South Korean high schools opened on Wednesday for the first time this year, with mask-wearing seniors returning to class in the vanguard of a phased plan to reopen all schools under strict protocols to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
China gears up for annual congress.
China’s biggest political event of the year opens Friday after months of delay over coronavirus fears, with President Xi Jinping determined to project strength and control over the outbreak despite international criticism and a wounded economy, AFP reports.
The World Health Organization annual assembly passes a resolution to investigate global response to the pandemic.
None of the WHO’s 194 member states raised objections to the resolution brought by the EU on behalf of more than 100 countries.
First UAE flight to Israel, with virus aid for Palestinians.
The United Arab Emirates flew its first publicly announced flight to Israel on Tuesday when Etihad Airways sent medical supplies to help the Palestinians cope with the coronavirus pandemic. Except for Jordan and Egypt, Arab countries have no official relations with Israel but Gulf Arab nations like the UAE and the Jewish state have been warming ties recently amid shared concern over Iran.
California’s undocumented relief fund sees chaotic start.
Last month, California made headlines when it announced a first-in-the-nation plan to create a $125m coronavirus relief fund for undocumented workers. But its rollout got off to a chaotic start this week, with thousands of calls flooding phone lines, creating huge delays, and so many visitors to the official website that it crashed for hours.
South Africa eased its lockdown measures, resume classes for some pupils on 1 June.
Those in grades seven and 12, usually aged 13 and 18, will return to class and the country’s minister of basic education Angie Motshekga said that, under strict social distancing rules, other grades would be able to attend lessons in schools with fewer than 150 pupils. Larger schools will open for other grades at a later date.
The Netherlands will press ahead with a further easing of lockdown measures in June due to a steadily declining number of infections and hospital admissions, its prime minister Mark Rutte has said.
The country’s 17 million inhabitants have been living under the lockdown measures for about two and a half months.
Rishi Sunak, the UK’s chancellor, said the country is facing “a severe recession the likes of which we haven’t seen”.
Giving evidence to the Lords economic affairs committee, he said he expects the unemployment rate to be in double figures by the end of the year.
Cambridge University will not hold traditional lectures in the 2020/21 academic year.
There will be no “face-to-face lectures” at the University of Cambridge in the 2020/21 academic year, the institution has said. Lectures will continue virtually, while it may be possible for smaller teaching groups to take place in person if it conforms to social distancing requirements.
Afghanistan recorded its biggest one-day rise in infections as about half of tests done in a 24-hour period came back positive.
The health ministry confirmed 581 new cases out of 1,200 tests, marking the country’s worst day of the crisis – the previous high was 414.
The border between Canada and the US will remain closed to non-essential travel until 21 June.
The closure was set to expire this week after the two governments announced a 30-day extension of the restrictions last month.