Key developments in the global coronavirus outbreak today include:
Manila eases lockdown
Traffic jams and crowds of commuters returned to the Philippine capital on Monday, as Manilla relaxed antivirus measures in a high-stakes gamble to slowly reopen the economy while fighting the coronavirus outbreak. Public transport was still limited and many commuters waited for hours to get a ride despite the government deploying special buses. School classes remain suspended for the next two weeks. Barber shops and beauty salons can open next week at a third of their capacity. The Philippines remains a south-east Asian hotspot for Covid-19, with more than 18,000 infections and 957 deaths.
Japan may open doors to travellers from selected countries
Japan is considering reopening its borders to travellers from selected countries that have low levels of coronavirus infections, as it begins to ease restrictions put in place earlier this year to control the outbreak. As schools, cinemas, sports clubs and department stores reopened in Tokyo on Monday, media have reported that the government is also planning to allow travellers in from Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand in the coming months. There was no immediate comment from the foreign ministry.
Hong Kong reports first locally transmitted case in two weeks
Hong Kong has confirmed its first locally transmitted coronavirus cases in more than two weeks, fuelling concerns over its spread as restrictions on movement are relaxed, Reuters reports. The Centre for Health Protection said on Sunday it was investigating two confirmed cases of coronavirus, taking the number of cases so far to 1,085. Four people have died of the disease in Hong Kong.
Wuhan reports zero new asymptomatic cases
Wuhan, the Chinese city of around 11 million people where the Covid-19 pandemic began, reported no new asymptomatic cases on Sunday, according to Chinese health officials. State media, Xinhua, said on Monday more than 60,000 nucleic acid tests were conducted on Sunday, finding no asymptomatic cases. Mainland China reported 16 new cases overall on Sunday, the highest daily number in three weeks. All were reported as imported cases – 11 in Sichuan province, three in Inner Mongolia, and two in Guangdong.
Brazil passes 500,000 Covid-19 cases
Brazil has reported 16,409 new cases, taking the total of infected cases to 514,849. It keeps the country in second place in terms of infections, behind the US on 1.78 million cases. Brazil has moved into fourth in terms of deaths, with 29,314 fatalities, according to the health ministry. President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly dismissed the severity of the virus and continued to flout social distancing measures. On Sunday he road a horse to a rally calling for the supreme court to be shut down for investigating him.
Moscow eases lockdown despite high virus caseload
Shopping malls and parks are set to reopen in Moscow on Monday as the Russian capital eases coronavirus restrictions despite having the world’s third-largest caseload, with 405,843 infections. The relaxation of the confinement orders in Moscow, the epicentre of Russia’s outbreak with a population of more than 12 million, comes after President Vladimir Putin announced the epidemic had passed its peak in the country.
North Korea to reopen schools
North Korea will reopen schools this month after shuttering them over the coronavirus pandemic, reports said Monday. Pyongyang has not confirmed a single infection but has imposed strict rules, including closing its borders and putting thousands of its people into isolation. The new school term – initially scheduled to start in early April – has been repeatedly postponed, although some universities and high schools were allowed to resume classes in mid-April.
The Queen makes first public appearance
In the UK, the Queen has been pictured riding in the grounds of Windsor Castle – her first public appearance since the lockdown began. Windsor is said to be the Queen’s favourite royal residence and she has been photographed over the weekend riding one of her ponies, a 14-year-old Fell pony called Balmoral Fern. The 94-year-old regularly rides in the grounds of Windsor and has been a passionate horse lover and breeder of thoroughbred racehorses throughout her reign.
Spain to extend lockdown
Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, has said the country needs 15 more days of lockdown until 21 June “to finish with the pandemic once and for all”, and that he would ask parliament to approve a final two-week extension to the stay home rule. “We have almost achieved what we set out to do,” Sanchez told a press conference, as he expressed his intense relief that the number of new cases in Spain, one of the nations hardest-hit by the virus, had fallen dramatically.
Bangladesh lifts lockdown
Bangladesh lifted its coronavirus lockdown on Sunday, with millions heading back to work in densely populated cities and towns even as the country logged a record spike in deaths and new infections. “The lockdown has been lifted and we are heading almost towards our regular life,” health department spokeswoman Nasima Sultana said, calling on those returning to work to wear masks and observe social distancing. It comes as Bangladesh – which on Friday took an emergency pandemic loan from the International Monetary Fund – reported its biggest daily jump in infections Sunday, with 2,545 new cases and a record 40 deaths.