Saudi Arabia has reopened its mosques after a two-month closure. Worshippers were required to take their own prayer mats and face masks and stand two metres apart. Worshippers were required to perform their ablution rite of washing their face, arms and legs before prayer, at home.
The Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages, which attract millions of Muslims globally, remain suspended.
Spain to extend lockdown
Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez says the country needs 15 more days of lockdown until 21 June “to finish with the pandemic once and for all”, and 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.
From 21 June a national state of emergency will end and with it the lockdown, allowing citizens to move freely in their regions. From 1 July, citizens will be able to move throughout the country.
Spain’s death toll rose by two on Sunday to 27,127, the health ministry said, while the number of infections rose by 96 overnight to 239,429.
Spain imposed a state of emergency on 14 March which involved a strict lockdown under which people could leave their homes only to buy food, seek medical care or for jobs where they could not work from home. Children were initially confined inside all day. Restrictions are being gradually eased.
India extends lockdown for high risk zones
Indian states on Sunday began identifying high-risk zones where coronavirus lockdowns should continue while the rest of country gears up to reopen in June.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has extended lockdown, that was due to end on 31 May, to 30 June, in so-called containment zones that continue to report a high number of infections.
Restaurants, malls and religious buildings will be permitted to reopen elsewhere from 8 June. India has reported 190,609 confirmed cases, with 5,408 deaths according to the Johns Hopkins tracker.
In Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous state, a health official said 1,111 containment zones has been identified, while authorities in the western Gujarat state said that more than 400,000 houses were marked as high-risk zones.
Officials in the western state of Maharastra said all markets, except malls and congested spaces, will be allowed to function in a staggered manner. West Bengal identified 285 containment zones in its capital, Kolkata.
In a radio address on Sunday, Modi warned people to remain vigilant.
“The fight against the coronavirus is intense, we cannot drop our guard,” he said.
Brazil passes 500,000 Covid-19 cases
Brazil has reported 16,409 new coronavirus 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 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.
Also on Sunday the White House said it would send two million doses of hydroxychloroquine and 1,000 ventilators to Brazil, despite warnings over the anti-malarial drug’s safety. The White House said in a joint statement with Brazil that the drug would be used as a preventative treatment for frontline healthcare workers in Brazil, despite its known dangers.
“It will also be used as a therapeutic to treat Brazilians who become infected,” the statement said.
The countries will also carry out a joint research effort, including “randomised controlled clinical trials”.
Last week the WHO stopped hydroxychloroquine trials amid safety fears over the drug.
The WHO’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in light of a paper published in the Lancet medical journal that showed people taking hydroxychloroquine were at higher risk of death and heart problems than those who were not, it would pause the hydroxychloroquine arm of its solidarity global clinical trial.
Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
Brazil has passed 500,000 cases of coronavirus as the White House announced it was sending 2 million doses of hydroxychloroquine and 1,000 ventilators to the country. The move to send Brazil the anti-malarial drug comes despite medical warnings about the risks associated with it and just days after the WHO suspended testing it on Covid-19 patients due to health concerns. Mass protests in Brazil and in the US over the weekend have fuelled fears of a surge in cases.
We’ll be bringing you the latest virus developments but to kick off, here’s a summary of the top points so far
- India’s lockdown, which was due to end on 31 May, has been extended until 30 June in a number of zones identified as ‘high-risk’ by individual states, while the rest of the country prepares to reopen.
- Spain’s prime minister said on Sunday the country needed 15 more days of lockdown until June 21 “to finish with the pandemic once and for all”, and he would ask parliament to approve a final two-week extension to the stay home rule.
- Saudi Arabia enforced strict measures when mosques reopened on Sunday, including face masks and personal prayer mats. It comes two months after communal prayers were abandoned due to virus fears.
- In England, senior public health officials have made a last-minute plea for ministers to stop Monday’s easing of the lockdown, warning the country is unprepared to deal with any surge in infection.
- More that 1,000 people have died from the coronavirus in Chile, the health ministry has reported, with 827 of the deaths occurring in May alone. The country has had 99,688 confirmed cases and 1,054 deaths.
- South Africa has delayed Monday’s reopening of schools by a week, the Department of Basic Education has announced, saying that many are not ready to welcome back pupils.
- Poverty in the occupied West Bank may double as Palestinians are hammered by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Bank has warned.