Global report: EU nations continue steady exits from lockdown


Austria said it would allow free travel with most other European countries, including Italy, from 16 June. However, travel between Austria and Sweden, Spain, Portugal and the UK will remain restricted, and a travel warning remains in place for Lombardy in northern Italy, one of the hardest-hit regions.

Germany, which last week downgraded its travel warning for 32 European countries, on Wednesday announced the end of inbound border controls for all EU citizens except those coming from Sweden, but maintained its ban on travel to 160 other countries until the end of the summer.

Poland announced a similar decision, saying it would open its borders with fellow EU states on Saturday and allow flights from next Tuesday. “In some countries … the pandemic is still behaving in a very disturbing way, so for now we limit this decision to EU countries,” the prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, said.

Reports that Moscow will report 57% more deaths for the month of May than in the three previous years, meanwhile, indicated the city’s coronavirus death toll for the month may be at least double the official tally, casting further doubt on the accuracy of Russia’s Covid-19 death figure.

The Russian capital reportedly had 5,799 “excess deaths” for the month of May but has recorded only 2,750 deaths primarily due to coronavirus. The data is in line with other major cities, including St Petersburg, where total mortality rates have shown thousands of deaths not reflected in official coronavirus tallies.

Since the start of Pakistan’s outbreak in March, the prime minister, Imran Khan, has opposed a nationwide lockdown, arguing the impoverished country could not afford it and instead ordering a patchwork of closures, now being lifted.

But health officials on Wednesday declared a record number of new cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s total to more than 113,000 cases and 2,200 deaths, although the real rates are thought to be far higher.

The WHO’s regional office in Africa confirmed on Wednesday that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases on the continent had now passed 200,000, with 201,157 people testing positive and 5,486 dying. Again, the real figures are likely to be higher.

As the global economic fallout from the pandemic continued to worsen, the OECD predicted the world economy would contract by at least 6% this year amid unprecedented loss of income and “extraordinary uncertainty” caused by countries’ measures to contain the outbreak.

In the event of second wave of infections later in the year, economic output could shrink by as much as 7.6%, and in either case recovery will be “slow and uncertain”. France’s economy minister said the country could see 800,000 job losses.

Underlining the extent of the economic damage, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said airlines were set to lose $84bn (£65.9bn) as a result of the pandemic, with revenue likely to halve from $419bn from $838bn last year.

In other developments worldwide:

  • According to the Johns Hopkins university tracker, Covid-19 has infected nearly 7,300,000 people and killed more than 411,000.

  • The EU accused China and Russia of running “targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns in the EU, its neighbourhood, and globally” as the bloc set out a plan to tackle a “huge wave” of false facts about the pandemic.

  • Greece said it had resumed production of chloroquine to treat people with Covid-19 and would continue trials with the drug despite a major UK trial run by Oxford University concluding there was no evidence it worked.

  • Iran announced more than 2,000 new infections, in line with a recent surge that its president, Hassan Rouhani, has attributed to increased testing.

  • Taiwan said no new cases of Covid-19 had been confirmed on its territory in the past 24 hours, the 59th consecutive day without a local infection.

  • Indonesia reported its biggest daily increase in cases for a second successive day, with 1,241 new infections taking its total to 34,316 and a death toll of 1,959.

  • Nearly all economic and social activities have resumed in Malaysia after nearly three months in lockdown curbed the spread of the virus. Malaysians are now returning to school and can travel for domestic holidays, get haircuts and shop at street markets.

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