Key developments in the global coronavirus outbreak today include:
Wuhan doctor dies after four-month illness
A Wuhan doctor who worked with the coronavirus whistleblower Li Wenliang died of the virus last week, state media reported, becoming China’s first Covid-19 fatality in weeks. Hu Weifeng, a urologist at Wuhan central hospital, died on Friday after being treated for Covid-19 and related issues for more than four months, state broadcaster CCTV said. Meanwhile city-wide testing of 9.9 million people between 14 May and 1 June found no new cases of Covid-19, and 300 asymptomatic cases. China does not count asymptomatic cases, meaning people who are infected with the virus but do not exhibit symptoms of the disease, as confirmed cases.
Chinese officials delayed releasing virus genome for over a week
The Associated Press is carrying a report that says Chinese officials sat on releasing the genetic map, or genome, of the coronavirus for over a week after multiple government labs had fully decoded it, not sharing details key to designing tests, drugs and vaccines. AP reports that health officials only released the genome after a Chinese lab published it on a virology website on 11 January. Even then, China stalled for at least two weeks more on giving the World Health Organization the details it needed, according to recordings of multiple internal meetings held by the UN health agency in January.
Unemployment rise slows in Spain as lockdown lifts
The number of new jobseekers in Spain was close to 27,000 in May, about 10 times lower than in March and April during the coronavirus lockdown, the labour ministry said. Spain imposed a nationwide lockdown on 14 March to slow the spread of the virus, and that month it counted more than 302,000 new jobseekers, followed by another 280,000 in April. But in May, as the lockdown was gradually eased, the government counted a total of 26,573 new jobseekers in the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy, where the total number of unemployed stands at 3.8 million. The International Monetary Fund estimates unemployment in Spain could rise to 20.8% in 2020, while the government expects a figure of 19%.
UK statistics watchdog criticises government’s testing data
Britain’s statistics watchdog has again warned the health secretary, Matt Hancock, that figures on coronavirus tests remain “far from complete and comprehensible”. In a strongly-worded letter, Sir David Norgrove, chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, said the way the government presented the figures appeared to be aimed at showing “the largest possible number of tests, even at the expense of understanding”.
First Rohingya refugee in Bangladesh dies of Covid-19
A 71-year-old man has become the first of the Rohingya refugees living in vast camps in Bangladesh to die from coronavirus, an official said. Health experts have long warned that the deadly virus could race through the vast network of settlements housing almost a million refugees in the country’s south-east. The fatality was in Kutupalong, the largest of the camps, which is home to roughly 600,000 people. The man was among at least 29 Rohingya to have tested positive for the virus in the camps. The official said the victim died in an isolation centre run by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders and was buried in the camp the same day.
Indonesia cancels hajj pilgrimage
Indonesia has cancelled the hajj pilgrimage this year for people in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation because of concerns over the coronavirus, the religious affairs minister said on Tuesday. Each year, hundreds of thousands of Indonesians go on the hajj to Saudi Arabia, with places allocated according to a quota system. The quota for this year was 221,000, with more than 90% of places already allocated. The average wait for a place on the pilgrimage is 20 years.
People in Pakistan told to ‘live with the virus’
Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, has defended his decision to lift almost all lockdown measures because of economic losses, despite rising numbers of cases. In a televised address, Khan said his government could not afford to continue giving cash handouts to the poor on such a large scale. He urged people to act responsibly but said more infections and deaths were inevitable. “This virus will spread more. I have to say it with regret that there will be more deaths,” Khan warned. “If people do take care they can live with the virus.”
New Zealand brings forward decision on easing restrictions
The prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has said restrictions may be eased again sooner than planned as the country was “ahead of schedule” in tackling Covid-19. Cabinet will decide next Monday whether to move to level-1 restrictions – the most lenient – two weeks ahead of when the government had planned to make that decision. New Zealand has had no Covid-19 cases for 11 consecutive days. Level-1 is thought to only involve border restrictions.
Central and South America ‘intense zones for transmission’
The WHO sounded the warning as it said the epidemic in the regions had not reached its peak. On Monday deaths in Mexico passed 10,000, while Brazil registered 11,598 additional cases of coronavirus and 623 new deaths. It takes the country’s confirmed cases to 526,447 and deaths to 29,937.