At a primary school in the Canadian province of Quebec, nine children have tested positive for Covid-19 out of a class of 11, health officials said.
The class was small because the school has been operating at half capacity.
Health officials confirm the school in Trois-Rivières had taken preventative measures, such as handwashing reminders and marking spaces on the floor to encourage social distancing.
Primary schools opened across Quebec outside the city of Montreal on 11 May, despite the province being Canada’s biggest coronavirus hotspot, with 52,398 total cases and 4,935 deaths currently recorded.
Ontario, the site of Canada’s second largest hotspot, has closed schools for the remainder of the school year.
An IMF team has agreed a one-year, $5.2 billion financing package for Egypt to help the country alleviate the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The IMF board must still approve the financing from the fund’s Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI), which allows nations to circumvent the lengthy negotiations usually needed to secure a full economic assistance program.
The new funding comes on top of $2.8 billion the IMF board approved a month ago, although at the time officials acknowledged that more help would be needed.
Cairo requested the aid, known as a Standby Arrangement, to support its efforts “to maintain macroeconomic stability amid the Covid-19 shock while continuing to advance key structural reforms,” IMF mission chief Uma Ramakrishnan said in a statement.
“This will safeguard the gains achieved by Egypt over the past three years and put the country on strong footing for sustained recovery as well as higher and more inclusive growth and job creation over the medium term,” she said.
It also will open the doors to financing from other lenders and help support job creation by the private sector.
The IMF team held virtual negotiations with Egyptian officials on the terms of the package, which the fund’s board is expected to approve in “coming weeks,” she said.
Egypt has suffered over 1,100 Covid-19 fatalities with over 31,000 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tally.
Wall Street surged on Friday after a strikingly upbeat May jobs report unexpectedly provided the clearest evidence yet that the US economy is headed for a quicker-than-anticipated recovery.
The Dow Jones rose 829.16 points, or 3.15%, to 27,110.98, the S&P gained 81.58 points, or 2.62%, to 3,193.93 and the Nasdaq added 198.27 points, or 2.06%, to 9,814.08.
Joe Biden has argued that President Trump deserved no credit for the US jobs report which showed unemployment had dropped slightly to 13.3% from 14.7% a month earlier.
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said Trump had still failed to acknowledge how his response to the coronavirus pandemic had hampered the country’s economy. “He has no idea the depth of the pain that so many people are still enduring. He remains completely oblivious to the human toll of his indifference,” the former vice president said.
“It’s time for him to step out of his own bunker, take a look around the consequences of his words and his actions.”
Biden added: “Let’s be clear: a president who takes no responsibility for costing millions and millions of American their jobs deserves no credit when a fraction of them return.”
More than a third of Americans misused cleaners and disinfectants to try to prevent infection by the coronavirus, according to a survey taken shortly after Donald Trump publicly asked whether injecting such products could treat Covid-19, reports Reuters.
Washing food with bleach, using household cleaning or disinfectant products on bare skin, and intentionally inhaling or ingesting the products were some of the most commonly reported “high-risk” practices in a 4 May online survey of 502 US adults, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported.
The survey’s lead author said it was undertaken following a “sharp increase” in calls to poison control centres.
In late April, Trump asked scientists during one of his coronavirus task force briefings whether inserting disinfectant into the bodies of people infected with the virus might help clear the disease, horrifying health experts. Makers of household cleaners were compelled to urge people not to drink or inject their products.
Some 39% of people surveyed reported intentionally engaging in at least one high-risk practice, including using bleach to clean food or misting the body with a disinfectant spray. Four per cent drank or gargled with diluted bleach solutions, soapy water or disinfectants.
The environmental and economic impact of coronavirus in Europe can now be seen using satellite data provided by the European Space Agency.
The ESA and the European Commission launched an internet-based programme that compares pollution levels during the health crisis with a baseline scenario, measures chlorophyll concentrations or illustrates economic parameters such as harvests.
The Rapid Action Coronavirus Earth observation (RACE) dashboard uses the Copernicus Sentinel satellite network, partner company data and artificial intelligence to make an interactive map of Europe that compares current industrial and transport activity with that of previous years.
The platform will “measure the impact of the coronavirus lockdown and monitor post-lockdown recovery,” it said.
RACE tracks “key environmental parameters – such as air and water quality changes, economic and human activities including industry, shipping, construction, traffic, as well as agricultural productivity” in 22 ESA member countries.
Air pollution is monitored worldwide, as is the asparagus harvest near Berlin, air traffic in Barcelona, Mediterranean water quality or concentrations of chlorophyll in a chosen region.
Satellite images are accompanied by various tables of information and commentary by specialists.
Some indicators go back to 2014, and are to be updated through the end of this year, according to Yves-Louis Desnos, head of the ESA’s Earth Observation Science and Applications Department.
Saudi Arabia has announced a renewed lockdown in the city of Jeddah starting from Saturday to counter a new spike in coronavirus cases.
“After reviewing the epidemiological situation and the high occupancy rates of intensive care departments, it was decided to take strict health precautions in the city of Jeddah for two weeks”, the health ministry said.
The measures include a curfew running from 3 pm to 6 am, a suspension of prayers in mosques and a stay-at-home order for public and private sector workers in the Red Sea city whose airport serves Mecca pilgrims.
After an easing of precautions in the kingdom in late May, the ministry said that strict measures could also soon return to Riyadh, which was “witnessing a continuous increase during the last days” of critical cases of the pandemic.
Saudi Arabia has declared almost 96,000 coronavirus infections and 642 deaths from the Covid-19 respiratory disease, the heaviest toll in the Gulf.
It has suspended the year-round Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina over fears of the coronavirus pandemic spreading to Islam’s holiest cities.
Authorities are yet to announce whether they will proceed with this year’s hajj, scheduled for the end of July, but have urged Muslims to temporarily defer preparations for the annual pilgrimage.
Estonia has developed an app that could serve as a digital “immunity passport”, allowing users with antibodies to show employers and others their reduced risk of spreading coronavirus.
The Immuunsuspass (ImmunityPassport) app being tested out this month was developed by tech firms Transferwise and Guardtime in cooperation with health specialists for the Back to Work non-governmental organisation.
“The app we’ve created can provide necessary data to schools and employers to help them make decisions,” TransferWise cofounder Taavet Hinrikus told AFP.
“However, before it’s adopted for widespread use, we need to achieve a scientific consensus on COVID-19 immunity.”
The app allows users to access their COVID-19 test results for an hour after proving their identity. They can also share the results with others using a QR-code that expires after a minute.
The developers say this ensures that the immunity results are up-to-date and protected against unauthorised sharing.
In the future, users will also be able to access their vaccination data.
The World Health Organization issued a warning in late April that there was “not enough evidence” to give people “risk-free certificates,” but hours later appeared to backpedal with a modified statement.
In the follow-up, WHO said it expected that people who are infected with COVID-19 “will develop an antibody response that will provide some level of protection” but added that “what we don’t yet know is the level of protection or how long it will last”.
Estonia, known as E-stonia, has made a name for itself as a trailblazer in technology over the years. It pioneered e-voting in 2005 and hosts NATO’s elite cyber defence centre.
On Sunday, the European Union will launch a humanitarian air bridge to support the fight against coronavirus in the Democratic Republic of Congo, officials said.
France’s foreign minister, Jean-Yves le Drian, his Belgian counterpart Philippe Goffin and European commissioner for crisis management Janez Lenarcic will travel to Kinshasa on the flight from Brussels.
On Monday, they will meet president Felix Tshisekedi in the capital before travelling to the eastern city of Goma, in the troubled region on the border with Rwanda.
More flights will carry at least 40 tonnes of aid such as water purifiers, and medical supplies. provided by the EU, governments and humanitarian agencies.
So far, Africa has been spared the worst of the pandemic, with 4,755 deaths recorded and 170,286 cases compared to more than 180,000 deaths and two million cases in Europe.
But poorer countries like the DRC would struggle to cope if the outbreak intensifies and Brussels has set aside 3.25 billion euros ($3.67 billion) in grants and 1.4 billion euros in loans to help countries through the crisis.
The Chinese city of Wuhan has announced it had cleared all hospital cases of coronavirus where patients have shown symptoms.
State newspaper Global Times said that “the last three Covid-19 patients in Wuhan have recovered and been discharged from hospital”.
However, China omits from its data any cases where patients have tested positive for Covid-19 but have not exhibited symptoms. It began recording these separately from 1 April.
AstraZeneca’s cancer drug Calquence has shown initial signs of helping hospitalised Covid-19 patients get through the worst of the disease, according to tests.
Results from the preliminary research involving 19 patients, which was backed by the United States National Institutes of Health, encouraged the British drugmaker to explore the drug’s new use in a wider clinical trial announced in April.
Eleven patients had been on oxygen when they started the 10-14 day Calquence course and eight of them could afterwards be discharged, breathing independently, according to results in a paper co-authored by Astra’s head of oncology research, Jose Baselga.
Eight patients were on mechanical ventilation when they were put on Calquence, and four of them could be discharged, though one died of pulmonary embolism.
“These patients were in a very unstable situation, they would have had a dire prognosis … Within one to three days the majority of these patients got better in terms of ventilation and oxygen needs,” Astra’s Baselga told Reuters.
Severe cases of Covid-19 are believed to be triggered by an over-reaction of the immune system known as cytokine storm and initial research has brought Calquence, and other drugs that suppress certain elements of the immune system, into play.
Police in Kenya have been involved in the killing of 15 people since the country put a nighttime curfew in place in March to combat coronavirus, the policing oversight body said in a statement seen by AFP.
The Independent Policing Oversight Body (IPOA) said it had received 87 complaints against police since the dusk to dawn curfew and heightened security measures were put in place on March 27.
“After preliminary investigations, 15 deaths and 31 incidents where victims sustained injuries have directly been linked to actions of police officers during the curfew enforcement.”
According to the statement, the complaints include deaths, shootings, harassment, assaults, robbery, inhumane treatment and sexual assault.
Kenya’s police force is often accused by rights groups of using excessive force and carrying out unlawful killings, especially in poor neighbourhoods.
In April Human Right Watch accused the police of imposing the curfew in a “chaotic and violent manner from the start”, sometimes whipping, kicking and teargassing people to force them off the streets.
“Police brutality isn’t just unlawful; it is also counterproductive in fighting the spread of the virus,” the rights watchdog said.
Key developments in the global coronavirus outbreak today include:
- The World Health Organization has updated its stance on masks to curb the spread of Covid-19. People over 60 or with health issues should wear a medical-grade mask when they are out and cannot physically distance, according to new guidance from the WHO, while all others should wear a three-layer fabric mask.
- The UK became the second country to officially record more than 40,000 coronavirus-related deaths, as officials said another 357 people who had tested positive for the virus had died. So far, 40,261 virus deaths have been recorded, giving the UK the world’s second-highest death toll behind the United States.
- Sweden reported another large rise in new cases of coronavirus on Friday, with the 1,056 positive tests reported by the public health agency marking the third day the country’s caseload had increased by more than a thousand. Sweden has now recorded 42,939 cases of coronavirus, and 4,639 deaths.
- All hospital visitors and outpatients in England will need to wear face coverings from 15 June, Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said. All hospital staff will also be required to wear surgical masks. He also made a plea for people to be mindful of attending protests over the death of George Floyd.
- A study linked vitamin K deficiency with Covid-19, after researchers found that patients who had died or been admitted to intensive care with Covid-19 have been found to be deficient in the vitamin, which is found in spinach, eggs and hard and blue cheeses.
- Covid-19’s impact on the US economy waned in May as the unemployment rate dipped to 13.3% and the US added another 2.5m jobs. The surprise news follows the loss of 20m jobs in April when unemployment hit 14.7%. Economists were expecting a rise to as high as 20%.
- US billionaires gained half a trillion dollars in wealth during outbreak. Even as more than 42 million people have signed on as unemployed in the US, the country’s billionaires have added half a trillion dollars to their combined wealth, according to a think tank report.
- During the 11 weeks from 18 March, when US lockdowns started, the wealth of America’s richest people surged by over $565bn. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, saw his wealth increase by $36.2bn. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was the second biggest beneficiary, increasing his net worth by $30.1bn.
- A judge in Australia banned a Black Lives Matter protest planned to take place in Sydney on Saturday, citing the coronavirus crisis, after a legal application from police. New South Wales state Supreme Court Justice Des Fagan ruled the rally was not an authorised public assembly.
- Police in Paris cited ongoing health risks related to the coronavirus pandemic as they banned a demonstration against police brutality planned to take place outside the city’s US embassy on Saturday. Trouble broke out at another anti-police demonstration in the French capital on Wednesday.
- On Monday, more than half of Spain will enter the fourth and final phase of the country’s lockdown de-escalation, the government announced. However, the 52% of Spaniards in the last stage will not include those in the Madrid region or the Barcelona metropolitan area – the two parts of the country hit hardest by Covid-19.
That’s it from me, Damien Gayle, for another day. I’ll be back with you on Monday.