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Monday, May 25, 2020, 22:12
Dutch govt: 2nd case of mink transmitting virus to human
By Agencies
Monday, May 25, 2020, 22:12 By Agencies

Two police officers on horses patrol between visitors of a beer garden in Dresden, Germany, May 21, 2020. (ROBERT MICHAEL / DPA VIA AP)

WASHINGTON / BRASILIA / ACCRA / MADRID / JOHANNESBURG / FRANKFURT / PARIS / ROME / LONDON / BUENOS AIRES / CAIRO / ADDIS ABABA / MEXICO CITY / OTTAWA / MOSCOW / BUDAPEST - The Dutch agriculture ministry on Monday said it had found what it believes to be a second case of a human becoming infected with the new coronavirus after coming in contact with a mink that had the virus.

In a letter to parliament, minister Carola Schouten repeated that the country’s National Institute for Health believes the risk of animal-to-human transmission of the virus outside the farms on which they are kept is “negligible.”

On April 26 the Dutch government reported mink on a farm in the south of the country had been found to have the disease, prompting a wider investigation of such farms, where mink are bred for their fur. Last week the government reported its first suspected case of mink-to-human transmission.


The German federal government is recommending that states ease some social distancing regulations from June 6, Bild newspaper reported, but continues to urge that limits be placed on size of social gatherings.

According to an official paper seen by the newspaper, Helge Braun, head of Chancellor Angela Merkel's office, recommended that private gatherings be held in the open air where possible and be limited to 20 people, while indoor meetings should be limited to 10 people.

German authorities are trying to trace everyone who attended a church service at a Baptist church in the state of Hesse, where Frankfurt is located, on May 10 after more than 107 people were infected

German authorities are trying to trace everyone who attended a church service at a Baptist church in the state of Hesse, where Frankfurt is located, on May 10 after more than 107 people tested positive for the coronavirus.

It was not immediately clear whether all the 107 with the coronavirus attended the service, or whether the tally includes people who were infected by those who did.

Germany’s total number of coronavirus cases increased by 342 to 180,328 in the 24 hours through Monday morning, a slight increase from 276 the previous day, according to John Hopkins data. The country registered another 22 deaths, bringing the total to 8,283. New fatalities have remained below 100 for more than 10 days.

According to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases on Monday, the number of confirmed cases increased by 289 to 178,570, and the reported death toll rose by 10 to 8,257.

Germany's coronavirus infection rate rose to 0.94, but stayed below the key threshold of 1.0. The so-called reproduction factor represents how many additional people become infected by a single positive case.

French biotech group Abivax said on Monday German regulators had approved a trial to test its ‘ABX464’ product to help COVID-19 patients, following earlier French regulatory approval.

ALSO READ: EU drugs agency: Coronavirus vaccine possible in early 2021

Global tally

Confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide has surpassed 5.4 million while the death toll topped 345,000, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

The United States is the hardest-hit country, with the most confirmed cases and deaths, according to the CSSE. Besides the US, countries with over 200,000 cases also include Russia, Britain, Brazil, Spain and Italy, according to the data.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across Africa surpassed 107,000 and the death toll surged past 3,200 as of Sunday morning, the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention said.


Argentina's capital Buenos Aires on Sunday said it was stepping up social distancing measures in the lead up to an expected spike in COVID-19 cases.

The city announced it would further restrict commercial activity and people's mobility, including by closing certain train stations.

Officials closed 11 train stations, stepped up control at 36 entrances to the city, and intensified inspections of public transit, which is currently used exclusively by those considered to be essential workers. Residents also must renew permits, which have now expired, that allow them to circulate. Non-essential businesses at major shopping centers will remain closed to avoid mass gatherings, Mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta said.

Argentina has so far reported a total of 11,353 confirmed cases, including 5,006 in the capital city of Buenos Aires and 3,864 in the province of Buenos Aires.


Belgium will not return to the strict measures imposed for nearly two months to combat the coronavirus outbreak even if there is a second wave of COVID-19 cases, the country's interior minister has said.

"The first lockdown has taken care of the situation in which we have ended up. These were exceptional circumstances, but we never had Italian or Spanish conditions," Pieter De Crem told VTM broadcaster on Sunday.

"If there was a second wave, then I think we will find ourselves in a different situation, namely with testing and tracing. But I think we can rule out that we will have to go back to the tough measures," De Crem said.

Belgium, home to EU and NATO headquarters, has been among the worst affected countries in Europe with 57,092 cases and 9,280 deaths.

Belgium's government will hold a meeting with regional leaders and economic and medical experts on June 3 to discuss a further easing of restrictions, which could extend to restaurants and leisure activities.

A doctor attends to a girl showing symptoms of the novel coronavirus during a free health check at the Unidos de Padre Miguel samba school headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on May 24, 2020. (MAURO PIMENTEL / AFP)


Brazil's health ministry raised its tally of confirmed cases by 15,813 on Sunday to 363,211 cases. The death toll rose by 653 fatalities to 22,666.

ALSO READ: Brazil jumps to world number 2 in coronavirus cases, behind US

The chief justice of Brazil’s Supreme Court will stay on medical leave for seven days after showing some of the respiratory signs of COVID-19, according to the court’s press office.

Dias Toffoli, 52, was hospitalized Saturday to remove an abscess and had no complications during surgery, though he showed signs that suggested the presence of the virus. On May 20, he tested negative.

If his diagnosis is confirmed, Toffoli will be the latest official to get infected, following the Minister of the Institutional Security Office Augusto Heleno and Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel.


Ukraine's health ministry said on Monday that 259 more people have tested positive for coronavirus in the past 24 hours, raising the total number to 21,245.

The ministry said 623 people have so far died from the disease, while 7,234 patients have recovered. Of the infected, 1,546 are children and 4,112 are health workers. 

A total of 6,620 coronavirus patients have been hospitalized since the beginning of the epidemic, it said.

On Wednesday, the Ukrainian government introduced adaptive quarantine measures from May 22 to June 2.


Bulgarian health authorities on Monday reported a record low of only six new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide tally to 2,433.

Another 22 people have recovered from the disease, raising the total number of recoveries to 862, secretary of the national coronavirus task force Dimo Dimov said in a statement, adding that there were no additional COVID-19 deaths.

He also said that 235 patients are currently hospitalized with 20 in intensive care units.


The premier of Ontario, Canada's most populous province, on Sunday pleaded with citizens who are worried they may have contracted the coronavirus to get tested, as officials try to prevent a surge in cases.

The province will announce a detailed testing strategy next week, said Ford.

Doug Ford also condemned the thousands of people who flocked to a public park in Toronto on Saturday, flouting rules on social distancing.

Canada's total death toll edged up by 1.6 percent to 6,380 on Sunday from Saturday, public health agency data showed. Although officials say the outbreak is clearly winding down nationally, Ontario has recorded a steady rise in recent days.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera (front) tours a new field hospital in the capital Santiago and metropolitan area, Chile, May 24, 2020. (PHOTO / CHILEAN PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE / HANDOUT VIA XINHUA)


Chile on Sunday said a total of 69,102 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the country and the death toll has reached 718.

The health ministry's latest report showed that 3,709 new cases were detected in the past 24 hours, and another 45 deaths were recorded.


Ecuador on Sunday said it has 36,756 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection and a death toll of 3,108 since the start of the outbreak in the South American country.

In the past 24 hours, healthcare workers reported 498 new cases and 12 more deaths.

Ecuador's actual death toll may be higher as 1,929 deaths are considered "likely" to have been caused by the virus, but have not been verified, the Public Health Ministry said.

The southwest province of Guayas continues to be the epicenter of the national outbreak, with a total of 13,787 people testing positive. The province's capital, Guayaquil, is the country's worst hit urban center, with 9,606 cases of infection.


Egypt reported on Sunday a new single-day record of 29 COVID-19 deaths, raising the death toll in the country to 764.

The ministry's spokesman, Khaled Megahed, said in a statement that 752 new cases were confirmed in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of infections in Egypt to 17,265.

He added that 179 more patients had recovered and were discharged from hospitals, raising the total number of recoveries to 4,807.


Ethiopia's confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 655 after 73 more people were confirmed, the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) said in a statement on Monday.

The ministry revealed that from the total of 2,844 medical tests that were conducted in the last 24 hours, 73 of them tested positive for COVID-19, eventually bringing the total number of cases to 655.


French government measures to prop up the economy through the coronavirus crisis have cost 450 billion euros (US$490 billion), the equivalent of 20 percent of gross domestic product, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Monday.

Among the most costly measures are the state-subsidised furloughs, which Le Maire said the government would make less generous for companies starting in June.

Sectors hit particularly hard by the coronavirus outbreak are to benefit from specific support plans. The government has already produced one for the tourism industry. One for carmakers is due on Tuesday and a third for aerospace is expected before the revised budget bill in June.

French authorities reported the smallest daily rise in new coronavirus cases and deaths on Sunday since before a lockdown began on March 17, raising hopes that the worst of the epidemic is over in France.

The number of confirmed cases rose by 115 to 144,921, health ministry data showed, and the death toll increased by 35 to 28,367 - an increase of just 0.1 percent for both tallies.

The weekend totals for new cases and deaths were also both the lowest since France began easing its strict coronavirus restrictions on May 11.

Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne told France Inter radio the government did not want people to travel abroad this summer. She also said Paris parks must remain closed for now as the capital is still a "red zone" for circulation of the coronavirus.


Ghana's number of COVID-19 cases has increased to 6,808 after 125 more cases were confirmed, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) said here early Monday.

In its latest update, the GHS said there were 72 new recoveries, increasing the number of recoveries to 2,070, while the death toll remains at 32.

Ghana is close to announcing a roadmap toward the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said Sunday, adding that consultations were ongoing with relevant stakeholders.

The president said the proposed easing of restrictions intends to restore "social and economic lives."

"I expect these consultations to conclude this week so that I can announce to Ghanaians a clear roadmap for easing the restrictions. We have to find a way back, but in safety, for we cannot be under these restrictions forever," he said.


Greece recorded two new COVID-19 cases and zero deaths within the past 24 hours, the health ministry announced on Sunday.

The total number of cases in the country now stands at 2,878, and the death toll at 171. Currently, 19 people are being treated in intensive care units.

Greece is reopening all schools as well as kindergartens on June 1, the government announced. Students in high schools have already returned to class.

On Monday, the country will enter the fourth phase of the government's plan to lift COVID-19 restrictive measures. Restaurants, cafes, and bars can reopen, while traveling to and from all Greek islands will be permitted following stringent health protocols.


Hungary opened its southern border for citizens of Serbia and Hungary from Monday morning, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said at a news conference.

Hungary decided to reciprocate a similar measure taken by Serbia on Friday, Szijjarto said, adding that the coronavirus pandemic was under control in both countries, which allowed the easing of restrictions.

The move followed a gradual reopening of landlocked Hungary's other borders, which now allow some movement although restrictions have not been fully lifted.

Hungary has recorded 3,756 cases of COVID-19, with 491 deaths.

This photo shows a square in central Rome, Italy, packed with people on May 24, 2020. (CECILIA FABIANO / LAPRESSE VIA AP)


Italy recorded another 50 deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic on Sunday against 119 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said. However, it added that the data did not include deaths from the worst affected Lombardy region due to technical problems.

According to statistics from the regional government of Lombary, the region reported no fatalities for the first time Sunday. 

The daily tally of new cases nationwide declined to 531 from 669 on Saturday. 

The total death toll now stands at 32,785, the agency said, the third highest in the world after those of the United States and Britain.

The agency said the total number of confirmed cases in Italy since the start of its outbreak now amounts to 229,858, the sixth highest global tally behind those of the United States, Russia, Spain, Britain and Brazil.

People registered as currently carrying the illness dipped to 56,594 on Sunday from 57,752 the day before.


Kenya's Ministry of Health on Sunday confirmed 22 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the national tally to 1,214.

Rashid Aman, chief administrative secretary at the ministry, said one more death was recorded, bringing the death toll to 51.

Aman said that three more patients have been discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recoveries to 383.


Mexican health officials on Sunday reported 2,764 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 215 deaths, bringing the country's tally to 68,620 and the death toll to 7,394, respectively.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador warned that the coronavirus could cost as many as a million jobs in the country as many industries considered not essential remain shut.

"My prediction is that with coronavirus, a million jobs will be lost," Lopez Obrador said in a televised speech. "But we will create two million new jobs."

The job loss number matches the estimate by the country's business coordinating council (CCE).

People wearing masks practice social distancing while waiting outside a famous pastry shop in Casablanca, Morocco, May 23, 2020. (ABDELJALIL BOUNHAR / AP)


A total of 27 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Morocco on Sunday, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 7,433.

The number of recoveries increased to 4,703 following 65 new recoveries, Director of Epidemiology at the Ministry of Health Mohamed El Youbi said in his daily briefing.

El Youbi said that 199 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported so far, after one more fatality was reported in the past 24 hours. 


Mozambique recorded 26 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 194, health authorities announced on Sunday.

It was the largest increase in a single day since the country reported its first confirmed case on March 22.

Mozambican authorities have so far tested a total of 8,463 suspected cases, with 1,634 of them still under quarantine.  


President Vladimir Putin made a rare lockdown appearance in the Kremlin on Monday after officials said improvements in the coronavirus situation may allow Russia to re-open some tourist resorts soon and relax restrictions in many regions.

Cases of the coronavirus in Russia climbed to 353,427 on Monday, having risen by 8,946 in the past 24 hours, the country's coronavirus crisis response centre said. It said the number of fatalities had risen by 92 overnight, taking the overall nationwide death toll from the virus to 3,633.

Moscow, Russia’s worst-hit region, is entering its ninth week of lockdown. Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has said it is too early to lift restrictions but allowed state registry offices to open in the capital from Monday.

Russia’s borders remain closed, as are schools and most non-essential shops, but Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin urged Russians on Monday not to travel abroad on holiday this summer.


Senegal's Ministry of Health and Social Action reported on Sunday 71 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 3,047.

The new infections came from 889 tests done in the past 24 hours, Health Ministry Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr said.

Sarr said 40 more patients have recovered, bringing the total number of recoveries to 1,456.

The health ministry confirmed the death toll now stands at 35.

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone recorded 100 cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the highest daily rise in the country, bringing the total number of infections to 721, local health authorities said.

The new cases were from a total of 284 samples tested in the last 24 hours, and 67 of the new infections were recorded from the Sierra Leoneans repatriated from Kuwait, the authorities said.

The West African country has recorded 40 COVID-19 deaths as of Sunday, the authorities said.

South Africa

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday a further easing of South Africa's coronavirus lockdown from June 1, allowing the vast majority of the economy to return to full capacity.

Ramaphosa said following broad consultations the cabinet had decided to move the country to "level three" of its five-level lockdown system.

Under level three, Ramaphosa said that aside from a few exceptions where risk of transmission is high, the economy could return to full capacity, a curfew and restriction on outdoor exercise would be lifted and alcohol could be sold for home consumption. The national borders will remain closed except for the transport of goods and repatriation of nationals.

Meanwhile on COVID-19 vaccines, Ramaphosa said the South African government is supporting and funding several research projects, including a plan to locally manufacture coronavirus vaccines as soon as candidates are available.

Any vaccine, if developed in the world, should be made freely and equitably available to citizens of all countries, Ramaphosa said.

As of Sunday, South Africa has recorded a total of 22,583 confirmed COVID-19 cases, up by 1,240 from Saturday, the highest daily surge since March 5 when the country reported its first case. The death toll rose to 429 after another 22 deaths were reported in the past 24 hours.

South Sudan

South Sudan's Ministry of Health on Sunday confirmed 10 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the country's tally to 665.

Angok Gordon Kuol, an official at the ministry, said the latest cases were from 218 samples that were tested in the last 24 hours.

The official reiterated that South Sudan so far registered six cases of recovery and eight fatalities.


Spain urged foreign tourists on Monday to return from July as one of Europe's strictest lockdowns eased, with streets gradually filling again and some pupils returning to school.

The world's second-most visited nation closed its doors and beaches in March to handle the COVID-19 pandemic, but has seen out the worst and plans to lift a 14-day quarantine requirement on overseas arrivals within weeks.

"It is perfectly coherent to plan summer vacations to come to Spain in July," Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto told radio station Onda Cero as Spain geared up to salvage a tourism industry that normally draws 80 million people a year.

The hard-hit capital Madrid was coming back to life on Monday, with people allowed back into its main Retiro park and a few bars and restaurant terraces reopening.

While most pupils in Spain still need to stay home and study online, some schools reopened in the northern Basque region.

Spain has recorded 28,752 coronavirus deaths and 235,772 cases, but has seen daily fatalities drop to fewer than 100 for the last week.

READ MORE: Spain eases Madrid lockdown, letting outdoor dining resume

Few vehicles are seen on the roads during the Eid al-Fitr festival in Tunis, Tunisia, on May 24, 2020. (ADEL EZZINE / XINHUA)


Tunisian Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh said on Sunday that his country was preparing to exit the stage of COVID-19 outbreak with the slightest damage.

"Tunisia, which has succeeded in controlling COVID-19, is about to exit from the outbreak stage with the slightest damage after registering more than 1,000 cases and most them have recovered," the official TAP news agency quoted the prime minister as saying.

Fakhfakh announced that the resumption of tourism activities would take place after July.

As of May 24, Tunisia reported a total of 1,048 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 48 deaths.


Uganda has registered 14 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the east African country to 212, the Ministry of Health said in a statement issued on Monday.

"All new cases are contacts to previously confirmed truck drivers. All contacts were under quarantine at the time of test," reads the statement.

A total of five foreign truck drivers, all Tanzanians who tested positive for the virus at Uganda's Mutukula border, were handed over to their country of origin, the ministry said.

A total of 68 recoveries and zero deaths have been reported so far, according to the ministry. 


Mali's health authorities on Monday reported 29 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 1,059 in the country.

According to the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, 153 samples were tested in the previous 24 hours, among which 29 returned positive, including nine from western region of Kayes and 11 from Bamako, epicenter of the pandemic in Mali.


A hospital in southwest England has temporarily stopped admitting new patients, including to its emergency department, because of a high number of coronavirus cases, it said on Monday.

Weston General Hospital, in the popular seaside town of Weston-super-Mare, said the suspension of admissions was a precautionary measure to maintain patient and staff safety.

The United Kingdom’s death toll from confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose by 118 to 36,793, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday.

Chairing Sunday's Downing Street daily press briefing, Johnson confirmed that primary schools in England will partially reopen from June 1, including reception, year one, and year six in primary schools.

He added that he intends for secondary schools to provide "some contact" for year 10 and year 12 students to help them to prepare for exams next year from June 15.

Responding to the reported "breach of lockdown measures" of his top adviser Dominic Cummings, Johnson said Cummings acted "responsibly, legally and with integrity".

READ MORE: UK PM Johnson resists calls to sack aide over 400 km drive

The Daily Mirror reported that Cummings, who travelled 400 km to northern England while his wife showed COVID-19 symptoms amid a strict lockdown in March, has been reported to police over an alleged breach of the lockdown.


The White House on Sunday said it was restricting travel from Brazil to the United States, two days after the South American nation became the world's No. 2 hotspot for coronavirus cases.

The new restrictions come into force on May 28, the the US Embassy in Brasilia said, prohibiting most non-US citizens from traveling to the United States if they have been in Brazil in the last two weeks. Green card holders, close relatives of US citizens and flight crew members, among select others, would be exempt.

ALSO READ: Brazil jumps to world number 2 in coronavirus cases, behind US

Brazil's foreign ministry called it a technical decision in the context of "important bilateral collaboration" to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the new restrictions would help ensure foreign nationals do not bring additional infections to the United States, but would not apply to the flow of commerce between the two countries.

The US has over 1.6 million confirmed cases and more than 97,000 deaths. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday reported 1,622,114 cases, an increase of 26,229 cases from its previous count, and said the number of deaths had risen by 1,047 to 97,049.

Elsewhere in the US, a cluster of COVID-19 outbreaks hit nine facilities in Southern California city of Vernon, including a meat packing plant where 153 employees were reported to test positive, authorities said on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Trump said schools in the US “should be opened ASAP". 

READ MORE: Lancet: Drug touted by Trump linked to higher death risk

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