10.25pm EDT 22:25 Moscow eases lockdown despite high virus caseload Shopping malls and parks are set to reopen in Moscow on today (Monday) as the Russian capital eases coronavirus restrictions despite having the world’s third-largest caseload, with 405,843 infections. The relaxation of the confinement orders in Moscow, the epicentre of Russia’s outbreak with a population
Moscow eases lockdown despite high virus caseload
Shopping malls and parks are set to reopen in Moscow on today (Monday) as the Russian capital eases coronavirus restrictions despite having the world’s third-largest caseload, with 405,843 infections.
The relaxation of the confinement orders in Moscow, the epicentre of Russia’s outbreak with a population of more than 12 million, comes after President Vladimir Putin announced the epidemic had passed its peak in the country, AFP reports.
Under lockdown since 30 March, residents of Europe’s most populous city were until now only allowed to leave their homes for brief trips to shop, walk dogs or travel to essential jobs with a permit.
While Muscovites welcomed the opportunity to return to parks and malls after weeks of being cooped up at home, many ridiculed the Moscow mayor’s “experiment” aimed at regulating people’s walks and exercise.
As a two-week test measure, Sergei Sobyanin said residents of Moscow will be allowed to take walks according to a staggered schedule based on their home address.
Sobyanin said on his blog he feared that without limits on walking, people would throng the streets in scenes reminiscent of May Day outpourings in Soviet times.
Podcast: The coronavirus crisis in Britain’s prisons
As Britain faced an unprecedented lockdown, the situation for the 80,000 people in prison was even more stringent. David Adams was recently released from jail and describes how prisoners were confined to their tiny cells for more than 23 hours a day:
Hi, Helen Sullivan taking the reins now. I’ll be bringing you the latest for the next few hours.
A reminder that you can (and should!) get in touch on Twitter @helenrsullivan or via email: helen.sullivan[at]theguardian.com.
In case you missed it, global deaths from Covid-19 currently stand nearly 372,000. The US passed the grim landmark of 100,000 last week, but the UK, which has 276,000 infections, is approaching 40,000. As of Sunday 38,571 had died from Covid-19.
Senior public health officials have made a last-minute plea for ministers to scrap Monday’s easing of the coronavirus lockdown in England, warning the country is unprepared to deal with any surge in infection and that public resolve to take steps to limit transmission has been eroded.
The Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) said new rules, including allowing groups of up to six people to meet outdoors and in private gardens, were “not supported by the science” and that pictures of crowded beaches and beauty spots over the weekend showed “the public is not keeping to social distancing as it was”.
On Saturday and Sunday, parks and seafronts were packed as people anticipated the lifting of restrictions on what has been dubbed “happy Monday”. Car showrooms and outdoor markets will also be reopened, millions of children will return to primary schools and the most vulnerable “shielded” people will be allowed out for the first time since lockdown began in March, all as long as physical distancing is maintained.
You can read our full story below:
I’m sure many of you have been following the unrest in America with widespread protests across the country. You can follow our live coverage here, but the pictures of large crowds gathering will certainly alarm those tasked with fighting the virus, with growing concerns the proximity of so many people on the streets may lead to a surge in cases.
Bangladesh lifts lockdown
Bangladesh lifted its coronavirus lockdown Sunday, with millions heading back to work in densely populated cities and towns even as the country logged a record spike in deaths and new infections.
“The lockdown has been lifted and we are heading almost towards our regular life,” health department spokeswoman Nasima Sultana said, calling on those returning to work to wear masks and observe social distancing.
The lifting comes as Bangladesh – which on Friday took an emergency pandemic loan from the International Monetary Fund – reported its biggest daily jump in infections Sunday, with 2,545 new cases and a record 40 deaths.
Still in the Middle East and Abu Dhabi has announced it will cordon off the UAE’s capital as well as banning travel between regions within the emirate for a week from Tuesday to rein in the novel coronavirus, AFP reports.
The announcement on Sunday means that residents of the United Arab Emirates will not be allowed to travel from the capital Abu Dhabi to the services hub of Dubai, 90 minutes on a major highway, without a permit.
The decision came as the authorities said they were easing other restrictions within Abu Dhabi, one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE.
The authorities placed “a ban on movement entering and exiting the emirate and between its regions” from 2 June, the Abu Dhabi media office tweeted.
It added that residents may move freely within their own regions between the hours of 6am and 10pm.
But malls, restaurants, and hotel beaches will be allowed to reopen on Monday at 40% capacity, the media office said.
It added that outdoor activities, such as horse riding, cricket, cycling, golfing, sailing were also now allowed.
The UAE has so far recorded more than 34,000 cases of the COVID-19 respiratory disease, including 264 deaths.
Earlier this week, Dubai emirate moved to lift restrictions on businesses and shortened a nighttime curfew.
Poverty in the occupied West Bank may double as Palestinians are hit by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Bank warned on Monday.
AFP reports that the Palestinian territories have seen low infection rates after acting quickly, with three deaths out of 450 cases registered among some five million residents in Gaza and the West Bank.
But the Palestinian Authority’s financial situation is “expected to become increasingly difficult” due to loss of income and increased spending on healthcare and other areas, the World Bank said in a report.
The fallout is expected to see the number of households living below the poverty line increase this year from 14 to 30% in the West Bank, largely due to Palestinians being unable to cross into Israel for work.
Egypt has shortened its night curfew by one hour, bringing the end time forward to 5am from 6am. It begins at 8pm each night.
The Health Ministry said 1,536 new cases had been confirmed including 46 deaths, bringing total cases to 24,985 and deaths to 959.
We’re getting some updated figures from Mexico … the Deputy Health Minister, Hugo Lopez-Gatell, says there were 151 new coronavirus deaths and 3,152 new cases on Sunday. This takes the country’s totals to 9,930 fatalities and 90,664 cases.
The country’s fatality curve continues to rise.
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.