Brazil’s outbreak now fourth largest in world
Brazil’s confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus rose on Saturday past those of Spain and Italy, making Brazil’s outbreak the fourth largest in the world. Brazil’s health ministry registered 14,919 new confirmed cases in the prior 24 hours, taking the total to 233,142, behind the US, Russia and the UK. Brazil has done just a fraction of the testing seen in those three countries. The Johns Hopkin University coronavirus tracker showed there have been 4,634,132 confirmed cases worldwide, with 311,781 deaths.
Obama attacks Trump administration’s response to pandemic
Barack Obama attacked the Trump administration’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic during a speech on Saturday. The comments are a rare rebuke of a sitting president from one of his predecessors. “Let’s be honest, a disease like this just spotlights the underlying inequalities and extra burdens that black communities have historically had to deal with in this country,” said Obama during an online commencement address to graduates of historically black colleges and universities. “More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing. A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”
UK councils revolt against Boris Johnson’s ‘London-centric’ strategy
Boris Johnson has been hit by a growing revolt over his strategy for easing the Covid-19 lockdown as council leaders across the north of England joined unions in vowing to resist plans to reopen schools on 1 June. In a further sign of discord, the mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, writing in today’s Observer, says no one thought to tell the leaders of the biggest towns and cities outside London in advance of the prime minister’s decision to encourage people to go back to work last Monday.
Australian state of Victoria to reopen restaurants and pubs
Victoria, Australia’s second most-populous state, will reopen restaurants and pubs on June 1, but patrons will have to provide their name and phone number before they can enter. Victorian premier Daniel Andrews said venues would initially be limited to 20 patrons, rising to 100 by mid-July. New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian, meanwhile, called for all Australian states to lift border restrictions. Victoria and NSW are the only states not to have closed their borders during the lockdown.
US states continue to loosen lockdown
New Orleans took its first steps to loosen restrictions that have been in place for two months, one day after the rest of Louisiana did the same, Associated Press reports.
The city is restricting buildings to 25% of capacity, like the rest of the state, but also requires restaurants, nail salons and other businesses to take customers by reservation. New York governor Andrew Cuomo said horse racing tracks and the Watkins Glen International auto track can reopen with no crowds, no fans.
Germans press for return to Mallorca holiday homes
Germans with holiday homes in Mallorca are clamouring to return to the sun-soaked island as the coronavirus lockdowns ease, but Spanish authorities are pushing back, Agence France-Presse reports. Several hundred Germans have in recent weeks sent pleading, sometimes angry letters to the regional government of the Balearic Islands asking them to allow foreign property owners to return to their second homes.
UK to invest £93m in vaccine manufacturing centre
The British government will invest up to £93m to bring forward construction of a new vaccine manufacturing centre, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said on Saturday. The funding will ensure the new centre opens in summer 2021, a year ahead of schedule. The Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) is a key component of the government’s programme to ensure that once a coronavirus vaccine is available, it can be rolled out quickly in mass quantities, the department said.