Brazil Tops France in Deaths; U.K. Scientists Wary: Virus Update

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Brazil has the world’s fourth-highest death toll, overtaking France, as the outbreak spreads in Latin America’s biggest economy. U.S. cases rose faster than the one-week daily average.

New York’s subway will be ready when the city reopens June 8, although some commuters may be reluctant to ride. The U.K.’s scientific advisers urged caution in the pace of lifting the lockdown.

Siemens Healthineers got U.S. emergency authorization for an antibody test. India will let malls, restaurants and places of worship open, even as cases surge.

Key Developments:

  • Virus Tracker: Cases top 6 million; deaths over 367,000
  • Indonesia to open malls, entertainment sites as cases rise
  • China factories are humming but not everyone is buying
  • Chinese vaccine expected to begin mass output soon
  • India to exit lockdown in phases as infections surge
  • MTA hasn’t shared a subway plan as NYC prepares to reopen
  • South Korea’s baseball plays through outbreak

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Venezuela to Ease Lockdown (7:45 a.m. HK)

Venezuela will start easing a national quarantine on Monday, President Nicolas Maduro said at the presidential palace. The plan contemplates multiple cycles of five days during which selected businesses are reopened followed by 10 days of quarantine, Maduro said.

Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said banking, medical and construction sectors would be included for the relaxed restrictions. But Maduro said the country’s border municipalities will be exempt from the plan.

Maduro reported 89 new cases on Saturday, for a total of 1,459.

U.K. Scientists Urge Cautious Opening (7:15 a.m. HK)

The U.K. government came under pressure from its own scientific advisers to show caution in easing the pace in lifting the lockdown, and from senior scientists and academics concerned about the public’s wellbeing.

Speaking at the daily briefing, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam said the easing must go “painstakingly” slowly.

John Edmunds and Jeremy Farrar, members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, told Sky News that an “untested” system to track and trace the virus exacerbated the risk of wider contagion. A group of more than 20 scientists and senior academics wrote to the Observer newspaper, flagging similar concerns and noting that the medical needs of those with other diseases are being neglected.

Brazil Passes France to Rank Fourth in Deaths (6:40 a.m. HK)

Brazil reported a 3.4% rise in new deaths on Saturday, to 28,834. It surpassed France and now has the fourth-most fatalities worldwide. The Latin American nation’s toll trails the U.S., U.K. and Italy. France has 28,774 fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins data.

New cases increased 7.2% to 498,440, trailing only the U.S.

Argentina Plans More Aid to Families (6:30 a.m. NY)

Argentina will issue another round of emergency relief payments to help the most vulnerable families affected by the pandemic, according to an Economy Ministry statement. The government will issue another 10,000 pesos ($145 at the official exchange rate) per family. More than two-thirds of the funds will be directed to the bottom half of country’s wage earners.

NYC Subway to Be Ready: Cuomo (6 a.m. HK)

The New York subway system will be prepared when the city reopens on June 8, Governor Andrew Cuomo said, although transit officials have yet to provide detailed plans to reduce risks to public health.

“They’re disinfecting trains like never before but they have another week of work to do and they will be ready,” he told reporters Saturday. Mayor Bill de Blasio was less sure on Friday, saying the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that oversees subways and buses hasn’t provided enough information.

City officials expect 200,000 to 400,000 workers back in construction, manufacturing, wholesale and curbside retail jobs when reopening begins. Subway service will increase from reduced runs forced by a 90% drop in ridership and the quarantine of 9,000 workers. City and transit officials, and some employers, say they expect and want workers to avoid the subway.

U.S. Cases Rise 1.7%, Above Week’s Average (4 p.m. NY)

U.S. cases increased 1.7% from the same time Friday, to 1.76 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The national increase exceeded the average daily increase of 1.3% for the past week and was the biggest percentage rise since May 22. Deaths climbed 1.2% to 103,389.

  • New York reported 1,376 new cases, for a total of 369,660, with 67 deaths — the same as Friday and the fifth day of fatalities under 75. Deaths totaled 23,848.
  • New Jersey had 910 new cases, pushing the total to 159,608, with 113 new deaths for a total of 11,634, Governor Phil Murphy reported.
  • California reported 2,992 new cases, for a total of 106,878, and added 88 deaths, with the fatality count at 4,156.
  • Pennsylvania reported 680 new cases, for a total of 71,415, and 73 new deaths, to total 5,537, the state health department said.
  • Florida’s cases rose 1.7% to 55,424 and deaths rose to 2,447, the health department said.

Greece Allows More Flights from Mid-June (3:30 p.m. NY)

Greece will allow visitors from more nations, including the U.S. and U.K., to arrive at Athens and Thessaloniki airports starting June 15, the Foreign Ministry said. After July 1, flights can land at all Greek airports.

The government will use the European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s list of airports to determine testing for arriving passengers. If travel originates at an airport not on the affected-area list, then visitors are subject to random tests, the Foreign Ministry said. If the journey begins at an airport on the EASA list, then visitors who test negative will self-quarantine for seven days and if positive will be under supervised quarantine for 14 days.

Greece will reopen borders with Albania, Bulgaria and North Macedonia on June 15, the Foreign Ministry said with visitors subject to random tests. Arrivals by sea will begin July 1.

French Cases Inch Higher (2:10 p.m. NY)

France reported 57 new deaths, raising the total to 28,771, based on hospital data, with reporting of nursing-home fatalities delayed to Tuesday. New cases climbed by 1,828, or 0.8%, to 225,898.

FDA Authorizes Siemens Antibody Test (2:10 p.m. NY)

Siemens Healthineers AG received U.S. Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization for a coronavirus antibody test, used to identify recent or prior infection in humans. The company had expected the test to be available by late May and aims to produce more than 50 million tests a month starting in June.

N.Y. Targets NYC ‘Hotspots’ (2 p.m. NY)

Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state plans to get New York City reopened by focusing on “hotspots” — neighborhoods where positive cases can be nearly 50% and are largely in minority communities. The city average rate is about 20%.

“We have work to do but we’ll still get it done by June 8,” he said.

Cuomo also signed a law to compensate the families of hundreds of essential workers who have died in the outbreak.

Italy Cases on Declining Trend (12:01 pm NY)

Italy reported 416 new cases, up from 516 a day earlier, confirming a declining trend as the total reached 232,664. Total deaths rose to 33,340. The government confirmed plans to allow travel between regions starting June 3 even as some regional governors opposed letting people from the hard-hit Lombardy region move freely.

N.Y. Daily Deaths Unchanged (11:45 a.m. NY)

New York reported 67 new deaths, Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a Saturday press conference. The figure is the same as reported on Friday and the fifth straight day below 75 fatalities. The state reported 1,376 new cases, for a total of 369,660.

U.K. Permits Live Sports Events (11:30 a.m. NY)

The U.K. will allow live sports events, without spectators, and further relax restrictions on physical exercise starting Monday as the country eases lockdown measures.

Horse racing will be allowed behind closed doors, with other sports like soccer, rugby, cricket, golf and snooker to follow, but without fans, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said at a press conference. “British sports recovery has begun,” Dowden said.

England’s Premier League plans to resume matches on June 17, after consulting with the clubs, players and managers, Chief Executive Richard Masters said after the government announcement.

Spain Deaths Rise (11:25 a.m. NY)

The Spanish health ministry said total coronavirus cases increased by 271 to 239,228 in the past 24 hours. Total fatalities rose to 27,125 with 43 new deaths reported in the past seven days.

India to Ease Lockdown in Stages (8:52 a.m. NY)

India announced a phased lifting of the nationwide lockdown by allowing malls, restaurants and places of worship to open from June 8, the interior ministry said in a statement.

The country, which had enforced sweeping and strict stay-at-home orders from March 25, will limit the stringent rules to areas that have a large number of active cases. Authorities will decide to open schools and colleges in July, while international air travel will resume in the final phase. The exit plan comes even as India has been unable to flatten its curve despite the restrictions which have left its already troubled economy in deep disrepair.

EU Urges U.S. to Reconsider WHO Decision (8:24 a.m. NY)

The European Union called on the U.S. to reconsider its decision to terminate its relationship with the World Health Organization, which President Donald Trump has accused of being too deferential to China.

“Global cooperation and solidarity through multilateral efforts are the only effective and viable avenues to win this battle the world is facing,” according to a joint statement Saturday from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the bloc’s chief foreign envoy, Josep Borrell. “We urge the U.S. to reconsider its announced decision.”

— With assistance by Steve Geimann, Paul Tugwell, Alessandra Migliaccio, Richard Bravo, Farah Elbahrawy, and Joao Lima

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