'Disaster' looms in coronavirus-hit Afghanistan: Live updates

With hospital beds almost full, Afghan officials warn of coming ‘disaster’ as suspected cases of COVID-19 surge.

  • As Afghan officials warn of a looming crisis, health authorities in the country reported 761 new positive cases of COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, taking the total number of confirmed infections to 19,551.    

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has changed its position on face masks and is now encouraging people to wear them in crowded places, citing anecdotal evidence that supports their value in stopping the spread of the coronavirus. 

  • Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has threatened to pull his country out of the WHO, accusing the body of being “partisan” and “political”. With more than 34,000 coronavirus deaths, Brazil now has the third-highest toll in the world.

  • About 6.7 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than 394,000 people have died, including some 109,000 in the United States. More than 2.9 million people have recovered.

Here are the latest updates:

June 6, Saturday

23:09 GMT – Italy confirms 270 new cases, including a cluster in Rome

Italy added another 270 confirmed coronavirus cases to its official count, including a cluster of two dozen more cases at a Rome hospital that has been sealed off to contain the spread.

The Italian civil protection agency on Saturday also reported the deaths of 72 more people with the virus. Italy’s official COVID-19 death toll now stands at 33,846, but officials say the real mortality figure in Europe’s one-time coronavirus epicenter likely is much higher.

Italy’s outbreak hit the northern region of Lombardy hardest, with more than 90,000 cases out of Italy’s official caseload of 235,000 and more than 16,000 deaths.

20:05 GMT – No new positives in Premier League COVID-19 tests

The latest round of tests for COVID-19 in the Premier League produced no positives, the league said.

A total of 1,195 tests were carried out on Thursday and Friday, the sixth round of tests since players from England’s 20 top-flight clubs returned to training.

The previous rounds of testing produced 13 positives.

No Premier League matches have taken place since March because of the pandemic, but a restart is scheduled for June 17. 

18:17 GMT – Turkey reports new deaths, cases 

The number of coronavirus deaths in Turkey rose to 4,669 as the country reported 21 new deaths in the past 24 hours.

Turkey reported 878 new infections, taking its total number of cases to 169,218.

18:03 GMT – Dutch mink cull starts as coronavirus spreads to 10th farm

Dutch mink farms have begun a government-ordered cull amid concern that animals infected with coronavirus could transmit the illness to humans.

Infected mink have been found on 10 Dutch farms where the ferret-like animals are bred for their fur, according to the country’s Food & Wares Authority.

“All mink breeding farms where there is an infection will be cleared, and farms where there are no infections won’t be,” said spokeswoman Frederique Hermie.

The government ordered the cull of 10,000 mink on Wednesday after determining that affected farms could act as a long-term reservoir of disease.

17:43 GMT – Italy reports 72 new deaths 

Italy reported 72 more fatalities from the coronavirus, bringing the death toll to 33,846.

The slowing trend of deaths last month continued in June confirming that the peak of the crisis has been left behind. 

The tally of active infections fell again on Saturday by 1,099, placing the total at 35,877.

However, health authorities stressed that the contagion rate is reassuring but the outbreak has not ended yet. 

17:41 GMT – OPEC, allied nations extend nearly 10m barrel cut by a month                  

OPEC and allied nations agreed to extend a production cut of nearly 10 million barrels of oil a day through the end of July, hoping to boost energy prices hard-hit by the pandemic.

Ministers of the body and outside nations like Russia met via video conference to adopt the measure, aimed at cutting out the excess production depressing prices as global aviation remains largely grounded due to the pandemic. It represents some 10 percent of the world’s overall supply. 

17:29 GMT – Kazakh president’s spokesman hospitalised 

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s spokesman has been hospitalised after testing positive for COVID-19, he wrote on his Facebook page, adding that the president’s health was not at risk.

The spokesman, Berik Uali, wrote that Tokayev, 67, gets tested regularly and that additional safety measures have been taken at the presidential headquarters.

“President Tokayev continues his work as scheduled, his health is under no threat,” Uali said.

The Central Asian nation has confirmed 12,511 cases and 53 deaths. It emerged from a two-month lockdown last month, while keeping in place social distancing rules and closed borders.

17:14 GMT – Impossible to play under US Open’s COVID-19 protocols, says Djokovic 

World number one Novak Djokovic has said participating in the US Open would be an impossible task due to the “extreme” COVID-19 protocols in place for the tournament at Flushing Meadows.

The US Open, scheduled to begin on August 31, will be the first Grand Slam to be played after the COVID-19 pandemic suspended the season in March. The French Open was postponed to September while the Wimbledon championships was cancelled.

“I had a telephone conversation with the leaders of world tennis. There were talks about the continuation of the season, mostly about the US Open due in late August, but it’s not known whether it will be held,” Djokovic told Serbia’s Prva TV.

“The rules that they told us that we would have to respect to be there, to play at all, they are extreme. We would not have access to Manhattan, we would have to sleep in hotels at the airport, to be tested twice or three times per week.

17:02 GMT – Canada reports new cases, deaths

Canada’s total coronavirus cases rose to 94,335 from 94,070 the day before, according to data published by the public health agency.

The country reported a total of 7,703 deaths, up from 7,652 the day before.

16:32 GMT – Brazil’s Bolsonaro defends partial release of COVID-19 data

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro defended his government’s move to partially withhold official data on the scale of the world’s second-largest coronavirus outbreak.

Late on Friday, Brazil’s Health Ministry took down a website showing the evolution of the epidemic over time and by state and municipality. The ministry also stopped reporting a total tally of confirmed cases, which have shot past 645,000 – more than anywhere outside the United States – and its overall death toll.

“The cumulative data … does not reflect the moment the country is in,” Bolsonaro said on Twitter, citing a note from the ministry. “Other actions are underway to improve the reporting of cases and confirmation of diagnoses.”

14:44 GMT – Liberia set to ease virus restrictions   

Liberia has made good progress in containing the spread of coronavirus and will open its international airport and hotels on June 21, the government has said.

A state of emergency that was declared in April and due to expire on June 9 would not be renewed, President George Weah said in a statement.     

Restrictions such as a night-time curfew would remain in place, though it would start later, according to the statement released on Friday.

14:28 GMT – Afghanistan warns of ‘disaster’ as virus infections surge

Afghanistan is running out of hospital beds as suspected cases of coronavirus surge, officials said, warning “there is a disaster coming” in the impoverished country.

Afghan health authorities reported 761 new positive cases of COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, taking the total number of confirmed infections to 19,551.      

“Our [hospital] beds are almost full, we won’t have any more capacity very soon,” Health Minister Ahmad Jawad Osmani told reporters.     

“There is a disaster coming,” said Kabul governor Mohammad Yakub Haidary at a joint press conference with the health minister, adding that in Kabul alone there could be a million people infected.

So far there have been 327 confirmed deaths in the country.

14:13 GMT – Moscow’s annual book fair draws crowds despite coronavirus curbs

Hundreds of Moscow residents flocked to an open-air book fair in Red Square, though some publishing houses opted to stay away as city authorities keep most restrictions in place.

Organisers of the annual book fair, which was attended by 300,000 people last year, have implemented numerous measures to stem the spread of the virus – with chairs spaced one metre apart and temperature checks at the entrance.

The even drew up to 600 visitors within hours of its opening.

13:45 GMT – Turks stream out for first lockdown-free weekend in nearly two months 

Turks streamed outside for their first weekend without a coronavirus lockdown in nearly two months, the day after President Tayyip Erdogan suddenly scrapped a stay-at-home order.

Cafes, restaurants and other facilities had reopened on Monday as infection rates slowed and restrictions on intercity travel had been lifted as the infection rate slowed. But Erdogan had intended to maintain the weekend lockdown, applied to big cities since April 11, until a public backlash.

Hello, this is Farah Najjar taking over from my colleague Linah Alsaafin.

12:15 GMT – Indonesia records single-day high in new cases

Indonesia has reported nearly 1,000 new cases of the coronavirus, a new single-day high for the country that brought its total caseload past 30,000, as the government unveiled an enhanced stimulus package worth $47.6bn to anchor the virus-battered economy.

The health ministry said there were 993 newly infected people over the past 24 hours. Indonesia has confirmed 30,514 cases, including 1,801 deaths, the most in Southeast Asia.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said a 677.2 trillion rupiah ($47.6bn) stimulus package aims to strengthen the healthcare system, direct more spending toward social protection to boost consumption, and provide incentives to rescue Indonesian businesses from bankruptcy and workers from layoffs.

At least 4,902 patients have died so far across the continent due to the virus, it said in a Saturday update.

A total of 78,267 patients have so far recovered from the disease.

North Africa has so far confirmed 51,300 cases and a death toll of 2,200; Southern Africa has 46,000 cases and 933 deaths; West Africa has 39,900 cases and 795 deaths; East Africa has 20,600 cases and 592 deaths; and Central Africa has 18,900 cases and 421 deaths.

07:50 GMT – Fans and football return to Vietnam after coronavirus shutdown

Football was back and so were the spectators in Vietnam when the top domestic league resumed after the coronavirus shutdown.

Fans were allowed into Ho Chi Minh City’s scoreless draw with Hai Phong on Friday among three matches. But unlike Germany’s Bundesliga and South Korea’s K-League, which returned to action in May with empty arenas, more than 1,000 fans attended the V-League game at Hai Phong.

Allowing spectators to the matches was the result of Vietnam’s successful efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Despite sharing a long land border with China, where the virus originated, Vietnam, with a population of almost 100 million, has recorded just 328 cases and not a single recorded death.

Fans were subjected to temperature checks as they entered the stadiums, which were limited to half of normal capacity. They were not required to wear masks.

07:32 GMT – Hydroxychloroquine is ‘useless’ against COVID-19, says Oxford study

A study of thousands of patients led by the University of Oxford has said that the hydroxychloroquine drug does not work against the new coronavirus disease and should not be given to any more hospital patients around the world.

“If you are admitted to hospital, don’t take hydroxychloroquine,” said Martin Landray, deputy chief investigator of the Recovery trial and professor of medicine and epidemiology at Oxford University. “It doesn’t work.”

“It is being touted as a game changer, a wonderful drug, a breakthrough. This is an incredibly important result, because worldwide we can stop using a drug that is useless.”

07:00 GMT – Most of 51 new South Korea cases linked to door sales

South Korea has reported 51 new cases of COVID-19, mostly in the densely populated capital region, as authorities scramble to stem transmissions among low-income workers who cannot afford to stay home.

The figures announced by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brought national totals to 11,719 workers and 273 deaths.

At least 34 of the new cases were linked to door-to-door sellers hired by Richway, a Seoul-based health product provider.

Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said the spread of the virus among Richway sellers was particularly alarming as most of them are aged in their 60s and 70s. He called for officials to strengthen their efforts to find and examine workplaces vulnerable to infections.

06:40 GMT – Pakistan reports highest single-day virus deaths

Pakistan has broken its previous record of the highest single-day deaths ever from the novel coronavirus, reporting 97 fatalities over the last 24 hours, the health ministry said.

With the latest surge, the death toll in the country has reached 1,935.

With 4,734 new cases over the past day, the country’s number of coronavirus cases has reached 93,983, already surpassing China, and landing the country at the 17th spot in terms of coronavirus cases, the data shows. Some 32,581 patients have recovered.

Hello, this is Linah Alsaafin in Doha taking over from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed.

05:08 GMT – India’s confirmed infections overtake Italy’s

India has surpassed Italy as the sixth worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic after another record single-day spike in confirmed infections.

The health ministry reported 9,887 new cases on Saturday, bringing the total to 236,657.

Most of the new cases are in rural areas following the return of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who left cities and towns after the lockdown in late March.

The lockdown is now largely being enforced in high-risk areas while authorities have partially restored train services and domestic flights and allowed shops and manufacturing to reopen. Shopping malls and religious places are due to open on Monday with restrictions to avoid large gatherings.

03:51 GMT – Beijing eases emergency response level to second lowest

China’s capital Beijing further eased its coronavirus measures on Saturday, lowering the city’s emergency response level to the second lowest.

That will lift most restrictions on people travelling from Wuhan and the surrounding province of Hubei, where the virus first appeared late last year. They will no longer face 14-day mandatory quarantines and other forms of monitoring, and those currently in such situations will be allowed to return to their normal lives.

Beijing residential compounds will not be required to conduct temperature checks and masks no longer must be worn for outdoor activities. Kindergartens will reopen and other grades still suspended will restart classes.

Beijing has reported no new cases of local transmission in at least 50 days and as many as 90 days in some districts.

02:51 GMT – China urges citizens to shun Australia

China has advised its citizens not to visit Australia, citing racial discrimination and violence against Asians during the coronavirus pandemic.

A notice issued by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism late on Friday said there had “been an increase in words and deeds of racial discrimination and acts of violence against Chinese and Asians in Australia, due to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic”.

“The ministry advises Chinese tourists to raise their safety awareness and avoid travelling to Australia,” the notice said.

The move comes after China threatened retaliation following Australia’s decision to push for an international investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic and responses to it.

02:14 GMT – China reports three new COVID-19 cases

China has recorded three new confirmed cases of the new coronavirus as of the end of Friday, down from five the day before, the National Health Commission said.

All of the cases were imported, involving travellers arriving from abroad, the NHC said.

The total number of infections in China, where the virus first emerged late last year, stands at 83,030. With no new deaths reported, the death toll remained at 4,634.

02:07 GMT – California to allow pro-sports, day camps

California broadly relaxed its coronavirus-related shutdowns, moving to allow professional sports to be played without audiences and reopen day camps, tribal casinos, museums and zoos as soon as June 12.

The most populous US state will also allow film, television and music production, a key sector of the economy that provides thousands of jobs, to restart.

Still not allowed in California are nail salons, tattoo parlors, movie theatres, nightclubs, concert venues, theme parks or higher education, the state’s website showed.

01:23 GMT – Brazil’s Supreme Court halts police raids in Rio’s favelas

A Brazilian Supreme Court minister has banned police raids in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas during the coronavirus pandemic, as criticism of brutal police tactics grows in Latin America’s largest nation.

In the decision, Minister Edson Fachin forbid raids on Brazil’s informal shanty towns “except in absolutely exceptional cases”, which must be preapproved by the state prosecutor’s office.

Rio’s police forces are notoriously violent, having killed more than 1,800 people in 2019. In May, police in Rio drew criticism for an operation in which a 14-year-old boy was killed, as well as another shootout in a coronavirus-stricken favela, which drew hundreds into the streets.

Congressman Alessandro Molon, whose Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) filed the suit that resulted in the decision, called the ruling “historic”.

00:39 GMT – Bolsonaro threatens WHO exit

President Jair Bolsonaro threatened to pull Brazil out of the WHO after the United Nations agency warned governments about the risk of lifting lockdowns before slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Speaking to journalists, Bolsonaro accused the WHO of being “partisan” and “political”. He said Brazil will consider leaving the body unless it ceased to work “without ideological bias”.

Earlier on Friday, when asked about efforts to loosen social-distancing orders in Brazil despite rising daily death rates and diagnoses, a WHO spokeswoman said a key criteria for lifting lockdowns was slowing transmission.

“The epidemic, the outbreak, in Latin America is deeply, deeply concerning,” Margaret Harris told a news conference in Geneva. She said that among six key criteria for easing quarantines, “one of them is ideally having your transmission declining.”

00:01 GMT – G20 pledges $21bn dollars to fight coronavirus

The Group of 20 (G20) – a bloc whose member nations have the world’s largest economies – has pledged more than $21bn to fight the coronavirus, a statement by the group said early on Saturday.

“The G20, with invited countries, has coordinated the global efforts to support the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, G20 members and invited countries have pledged over US$21 billion to support funding in global health,” the statement said.

The pledges will be directed towards diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics, and research and development, the statement added.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives. 

For all the updates from yesterday, June 5, go here. 

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