China logs no new coronavirus cases for first time: Live updates

  • For the first time since they began reporting data in January, Chinese authorities registered zero new infections of coronavirus. 

  • Brazil confirmed a total of 330,890 coronavirus cases on Friday, overtaking Russia to become the world’s second hotspot for COVID-19.

  • Some 80 million infants could be at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases such as diphtheria, measles and polio due to disruption of routine immunisation caused by the pandemic, UN agencies have warned.

  • More than 5.2 million people around the world are now confirmed to have the coronavirus, according to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University. More than 338,000 people have died globally while some two million people have recovered.

Here are all the latest updates:

Saturday, May 23

13:00 GMT – Spain to reopen to international tourism, restart football

Spain will reopen to international tourism from July said Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

He also announced that the country’s football league can return in action from June 8.

The country is emerging from one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns, implemented on March 14.

How is coronavirus affecting the sports industry?

12:36 GMT – France allowed religious gatherings

Worshipers in France were allowed to attend services and religious gatherings as the government further eased coronavirus-related restrictions.

The places of worship, like all other publicly accessible institutions, must observe social distancing rules among other sanitary measures. All those responsible must ensure that believers wear a mask and disinfect their hands.

At the entrance to churches, synagogues and mosques, one person has to ensure that not too many believers enter at once.

12:10 GMT – EU ‘frugals’ oppose France-Germany plan for grants

EU urges end to lockdown as tourism industry collapse

EU member states Austria, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands stated their opposition on Saturday to a French-German plan for a 500 billion euro coronavirus recovery fund that would issue grants, calling for a loans-based approach instead.

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel made the surprise proposal on Monday to set up a fund that would offer grants to European Union regions and sectors hit hardest by the pandemic.

The idea of grants, however, is anathema to the EU’s self-styled “frugal four”, who generally oppose big spending and fear the proposal will lead to a mutualisation of member states’ debt.

“We propose to create an Emergency Recovery Fund based on a ‘loans for loans’ approach,” the four countries said in a so-called “non-paper” outlining their position to other member states and released by Austria.

11:44 GMT – Vatican Museums set to re-open 

The Vatican Museums will reopen their doors to tourists starting on June 1. Visitors will have access to some of the world’s greatest Renaissance masterpieces as well as ancient Roman and Egyptian artefacts, but only through reservation.

They will have their temperatures checked and will have to wear face masks and use hand sanitiser. Staff will wear masks and gloves and health workers will be on hand.

The coronavirus pandemic has drained the Holy See’s coffers as the museums are its most reliable source of income, previously generating an estimated $100m annually.

A view shows a deserted entrance of the closed Vatican Museums on March 24, 2020 in the Vatican during the lockdown aimed at stopping the spread of the COVID-19 (new coronavirus) pandemic.

A view shows a deserted entrance of the closed Vatican Museums on March 24, 2020 in the Vatican during the lockdown aimed at stopping the spread of the COVID-19 (new coronavirus) pandemic [Andreas Solaro/AFP]

11:10 GMT – Protests erupt in Spain

The streets of Spain’s capital Madrid, resounded with the honk of cars horns as thousands marched through the city as part of a protest called by the far-right Vox party.

Protesters called for Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias to resign over their handling of the coronavirus crisis.

A demonstrator wearing a protective face mask carries a flag during a drive-in protest organised by Spain's far-right party Vox against the government's handling of the

A demonstrator wearing a protective face mask carries a flag during a drive-in protest organised by Spain’s far-right party Vox against the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic in Madrid, Spain [Sergio Perez/Reuters]

10:43 GMT – UK says PM’s adviser did not break lockdown rules

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s adviser, Dominic Cummings, did not break coronavirus lockdown rules when he took a journey of 400km (248 miles) while having COVID-19 symptoms in April, according to Downing Street.

“Owing to his wife being infected with suspected coronavirus and the high likelihood that he would himself become unwell, it was essential for Dominic Cummings to ensure his young child could be properly cared for,” a spokesman said.

“At no stage was he or his family spoken to by the police about this matter, as is being reported. His actions were in line with coronavirus guidelines. Mr Cummings believes he behaved reasonably and legally.”

It came as members of the opposition called for Cummings to step down. “If Dominic Cummings has broken the lockdown guidelines he will have to resign. It’s as simple as that,” Ed Davey, co-leader of the Liberal Democrats, said.

10:16 GMT – Basketball legend Patrick Ewing tests positive 

NBA legend Patrick Ewing said he has tested positive for the new coronavirus.

“This virus is serious and should not be taken lightly. I want to encourage everyone to stay safe and take care of yourselves and your loved ones,” Ewing, a former player with the New York Knicks, said in a Twitter post.

Georgetown University, where Ewing is coaching the basketball men’s team, said in a statement the Hall of Famer is under care and isolated in a hospital.

“I’ll be fine and we will all get through this,” Ewing was quoted as saying.

09:52 GMT – Turkey: High-speed train services set to resume

Starting on May 28, high-speed train services will resume in some parts of Turkey after being suspended for two months.

In a written statement, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoglu said the resumption will see 16 services per day in four routes: Ankara-Istanbul, Ankara-Eskisehir, Ankara-Konya and Konya-Istanbul.

Maintaining the physical distancing rules, the trains will operate with 50 percent capacity and passengers will sit leaving a seat in a row empty. People aged over 65 or under 20 will be required to have travel permit.

09:24 GMT – Peru extends nationwide lockdown until end of June

Peru has extended its state of emergency and a nationwide lockdown until the end of June, marking one of the world’s longest periods of mandatory isolation aimed at containing the coronavirus outbreak.

The extension on Friday is the fifth time the Andean nation of 32 million people has extended its shutdown, first imposed in mid-March.

Read the full story here

Peru coronavirus

A person dressed as a Kusillo, a traditional Andean harlequin, reminds people to wear face masks, gloves and maintain the social distance as a preventive measure against the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in Puno, Peru [Carlos Mamani/AFP]

08:51 GMT – Iran to reopen cultural and religious sites

Iran is moving ahead with plans to reopen religious and cultural sites, as well as businesses, further easing restrictions rolled out to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement broadcast on state television, President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday museums and historical sites will be allowed to welcome visitors again on Sunday to coincide with the Eid el-Fitr celebrations marking the end the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

To know more, read the full story here

08:25 GMT – Thousands of Palestinians stranded abroad urge for repatriation

Pandemic panopticon: Israeli surveillance during COVID-19 | The Listening Post

“I’m not the priority of any country and this is how it is when it comes to being a Jerusalemite,” said Diya Hasheem, a 23-year-old Palestinian studying in Cyprus. 

The student is among thousands of Palestinians who have been stranded abroad, unable to return home during the pandemic, as no government authority has been able to help them.

Read Mersiha Gadzo’s full story here

07:48 GMT – Berlin church hosts Muslim prayer in sign of solidarity

A church in Berlin has helped a nearby mosque comply with social distancing guidelines by hosting Friday prayers in “an amazing sign of solidarity”.

Muslims pray inside the evangelical church of St. Martha's parish, during their Friday prayers, as the community mosque can't fit everybody in due to social distancing rules,

Muslims pray inside the evangelical church of St. Martha’s parish in Berlin during their Friday prayers as the community mosque can’t fit everybody in [Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters]

The move came as the Dar Assalam mosque, which sees hundreds of Muslims on Fridays, can only accommodate 50 people at a time under restricting rules, prompting the nearby Martha Lutheran church to offer to host Muslim prayers.

Read more here

07:15 GMT – Ivanka Trump draws derision in India 

US presidential adviser Ivanka Trump’s praise of an Indian teenager’s 1,200-km-long (750 miles) bicycle ride home triggered a wave of criticism in India. 

“This beautiful feat of endurance & love has captured the imagination of the Indian people and the cycling federation!” Ivanka, daughter of US President Donald Trump, tweeted on Friday night.

Opposition political figures called her remarks insensitive to the plight of impoverished migrant workers who have to leave the big cities for their homes in other parts of India because the shutdown has sapped their savings.

“Her poverty & desperation are being glorified as if Jyoti cycled 1,200 KM for the thrill of it. Government failed her, that’s hardly something to trumpet as an achievement,” Omar Abdullah, a former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, tweeted in response to Ivanka’s message.

06:47 GMT – Australia urges younger people to get tested 

The state of New South Wales (NSW) in Australia urged its younger citizens to get tested as it gets ready to further ease restrictions on pubs and restaurants. 

Australia’s seafood industry hit by coronavirus curbs

The call came as the country’s most populous state, which includes the city of Sydney and is home to nearly half Australia’s roughly 7,100 coronavirus cases, recorded just three new cases.

“As we are freeing up our restrictions, particularly around clubs and hotels and so on, we need (to send) a very powerful message … that these young people who may think they are invincible are actually not invincible,” NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said in a news conference, reminding people of the importance of physical distancing and testing.

06:20 GMT – North Dakota governor calls for empahty 

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum fought back tears at a press conference as he asked the US state’s residents to be empathetic about wearing face masks.

The governor called on people to not make masks an ideological issue as he pointed out that someone might be doing it “because they have a five-year-old child who has been going through cancer treatments or … vulnerable adults in their life who currently have COVID and are fighting”.

Getting emotional, he said: “I would just love to see our state, as part of being North Dakota smart, also be North Dakota kind, North Dakota empathetic.”

05:45 GMT – Latest figures:

Russia: 335,882 cases (+9,434), 3,388 deaths (+139)

Brazil: 330,890  cases (+19,969) , 21,048 deaths (+1,001)

Germany: 177,850 cases (+638), 8,216 deaths (+42)

Thailand: 3,040 cases (+3), 56 deaths 

Hi, this is Virginia Pietromarchi in Doha, Qatar taking over the live blog from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed. 

04:55 GMT – UN warns cybercrime on rise during pandemic

The United Nations disarmament chief says the COVID-19 pandemic is moving the world towards increased technological innovation and online collaboration, but “cybercrime is also on the rise, with a 600 percent increase in malicious emails during the current crisis”.

Izumi Nakamitsu told an informal meeting of the UN Security Council (UNSC) on Friday that “there have also been worrying reports of attacks against health care organizations and medical research facilities worldwide”.

She said growing digital dependency has increased the vulnerability to cyberattacks, and “it is estimated that one such attack takes place every 39 seconds”.

04:29 GMT – Los Angeles dismisses warning over ‘unlawful’ lockdown

Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, has dismissed a Trump administration warning that the city’s continued coronavirus lockdown could be both arbitrary and unlawful.

“We are not guided by politics in this – we are guided by science, we are guided by collaboration,” Garcetti told reporters. “There’s no games, there’s nothing else going on. And that’s the way we’re going to continue to safely open.”    

Los Angeles has begun to reopen facilities from beaches and golf courses to restaurants and retail businesses offering curbside pick-up services, but lags behind other parts of California.

04:09 GMT – Donated plasma benefits COVID-19 patients in small US study

Plasma from people who had recovered from COVID-19 showed improved survival rates and were less dependent on oxygen support than other similar hospital patients, according to results of a small US study.

The study, published on Friday, detailed the preliminary outcomes of 39 patients hospitalised at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

Nearly 70 percent of the 39 patients were on high-flow oxygen and 10 percent were on mechanical ventilation. After two weeks, the disease worsened in 18 percent of the plasma patients and 24 percent of the control patients.

As of May 1, nearly 13 percent of plasma recipients had died, compared with more than 24 percent of the control patients.

“We are encouraged that our initial assessment offers evidence in support of convalescent plasma as an effective intervention, while remaining mindful that additional studies are needed to confirm these findings and draw more definitive conclusions in different populations,” said Dr Nicole Bouvier, an infectious disease specialist at Mt Sinai and the study’s lead author.

03:44 GMT – Hertz files for bankruptcy protection in US and Canada

The car rental company Hertz filed for bankruptcy protection in the US and Canada after its business was decimated during the coronavirus pandemic and talks with creditors failed to result in much needed relief.

“The impact of COVID-19 on travel demand was sudden and dramatic, causing an abrupt decline in the Company’s revenue and future bookings,” Hertz said in a press release.

Hertz said it took “immediate action” to prioritise the health and safety of employees and customers and eliminate “all non-essential spending”. However, it said “uncertainty remains as to when revenue will return and when the used-car market will fully reopen for sales, which necessitated today’s action”.

Hertz’s main international operating regions, including Europe, Australia and New Zealand, were not included in the US Chapter 11 filing.

02:46 GMT – China reports no new cases for first time since pandemic began

China recorded no new confirmed COVID-19 cases on the mainland for May 22, the first time it had seen no daily rise in the number of cases since the pandemic began in the city of Wuhan late last year.

However, the National Health Commission said there were two new suspected cases: An imported one in Shanghai and locally transmitted case in the northeastern province of Jilin.

New asymptomatic cases of the coronavirus fell to 28 from 35 a day earlier, the NHC said.

02:31 GMT – Yemen’s Houthis ban gatherings ahead of Eid al-Fitr

Yemen’s Houthi rebels have announced strict antivirus measures targeted specifically at Eid al-Fitr, the festival that concludes the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

The health ministry’s restrictions ask citizens to wear masks in public and not leave their homes unless absolutely necessary.

The ban on social gatherings will prevent multi-generational families and friends from feasting together, and children from visiting their neighbours’ homes for gifts and sweets, as is traditional.

02:06 GMT – Protesters demand food aid in Chile’s capital

Residents of a poor neighbourhood in the Chilean capital, Santiago, protested on Friday, demanding food aid to cope with the lockdown in place in the city since late March.

One police officer was shot in an arm during the protest in Cerrillos, in which security forces also used tear gas and water cannon trucks to disperse the demonstrators.

“This is not the way, we have that clear,” one protester who did not give his name told The Associated Press news agency. “But it is the only way to get things done in this country, this is how we fight here, like this, this is how you can see the hunger of some people.”

Protesters were also seen holding a banner that read: “The people are poor, rebel and subversive, to the street!”

Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Santiago

People clash with riot police while protesting against the lack of help from the government at ‘Cerrillos’ area in Santiago, Chile, on May 22, 2020 [Ivan Alvarado/ Reuters]

01:54 GMT – Peru extends nationwide lockdown

Peru has extended its state of emergency and a nationwide lockdown to fight the coronavirus pandemic until the end of June, marking one of the longest periods of mandatory isolation in the world.

The Andean nation, which began the lockdown in mid-March, will have lived under it for more than three months by a June 30 expiration, outlasting restrictions in Italy, Spain and China, some of the hardest hit countries in the pandemic.

Friday’s extension, announced by President Martin Vizcarra, came as Peru’s confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 111,698, the second highest total in Latin America. The death toll stood at 3,244 on Friday.

01:20 GMT – France to allow faith gatherings

The French interior ministry says it will allow religious gatherings to resume after a two-month hiatus caused by the COVID-19 outbreak but worshippers will have to wear face masks.

The rules will be outlined in a decree in “the coming hours” the ministry said in a statement on Friday.

Under the decree, a ban on gatherings imposed in March would be rescinded. But collective worship would have to observe conditions, including the wearing of masks, a distance of at least one metre (3.3 feet) between worshippers and hand-washing.

France coronavirus

People wearing protective face masks while queueing at an ice cream shop on May 22, 2020, in Strasbourg, eastern France [Frederick Florin/ AFP]

 01:07 GMT – New York eases ban on gatherings

Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, dropped the coronavirus-hit state’s absolute ban on gatherings of any size, issuing an executive order saying up to 10 people are now allowed to be together as long as they abide by social-distancing guidelines adopted during the coronavirus pandemic.

That means people still need to stay at least 6 feet (1.8 metres) away from others, or wear a mask or face covering when they cannot maintain that distance in public.

The order represents one of the biggest steps yet the hard-hit state has taken to loosen rules adopted in March that have barred anyone but essential workers from getting together unless they live in the same household.

00:34 GMT – Brazil now has world’s second-highest coronavirus cases

Brazil confirmed a total of 330,890 coronavirus cases on Friday, overtaking Russia to become the world’s second hotspot for COVID-19.

The Health Ministry said there were 1,001 deaths in the previous 24 hours, bringing Brazil’s total death toll to 21,408.

In Sao Paulo, the worst-hit city, aerial video showed rows of open plots at the Formosa Cemetery as it rushed to keep up with demand.

00:18 GMT – Mexico cancels football season over virus concerns

Mexico’s top league has decided to cancel its football season without crowning a champion for the first time in its history.

Liga MX cited uncertainty generated by the coronavirus pandemic for the decision and declared the season over despite having played 10 of its 17 dates.

“It’s indisputable that we live in an unprecedented situation in this country that obliges the football industry in Mexico to act with absolute sensitivity and respond with unity to the demands that have presented themselves,” the league said in a statement.

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

You can find all the updates from yesterday, May 22, here

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