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EU countries ban anti-malaria drug for coronavirus: Live updates | News



  • The United States death toll from the coronavirus has surpassed 100,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The country now has more than 1.69 million confirmed cases. 

  • Brazil’s death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 25,000 people on Wednesday, the Health Ministry said. Deaths from the disease caused by the coronavirus over the last 24 hours were 1,086, while the number of cases rose by 20,599, reaching 411,821.

  • The number of coronavirus cases in the Arab Gulf region, which includes Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Oman, has passed 200,000, as the largest economies, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have begun to ease restriction.

  • More than 5.68 million cases of coronavirus have been confirmed around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. At least 355,575 people have died, while about 2.4 million have recovered.

Here are the latest updates:

Thursday, May 28

06:24 GMT – GSK to produce one billion doses of adjuvant vaccine booster in 2021

UK drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline Plc will expand production of vaccine efficacy boosters, or adjuvants, to produce one billion doses in 2021 for use in shots for COVID-19, the company has said.

The company added it was in talks with governments on backing for the programme, which would allow the expansion of the scale of production of future successful vaccines for the COVID-19 disease.

06:20 GMT – Britain’s easyJet to axe up to 30 percent of its workforce

British low cost airline easyJet said it plans to slash up to 30 percent of its staff and shrink its fleet, to fit the smaller market it expects to emerge from the collapse in air travel due to the pandemic.

EasyJet said it would launch a consultation process with its staff in the coming days, joining many of its airline peers in announcing job cuts.

06:15 GMT

Hello, this is Mersiha Gadzo in Doha taking over the live updates from my colleague Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur.

05:36 GMT – Turkey resumes intercity train services as coronavirus curbs ease

Turkey begun operating intercity trains on Thursday after a two-month gap, as it gradually eases coronavirus curbs in a bid to restore normal life and reopen an economy facing the threat of recession.

At 0400 GMT, an intercity train left the capital, Ankara, for Istanbul for the first time since the March 28 halt in services. Trains will make 16 trips daily, although individuals aged 20 or less and 65 or older cannot travel

To fight the virus, Turkey had imposed weekend stay-at-home orders, halted most travel between large cities, shut restaurants and schools, and mostly sealed its borders. But the government has begun rolling back some measures as the spread of the virus slows, saying it aims to normalise life until August.

05:02 GMT – Stranded Colombians plead for COVID-19 airlift out of Brazil

More than 200 Colombian nationals, who have been camped out inside Brazil’s Sao Paulo’s international airport have asked their government to send a special flight to bring them home.

The stranded passengers are camping out in the airport in hopes that their plight will prod Colombian authorities in Brazil to charter a humanitarian flight home. Anything to get them back to Colombia, and far from Latin America’s coronavirus hot spot.

“We don’t have money or anything to do in Brazil. We want to ask Colombia’s president to please help us. We’re only eating thanks to donations,” Jose Avila Saavedra, one of those people stranded, told the Associated Press news agency.

04:50 GMT – Thailand reports 11 new coronavirus cases, no new deaths

Thailand on Thursday reported 11 new coronavirus cases and no new deaths, bringing its total to 3,065 confirmed cases and 57 fatalities since the outbreak started in January.

The cases were Thai nationals in quarantine who recently returned from overseas, including four from Kuwait, six from Qatar, and one from India, Reuters news agency reported quoting Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government’s coronavirus task force.

There are 2,945 patients who have recovered since the outbreak started.

04:22 GMT – Washington DC to begin gradual reopening 

The US capital, Washginton DC, will begin a gradual reopening Friday, even as Mayor Muriel Bowser warns that it probably will result in more coronavirus infections, according to an AP news agency report.

Restaurants will be permitted to seat guests outdoors, barbers and hair salons will open with limited capacity and nonessential businesses will be allowed to offer curbside or front-door pickup services.

Dog parks, tennis courts and golf courses will reopen, but playground equipment and public pools will remain closed. Sports that involve close contact, including football, soccer and basketball, are still banned.

03:45 GMT – Germany’s coronavirus cases rise by 353 to 179,717

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 353 to 179,717, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Thursday.

The reported death toll rose by 62 to 8,411, the tally showed, according to Reuters news agency.

03:38 GMT – UN warns 14 million could go hungry in Latin America 

The United Nations World Food Program is warning that upward of at least 14 million people could go hungry in Latin America as the coronavirus pandemic rages on, shuttering people in their homes, drying up work and crippling the economy.

“We are entering a very complicated stage,” said Miguel Barreto, the WFP’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “It is what we are calling a hunger pandemic.”

In Haiti, hunger could more than double, from 700,000 to 1.6 million, according to the AP report.

Mexico - coronavirusAt least 3.4 million people have experienced severe food insecurity in Latin America in 2019, the US said [Carlos Jasso/Reuters]

03:08 GMT – China reports two new cases from abroad

China announced two new cases of coronavirus, both from abroad, on Thursday as it moves to close the annual session of its ceremonial legislature that had been delayed for more than two months by the outbreak.

No new deaths were reported and just 73 people remained in treatment, while another 518 remain under isolation and observation for either suspected of having the virus or testing positive without showing any symptoms, AP news agency reported quoting health officials.

China has reported a total of 4,634 deaths from COVID-19 among 82,995 cases.

02:49 GMT – Philippines task force backs easing one of lockdown

The Philippines’ coronavirus task force has recommended President Rodrigo Duterte ease one of the longest lockdowns in the world for residents in the capital who have endured nearly 11 weeks of restrictions.

Manila’s lockdown will this weekend surpass the 76-day quarantine of Wuhan, the Chinese city where the first outbreak of the highly infectious novel coronavirus was detected, according to Reuters news agency.

The recommendation came even as daily infections this week were the highest since April 6. Confirmed cases in the past six days comprise nearly 11 percent of the total 15,049 recorded, of which 904 led to deaths.

02:04 GMT – S Korea reports 79 new cases – largest rise since April 5 

South Korea reported 79 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, the largest one day increase since April 5, according to the Reuters news agency’s tally.

The cases were as of midnight on Wednesday, and bring the country’s total to 11,344 cases and 269 deaths.

At least 69 of the new cases were domestic infections, and come as health authorities battle a growing outbreak linked to an e-commerce firm’s logistics facility.

Coronavirus - South Korea

Students eat lunch with transparent dividers separating them at the canteen of Geumbyeong Elementary School in Chuncheon, South Korea on Wednesday [Yonhap via EPA]

01:50 GMT – China to allow flights from seven more countries

China will soon relax its border controls for seven more countries, the country’s civil aviation agency said, allowing domestic and foreign airlines to apply for the so-called “green channels” for chartered flights to the mainland.

Among those countries are Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore and Switzerland. South Korea was the first country to establish the “green channel” with China earlier this month.

01:28 GMT – EU governments ban hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19

European governments moved to halt the use of anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients, and a second global trial was suspended, further blows to hopes for a treatment promoted by US President Donald Trump.

The moves by France, Italy and Belgium followed a World Health Organization decision on Monday to pause a large trial of hydroxychloroquine due to safety concerns.

A UK regulator said that a separate trial was also being put on hold, less than a week after it started. The study, being led by the University of Oxford and partly funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was expected to involve as many as 40,000 healthcare workers.

01:09 GMT – South Korea logistics centre reports spike in COVID-19 cases

South Korea on Thursday reported a continued spike in new coronavirus cases linked to a logistics centre in a city west of Seoul, according to Yonhap news agency.

A total of 69 cases had been traced to the logistics centre operated by the country’s leading e-commerce operator, Coupang Inc in Bucheon, as of early Thursday, Yonhap quoted health officials as saying.

The company said all employees at the facility who had contact with the patient were put under self-isolation and that the facility has been shut down.

00:38 GMT – Colombia to begin easing restrictions from the start of June

Colombia will begin easing restrictions put in place to control the spread of the coronavirus starting from June, President Ivan Duque has announced, though he asked the public to continue isolating at home and keep using measures to contain the disease.

Colombia has reported more than 24,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, as well as 803 deaths. The country began a nationwide quarantine in late March.

00:10 GMT – Egypt reports country’s highest daily rate of infections

Egypt’s health minister announced 910 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in the past 12 hours, the country’s highest daily rate of infections since the virus was detected in mid-February, according to The Associated Press.

The ministry also reported 19 new deaths from COVID-19. Wednesday’s figures have brought Egypt’s tally to 816 deaths among 19,666 confirmed cases.

Egypt, the Arab World’s most populous country, has the highest announced deaths from COVID-19 in the Arab World, and the third in the Middle East tailing Iran and Turkey, according to a tally by The Associated Press.

Egypt - coronavirus

Egypt has the highest announced deaths from COVID-19 in the Arab World [File: Mohamed Hossam/EPA]

00:01 GMT – Turkey’s average number of cases hovers around 1,000 daily

Turkey’s health minister has announced 34 new deaths, bringing the death toll from COVID-19 to 4,431.

Fahrettin Koca tweeted Wednesday 1,035 new infections were confirmed in the past 24 hours. The total number of cases has reached 159,797.

Turkey ranks ninth in a tally by Johns Hopkins University for the number of cases, but experts believe the rate of infections globally could be much higher than reported. The average number of new cases has hovered around 1,000 this week, AP news agency reported.


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Read all the updates from yesterday (May 27) here.

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Chinese cities using anal swabs to screen COVID infections | Coronavirus pandemic News



Study shows virus traces in faecal samples could remain detectable for a longer time and provide more accurate test results.

Some Chinese cities are using samples taken from the anus to detect potential COVID-19 infections as China steps up screening to make sure no potential carrier of the new coronavirus is missed ahead of next month’s the Lunar New Year holidays when tens of millions of people usually travel home to their families.

China has been battling new pockets of the disease that have appeared in the north and northeast with strict lockdowns and mass testing in a bid to stamp out the outbreaks.

Justifying the decision to take anal swabs, a city official in Weinan in northern Shaanxi province said a 52-year-old man with symptoms including coughing initially tested negative for COVID-19. He was then tested via an anal swab.

The man, who was confined to a centralised facility for medical observation as a close contact of another COVID-19 patient earlier this month, was then confirmed to have the virus, the official told a news conference.

Anal swabs require inserting a cotton swab three to five centimetres (1.2 to two inches) into the anus and gently rotating it.

In a video posted online by state-backed newspaper Global Times, Zhang Wenhong of Huashan Hospital in Shanghai, said that such swabs could be useful in helping minimise the risk of a relapse after recovery.

“There may be traces of the coronavirus detected in the abdominal cavity faeces and intestine,” Zhang was quoted as saying in the report.

Last week, a Beijing city official said that anal swabs were taken from more than 1,000 teachers, staffers and students at a primary school in the city after an infection had been found there. Nose and throat swabs and serum samples were also collected for testing.

Additional tests using anal swabs can pick up infections that other tests miss, as virus traces in faecal samples or anal swabs could remain detectable for a longer time than in samples taken from upper respiratory tract, Dr Li Tongzeng, a respiratory and infectious disease specialist in Beijing city, told state TV last week.

Li added that such samples were only necessarily for key groups such as those under quarantine.

‘Low harm, extreme humiliation’

Stool tests may be more effective than respiratory tests in identifying COVID-19 infections in children and infants since they carry a higher viral load in their stool than adults, researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) found in a paper published last year.

Users of China’s Weibo, its Twitter-like social media platform, reacted to the method with a mix of mirth and horror.

“So lucky I returned to China earlier,” one user wrote.

“Low harm, but extreme humiliation,” another said, using a laughing emoticon.

Others who had undergone the procedure chimed in with dark humour.

“I’ve done two anal swabs, every time I did one I had to do a throat swab afterwards – I was so scared the nurse would forget to use a new swab,” one Weibo user joked.

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