- India and Pakistan saw spikes in daily cases after ramping up testing efforts
- Brazil and Mexico reported a record number of daily deaths from the coronavirus for the second consecutive day
- Germany is planning an initiative with three EU countries to secure vaccine access
- More than 6.5 million people are now infected with COVID-19 globally and some 386,000 have died
All times in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC/GMT)
12:09 Health officials in Finland have announced no new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours for the first time in over three months.
“This is the first ‘zero day’ since February 26,” a government spokesperson told AFP news agency.
However, there was one death from coronavirus on Thursday, bringing the total death count to 322 in the Nordic country. Over 7,000 people have been infected since the pandemic began. Finland has been slowly lifting emergency regulations during May.
12:06 The European Central Bank (ECB) has approved more financial stimulus to the EU to prop up an economy in the biggest recession since World War II.
Months after emergency measures were introduced, the ECB said it would increase the size of emergency bond purchases by €600 billion ($674 billion) to €1.35 trillion in total. The payments will now run until June 2021.
11:20 The UK’s business secretary has been tested for coronavirus and went into self-isolation after showing symptoms during a speech in parliament on Wednesday. The topic of the debate was whether virtual parliamentary sessions should be ended, during which Alok Sharma, who had been feeling unwell, shook and sweated profusely.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced strong criticism for pushing to return parliament to the Palace of Westminster, with many opposition lawmakers pointing out that forcing Members of Parliament to travel across the country could help spread the virus. Social distancing is difficult in the old building and a socially-distanced vote on Tuesday took over 45 minutes to complete with lawmakers standing in a line over a kilometer long. Lawmakers in high-risk groups may not be able to attend.
Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy described the government’s decision to end the virtual sitting of parliament as “reckless.”
11:19 Iran confirmed 3,574 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, the country’s highest daily count since the outbreak began. For the fourth day in a row, new cases in the Middle Eastern country topped 3,000.
Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said the uptick could be due to increased testing rather than a second wave of infections.
Still, in recent days the ministry has upped its public health campaigning, reminding people to keep their distance from each other and to take health precautions.
Jahanpour also confirmed that 59 people had died of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours. Iran’s virus death toll currently stands at 8,071. A total of 164,270 people have tested positive for the infection.
11:06 Russia saw almost 9,000 new infections recorded in the past 24 hours, with 168 new deaths. Russia has the third-highest number of confirmed cases in the world, with 441,108 confirmed cases. Some 5,384 people have died.
A planeload of 150 ventilators has also arrived in Russia from the United States, showing a further sign of medical collaboration between the two countries.
Questions have been raised about Russia’s relatively low death, with concerns from health experts over the way Russia counts fatalities. Russia claims the discrepancy comes from the high number of tests they carry out, more than 11.7 million overall, with many asymptomatic people diagnosed.
11:05 France is cancelling its annual Bastille Day military parade due to concerns over the coronavirus. Instead, the presidency said the country will mark the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789 — a turning point in the French Revolution — honoring medical personnel who are battling the pandemic. The traditional march of soldiers and military machinery down the Champs-Elysees will be replaced with a much smaller ceremony at the Place de la Concorde, where the parade normally ends, it said.
08:36 Germany is forging a new alliance with three European Union countries to secure access to coronavirus vaccines, once they are developed, according to German newspaper Handelsblatt.
Health Minister Jens Spahn has written to the European Commission along with his counterparts from France, Italy and the Netherlands to announce that they have joined up to “achieve the fastest and best possible outcome in negotiations with key players in the pharmaceutical industry.”
Germany is eager to ensure the EU will have vaccine access over fears that China or the United States may attempt to monopolize the market.
Read more: Germany plans coronavirus vaccine development EU alliance: report
08:35 Pakistan has reported a record single-day spike in coronavirus death with 82 fatalities and 4,688 cases in 24 hours. Authorities say the spike in infections comes from ramped up testing in the country.
Pakistan conducted over 20,000 tests, a daily record. Overall the country has conducted around 615,000 tests.
Prime Minister Imran Khan eased lockdown restrictions, ignoring experts’ recommendations to keep them in place. Authorities say people have not properly observed social distancing measures.
08:25 Israel’s parliament has suspended sessions for the day after a lawmaker tested positive for coronavirus.
Israel began to ease restrictions on public life in recent weeks after the number of cases began to decrease. Officials are eager to avoid a second spike in case numbers.
The Israeli parliament has sent away all non-essential staff and committee meetings were postponed “pending an investigation.”
“I appeal to all of those who have been in my immediate vicinity to get tested,” infected representative Sami Abou Shahadeh said on Twitter.
07:16 North Macedonian authorities have issued a fresh curfew as the number of infections rose again a week after most contact restrictions were lifted.
An 80-hour curfew with full restriction of movement begins at 9 p.m. on Thursday night in most major towns and cities and lasts until 5 a.m. Monday. In smaller communities, the curfew will only be in place at night.
The decision was made on Thursday morning after 101 new cases were detected in the Balkan country. This was a rise from 76 the day before. North Macedonia, with a population of around 2 million, has reported a total of 2,492 cases and 145 people have died.
07:15 India’s tally of COVID-19 fatalities has passed 6,000 after registering 260 new deaths in the past 24 hours. The country also saw its largest spike in new cases reported with nearly 10,000 confirmed cases in the last 24 hours. The total number of infections stands at 216,919.
The Health Ministry said it was ramping up testing across the country and over 4 million people have been tested so far in the country of 1.35 billion people. Cities are more affected than rural areas, with the financial hub of Mumbai reporting a large proportion of cases.
07:14 A major Australian airport has proposed to reopen flights to New Zealand from July 1. Canberra Airport opened a register for travelers interested in flying to the New Zealand capital of Wellington.
Under the proposal, the flights will not require the quarantine of passengers, as is currently necessary.
“There is a very strong demand for these flights, and we do think the time is right for the government to set a date and for the parties to work together to set a date,” airport managing director Stephen Byron told the Associated Press.
New Zealand is one of Australia’s major trading partners and many people are eager to see the route between the country open as quickly as possible. The Australian economy is expected to enter recession this summer for the first time in nearly 30 years.
03:58 Germany has reported 394 new cases of coronavirus, according to the latest figures from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.
Thirty new deaths were recorded, taking the total to 8,591.
The tally of the total number of infections in the country is now 182,764.
About 167,800 people have already recovered — almost 600 more than the day before.
03:48 Researchers at the University of Bonn found that contracting the virus from surfaces in a domestic situation is highly unlikely.
“The domestic environment predominantly does not seem to pose a high risk for transmission of SARS-CoV-2,” the study said, referring to the novel coronavirus by its official name.
The researchers took samples from multiple places in residences where at least one person was in direct contact with a positive case. The samples included the surfaces of toilets, doorknobs and even a remote control.
The wastewater samples from showers, washbasins and toilets returned the highest number of positive tests with 15.15%.
The researchers said that the study supported “the hypothesis that indirect environmental transmission may only play a minor role, which needs clarifications in further studies.”
03:30 A full post-mortem examination of George Floyd has revealed that he tested positive for coronavirus in April, the Associated Press reports.
Floyd, the unarmed black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police, had reportedly appeared asymptomatic.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office released a 20-page autopsy report on Wednesday.
As per the report, Floyd had a heart attack while being restrained. His death on May 25 was classified as a homicide.
03:20 Chinese authorities have reported one confirmed new coronavirus case and four asymptomatic cases, which it does not count in its official tally. Beijing also reported no new deaths as a result of the deadly pathogen.
Authorities said the cases were imported from travelers arriving from abroad.
China is the origin point of the globe-spanning outbreak. However, experts have yet to trace the virus to an exact source.
Western countries, including Germany and the US, have criticized Beijing for a lack of transparency concerning the novel coronavirus, especially at the onset of the pandemic.
02:35 A highly-anticipated study on the use of hydroxychloroquine to combat the novel coronavirus did not show a statistically-significant impact compared to a placebo.
In a randomized controlled trial conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota, only 11.83% of people given hydroxychloroquine were infected after exposure from an infected individual, as opposed to 14.25% of those given a placebo.
“This randomized trial did not demonstrate a significant benefit of hydroxychloroquine as postexposure prophylaxis for COVID-19,” said the study’s authors in their paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
US President Donald Trump announced last month that he was hydroxychloroquine to prevent infection of the deadly pathogen, and recommended others to do the same.
On Tuesday, the British medical journal the ;Lancet announced that it had concerns about a much-vaunted article that found hydroxychloroquine increased the risk of death in COVID-19 patients.
01:30 Brazil has registered a record number of daily deaths from the coronavirus for the second consecutive day.
As the pandemic continued to take a grim toll on Latin America’s hardest-hit country, Health Ministry data brought the country’s new total death toll to 32,548, with 584,016 confirmed infections.
The caseload is the second-highest worldwide, after the United States. Experts say that a lack of testing in the nation of some 210 million people means the real numbers are probably much higher.
President Jair Bolsonaro has fiercely criticized coronavirus lockdown measures imposed by regional governors, even as the number of infections and deaths continues to soar.
The country is the latest frontline of the pandemic, with deaths and infections on the rise. Authorities have imposed fresh restrictions in Brazil’s northeast after “extremely high” numbers of cases were reported.
Concern over the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in Latin America has increased even as the health crisis has eased in other regions of the world.
01:16 Mexican authorities said the number of coronvirus-related deaths doubled within a 24-hour period, the country’s highest death toll in one day so far.
Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell, however, attributed the increase to “various reasons,” including deaths that were being counted days after.
“We have had a very substantial increase in mortality,” Lopez-Gatell said.
Mexico is under pressure from its northern neighbor, the US, to rollback lockdown measures and jump-start the economy. Indeed, Mexican authorities had anticipated an easing of restriction, but the latest increase in deaths and confirmed cases has dimmed that prospect.
Critics have accused the US government of fumbling its response to the pandemic.
Mexican officials have acknowledged that the number of positive cases could be significantly higher than the official tally.
00:01 German Chancellor Angela Merkel said governing parties have agreed on a €130 billion ($146 billion) stimulus package to help the economy recover from the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The measures include temporarily cutting value-added tax form 19% to 16%, providing families with an additional €300 per child and doubling a government-supported rebate on electric car purchases.
Read more: Germany unveils stimulus package to kickstart economy
The package also establishes a €50 billion fund for addressing climate change, innovation and digitization within the German economy.
The measures were agreed by Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, and junior governing partner, the Social Democrats following marathon negotiations that lasted 21 hours.
00:00 Catch up on Wednesday’s developments here: Coronavirus updates: Germany to scrap EU travel warnings by mid-June
In reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, unless otherwise specified, DW uses figures provided by the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Coronavirus Resource Center in the United States. JHU updates figures in real-time, collating data from world health organizations, state and national governments and other public official sources, all of whom have their own systems for compiling information.
Germany’s national statistics are compiled by its public health agency, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). These figures depend on data transmission from state and local levels and are updated around once a day, which can lead to deviation from JHU.