Global confirmed coronavirus cases pass 6.3m
US army scientist predicts vaccine “by the end of the year”
On Tuesday, Spain’s health ministry reported no new Covid-19 deaths for a second consecutive day, writes Sam Jones, the Guardian’s Madrid correspondent. However, the ministry also said there had been 34 deaths across the country over the past week, leading to some confusion.
Fernando Simón, the head of Spain’s centre for health emergencies, said the death figures were “yielding some problems” but added that the numbers were provided by Spain’s regional governments.
To date, the country has registered 27,127 deaths and 239,932 cases.
The World Health Organization struggled to get needed information from China during critical early days of the coronavirus pandemic, according to recordings of internal meetings that contradict the organisation’s public praise of Beijing’s response to the outbreak, writes Lily Kuo, the Guardian’s Beijing bureau chief.
The recordings, obtained by the Associated Press (AP), show officials complaining in meetings during the week of 6 January that Beijing was not sharing data needed to evaluate the risk of the virus to the rest of the world. It was not until 20 January that China confirmed coronavirus was contagious and 30 January that the WHO declared a global emergency.
“We’re going on very minimal information,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist and the WHO technical lead for Covid-19, according to the AP. “It’s clearly not enough for you to do proper planning.”
The WHO’s top official in China, Gauden Galea, said in one of the recordings: “We’re currently at the stage where yes, they’re giving it to us 15 minutes before it appears on CCTV [Chinese state TV].”
The report comes amid growing international scrutiny of China’s handling of the outbreak and moves to establish an independent investigation into the origins of the virus, which has infected more than 6 million and killed more than 375,000 people around the world.
Official UK coronavirus death toll passes 50,000
The UK reached another grim milestone in its battle with coronavirus today as the official death toll surpassed 50,000, writes Pamela Duncan.
This morning, the ONS released figures showing that 44,401 Covid deaths had occurred in England and Wales by 22 May (these figures differ from the daily figures put out by the government, which include only deaths that have occurred in hospitals and care homes where the person has had a positive Covid-19 test prior to their death).
This follows last week’s release from National Records of Scotland, which showed that 3,779 deaths had been registered there up to 24 March.
A further 716 deaths had occurred in Northern Ireland by 22 May, NISRA figures show.
However, figures from NHS England show there were 931 deaths since then, a number that includes hospital deaths but not those occurring in care homes and other settings.
Scottish government figures released today show there have been 105 deaths newly registered after 24 May.
A further 78 deaths have occurred in Wales since 23 May, while there were 22 deaths reported in Northern Ireland in the same period.
Several gatherings of extended families in the city of Göttingen, north-west Germany, two weekends ago have resulted in a local spike of the coronavirus, which authorities say has highlighted the need to stick to physical distancing rules, writes Kate Connolly, the Guardian’s Berlin correspondent.
As Germany slowly emerges from its lockdown restrictions, the outbreaks in Göttingen serve to illustrate the challenge of keeping the virus contained, despite the relatively efficient tracking and tracing system in place in the country.
Sixty-eight people of 166 tested had been found to have the virus by Monday, following the parties that took place on 23-24 May. Fifty-nine were from the city and nine from the wider area. One of the people infected has been hospitalised. The results of further tests are outstanding.
While the number may appear relatively low, the ramifications are considerable. Three hundred contact people have so far been identified – that is, those who were in close proximity to those who have been tested positive – and have been ordered to quarantine for 14 days.
“They may not leave their flats, not even to go shopping,” Cordula Dankert, a spokeswoman for the city, said.
Sixty of the contact people live in a high-rise block of flats that is home to 700 residents. Authorities have said while it might be desirable from an epidemiological viewpoint to put the whole block under quarantine, it is not realistic to do so.