Fauci joins CDC chief on growing White House quarantine list

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: Recovered Coronavirus Patient Reunites With Family After 5 Weeks In The Hospital
Isaias Perez Yanez, 59, is cheered on by hospital staff as he is released from Sharp Coronado Hospital after battling COVID-19 for five weeks, on May 8, 2020, in Coronado, California.Mario Tama / Getty Images

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Three members of the White House coronavirus task force will quarantine for two weeks after coming in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is expected to self-quarantine for 14 days following exposure to an unidentified White House aide who tested positive for coronavirus. Food and Drug Administration Director Stephen Hahn is already self-quarantining, he told staff Friday.

And Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he will follow a "modified" quarantine for the next two weeks after a "low-risk" exposure at the White House.

The news comes after two other people with access to the White House tested positive for COVID-19, including Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary, Katie Miller.

Meanwhile, Tesla CEO Elon Musk filed a federal lawsuit Saturday against Alameda County in California challenging its precautionary shutdown of the company's main factory. The suit seeks to overturn the county's health orders, which continue to keep businesses like Tesla's plant closed despite the governor's gradual reopening of the state.

Here's what to know about the coronavirus, plus a timeline of the most critical moments:

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Hospitals move to let families visit people dying of the coronavirus

Rinat Vita Dishlo says goodbye to her mother, Vita Bat Sheva, dying of coronavirus at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center in Israel.Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center

More than a quarter of a million people around the world have died from the coronavirus — many without a loved one by their side due to hospitals' precautions against the spread of the deadly infection.

Now some hospitals are reconsidering such policies in order to allow the dying and their family members the comfort of spending some final moments together.

"We can’t change the fact that people will die from this virus, but at least we can give these moments of compassion to family members and their loved ones,” said Avi Shushan, spokesman for the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center in Israel.

Read the full story here.

More than 1,000 line up for food in Switzerland amid shutdown

More than 1,000 people lined up on Saturday to get free food parcels in Geneva, underscoring the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on the working poor and undocumented immigrants even in wealthy Switzerland.

The line of people stretched for more than 1 km (half a mile) outside an ice rink where volunteers were handing out around 1,500 parcels to people who started lining up as early as 5 a.m.

"At the end of the month, my pockets are empty. We have to pay the bills," said Ingrid Berala, a Geneva resident from Nicaragua who works part-time. "This is great, because there is food for a week, a week of relief...I don't know for next week."

Swiss bank UBS has calculated that Geneva is the second-most expensive global city for a family of three to live in, behind only Zurich. While average incomes are also high, that helps little for people struggling to make ends meet.

Coronavirus cases have been relatively low in Switzerland but mostly attributed to poor and overcrowded housing in cities.

Slovenian cyclists stage anti-government coronavirus protest

Thousands of cyclists took over streets in the center of the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, on Friday evening to protest coronavirus restrictions put in place by Prime Minister Janez Jansa's government. 

The cyclists sounded horns and carried banners reading: "Raise workers' wages," "Careful, the government is falling," and "Stronger together." 

The protest, organized by civil society groups, was the largest in recent weeks. Police fenced off parliament while a police helicopter flew above the protesters.

Slovenia imposed a wide-ranging lockdown in mid-March, but the government began lifting restrictions on April 20 when car service centers and some shops reopened, while bars and restaurants have been allowed to serve food outdoors since Monday.

So far Slovenia has confirmed 100 deaths.

Russia records more than 10,000 new cases for seventh consecutive day

Russia recorded 10,817 new virus cases on Saturday, according to health officials, topping 10,000 cases for the seventh day in a row. 

The new cases pushed the nationwide tally to nearly 200,000. The country also recorded 104 deaths, bringing the national total to 1,827.

The country's capital Moscow and other regions have observed lockdowns since late March to try to stem the spread of the virus. The number of cases overtook French and German infections this week to become the fifth-highest in the world.

Food bank lines grow across the U.S. as unemployment soars

Pakistan begins lifting weeks-long lockdown despite another big jump in cases

Pakistan has begun lifting the weeks-long lockdown that was enforced to curb the spread of the coronavirus, as authorities reported another big jump of 1,637 cases on Saturday, bringing the total to 27,474.

Army soldiers who manned roadside checkpoints along with police since late March when the lockdown was enforced, left for their barracks in the capital, Islamabad and elsewhere in the country on Saturday.

The latest development comes two days after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was ending the lockdown in phases because his government was unable to financially help those millions of people who rely on their daily earnings to survive and feed their families.

Khan says he tried to financially help the country’s poor amid the pandemic, but he was unable to support all those who lost their jobs due to the lockdown. So far, Khan has bowed to pressure from the country’s powerful clerical establishment by allowing mosques to remain open, even as the number of new cases has recently increased. Pakistan warned, however, that it will reimpose the lockdown if people do not adhere to social distancing guidelines.

South Korea reports 18 new cases, connected to nightclub transmissions

South Korea reported 18 new cases on Saturday, a revert to confirmed cases in two-digits figures, as health workers scramble to trace contacts after detecting a slew of transmissions on Friday linked to nightclub-goers.

While the country marked a third day in a row where no new deaths were recorded, according to South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a local cluster in the capital’s Itaewon nightclub district were linked to a man who visited three bars last week. Some 1,500 people were in the three bars, government officials said. 

The South Korean government has advised on Saturday that all clubs and bars to shut down for a month in Seoul, where the relaxation of social distancing began on May 6. The new cases bring the total to 10,840 on Saturday, and the death toll remains at 256.

China says it's willing to help North Korea in fight against virus

China is willing to offer support to North Korea in its fight against the coronavirus epidemic, Chinese state television reported Saturday, quoting a letter from President Xi Jinping to his counterpart Kim Jong Un.

"I am also very concerned about the prevention and control of the epidemic in North Korea and the health of the North Korean people," Xi said in the letter. "China is willing to strengthen anti-epidemic cooperation with North Korea and provide support within its capabilities according to North Korea's needs."

Xi also said he was pleased that the country's prevention measures to control the respiratory illness had achieved positive results, state television reported. 

"I believe that with the joint efforts of China, North Korea and the international community, we will surely win the final victory in the fight against the pandemic," he said. 

India's fuel demand nearly halves in April amid lockdown

India’s fuel demand dipped 45.8 percent in April from a year earlier, as a nationwide lockdown and travel curbs to combat the spread of coronavirus eroded economic activity in the country.

Consumption of fuel, a proxy for oil demand, totaled 9.93 million tonnes — its lowest since 2007, government data showed on Saturday. State fuel retailers in India sold 50 percent less refined fuel in the first two weeks of April than the same time a year earlier, as the country came to a standstill due to the lockdown that was put in place on March 24.

The government last week extended the lockdown until May 17, with some relaxations in lower-risk areas, although travel by air, rail and metro and inter-state movement of people by road was still banned. India has reported nearly 60,000 cases as of Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

IMF warns of further drop in global growth due to virus

Economic data for many countries is coming in below the International Monetary Fund's "already pessimistic assessment" for 2020, its managing director Kristalina Georgieva, told an online event hosted by the European University Institute on Friday.

"With no immediate medical solutions, more adverse scenarios might unfortunately materialize for some economies," Georgieva said. "It is the unknown about the behavior of this virus that is clouding the horizon for projections."

The IMF's April projection for a 3 percent contraction the global economy would mark the steepest downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, according to Reuters. The IMF forecast a partial rebound would follow in 2021 assuming vaccines and treatments are available, but warned that outcomes could be far worse, depending on the course of the pandemic.

Spain's biggest cities will not move to next stage of lockdown exit

Madrid and Barcelona will not progress to the next phase of Spain's exit from one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns, allowing bars, restaurants and places of worship to reopen in some areas starting Monday, government officials have said. 

Spain's two biggest cities do not currently meet the government's criteria for easing measures, Health Emergency Chief Fernando Simon told a news conference on Friday. However, Simon said 51 percent of the population would move onto the next phase of easing lockdown restrictions.

Speaking at the same news conference, Health Minister Salvador Illa said: "I want to insist that this is not a race, decisions must be based on cooperation and caution." 

Madrid and Catalonia — whose capital is Barcelona — account for nearly half of Spain's overall cases of infection. The number of diagnosed cases rose to 222,857 from 221,447 the day before, the ministry said on Friday. Half of the new cases in Spain in the past 24 hours were in Catalonia.