House holds moment of silence for COVID-19 victims

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A woman walks by a memorial for those who have died from the coronavirus outside Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York on Wednesday.Spencer Platt / Getty Images

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The House on Thursday afternoon held a moment of silence to honor those who have died during the pandemic. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called for the moment around 1:15 p.m. "in remembrance of the over 100,000 Americans who have passed away from the COVID-19 virus."

COVID-19 has killed more Americans than the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam combined.

While the pandemic is confusing to adults, it's especially so for children who have suddenly lost their school, their connections with friends and grandparents, and even their ability to play freely outside. To them, coronavirus is like an unseen monster under the bed. What no one knows yet is just how sharp its fangs are.

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

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This live coverage has ended. Continue reading May 29 coronavirus news here.

England launches virus contact tracing system

A contact tracing system started in England on Thursday, as a step toward allowing the loosening of lockdown measures, the U.K. government said. 

The tracing service will have a task force of 40,000 people locating and testing those who have been in contact with anyone who tests positive for COVID-19, and requiring them to self-isolate for 14 days. 

The service will initially rely on what the government described as people doing their "civic duty," rather than a mobile app or data collection. Britain has one of the highest death tolls from the virus in Europe and the government has faced criticism for its approach to virus testing.

Lack of COVID-19 immunity no reason to vote by mail, Texas court rules. Trump cheers.

WASHINGTON — The Texas Supreme Court has blocked an effort by Democrats in the state to expand voting by mail, ruling that lack of immunity to COVID-19 does not qualify a person to apply for a mail-in ballot.

"We agree with the State that a voter's lack of immunity to COVID-19, without more, is not a 'disability' as defined by the Election Code," the court, made up of Republicans, said in a ruling Wednesday.

Read the full story here. 

Ohio voters walk to drop off their ballots in Dayton.Megan Jelinger / AFP - Getty Images

Russian deaths pass 4,000 as Moscow lockdown set to ease

The coronavirus death toll in Russia passed 4,000 people on Thursday, as the country grapples with the ongoing health crisis. 

Despite the increasing number of deaths and infections, from June 1 Moscow will begin "Phase 1" of easing its lockdown, with some non-food stores and businesses re-opening. However, electronic passes will remain in place to enforce stay at home rules introduced in April.

The Mayor of Moscow also said he would allow some outdoor exercise to resume during scheduled times, so long as people wear protective face masks. 

Earlier this week, President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would go ahead with a delayed military parade on June 24, as he declared the pandemic had peaked. Many other Russian provinces have already eased lockdowns.

Africa faring well but should not be complacent, says WHO

Three months since the first coronavirus case was reported in sub-Saharan Africa, the WHO confirmed on Thursday the continent was faring relatively well, with 123,000 COVID-19 cases and 3,600 deaths.

South Africa and Nigeria were among the countries with the highest number of cases, the WHO said during an online briefing. But added it had trained more than 10,000 health workers across the continent, in skills such as psychological support and infection prevention. 

"With strong country leadership ... cases in Africa remain lower than in some other parts of the world," said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO's regional director for Africa. "However, we cannot let our guard down and we cannot be complacent." 

Iraq virus cases pass 5,000 mostly in Baghdad

Cases of the deadly coronavirus are continuing to grow in Iraq, the Health Ministry said, with cases now totaling more than 5,000 and 175 people dead. 

A statement by the ministry on Wednesday said that 287 new cases were recorded nationwide during the past 24 hours — the vast majority in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

"The cases of coronavirus pandemic are all over Baghdad, and there is no specific area in the city that is far from the risk of the disease," Provincial Governor Mohammed Jaber al-Atta, said in a statement.

More than 200,000 tests have been carried out in the conflict-ridden country, the Health Ministry said, which had helped to identify new outbreaks.


Australian archbishop calls for equality between churches and pubs

A Catholic archbishop has accused an Australian state government of unfair pandemic rules, which allow up to 50 people into pubs while limiting church congregations to just 10.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher, in Sydney, encouraged Catholics on Thursday to sign a petition calling on the New South Wales government to treat churches equally with pubs and restaurants when it brings in new rules on June 1. 

"Contrary to what has been said throughout this pandemic, we do not consider church attendance to be non-essential — indeed, nothing is more essential than the practice of our faith," the petition said.

Siberian zoo sees lockdown baby boom

A Siberian zoo that closed its doors to visitors for over two months due to the coronavirus, says the lockdown has encouraged a baby boom among its animals.

Among the zoo's new arrivals are rare Egyptian goslings, reindeer calves, llama crias and a baby brown weeper capuchin monkey.

"Judging by the baby boom, the lockdown has clearly been good for us because there are a lot of interesting and beautiful baby animals now," said Andrei Gorban, the director of Krasnoyarsk's Royev Ruchey Zoo.

Gorban said that while the absence of onlookers had encouraged mating among some residents, it had confused others, with the zoo's herd of camels among those particularly missing visitors, he said. 

Alpacas, male Romeo (L) and female Juliette at the Roev Ruchey Zoo in Russia.Ilya Naymushin / Reuters file
Patients exercise at the balconies of a training center in Jakarta, Indonesia.WIlly Kurniawan / Reuters

WHO creates foundation to increase funding in virus fight

The World Health Organization announced the creation of a foundation for new sources of funding, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, aiming to broaden its contributor base.

Calling it a "historic step," WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus announced the creation of the WHO Foundation on Wednesday at a virtual briefing.

He said it would ease a potential financial shortage and that it had been in the works for years. The funds will go towards all the WHO projects including vaccine research and preparing for future pandemics, not just the current coronavirus. 

President Donald Trump recently threatened to permanently halt funding from the U.S. — the WHO's biggest financial contributor — after criticizing its handling of the pandemic.


South Korea reports worrying new spike in cases

South Korea reported its biggest spike in coronavirus cases in more than 50 days on Thursday, marking a setback after the country won praise for initially bringing its epidemic under control.

Thursday’s resurgent spike of 79 new cases is linked to workers at a massive logistics warehouse in Seoul, operated by a local e-commerce giant.

Health minister Park Neung Hoo said the government would reimpose some "enhanced quarantine measures in the Seoul metropolitan area" for the next two weeks, to quell the flare-up. 

Recently, hundreds of other infections have been linked to nightclubs in the country’s capital, which saw huge crowds pour into them in early May after officials relaxed social distancing rules.

Singaporean gets jail time for Facebook post

A taxi driver in Singapore has been sentenced to four months in jail, after posting a message to a private Facebook group claiming food outlets would close and urged people to stock up during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The public prosecutor called for a sentence that would deter others from spreading "hysteria." 

Singapore has imposed tough punishments on those who breach COVID-19 rules or spread misinformation. This is not the first example. Last month, a man who broke a curfew by 30 minutes, to buy a flatbread, was fined $1,000. While another, breached a stay-home order to go out and eat pork rib soup and was jailed for six weeks.