Nationwide protests raise infection fears

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: Protesters rally against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd in San Francisco
A child wearing a face mask watches a rally against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in San Francisco, May 31, 2020. Picture taken May 31, 2020.Stephen Lam / Reuters

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Health experts and political leaders have warned that the nationwide protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd could cause a catastrophic setback for controlling COVID-19 in the U.S., as cities and states continue efforts to reopen.

So far, more than 1.7 million Americans have been sickened by the disease and more than 105,000 have died.

"If you were out protesting last night, you probably need to go get a COVID test this week," said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms at a news briefing Sunday.

Elsewhere, lockdown restrictions continue to be eased across Europe and east Asia, where the virus originated, but cases continue to grow in Latin America, with Brazil passing 500,000 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

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China says U.S. 'addicted to quitting' over plan to withdraw from WHO

China said on Monday the United States was "addicted to quitting" following a U.S. decision to leave the World Health Organization (WHO) and said the withdrawal reveals a pursuit of power politics and unilateralism.

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters during a daily briefing that the international community disagreed with what he described as the selfish behavior of the United States.

"The U.S. has become addicted to quitting groups and scrapping treaties," said Zhao.

Russia passes 400,000 cases as virus spreads outside of Moscow

Russia has recorded over 400,000 coronavirus infections — with only Brazil and the U.S. recording more — as the epidemic grows in regions outside of Moscow. 

Even as the country begins to reopen some services in a partial easing of lockdown measures, it is reporting more than 9,000 daily cases, with over two thirds of those now being recorded outside of Moscow. At the start of last month, the majority of new cases in Russia were recorded in its capital. 

Moscow began relaxing lockdown restrictions Monday as the country approached 5,000 fatalities from COVID-19.

Queen Elizabeth II pictured riding a pony in first outdoor appearance since March

Queen Elizabeth II rides Balmoral Fern, a 14-year-old Fell Pony, in Windsor Home Park over the weekend.Steve Parsons / Getty Images

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II has been pictured outside for the first time since the country's coronavirus lockdown came into effect in March. 

The Queen, 94, was pictured riding a horse near her current base at Windsor Castle in southern England. The pictures — tweeted by the Royal Family's twitter account — show the Queen riding a 14-year-old fell pony called Fern.

Britain further relaxed lockdown restrictions Monday with some schools and shops reopening and groups of up to six people allowed to meet outdoors as long as they maintain social distancing rules. 

Protests could accelerate spread of coronavirus, experts say

Within the last few days, careful social distancing has been overturned by demonstrations against social injustice — as thousands of Americans congregate in cities across the country protesting the death of George Floyd.

The large gatherings, infectious disease experts said, could cause a catastrophic setback for controlling COVID-19 in the U.S. as cities and states try to reopen.

"It makes me cringe on a number of levels," said Dr. Katie Passaretti, medical director for infection prevention at Atrium Health in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"It's a setup for further spread of COVID," Passaretti added. "It's heartbreaking."

Read the full story here.

Canada to promote holidays at home because of COVID-19 border closures

Canada will invest 30 million Canadian dollars ($21.8 million) to enable its provinces and territories to promote holidays in their "own back yard" because of the closure of the country's borders due to the pandemic.

Destination Canada, the country's national marketing body which usually focuses on luring international visitors, is due to announce the new funding later on Sunday, according to a statement seen by Reuters before its official release.

Canada, which has had more than 7,000 deaths due to COVID-19, has closed its borders to non-essential travel since March, and it is unclear when they will be opened again. Many provinces have also shut down domestic non-essential travel.

Quebec, which shares borders with the U.S. states of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, accounts for more than 60 percent of the Canadian death toll from the virus, and Ontario, the most populous province, has also been hit hard.

South Korea reports 27 new cases as it works to stem infections

South Korea has reported 27 new cases on Sunday, 21 of which were reported in densely-populated Seoul metropolitan area where officials have been working to stem transmissions linked to nightclub-goers and warehouse workers.

The figures brought national totals to 11,468 cases and 270 deaths, according to South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

South Korea was reporting about 500 new cases per day in early March but had seemed to stabilize its outbreak with aggressive tracking and tracing, which allowed authorities to ease social distancing guidelines.

But cases in the greater capital area have been rising again since May amid increased public activity, causing alarm as students have begun returning to schools.

D.C. mayor, Maryland governor say they're concerned about spread of coronavirus at protests

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser told NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that she's concerned about the potential for coronavirus to have spread at recent protests following the death of 46-year-old George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

"I'm concerned that we had mass gatherings on our streets when we just lifted a stay at home order and what that could mean for spikes in coronavirus cases later," Bowser said. "In fact, I'm so concerned about it that I'm urging everybody to consider their exposure — if they need to isolate from their family members when they go home and if they need to be tested — because we have worked very hard to blunt the curve."

"And while I saw some people with masks last night, others didn't," she continued. "When I saw some people social distancing, other people were right on top of each other. So we don't want to compound this deadly virus and the impact it's had on our community."

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, shared similar sentiment, telling CNN's "State of the Union" that he's "a little bit concerned" about the protests leading to further spread.

"Right now, the immediate concern is to lower the temperature, stop the looting, and potentially keep our citizens safe from the riots that are going on," he said. "But the next step is to worry about this, what we have been focused on for the past couple of months, is the safety — dealing with this coronavirus."

"And there's no question that, when you put hundreds or thousands of people together in close proximity, when we have got this virus all over the streets, is — it's not healthy," Hogan continued. "There's about a 14-day incubation period. So, two weeks from now across America, we're going to find out whether or not this gives us a spike and drives the numbers back up again or not." 

People over profit, Pope Francis says during service

Pope Francis said on Sunday that people are more important than the economy, as countries decide how quickly to reopen their countries from coronavirus lockdowns.

Francis made his comments, departing from a prepared script, at the first noon address from his window overlooking St. Peter's Square in three months as Italy's lockdown drew to an end.

"Healing people, not saving (money) to help the economy (is important), healing people, who are more important than the economy," Francis said.

The pope's words were met with applause by hundreds in the square, many of whom wore masks and kept several meters apart from each other. 

Belgian prince tests positive for virus after attending gathering in Spain

A nephew of Belgium’s King Philippe, Prince Joachim, has tested positive for coronavirus after attending a party in Spain.

Spanish media said it broke lockdown rules because of the number of people there.

The prince, 28, tested positive after attending the gathering in the southern city of Cordoba on May 26, a spokesperson for the Belgian Royal Palace said on Saturday.

The spokesperson said the palace could not confirm the number of people in attendance at the party. The palace said Joachim travelled to Spain from Belgium on May 24 for an internship and was still there.