Lockdowns ease across the world as U.S. protests continue

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Costumers take drinks at the terrace of a cafe-restaurant in Paris on June 2, 2020, as cafes and restaurants reopen in France, while the country eases lockdown measures taken to curb the spread of the COVID-19.Christophe Archambault / AFP - Getty Images

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Protests over the death in police custody of George Floyd in Minneapolis continued throughout the U.S. overnight, raising fears of a wave of new infections. According to NBC News' tally there have been 1.8 million coronavirus infections in the U.S. and 105,000 related deaths, the highest of any country on both counts.

Meanwhile, countries across the world were lifting lockdown measures, with schools and businesses opening as a new way of life after the coronavirus pandemic emerges. Paris' famous street-side cafes will reopen Tuesday, while restrictions are also being eased in parts of Latin America.

Schoolchildren returned to classes in Singapore Tuesday, all wearing face masks, following the United Kingdom on Monday and several other European and Asian countries last month.

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

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Report: Ethnic minorities in England up to twice as die from COVID-19 as white people

Black and Asian ethnic minorities in England are up to twice as likely to die after contracting COVID-19 than white British people, the country's health authority said Tuesday.

After accounting for sex, age, deprivation and region, people of Bangladeshi descent faced twice the risk of death when compared to white British people, Public Health England said in a delayed report. People of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani and Caribbean ethnicity were at between 10 percent to 50 percent higher risk of death, the report said.

The report does not account for occupation, which may help explain the disparity: Pakistani, Indian and black African men are vastly more likely to work in health care than white British men.

CBO projects virus impact could trim GDP by $15.7 trillion

The Congressional Budget Office said Monday that the U.S. economy could be $15.7 trillion smaller over the next decade than it otherwise would have been if Congress does not mitigate the economic damage from the coronavirus.

The CBO, which had already issued a report forecasting a severe economic impact over the next two years, expanded that forecast to show that the severity of the economic shock could depress growth for far longer.

The new estimate said that over the 2020-2030 period, total GDP output could be $15.7 trillion lower than CBO had been projecting as recently as January. That would equal 5.3% of lost GDP over the coming decade. After adjusting for inflation, CBO said the lost output would total $7.9 trillion, a loss of 3% of inflation-adjusted GDP.

The office forecasts that the GDP, which shrank at a 5% rate in the first three months of this year, will fall at a 37.7% rate in the current April-June quarter, the biggest quarterly decline on record.

Read more about the economic impact.

Humanitarian disaster looms in Afghanistan, charity warns

A humanitarian crisis is brewing in Afghanistan with the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increasing almost seven-fold in May, according to the International Rescue Committee, which works across the country.

The charity said in a statement Monday that cases in Afghanistan had increased 684 percent in the last month and warned that many more were going undetected due to poor testing facilities. The charity said the Ministry of Health only had capacity to test 2,000 people a day, but was receiving between 10,000 and 20,000 samples per day.

“Four decades of war has devastated the health care system in Afghanistan and left more than five million Afghans, especially women and children, living in fear of abuse, neglect, conflict, exploitation and violence, " said Vicki Aken, Afghanistan Country Director at the IRC. "The COVID-19 outbreak is making the already terrible situation much worse."

Africa passes 150,000 confirmed cases

There are now over 150,000 confirmed coronavirus infections on the African continent, the World Health Organization confirmed. 

Almost 35,000 of those are in South Africa — the continent's worst affected nation — followed by Nigeria which has reported over 10,000 cases to date. 

4,200 people have now died from COVID-19 in Africa, the WHO said, with 63,000 making a full recovery. 

Cafes reopen for business in Paris

A waiter wearing a face mask serves at Cafe de Flore, as restaurants and cafes reopen following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Paris, France, on Wednesday.Christian Hartmann / Reuters

QR codes to trace cases after South Korea nightclub outbreak

South Korea is trialing a new QR code system to better track and trace visitors to high-risk locations including nightclubs, restaurants and churches. 

The decision to use the system follows authorities concern after struggling to trace a number of people who had visited nightclubs and bars at the center of a virus outbreak in the capital Seoul last month. The outbreak centered on a number of LGBTQ venues and, as homosexuality is still taboo in the east Asian nation, entries to the handwritten visitor logs were often found to be false or incomplete. 

Starting June 10, visitors to these high-risk locations will be required to use their phone to generate a one-time, personalized QR code that is scanned at the door. The information will be logged in a database for four weeks before being automatically deleted, according to South Korea's Ministry of Health. 

Wuhan tests 60,000 people and finds no new asymptomatic cases

Wuhan has registered no new asymptomatic infections for the first time following tests of over 60,000 people, the city's municipal health commission reported. 

The city, in Hubei Province, was the epicentre of China's initial coronavirus outbreak. Just five new cases were confirmed across China Monday, according to official figures, and all were attributed to foreign travelers.

China has officially recorded 4,634 deaths from COVID-19 to date, with no new deaths reported since the middle of last month. 

New Zealand may remove all coronavirus restriction next week

WELLINGTON — New Zealand could lift all remaining restrictions to limit the spread of the coronavirus next week, after the country all but eliminated the virus domestically.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand could move to alert level 1 next week, which means all social distancing measures and curbs on mass gatherings will be lifted. Borders will remain closed, she said.

"Our strategy of go hard, go early has paid off... and in some cases, beyond expectations," Ardern said at a news conference.

The cabinet will decide on June 8, earlier than the planned date of June 22, she said. New Zealand recorded no new cases of coronavirus for a 11th consecutive day on Tuesday, and has just one active case in the country.

As protests sweep nation, research finds social distancing most effective at slowing coronavirus spread

Demonstrators sit in an intersection during a protest over the death of George Floyd on May 30, 2020, in Los Angeles.Mark J. Terrill / AP

Social distancing is the most effective way to slow the spread of the coronavirus — more so than face coverings and eye protection — according to a meta-analysis published Monday in The Lancet.

The findings have new significance as thousands of Americans are gathering alongside strangers in the midst of the pandemic, demonstrating against the death of George Floyd and demanding an end to social injustice.

"We just spent 93 days limiting behavior, closing down, no school, no business, thousands of small businesses destroyed," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday, "And now? Mass gatherings, with thousands of people, in close proximity?"

"What sense does this make?"

Read the full story here.