COVID-19 testing sites forced to suspend operations as U.S. protests continue

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: A protester wears a surgical mask with "Black Lives Matter" written on the front while protesters gather outside the Seattle Office of Emergency Management to protest against police brutality and the death in police custody of George Floyd
A protester wears a surgical mask with "Black Lives Matter" written on it at a rally in Seattle on Tuesday over the death of George Floyd./Lindsey Wasson / Reuters

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As the U.S. remains in the grip of protests over the death of George Floyd, some COVID-19 testing sites have been forced to suspend operations because of violence and unrest in recent days.

The temporary closures — from California to Florida — are sure to hamper efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus, particularly as social distancing has given way to mass gatherings of potentially contagious people who don't know they're infected.

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

There are now more than 1.8 million coronavirus infections in the U.S. and more than 106,000 deaths, according to NBC News' tally. Worldwide, nearly 6.4 million people have been sickened by the virus, with more than 380,000 deaths.

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

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Iowa's health department logs three additional deaths

The Iowa Health Department announced three additional coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, bringing the statewide total to 564 fatalities. The department did not record any additional cases, though, so the statewide count stands at 20,015.

D-Day commemorations reimagined due to coronavirus crisis

People walk among vintage World War II vehicles parked on the beach during events to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day in Arromanches, Normandy, France, last year. Thibault Camus / AP file

Commemorations to mark the 76th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France are to take a different form this year due to the coronavirus pandemic

For the first time since the Second World War, veterans and members of the public will not be able to attend June 6 ceremonies at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-Sur-Mer, France. Instead, a private wreath laying ceremony will take place with about 20 U.S. and French representatives present. 

However, the U.S. military has launched "Operation Pictures and Patches" in an attempt to continue the tradition — which began on D-Day — of soldiers handing out patches from their units to local children as souvenirs.

Although servicemen and women can not be present this year, 300 soldiers will send pictures of themselves along with patches from their units to four cities in Normandy to be distributed to local school children. 

Germany to lift travel ban for E.U., Schengen countries, U.K. starting June 15

Germany will lift a travel ban for European Union member states, other Schengen countries and the U.K. starting June 15. 

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas announced Wednesday that bans will be replaced by travel advice for individual countries.

Travel warnings could be put in place if infections in certain countries rise, or if there are entry restrictions or quarantine measures for arriving travellers.

Maas warned that the coronavirus pandemic is not over and travelers should continue to be cautious, so that the reintroduction of cross-border travel would not turn into a second pandemic wave.

More than 182,000 cases have been reported in Germany so far, with 8,551 deaths.


Spain seeks to open up to some foreign tourism from late June

Hospital patient Isidre Correa is taken to the seaside by intensive heath care staff outside the Hospital del Mar on Wednesday in Barcelona, Spain.David Ramos / Getty Images

Spain is working on plans to gradually open its borders to tourists from countries deemed more secure in the fight against the coronavirus, possibly starting from June 22, the tourism ministry said on Wednesday.

After losing more than 27,000 people and months of economic activity to the epidemic, Spain had previously designated July 1 as the date to reopen to foreign tourism, which accounts for 12 percent of its output.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's government is due to lift a state of emergency on June 21, meaning that Spaniards will be able to start to move more freely again as the epidemic recedes.

A tourism ministry spokesman said it was likely the same would start to apply to some foreigners on Monday, June 22 or possibly as early as Sunday, June 21.

Opera returns to Vienna with hotel 'window concert'

Guests of Zeitgeist Hotel in Vienna, Austria listen from their rooms to singers Monika Medek and Dagmar Dekanovsky and the Camerata Carnutum orchestra, during a "window concert."Joe Klamar / AFP - Getty Images

COVID-19 patients among 100,000 evacuated as cyclone slams Mumbai

Dark clouds hang over the city ahead of cyclone Nisarga making landfall in Mumbai, India on Tuesday.Rajanish Kakade / AP

100,000 people — including COVID-19 patients — have been evacuated from low-lying areas as a powerful cyclone hit the west-coast Indian states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. 

In Maharashtra's largest city Mumbai, home to some 18 million people, 200 coronavirus patients had to be evacuated from a field hospital built beneath a tent as strong winds and torrential rain blew in. 

Bidisha Pillai, chief executive of Save the Children in India expressed fears that damage to clinics and hospitals will complicate the fight against the virus by making it "virtually impossible" to follow social distancing measures.

Maharashtra is home to a third of India's 200,000 recorded infections. 

Read the full story here.

Italy re-opens its airports, allows movement between regions

Andrea Monti from Italy and Katharina Scherf from Germany hug upon her arrival at Fiumicino Airport in Rome on Wednesday, as Italy eases travel restrictions. Yara Nardi / Reuters

After more than two months of strict lockdown and more than 33,500 coronavirus deaths, Italians are once again free to travel from one region to another as of Wednesday.

The country's airports have also re-opened their doors, with passengers subjected to temperature checks. 

In a move that's expected to, at least partially, help save this year's tourism season, all passengers travelling within Europe's 26-nation Schengen zone will not be required to quarantine themselves upon arrival. 

"It's an important message, of reassurance, that we are giving as Italy to the whole world," Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said in a Facebook post Wednesday. "The total opening of the country enables us to show foreign states a united and compact Italy, inside which it is possible to move freely."

Fears of outbreak as first Rohingya refugee dies from coronavirus in Bangladesh

An elderly Rohingya man has become the first person to die from COVID-19 in the refugee camps in southern Bangladesh, the U.N. Refugee Agency confirmed on Twitter Tuesday.

The death has raised fears of a serious outbreak in refugee camps that house over a million Rohingya, a mostly Muslim ethnic minority group that were forced to flee a brutal military crackdown in neighbouring Myanmar. 

"We are all working round the clock to ensure that testing is available to those refugees," said Louise Donovan, the refugee agency spokesperson. 

The camps are overcrowded, with shared water sources and communal toilets and washing facilities.

At least 29 Rohingya have tested positive for the virus so far since the first case was detected in the camps on May 14. Bangladesh has so far reported 52,445 coronavirus cases and 709 deaths.