As global cases pass 7 million, WHO warns the pandemic is 'far from over'

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
A woman is sprayed with disinfectant before entering a shopping mall in Jakarta on Tuesday. Dita Alangkara / AP

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Despite encouraging signs in east Asia and Europe, where economies are slowly reopening after months of lockdown, the World Health Organization has warned that the pandemic is "far from over" as the number of cases globally hit 7 million.

"More than six months into the pandemic, this is not the time for any country to take its foot off the pedal," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters on Monday.

More than 135,000 cases were reported Sunday, he said, making it the worst day for new confirmed infections since the pandemic began. Some three quarters of the new cases were from 10 countries, including the U.S, which is approaching the 2 million cases mark.

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The last cruise ship passengers of the pandemic finally come home

What is thought to be the last cruise ship still carrying passengers has finally docked six months after it set off.

The eight passengers on board the MV Artania disembarked at the German port of Bremerhaven on Monday, according to the ship's owner, Phoenix Reisen. On its epic voyage, a total of 36 passengers tested positive for coronavirus when it docked in Fremantle, Western Australia. Three passengers later died.

The remaining passengers, mostly Germany nationals, chose to fly back from Australia to Frankfurt but a hardy group of eight decided to stay on board the 1,200-capacity ship since it left Australia on April 18 until now. The journey home was even extended by two weeks, as the ship stopped off at various ports to repatriate crew members.

Moscow lifts lockdown measures despite high daily case count

On Monday night Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin unexpectedly announced that from Tuesday various lockdown measures will be cancelled. A QR-code pass system, walking schedule and a self-isolation regime are all now stopped.

However, masks and gloves outside of the home remain technically mandatory — though it is clear that fewer and fewer people are following this rule.

Over the next two weeks, normal life will return to the city and economy in three phases, the first of which sees things like hairdressers, photo shops, veterinary clinics, and employment agencies reopened.

The move comes despite Moscow’s daily new case count remaining consistent at around 2,000 a day for the past month, and repeated warnings that strict measures would remain in place until daily new cases had fallen into the dozens or hundreds.

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German imports and exports record biggest ever drop in April

German exports and imports slumped in April, posting their biggest declines since records began in 1990 as demand dried up in the coronavirus lockdown, adding to a gloomy outlook for Europe’s biggest economy, data showed on Tuesday.

Facing its deepest recession since World War Two, the big question is how quickly Germany’s export-oriented economy can recover now a shutdown that halted production and stunted retail has eased.

Desperate to speed up recovery, the government last week announced a 130 billion euro ($146.35 billion) stimulus package to help boost domestic demand. That comes on top of 750 billion euros worth of measures announced in March.

How a Texas couple claimed their baby from Ukraine despite coronavirus lockdown

Darlene Straub, 45, the mother of baby Sophia, born via surrogacy, holds the newborn for the first time in a rented apartment in Kyiv, Ukraine.Oksana Parafeniuk / for NBC News

KYIV, Ukraine — It took the Straubs more than three days to travel from Dallas to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. But, arduous as it was, to them the trip was worth it.

A baby was waiting for them in Kyiv. Their baby. Waiting to come home.

Whether the Straubs would be able to enter Ukraine — or would be stopped by travel restrictions aimed at halting the spread of the coronavirus — they did not know. Already, reports had emerged of parents traveling to Ukraine to pick up babies born to surrogate mothers, as the Straubs were doing, but being turned away at the border, leaving as many as 100 infants in legal limbo.

Read the whole story here.

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U.S. death toll could reach 145,000 by August, researchers predict

The U.S. could have a death toll of over 145,000 people from COVID-19 by August, according to researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle. 

If true, it would mean a further 30,000 deaths occurring in the country in the next two months. The U.S. has reported 113,000 deaths to date. 

Almost half of U.S. states have reported an uptick of cases in recent days and weeks following widespread reopening of economies raising fears of a second peak. 

Harvard analysis suggests virus was circulating in China as early as Fall 2019

The coronavirus could have been circulating in Wuhan, China as early as late summer or fall 2019, according to researchers at Harvard University. The global pandemic had previously been linked to a jump from wildlife at a so-called 'wet market' in the city in November or December. 

The study came to that conclusion after analyzing search queries on the Chinese search engine Baidu and looking at satellite imagery of hospital parking lots from the time. They found that searches for "cough", which usually follow seasonal variations, and "diarrhea," which is not seasonal in the same way, both showed an increase that preceded the reported start of the epidemic. In addition, hospital activity appeared to increase at the same time. 

There have been complaints that China initially tried to cover up the outbreak, which it denies, as well as indications that the virus arrived on European shores much earlier than initially thought

Businesses in the city that never sleeps wake up to a new reality

The city that never sleeps emerged from its coronavirus-imposed stasis Monday morning with a handful of "phase one" businesses in New York City raising their roller shutters to a landscape altered by the virus and protests over systemic racism. While some small-business owners said they were eager to get back to work after three months, they expressed uncertainty about what's next.

Retail, construction, manufacturing and agriculture are the first nonessential enterprises to cautiously resume in New York, the center of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.

About 25,000 businesses in the Big Apple had certified with the state as of Thursday that they could reopen while following safety regulations, a prerequisite for opening, said Jonnel Doris, commissioner of the city's Small Business Services Department. Each industry has had to significantly reduce operations and implement new safety measures.

Read the full article here

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