The World Health Organisation has dismissed as “false allegations” a media report that it withheld information about the new coronavirus following pressure from China.
The UN agency said in a statement late Saturday (local time) that a German magazine’s report about a telephone conversation between WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Chinese President Xi Jinping on January 21 was “unfounded and untrue”.
Weekly Der Spiegel reported that Mr Xi asked Tedros during the call to hold back information about human-to-human transmission of the virus and delay declaring a pandemic.
The magazine quoted Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, BND, which declined to comment.
Der Spiegel also claimed that the BND concluded up to six weeks of time to fight the outbreak had been lost due to China’s information policy.
The UN agency said Tedros and Mr Xi “have never spoken by phone” and added that “such inaccurate reports distract and detract from WHO’s and the world’s efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic”.
It said that China confirmed human-to-human transmission of the new coronavirus on January 20.
WHO officials issued a statement two days later saying there was evidence of human-to-human transmission in Wuhan, but more investigation was necessary. The global body declared COVID-19 a pandemic on February 11.
Italy has registered its lowest total of daily new COVID-19 cases since the start of the nationwide lockdown in early March.
According to Health Ministry data, 802 coronavirus infections were confirmed in the 24-hour period ending Sunday evening.
That’s also the first time daily new cases have dropped below the 1000-mark since very early in the country’s outbreak. Italy now totals 219,070 known cases.
In a televised address to the nation, Mr Johnson said people in Britain who can’t work from home, such as those in construction or manufacturing jobs, “should be actively encouraged to go to work” this week.
However, he said they should not travel by public transport and should abide with social distancing guidelines when at work.
Mr Johnson said that starting Wednesday, a restriction limiting outdoor exercise to once a day will be lifted and that people will be able to take “unlimited amounts.”
New York nursing homes must start twice-weekly coronavirus testing for all staffers and will no longer be sent COVID-19 patients leaving hospitals, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced after facing growing criticism over the handling of nursing facility outbreaks.
Of the nation’s more than 26,000 coronavirus deaths in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, a fifth of them – about 5,300 – are in New York, according to a count by The Associated Press.
That’s the highest number of nursing home deaths in the country, though other states have also struggled to control the virus in nursing facilities.
Meanwhile, a public health expert says the new coronavirus still “has a long way to run” despite President Donald Trump‘s claim last week that it will go away without a vaccine.
Dr Tom Inglesby says it’s likely that only a small portion of the country has been infected, “so most of us are still susceptible to this virus”. Dr Inglesby is the director of the Center for Health Security of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Dr Inglesby says the danger is that as businesses reopen and Americans start to resume normal activities “with increased social interaction, we will again see increased transmission and rising number of cases”.
Treasure Secretary Steven Mnuchin also says the jobless numbers in the United States “are probably going to get worse before they get better”, but the bigger risk to the country is keeping businesses’ closed rather than states allowing some to reopen.
Mr Mnuchin spoke as most states begin to loosen their restrictions on businesses after extended shutdowns designed to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. He says that if re-openings are not allowed it would have permanent economic damage to the American public.
Roughly half of Spain’s 47 million inhabitants will be able to enjoy their first drink or meal at an outdoor terrace on Monday, but residents of Madrid and Barcelona have to wait.
The two major cities have been hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak. Spain’s government is allowing other areas to further loosen restrictions that have been in place for nearly two months.
Bar and restaurant owners in cities like Seville and Bilbao will be able to open 50 percent of their outdoor seating for customers, while residents there will be allowed meet in groups of up to 10 people, and go to church, theatres and museums in limited numbers. Small shops will be able to open without the requirement for an appointment.
Officials are under pressure to revive a flagging economy amid rocketing unemployment.
Mayor Park Namchoon of Incheon city to the west of Seoul says the closing of nightlife facilities will last for two weeks and that anyone violating the order can be punished by up to two years in prison or a 20 million won fine.
Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi province have already taken similar steps after new cases associated to nightclubs in Seoul’s Itaewon entertainment district were detected in recent days.
The number of workers who tested positive for COVID-19 at a slaughterhouse in western Germany has risen to 205.
Authorities in Coesfeld county near the Dutch border say they have so far received results for half of the 950 staff at the slaughterhouse. Most of the workers are migrants from Eastern Europe and living in shared accommodation.
The outbreak in Coesfeld, at a sister plant in a neighbouring county and a separate slaughterhouse in norther Germany, have contributed to a spike in new cases in Germany.
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