Key developments in the global coronavirus outbreak today include:
WHO updates stance on masks to curb Covid-19 spread
People over 60 or with health issues should wear a medical-grade mask when they are out and cannot physically distance, according to new guidance from the World Health Organization, while all others should wear a three-layer fabric mask.
It comes after the UK government said on Thursday it would be mandatory to wear face coverings on public transport from 15 June, but these coverings can be simply T-shirts or scarves.
UK becomes second country with 40,000 Covid-19 deaths
The UK has become the second country to officially record more than 40,000 coronavirus-related deaths, as health officials said another 357 people who had tested positive for the virus have died.
So far, 40,261 deaths due to the virus have been recorded, giving the UK the world’s second-highest pandemic death toll behind the United States. The actual Covid-19 death toll is widely considered to be higher as the total only includes those who have tested positive for the virus.
Sweden records third consecutive day of over 1,000 new cases
Sweden has reported another large rise in new cases of coronavirus on Friday, with the 1,056 positive tests reported by the public health agency marking the third day the country’s caseload had increased by more than a thousand.
While a report of 2,214 cases on Wednesday was partly explained by a lab releasing a backlog of results, on Thursday, after another 1,084 cases were reported, the public health agency said the rise in cases could not wholly be explained by increased testing.
The agency’s chief epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, said the increases in new cases was seen primarily in Western Sweden and among younger people.
Hospital staff in England and visitors will be required to wear face coverings
All hospital visitors and outpatients in England will need to wear face coverings from 15 June, Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said. All hospital staff will also be required to wear type one or type two surgical masks.
Hancock also made a plea for people to be mindful of attending large protests over the death of George Floyd in the US.
He said: “Please, for the safety of loved ones, do not attend large gatherings, including demonstrations, of more than six people.”
Study finds link between vitamin K deficiency and Covid-19
Patients who have died or been admitted to intensive care with Covid-19 have been found to be deficient in a vitamin found in spinach, eggs and hard and blue cheeses.
Researchers studying patients who were admitted to the Canisius Wilhelmina hospital in the Dutch city of Nijmegen have extolled the benefits of vitamin K after discovering a link between deficiency and the worst coronavirus outcomes.
US unemployment rate improves
Covid-19’s devastating impact on the US economy waned in May as the unemployment rate dipped to 13.3% and the US added another 2.5m jobs.
The surprise news follows the loss of 20m jobs in April when unemployment hit 14.7%. Economists had been expecting a rise to as high as 20% but the rate is still historically high.
Donald Trump, the US president, called the fall in unemployment an “affirmation of all the work we’ve been doing”.
US billionaires gain half a trillion dollars during outbreak
Even as more than 42 million people have signed on as unemployed in the US, the country’s billionaires have added half a trillion dollars to their combined wealth, according to a thinktank report.
During the 11 weeks from 18 March, when US lockdowns started, the wealth of America’s richest people surged by over $565bn, the Institute for Policy Studies calculated.
Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, saw his wealth increase by $36.2bn. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was the second biggest beneficiary, increasing his net worth by $30.1bn.
Judge bans Sydney Black Lives Matter protest over Covid-19 fears
A judge in Australia has banned a Black Lives Matter protest planned to take place in Sydney on Saturday, citing the coronavirus crisis, after a legal application from police.
New South Wales state supreme court justice Des Fagan ruled the rally was not an authorised public assembly. Under restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus, outdoor gatherings in Sydney are restricted to 10 people, while up to 50 people can go to funerals, places of worship, restaurants, pubs and cafes.
Paris police ban demonstration on Saturday
Police in Paris cited ongoing health risks related to the coronavirus pandemic as they banned a demonstration against police brutality planned to take place outside the city’s US embassy on Saturday.
Trouble broke out at another anti-police demonstration in the French capital on Wednesday after thousands turned up despite a police ban on the event in memory of Adama Traore, a 24-year-old black Frenchman who died in a 2016 police operation.
Parts of Spain will enter final phase of easing lockdown next week
On Monday, more than half of Spain will enter the fourth and final phase of the country’s lockdown de-escalation, the government announced.
However, the 52% of Spaniards in the last stage will not include those in the Madrid region or the Barcelona metropolitan area – the two parts of the country hit hardest by Covid-19.
People living in areas in the final phase, such as Andalucía, the Balearic islands and the Canary islands, can once again eat inside restaurants as long as social distancing is practised, while shops, cinemas and theatres can open at 50% capacity.