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May 12 coronavirus news
If you're just joining us, here are the latest developments from around the globe:
- Iceland to lift restrictions: The country expects to start lifting restrictions on international arrivals to the country "no later than June 15," the government said Tuesday.
- Death toll in France: More than 26,000 people have died from coronavirus in France, according to the French Health Ministry. Parks and public gardens in Paris will remain closed.
- Coronavirus cases in Russia: The country has at least 232,243 confirmed cases and at least 2,116 people have died from the virus. Russia is reporting the second highest number of coronavirus cases in the world.
- Cases surge in Germany: The country reported 933 new coronavirus cases in just 24 hours, according to the Robert Koch Institute today. Officials warn the virus' reproduction rate is hovering above 1, meaning each infected person is infecting more than one other person on average.
- Nightclub cluster in South Korea: 101 cases in total have been linked to an outbreak in Seoul's Itaewon district, known for its nightlife. With fears of a second wave, authorities have tracked down more than 10,000 people who were in the area, and are asking them to be tested.
Russia is reporting the second highest number of coronavirus cases in the world, after the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally.
As of Tuesday evening, Russia has at least 232,243 confirmed cases and at least 2,116 people have died from the virus, according to JHU.
Tuesday is the tenth consecutive day that Russia has reported more than 10,000 new cases.
Iceland expects to start lifting restrictions on international arrivals to the country "no later than June 15," the government said in a statement on Tuesday.
Travelers will likely have to choose between being tested for Covid-19 or a two-week quarantine upon arrival. All arrivals will also be required to use the official tracing app during their stay.
"Iceland's strategy of large-scale testing, tracing and isolating have proven effective so far. We want to build on that experience of creating a safe place for those who want a change of scenery after what has been a tough spring for all of us," the Minister of Tourism, Thordis Kolbrun Reykfjord Gylfadottir, said in a statement.
The government also announced that some professionals arriving in Iceland from May 15, including essential workers, "scientists, filmmakers, and athletes will be eligible for a modified quarantine." This means companies can request an exemption from quarantine if they can guarantee safety procedures in their work environment.
"These measures do not preclude the option of bilaterally opening borders between coronavirus-free countries," the government added.
Since January, Iceland residents arriving from "high-risk" areas have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine. The rule was extended to all travelers on April 24, as Iceland kept its Schengen borders open throughout the pandemic.
So far, Iceland has only seen three confirmed infections of Covid-19 in May, according to the statement.
Canada is looking to strengthen surveillance at US border crossings as discussions continue between the two countries about when and how to reopen the border to nonessential travel.
“We are looking at stronger measures to make sure that we’re following up appropriately on people who come over,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a press conference in Ottawa Tuesday.
The Canadian government is looking at administering questionnaires, contact tracking apps, temperature and medical history checks.
“We’re going to be very, very careful about reopening any international travel, including the United States before we feel that it is time,” Trudeau said.
Some background: Canada and the US agreed to close the border to nonessential travel in March and the current agreement, already extended, expires May 21. There is still no decision on whether the border agreement will remain in place beyond that date.
Canadian premiers and mayors across the country have expressed concern about fully reopening the border as the US continues to deal with Covid outbreaks and significant community spread.
“Preventing transmission from outside of Canada into Canada, once we have controlled the spread within Canada, will be an essential part of ensuring that we don’t fall back into a second wave that could be as serious as this wave we’re going through, or even more so,” Trudeau said.
The worst-hit Italian region of Lombardy has reported a small increase in the number of Covid-19 cases for the second day in a row. This comes after a few days where active case numbers were going down, according to the Italian Civil Protection Agency.
On Tuesday, active cases in the region increased by 264, making a total of 30,675. However, Lombardy officials said the increase in cases could be explained by the additional data that was collected from the past few days.
Across Italy, at least 30,911 people have died from Covid-19, according to the Italian Civil Protection Agency on Tuesday. That is an increase of 172 since the day before and a variation in line with previous days.
The total number of cases in Italy, including deaths and recoveries, is now 221,216.
The French death toll from coronavirus is now at least 26,991, with an increase of 348 reported deaths, according to the French Health Ministry.
In addition to the number of deaths, the ministry also said that 21,595 people remain in hospital.
Canada’s National Research Council said Tuesday it would collaborate with China's CanSino Biologics Inc, one of the few companies globally with a vaccine already in clinical trials.
The partnership could eventually see CanSino’s vaccine receive approval for human trials in Canada.
"This vaccine candidate holds great promise. Until such time as there is an effective vaccine for COVID-19, the virus will continue to disrupt all aspects of our society and economy," Iain Stewart, President of the National Research Council (NRC) said in statement.
According to the NRC statement, CanSino’s vaccine candidate received Chinese regulatory approval earlier this year. That allows CanSino Biologics to move ahead with human clinical trials in China.
It is one of only a handful of vaccine candidates in the world so far approved for initial safety testing in humans.
The NRC said it would scale up production for CanSino's vaccine candidate at a government facility in Montreal, and that CanSino was preparing a clinical trial application to Canada’s drug regulator, Health Canada.
The NRC previously collaborated with CanSino in its work on an Ebola vaccine.
New coronavirus cases brought into Spain from abroad could become one of the country’s “greatest risks”, said Fernando Simón, Spain’s Director of Health Emergencies.
Simón was explaining the reasons behind the newly announced 14-day mandatory quarantine for international travelers arriving in Spain, starting on May 15th.
“There will be other countries with infections. Which means that our biggest risk, besides the risk of local infections, is the import of cases. We would go back to being in a similar situation to the one we were in at the end of February, even the first week of March,” he said at the government’s daily coronavirus briefing on Tuesday. “That situation in which all our cases were imported or associated with imported cases, practically all of them.”
Simón continued to explain “If a Spaniard living on the peninsula, for example, cannot go to their second residence, like in the Balearics, but another person living abroad can travel there by air,” then more logical norms have to be put in place, he said.
The quarantine measures are similar to those in place in other European countries, Simón added.
Spain registered 176 daily new deaths from Covid-19 on Tuesday, up from 123 new registered on Monday but still among the lowest daily death tolls since mid-March. A total of 26,920 people have died from the virus in Spain, according to Health Ministry data released Tuesday.
Speaking at a separate press conference, Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa said the possibility of a second wave of infections “can’t be dismissed” but added that the public's compliance with the government’s measures against the coronavirus is the best way to avoid this.
Illa and Simón were among Spanish officials who paid tribute to nurses on International Nurses Day. Nurses are “one of the groups with the highest risk of infection”, Simón said Tuesday.
Spain’s Health Ministry reported a total of 48,860 health workers have been infected with coronavirus since the start of the outbreak, while the General Council of Official Medical Colleges, the Spanish doctors’ professional body (CGCOM), said a “large number” had died, including 48 doctors.