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Coronavirus live news: Japan prefectures to declare emergency; Ireland’s health IT systems suffer ransomware attack Coronavirus live news: Portugal to allow UK tourists with negative test; France adds countries to high-risk list
(32 minutes later)
Japan to declare state of emergency in three more prefectures; Ireland says vaccine programme will be unaffected by IT shutdown Tourists from the UK will be allowed to visit Portugal from Monday; France puts Bahrain, Colombia, Costa Rica and Uruguay on high-risk list
The Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has said that a state of emergency was being extended to a broader area due to a rapid rise of Covid-19 cases in those regions.
However, he added that holding a “safe and secure” Olympic games were still possible if tight preventive measures were implemented that would keep ordinary Japanese citizens from coming into contact with those arriving to compete.
The Olympics, postponed for a year due to the pandemic is set to start on July 23.
In a televised address, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he feels the pain of all Indians battling the pandemic after weeks of largely avoiding public comment on the country’s fatal coronavirus wave.
Many Indians have taken to social media to accuse Modi’s populist right-wing administration of abandoning them as his address comes as the country of 1.3bn reported 4,000 deaths for a third straight day and 343,144 new infections.
While the opposition Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the Prime Minister had gone “missing” like the oxygen and hospital beds.
Modi said Friday that his government was working on a “war-footing” against Covid-19.
AFP reports:
India has fully vaccinated just over 38.2m people amid jab shortages and glitches in the online registration system.
British holidaymakers were previously left in limbo as Portuguese authorities were yet to decide whether the country will allow them to visit from next week.
But the country’s minister of state for foreign affairs has now announced that travel between the two countries, among other countries, that Portugal has put on a green list, will commence on Monday 17 May from 0001.
Travellers will still need a negative PCR test 72hrs before their flight to gain entry into the country.
Visit Portugal said in a statement:
Sky News also reports the new travel development here:
Since the coronavirus outbreak began, at least 3,346,813 people have died due to a tally combined from official sources by AFP.Since the coronavirus outbreak began, at least 3,346,813 people have died due to a tally combined from official sources by AFP.
The figures are based on daily tolls by health authorities in each country and exclude later re-evaluations by statistical organisations, as has happened in Russia, Spain and Britain.The figures are based on daily tolls by health authorities in each country and exclude later re-evaluations by statistical organisations, as has happened in Russia, Spain and Britain.
Based on the latest reports, the countries with the newest deaths in India with 4,000 new deaths, followed by Brazil with 2,383 and United States with 818.Based on the latest reports, the countries with the newest deaths in India with 4,000 new deaths, followed by Brazil with 2,383 and United States with 818.
The United States is the worst-affected country, with 584,487 deaths from 32,852,998 cases.The United States is the worst-affected country, with 584,487 deaths from 32,852,998 cases.
Followed by Brazil with 430,417 deaths from 15,433,989 cases, India with 262,317 deaths from 24,046,809 cases, Mexico with 219,901 deaths from 2,375,115 cases, and the United Kingdom with 127,651 deaths from 4,444,631 cases.Followed by Brazil with 430,417 deaths from 15,433,989 cases, India with 262,317 deaths from 24,046,809 cases, Mexico with 219,901 deaths from 2,375,115 cases, and the United Kingdom with 127,651 deaths from 4,444,631 cases.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said it expects the second batch of its Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine will be delivered to India by the end of the week.The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said it expects the second batch of its Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine will be delivered to India by the end of the week.
In a statement, the RDIF said:In a statement, the RDIF said:
As vaccine programmes continue to gain momentum throughout the world, for New Zealand, the question of how to reopen is becoming pressing.As vaccine programmes continue to gain momentum throughout the world, for New Zealand, the question of how to reopen is becoming pressing.
Tess McClure in Christchurch reports on the issue of travel in New Zealand:Tess McClure in Christchurch reports on the issue of travel in New Zealand:
As vaccination continues around the world, the New Zealand government has begun providing glimpses of how the country will eventually reopen its borders.As vaccination continues around the world, the New Zealand government has begun providing glimpses of how the country will eventually reopen its borders.
But there’s no immediate end in sight, even for ex-pats who have received vaccinations overseas.But there’s no immediate end in sight, even for ex-pats who have received vaccinations overseas.
New Zealand has been closed to most international visitors for more than a year now. Anyone entering the country – except via recently-opened travel bubbles with Australia and the Cook Islands – is required to spend two weeks in government-run isolation.New Zealand has been closed to most international visitors for more than a year now. Anyone entering the country – except via recently-opened travel bubbles with Australia and the Cook Islands – is required to spend two weeks in government-run isolation.
Even those spaces are only open to citizens, permanent residents or essential workers. For those eligible, access is still limited – at times, all spots in isolation have been booked out for months in advance. And while there are now spaces available, the cost of a visit is prohibitive for many: NZ$3,100 for anyone who left the country temporarily, or who is visiting for less than three months, and NZ$5,520 for those on a work visa.Even those spaces are only open to citizens, permanent residents or essential workers. For those eligible, access is still limited – at times, all spots in isolation have been booked out for months in advance. And while there are now spaces available, the cost of a visit is prohibitive for many: NZ$3,100 for anyone who left the country temporarily, or who is visiting for less than three months, and NZ$5,520 for those on a work visa.
Those strict border protections have kept the country largely safe from incursions of Covid-19. But they have also closed off New Zealand to the world: freezing international tourism, separating families, and leaving some expats and migrants feeling alienated and abandoned.Those strict border protections have kept the country largely safe from incursions of Covid-19. But they have also closed off New Zealand to the world: freezing international tourism, separating families, and leaving some expats and migrants feeling alienated and abandoned.
As other countries vaccinate more and more of their people, the question of when and how New Zealand will reopen the border becomes pressing – and there’s still no clarity on a date or re-opening process from the government.As other countries vaccinate more and more of their people, the question of when and how New Zealand will reopen the border becomes pressing – and there’s still no clarity on a date or re-opening process from the government.
More on the report here:More on the report here:
Stocks fall as Singapore announced on Friday its strict guidelines on gatherings and public activities, amid a rise in infections and new clusters forming in recent weeks.Stocks fall as Singapore announced on Friday its strict guidelines on gatherings and public activities, amid a rise in infections and new clusters forming in recent weeks.
The measures which will be in place from Sunday to mid-June include limiting social gatherings to two people, a halt on dining in at restaurants and for employers to make working from home a default arrangement for staff.The measures which will be in place from Sunday to mid-June include limiting social gatherings to two people, a halt on dining in at restaurants and for employers to make working from home a default arrangement for staff.
Reuters reports:Reuters reports:
France has added Bahrain, Colombia, Costa Rica and Uruguay to its list of countries deemed as high-risk zones. This will mean that people arriving from those countries will have to measures such as quarantining on arrival.France has added Bahrain, Colombia, Costa Rica and Uruguay to its list of countries deemed as high-risk zones. This will mean that people arriving from those countries will have to measures such as quarantining on arrival.
The French Prime Minister’s department added that those quarantine measures for travellers from those countries would take effect from May 16, as France aims to ensure that its third wave of the virus declines, Reuters reports.The French Prime Minister’s department added that those quarantine measures for travellers from those countries would take effect from May 16, as France aims to ensure that its third wave of the virus declines, Reuters reports.
In April, France had put Brazil, Chile, Argentina, South Africa and India on its list of Covid-19 high-risk countries, requiring people arriving from those countries to undergo a 10-day quarantine upon arrival in France.In April, France had put Brazil, Chile, Argentina, South Africa and India on its list of Covid-19 high-risk countries, requiring people arriving from those countries to undergo a 10-day quarantine upon arrival in France.
The Lithuanian government to donate 200,000 Covid-19 vaccine shots to its eastern European neighbours, including 100,000 to Ukraine.The Lithuanian government to donate 200,000 Covid-19 vaccine shots to its eastern European neighbours, including 100,000 to Ukraine.
Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said, “Action is the real solidarity,” Reuters reports, announcing that the AstraZeneca vaccines would be donated.Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said, “Action is the real solidarity,” Reuters reports, announcing that the AstraZeneca vaccines would be donated.
The doses will go to EU Eastern Partnership countries, the government announced, including 15,000 going to Georgia and 11,000 to Moldova.The doses will go to EU Eastern Partnership countries, the government announced, including 15,000 going to Georgia and 11,000 to Moldova.
The distribution of the remaining 74,000 shots will be decided later, as the partnership also includes Belarus, Azerbaijan and Armenia.The distribution of the remaining 74,000 shots will be decided later, as the partnership also includes Belarus, Azerbaijan and Armenia.
The vaccines are to be distributed by October 1, mainly between July and September, when the country expects to have a surplus.The vaccines are to be distributed by October 1, mainly between July and September, when the country expects to have a surplus.
In Lithuania, a nation of 2.8m, 35% of adults have been vaccinated with at least one shot, in line with the European Union average.In Lithuania, a nation of 2.8m, 35% of adults have been vaccinated with at least one shot, in line with the European Union average.
Nearly half the passengers due to arrive on a flight from India to Australia on Saturday after a two-week travel ban have been grounded because they tested positive for Covid-19 or are considered a close contact of someone who does.Nearly half the passengers due to arrive on a flight from India to Australia on Saturday after a two-week travel ban have been grounded because they tested positive for Covid-19 or are considered a close contact of someone who does.
In India, there are 10,000 Australian citizens and permanent residents registered with Australian authorities who want to go home. Among them, almost 1,000 were classified as vulnerable, with the Australian government giving them a priority.In India, there are 10,000 Australian citizens and permanent residents registered with Australian authorities who want to go home. Among them, almost 1,000 were classified as vulnerable, with the Australian government giving them a priority.
AP reports:AP reports:
The Australian government plans to fly the next repatriation flight on May 23. With six government-chartered flights expected to return Australian citizens from India before the end of May.The Australian government plans to fly the next repatriation flight on May 23. With six government-chartered flights expected to return Australian citizens from India before the end of May.
International flights are not expected to return to normal until mid-2022.International flights are not expected to return to normal until mid-2022.
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Hi, I’m Edna Mohamed; I’ll be taking over the blog from my colleague for the next few hours. If I’ve missed anything, you can either reach me on Twitter or email me at edna.mohamed.casual@theguardian.comHi, I’m Edna Mohamed; I’ll be taking over the blog from my colleague for the next few hours. If I’ve missed anything, you can either reach me on Twitter or email me at edna.mohamed.casual@theguardian.com
A ransomware attack has caused Ireland’s healthcare IT system to be shut down. The attack has been blamed on international criminals and was said to be targeting healthcare records, but officials said patient safety was not at risk. Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) has said that coronavirus vaccinations are going ahead as planned.A ransomware attack has caused Ireland’s healthcare IT system to be shut down. The attack has been blamed on international criminals and was said to be targeting healthcare records, but officials said patient safety was not at risk. Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) has said that coronavirus vaccinations are going ahead as planned.
Japan will declare a state of emergency in three more prefectures hit hard by the pandemic, economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said, in a surprise move reflecting growing concerns about the virus’s spread.Japan will declare a state of emergency in three more prefectures hit hard by the pandemic, economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said, in a surprise move reflecting growing concerns about the virus’s spread.
A petition calling for the cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics which garnered 350,000 signatures in nine days was submitted to organisers, reflecting growing public opposition to the event as a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections sweeps Japan.A petition calling for the cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics which garnered 350,000 signatures in nine days was submitted to organisers, reflecting growing public opposition to the event as a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections sweeps Japan.
Indian health ministry data show 4,000 deaths and 343,144 infections over the last 24 hours. But a lack of testing in many places meant the official count omits many deaths and infections, prompting experts to estimate the real figures could be five to ten times higher.Indian health ministry data show 4,000 deaths and 343,144 infections over the last 24 hours. But a lack of testing in many places meant the official count omits many deaths and infections, prompting experts to estimate the real figures could be five to ten times higher.
Taiwan reported another record rise in domestic Covid-19 cases with 29 new cases, as community transmissions in part of central Taipei spread.Taiwan reported another record rise in domestic Covid-19 cases with 29 new cases, as community transmissions in part of central Taipei spread.
Almost half the Australians due to fly home on the first post-pause repatriation flight out of India have been thrown off the passenger list after they either tested positive to Covid-19 or were deemed close contacts of cases.Almost half the Australians due to fly home on the first post-pause repatriation flight out of India have been thrown off the passenger list after they either tested positive to Covid-19 or were deemed close contacts of cases.
Surge testing is under way in areas of north-west England where cases involving the variant first detected in India are on the increase. The UK government is under growing pressure to deploy “surge vaccinations” in Covid hotspots.Surge testing is under way in areas of north-west England where cases involving the variant first detected in India are on the increase. The UK government is under growing pressure to deploy “surge vaccinations” in Covid hotspots.
The 2-metre social distancing rule in Wales will not change on Monday, mainly due to the variant first detected in India, first minister Mark Drakeford has said. He also urged “This is the year to take your holiday in Wales.”The 2-metre social distancing rule in Wales will not change on Monday, mainly due to the variant first detected in India, first minister Mark Drakeford has said. He also urged “This is the year to take your holiday in Wales.”
Scotland is experiencing a “loss of control” of the pandemic in some areas and it is premature to lift restrictions, an epidemiologist has warned.Scotland is experiencing a “loss of control” of the pandemic in some areas and it is premature to lift restrictions, an epidemiologist has warned.
Infection rates are continuing to go down in Germany, with the crucial indicator of infections per 100,000 people over seven days dropping below the threshold mark of 100 on Friday for the first time since 20 March.Infection rates are continuing to go down in Germany, with the crucial indicator of infections per 100,000 people over seven days dropping below the threshold mark of 100 on Friday for the first time since 20 March.
Airbnb has reported a surge in bookings as coronavirus restrictions are eased in some countries.Airbnb has reported a surge in bookings as coronavirus restrictions are eased in some countries.
Greece has officially launched its tourism season as both the government and travel operators hope the country’s natural beauty will bring a much-needed revenue boost after last year’s miserable holiday season.Greece has officially launched its tourism season as both the government and travel operators hope the country’s natural beauty will bring a much-needed revenue boost after last year’s miserable holiday season.
Hong Kong is are barring 13,000 refugees from accessing Covid-19 vaccines.Hong Kong is are barring 13,000 refugees from accessing Covid-19 vaccines.
Singapore has announced the strictest curbs on social gatherings and public activities since easing a lockdown last year, amid a rise in locally acquired infections and with new coronavirus clusters forming in recent weeks.Singapore has announced the strictest curbs on social gatherings and public activities since easing a lockdown last year, amid a rise in locally acquired infections and with new coronavirus clusters forming in recent weeks.
That is it from me, Martin Belam, for this week. I will see you again bright and early on Monday. Edna Mohamed will be here shortly to take you through the rest of the day’s global Covid news, while Mattha Busby has our UK Covid blog.That is it from me, Martin Belam, for this week. I will see you again bright and early on Monday. Edna Mohamed will be here shortly to take you through the rest of the day’s global Covid news, while Mattha Busby has our UK Covid blog.
Coronavirus is raging in India’s hinterland, where in some places bodies are being buried in shallow graves or given up to rivers and the sick have little hope other than herbal remedies and amateur doctors.
Kidwai Ahmad, from Sadullahpur village in Uttar Pradesh, a huge northern state, said the situation is “disastrous” with people dying all around his neighbourhood.
“There is so much poverty all around that people can’t even afford decent cremations. They often tie big stones to the bodies and throw them in the river,” he told AFP by phone.
“Others don’t even bother with that and just throw the bodies in as they are. It has become common practice here,” he added.
“Some are just burying their dead in shallow graves and not even waiting to see if crows or dogs feed on them.”
In the past month no medical team has visited the village. The sick are staying at home taking “herbal concoctions”, Ahmad said. Clinics, if people can travel to them, are low on beds, medicines and oxygen.
“People have been left to die,” he added. “This is the India which is hidden from everyone.”
Indian health ministry data show 4,000 deaths and 343,144 infections over the last 24 hours. But a lack of testing in many places meant the official count omits many deaths and infections, prompting experts to estimate the real figures could be five to ten times higher.
Not everybody is pleased with the way that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has decided to lift its recommendation on face masks. Leana Wen writes for the Washington Post:
Read more here: Washington Post – Leana Wen: The CDC shouldn’t have removed restrictions without requiring proof of vaccination
Here’s a bit more on the situation in Ireland, where a ransomware attack has caused the country’s healthcare IT system to be shut down.
AFP report that the Irish attack has been blamed on international criminals and was said to be targeting healthcare records, but officials said patient safety was not at risk.
While Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) has said that coronavirus vaccinations are going ahead as planned, there have been some knock-on effects in the healthcare system.
The Rotunda maternity hospital in Dublin said that “due to a serious IT issue”, it was only admitting emergency cases and women who are at least 36 weeks pregnant.
Hospital chief Fergal Malone said the attack had targeted computers storing patient records. Life-saving equipment is operating fine, “there’s no problem for patient safety”, and the hospital has switched to backup paper records, he told RTE.
“But obviously throughput will be much slower,” he said, urging out-patients with routine appointments to stay away.
HSE chief executive Paul Reid said the attack in Ireland was “an internationally operated criminal operation”, and the authority was working with police, the army and its major IT security providers.
“We are at the very early stages of fully understanding the threat,” he told Irish broadcaster RTE, adding it was trying to “contain” the issue.
Airbnb has reported a surge in bookings as coronavirus restrictions are eased in some countries.
The value of bookings made by holidaymakers shot up 52% year on year to $10.3bn (£7.3bn) in the first quarter, with locations outside city centres and rural areas proving particularly popular.
The San Francisco-based company said the recovery in bookings is being led by families and small groups, as opposed to solo travellers, while there has also been a jump in bookings for longer-term stays.
Almost a quarter of nights booked in the first three months of the year were for stays of 28 days or longer, up from 14% in pre-pandemic 2019.
“Increasing numbers of guests are discovering that they do not need to be tethered to one location to live and work,” Airbnb said.
In the US, searches for summer travel by those aged 60 and over, the first groups to be vaccinated, soared more than 60% in February and March.
Airbnb experienced “steady improvement” in Europe, led by the UK and France, where some travel restrictions have been lifted, with “strong” domestic travel bookings.
Read more of Mark Sweney’s report: Airbnb holiday bookings soar as Covid restrictions ease
Mattha Busby has launched our UK Covid live blog, leading with officials considering “surge vaccinations” to combat spread of the variant first detected in India. You can follow UK Covid news over there with him …
I will be continuing here with the latest global coronavirus news.
By the way, if you missed it yesterday afternoon, my colleague Ian Sample did an exemplary job of laying out whether the Covid variant first detected in India is a threat to the UK’s reopening plans, asking what is the variant, how transmissible is it and what should we do about it.
You can read it here: India Covid variant – is it a threat to the UK’s reopening plans?
We get two sets of numbers like clockwork every day – and they usually show China administering a large number of vaccine jabs, and Russia with a rock-steady level of new cases.
It is business as usual for China – the country says it carried out about 12.6m vaccinations yesterday.
The number from Russia stands out slightly though. I normally don’t blog it every day as the case numbers are nearly always the same, in a range of 7,000 to 8,000 cases. But it has caught my eye this morning with a slight tip up to a reported 9,462 new Covid-19 cases.
Reuters report that the government coronavirus task force said 393 people had died of coronavirus-linked causes in the past 24 hours, pushing the national death toll to 115,116.
However, it is worth noting that the federal statistics agency has kept a separate count and says Russia recorded about 250,000 deaths related to Covid-19 from April 2020 to March 2021.
Ireland’s health authority says it has shut down its computer systems after experiencing a “significant ransomware attack”.
“We have taken the precaution of shutting down all our IT systems in order to protect them from this attack and to allow us to fully assess the situation with our own security partners,” the Health Service Executive said on Twitter, AFP report.
“We apologise for inconvenience caused to patients and to the public and will give further information as it becomes available,” it added, stressing Ireland’s coronavirus vaccination programme was unaffected and “going ahead as planned”.
The 2-metre social distancing rule in Wales will not change on Monday, mainly due to the Indian variant, first minister Mark Drakeford has said.
He told BBC Radio 5 Live: “Within your own household bubble or extended household you’ll be able to make decisions about who you hug and who you cwtch.
“But we’re not yet thinking, largely because of the Indian variant, we’re not going to change the rules about people more generally. We expect the two-metre social distance to be sustained.”
PA Media reports that asked whether people will be able to hug a family member outside of their household bubble or extended household, Drakeford replied: “I’m afraid you have to wait a little bit longer. We can change the rules, we don’t have to wait two or three weeks. If we get advice that says it’s safe to move ahead on that, we’ll do so as soon as we get that advice.
“But we are just pausing to make sure that we have the best possible evidence about the newly emerging risks that there may be because of (the) Indian variant.”
Infection rates are continuing to go down in Germany, with the crucial indicator of infections per 100,000 people over seven days dropping below the threshold mark of 100 on Friday for the first time since 20 March.The German disease control agency registered 11,336 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, a week-on-week drop of almost 40%.In Germany, 38.6m doses of vaccine have been administered so far, meaning 35.9% of the population has received at least one jab.