Coronavirus latest: Wuhan cluster contributes to rise in China cases Five people tested positive in a single residential community in Wuhan, where the pandemic started in January. How to pick a real winner in the Covid-19 vaccine race
A plan to guide the UK safely out of lockdown India’s lockdown puts squeeze on mango harvest
World Confirmed 4,000,187 Deaths 274,452
India makes first moves to restart its public transport system Amy Kazmin in New Delhi India is taking the first tentative step to reviving suspended public transport services this week, as Indian Railways restarts a handful of long-distance train services linking the capital, New Delhi, to 15 other cities. The new trains — which will start in New Delhi and run to major cities including Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and then return — will start running from Tuesday, with online bookings opening on Monday afternoon. But they represent just a miniscule fraction of the 14,300 trains that typically carry 30m passengers a day, highlighting India’s gradual approach to easing its lockdown.
India will also continue to operate up to 300 special trains a day exclusively for migrant workers who have been trapped for weeks without work or wages in big cities and industrial areas since the lockdown began. Over the past week, several hundred thousand migrants have returned to their home states, on the first passenger trains to operate since March 22.
India suspended all domestic public transport services — including flights, long-distance and suburban trains, urban metro services, and local buses and even taxi services — in late March, as part of its draconian lockdown imposed to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The lack of long train and bus services to get them home after the lockdown prompted thousands of desperate migrants to undertake arduous treks on foot or bicycle to try to get back home. As part of its gradual easing over the last week, India has also permitted taxis and local buses to operate in areas with few or no coronavirus cases.
The arrival of juicy mangoes in April and May provides a tonic to India’s searing summer temperatures. In global export markets such as the Middle East, UK and US, Indian mangoes command a premium over varieties from Latin America and elsewhere. But mango farmers and distributors have faced myriad difficulties this season as India’s decision to enter lockdown in late March to stem the spread of Covid-19 upended agricultural and food supply chains.
They have struggled with a lack of labour to harvest mangoes, trucks to transport them to markets and ultimately weak demand due to a dearth of buyers.
China reports cluster of new cases in Wuhan Christian Shepherd in Beijing China on Monday reported 17 new cases of coronavirus, after two new small-scale clusters of infections were discovered, including one group in Wuhan, the city where the pandemic began.
Seven of the cases were imported on a flight to Beijing that stopped in Inner Mongolia’s Hohhot for screening, Chinese state media reported. The remaining 10 were local transmissions. Five cases were discovered in a single residential community in Wuhan. The remaining five were in northeast China, which has faced a handful of outbreaks in recent weeks. The top Chinese Communist party official in northeast Jilin province called for a “wartime footing” on Sunday after a cluster of Covid-19 infections was discovered in the city of Shulan. Bayanqolu, the province’s party boss, told a meeting on Sunday evening that cadres must “deeply absorb lessons” from the Shulan outbreak and prepare for a “war of attrition” against a resurgence.
Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Emma Boyde 2 HOURS AGO Mike Pence will not self quarantine, spokesman says Primrose Riordan in Hong Kong US vice president Mike Pence is not in quarantine and plans to return to work at the White House on Monday, his spokesman announced on Sunday, contradicting press reports that he would self-isolate after one of his top aides tested positive for Covid-19. “Vice president Pence will continue to follow the advice of the White House Medical Unit and is not in quarantine,” Mr Pence’s spokesman Devin O’Malley said in a statement. “Additionally, Vice President Pence has tested negative every single day and plans to be at the White House tomorrow.” Mr Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller tested positive for the virus on Friday. Three senior US officials are in quarantine. At the weekend, Dr Anthony Fauci, one of the top US health officials, entered “modified quarantine” after coming into “low risk” contact with someone who had contracted the virus. Other officials in quarantine include Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The US accounted for more than a third of global daily deaths from the virus last week.
Saudi Arabia slashes budget as virus and oil-price fall ravage economy Ahmed Al Omran in Riyadh Saudi Arabia announced further cuts to its budget as the kingdom struggles to cope with the severe economic impact of coronavirus and low oil prices. The finance ministry said early on Monday that it would curb expenditure by nearly SR100bn ($26.6bn), by cancelling or delaying operating and capital spending for multiple government departments and reducing allocations for major projects. The ministry also said it would also raise value-added tax by 10 percentage points from 5 per cent to 15 per cent from July and would no longer pay cost-of-living allowances that state employees have been receiving since 2018. “These measures aim to protect the kingdom’s economy to overcome the unprecedented global coronavirus crisis and its financial and economic consequences with minimum possible damage,” finance minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said in a statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the kingdom has jumped in recent weeks to 39,048m — the majority of those infected are foreign workers — while the death toll from the disease stands at 246. Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Emma Boyde 3 HOURS AGO At least 75 cases now linked to South Korean party district Edward White in Wellington Seoul’s mayor Park Won-soon told local radio on Monday that 75 confirmed infections are now linked to at least one person who potentially came into contact with as many as 1,500 other partygoers last week in Itaewon, a popular nightlife district in the capital. Officials are still trying to reach thousands more people who are believed to have been potentially exposed. Contact tracing efforts have been hamstrung by many people using false names on establishments’ entry logs. South Korea has reported its steepest daily increase in new coronavirus infections in more than one month as the new cluster in Seoul threatens a broader easing of the country’s social distancing measures. The Korea Centers for Disease Control reported 35 new cases on Monday, marking a sharp turnround from a week ago when the country had several days of no local infections. Over the weekend Seoul’s mayor shuttered the city’s bars and nightclubs — with an order that bans them from hosting crowds of people — and Moon Jae-in, the president, warned that similar situations could arise in other enclosed, crowded areas. The case is a blow to the government in South Korea — which has won international praise for mass testing, high-tech contact tracing and social distancing to combat what was, for a time, the worst outbreak outside of China — and has prompted experts to question whether the country’s easing of restrictions was rushed. Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Emma Boyde 4 HOURS AGO Japan set to consider fresh package of stimulus measures Robin Harding in Tokyo Japan’s ruling parties are expected to start debate this week on a fresh package of coronavirus stimulus measures with the aim of passing another supplementary budget during the current parliamentary session. Fumio Kishida, policy chief of the Liberal Democratic party, said last week that the crisis was entering a “new phase” and the ruling coalition would commence work on another package of economic support expected to include help for students and Japan’s regions. According to local press reports over the weekend, the package may also include support for people struggling to pay rent and assistance for small businesses to pay wages. Japan has only just completed its first supplementary budget for the fiscal year to March 2021. That ¥25.7tn ($240bn) package, which includes ¥100,000 handouts for everybody in the country, passed the Diet on April 30. Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Emma Boyde 4 HOURS AGO News you might have missed Spain’s government has clashed with several of the country’s regions over its decision to restrict the scope of the relaxation of its harsh eight-week lockdown. Brussels is considering suing the German government after the country’s constitutional court issued an explosive ruling calling into question the supremacy of EU law and the actions of the European Central Bank. Retail and property chiefs have warned that the UK government’s business bailout package of reliefs, grants and loans will not be sufficient to stop the “imminent collapse of many businesses”. Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei has called on public health officials to reconsider a closure of mosques and holy sites during Ramadan. Italy’s prime minister has said the country’s lockdown could end earlier than planned as Rome attempts to mitigate a brutal recession caused by nearly two months of freezing the economy. Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Emma Boyde 4 HOURS AGO Boris Johnson changed his message and outlined plans to ease lockdown Everyone has a role to play in helping to control the virus by staying alert and following the rules. This is how we can continue to save lives as we start to recover from coronavirus.#StayAlert pic.twitter.com/2z9yl1Fxs4 BORIS JOHNSON (@BORISJOHNSON) May 10, 2020 Business lobby group the British Chambers of Commerce has called for detailed advice on how companies should protect their workers, as the government encourages staff in industries such as construction and manufacturing to go back to work as soon as Monday. Keir Starmer, the leader of the UK’s opposition Labour party, has said Boris Johnson’s speech setting out a roadmap to a gradual reopening of the UK economy “raises more questions than it answers”. The UK has been an outlier in its open borders policy to date, but Boris Johnson said that he was “serving notice” that it will soon be time to impose quarantine on people coming into the UK by air. There was no word on sea or rail travel. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined plans to encourage those who can to go back to work. The prime minister used the example of those in manufacturing or construction who he said should be “actively encouraged” to return to their workplaces, although he warned against the use of public transport if possible Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Alice Woodhouse 4 HOURS AGO Asia-Pacific stocks start the week with gains Asia-Pacific equities rose at the start of a new week after US stocks rallied on Friday despite 20.5m workers losing their jobs in April. In early trading on Monday, Japan’s Topix was up 0.6 per cent, the Kospi in Seoul gained 0.4 per cent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.3 per cent. On Friday, the US benchmark S&P 500 rose 1.7 per cent, even as the US unemployment rate surged to 14.7 per cent, taking the index to levels last seen in September. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained 1.6 per cent. S&P 500 futures pointed to a 0.3 per cent rise when Wall Street opens on Monday. New virus outbreaks in South Korea, Germany and China have highlighted the challenges of keeping Covid-19 in check as countries begin restarting their economies. Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Emma Boyde 4 HOURS AGO New York issues new rules for nursing homes New York will require twice-weekly testing for staff at nursing homes and prevent hospitals from releasing Covid-19 patients to those facilities. Under a new rule announced on Sunday, hospitals will not be allowed to discharge patients to nursing homes unless they test negative for the virus. Governor Andrew Cuomo has faced criticism over a controversial policy that prohibits nursing homes from refusing to re-admit residents who tested positive for coronavirus or were suspected cases. New Jersey has a similar policy. Mr Cuomo said officials had been concerned early in the pandemic about running out of hospital beds. He also said nursing homes should refer patients to other facilities if they could not care for them. Hospitalisations have been on the decline in recent weeks, recently reaching their lowest rate since mid-March. Most of the temporary beds at an events centre in Manhattan and a US Navy hospital ship went unused. The ship, the USNS Comfort, departed New York City at the end of April, and the field hospital at the Javits Center closed on May 1. New York, the state hit hardest by the pandemic, reported on Sunday another 207 fatalities attributed to coronavirus, bringing the state’s total to 21,478. More than 5,000 people in New York nursing homes have died. Mr Cuomo called nursing homes “ground zero” for the virus and said the state was testing as many residents as possible. Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Emma Boyde 4 HOURS AGO US infection count mounts to 1.32m, but daily infections and fatalities slow Matthew Rocco in New York The number of confirmed US cases since the pandemic began has risen to 1.32m and the death toll has climbed to 74,270, data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project revealed on Sunday. Out of 277,894 new tests, 7.8 per cent came back positive for the virus, down from 8.4 per cent a day earlier and the lowest level since mid-March. There were 21,712 confirmed infections and 979 additional fatalities in the past 24 hours. The death toll was the lowest since May 4 — a day when data may have been impacted by a system outage in New Jersey. Excluding that date, it would have been the lowest number of deaths recorded since April 1. States including Florida and California will take further steps this week to reopen their economies. In Florida, barber shops and salons can open on Monday, and Palm Beach County is set to join “phase one” of the state’s plan by also opening restaurants and retail locations with limits on capacity. Palm Beach County, along with the counties of Broward and Miami-Dade, had been excluded from Florida’s restart because of the higher number of Covid-19 cases there. California governor Gavin Newsom has said he will lay out guidelines this week on when counties can allow dine-in service at restaurants, and when other businesses can resume operations. The state allowed retail businesses to open for kerbside pickup at the end of last week. Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Get alerts on Coronavirus when a new story is published Get alerts Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2020. All rights reserved. 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