Covid may never be eradicated, warns WHO
Disease now present in every African country as Spanish study reveals 5% of the population has antibodies, EU bid to salvage summer with distancing in hotels, Brazil and Mexico record deadliest day from Covid-19, Wuhan draws up plan to test 11million people, New US coronavirus hotspots appear in Republican heartlands
Global confirmed death toll exceeds 292,000
The number of people known to have died since the pandemic began has reached at least 292,316, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. They say at least 4,278,180 people are known to have been infected. The figures are likely to significantly underestimate the true scale of the pandemic because they are based on official and media reports.
Chinese authorities draw up plan to test 11 million people in Wuhan
Chinese authorities are preparing to test 11 million people in Wuhan after a small outbreak this week. The city in Hubei province, where the virus is believed to have originated with the first recorded cases, had reported few daily cases since early March and none since early April, until a cluster of six was confirmed at the weekend. Fearful of another outbreak and a return to the draconian lockdowns, the authorities are drawing up plans for “10 days of battle”, directing each district of Wuhan to develop and submit plans to test all their citizens.
New US coronavirus hotspots appear in Republican heartlands
New coronavirus hotspots are emerging in Republican heartland communities across multiple states, contradicting Donald Trump’s claims that infection rates are declining across the nation. Meanwhile, rightwing militia groups in Michigan plan to rally at the state capitol building on Thursday to protest Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home orders.
More than 10,000 new cases registered in Russia
Russia registered 10,028 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday. Despite the steady rise in new cases, Russia’s reported mortality rate is significantly lower compared with other European countries hit hard by the pandemic, with 96 new deaths and a total of 2,212 dead from the coronavirus as of Wednesday.
Pompeo arrives in Israel for talks on annexations
The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has arrived in Israel amid the coronavirus pandemic to discuss US-backed plans to annex large parts of the Palestinian territories. The single-stop visit – Pompeo’s first in nearly two months – will last just a few hours, with a small US team afforded exemptions from strict Israeli coronavirus restrictions that require any arrivals to self-isolate for two weeks.
Spanish death toll rises slightly
Spain’s daily death toll rose slightly on Wednesday to 184, from 176 on Tuesday. The country’s overall death toll from the disease rose to 27,104, according to the health ministry’s daily report, while the overall number of diagnosed cases rose to 228,691 from 228,030 the previous day.
Plans announced for relaxation of border controls in Europe
Plans were announced to relax border controls in Germany from Saturday, with the aim of having free travel in Europe from 15 June, though controls could be reimposed if there are new outbreaks. Poland, which closed its borders to foreigners in March, has extended its border controls until 12 June. Iceland also expects to make widespread changes to its immigration restrictions on 15 June, with arrivals expected to choose between a coronavirus test on entry or a 14-day quarantine.
The coronavirus that causes Covid-19 could become endemic like HIV, the World Health Organization has said, warning against any attempt to predict how long it would keep circulating and calling for a “massive effort” to counter it. The organisation’s emergencies expert, Mike Ryan, said:
It is important to put this on the table: This virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away.
I think it is important we are realistic and I don’t think anyone can predict when this disease will disappear. I think there are no promises in this and there are no dates. This disease may settle into a long problem, or it may not be.
However, he said the world had some control over how it copes with the disease, although this would take a “massive effort” even if a vaccine was found – a prospect he described as a “massive moonshot”.
More than 100 potential vaccines are being developed, including several in clinical trials, but experts have underscored the difficulties of finding vaccines that are effective against coronaviruses.
Ryan noted that vaccines exist for other illnesses, such as measles, that have not been eliminated.