Home World Wide News US officials warn against ‘coronavirus parties’: Live updates | News

US officials warn against ‘coronavirus parties’: Live updates | News

US officials warn against ‘coronavirus parties’: Live updates | News

  • In a reversal from earlier statements, US President Donald Trump says the emergency taskforce handling his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak will not be wound down and will instead continue its work “indefinitely”.

  • China hits back at US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s claims the new coronavirus originated in a lab in Wuhan, saying he has no evidence.

  • Brazil’s health minister says for the first time that lockdowns may be needed in the country as daily cases and deaths hit new highs. 
  • Globally, more than 3.7 million people have been confirmed infected with the new coronavirus so far, and more than 260,000 have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Thursday, May 7

03:45 GMT – Cases in India continue to surge despite strict lockdown

India’s health ministry says the number of coronavirus infections rose to 52,952 in India, up by 3,561 over the previous day, despite a strict weeks-long lockdown. The death toll is up by 89 to 1783.

The spurt in cases has come from the densely packed metropolises of Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad which are also the growth engines of the economy.

Meanwhile, health officials in the southern city of Chennai are rushing to contain a coronavirus outbreak in one of Asia’s largest fruit and vegetable markets.

So far, the Koyambedu market has been linked to more than 500 cases in several districts of Tamil Nadu state and adjacent Kerala state. Over 7,000 people with connections to the market are being traced and quarantined, says J Radhakrishnan, the leader of Chennai’s response to the coronavirus.

India to send home hundreds of thousands of stranded workers (2:41)

03:11 GMT – US officials warn against ‘COVID-19 parties’

Officials in the US state of Washington are expressing concern over reports of people organising “COVID-19 parties” to intentionally spread the virus.

“Gathering in groups in the midst of this pandemic can be incredibly dangerous and puts people at increased risk for hospitalisation and even death,” warns John Wiesman, the state’s secretary of health.

“Furthermore, it is unknown if people who recover from COVID-19 have long-term protection,” he says. “There is still a lot we don’t know about this virus, including any long-term health issues which may occur after infection.”

Wiesman’s comments came after officials in the state’s Walla Walla County reported that some of the 94 cases in the region appear to have been intentionally spread or contracted at so-called “COVID-19 parties”. The aim of these gatherings is for non-infected people to mingle with an infected person in an effort to catch the virus.

Trump administration’s COVID-19 response criticised (2:59)

02:53 GMT – Korean Air to resume some suspended flights in June

South Korea’s largest airline says it will resume some of its suspended flights to North America, Europe and Asia next month to expand cargo transport and prepare for a possible increase in travelers as countries ease their coronavirus restrictions.

Despite the increased flights, Korean Air says it will still be operating only 32 of its 110 international routes in June. They include the cities of Washington DC, Seattle in the US, Vancouver and Toronto in Canada,and Amsterdam and Frankfurt in Europe.

Flights to Singapore, Malaysia’s Kula Lumpur, Myanmar’s Yangon and Vietnam’s Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City will also be resumed.

02:47 GMT – US sees first death of detainee in immigration custody

US authorities say a 57-year-old man held in immigration custody in San Diego, California, has died from complications related to the coronavirus.

The death of Carlos Ernestor Escobar on Wednesday marks the first reported death from the virus among about 30,000 people held in immigration custody in the US.

Escobar, who his sister describes as “one-of-a-kind”, had been held at the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego and was hospitalised in late April.

02:18 GMT – Bolsonaro’s spokesman tests positive for virus

Otavio Rego Barros, spokesman for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, has tested positive for the new coronavirus.

The 59-year-old former army general “is home following all recommended protocols” after his positive test result was confirmed on Tuesday, the president’s office says.

More than 20 top Bolsonaro officials have tested positive for the virus, including communications chief Fabio Wajngarten and National Security Minister Augusto Heleno. Bolsonaro himself says he tested negative.

Brazil spokesman Otavio Reggo

In this file photo taken on April 11, 2019, Otavio Rego Barros speaks during a ceremony marking the first 100 days of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s government at Planalto Palace in Brasilia [File: AFP]

01:57 GMT – China reports 2 new coronavirus cases, both imported

China’s National Health Commission is reporting two new coronavirus cases for May 6.

Both were so-called imported cases involving travellers from overseas. The two cases from the day before were also imported.

China’s total number of coronavirus cases now stands at 82,885, while the death toll remains unchanged at 4,633.

China: US claims on coronavirus origins ‘groundless’ (6:33)

01:39 GMT – All children’s activities back to normal in Iceland

Iceland is further easing coronavirus-related restrictions, allowing gatherings of up to 50 people and letting all children’s activities to return to normal.

“It is extremely important to remain vigilant and minimize the risk of a renewed outbreak. If we see any signs of a re-emerging of the virus, we will be prepared to implement appropriate measures to extinguish any localized infection clusters,” says Thorolfur Gudnason, chief epidemiologist.

01:29 GMT – Pandemic is pushing up price of illegal drugs, UN says

Coronavirus-related border controls, lockdowns and flight shortages are making illegal drugs more expensive and difficult to obtain around the world, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

“Many countries across all regions have reported an overall shortage of numerous types of drugs at the retail level, as well as increases in prices, reductions in purity and that drug users have consequently been switching substance (for example, from heroin to synthetic opioids) and/or increasingly accessing drug treatment,”  the UNODC says in a new report.

01:17 GMT – Amazon indigenous groups launch fund to fight coronavirus

Indigenous groups from nine countries in the Amazon basin are calling for donations to help protect 3 million rainforest inhabitants who are vulnerable to the spread of the novel coronavirus because they lack adequate access to healthcare.

They say the failure of regional governments to consider the needs of indigenous people in their plans for curbing the pandemic makes it imperative to find other funding to buy food, medicine and basic protective equipment such as masks.


Satere-mawe indigenous people are seen using a smartphone to contact a doctor in Sao Paulo state to receive medical guidance amid the COVID-19 pandemic at the Sahu-Ape community, 80 km of Manaus, Amazonas State, Brazil, on May 5, 2020 [Ricardo Oliveira/ AFP]

The Amazon Emergency Fund aims to raise $3m in the next two weeks and $5m over 60 days, say its organizers at the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon Basin.

“We cannot wait any longer for our governments … We are in danger of extinction,” says Jose Gregorio Diaz Mirabal, general coordinator of COICA and a member of the Wakuenai Kurripaco people of Venezuela.

Coronavirus has already infected 180 of the 600 indigenous tribes of the Amazon basin and killed 33 of their members in a single month, he says.

00:48 GMT – UK study finds higher risk of virus deaths for ethnic minorities

The risk of dying from coronavirus is “two to three times higher” for the UK’s black and minority ethnic communities, according to an academic analysis of health service data.

The study, by University College London (UCL), finds the average risk of death for people of Pakistani heritage is 3.29 times higher, for a black African background it is 3.24 times higher and 2.41 times higher for Bangladeshi.

Black Caribbean communities are 2.21 times more at risk, and Indian groups 1.7 times.

In contrast, the researchers find a lower fatality risk for white populations in England.

“Rather than being an equaliser, this work shows that mortality with COVID-19 is disproportionately higher in black, Asian and minority ethnic groups,” says UCL’s Dr Delan Devakumar, the study’s co-author.

“It is essential to tackle the underlying social and economic risk factors and barriers to healthcare that lead to these unjust deaths.”

00:24 GMT – El Salvador to suspend public transport for 15 days

El Salvador will temporarily suspend public transport from Thursday onwards in a bid to strengthen efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The measure will remain in place for 15 days, a government decree says.

El Salvador, which has reported 15 deaths from the pandemic, has applied some of the toughest measures in the Americas to tackle the coronavirus.

00:07 GMT – Brazil hits new daily record for novel coronavirus cases, deaths

Brazil, one of the world’s emerging coronavirus hot spots, is reporting a record number of cases and deaths with the health minister flagging the possibility of strict lockdowns in particularly hard-hit areas.

Official figures show 10,503 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the last 24 hours, well above the previous record of 7,288 cases on April 30. There are 615 deaths, up from the previous record of 600 on Tuesday.

Health Minister Nelson Teich tells reporters for the first time that an increasing number of local authorities may have to institute “lockdowns,” as the coronavirus growth curve does not appear to be flattening. He is not naming any specific cities or states.

While authorities have ordered non-essential services and businesses closed in most states, residents are still allowed to circulate. A lockdown, which so far has only been implemented in the city of Sao Luis in the country’s northeast, prohibits people from leaving their homes except for certain necessary activities.

Still, Teich says, some areas of the country that had not borne the brunt of the pandemic may be able to consider gradually opening up.

Teich’s comments stand in stark contrast to comments over the past two months from President Jair Bolsonaro, who has called the virus a “little flu” and criticised business shutdowns ordered by governors as more damaging to the country’s economy than the virus itself.

Teich took office last month as virus cases started surging in Brazil. He pledged to save lives and the economy and said at the time that he and Bolsonaro saw eye to eye.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives. 

For key developments from yesterday, May 6, go here

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