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Coronavirus battleground shifts to Latin America: Live updates | News

Coronavirus battleground shifts to Latin America: Live updates | News

  • Brazil‘s coronavirus outbreak worsened on Wednesday and the South American nation could soon have the second-highest number of cases in the world as the Health Ministry reported 888 new deaths and nearly 20,000 new infections in a single day, pushing the total cases to 291,579 and almost 19,000 deaths.

  • Peru’s number of confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed 100,000, making it the country with the second-highest number of cases in South America after Brazil. It has more than 3,000 deaths.

  • Mexico has recorded more than 54,000 cases and 5,666 deaths, while Chile has 53,617 cases and 544 deaths.

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) reported 106,000 cases globally, the highest in a single day yet, raising concerns over the spread of COVID-19 in poor nations.

  • Globally, there have been more than 4.96 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 326,000 people died, according to the Johns Hopkins University. More than 1.7 million people have recovered.

Here are all the latest updates:

Thursday, May 21

03:13 GMT – Trump threatens funds for US states easing voting during pandemic

President Donald Trump has threatened to hold up federal funds for two election battleground states of Michigan and Nevada that are trying to make it easier and safer to vote during the coronavirus pandemic.

He later backed away from that threat but stuck with his unsupported claim that widespread voting by mail promotes “a lot of illegality.” The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends voting by mail as a safe option during the pandemic.

Trump has said repeatedly, without evidence, that mailed ballots allow widespread fraud and has worried publicly that wide availability could lead so many people to vote that Republicans would lose in November.

02:50 GMT – Cambodia lifts entry ban from six countries as coronavirus eases

Cambodia has announced the lifting of a travel ban of tourists from Iran, Italy, Germany, Spain, France and the US.

In an announcement late on Wednesday, the country’s health ministry said visitors from those countries need to present a certificate no more than 72 hours old confirming that they are free from the virus, as well as proof of $50,000 health insurance coverage.

The visitors are also required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

02:09 GMT – Recession-hit Japan’s exports, imports fall due to pandemic

Recession-hit Japan’s exports plunged nearly 22 percent in April, the country’s worst drop in more than a decade as the coronavirus pandemic slammed global demand, AP news agency reported.

The Finance Ministry also said Thursday that imports fell 7 percent.

The drop in exports is the worst since the 2008 financial crisis, as export-dependent Japan struggles to juggle the health risks of COVID-19 with the dire need to keep the economy going.

Japan is in a technical recession after a contraction that began in the last quarter of last year deepened in the January-March quarter. Analysts say worse may be ahead, given the economic pain of the pandemic may be prolonged.

Japan - coronavirus

Shoppers in the Japanese city of Yokohama take a stroll in one of the city’s business centres on Tuesday [Koji Sasahara/AP]

01:38 GMT – Merkel says Germany not cutting foreign aid

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the country won’t be cutting foreign aid due to the coronavirus pandemic, and further relief for poor nations is needed.

Speaking on Wednesday after a video meeting with heads of the World Bank, the International Monetary fund and three other global economic bodies, Merkel noted last month’s agreement to freeze poor countries’ debt obligations and said that “as far as the sustainability of debt is concerned further steps need to follow.”

But she did not spell out whether Germany would go so far as agreeing to debt relief.

01:17 GMT – New Zealand’s Ardern proposes four-day work week

New Zealand’s prime minister wants employers to consider switching to a four-day work week as a way to promote tourism, which has been hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Jacinda Ardern said in a Facebook Live video that people had learned a lot about flexibility and working from home during the nation’s lockdown, which was eased last week.

New Zealand’s tourism industry had accounted for about 10 percent of the economy, but has ground to a halt during the outbreak, according to the Associated Press news agency.

The South Pacific nation’s borders remain closed, but Ardern said that as much as 60 percent of tourism was domestic and that more flexible working arrangements could allow New Zealanders to travel more within their own country.

00:56 GMT – South Korea’s exports of coronavirus test kits surge

South Korea’s exports of coronavirus test kits are expected to gather momentum down the road thanks to high overseas demand, Yonhap news agency reported on Thursday, quoting industry sources.

Yonhap quoted the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety as saying that 72 test kits manufactured by 46 companies have been approved for exports. The figure includes six products that have won approval for emergency use locally.

Several test kit makers have already clinched more orders this year than last year’s total, with Sugentech Inc securing $49m worth of deals to export coronavirus test kits since April 1. The company has been producing two million kits per week this month.

Test Kits

Sample testing devices used in diagnosing coronavirus are checked on a production line near Seoul [File: Ed Jones/AFP]

00: 28 GMT – China reports 2 new coronavirus cases, 31 new asymptomatic cases

China’s health commission reported on Thursday two new coronavirus cases as of the end of Wednesday, including one imported case.

The health agency also reported 31 new asymptomatic cases in the mainland, slightly up from 16 the previous.

00:19 GMT – Russia sets up quarantine facility in Siberia

The Russian military has set up a quarantine facility at a Siberian gold mine where hundreds have been infected with the novel coronavirus.

The Olimpiada mine in the town of Yeruda has emerged as a top spot of contagion, with more than 800 workers testing positive for COVID-19. The new facility can accommodate as many as 2,000 patients.

Russia has ranked second behind the United States in the number of infections, with more than 300,000 coronavirus cases.

00:01 GMT – Large contingent of Cuban doctors help Mexico with coronavirus

At least 500 Cuban health workers are helping tackle the new coronavirus in Mexico City, Mexican officials told Reuters news agency, making it likely the largest contingent the communist-led island has deployed globally as part of its response to the pandemic.

Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum has publicly acknowledged the presence of “several” Cuban doctors working in the city’s hospitals to help make up staffing shortfalls, but she has not confirmed the scale of the deployment.

A federal health ministry told Reuters there were now 600 Cuban health workers on the ground. Both sources asked not to be identified. Cuba has for decades sent medical professionals to countries across Latin America and as far afield as Africa to help during health crises.

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Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Read all the updates from yesterday (May 20) here.

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