A US governor has decried racism after protesters stormed the Michigan State Capitol building, while the number of coronavirus deaths in a 24-hour period in Italy has hit a low not seen since March 10.
Democrat Gretchen Whitmer tells CNN that the protests featured “Confederate Flags, and nooses”, as well as swastikas.
Members of the Michigan Liberty Militia protested the state’s stay-at-home orders this week, some with weapons and tactical gear and their faces partially covered.
They went inside the Capitol, where being armed is allowed, then demanded access to the House floor, which is prohibited.
Some went to the Senate gallery, where a senator said armed men shouted at her.
Michigan’s Republican-controlled Legislature has questioned Whitmer’s authority to extend stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But the governor used an executive order to extend a state of emergency declaration and has directed most businesses statewide to remain closed.
White House coronavirus coordinator Dr Deborah Birx has decried the decision by protesters in Michigan and elsewhere to not wear masks or practice social distancing, calling it “devastatingly worrisome”.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meanwhile says China has been responsible for the spread of disease in the past and must be held accountable for the coronavirus pandemic that originated in the country.
In comments likely to spark protests from Beijing and elsewhere, Mr Pompeo said “China has a history of infecting the world”.
He cited poor safety and security at epidemiological laboratories, including in the city of Wuhan where the virus was first reported.
Mr Pompeo appeared to be referring to previous outbreaks of respiratory viruses, like SARS, which started in China.
But his remark may be seen as offensive in China given the history of US discrimination against the Chinese and people of Chinese origin, dating to the 19th century.
On the eve of the start in Italy of partially eased restriction on citizens’ movements during COVID-19 lockdown, the nation received some encouraging news after weeks of grim daily tallies of caseload and deaths.
Health Ministry figures put the number of deaths in the 24-hour period ending Sunday evening at 174, the lowest day-to-day number since 168 on March 10, at the start of national lockdown.
The number of new cases, 1389, was also the lowest the nation has seen in two months.
Italy’s number of known COVID-19 infections total is 210,717, although authorities say the number is likely higher as many infections in people with no or almost no symptoms are believed to have gone undetected.
Britain’s Department of Health says 315 people have died after testing positive for COVID-19 in the last reporting period.
The figure reflects the tally as of 5pm Saturday (local time) and brings the total number of people who have died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community to 28,446, up from 28,131 the day before.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the country has passed the peak of infection following a national lockdown that began March 23.
A former UK chief scientific advisor has since assembled an independent group of advisers to consider a path out of the country’s lockdown and to offer advice to the government.
David King says the group will be “running this on YouTube starting at midday tomorrow and the whole thing will be done in the public domain”.
Turkey’s health minister has announced 61 new deaths in the past 24 hours, which is the lowest death rate in more than a month from COVID-19.
The total death toll stands at 3397.
Turkey ranks eighth in confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University, but experts believe the tally around the world is higher than reported.
The World Health Organszation has called on Belarus to ban public events as coronavirus cases rise sharply but President Alexander Lukashenko says the country will go ahead with a parade to mark the 75th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany.
Belarus has not imposed social distancing or other restrictions to fight the virus’ spread, even though its 16,705 recorded cases are more than neighboring Ukraine and Poland, each of which has a population about four times larger.
Mr Lukashenko said the May 9 commemoration would include war veterans, who are 90 years old or over.
Tanzania’s president is questioning the quality of imported coronavirus testing kits but expressed faith in a herbal concoction that Madagascar’s president claims is a remedy for COVID-19.
While African nations have been largely praised for their efforts to counter the virus, Tanzanian President John Magufuli has been criticised for refusing to close markets and places of worship because he claims the virus “cannot sit on the body of Christ”.
His new comments Sunday are drawing another wave of skepticism. The country has 480 confirmed cases but some opposition members believe other cases haven’t been announced.
An international media rights group says the coronavirus pandemic is being used by governments around the world to increase restrictions on press freedoms.
The International Press Institute issued a report Sunday to coincide with World Press Freedom Day 2020, which concludes that in both democratic and autocratic states the “public health crisis has allowed governments to exercise control over the media on the pretext of preventing the spread of disinformation”.
It says authoritarian governments have been abusing emergency measures to “further stifle independent media and criminalise journalism”, while in democracies “efforts to control the public narrative and restrict access to information around the pandemic are on the rise”.
The Vienna-based organisation said it has documented 162 press freedom violations related to coronavirus coverage over the past two-and-a-half months.
Almost a third of the violations have involved the arrest, detention or charging of journalists.
Coronavirus: what you need to know
How is coronavirus transmitted?
The human coronavirus is only spread from someone infected with COVID-19 to another. This occurs through close contact with an infected person through contaminated droplets spread by coughing or sneezing, or by contact with contaminated hands or surfaces.
How can I protect myself and my family?
World Health Organisation and NSW Health both recommend basic hygiene practices as the best way to protect yourself from coronavirus.
Good hygiene includes:
Clean your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser;
Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or your elbow;
Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms;
Apply safe food practices; and
Stay home if you are sick.
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