Here’s what you need to know:
China pledges $2 billion to fight the pandemic at a W.H.O. meeting.
In a pointed challenge to President Trump, President Xi Jinping of China on Monday offered to provide $2 billion in the fight against the pandemic and called on other nations to increase their contributions to the World Health Organization at a time when the United States has withdrawn its funding from the global health network.
Mr. Xi’s remarks, delivered during an extraordinary virtual meeting of heads of state and health experts from around the world, are likely to ratchet up pressure on Mr. Trump, who last month announced that the United States would withhold its annual contribution of about $550 million to the organization, accusing it of promoting disinformation from China about the coronavirus outbreak. W.H.O. officials have denied the claims and China has insisted it was transparent and open.
In his remarks, Mr. Xi also defended his country’s handling of the outbreak and appeared to brush aside calls for an independent investigation into the origins of the virus — a demand the United States has been promoting among its allies — saying such forensics should wait until the crisis had subsided.
The $2 billion would be a vast increase in China’s contribution to the W.H.O., which last year totaled $43 million. In April, after the United States announced it would cut funding to the organization, Beijing said it would provide an additional $30 million to the W.H.O.
A senior Trump administration official called China’s pledge of $2 billion “a token to distract from calls from a growing number of nations demanding accountability for the Chinese government’s failure to meet its obligations under International Health Regulations to tell the truth and warn the world of what was coming.”
Mr. Xi’s speech, delivered by videoconference during the opening session of the World Health Assembly, its first meeting amid the pandemic, sought to position China as a leader in the organization. He also announced increased support to African nations struggling to contain the virus with financial assistance, Chinese doctors and what he described as a “global humanitarian response depot and hub in China to ensure the operation of anti-epidemic supply chains.”
The first coronavirus vaccine to be tested on people appears safe and effective, its maker says.
The drugmaker Moderna said Monday that the first coronavirus vaccine to be tested in people appears to be safe and able to stimulate an immune response against the virus.
The findings, which helped prompt a rally on Wall Street, are based on results from the first eight people who each received two doses of the experimental vaccine, starting in March.
Those people, healthy volunteers, made antibodies that were then tested in human cells in the lab, and were able to stop the virus from replicating — the key requirement for an effective vaccine. The levels of those so-called neutralizing antibodies matched the levels found in patients who had recovered after contracting the virus in the community.
Limited data from the early phase, however leaves much uncertainty around the vaccine’s potential success.
Dozens of companies in the United States, Europe and China are racing to produce vaccines, using different methods.
If those trials go well, a vaccine could become available for widespread use by the end of this year or early 2021, Dr. Tal Zaks, Moderna’s chief medical officer, said in an interview. How many doses might be ready is not clear, but Dr. Zaks said, “We’re doing our best to make it as many millions as possible.”
Rome’s famed trattorias reopen, but it’s not business as usual.
After nearly 10 weeks of a surreal quiet, the familiar refrain of honking cars, buzzing scooters and lumbering buses sounded in Rome’s city center on Monday as many stores, bars and restaurants opened for the first time following a coronavirus lockdown.
But even as restaurateurs measured the distance between tables and shop owners mopped their stoops, the fallout from months of inactivity was evident in shuttered stores and “For Rent” signs.
In Rome, on tables in Trattoria Settimio, Maria Teresa Luciani displayed two laminated sheets: not menus, but a certification that the storied eatery had used cleaning products approved to disinfect against the coronavirus.
Earlier in the day, her husband, the owner, had measured out the mandatory spacing between tables. They hadn’t put down tablecloths yet, because they had no idea how many lunchtime clients would come. “It’s the first day. We have to get used to this,” Ms. Luciani said. “It’s a bit confusing, but slowly, slowly it’ll all work out.”
The cozy seating that was once part of the charm of Ditirambo, another downtown restaurant, has become a drawback amid the pandemic. The owner, Dado Micozzi, has been scrambling for outdoor seating alternatives.
On Monday he was overseeing a long list of protocols — including installing a traffic light system over the bathroom door — before reopening to the public later this week.
Efforts to reopen for delivery and takeout in recent weeks were not hugely successful, and without his main tourist clientele on the immediate horizon, Mr. Micozzi wasn’t sure how things would go. But he said he was determined to stay open.
“Now, we are working not for ourselves,” he said, “but for all those people who have helped us over the years.”
German refugee center reports dozens of coronavirus cases.
Germany is facing the first major coronavirus outbreak in a refugee center near Cologne, where the authorities said that more than 70 residents had tested positive for the virus and been placed in isolation. Another 60 residents tested negative and were moved to a different center.
Hundreds of migrants who arrived in Germany in the months before its borders were closed in mid-March live in refugee centers that lack the space needed for effective social distancing and where they often share bathrooms and kitchens.
Rights groups and opposition politicians have long warned that the crowded centers posed a health risk and urged local health authorities to carry out regular tests to prevent an outbreak of the virus. Members of the opposition Greens have criticized the government for inaction.
The center where the outbreak arose was home to 489 people from dozens of countries. After one resident tested positive for the virus on Thursday, others were given protective masks and disinfectant as tests were carried out on everyone else at the facility.
Germany has recorded 174,697 coronavirus cases and 7,935 fatalities since the outbreak began. Several of the worst outbreaks have been in nursing homes, hospitals and among migrant workers in meatpacking facilities.
Belgian nurses turn their backs to the prime minister in protest.
When Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès of Belgium visited the Saint-Pierre hospital in Brussels this weekend, she was not met with praise. Instead, members of the hospital’s nursing staff lined the roadway and turned their backs on her approaching car in a silent protest over the government’s handling of the coronavirus.
The hospital has played a central role in Belgium’s response, taking in the most Covid-19 patients in the country, and it was Ms. Wilmès’s first visit to the hospital to thank the staff since the crisis began.
Arriving at the hospital grounds, Ms. Wilmès was greeted by a double row of nurses and other health workers with their backs turned to her, in what has been described as “guard of dishonor.”
“Nobody can ignore the distress of the nursing staff, which was already there before the crisis and was increased with the difficulties,” Ms Wilmès told RTBF, the public broadcaster, after visiting the hospital. “We need to reassess the nursing profession.”
The protesting workers were expressing disappointment with the government’s broader health care policy, which has involved budget cuts and staff shortages, and their actions during the pandemic, representatives said.
Belgium, with a population of 11.5 million, has had more than 55,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and over 9,000 deaths, making it one of the worst per capita death rates in Europe. Those figures include suspected cases and cases in care homes, which is not the case in some other countries.
“There is fatigue and a lot of anxiety,” Philippe Leroy, the hospital’s head, said of medical workers, though he said that the prime minister’s visit was appreciated. “I think they needed to express a lot of things.”
Japan’s economy is the largest to officially enter a recession.
The country — whose economy is the world’s third-largest after that of the United States and China — shrank by an annualized rate of 3.4 percent in the first three months of the year, Japan’s government said on Monday.
That makes it the largest economy to officially enter a recession, often defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth. Other major economies around the world are set to follow as efforts to contain the outbreak ripple around the globe.
Businesses had already been staggering before the coronavirus hit.
Consumer spending dropped after the Japanese government in October increased a tax on consumption to 10 percent from 8 percent, a move that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration said would help pay down the national debt — the highest among developed nations — and fund the growing demand for social services as the country’s workers age.
On the health front, the efforts seem to have paid off. The total number of deaths attributed to the outbreak was 756 as of Monday, far lower than in other major developed nations. But each of those decisions has had a profound economic impact.
Dispatches from Wuhan: The lockdown ended, but fear, grief and hope endure.
Spring in Wuhan, China, is the start of crawfish season. Crawfish braised, crawfish fried, crawfish coated with chilies — and always devoured with family and friends.
But Hazel He doesn’t plan to have another feast like that until at least next year.
“Anywhere where there are crowds, there is still some degree of risk,” Ms. He, 33, said.
Avoiding risk shapes everything Ms. He does these days. Though residents are allowed to move around the city again, she still chats with her friends by video. Before going outside with her 6-year-old son, she peers out her window to make sure no one is around. She recently let him play on the swings near their apartment again, but they don’t leave the neighborhood.
The anxiety is not nearly as overwhelming as it had been in the early days of the outbreak, when Ms. He would cry while watching the news and her son would ask her what was wrong.
But, like others in Wuhan, she is still approaching normalcy tentatively, understanding how fragile the victory is. Last week, six new coronavirus cases were reported there, after more than a month of no new reported infections.
“Wuhan has sacrificed so much,” she said. “Taking care of ourselves is our responsibility to everyone else.”
Ms. He is unsure when her company will resume the face-to-face meetings that are core to her job as a recruiter, but she reminds herself that her mortgage is manageable. She will have to wait until at least July to register her son for elementary school. But for now she is content to practice arithmetic with him at home.
“It’s as if we were running a race, and I’m currently 50 meters behind,” she said. “But as long as I catch up later, it’s the same.”
In the absence of stadium fans, a South Korean soccer team used sex dolls.
As a handful of the world’s sports leagues come back to life, they have searched for ways to maintain the feeling of crowded stadiums, even in places devoid of spectators.
On social media, some noted the telltale signs, like the business logos for sex toy marketers on the dolls’ clothing and their physiques. Of the roughly two dozen dolls in the stands, nearly all were women.
“We had tried to add some fun in the no-spectator match,” the club said in a statement. “But we have not checked all the details, and that is clearly our fault.”
The incident was a blemish for the K League, the top professional soccer league in South Korea. After a weekslong delay, it resumed play on May 8, as the country has waged a successful fight against the coronavirus.
It won global attention as one of the first major soccer leagues to retake the field. A dozen broadcasters abroad have bought rights for the season, eager to show games to fans starved for sports.
On Monday, though, the spotlight was an uneasy one. The Instagram page of F.C. Seoul was filled with messages from fans outraged that the club had not noticed that the mannequins were “so obviously” sex dolls. Some derided the team’s management as clueless and lamented the global humiliation that ensued.
One way to thin out public transit: pop-up parking lots.
Governments across the globe are in an unusual position of discouraging people from using public transit, an urban staple that has long been considered an essential tool in fighting congestion and climate change but is now a risk in the spread of the coronavirus.
Scenes of commuters packed elbow-to-elbow are now a major public health risk, as one cough or sneeze could expose dozens to infectious respiratory droplets. But governments have also acknowledged that many people, including medical workers, have no viable alternatives.
Officials have asked passengers to stay away if possible, leaving room for those who need it to safely practice social distancing, even if that means drying up some of the revenue that keeps the systems running.
In Australia, Sydney’s central business district will add bike lanes and pop-up parking lots to deal with an increase in automobile traffic. And in, London the subway’s capacity will be capped at around 13 to 15 percent so that passengers can stay six feet apart. Some may be asked to wait to enter a station until it empties out.
“If you can, please walk or cycle for all or part of your journey, including to complete your journey if traveling into central London,” Vernon Everitt, a managing director for the city’s transit network, said in an email to passengers on Sunday.
Pressed for an inquiry into the virus’s origin, China floats its own theories.
Fighting foreign pressure to account for the initial spread of the coronavirus, the Chinese Communist Party deflected in one of its leading journals, saying in effect that the virus could have come from anywhere.
The article, published in the party’s magazine Qiushi over the weekend, is China’s latest effort to push back against demands on multiple fronts for a fuller accounting of where the virus came from and especially how it spread from Wuhan.
Last week, Xinhua, China’s main state-run news agency, issued a long question-and-answer article disputing that the virus had leaked from a lab in that city and that China had failed to act quickly to stop its spread.
Such calls are discomfiting for the Chinese government, which has been eager to set aside evidence that officials played down the outbreak and restricted reporting, delaying a response from the central government.
The Qiushi article argues that questions of the coronavirus’s origins are best left to scientists free of political interference. But it uses highly tendentious descriptions of the research to suggest that the coronavirus may not have first spread from China.
U.S. roundup: Governors wrestle with reopening.
“This is really the most crucial time, and the most dangerous time,” Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio, a Republican, said Sunday on the CNN program “State of the Union.”
Pressure is building for officials to revive commerce and chart a path for states to edge toward a semblance of normalcy, and some are discussing plans for starting school in the fall.
On Friday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, a Democrat, filed an emergency rule allowing for the owners of restaurants, bars and other establishments that open prematurely to be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a punishment of up to a year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine.
Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, a Democrat, said on CNN that he understood the stress and anxiety that the pandemic and associated restrictions are causing. “The question is,” he added, “how do you toggle back and make meaningful modifications to the stay-at-home order?”
In New York, state and city officials are calling on many more residents to get tested to help the state reopen. To underscore this point, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York was tested during his live news briefing on Sunday. He also announced a new website that would help New Yorkers identify testing sites near where they live.
And President Trump continued to express eagerness to see a resumption of some activities. In phone comments during a golf broadcast on Sunday, he said he missed sports and wanted “big, big stadiums loaded with people.”
Reporting was contributed by Denise Grady, Pam Belluck, Mihir Zaveri, Karen Zraick, Christopher Buckley, Ben Dooley, Melissa Eddy, Sheera Frenkel, Sandra E. Garcia, Abby Goodnough, Javier C. Hernandez, Makiko Inoue, Mike Isaac, Cecilia Kang, Raphael Minder, Steven Lee Myers, Sharon Otterman, Elisabetta Povoledo, Monika Pronczuk, Choe Sang-Hun, Eric Schmitt, Megan Specia, Daniel Victor and Neil Vigdor.
View original article here Source