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U.K. announces a quarantine of all international air travelers.
Britain will quarantine everyone flying into the country, including citizens, for 14 days beginning June 8 to fight the spread of the coronavirus, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced on Friday.
On arrival at an airport, travelers will have to provide contact details and an address where they will be staying, Ms. Patel said. She said that those who flout the self-solation rules would be fined 1,000 pounds, or about $1,200, and that the government could increase the penalty.
She said that some workers would be exempt but did not go into detail. Previous news reports said truckers and freight workers, along with citizens of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, would be exempt, but not arrivals from France. The BBC reported that those going into isolation would be encouraged to download the N.H.S. Covid-19 app.
The chief executive of the budget airline Ryanair, Michael O’Leary, had described the new quarantine plan as “hopelessly defective,” “idiotic” and “unimplementable.” Airlines UK has said the measure “would effectively kill” Britain’s international travel.
The move has support from opposition lawmakers. Jonathan Ashworth, the opposition Labour Party’s shadow health secretary, told Sky earlier on Friday that “many people had asked why we did not do this sooner,” adding, “Not taking all the measures that we should be taking is the idiotic position.”
A vaccine developed in China shows promise.
An early-stage trial of a coronavirus vaccine, published in The Lancet, was conducted by researchers at several laboratories and included 108 participants. Subjects who got the vaccine mounted a moderate immune response to the virus, which peaked 28 days after the inoculation, the researchers found.
A vaccine is considered to be the best long-term solution to ending the pandemic and helping countries reopen. Nearly 100 teams worldwide are racing to test various candidates.
Human trials have already started for several manufacturers, including Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech and the Chinese company CanSino. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said on Thursday it would provide “up to $1.2 billion” to the drug company AstraZeneca to develop a potential vaccine from a laboratory at Oxford University.
On Monday, the drug company Moderna, which has its headquarters in Cambridge, Mass., announced that its RNA vaccine appeared to be safe and effective, though that was based on results from just eight people in its trial. On Wednesday, researchers in Boston said a prototype vaccine protected monkeys from coronavirus infection.
The vaccine reported today was created with an adenovirus called Ad5 that easily enters human cells. However, many people already have been exposed to Ad5, so there is concern that antibodies to it will be too common to allow the vaccine to work widely.
Apart from pain at the injection site, close to half of the participants also reported fever, fatigue and headaches, and about one in five had muscle pain. The participants knew whether they were receiving a low, medium or high dose, which may have influenced their perceptions of the side effects.
Listen to how the pandemic has hushed great cities.
As the pandemic brought much of the crush of daily life to a halt, microphones listening to cities around the world have captured human-made environments suddenly stripped of human sounds.
Parks and plazas across London are quieter than they were before the pandemic. Along Singapore’s Marina Bay, the sounds of human voices have faded. In suburban Nova Scotia, the noise of cars and airplanes no longer drowns out the rustle of leaves and wind.
In Manhattan, a comparison of audio clips from a busy corner a year ago and now, under the stay-home orders, found that the usual chaos of sounds — car horns, idle chatter and the rumble of subways passing frequently below — had been replaced by the low hum of wind and birds. Sound levels there fell by about five decibels, enough to make daytime sound more like a quiet night.
Whether you find this welcome or unnerving is another question.
“To me, it’s the sound of the city aching,” said Juan Pablo Bello, who leads a project at N.Y.U. studying the sounds of New York City. “It’s not a healthy sound in my mind.”
Researchers compared recordings from the plaza outside the Tate Modern museum in London, captured last May and last month. Similar recordings from the project in the Piazza San Marco in Venice showed a vibrant public space last year.
Falling immunizations raise fears that preventable diseases could claim more lives than Covid-19.
The widespread interruption of routine immunization programs around the world during the coronavirus pandemic is putting 80 million children under 1 year old at risk of contracting deadly, vaccine-preventable diseases, according to a report Friday by the World Health Organization, UNICEF and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
The groups surveyed 129 poor and middle-income countries and found that 68 had some degree of disruption of vaccine services through clinics and through large inoculation campaigns.
Many public health experts say they are worried that deaths from diseases including cholera, rotavirus and diphtheria could far outstrip those from Covid-19 itself.
But officials are now moving toward a cautious risk-benefit analysis. Noting that Covid-19 has flared inconsistently worldwide, varying not only from country to country but also within national borders, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a consortium of international organizations, is urging countries to evaluate their own situations closely and devise alternative, pandemic-safe vaccination strategies as soon as possible.
Separated by Plexiglas. A correspondent tells us of the new normal of nursing home visits in France.
Elian Peltier covered the coronavirus pandemic in Spain before returning to his home country, France. We asked him to tell us about a visit to his grandparents.
When France went under lockdown in March, my mother was relieved. Her parents were in a nursing home, and with travel restrictions suddenly in place, she and her sister could no longer drive the 80 miles south of Paris every weekend to visit them.
At least in the home, my grandparents would get the care they needed.
Then the virus slipped inside nursing homes, and relief turned to alarm. Had a move to protect my grandparents instead condemned them?
So began a long vigil of daily calls, weekly video chats and customized postcards created online.
When I told my grandfather about reporting in Spain, I omitted mention of the bodies taken out of apartment buildings in Barcelona and of health care workers in hazmat suits disinfecting nursing homes in isolated villages. It felt better to update him on the uncertain fate of European soccer leagues, and to reminisce about our penalty-kick practices in his garden in Beaugency, where I spent my summers as a child.
The coronavirus has killed about 14,000 residents of France’s nursing homes — half of the country’s death toll. We are lucky that, so far, none of those deaths occurred at my grandparents’ home, where the caregivers were vigilant about social distancing.
As France began easing its lockdown last week, we were finally able to visit, or rather sit outside the home, as my grandparents sat inside, a few feet away. To allow us to hear each other, the staff opened the door, but placed a table with a Plexiglas partition in the doorway.
We could see my grandparents only one at a time, since they are in different parts of the home that can no longer socially mix. My grandfather, a former stone mason, misses many things that we cannot yet deliver, like shorts, because of the home’s strict rules. It is my grandmother’s company he misses most.
My grandmother, once a wonderful cook known for her poulet basquaise and cherry cakes, has Alzheimer’s. When she struggled to recognize me, I broke the rules and took down my mask for a second. A nurse gently caressed her hair as we spoke. My mother and I were a little envious that the nurse could do what we could not.
For now, I plan to finally read my grandfather’s journals of his military service in Chad when he was around my age. He gave them to me at Christmas; I thought I had plenty of time to read them. That was before he had a stroke, and before the pandemic created a new normal.
A teenage girl crossed India on a $20 bike to get her father safely home amid the crisis.
When India imposed a national lockdown on March 25, thousands upon thousands of migrant laborers, bereft of work, began long, treacherous journeys from India’s cities, often on foot.
But Mohan Paswan, a rickshaw driver from a lower rung of India’s caste system, had been injured in a traffic accident in January and could barely walk. He and his 15-year-old daughter, Jyoti Kumari, had no transport and nearly no money as they looked to make their way home from New Delhi village, halfway across India.
Their saving grace was a $20 purple bike bought with the last of their savings. Starting on May 8, Jyoti pedaled for 700 miles with her father on the back, delivering them both safely home last weekend.
Many days they had little food. They slept at gas stations. They lived off the generosity of strangers. The biking wasn’t easy. Her father is big, and he was carrying a bag. Sometimes people teased them, upsetting him.
The nation’s press has seized upon the feel-good story of Jyoti the “lionhearted.”
On Thursday, the Cycling Federation of India, which scouts young talent and sends the best to international competitions, including the Olympics, tracked Jyoti down through a journalist and invited her to New Delhi for a tryout with the national team.
Reached by phone on Friday in her village of Sirhulli, in Bihar, one of India’s poorest states, Jyoti said in a scratchy, exhausted voice: “I’m elated, I really want to go.”
As virus spreads in Russia’s Caucasus, rumors swirl over a strongman’s health.
The strongman leader of Chechnya, a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin, is hospitalized with possible symptoms of the coronavirus, state-run news agencies say. A spokesman suggests he is just keeping a low profile because he is “thinking.”
Uncertainty over the health of the leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, has broad implications, coming just as the virus is shaking the volatile and predominantly Muslim Caucasus region of southern Russia.
Even Chechnya’s very status as part of Russia — at issue in two wars in the post-Soviet era — revolves in no small part on the close ties between Mr. Kadyrov and Mr. Putin.
Official numbers are still low — Chechnya has reported 1,046 cases of the virus and 11 deaths — but signs are emerging daily that the toll across the Caucasus is far greater, and growing.
The pandemic appears to be hitting the neighboring republic of Dagestan harder. Mr. Putin held an unusual televised video conference with Dagestani leaders this week, warning that traditional festivities marking the end of Ramadan this weekend posed a threat.
A top cleric, Mufti Akhmad Abdulayev, told Mr. Putin on the call that more than 700 people had died there, including 50 medical workers.
The virus’s ‘different pathway’ in Africa may be a function of the continent’s younger population.
The coronavirus is taking a “different pathway” in Africa compared with its trajectory in other regions, the World Health Organization said on Friday.
Mortality rates are lower in Africa than elsewhere, the W.H.O. said, theorizing that the lower death toll could be because of its young population.
The virus has reached all 55 countries on the continent, which recently confirmed its 100,000th case, with 3,100 deaths. When Europe reached the same grim milestone, it had registered 4,900 deaths.
“For now, Covid-19 has made a soft landfall in Africa, and the continent has been spared the high numbers of deaths which have devastated other regions of the world,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the organization’s regional director for Africa.
More than 60 percent of people in Africa are under 25, and Covid-19 hits older populations particularly hard. In Europe, around 95 percent of virus deaths have been among those 60 and older.
Many health experts have cast doubt on the W.H.O.’s numbers, however, saying that most African countries’ testing capability is extremely limited — partly because they struggle to obtain the diagnostic equipment they need — and that deaths as a result of Covid-19 are undercounted.
In some places, they say, low official numbers for cases and deaths mask a much graver reality.
In Kano, a busy commercial hub in northern Nigeria, the official number of confirmed cases is low, but so is the number of samples it can test. Gravediggers report that they are burying many more bodies than usual, and doctors say the deaths are almost certainly caused by Covid-19, but few of them are tested before burial.
“Most of the people who are dying are in their 60s and above, and most of them have other conditions,” such as hypertension or diabetes, said Prof. Yusuf Adamu, a medical geographer in Kano. He said that many residents seemed to have mild symptoms, but often avoided testing.
“People don’t want to be associated with this Covid-19,” he added. “Most of the symptoms are similar to those of malaria and typhoid fever, and when people have such symptoms, they will simply feel they have malaria or typhoid fever”
A host of prominent people across the continent have tested positive for the virus, many of them over 60.
Ten government ministers in South Sudan have just tested positive, making it the African country with the largest number of infected cabinet members. The first vice president, Riek Machar and the defense minister Angelina Teny, who is married to Mr. Machar, went into quarantine after testing positive several days ago.
In Burkina Faso, five government ministers and two ambassadors — including the American ambassador, Andrew Young — contracted the virus in March.
At a political congress, China aims to show it won’t be cowed by protests or the pandemic.
Other key goals of the National People’s Congress in Beijing include pushing back against growing international criticism over China’s early missteps in Wuhan, and outlining plans to ramp up government spending.
Yet President Xi Jinping’s government faces a new outbreak in Jilin, a northeastern province of 27 million people that sits near China’s borders with Russia and North Korea. Jilin has been put under a Wuhan-style lockdown as it has reported an outbreak that is still small — about 130 cases and two deaths — but has the potential to become a “big explosion,” experts say.
The Eid al-Fitr holiday poses challenges for officials across the Muslim world.
Every morning before dawn for the past few weeks, Yasser al-Samak, a Bahraini man, has roamed the streets in his village outside Manama, the capital, waking his neighbors for the predawn suhoor meal that observant Muslims eat during the holy month of Ramadan before their daylong fast.
“Stay home with your family, and blend your suhoor with hope, because those who rely on God, he will protect them,” he sings, according to Agence France-Presse. “Make yourself strong with prayer and wear the mask as a shield against the pandemic.”
In villages and cities around the Middle East, some “Ramadan drummers” still keep alive a tradition that in recent years has given way to alarm clocks and smartphone alerts. But under the coronavirus cloud, almost everything else about Ramadan — and the usually joyful holiday that marks its end, Eid al-Fitr, which begins this weekend — has been new, and not in a good way.
As a nod to the holy month, and in part because Covid-19 caseloads seemed to be lightening, several Arab countries slightly relaxed restrictions on gathering and commerce — only to clamp down again as cases suddenly mounted.
The Eid holiday will pose a sharp challenge to the authorities: Instead of taking part in communal prayer, feasts and parties, many people in the Middle East and across the Muslim world will be more confined than they have been in weeks.
Saudi Arabia has announced a 24-hour curfew from Saturday through Wednesday, covering the entire holiday period. Omani authorities have banned all Eid gatherings, saying that residents have still been meeting in groups in defiance of social-distancing orders. Qatar has suspended all but a few business activities during Eid. The United Arab Emirates is shifting its nightly curfew earlier.
Egypt, which never shut down its economy to the extent that other countries in the region did, is also tightening up for Eid. The national curfew will be moved up four hours to 5 p.m.; restaurants, cafes, beaches and parks will be closed.
As for prayers, the religious authorities in Egypt and Saudi Arabia have ruled that they should be performed at home.
Anti-malaria drugs may be harmful when taken to treat the coronavirus, a new study suggested.
The malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine did not help coronavirus patients and may have done harm, according to a new study based on the records of nearly 15,000 patients who received the drugs and 81,000 who did not.
People who received the drugs were more likely to have abnormal heart rhythms, according to the study, which was published in the The Lancet.
But the study was observational, meaning that the patients were not picked at random to receive the drug or not. This type of study cannot provide definitive evidence about drug safety and effectiveness.
Even so, the authors of the study recommended that the drugs not be used outside clinical trials, and they said that carefully controlled trials were urgently needed.
A famed Italian family circus has been held in limbo by the coronavirus.
“We’re stuck,” said Daniela Vassallo, 52, as she walked the field and steered clear of Giulio, the escaped camel.
A former contortionist-turned-administrator, Ms. Vassallo is a member of a family that has worked in the circus for at least six generations and has owned this particular show for 29 years. The last period has been perhaps the least eventful, as she and her relatives and assorted circus performers have passed the months here hunkered down in trailers next to peppermint-striped tents.
In reality, the Rony Rollers aren’t trapped so much as unwilling to go their separate ways. Like other dynasties in Italy’s vibrant, 60-circus strong big-top culture, the Vassallos own homes and property about an hour south in Latina, a town that is to circus people what Tampa, Fla., is to professional wrestlers.
At the end of Italy’s coronavirus lockdown, one of the camels broke free.
On a narrow field surrounded by low-rise apartments, bus stops and a tangled ribbon of highway ramps, the camel scampered past lions, which leapt against their cage. It distracted the acrobats practicing their flips on an aerial hoop and sauntered toward the languid, pregnant tiger, and stalls of horses and African Watusi bulls.
An animal tamer, wearing a welding helmet as he attended to repairs, quickly chased down the camel.
While the easing of travel restrictions has left circus members free to leave with menagerie and tents since early this month, Ms. Vassallo said that Latina was packed with other circus acts and animals, and that her performers dreaded the solitude of home isolation. She said the troupe had agreed it was preferable to keep renting this land across from a cornfield and pass the lockdown training together.
“Better in the company,” she said was the consensus, “with my people.”
Tiny nation of Andorra sought medical aid from an unlikely source.
Andorra, a tiny nation wedged between France and Spain, is home to just 77,000 people and is best known for its ski resorts and building up its wealth as a tax haven. It also has just one hospital.
So when the coronavirus outbreak began ravaging Europe, public health officials in the small country knew they had to look to the outside world for help. As the outbreak spread, Andorra welcomed 39 Cuban doctors and nurses to support that hospital’s staff. As neighboring Spain soon became one of the nations with the highest number of cases in Europe, Andorra braced for an influx of patients.
Maria Ubach, Andorra’s foreign minister, said in a phone interview that she took the unlikely initiative of calling on Cuba for assistance.
“When you are in a crisis situation, you have to make decisions quickly, so we turned to Cuba because we now have closer contacts with the Latin American continent,” Ms. Ubach said. “We would normally look to our neighbors France and Spain, but they were also facing a critical situation.”
The Cubans arrived in Andorra in late March, but their mission did not start well. One of the doctors tested positive for Covid-19 upon arrival, forcing the whole team into a week long quarantine.
But since then, the Cubans have made an important contribution in Andorra, which as of Friday, had an official coronavirus death toll of 51. While the number is small, it is proportionally among the highest in Europe given its small population.
The 12 doctors and 27 nurses integrated well with local medical staff members and helped share their workload, the minister said.
Cuba has dispatched doctors and nurses to a dozen countries in the crisis, including Italy at the start of the outbreak and several Central American and Caribbean nations.
The U.S. State Department has denounced Cuba’s medical missions, warning of labor exploitation by the state. But Ms. Ubach said the Cuban mission had been such a success that Andorra was considering extending the contract beyond May 31. She did not give financial details for the Cuban contract, but said that part of its cost had been covered by Alexis Sirkia, a wealthy resident of Andorra.
U.S. roundup: Trump orders places of worship to reopen ‘right away.’
Marching into the White House briefing room for a hastily called announcement, Mr. Trump declared places of worship “essential” operations that should hold services in person this weekend regardless of state quarantine orders stemming from the coronavirus pandemic that has killed nearly 96,000 people in the United States.
“The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important, essential places of faith to open right now for this weekend,” Mr. Trump said. “If they don’t do it, I will override the governors. In America, we need more prayer, not less.”
The White House could not explain what power the president actually has to override the governors, and legal experts said he did not have such authority, but he could take states to court on religious freedom grounds, which could be time consuming.
In other U.S. news:
Reporting contributed by Anton Troianovski, Peter Baker, Geneva Abdul, Emily Badger, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Keith Bradsher, Chris Buckley, Quoctrung Bui, Abdi Latif Dahir, Evan Easterling, James Gorman, Erin Griffith, Javier C. Hernández, Jan Hoffman, Jason Horowitz, Bella Huang, Mike Ives, Yonette Joseph, Isabella Kwai, Ruth Maclean, Apoorva Mandavilli, Cade Metz, Raphael Minder, Elian Peltier, Austin Ramzy, Megan Specia, Farah Stockman, Vivian Wang and Vivian Yee.
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