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WHO sounds warning on coronavirus ‘second peak’: Live updates

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

  • The World Health Organization has warned of the risks of an “immediate second peak” as countries ease up on lockdowns, urging governments in Europe and the US to step up surveillance, testing and tracking measures to keep the disease under control.  

  • Spain has revised its death toll downwards by nearly 2,000 people after checking data from the regions and discovering some deaths had been recorded twice while others had not been the result of the coronavirus. 

  • Public anger continues to simmer in the UK over Dominic Cummings, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief political adviser, who apparently flouted lockdown to drive from his home in London to his parents’ house in the north when he suspected he had coronavirus. Cummings adopted a conciliatory tone at an extraordinary news conference on Monday but did not apologise.  
  • More than 5.4 million cases of coronavirus have been confirmed around the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 345,000 people have died, while more than 2.2 million have recovered.

Here are the latest updates:

Tuesday, May 26

03:50 GMT – Australia borders won’t open “anytime soon”: PM Scott Morrison

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the country won’t open its borders “anytime soon” but the government was continuing to discuss a travel corridor with New Zealand. 

“I was speaking with Prime Minister (Jacinda) Ardern this morning and we’ll continue to have our discussions about the trans-Tasman safe travel zone,” Morrison told the National Press Club in Canberra.

03:15 GMT – Doctors group in Japan warn against masks for infants

Children under the age of two shouldn’t wear masks because they can make breathing difficult and increase the risk of choking, the Japan Pediatric Association has warned.

“Masks can make breathing difficult because infants have narrow air passages,” which increases the burden on their hearts, the association said, adding that masks also raise the risk of heat stroke.

“Let’s stop the use of masks for children under 2-years-old,” the association said in a notice on its website.

It added that there had been very few serious coronavirus cases among children and that most kids became infected from family members, with almost no outbreaks at schools or day care facilities. 

03:00 GMT – Mexico City registers more than 8,000 more deaths than usual 

Mexico’s capital registered 8,072 more deaths in the first five months this year than the average from the same period over the previous four years, an analysis by independent researchers showed on Monday, suggesting a possible surge in fatalities to the coronavirus pandemic.

Health officials have reported 1,655 deaths from the virus in Mexico City, out of 7,394 deaths nationwide. They have also acknowledged that the true death toll is higher, but difficult to estimate because of the low testing rate.

Read more on the study here.

Mexico

Mexico has been hard hit by the coronavirus [File: Gustavo Graf/Reuters] 

02:50 GMT – Hong Kong airport to open for transit passengers

Hong Kong International Airport will open for some transit services from June 1, chief executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday.

01:35 GMT – Saudi Arabia to loosen curfew from Thursday

Saudi Arabia will loosen its curfew for everywhere but Mecca from Thursday, according to the state news agency.

The curfew will be in force from 3pm (12:00 GMT) to 6am (03:00 GMT) local time.

From May 31 to June 20, it will also allow prayers in mosques with the exception of Mecca. The curfew and restrictions on prayer there will be relaxed from June 21, it said.  

More:

  • Travel restrictions, border shutdowns by country

  • What we know so far about coronavirus

  • How to make sense of the coronavirus numbers and charts 

01:25 GMT – South Koreans required to wear masks on public transport

South Koreans now have to wear masks whenever they use public transport or take taxis.

Health Ministry official Yoon Taeho says masks will also be required on all domestic and international flights from Wednesday.

South Korea was reporting 500 new cases every in early March before it largely stabilised its outbreak with aggressive tracking and testing. But infections have been rising slightly since early May, with more people going out during warmer weather and eased social distancing guidelines.

“Until treatments and vaccines are developed, we will never know when the COVID-19 crisis could end, and until then we will have to learn how to live with COVID-19,” Yoon said.

00:00 GMT – WHO warns of “second peak” where COVID-19 apparently in decline

The World Health Organization (WHO) is warning that countries in which coronavirus appears to be in retreat could still face an “immediate second peak” if they let up too soon on measures to halt the outbreak.

WHO emergencies head Dr Mike Ryan told an online briefing that, while cases were declining in many countries, they were still increasing in Central and South America, South Asia and Africa.

Ryan said there was a chance infection rates could rise again more quickly if measures to halt the first wave were lifted too soon.

“We need to be cognizant of the fact that the disease can jump up at any time,” he said. “We cannot make assumptions that just because the disease is on the way down now it is going to keep going down and we are get a number of months to get ready for a second wave. We may get a second peak in this wave.”

He said countries in Europe and North America should “continue to put in place the public health and social measures, the surveillance measures, the testing measures and a comprehensive strategy to ensure that we continue on a downwards trajectory and we don’t have an immediate second peak.”

Reopened shops in Europe eagerly await the return of tourism

Read the updates from yesterday (May 25) here.

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