Global hydroxychloroquine trial begins

  • Healthcare workers have started taking part in a trial of two anti-malarial drugs to see if they can prevent COVID-19, including one US President Donald Trump says he has been taking.

  • The number of those infected with coronavirus in Africa has reached 95,201, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has reported.

  • More than five million people around the world have now been confirmed to have the coronavirus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. More than 328,000 people have died globally while some 1.9 million people have recovered.

  • The United States has recorded the most deaths at 93,439. It is followed by the United Kingdom with 35,786, Italy with 32,486, France with 28,135 and Spain with 27,888.
  • 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.

Here are all the latest updates:

Thursday, May 21

16:45 GMT – Deep partisan divide in areas hardest hit by COVID-19: Reuters

As the United States’s response to the coronavirus pandemic splits along partisan lines, a Reuters news agency analysis may help explain why: death rates in Democratic areas are triple those in Republican ones.

By Wednesday, US counties that voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election reported 39 coronavirus deaths per 100,000 residents, according to an analysis of demographic and public health data.

In counties that voted for Republican Donald Trump, 13 of every 100,000 people had died from the virus.

16:42 GMT – Bolivia’s health minister held for ‘ventilator corruption’

Bolivia’s health minister has been arrested on suspicion of corruption related to the overpriced purchase of ventilators to fight COVID-19 before being sacked by interim President Jeanine Anez.

Marcelo Navajas was detained by police in La Paz, a day after Anez ordered an investigation into the questionable purchase. Two other health ministry officials were also arrested.

Anez is facing her biggest corruption scandal in her six months in power and a fierce wave of criticism over her handling of the crisis.

16:38 GMT – Spain’s daily COVID-19 death toll at 48, excluding Catalonia

Spain’s daily death toll from the coronavirus has fallen below 50 for the first time since a lockdown was imposed in mid-March, but the figure excludes deaths in the northeastern region of Catalonia.

Cumulative deaths climbed by 48 to 27,940, while the number of confirmed cases edged up to 233,037, the health ministry said.

Catalan authorities did not update their daily figures due to data-validation problems, the ministry said in a statement, without elaborating on the nature of the problems.

16:06 GMT – Pandemic accelerates deforestation in tropical countries: WWF

The destruction of tropical forests has accelerated rapidly during the pandemic, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has said.

“Everything indicates that the explosive deforestation has to do with a coronavirus effect,” said Christoph Heinrich from the WWF’s Germany office.

“In many countries, the state has withdrawn from forest protection during the lockdown, which favours illegal logging and the looting of other resources,” he added.

16:01 GMT – Italy’s daily coronavirus death toll and new cases broadly stable

Italy has recorded 156 new deaths from the epidemic, against 161 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the daily tally of new cases also declined slightly to 642 from 665 on Wednesday.

The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on February 21 now stands at 32,486, the agency said, the third highest in the world after those of the United States and Britain.

People registered as currently carrying the illness fell to 60,960 from 62,752 on Wednesday.

15:29 GMT – Democrats call for flags at half staff when virus toll hits 100,000

Top Democrats have urged President Donald Trump to order flags flown at half staff when the US coronavirus death toll reaches 100,000, saying the salute would reflect a “national expression of grief.”

“Our hearts are broken over this great loss” from the pandemic, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer wrote in a letter to the president.

This weekend’s observation of Memorial Day, which honors those who died serving in the US military, coincides with the country likely reaching the grim milestone of 100,000 COVID-19 fatalities.

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