(Reuters). – * The number of deaths in the United States from the new coronavirus was heading towards the 100,000 mark.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Saturday that the toll had risen 1,852 to reach 96,002. It also reported 1,595,885 cases, an increase of 24,268 from its previous count.
* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson backed his senior adviser Dominic Cummings on Sunday, despite calls from within his own Conservative Party for the aide to resign for traveling 250 miles during the coronavirus lockdown. Cummings, who masterminded the 2016 campaign to leave the European Union, came under pressure after it emerged that he had traveled from London to Durham in late March when Britain was under a strict lockdown to combat the coronavirus outbreak.
* Americans flocked to beaches and outdoor areas on Saturday, snarling roadways and forcing some closures on the Memorial Day weekend after weeks in lockdown.
In Destin, Florida, The Back Porch restaurant was full. In Arizona, holidaymakers flooded Interstate-17, causing a 15-mile backup on the highway used to reach some of the desert’s most beautiful canyons.
President Donald Trump played golf at his Trump National club in northern Virginia.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* More than 5.27 million people were reported to have been infected globally with the virus and 339,267 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
* Russia on Sunday reported 153 coronavirus deaths over the previous 24 hours, the epidemic’s highest daily toll there, raising total fatalities to 3,541, its coronavirus crisis response center said. It also said 8,599 new cases had been documented, fewer than on the previous day, pushing the nationwide tally of infections to 344,481.
* The University of Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine trial has only a 50% chance of success as the coronavirus seems to be fading rapidly in Britain, the professor co-leading the development of the vaccine told the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
Adrian Hill, director of Oxford’s Jenner Institute, which has teamed up with drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc to develop the vaccine, said that an upcoming trial involving 10,000 volunteers threatened to return “no result” due to low transmission of COVID-19 in the community.
* First indications of the effectiveness of a potential vaccine against coronavirus may be available in the autumn, the head of the GAVI vaccine alliance told a Swiss newspaper, forecasting a long road from there to broad availability.
* Spain will reopen its borders to tourists in July and its top soccer division will kick off again in June, the prime minister said, marking another phase in the easing of one of the world’s strictest lockdowns. Pedro Sanchez’s announcements coincided with calls for his resignation over the lockdown’s impact on the economy from the far-right Vox party, which called protests in cities across Spain drawing thousands of horn-blaring cars and motorbikes.
* The public returned to St Peter’s Square on Sunday to receive Pope Francis’s blessing from his window for the first time in nearly three months. The few dozen people kept to social distancing rules and most wore masks.
* Police arrested about 60 protesters on Saturday as part of city-wide demonstrations against restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, German newspaper Tagesspiegel reported.
The protesters had violated official guidelines to keep the virus contained, and some had attacked police officials, the newspaper said.
* Americans flocked to beaches and outdoor areas on Saturday, snarling roadways and forcing some closures on the Memorial Day weekend after weeks in lockdown. President Donald Trump played golf at his Trump National club in northern Virginia.
* Mexican health authorities registered 3,329 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 190 new deaths, a health official said on Saturday, bringing the total number to 65,856 cases and 7,179 deaths.
* Argentina extended until June 7 a mandatory lockdown in Buenos Aires on Saturday and tightened some movement restrictions, after a steady increase in the city’s confirmed coronavirus cases in recent days.
* Three large Indian states have sought to delay the planned opening of their airports on Monday as new cases of the novel coronavirus jumped, complicating the federal government’s plan to resume flights after a two-month lockdown.
India registered 6,767 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Sunday, its biggest 24-hour rise yet, taking the total to over 131,000.
* The Philippines’ tally of coronavirus cases surpassed 14,000 on Sunday and the number of fatalities rose to 868, the health ministry said.
* China recorded no new confirmed COVID-19 cases on the mainland for May 22, the first time it had seen no daily rise in the number of cases since the pandemic began in the central city of Wuhan late last year.
* Coronavirus cases in Singapore topped 30,000 as the city-state reported hundreds of new infections in cramped migrant worker dormitories every day. In Malaysia, a new cluster of coronavirus infections has broken out a detention center for undocumented migrants, authorities said.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Finance minister Mohammed al Jadaan said Saudi Arabia’s economy is solid and has the ability to deal with the coronavirus crisis despite the need to cut spending.
* Underground production at AngloGold Ashanti’s Mponeng mine in South Africa will remain shut down until further notice after 53 employees tested positive for the coronavirus, the provincial health department said.
* A 107-year-old Iranian woman who was infected with the new coronavirus has recovered, Iran’s Fars news agency reported.
* Zambia’s information minister Dora Siliya said she had tested positive for the coronavirus but was asymptomatic and had gone into self-isolation.
“Even after taking all precautions…yesterday I did test positive for COVID-19,” she said on social media.
* Chinese lenders could post flat or even falling profits in 2020 despite earnings growth in the first quarter as the coronavirus outbreak brings difficulties to the economy, the central bank said. For the first quarter of 2020, China’s commercial banks realized net profits of 600.1 billion yuan ($84.2 billion), up 5% year-on-year, mainly due to the expansion of banks’ assets and lower management costs, according to an article by the research bureau of the People’s Bank of China.
The possibility could not be ruled out that banks could log zero or even negative profit growth within 2020, due to mounting bad loans and a fast-draining of cash buffers, as the difficulties in the real economy spills over into the financial area, the PBOC said.
* France’s state debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio is set to increase to more than 115% by the end of the year due to the cost of coronavirus crisis measures, Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin said.
* Car rental firm Hertz Global Holdings Inc HTZ.N filed for bankruptcy protection after its business was decimated during the coronavirus pandemic and talks with creditors failed to result in much needed relief. The firm is reeling from government orders restricting travel and requiring citizens to remain home.
(Compiled by Angus MacSwan; Editing by John Stonestreet)