Countries ease coronavirus regulations to reverse coronavirus pandemic impact on economies

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Workers dressed in protective clothing and masks walk with sterilisation gear due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic past jewellers' shops at the Dubai Gold Souk. (File/AFP)
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Updated 27 May 2020

Countries ease coronavirus regulations to reverse coronavirus pandemic impact on economies

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia announced it was easing the 24-hour lockdown brought into force during Eid – except in Makkah.

The initial timings will be from 3 p.m. until 6 a.m., but May 31, the curfew will run from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. The Kingdom plans to remove all curfews by June 21.

Meanwhile, Dubai will allow free movement and business activity to restart during the day from Wednesday. The new timing of the curfew will be from 11.00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m., the Dubai Media Office said in a press release.

May 26, 2020, Tuesday (All times in GMT)

17:06 - France’s cumulative death toll from coronavirus infection rose by 73 or 0.3% to 28,530, a similar rate of increase as the day before despite health authorities having resumed taking into account nursing home data after a four-day interruption.
The health ministry said the number of fatalities was up 83 in hospitals, to 18,195. But the death toll in nursing homes has been revised to 10,335, 10 fewer than the last time it was published. 

16:16 - Canada's total coronavirus cases rose to 85,998 from 85,103 on May 25; with 6,566 deaths, up from 6,453, according to Public Health Agency data.

16:02 - Deaths toll in Italy climbed by 78, against 92 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the daily tally of new cases increased to 397 from 300 on Monday.
The total death toll now stands at 32,955 and the number of confirmed cases amounts to 230,555.

15:36 - New York's statewide coronavirus deaths increased by 73 on May 25, vs. 96 deaths, and the total coronavirus hospitalizations declined further from 4,348 a day earlier, Governor Andrew Cuomo said. 

15:17 - Spain’s Health Ministry reported that a total of 27,117 people had died from the coronavirus since the beginning of the outbreak.
Confirmed cases of the virus reached 236,259, the ministry said.

14:00 - Italy's world-famous archaeological site Pompeii reopened to the public on Tuesday as the country's coronavirus lockdown lifted -- though guides outnumbered tourists at the ancient Roman city.

13:45 - The Spanish government is declaring a 10-day mourning period to pay tribute to nearly 27,000 confirmed deaths from the coronavirus

13:30 - Deutsche Bank chief executive Christian Sewing said on Tuesday that markets were too optimistic in their assessment of a recovery from the coronavirus crisis - a bold statement from one of Europe's top bankers as key stock indexes continue their climb from their lows in March.

13:20 - A vast fiscal fightback to the coronavirus crisis unleashed by eurozone governments could raise questions about capitals' ability to repay debts and revive the threat of countries exiting the single currency, the European Central Bank warned Tuesday.

13:15 - Saudi Arabia records 12 new deaths from the COVID-19 coronavirus, 1,931 new infections and 2,782 cases have recovered, according to the health ministry.

11:11 – Qatar has confirmed 1742 new coronavirus cases, increasing total number of infected cases to 47,207.

There were also two fatalities and 1,481 recoveries, bringing totals to 28 and 11,844.

10:18 – Oman has reported 348 new coronavirus cases, bringing the totak number of infected cases to 8,118.

10:03 – A global campaign to fund the development of vaccines and therapies against COVID-19 has so far raised $10.4 billion, the head of the European Commission said on Tuesday.

09:53 – Kuwait has confirmed 608 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infected people to 22,575.

09:38 – Indian states witnessing millions of migrant laborers returning from the big cities are recording rising coronavirus infections, officials said on Tuesday, fearing that the pandemic could spread through villages where medical care is basic at best.

09:31 – The UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention has confirmed 779 new coronavirus cases, increasing the total number of infected people to 31,086.

09:11 – Indonesia reported on Tuesday 415 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing the total number of infections to 23,165, its health ministry said.
Indonesia also confirmed 27 new deaths, bringing the total fatalities to 1,418, health ministry official Achmad Yurianto told reporters.
As of Tuesday, 188,302 people have been tested and 5,877 have recovered.

09:09 – Syria’s Health Ministry has confirmed 15 new coronavirus cases, increasing the total number of known cases in the country to 121.

09:08 –Malaysia reported 187 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 7,604.
The health ministry said no new deaths were recorded. The total number of coronavirus fatalities in Malaysia stands at 115. 

08:53 - Douglas Ross, a junior minister in the Scotland Office, resigned, saying the prime minister’s senior adviser’s explanation of why he traveled during the coronavirus lockdown was based on decisions “others felt were not available to them.”

08:39 – The Philippine health ministry on Tuesday reported 13 deaths and 350 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, the largest single-day increase in infections in seven weeks.
In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed cases have risen to 14,669 and deaths have reached 886. It said a total of 3,412 patients have recovered.

08:32 – Russia on Tuesday recorded its highest daily coronavirus death toll of 174 but said more than 12,000 people had also recovered over the past 24 hours.

08:20 – Bethlehem’s storied Church of the Nativity reopened to visitors on Tuesday, after a nearly three-month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

05:56 – The WHO suspended trials of the drug that Donald Trump has promoted as a coronavirus defence, fuelling concerns about the US president's handling of the pandemic that has killed nearly 100,000 Americans.
04:52 – South American carrier LATAM Airlines says it is seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as it grapples with the sharp downturn in air travel sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.
Santiago, Chile-based LATAM Airlines Group S.A. said Tuesday that it and its affiliated companies launched the reorganization effort in the United States.
04:49 – Singapore’s embattled economy could shrink by as much as 7 percent this year, which would be the county’s worst reading since its independence, with the government saying Tuesday the coronavirus pandemic had throttled the key export sector.
The city-state is seen as a bellwether of the global economy and the historic contraction highlights the extreme pain being wrought on countries by the killer disease.
04:44 – Thailand on Tuesday reported three new coronavirus cases and no new deaths, bringing its total to 3,045 confirmed cases and 57 fatalities.

US contractor told Lebanese port official of chemicals risk

Updated 32 min 44 sec ago

US contractor told Lebanese port official of chemicals risk

WASHINGTON: About four years before the Beirut port explosion that killed dozens of people and injured thousands, a US government contractor expressed concern to a Lebanese port official about unsafe storage there of the volatile chemicals that fueled last week’s devastating blast, American officials said Tuesday.
There is no indication the contractor communicated his concerns to anyone in the US government.
His assessment was noted briefly in a four-page State Department cable first reported by The New York Times.
The cable, labeled sensitive but unclassified, dealt largely with the Lebanese responses to the blast and the origins and disposition of the ammonium nitrate, which ignited to create an enormous explosion. But it also noted that after the Aug. 4 explosion, a person who had advised the Lebanese navy under a US Army contract from 2013 to 2016 told the State Department that he had “conducted a port facility inspection on security measures during which he reported to port officials on the unsafe storage of ammonium nitrate.”
Concerns about the ammonium nitrate were known within the Lebanese government before the deadly blast, officials said.
The contractor, who was not identified by name and is now a State Department employee based in Ukraine, was in Lebanon to provide instruction to members of the Lebanese navy. While there, he made a brief, impromptu inspection of physical security at the facility in 2015 or 2016 at the request of a port official, US officials said. The contractor was not identified.
The contractor, who has a background in port and maritime security, noted weaknesses in security camera coverage and other aspects of port management but was not assessing safety issues, according to the US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of a planned public statement.
While inside the warehouse where ammonium nitrate was stored, the contractor saw problems such as poor ventilation and inadequate physical security, which he noted to the port official accompanying him, the officials said. It is unclear whether the port official reported this concern to his superiors.
The thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate had been stored in the warehouse for more than six years, apparently with the knowledge of top political and security officials. The catastrophic explosion one week ago Tuesday killed at least 171 peoples and plunged Lebanon into a deeper political crisis.
The contractor was working for the US Army’s Security Assistance Training Management Organization, headquartered at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He provided instruction to members of the Lebanese armed forces in naval vessel traffic systems and small boat operations. His class was visiting the Beirut port as part of that instruction program when the port official asked him for the inspection, which US officials said lasted about 45 minutes.
The United States has a close security relationship with Lebanon. According to the State Department, the US government has provided Lebanon with more than $1.7 billion in security assistance since 2006. The assistance is designed to support the Lebanese armed forces’ ability to secure the country’s borders, counter internal threats, and defend national territory.
Last September a US Navy ship, the guided-missile destroyer USS Ramage, visited Beirut. It was the first time in 36 years an American warship had made a port visit there, according to the US military at the time.