Coronavirus: Latest on COVID-19 from around the world - Sunday, May 31

As New Zealand debates whether to ease restrictions further, the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating overseas.

More than 125,000 new infections were confirmed in just 24 hours over Friday/Saturday (NZ time), the biggest jump yet.

The confirmed death toll, creeping up about 5000 a day, is now at 369,000.

Here's the latest from around the world overnight. 


Pope Francis on Saturday urged politicians to divert funds spent on weapons to research to prevent another pandemic, as he led the largest gathering in the Vatican in nearly three months.

The European Union urged the United States to reconsider its decision to cut ties with the World Health Organization over its handling of the pandemic.

United Kingdom

Britain is at a very dangerous moment as it starts to ease some of its lockdown measures, England's deputy chief medical officer says, warning that people would need to follow the guidelines and not "tear the pants out of it".

Jonathan Van-Tam told the daily briefing on Saturday that people have got to be "sensible and proportionate with the freedom that we absolutely want to give to people because we need to see loved ones".

He said the public needed "to actually follow the guidance, don't tear the pants out of it and don't go further than the guidance actually says".

The United Kingdom death toll from people who have tested positive for COVID-19 has risen by 215 to 38,376, the government said on Saturday.

John Edmunds, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said the easing was risky.

"Track and trace was only launched the day before yesterday, so we can't be sure that that is working effectively yet and yet we're going ahead and making these changes anyway," he told Sky News. "I think that that is rather dangerous."

Living with the infection rate at its current level, he said, would lead to many more cases and more deaths. 

After a near three-month shutdown, all competitive sport in Britain can resume from June 1 behind closed doors provided strict conditions are met, the government said on Saturday.

The first major live event is expected to be the 2000 Guineas horse race at Newmarket on June 6.


Spain's coronavirus death toll rose by four on Saturday to 27,125, the Health Ministry said, reflecting a dramatic decline in daily fatalities in recent weeks as the country brings the outbreak under control.

The number of COVID-19 infections increased by 271 to 239,228. Spain was at one point one of the worst affected countries by the pandemic but it has now has started to ease lockdown restrictions.


Deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy climbed by 111 on Saturday, against 87 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the daily tally of new cases fell to 416 from 516 on Friday.

The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on February 21 now stands at 33,340 the agency said, the third highest in the world after those of the United States and Britain.


Austria's health ministry has given the green light for Formula 1 to kick-off its season with two races on July 5 and 12.

The races would be the delayed season-openers which would be held without spectators in line with plans aimed at halting the spread of COVID-19.


A nephew of Belgium's King Philippe, Prince Joachim, has tested positive for coronavirus after attending a party in Spain, which Spanish media said broke lockdown rules because of the number of people there.

Relatives wearing medical mouthguards pray in a cemetery as morgue workers wearing protective suits and face masks cover the grave of a person who died of COVID-19.
Relatives wearing medical mouthguards pray in a cemetery as morgue workers wearing protective suits and face masks cover the grave of a person who died of COVID-19. Photo credit: Getty


The coronavirus is sweeping through some of the mountain villages of Russia's far-flung Dagestan region and they are struggling to treat patients properly, protect medics or even count the dead, five local officials said.


Parisians flocked to parks and gardens as they reopened in the sunny French capital on Saturday for the first time after almost 11 weeks of coronavirus lockdown, one of the last areas of France to ease restrictions.



A Chinese-made coronavirus vaccine could be ready for market as early as the end of this year, China's State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission said in a social media post.


India has reported a record daily jump of 7964 new COVID-19 infections, with a recent surge in cases as lockdown restrictions start to be relaxed raising the possibility that Prime Minister Narendra Modi could extend curbs beyond May 31.

"Our country [is] besieged with problems amidst a vast population and limited resources," Modi said, adding that labourers and migrant workers had "undergone tremendous suffering" due to restrictions.

India has recorded 173,763 COVID-19 cases and 4971 deaths, making it the ninth most-affected country globally.


United States

New York City is "on track" to enter phase one of reopening on June 8, New York Governor Cuomo said as he announced that five upstate regions will now transition to phase two which includes businesses like barber shops and hair salons.


Coronavirus deaths in Brazil reached 27,878, the Health Ministry said on Friday, surpassing Spain to become the fifth ranking nation in the number of dead.

Middle East and Africa


Government employees went back to work in Iran and President Hassan Rouhani said mosques would resume daily prayers across the country, even though some areas are seeing high levels of coronavirus infections.


The Minister of Health for Yemen's Houthi Rebels on Saturday denied that authorities have failed to report the actual number of coronavirus cases.

Dr Taha al-Mutwakil said the government had been transparent about the number of confirmed cases. The rebels have officially reported just four cases, including one fatality, raising questions about reports of an unaccounted-for surge in deaths there.

Reuters / APTN / Newshub.