Coronavirus: What's happening around the world June 4

An international summit raised billions of dollars to immunize children in developing countries as experts wrestled with the question of how any potential vaccine against the coronavirus might be distributed globally — and fairly. Read on for a look at what's happening around the world Thursday.

More than 6.5 million people have been infected globally, more than 387,000 deaths recorded

Dealers in masks wait for customers before the reopening of the D Las Vegas Hotel and Casino on Wednesday. Casinos were allowed to reopen Thursday after temporary closures as a precaution against the coronavirus. (John Locher/The Associated Press)

The latest:

A vaccine summit hosted by the British government on Thursday raised billions of dollars to immunize children in developing countries against a variety of diseases as experts wrestled with the difficult question of how any potential vaccine against the novel coronavirus might be distributed globally — and fairly.

The United Nations and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement have urged that "a people's vaccine" be developed for COVID-19 that would be freely available to everyone, calling it a "moral imperative."

Thursday's event, which raised $8.8 billion US, exceeding its target, was a pledging conference for the vaccines alliance GAVI, which says the funds will be used to vaccinate about 300 million children in dozens of countries against diseases such as malaria and human papillomavirus.

GAVI also announced a new "advance market commitment" mechanism to enable developing countries to get any effective COVID-19 vaccine when available. It hopes to raise an additional $2 billion US for that effort, to immunize health-care workers as well as high-risk individuals and create a buffer of doses to be used where needed most.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he hoped Thursday's online gathering — drawing the leaders of some 50 countries, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — would mark "the moment when the world comes together to unite humanity in the fight against disease."

Difficult discussions

But experts pointed out that the unprecedented pandemic, where arguably every country will be clamouring for a vaccine, may make efforts at fair distribution extremely messy.

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"Rich countries will most likely try to push their way to the front of the queue, leaving poorer countries at the back, and that's a problem," said Jimmy Whitworth, a professor of international public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.Dozen vaccine candidates in early testing stages

"I can't imagine any country saying, 'Africa's need is greater than ours, so they can get the vaccine first, and we'll remain vulnerable.'''

About a dozen vaccine candidates are in early stages of testing in thousands of people around the world. There are no guarantees any will work, but there is increasing hope that at least some could be ready by the end of the year. Oxford University is beginning an advanced study involving 10,000 volunteers, while the U.S. is preparing for even larger studies in July that involve 30,000 people each testing different candidates, including Oxford's and one made by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc.

While Oxford scientists say they are committed to making their shot available to all who need it at a fair price, Whitworth said: "That doesn't square with the rhetoric coming from British ministers funding it, saying U.K. citizens will be at the front of the queue."

Funeral workers wearing protective gear as a precaution amid the novel coronavirus pandemic push the remains of a COVID-19 victim into a funeral car at a field hospital in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Thursday. (Silvia Izquierdo/The Associated Press)

And the U.S. has signed a contract with AstraZeneca, which makes the Oxford vaccine, for 300 million doses.

Vaccine makers know they'll be judged if rich countries buy up all their supply. On Thursday, AstraZeneca said it would provide 300 million doses of the Oxford vaccine to GAVI's new financing mechanism to try to ensure equitable access. The doses will be provided when the vaccine is licensed or pre-qualified by the World Health Organization.

Global cases

According to Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking coronavirus cases, there are more than 6.5 million cases globally as of Thursday afternoon, and there have been more than 388,000 deaths. 

More than 108,000 of those deaths have been in the U.S.

A top U.S. health official cautioned on Thursday that protests being held across the United States to denounce the police killing of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis could increase the spread of COVID-19 and that participants should "highly consider" getting tested.

"I do think there is a potential, unfortunately, for this to be a seeding event," Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee.

As of Thursday at 8 p.m. ET, Canada had 93,726 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, with 51,739 of the cases considered recovered or resolved, according to data compiled by The Canadian Press. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial data, regional information and CBC's reporting stood at 7,699.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, updated federal projection figures for COVID-19 on Thursday.

The new figures show Canada could see between 97,990 and 107,454 cases and between 7,700 and 9,400 deaths by June 15.

Warning of 2nd wave of infections

Tam said without a vaccine or treatments, public health measures remain essential to control the spread of the virus. She said easing physical distancing must be accompanied by enhancements to other public health measures, including case detection, contact tracing and quarantine.

"These models all tell us that if we relax too much or too soon, the epidemic will most likely rebound with explosive growth as a distinct possibility," she said.

A resident of a long-term care home in northern New Brunswick who tested positive for COVID-19 has died of the illness, according to family, marking the first COVID-19-related death in the province.

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As countries such as New Zealand and Australia mark progress in containing the pandemic and work on plans to resume some international air travel, others are having to step up precautions.

North Macedonia reintroduced stringent restrictions on movement in its capital, Skopje, and three other areas after confirming 101 new infections as of Thursday.

In the U.S., where a wave of protests is adding to concerns over possible additional outbreaks, new COVID-19 cases have been surging just weeks after many businesses were allowed to reopen in some states.

COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus that was first reported in China and has since spread around the world, causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

Read on for a closer look at what's happening around the world on Thursday.

Brazil on Thursday reported another record number of deaths over the previous 24 hours — 1,349. Brazil's confirmed death toll of more than 32,500 is the world's fourth-highest and is considered a significant undercount due to insufficient testing.

In the U.S., nearly 1.9 million people applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week, the ninth-straight decline since applications spiked in mid-March, a sign that the gradual reopening of businesses has slowed the loss of jobs. The total number of people who are now receiving jobless aid rose only slightly to 21.5 million, suggesting that rehiring is offsetting some of the ongoing layoffs. The U.S. remains the world's hardest hit for total COVID-19 cases. 

A staff member at the Prado museum in Madrid, Spain, wears a face mask and shield as protection against the coronavirus. Three of Madrid's most famous museums are set to reopen on June 6 as Spain winds down its restrictions on movement due to the virus. (Manu Fernandez/The Associated Press)

Turkey plans to resume flights with about 40 countries in June and has reached preliminary agreements for reciprocal air travel with 15 countries, Transport Minister Adil Karaismailoglu said on Thursday. Turkey largely sealed off its borders as part of measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak. Domestic flights resumed on Monday to some provinces as Ankara eased restrictions after a significant drop in infection rates. Karaismailoglu said flights would resume in five stages in June, adding Turkey was in talks with 92 countries on resuming flights in a safe manner.

In Pakistan, doctors are bracing for a surge of COVID-19 patients as the country's total number of confirmed cases surpassed the number in neighbouring China. Pakistan's confirmed cases jumped to 85,264 on Thursday after officials reported 4,688 new infections during the previous 24 hours and 82 deaths, a single-day record for virus-related fatalities. The developments prompted the government to order the closure of all shopping malls and markets where social distancing regulations are being ignored.

Police officers wearing face masks stand guard during a rally near the Chinese embassy in Seoul, South Korea, on Thursday. (Ahn Young-joon/The Associated Press)

Nations across Africa continue to grapple with a short supply of COVID-19 testing materials. But the head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a new platform to pool the continent's purchasing powers has obtained about 15 million coronavirus testing kits for the next six months. 

John Nkengasong said 3.4 million tests have been conducted so far across Africa, which has a population of 1.3 billion people, and testing capacity is "increasing very, very rapidly." Africa's numbers are rising steadily as testing improves, with a 31 per cent increase in new confirmed cases since last week. The continent's confirmed cases are now above 162,000, representing less than three per cent of global cases.

A medical worker disinfects his colleague after escorting a patient by ambulance to a hospital for COVID-19 patients in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Thursday. (Dmitri Lovetsky/The Associated Press)

Nearly 30,000 COVID-19 tests that Britain sent to a U.S. lab for processing came back void, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesperson said on Thursday, adding to mounting questions over the U.K.'s testing regime. The admission comes in a week where the government has faced criticism from a statistics watchdog over incomplete test data, pressure over turnaround times for test results and teething issues with a new test-and-trace program.

Ireland hopes to be able to recommend the resumption of air travel with a select number of countries in a number of weeks, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Thursday, telling prospective vacationers "summer is not yet lost."

Some European countries, such as Germany, Spain and Austria, plan to lift coronavirus-related border restrictions with neighbouring countries this month, something Ireland has been more cautious about as it slowly reopens its economy.

Ireland requires anyone entering the country to self-isolate for 14 days and foresees making its first step back to non-essential travel via so-called air bridges with other countries who share low levels of coronavirus infection.

Visitors wearing face masks take photos at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Thursday. China tightened controls over dissidents while pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong and elsewhere sought ways to mark the 31st anniversary of the crushing of the pro-democracy movement centred on Tiananmen Square. (Mark Schiefelbein/The Associated Press)

In Russia, a planeload of 150 ventilators arrived from the U.S. on Thursday, Washington's embassy in Moscow said, to help fight the coronavirus in further medical aid collaboration between the two politically estranged nations.

Russia's case tally, the world's third highest, rose to 441,108 on Thursday after 8,831 new infections were reported, and 169 more people died in the previous 24 hours. At 5,384, Russia's death toll is lower than many other countries, sparking debate over the way the country counts fatalities.

People wait to check in for a flight to Dusseldorf, Germany, at Rome's Fiumicino airport on Wednesday. (Alessandra Tarantino/The Associated Press)

The governor of Jakarta, Indonesia's capital, announced on Thursday the easing of some coronavirus restrictions, though he warned that the fight against the outbreak was far from over in Southeast Asia's biggest city. The governor said that on Friday, some public transport could resume normal operations and houses of worship could reopen, though with restrictions. Restrictions on movement, in place since mid-April, would be extended.

India's cases reached 216,919 after 9,304 new cases were reported over the previous day, the health ministry said Thursday. The densely packed cities of Delhi and Mumbai are seeing a spike in infections as the government lifts a lockdown imposed in March.

Malaysian authorities on Thursday reported 277 new COVID-19 cases after infections were detected in an immigration detention centre. The rise in new cases pushed Malaysia's cumulative total past the 8,000 mark to 8,247. The health ministry reported no new deaths, keeping total fatalities at 115.

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Spain said on Thursday that all restrictions at border crossings with France and Portugal will be lifted from June 22. The authorities closed the borders to everybody but Spaniards, cross-border workers and truck drivers from mid-March when the country went into lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The European Union is preparing to use an emergency 2.4-billion-euro ($2.7 billion US) fund to make advance purchases of promising vaccines against the coronavirus. The EU's push follows moves from the U.S. to secure vaccines under development, including almost a third of the first one billion doses planned for AstraZeneca's experimental COVID-19 shot.

Workers prepare face shields from recycled plastics at the Zaidi Recyclers workshop as a measure to stop the spread of coronavirus in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in late May. The country hasn't provided updated COVID-19 numbers in weeks. (Reuters)

In Sweden, confidence in the ability of the government and the health agency to handle the outbreak of the coronavirus is falling amid growing worries about the high mortality rate, polls published on Thursday showed. Sweden's decision not to adopt a lockdown as in many other European countries was widely supported by the population, but criticism has been growing in recent weeks over the country's high death rate from COVID-19 when compared to its Nordic neighbours, especially among the elderly.

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In Mexico, the latest official data shows new coronavirus deaths for a 24-hour period surging to an all-time high. The health ministry reported 1,092 new deaths on Wednesday, more than double the previous daily record, pushing Mexico's daily death toll past the U.S. for the first time since the outbreak started. Officials attributed the jump to improved documentation.

The central Chinese city of Wuhan has tested nearly every one of its 11 million residents for the coronavirus in a mass effort that resulted in the isolation of 300 people, authorities said Wednesday.

The pandemic is believed to have originated last year in the industrial city that went under lockdown for 76 days to try to stop the outbreak. Wuhan still accounts for the bulk of China's 83,021 cases and 4,634 deaths from the disease.

The testing effort carried out in the second half of May targeted every resident not already tested and excluded only children under age six.

"This is extraordinarily rare anywhere in the world," National Health Commission expert Li Lanjuan told reporters. "It not only shows confidence and determination in the fight against the epidemic in Wuhan but has also provided reference to other cities for their prevention."

With files from Reuters and CBC News

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