Many European countries have chosen to progressively relax the measures they implemented in early 2020 to stop the spread of the COVID-19. Indeed, most quarantine restrictions have been lifted and certain schools reopened on the 11th of May, in France and in the Netherlands notably. Most European countries have now reopened their borders, including Italy, where people traveling from a European state are now authorized to enter as long as they remain in isolation for 14 days following their arrival. However, though the European internal borders are slowly reopening, the European Commission advised the Member States to extend the temporary travel restrictions to the EU+ area by another 30 days (i.e. until 15 June). Regarding other biological hazards, the Sofia News Agency reported on May 22 an outbreak of Q fever in Gabrovo, Bulgaria, where more than 20 people in the area, initially tested for coronavirus, were tested positive.
In the USA, the death toll is by far the highest in the world, standing at more than 97,000 according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. In the meantime, the already-existing tensions with China have been intensifying after the United States urged China to pay compensation for damage caused by the pandemic, to which Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi answered that the USA was spreading a "political virus”.
In Peru, the Ministry of Health reported that the country was the 2nd most affected by the pandemic in the continent, with 111,698 positive COVID-19 cases reported on May 22. Consequently, Peru’s national state of emergency and quarantine measures were extended through Tuesday, June 30. It is the fifth time that Peru extends its state of emergency implemented in mid-March, making its lockdown one of the longest in the world.
Colombia has launched a series of new measures mid-May to stop a rise in coronavirus infections. Although these measures were first focused on the Amazon region and the border with Brazil, where military troops were dispatched to strengthen security, the new epicenter shifted to the Caribbean coast. Out of 652 new cases of the virus in May 21, 124 were reported in Cartagena.
The situation in South America is renewing old tensions between neighboring countries as shown by the declaration of Venezuelan President Maduro stating that out of his country’s 75 new cases reported on May 20, 67 were “imported” from Colombia.
Cuba’s National Institute of Hematology and Immunology (IHI) has started a clinical trial to use stem cells from people convalescing from Covid-19. The aim of the treatment is to eliminate or reduce post-infection pulmonary lesions, preventing the progression of the disease.
In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared on May 25 to lift the state of emergency in 42 of the nation’s 47 prefecture, including in the greater Tokyo area and Hokkaido. The government said this was still a transitional period and the infection situation will be assessed every three weeks.
In China, new Coronavirus outbreaks led the country to reimplement a strict lockdown, fearing a new wave of infection. The latest outbreak concentrated in Jilin, a northeastern province of 27 million people that sits near China’s borders with Russia and North Korea would have concerned about 130 cases and two deaths.
In Philippine, where 13,221 cases of COVID-19 where reported until May 20, only 47,226 dengue cases have been reported from January 1 to April 18, 2020 i.e. 38% less than the amount of cases reported in the same period in 2019. On May 24, Rakhine state finally reported the presence of COVID-19 as Myanmar recorded nearly 200 cases. This raises the concerns about the possible spread of the virus in overcrowded Rohingya refugee camps across the region.
As cases of COVID-19 have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since December 2019, lockdown restrictions are being eased everywhere. Meanwhile, Scientists at University College London’s Genetic Institute have argued that the virus could be adapting to its human hosts as it spreads, after finding almost 200 recurrent genetic mutation of the SARS-CoV-2.
The number of COVID-19 in Middle East and North Africa has increased by almost 60 per cent in the first half of May. Although Iran still has the highest number of registered cases and deaths in the region, the virus is coming under control in several provinces according to the authorities. On May 22, no virus-linked deaths were recorded in 14 of Iran’s 31 provinces.
In Yemen, 108 cases where recorded in 10 governorates, which raises concern considering the already fragile and overwhelmed health system. A limited number of fatalities were reported in other countries including in Qatar where the new Ehteraz COVID-19 app, which allow the government to track if the user has been in contact with an infected person, is now mandatory. Turkey has imposed a four-day nationwide lockdown for the Eid al-Fitr holiday which marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Africa has reached 91,598 according to the latest update of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Earlier in May, Kenya, which had reported 963 cases and 50 deaths so far, closed its borders with Somalia and Tanzania. Kenya sent back 182 people tested positive to COVID-19 to Tanzania where the President lifted travel restrictions mid-May and announced that universities would open again on June 1.
On May 24 South Africa announced it would ease its strict nationwide lockdown starting June 1. President Ramaphosa said there are currently 22583 confirmed coronavirus cases in the country and 429 deaths and that 27 field hospitals were being built around the country to receive coronavirus patients. In Sudan the number of cases quadrupled in the two first weeks of May according to the UNICEF, reaching a total of 2,000 cases. The country is under a strict lockdown as nearly two thirds of all primary health care centers have closed.
In Australia, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 was of 7,133 on May 26 with a death toll of 102 people. Each state is responsible for managing the post-COVID and while some states are starting to lift lockdown measures, such as South Australia, Tasmania, or the ACT, where pubs are back open some others remain strict such as in Queensland, where the border closure remains despite pressure from the federal government and tourism operators. As for New Zealand, where 21 people have died from COVID-19 so far, by the end of this week, the country should have some of the world’s most relaxed COVID-19 controls as gatherings of up to 100 people will be allowed from May 29. However, international borders remain closed to foreign nationals.