World News in Brief: May 12

More than 4.19 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 285,120 have died, according to a Reuters tally. Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

A health worker sanitises a stretcher after a patient with Covid-19 was transfered into the hospital in Mexico City. (Photo: Reuters)
A health worker sanitises a stretcher after a patient with Covid-19 was transfered into the hospital in Mexico City. (Photo: Reuters)

* China has suspended imports of beef products from four Australian firms due to violation of inspection and quarantine requirements, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Tuesday (May 12).

* Russia on Tuesday reported 10,899 new cases of the novel coronavirus in the last 24 hours, bringing the nationwide total past that of Britain to 232,243, the third highest total worldwide. The country's coronavirus response centre said the death toll from the virus rose by 107 people to 2,116. Russia puts the continued daily rise in cases down to widespread testing. It has carried out more than 5.8 million tests.

* The White House on Monday (May 11) directed all people entering the West Wing, where the daily operations of President Donald Trump's administration are carried out, to wear masks after two aides tested positive for the coronavirus, administration officials said.

* The Spanish government ordered a two-week quarantine for all overseas travellers coming to the country from May 15 in a bid to curb the spreading of the novel coronavirus in the country. The incoming travellers will have to remain locked in and will only be allowed to exit for grocery shopping, go to health centres and in case of "situation of need", an official order published on Tuesday said.

* The British government will on Tuesday set out details on how to make workplaces safer as some businesses start to return to work after Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out a cautious plan to exit the coronavirus lockdown. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the business ministry would set out details of how employers could make workplaces safer.

* The Republic of Korean authorities were combing through mobile phone data, credit card statements and CCTV footage on Tuesday to identify people who visited nightclubs at the centre of one of the capital's biggest novel coronavirus clusters. More than 100 new cases linked to the nightclubs have brought fears of a second wave of infections in a country held up as a coronavirus mitigation success story.

* Thailand on Tuesday reported two new coronavirus cases and no new deaths, bringing the total to 3,017 cases and 56 deaths since the outbreak started in January. The two new cases are a 19-year-old woman from Bangkok and a 51-year-old woman from southern Narathiwat province.

* Singapore's health ministry said on Tuesday it had confirmed another 884 coronavirus cases, taking the city-state's tally of infections to 24,671.

* Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says he was tested for COVID-19 and is isolation awaiting the result after he coughed repeatedly during a speech in parliament on Tuesday. Frydenberg said he had a dry mouth and a cough when delivering a statement on impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the economy and budget. Frydenberg said he expects to receive the test results on Wednesday.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 933 to 170,508, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Tuesday. The reported death toll rose by 116 to 7,533, the tally showed.

* Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Monday declared gyms and hair salons as essential services that can stay open through the new coronavirus outbreak, easing measures to control the disease despite new cases and deaths surging in the country. Brazil has now registered a total of 168,331 confirmed cases of the virus and is closing in on the number of cases recorded in Germany and France, where the outbreak has been slowing. To date, Brazil has confirmed 11,519 deaths due to the disease.

* Australia's second-most populous state will resume face-to-face teaching from May 27, weeks earlier than expected, after a school shutdown to halt the spread of the new coronavirus, Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday.

* The campaign for US President Donald Trump's re-election, the Republican National Committee and their authorized joint fundraising committees raised US$61.7 million in April, in what the campaign said on Monday was a record for the month. They have US$255 million cash on hand and have a total haul cycle to date of about US$742 million, the campaign said.

* Global commercial fishing activity for 2020 fell by around 1 million hours as of end-April, a 6.5% decline over the two previous years, the result of plummeting demand caused by coronavirus lockdowns, according to Global Fishing Watch.

* Yemen's government forces will confront an "armed rebellion" by separatists in the south, the government said on Tuesday, adding that the group had refused to de-escalate the situation after declaring self-rule last month.

* Panama announced plans on Monday to begin a phased reopening this week of its economy, including e-commerce, mechanical workshops and fishing, after slowing the spread of coronavirus infections. The reopening will take place in six phases from Wednesday, weighing factors such as virus transmission, its strength and economic impact, said Commerce Minister Ramon Martínez.

* Mexico's health ministry confirmed 1,305 new cases of coronavirus infections on Monday, along with 108 additional deaths. The new infections brought confirmed coronavirus cases to 36,327 and 3,573 deaths in total, according to the official tally.

* United Nations children's agency UNICEF appealed on Monday for US$1.6 billion, more than doubling its initial request for money two months ago to help children already suffering through humanitarian crises and now hit with the coronavirus pandemic. UNICEF said it has so far received US$215 million since late March.

* Lebanon will begin detailed talks with the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday following an introductory meeting on Monday, a source close to government said, following Beirut's official request for aid. The Lebanese newspaper al-Joumhouria earlier reported negotiations with the IMF had started on Monday via the internet. Lebanon is seeking IMF aid as it grapples with an acute financial crisis.

* Gunmen attacked a Doctors Without Borders medical clinic in the western part of the Afghan capital of Kabul, a Ministry of Interior source said on Tuesday. It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack or whether there were any casualties.