Coronavirus latest: National and international news

The first results from human trials of a vaccine against the coronavirus have given a glimmer of hope after a US firm’s study produced positive results in a group of eight volunteers.

These results – which come a day after the UK government revealed a deal to secure 30m doses of an Oxford University vaccine, should it be successful – showed that each of the participants produced an antibody response on a par with that seen in people who have had the disease.

And they suggest that the vaccine is safe for use in humans.

 

Many councils have now told their primary schools not to open on June 1 amid continuing fears over safety.

The body which represents school governors is also warning it will be hard for their members to sign off on reopening against the will of their local authority. The government says the date is not set in stone.

 

Germany reported 797 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday.

The country estimates that the virus reproduction rate to be at 0.86, with the seven-day average seen at 0.81.

Hence, the science of things is suggesting that the situation remains manageable and the government will continue to move forward with plans to reopen the economy.

 

Brazil has overtaken the UK to become the country with the third-highest number of confirmed coronavirus infections.

Latin America’s largest economy has now recorded 254,220 cases, placing it behind only the United States and Russia, and ahead of the UK.

Meanwhile, in Mexico – the region’s No 2 economy – allegations that Covid-19 deaths were being dramatically undercounted added fuel to an increasingly acrimonious political battle over the government’s response to the pandemic.

 

Hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug being taken by Donald Trump as an unproven protection against coronavirus, is being bought in bulk by the UK in case it does turn out to be an effective Covid-19 treatment.

Ministers are seeking 16m tablets in packets of up to 100 as part of a £35m contract put out to tender on Friday.

The drug is being tested by government scientists, health officials said. They are securing additional supplies so it can be distributed among the population if required.

 

The Republic of Ireland is beginning the first phase of relaxing its Covid-19 restrictions.

Some construction firms will return to work and garden centres and hardware stores can reopen.

On top of garden centres and hardware stores, other businesses can also reopen including opticians, motor and bike repair shops, laundries and drycleaners and electrical, IT and phone outlets.

Schools and college buildings can reopen to allow teachers to organise remote learning, while some outdoor public and tourism amenities, including car parks, beaches and mountain walks, are also able to reopen and farmers markets can be held.

 

Shops, bars, cafes and restaurants have reopened in Italy, after more than two months of nationwide lockdown measures.

Customers can again sip their morning cappuccino at their favourite bar after restrictions were eased on Monday, providing they stick to social distancing rules.


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