Good morning. Here is the latest Covid-19 news from around the world today.
UK: Ministers are discussing a more flexible furlough scheme with business leaders that will allow staff to work reduced hours, with their salaries split between the Treasury and employers. It follows a call by CIPD, a professional body for HR workers, to extend the grant programme, due to end on 30 June, until 30 September to prevent it becoming a “waiting room” for redundancy.
NHS England plans to treat thousands of cancer patients at 21 virus-free hubs across the country, and trusts have been told that all essential cancer treatments must continue. It follows new research warning that cancelled appointments and reduced GP referrals for cancer during the pandemic could lead to 18,500 more cancer deaths.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has confirmed the UK is accumulating a stockpile of non-medical face masks that would “limit the droplets that each of us might be responsible for”. The “domestic effort” comes despite the government continuing to hold off on advising people to use face masks in public.
US: The number of US coronavirus cases has passed one million, meaning the country now accounts for around a third of all cases, and deaths have passed 58,000 – more than the number of US soldiers that died in the Vietnam War. President Donald Trump said the country would conduct five million coronavirus tests a day, and ordered meat processing factories to stay open, designating them as “critical infrastructure”.
Russia: President Vladimir Putin extended Russia’s lockdown until 11 May, warning that the country had not yet reached its peak of infections and there was a “long and difficult path ahead”.
Germany: The viral reproduction rate in Germany – the number of people an infected person goes on to infect – has jumped back up to one. If it continues to rise, the country may have to reinstate lockdown measures that have been lifted.
China: Officials warned the country’s relationship with Australia may be damaged “beyond repair” after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended calls for an investigation into the origins of coronavirus.
Japan: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said the Tokyo Olympic Games, which were due to be held this year but have been suspended until 2021, may have to be pushed back again unless the pandemic is contained.