UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres lashes out at countries ignoring the recommendations of the World Health Organization to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Different countries have followed different, sometimes contradictory strategies and we are all paying a heavy price,” he tells the first virtual meeting of the WHO’s World Health Assembly, held against a background of US-Chinese tensions and the rush for vaccines.
WHO announces probe
World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus pledges to launch an independent probe to review the coronavirus pandemic response as soon as possible.
“I will initiate an independent evaluation at the earliest appropriate moment to review experience gained and lessons learned and to make recommendations to improve national and global pandemic preparedness and response,” he said at the start of the World Health Assembly.
Chinese vaccine for global use
China would make any coronavirus vaccine it developed a “global public good” once it was put into use, President Xi Jinping tells the World Health Assembly, promising that China will provide $2 billion in global COVID-19 aid over two years.
He also says that China supports a “comprehensive evaluation” of the global response to the coronavirus pandemic after it “has been brought under control”, and says that China has “always had an open, transparent and responsible attitude”.
Vatican’s Peter’s Basilica opens
Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican reopens heralding a return to relative normality in Italy where cafes, restaurants and shops also start serving again after over two months of lockdown.
Greece reopens the Acropolis in Athens and all open-air archaeological sites in the country to the public after a two-month closure.
However, Japan’s beloved Mount Fuji will be closed during this year’s summer climbing season to prevent the spread of the virus.
New Russian cases stopped
Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin says that growth of new coronavirus cases had been stopped in Russia, which, with a total of 290,678, has recorded the world’s largest number of infections after the United States. He acknowledges the situation “remains difficult”.
Over 315,000 dead
The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has killed at least 315,270 people worldwide since it surfaced in China late last year, according to an AFP tally at 1100 GMT on Monday based on official sources.
The United States has recorded the most deaths at nearly 90,000. It is followed by Britain with 34,636, Italy with 31,908, France with 28,108 and Spain with 27,650.
Japan in recession
Japan dived into its first recession since 2015, according to official data, with the world’s third-largest economy contracting by 0.9 percent in the first quarter amid the coronavirus.
Thailand’s economy shrinks
Thailand’s tourism-dependent economy is forecast to shrink by 5-6 percent in 2020 — the sharpest drop since the Asian financial crisis in 1997-1998.