What you need to know about the coronavirus right now - Metro US

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

A Saudi family wearing protective face masks walk on Tahlia Street as nightlife kicks off, after the government loosened lockdown restrictions following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Riyadh

(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

Traffic jams signal return to normal in New York

New York City residents, gradually emerging from more than 100 days of coronavirus lockdown, celebrated an easing of social-distancing restrictions by shopping at reopened stores, dining at outdoor cafes and getting their first haircuts in months.

The usual traffic jams clogged city streets, and the sound of honking cars brought a welcome sense of a return to the ordinary.

But even as New Yorkers returned to some semblance of normalcy, spikes in coronavirus infection rates elsewhere around the country worried public health experts.

Chief among the latest hotspots was Florida, one of the last states to impose stay-at-home restrictions.

Pig trial shows promise

A trial of AstraZeneca’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine in pigs has found that two doses of the Oxford University-developed shot produced a greater antibody response than a single dose, scientists said on Tuesday.

Research released by Britain’s Pirbright Institute found that giving an initial prime dose followed by a booster dose of the shot elicited a greater immune response than a single dose – suggesting a two-dose approach may be more effective in getting protection against the disease.

Pigs are a useful research model for this type of vaccine and other trials have been able to predict vaccine outcomes in humans, particularly in studies of flu.

Meanwhile, French drugmaker Sanofi said it expects to get approval for the potential COVID-19 vaccine it is developing with Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline by the first half of next year, faster than previously anticipated.

Local lockdown in Germany

The premier of the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia said he was putting the Guetersloh area back into lockdown until June 30 after a coronavirus outbreak at a meatpacking plant there.

Guetersloh is the first area in Germany to go back into lockdown after the authorities began gradually lifting restrictive measures at the end of April.

More than 1,500 workers at a meat processing plant in Guetersloh had tested positive for the coronavirus, plus some of their family members and 24 people who had no connection to the plant.

The coronavirus reproduction rate in Germany is estimated at 2.76, probably mainly due to local outbreaks.

UK death toll tops 54,000

The United Kingdom’s suspected COVID-19 death toll has hit 54,089, according to a Reuters tally of official data sources that underline the country’s status as one of the worst hit in the world.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due on Tuesday to announce cinemas, museums and galleries in England can reopen next month to try to revitalise the economy.

But the large death toll means criticism over his handling of the pandemic – that Britain was too slow to impose a lockdown or protect the elderly in care home – is likely to persist.

International haj pilgrims barred

Saudi Arabia said it would bar arrivals from abroad for the haj this year due to the novel coronavirus, making this the first year in modern times that Muslims from around the world have not been allowed to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, which all Muslims aim to perform at least once in their lives.

Some 2.5 million pilgrims typically visit the holiest sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina for the week-long haj. Official data shows Saudi Arabia earns around $12 billion a year from the haj and the lesser, year-round pilgrimage known as umrah. International arrivals for umrah pilgrimages have also been suspended until further notice.

(For Reuters’ suite of interactive graphics on the coronavirus, click https://tmsnrt.rs/2GVwIyw)

(Compiled by Linda Noakes; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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