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No state has met 14-day drop in cases for reopening

Millions of women could lose access to contraception due to pandemic, U.N. warns

More than 47 million women could lose access to contraception in the coming months — leading to 7 million unplanned pregnancies — as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the United Nations warned on Tuesday. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, the number of women unable to access family planning due to over-stretched health systems, shortages of contraceptives and choosing to skip medical appointments due to fear of contracting the virus were among the factors, the U.N. said.

“The pandemic is deepening inequalities, and millions more women and girls now risk losing the ability to plan their families and protect their bodies and their health,” said Dr. Natalia Kanem, UNFPA Executive Director. 

Instead of gin, hand sanitizer

A small kiosk starts to sell Kyro hand sanitizer instead of usually selling beer and soft drinks. Kyro Distillery Company, which is known for producing the popular Kyro Gin switched their manufacturing to hand sanitizer, Helsinki, Finland, 21 April 2020.Kimmo Brandt / EPA

New polio outbreak in Niger after vaccination suspended during COVID-19 pandemic

Niger has been struck by a new outbreak of polio, following the suspension of immunization activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.  

The United Nations health agency reported that two children were infected by the highly infectious, water-borne disease and that one was paralyzed.

The outbreak was sparked by a mutated virus that originated in the vaccine and was not connected to a previous polio epidemic Niger stopped last year, WHO said, in a statement last week.

“The poliovirus will inevitably continue to circulate and may paralyze more children as no high-quality immunization campaigns can be conducted in a timely manner,” said Pascal Mkanda, WHO’s coordinator of polio eradication in Africa.

Senior Chinese official challenges Trump over coronavirus response, says U.S. wasted weeks

A senior Chinese government official challenged President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., accusing him of wasting weeks after the threat posed by the virus first became apparent.

In a wide-ranging interview with NBC News conducted in Mandarin on Tuesday, the official, Executive Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng, also hit back at the politicization of the virus.

Le, a rising star within the country’s political establishment, rejected claims that China had covered up the initial outbreak or that it should be held financially liable for COVID-19. Instead, he termed the virus a “natural disaster” and called for greater cooperation and an end to accusations.

Read the full story.

‘Very concrete’ risk of second outbreak, Italy’s prime minister says

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the risk of a second coronavirus outbreak was “very concrete” as the country emerges from Europe’s longest lockdown.

“We can’t afford to have an out of control situation,” he told reporters during his visit to the city of Lodi in northern Lombardy, the hardest-hit region by the outbreak. “This is the time to act with reason, with prudence.”

On Sunday, Conte said Italy — the hardest-hit European country with more than 27,000 deaths — was looking ahead to a second phase of the crisis in which it will attempt to restart the economy without triggering a second wave of the disease, with manufacturers, construction companies and some wholesalers allowed to re-open from May 4.

Shoppers re-emerge as UAE starts lifting lockdown restrictions

People wearing masks leave the Mall of Dubai on Tuesday after the shopping center was reopened as UAE moves to ease lockdown restrictions.Karim Sahib / AFP – Getty Images

Chinese official contradicts Pompeo on coronavirus cooperation

China is open, transparent and responsible in its COVID-19 response, said the country’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wednesday in response to a tweet from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that accused China of not cooperating in the search for the origins of the coronavirus pandemic

“The CCP [Communist Party of China] needs to be transparent as the world seeks answers to #COVID19 and its origins,” Pompeo tweeted on Monday

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying re-tweeted Pompeo’s message and said two U.S. experts were in China on the joint mission between the World Health Organization and China in late January. “Why not ask U.S. experts to locate when the virus first started in the U.S.? American people need answers. The world also has right to know,” she added. 

After beating coronavirus, Britain’s PM Johnson announces birth of son

Weeks after the British prime minister was in intensive care with a serious case of the coronavirus, Boris Johnson and his fiancée Carrie Symonds announced the birth of their baby son on Wednesday.

“The Prime Minister and Ms Symonds are delighted to announce the birth of a healthy baby boy at a London hospital earlier this morning and would like to thank the fantastic NHS maternity team,” a government spokesman said.

Johnson, 55, suffered serious symptoms after being infected with COVID-19 last month. He left intensive care less than three weeks ago, thanking staff at the country’s publicly funded National Health Service “for saving my life.” Symonds, 32, an environmental activist and former official in Johnson’s ruling Conservative Party, also suffered symptoms but was never tested.

Read the full story here.

Spain — one of Europe’s worst hit countries — aims for return to normal in June

Two children wearing face masks sit on top of a boat on a beach in Badalona, near Barcelona, Spain on Tuesday.Emilio Morenatti / AP

Spain announced a four-phase plan to lift one of the toughest coronavirus lockdowns in Europe and return to normality by the end of June.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the lifting of the restrictions that have halted public life since March 14 and nearly paralysed the economy, will begin on May 4 and vary from province to province. During the initial phase, hairdressers and other businesses that operate via appointment will open, while restaurants will be able to offer takeaway services.

In the next stage, envisaged to begin on May 11 for most of Spain, bars will reopen their terraces but will be limited to a third of their capacity. Remote working will be recommended where possible until reaching the last phase of the plan towards the end of June, when beaches would also be able to reopen with the support of local authorities.

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