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Coronavirus: COVID-19 cases worldwide top one million | World News

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The coronavirus pandemic has reached a grim landmark, with more than one million cases confirmed worldwide.

Almost a quarter of that number (236,000) are people diagnosed with COVID-19 in the US, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Italy and Spain make up nearly another quarter between them (225,000), with China, Germany and the UK also having a high number of cases.

A woman is taken into a hospital in northern Spain
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A woman is taken into a hospital in northern Spain

On Thursday, Spain’s death toll rose above 10,000 after a record 950 people died overnight – but health officials are encouraged by a slowdown in daily increases in infections and deaths.

Spain has the world’s second-highest number of deaths after Italy at 10,003 – but today’s one-day toll is the highest for any country since the start of the pandemic.

A COVID-19 patient in the ICU at Casalmaggiore Hospital in Italy
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A COVID-19 patient in the ICU at Casalmaggiore Hospital in Italy

Italy recorded 760 more deaths, and now has a total of almost 14,000 – the worst of any nation – but new infections continued to level off.

More than 10,000 medical personnel in the country have been infected, and 69 doctors have died.

COVID-19 – the respiratory illness that is caused by the coronavirus – originated in China late last year and, over the past four months, has spread to almost every country in the world.

In the UK, another 569 people have died after being diagnosed – meaning the total number is 2,921.

The number of deaths, tallied in the 24 hours up to 5pm on Wednesday, is Britain’s largest daily increase so far.

The Department of Health said as of 9am on Thursday, 33,718 people had tested positive across the UK.



Health Secretary Matt Hancock MP







Hancock: Aim is 100,000 daily COVID-19 tests

Meanwhile, in the US, President Donald Trump has warned Americans to expect a “painful two weeks” as coronavirus deaths in the US peak – before suggesting people wear scarves as face masks in the fight against the virus.

The White House has projected between 100,000 and 240,000 people will die in the US from the pandemic, if social distancing guidelines are maintained.

Canada faces “a critical week” – Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Thursday, after the country saw the number of deaths rise to 161, from 105 yesterday, while it is reported the number of confirmed cases jumped to 11,131 from 9,017.

Canada’s public health agency is particularly concerned by the spread of the coronavirus in seniors’ residences, which are turning into hotspots in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia – the three biggest provinces by population.

The Mayor of Toronto, John Tory, has said anyone caught walking within two meters (6ft) of another person in a public park in the city, or square, will be fined up to $5,000 (around £2,850), claiming the public has been warned many times.

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He also said he does not want Toronto to become New York, which has been the epicentre of the outbreak in the US.

There is no proven vaccine for COVID-19, but pharmaceutical companies in various countries have joined the race for a vaccine.

The World Health Organisation said on Wednesday evening that 74 countries had also volunteered to take part in trials to find a cure for the virus.

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Larry Kramer: Playwright, author and AIDS activist dies aged 84 | World News

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Playwright and author Larry Kramer, who was known for his AIDS activism from early on in the epidemic, has died aged 84.

Kramer, who co-founded the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) in the early 1980s and later the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power – or ACT UP movement – died in a New York hospital with pneumonia on Wednesday, his close friend and literary executor Will Schwalbe said.

His death was not said to be related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The award-winning writer was known for his 1985 play The Normal Heart, depicting a writer’s battle with society to raise awareness of AIDS – the immunodeficiency disease from the HIV virus that Kramer had himself.

Larry Kramer
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Larry Kramer was known for his activism to raise awareness of the AIDS crisis
A TV adaptation of Kramer's play The Normal Heart won an Emmy for best movie
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A TV adaptation of Kramer’s play The Normal Heart won an Emmy for best movie

Described as an “angry but compelling indictment of a society as well as a subculture for failing to respond adequately to the tragedy,” by AP drama critic Michael Kuchwara, the revival of the play in 2011 earned it several Tony awards.

A TV movie adaptation in 2014 starring Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons and Julia Roberts, won an Emmy Award for best movie.

Kramer was also nominated for an Academy Award for writing the screen adaptation of DH Lawrence’s novel, Women in Love, for which actress Glenda Jackson won her first Oscar.

The 84-year-old was perhaps best known for his lifetime of advocacy work as a fierce activist for LGBTQ rights and securing medical treatment for those with AIDS.

Journalist Randy Shilts described an article Kramer had written for gay newspapers in the 1980s as “inarguably one of the most influential works of advocacy journalism of the decade” and credited it with “crystallizing the epidemic into a political movement for the gay community.”

In the 1983 article, Kramer had written about the epidemic: “Our continued existence as gay men upon the face of this earth is at stake…Unless we fight for our lives, we shall die.”

Larry Kramer (left) married his longtime partner David Webster (right) in 2013
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Larry Kramer (left) married his longtime partner David Webster (right) in 2013

Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in June 1935, Laurence David Kramer went on to study at Yale University and served in the army.

He later worked at the William Morris Agency and for Columbia Pictures.

In 2001, he had a liver transplant due to hepatitis B.

Kramer married his long-time partner, architect David Webster, in 2013, with the couple making their vows while Kramer was recovering from a bowel obstruction surgery in an intensive care unit at hospital.

They had planned the wedding before he was forced to have surgery, but they didn’t let the health emergency stop them.



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Coronavirus: ‘She took her last breath in my arms’ – A personal tragedy as US COVID-19 deaths hit 100,000 | US News

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In a matter of months, 100,000 lives have been lost to coronavirus in the United States – nearly triple that of any other country.

America never wanted to lead the world this way. The unfathomable milestone is one of this country’s most tragic and indelible.

Each death took away unique experiences and stories: some well told; most unsung.

Leilani Jordan
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Leilani Jordan was just 27 when she died

People have died in every state and from every walk of life.

Leilani Jordan was a 27-year-old supermarket worker who put her heart and soul into her job. Coronavirus only strengthened her resolve to help those in need.

Her mum, Zenobia Shepherd, says her daughter, who loved butterflies, had an inbuilt instinct to help people.

“She said to me, ‘Mommy, nobody is showing up for work. I have to help the senior citizens, the elderlies’.”

Ms Shepherd added: “Many of them can barely walk – leaning over shopping carts. And although (Leilani) had her own disabilities, she would go out of her way to help them to get and find what they needed.

“Because she knew sign language she could even talk to and help those that could not talk. So she loved helping and being needed by others.”

Zenobia Shepherd says she would do anything to have her daughter back
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Zenobia Shepherd says she would do anything to have her daughter back

Leilani kept going until the day she could no longer breathe. Unlike the thousands robbed of proper goodbyes, Leilani was in her mother’s arms when she passed away.

“I would do anything in this world if I could have my baby back,” Ms Shepherd said.

“My butterfly is gone. She’s flown away to heaven. I have to wait until my time to go see her.”

She added: “I was there when she went to CCU. She took her last breath in my arms. My hands, my last touch, touching her body, as it was warm… It was her last breath.”

Ms Shepherd is now living on memories of her daughter’s singing, her love of the beach and all things purple.

She has some comfort in Leilani’s support dog and best friend, Angel, who now sleeps at the front door, waiting for Leilani to return.

Zenobia was able to visit Leilani in hospital
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Ms Shepherd was able to visit Leilani in hospital

Ms Shepherd has two young daughters who make a video for their sister each day – telling her how much they love her.

Deaths in America have been disproportionately high in black communities, revealing long standing health and socio-economic disparities.

Ms Shepherd is now focusing her grief on the urgent need for protections for essential workers like her daughter.

“I want to help other people that aren’t being helped,” she said. “The situation is we’ve got to do a better job, a better job of protecting – protecting and keeping them safe.”

Leilani's younger sisters at her grave in Arlington National Cemetery
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Leilani’s younger sisters at her grave in Arlington National Cemetery

After Leilani’s death, she received her daughter’s final paycheck in the post. The amount was a gut punch: $20.63.

“I think that families, people that have certain front line jobs need to get paid more money,” she said. “They need to have bonuses during this time.”

Like every American, Ms Shepherd is desperate for this situation to end: “I wish this whole thing would go away. Just go to space and leave us alone.

“If only (we) could have been ahead of it a little bit. The death toll may not have been so high and growing.”

Leilani Jordan
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Leilani loved to help people, her mum says

As the daughter of a military family, Leilani shares her final resting place with fallen heroes in Arlington National Cemetery.

Coronavirus has now claimed more American lives than the Vietnam, Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.

Those lives lost in past battles are marked by the seemingly endless symmetry of white headstones. Ms Shepherd knows that is where she will come on every occasion Leilani loved so much: Christmas and Halloween, and each birthday she would have celebrated with her usual joy.

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So much death has largely been unseen. For a nation living in isolation it is perhaps harder to share a collective sense of grief – even harder to tune out of the ongoing political noise of this crisis.

But make no mistake: America is engulfed in tragedy, and with no cure or vaccine, this is not the end.

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Historic US space launch that would have been visible from UK aborted | Science & Tech News

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An historic US space flight that would have been visible from the UK was aborted shortly before launch due to bad weather.

NASA announced the decision on safety grounds just minutes before lift-off on Wednesday – with the flight now not happening until at least the weekend.

The mission had been planned in conjunction with Elon Musk’s spaceflight company SpaceX – and it would have been the first private involvement in taking astronauts to the International Space Station.

The massive Vehicle Assembly Building is shrouded in fog as stormy weather greeted launch day at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 27, 2020. - A new era in space begins Wednesday with the launch by SpaceX of two NASA astronauts into space, a capability that for six decades symbolized the power of a handful of states, and which the United States itself had been deprived of for nine years.If the bad weather clears, at 4:33 pm (20:33 GMT) a SpaceX rocket with the new Crew Dragon capsule on
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Weather conditions forced NASA to postpone the SpaceX launch

The US Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron had forecast between a 40% and 60% chance of favourable conditions at the launch site in Florida.

Throughout the day weather conditions became worse, with a tropical storm initially threatening the launch before a tornado warning was issued.

NASA has stringent rules about the conditions in which the Falcon 9 can fly, and said one of these rules was being violated just minutes before the launch.

The earliest the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and the Crew Dragon spacecraft could now launch is this weekend, with potential windows available on both Saturday and Sunday.

Falcon 9 rockets are not allowed to launch for 30 minutes after lightning is observed within 10 nautical miles of the launch pad and flight path.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain praised the SpaceX and NASA teams for “making the tough call” to postpone the mission.

“We all wanted a launch, but keeping our friends safe while we do it is a no-fail mission,” Ms McClain said, adding: “See you again Saturday.”

President Trump flew to Florida to watch the launch
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President Trump flew to Florida to watch the launch

Although Donald Trump flew down to Florida to watch the launch, it being postponed means that the last president to be present at a NASA launch was Bill Clinton.

Barack Obama had flown to the Kennedy Space Centre for a space shuttle launch in 2010, but that launch was scrubbed due to a technical problem.

He didn’t return for the rescheduled launch a number of weeks later.

It isn’t clear whether Mr Trump will be back in Florida on Saturday.

There are 15 names on the Space Mirror Memorial. Pic: John Owen
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There are 15 names on the Space Mirror Memorial. Pic: John Owen

Just a few miles away from the launchpad at the Kennedy Space Centre there is a Space Mirror Memorial.

It commemorates the 15 NASA astronauts who lost their lives while in service to the agency during a spaceflight.

No names will be added to that memorial due to decisions made today.

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