What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

Workers in protective suits stand on a street as they disinfect during lockdown, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Shanghai, China, May 18, 2022. REUTERS/Aly Song

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May 31 (Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the pandemic right now:

Shanghai to lift COVID lockdown

Shanghai authorities on Tuesday began dismantling fences around housing compounds and ripping police tape off public squares and buildings before the lifting of a two-month lockdown in China’s largest city at midnight. read more

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On Monday evening, some people allowed out of their compounds for brief walks took advantage of suspended traffic to congregate for a beer and ice cream on deserted streets. But there was a sense of wariness and anxiety among residents.

“I feel a little nervous,” said Joseph Mak, who works in education. “It’s hard to believe it’s actually happening.”

China’s tourism authority on Tuesday eased a rule on the suspension of certain tourism trips in areas where COVID-19 cases are found, part of the country’s effort to make its virus response more targeted.

North Korea lifts lockdown amid ‘stable’ virus situation

North Korea has lifted movement restrictions imposed in the capital Pyongyang after its first admission of COVID-19 outbreaks weeks ago, media reported, as the isolated country says the virus situation is now under control. read more

An unprecedented COVID wave prompted a state of emergency and nationwide lockdown this month, fuelling concerns about a lack of vaccines, medical supplies and food shortages.

Japan cautiously opens borders to aid tourism

Japan’s easing of a two-year ban on foreign tourists seeks to balance the enormous economic importance of tourism with concerns that travellers could trigger a COVID outbreak, insiders say. read more

Japan will allow in a limited number of foreign tourists on package tours starting June 10. Last week a few “test tours”, mainly of overseas travel agents, started to arrive.

Relaxing some of the world’s strictest pandemic border measures required months of pressure from travel and tourism executives, three insiders told Reuters, describing both the government’s fears of public backlash if infections spiked and the industry’s concerns of an economic wipeout.

India to provide scholarships, counselling to those orphaned by COVID

India’s federal government will provide educational scholarships, mental health counselling and health insurance to children who have been orphaned by the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday.

“For those who have lost a loved one to coronavirus, the change it has brought to their lives is so difficult,” Modi said during an online event as he announced government benefits for children who have lost both parents to COVID-19. read more

New WHO panel to speed up pandemic response

The World Health Organization’s governing board agreed on Monday to form a committee to help speed up its response to health emergencies such as COVID-19. read more

The U.N. health agency faced criticism for its handling of the pandemic, including the pace of its response to early cases which may have delayed detection and helped the virus to spread.

Some disease experts say that governments and the WHO must avoid repeating such early missteps with other outbreaks such as monkeypox.

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Compiled by Linda Noakes; editing by Jason Neely

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Rebecka Ramage