LONDON: Britain on Friday exempted dozens of countries from its quarantine rules as the coronavirus outbreak slowed in Europe, but excluded the United States as the pandemic accelerates across the Americas.
With Europe reopening after an unprecedented lockdown, travellers arriving into England from more than 50 nations will from July 10 no longer be required to undergo 14 days of self-isolation.
The European Union meanwhile authorised the use of the anti-viral drug remdesivir for Covid-19 - the first treatment approved to deal with the disease - although the United States has bought most of the global stock. But across the Atlantic the news was increasingly grim with the US posting a record 53,000 new Covid-19 cases, while the number of infections in Latin America overtaking those in Europe for the first time.
Touching almost every country on Earth since it emerged in China late last year, the coronavirus has hit at least 10.8 million people and killed 521,000 globally, shattering previously buoyant economies and bringing public life to a standstill.
The World Health Organization called on countries hit by serious outbreaks to "wake up" to the realities instead of bickering over them.
"People need to wake up. The data is not lying. The situation on the ground is not lying," WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan told journalists in Geneva. "It is never too late in an epidemic to take control." In Europe, countries are trying to safely revive a struggling tourism sector as the northern hemisphere summer gets underway.
England unveiled a list of countries from which it allow travellers, mostly covering Europe - but not Portugal - and the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand.
The United States and mainland China are notably omitted.
"Today marks the next step in carefully reopening our great nation," British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said of the change, which reverses a two-week quarantine policy imposed in June.
But the exemptions will only apply to arrivals into England, with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland so far sticking to the blanket ban.