Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is shown removing a white protective face mask and wearing a blue suit with the Japanese flag in the distance.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe removes a protective face mask prior speaking during a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, May 4, 2020.

Credit:

Eugene Hoshiko/Pool via Reuters

Top of The World — our morning news round up written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.

Like his counterpart in the US, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing a homegrown drug in the fight against the novel coronavirus. But there is little evidence it works on humans — and it could cause birth defects. 

And, during an online summit Monday, world leaders pledged billions toward the effort to develop vaccines and treatments for the coronavirus. But the Trump administration was conspicuously absent. Today on The World, former US Ambassador Nicholas Burns will speak with host Marco Weman about the decline of US leadership in the global arena. 

Also: Pfizer begins human trials of possible coronavirus vaccine

And: A mutant coronavirus has emerged, even more contagious than the original, study says

As countries tire of lockdown, coronavirus cases continue to grow

There are more than 3.6 million cases of the novel coronavirus worldwide — nearly a third of those cases are in the US. The most fataliites in Europe are in the UK, which has seen more than 32,000 deaths from the virus.

India recorded a sharp uptick in cases — 4,000 in a 24-hour period — following increased testing and moves to relax restrictions. As Nigeria began to phase out lockdown measures, the country reported 245 new infections, its highest single-day infection rate.

In Russia, emergency physician Alexandr Shulepov became the third doctor to fall from a window in recent weeks, after criticizing working conditions related to the pandemic.  

And: Concerns raised after Rohingya quarantined on Bangladeshi island

Maduro detains Americans allegedly involved in plot to oust him

Venezuela has detained two US citizens who embattled President Nicolás Maduro says were allegedly involved in a failed plot backed by Washington to oust him. The US, which backs opposition leader Juan Guaidó, has denied involvement. Guaidó says Maduro is trying to distract from other pressing problems in the country, including a recent prison riot and gang battle. 

And: After 301 days in Egyptian prison, an American teacher flies home

🎉Kudos to Pulitzer Prize winners 🎉

Congratulations to journalist Emily Green, who you often hear on The World, and our friends at This American Life at WBEZ and PRX on their 2020 Pulitzer Prize win for audio journalism! And shoutout to two more members of the PRX family — the staff of Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, as well as the Ear Hustle podcast — for being honored as Pulitzer finalists! 

How are people coping with ‘skin hunger’?

Many rules about preventing the spread of the coronavirus warn against touching other people. For the last two months, grandparents have been advised against holding their grandchildren, while sick patients cannot grasp relatives' hands. But what effects does this lack of human touch have on people?

South Korean film fans watch the big screen from behind their windshields

Most South Korean movie theaters never closed their doors during the coronavirus pandemic, but many film buffs have instead sought out the big screen from inside the safety of their own cars.

Korean Film Council says audience numbers have hit record lows. But there's an exception to this box office slump: Drive-in theaters have experienced a recent surge in customers.

Quarantine projects curate pandemic-inspired art

This poster, "We Keep Each Other Safe," by Monica Trinidad, is part of the "Fill the Walls with Hope, Rage, Resources, and Dreams" project. 

This poster, "We Keep Each Other Safe," by Monica Trinidad, is part of the "Fill the Walls with Hope, Rage, Resources, and Dreams" project. People can download their posters for free.  

Credit:

Courtesy of the "Fill the Walls with Hope, Rage, Resources, and Dreams" project

Throughout history, quarantines have spurred artists to create. Think Shakespeare, Frida Kahlo or Edvard Munch, among others.

Today, thanks to the internet, we’re not so alone during our lives in lockdown. A number of international art projects are harnessing the internet's crowdsourcing power to curate art about life in quarantine. Many are inviting public participation in the work or finding new ways to bring art to people — and sharing messages of hope and solidarity or “stay home.”

Check out some of those art projects, from the United States to the Netherlands to Spain, and see more of our coronavirus art coverage here

Morning meme

Just a girl and her sheep. And ICYMI, listen to the story of Prickles, the Australian sheep who went on the lam(b).


In case you missed it

Listen: Ecuador hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic

A doctor is shown wearing protective medical clothing and a face shield while holding up a X-ray photo of a patient's lungs.

Dr. Samuel Gutierrez, part of the Ecuadorian health ministry's rapid response team for the coronavirus in Guayaquil, Ecuador, April 29, 2020.

Credit:

Santiago Arcos/Reuters

The coronavirus pandemic has devastated some countries more than others. Ecuador is one place that's been overwhelmed by COVID-19. Also, in this time of social isolation, many people are finding themselves without much of an opportunity for human touch. The condition is called "skin hunger," and it's known to cause depression, anxiety and insomnia. And, a hornet species, native to southeast Asia, has been recently spotted in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, Canada.  It’s the Giant Asian Hornet, also known as the "murder hornet."

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