Italy sees first fall of active coronavirus cases: Live updates | News

by Zelalem

  • Coronavirus-related deaths in the US exceed 40,000 with nearly half of all casualties in New York state, as protests against “stay at home” orders flared in a number of states.
  • Italy reports lowest number of deaths in a week, while the pace of new infections also slowed. Spain registered its lowest daily death toll in almost a month.
  • New Zealand will relax some of its restrictions – among the most stringent in the world – from next Monday.
  • Globally, more than 2.4 million people have been diagnosed with the virus while over 168,000 have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. More than 643,000 people have recovered.
  • China has said Australia’s calls for an investigation into the origins and spread of the virus are baseless.

Here are the latest updates:

Monday, April 20

19:16 GMT – Facebook removes anti-quarantine protest events in some US states

Facebook Inc said it has removed events in Nebraska, New Jersey and California promoting protests against stay-at-home measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the new coronavirus.

But the social media company, which has been under pressure to police harmful content and misinformation related to the pandemic, said it would only take down anti-quarantine protest events if they defied government guidelines.

Facebook said it would align with those directives, and also remove events that defy social distancing guidelines. Facebook is seeking guidance to clarify the scope of state orders in New York, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

18:55 GMT – Kuwait expands curfew, extends public sector work suspension

Kuwait will extend the suspension of work in the public sector including at government ministries until May 31 and expand a nationwide curfew to 16 hours, a government spokesman said.

He told a televised news conference that the 4pm to 8am curfew would go into effect at the start of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which could fall on Thursday or later this week depending on the sighting of the new crescent moon.

17:50 GMT – Turkey’s coronavirus death toll rises by 123 to 2,140

Turkey’s confirmed cases of the COVID-19 disease increased by 4,674 in the past 24 hours, and 123 more people have died, taking the death toll to 2,140, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

The total number of cases in the country stood at 90,980, he said, the highest total for any country outside Europe or the United States.

A total of 13,430 people have recovered from the new coronavirus so far, and the number of tests carried out over the past 24 hours stood at 39,703, the minister said.

Turkey to bring home 25,000 stranded expats for Ramadan

The Turkish expats were brought from London to Ankara [Rasit Aydogan/Anadolu]

17:40 GMT – France becomes fourth country to pass 20,000 death toll

France officially registered more than 20,000 deaths from coronavirus infections, becoming the fourth country to go beyond that threshold after Italy, Spain and the United States, and the pace of increase of fatalities sped up again after several days of slowing.

But the number of people in intensive care fell for the 12th consecutive day, suggesting the national lockdown put in place more than a month ago is having positive effects in containing the disease.

France’s public health chief Jerome Salomon told a news briefing the coronavirus-linked fatalities were up 2.8 percent, at 20,265, versus an increase of 2 percent Sunday.

17:25 GMT – Man deported from US infects 14 migrants in Mexico

At least 15 migrants from several countries tested positive for coronavirus at a shelter in northern Mexico, Tamaulipas state authorities said, adding a man carrying the virus and deported from Houston, Texas had infected most of the others.

A Mexican man deported at the McAllen-Reynosa border has also tested positive, the Tamaulipas state health department said in a statement.


17:15 GMT – Nothing hidden from member states: WHO

US experts have been an important part of the World Health Organization (WHO) fight against COVID-19 since the outbreak began, and nothing has been “hidden” from any member state, WHO says.

About 15 staff from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have been seconded to the UN agency since January, the organisation said.

“Having US CDC staff means there is nothing hidden from the US, from day one,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general told a news conference.

17:05 GMT – Turkey will impose four-day lockdown

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said a four-day lockdown would be imposed in 31 cities from Thursday.

Turkey imposed lockdowns in 31 cities over the past two weekends. Erdogan said the lockdown would be longer this time due to a national holiday that falls on Thursday, April 23, adding that weekend lockdowns could continue “for some time”.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Erdogan said Turkey aims to bring the outbreak to a level that would allow for a normalisation of life after the Eid al-Fitr religious holiday at the end of May, adding that steps could be taken before that.

An Istanbul Hospital ICU Adapts To Fight Coronavirus Outbreak

Doctors and nurses look at scans at the Acibadem Altunizade Hospital in Istanbul [Chris McGrath/Getty Images]

16:30 GMT – Italy says current virus cases fall for the first time

Italy reported its first drop in the number of people currently suffering from the novel coronavirus since it recorded its first infection in February.

The civil protection service said 108,237 people were either being treated in hospital or were recovering at home after testing positive – down 20 from the total reported on Sunday.

16:25 GMT – Slovakia to reopen small shops, outdoor sports grounds

The Slovak government plans to reopen small shops of up to 300 square metres, outdoor sports grounds and restaurants for takeaway from Wednesday, Prime Minister Igor Matovic said, in an easing of its coronavirus lockdown.

Matovic said the plan was subject to approval by the country’s crisis committee on Tuesday, and any further steps would follow with a two-week delay upon evaluation of the initial relaxation.

Social Distancing infographic

16:23 GMT – Over a million UK workers furloughed

More than a million British workers have been put on temporary leave by their companies, based on applications in the first eight hours that a government wage support scheme has been open, finance minister Rishi Sunak said.

He said more than 140,000 companies had applied to use the government scheme, which will pay 80 percent of the wages of staff furloughed due to the coronavirus outbreak, protecting over a million jobs until the end of June.

“As of four o’clock this afternoon over 140,000 firms have applied, and the grants they’ll receive will help pay the wages of more than a million people – a million people who if they hadn’t been furloughed would have been at risk of losing their jobs,” Sunak said at the government’s daily news conference.

16:07 GMT – US medical workers stand up to anti-lockdown protesters

At least two Colorado healthcare workers dressed in full scrubs with masks stood silently with their arms crossed as they blocked a line of vehicles full of protesters honking their horns and screaming, “This is the land of the free.”

“You go to work. Why can’t I go to work!” a protester can be heard shouting at the medical worker from her truck in the city of Denver.

Read more here.

How coronavirus impacts Africa’s battle with locusts | Start Here (07:42)

15:14 GMT – Canadian coronavirus deaths rise by almost 7 percent

The total number of people killed by the coronavirus in Canada rose by almost 7 percent to 1,611 from a day earlier, official data posted by the public health agency showed.

In a statement posted shortly before 11:00 eastern time (15:00 GMT), it said the figure for those diagnosed with the coronavirus had climbed to 35,392.

The respective figures on Sunday were 1,506 deaths and 33,922 positive diagnoses.

15:06 GMT – North America extends travel restrictions: US official

The United States, Mexico and Canada are extending restrictions on non-essential travel across their shared borders for an additional 30 days, US Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said on Twitter.

“As President Trump stated last week, border control, travel restrictions, and other limitations remain critical to slowing the spread of coronavirus and allowing the phased opening of the country,” Wolf wrote.

14:39 GMT – Dow tanks 490 points as crude sinks 

United States stocks tumbled on Monday as energy stocks continued to take a battering, with oil falling to its lowest levels since 1998 and investors bracing for earnings reports and data detailing the economic damage wrought by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down nearly 500 points or just over two percent, minutes into the open of trading in New York. The S&P 500 – widely used gauge of US retirement and education savings accounts- was down 1.2 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index down 0.68 percent. 

Read more here.

Iraq: Volunteers step up efforts to feed the poor (03:00)

14:35 GMT – Coronavirus hits Rome squat of African refugees

Volunteers unload stuffed-full plastic bags from the back of a car while two women from the Horn of Africa wait for their groceries behind the fence of “Selam Palace”, home to as many as 500 asylum seekers and refugees from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan.

They have been living behind closed doors since April 6, after two coronavirus cases were found inside their nine-storey squat. The army has closed the road to the main entrance, fenced off the whole area, and is patrolling all ways in or out.

Read more here.

14:30 GMT – How will the pandemic change Ramadan?

Muslims around the world will observe the holy month of Ramadan under lockdown and tight restrictions due to the coronavirus outbreak that has paralysed entire countries.

Read more here.

14:18 GMT – Merkel: EU budget bigger than discussed before pandemic

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she imagined the next European Union budget would look very different and bigger than that which was discussed before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

“One can discuss about new treaties, but this will take two or three years to find solutions,” Merkel told reporerts. “We’ll need quick answers to address this pandemic and Germany will participate in answers of solidarity that go beyond the 500 billion euros that we already have.”

The outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Germany

Merkel briefs the media about measures to avoid further spread of COVID-19 [Markus Schreiber/Pool via Reuters]

14:09 GMT – Bahrain to cut government agencies’ spending

Bahrain will slash spending by ministries and government agencies by 30 percent to help the country weather the coronavirus outbreak, a cabinet statement said after meeting.

The Gulf island state’s government will also reschedule some construction and consulting projects in order to keep spending within the 2020 budget and make room for other spending needs emerging as a result of the disease’s spread.

14:05 GMT – IMF: COVID-19 crisis is worst since Great Depression

The crisis sparked by the spread of the novel coronavirus is the worst since the Great Depression, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said.

The fallout from the virus will mean that 170 countries will have negative economic growth this year, she told a video conference press briefing for the Bulgarian media.

14:00 GMT

Hello, I am Tamila Varshalomidze in Doha, taking over the blog from my colleague Joseph Stepansky.

12:55 GMT – House Republican leader: still no deal on money for small US businesses

US House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy has said there was still no deal on a funding measure that would provide more relief for small businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We could have been done yesterday, but the Democrats continue to hold up, even though we had agreed to all the numbers,” McCarthy, the minority leader for the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, told Fox News.

US police handcuff black doctor who tests homeless for COVID-19

12:45 GMT – UK’s main concern is to prevent second wave: PM’s spokesman 

Britain needs to be sure that any lifting or easing of social distancing measures does not lead to a second wave of the coronavirus outbreak, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.

“The big concern is a second peak, that is what ultimately will do the most damage to health and the most damage to the economy,” the spokesman told reporters.

“If you move too quickly then the virus could begin to spread exponentially again. What we need to be certain of is that if we move to lift some of the social distancing measures it isn’t going to lead to the virus starting to spread exponentially again.”

12:35 GMT – Brazil’s Bolsonaro says he hopes quarantine measures end this week

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has said that he hoped this would be the last week of stay-at-home measures to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus, wishing for an end to a policy that he has branded an ill-founded jobs killer.

Speaking with supporters in Brasilia, he also opposed the view of a fan who called for the country’s supreme court to be shut, with Bolsonaro saying Brazil was a democratic country and the top court would remain open.

Brazil outbreak: Paramedics risk their lives in coronavirus fight

12:25 GMT – Dutch cases rise by 750 with 67 new deaths

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Netherlands has risen by 750 to 33,405, health authorities said, with 67 new deaths.

Total confirmed deaths are now 3,751, the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) said in its daily update. The RIVM cautions that the real number of cases and deaths in the Netherlands are higher, as it primarily tests only health workers and the very ill.

12:15 GMT – Japan scientist ‘very pessimistic’ Olympics will happen next year

A Japanese professor of infectious disease has said he is “very pessimistic” the postponed Tokyo Olympics can open in 15 months.

“To be honest with you, I don’t think the Olympics is likely to be held next year,” said professor Kentaro Iwata on Monday. “Holding the Olympics needs two conditions: one, controlling COVID-19 in Japan, and controlling COVID-19 everywhere.”

The Tokyo Olympics next July will be a “uniquely risky” event, demanding flexibility from organisers amid the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, particularly if a vaccine has not been rolled out by then, medical experts say.

Read more here

Abe Japan

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends a press conference in the capital Tokyo [Tomohiro Ohsumi/Reuters]

12:05 GMT – Iran reopens shops, highways

Iran on Monday began opening intercity highways and major shopping centres to stimulate its sanctions-choked economy, gambling it has brought its coronavirus outbreak under control.

Stores from high-end malls to the meandering alleyways of Tehran’s historic Grand Bazaar opened their doors, though the government limited working hours until 6pm. However, restaurants, gyms and other locations remain closed.

Read more here


Iran’s economy suffered from a 20 percent unemployment rate among young people even before the outbreak [Abedin Tahernareh/EPA]

12:00 GMT – Norwegian Air cuts 4,700 staff 

Norwegian Air has said four of its subsidiaries in Sweden and Denmark had filed for bankruptcy, affecting some 4,700 pilots and crew, as a result of the economic impact of the new coronavirus.

“It is heartbreaking that our Swedish and Danish pilot and cabin crew subsidiaries now are forced to file for bankruptcy, and I’m truly sorry for the consequences this will have for our colleagues,” Jacob Schram, chief executive of Norwegian Air, said in a statement.

11:40 GMT – Putin says peak of crisis in Russia is ahead

President Vladimir Putin has said that Russia had managed to curb the coronavirus crisis but the peak of the outbreak still lay ahead.

The number of Russian confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed 47,000 on Monday with a death toll of 405. 

11:30 GMT – Belgium says peak has passed, starts looking at lockdown exit

Belgium’s immediate coronavirus crisis appears to have passed its peak as the number of people admitted to hospitals with COVID-19 fell to its lowest level in a month, health officials have said.

Belgium, with one of the highest per capita rates of confirmed COVID-19 cases and related deaths in Europe, announced that 232 people were taken into hospital on Sunday, the lowest level since March 19.

“There are several indicators that are going in the right direction and that continue to go in the right direction,” Emmanuel Andre, spokesman for the country’s COVID-19 council, told a news conference.

“And so yes, by definition, we are going towards what is called de-confinement. That is to say a progressive enlargement of the safety zone around us so now we’re thinking about how to organise this.”


Members of the medical personnel gesture in the testing site for coronavirus at CHU de Liege hospital in Liege, Belgium [Yves Herman/Reuters]

11:20 GMT – Kazakh activist released after being held for spreading false information

 A nationalist politician in Kazakhstan who has criticised the government has been released after two days detention on accusations of spreading false information during the coronavirus emergency, his sister said.

Police detained political activist Arman Shorayev on Saturday and said the investigation involving him was ongoing. Officials have not said publicly whether he has been charged or what false information he was accused of spreading.

Shorayev’s sister Zhannar Shurayeva, who announced his release on Facebook, wrote on his behalf that the activist regretted publishing information that had not been fact-checked.

The former television executive turned nationalist politician has often criticised members of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s cabinet while avoiding criticism of the president himself.In recent Facebook posts and interviews, Shorayev accused senior officials of corruption and criticised the government’s borrowing plans and the cost of building a specialised hospital for coronavirus patients.

Kyrgyzstan gov’t faces backlash over doctor’s ‘forced confession’

11:10 GMT – Swiss authorities say positive tests rise by 204 to 27,944, deaths at 1,142

The Swiss death toll from the new coronavirus has reached 1,142, the country’s public health ministry has said, rising from 1,135 people on Sunday.

The number of positive tests also increased to 27,944 from 27,740 on Sunday, it said. The slowdown in the number of new cases has allowed the Swiss government to start relaxing its lockdown restrictions from April 27. 

10:55 GMT – UK’s Prince Philip breaks retirement silence to thank those fighting pandemic

Prince Philip, the 98-year-old husband of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, has made a rare statement to thank those involved in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we approach World Immunisation Week, I wanted to recognise the vital and urgent work being done by so many to tackle the pandemic; by those in the medical and scientific professions, at universities and research institutions, all united in working to protect us from Covid-19,” he said.

“On behalf of those of us who remain safe and at home, I also wanted to thank all key workers who ensure the infrastructure of our life continues; the staff and volunteers working in food production and distribution, those keeping postal and delivery services going, and those ensuring the rubbish continues to be collected.”

Philip, who is staying with the queen at her Windsor Castle home during the outbreak, retired from public life in May 2017 and has been rarely seen in public since then.

Prince Philip

Prince Philip has thanked UK health workers [Alastair Grant/The Associated Press]

10:45 GMT – Israelis demonstrate against Netanyahu amid pandemic

Wearing face masks, waving black flags, and keeping two metres apart, thousands of Israelis demonstrated against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu under strict coronavirus restrictions.

“Let democracy win,” said one placard on Sunday, while some protesters wrote “Minister of Crime” on their masks, an apparent reference to Netanyahu’s upcoming trial for corruption. Netanyahu, who denies any wrongdoing, is under criminal indictment in three corruption cases.

He is also negotiating a power-sharing deal with his rival Benny Gantz to form a coalition government that would end a year of political deadlock that saw three inconclusive elections.

Read more here

Anti-government protest in Israel

Israel has reported more than 13,000 COVID-19 cases and at least 173 deaths [Daniel Bar On/Anadolu]

10:30 GMT – As Brexit nears, EU workers fortify UK’s pandemic front lines

Thousands of EU migrants are working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic in the United Kingdom, as doctors, nurses, carers, porters and cleaners.

Others are still out every day, repairing water boilers, stocking supermarket shelves, driving London’s buses.

Every Thursday at 8pm, Britons take to their windows and balconies to applaud them for keeping the country on its feet.

But the clock is still ticking towards the end of the transition period on December 31, as well as a June 21 deadline for EU citizens to apply to remain in the United Kingdom through the EU settlement scheme.

Al Jazeera heard the stories, concerns, and hopes of four EU migrants who are keeping the UK ticking through the crisis. Read more here

COVID-19 in Britain: The death toll and the media deference | The Listening Post

10:10 GMT – Philippines activist, former senator dies

Philippines activist and former senator Heherson Alvarez has died after contracting the coronavirus. He was 80, according to the Rappler news site.

Alvarez rose to prominence as an activist against the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship and was among those who organised opposition to the regime from overseas, while exiled US. He went on to serve in many roles in the government, including senator, congressman, and Cabinet member.

Alvarez’s wife, theater artist Cecile Guidote-Alvarez, has also been infected by the coronavirus. 

Protests flare in US, coronavirus toll tops 40,000

10:10 GMT – Iran death toll from new  outbreak rises by 91 to 5,209

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in Iran has reached 5,209 with 91 deaths in the past twenty four hours, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said in a statement on state TV.

The total number of diagnosed cases of the new coronavirus in Iran, the Middle Eastern country hardest hit by the outbreak, has reached 83,505, he said.

10:00 GMT – Lithuanian finance ministry estimates economy to shrink by at least 7.3 percent

The Lithuanian economy will shrink by 7.3 percent this year if the spread of coronavirus is contained by summer, and by even more if not, country’s Finance Ministry has said. 

This is a significant downgrade of its forecast on March 17, when it saw the economy contracting between 1.3 percent and 2.8 percent in 2020. Its earlier forecast, from September, was for growth of 2.4 percent.

On March 26, the country’s central bank said the economy will shrink will by 11.4 percent this year if a lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak lasts for two months or by 20.8 percent if it is extended to four months.


09:55 GMT – Indonesia reports 185 new cases

Indonesia has reported 185 new coronavirus cases, taking the total number of infections in the Southeast Asian country to 6,760, health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said.

Yurianto said there had been eight new deaths attributed to the disease, taking the total number to 590, while 747 people had recovered. More than 49,700 tests had been performed, he said

98-year-old doctor working through coronavirus pandemic

09:45 GMT – Malaysia reports 36 new cases,  no new deaths

Malaysian health authorities have reported 36 new coronavirus cases, the lowest daily rise since the government imposed curbs on movement and business to contain the spread of the pandemic a month ago.

The new cases bring the cumulative total to 5,425 cases. The health ministry reported no new deaths on Monday, keeping total fatalities at 89

09:40 GMT – Spain total confirmed cases surpass 200,000

The number of people diagnosed with the new coronavirus in Spain has surpassed the 200,000 threshold, the country’s health ministry has said. 

The ministry said the number of cases rose to 200,210 from 195,944 cases on Sunday. Spain has the second highest number of diagnosed cases in the world after the United States, according to Reuters data.

The cumulative death toll from the coronavirus rose to 20,852 on Monday from 20,453 the day before, the ministry said.

Spain FM on coronavirus: ‘We have entered a stabilisation stage’ | Talk to Al Jazeera

09:30 GMT – Pakistan moves towards ‘smart lockdowns’ 

Pakistan’s government has said is aiming to move towards “smart lockdowns” as opposed to the current countrywide restrictions on public movement and gatherings, as the country’s coronavirus outbreak saw cases cross 8,000 on Sunday. 

Moeed Yusuf, the Pakistani prime minister’s advisor on national security, told reporters that the government wanted to trace and isolate specific areas where the virus had spread by increasing testing capacity and deploying tests in a targeted manner.  

“As this testing capacity will be increased, this will enable us to know where the virus has spread so that we can go towards ‘smart lockdowns’ or ‘smart restrictions’, not to shut down the whole country,” he said. “We should only shut down those areas where the virus has spread and then manage and treat that, get people healthy again, and allow regular life to resume slowly in the rest of the country.”

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has repeatedly warned of the economic risks of a full countrywide shutdown of the economy, which has already led to spiralling unemployment in the South Asian country, where many work for daily wages or in other ways that are outside of the formal economy. 

Pakistan Prayers

At this mosque in Islamabad’s F-8 neighbourhood, normally packed for Friday midday prayers, worshippers were advised to maintain at least six feet of distance between themselves [Al Jazeera]

09:20 GMT – Italy mulls psychological tests to gauge lockdown impact

Italian scientists want the government to conduct psychological tests on a sample of the population to determine how long people can stay confined to their homes.

The Corriere della Sera newspaper said scientists want to understand how long Italians “are able to endure a lockdown” in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Mediterranean country’s 60 million citizens have been barred from walking more than 200 metres (650 feet) from their homes without a significant reason. Reports of domestic abuse have surged and scientists worry about the impact of such isolation on the elderly and the more vulnerable.

Italian care home probed after nearly 200 residents died

09:05 GMT – Novartis, US drug regulator agree to malaria drug trial 

Novartis has won the go-ahead from the US Food and Drug Administration to conduct a randomised trial of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19 disease, the Swiss drugmaker has said, to see if it helps patients. 

The decades-old generic medicine got FDA emergency use authorisation this month for its unapproved use for coronavirus disease, but so far there is no scientific proof it works. There are currently no approved COVID-19 medicines.

Novartis plans to start recruiting 440 patients for its Phase III, or late-stage, trial within weeks at more than a dozen US sites. Results will be reported as soon as possible, the company added.

Coronavirus: Andrea Bocelli’s ‘Music for Hope’

08:40 GMT – ‘It all feels a little off’: Caution as China reopens

As people return to work as China lifts lockdowns, it is not easy for them to resume their former routines. 

“Friends have described being in Beijing right now as feeling like the night before a storm is going to hit,” said Krish Raghav, who works for a local brewery. “Everything’s open, but it all feels a little off.” 

Read more here

China Beijing

People are getting back to work in Beijing, but residents say life now is very different from what it was before the coronavirus appeared [Mark Schiefelbein/AP Photo]

08:20 GMT – Philippines records 19 new deaths, 200 more cases 

The Philippines health ministry has reported 19 new coronavirus deaths and 200 additional infections.

In a bulletin, the health ministry said total infections have risen to 6,459 while deaths have increased to 428. But 41 more patients recovered, bringing total recoveries to 613

08:10 GMT – Refugee women face greater violence risk during crisis: UNHCR

Displaced women and girls are facing a heightened risk of gender-based violence during the coronavirus crisis, the United Nations refugee agency has said.

The UNHCR warned on Monday refugee and migrant women may also be forced into “survival sex” or child marriages.

“We need to pay urgent attention to the protection of refugee, displaced and stateless women and girls at the time of this pandemic,” said Gillian Triggs, the UNHCR assistant high commissioner for protection.

Read more here

Syrian women wear face masks during an awareness workshop on Coronavirus (COVID-19) held by Doctor Ali Ghazal at a camp for displaced people in Atme town in Syria's northwestern Idlib province, near

Syrian women at a camp for displaced people in Atme town in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province [File: Aaref Watad/AFP]

08:00 GMT – Russian coronavirus cases surpass 47,000, new cases drop

Russia has reported 4,268 new confirmed coronavirus cases, fewer than 6,060 on the previous day, which took the total number of cases to 47,121.

Forty-four Russian coronavirus patients died in the last 24 hours, the Russian coronavirus crisis response center said.


07:50 GMT – China says Australia’s questions on its outbreak handling groundless 

China has said Australia’s questioning of Beijing’s transparency on the coronavirus epidemic was groundless, saying the government has been open and transparent.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters during a daily briefing that Beijing had grave concerns about the remarks made by Australian foreign minister Marise Payne, who called for an international investigation into the origins of the virus and how it spread.

07:40 GMT – Singapore confirms record jump of 1,426 cases

Singapore’s health ministry has confirmed an additional 1,426 cases of COVID-19 infection, a record daily jump that took the city-state’s tally to 8,014.

The ministry said the vast majority of the new cases were among migrant workers living in dormitories.

Coronavirus precautions in Singapore

 A man wearing face mask is seen in Singapore [Zakaria Zainal/Anadolu]

07:30 GMT – Bangladesh tightens lockdown after funeral gathering

Bangladesh has tightened a clampdown on seven villages after tens of thousands attended the funeral of a popular local cleric in spite of a nationwide lockdown to control the spread of the coronavirus, officials said on Monday.

The massive gathering for funeral prayers for Maulana Jubayer Ahmed Ansari in Brahmanbaria district, about 60 kilometres east of the capital Dhaka, has raised concerns about the potential for a spike in infections in a country of 160 million people with poor medical infrastructure.

“We’ve strictly ordered all residents of the seven villages to stay at home at all times at least for the next 14 days so we can identify if anyone contracted the virus following Saturday’s gathering,” a local police officer told Reuters news agency.

DO NOT USE Muslim funeral attended by thousands in Brahmanbaria, Bangladesh

The funeral for Maulana Jubayer Ahmed Ansari was attended by thousands in Brahmanbaria, Bangladesh [Bishwajit Paul/Al Jazeera]

07:25 GMT – Brazil’s Bolsonaro criticised for joining protest against curbs

Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil, has come out in public to support hundreds of people defending military rule and protesting against stay-at-home orders issued by state governors to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

The crowd of about 600 people gathered in front of the army’s headquarters in the capital, Brasilia, on Sunday, Brazil’s armed forces day.

“I am here because I believe in you. You are here because you believe in Brazil. We don’t want to negotiate anything; what we want is action for Brazil,” said Bolsonaro, a former army captain who has expressed nostalgia for the country’s 1964-1985 dictatorship.

Brazil Bolsonaro protest

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro prepares to speak after joining his supporters taking part in a motorcade to protest against quarantine and social distancing measures to combat the coronavirus outbreak [Evaristo Sa/AFP]

07:20 GMT – UK will review how it handled pandemic when time is right: Minister

Britain will review its approach to the coronavirus pandemic to learn what it could have done better, Culture Minister Oliver Dowden has said, following criticism that the government was too slow to react.

“When we’re dealing with an unprecedented crisis like this we’re not going to have perfect 20:20 hindsight vision on this,” he told BBC TV. “Of course we will need to look back and see the things we could have done differently.

“But right now people would not be expecting us to be looking back over the past few months, they would be expecting us to be dealing with this crisis on a day to day basis. We have said that we will of course review all the lessons that we need to learn from this and indeed learn the lessons globally.”

07:10 GMT – Poland may retighten restrictions if cases spike: Minister

Poland may reverse the loosening of restrictions to curb the spread of the new coronavirus if the number of new cases rises significantly, Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski has said. 

“It can be always (reversed),” Szumowski told public radio, asked if the loosening of restrictions might be reversed if there was a spike in the cases of new coronavirus infections.

Poland started reopening parks and forests on Monday as the government eased a few of the restrictions that have brought daily life to a virtual standstill. On Sunday, 545 new infections were recorded in Poland, the biggest daily rise to date.

07:00 GMT – Some Australia beaches reopen

Some beaches in Australia’s Gold Coast and in Sydney have reopened as coronavirus cases continue to decline in the country. 

The state of Queensland recorded no new infection of coronavirus on Monday, while New South Wales recorded just six new cases. 

Coolangatta and Surfers Paradise beaches reopened midday on Monday after closing on April 7, Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate said, according to 7 News. Meanwhile, Coogee, Clovelly, Maroubra and Malabar beaches on Sydney were all reopened on Monday, three weeks after they were closed to prevent the spread of the virus.

australia beach

A jogger runs past a cordoned-off entrance to Bondi Beach in Sydney on April 1 [Loren Elliott/Reuters]

06:50 GMT – Ghana uses drones to enable faster testing

Ghana is using delivery drones from US-based startup Zipline to enable it to test people more quickly outside major cities for the novel coronavirus, the company has said.

Ghana has 834 confirmed infections and nine people have died from COVID-19, the disease the virus causes.

Zipline operated its first coronavirus test flight on April 1 and will now fly samples collected from more than 1,000 health facilities in rural areas to laboratories in the capital Accra and to Kumasi, the second-largest city.

“Using contactless drone delivery to transport COVID-19 test samples will allow the government to respond to the pandemic and help save lives more quickly,” Zipline Chief Executive Keller Rinaudo said in a release.


Workers of a local factory begin the production of personal protective gear for local frontline health workers in Accra [Francis Kokoroko/Reuters]

06:40 GMT – UK to collect survivors’ blood for treatment trials

The UK is preparing to collect the blood from COVID-19 survivors to investigate if convalescent plasma transfusions could improve a COVID-19 patient’s speed of recovery and chances of survival.

“NHS Blood and Transplant is preparing to collect COVID-19 convalescent plasma from people who have recovered from this illness,” a spokeswoman said. “We envisage that this will be initially used in trials as a possible treatment for COVID-19.”

“If fully approved, the trials will investigate whether convalescent plasma transfusions could improve a COVID-19 patient’s speed of recovery and chances of survival,” the blood service said.

“We are working closely with the government and all relevant bodies to move through the approvals process as quickly as possible,” it said.

GPs Adapt Patient Care To Reduce Coronavirus Risks

Doctor Judah Eastwell, a GP at St Johns Medical Centre, puts on his PPE to assess a patient in the outdoor consultation tent on April 13, 2020 in Altrincham, England [Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]

06:30 GMT – EU economics chief: 1.5 tn euros in aid needed to tackle pandemic

The European Union’s Economics Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni has told German magazine Der Spiegel that aid worth around 1.5 trillion euros ($1.63 trillion) could be needed to tackle the coronavirus crisis.

“The Eurogroup has now made proposals for aid worth more than 500 billion euros to finance healthcare and short-time work and to help small and medium-sized companies. That leaves at least one trillion euros. This is roughly the amount we need to be dealing with now.”

He said the funds could be raised via the EU’s next multi-annual budget.


06:20 GMT – Norway begins reopening nurseries after month-long closure     

Norway, which says it has the new coronavirus under control, has started opening up pre-schools after a month-long closure, according to the AFP news agency. 

Authorities have said the reopening was possible because children have been less affected by COVID-19, although some parents have expressed reservations over the decision.

UK admits PPE shortage amid coronavirus criticism

06:10 GMT – Thailand reports 27 new cases, no new deaths 

Thailand has reported 27 new coronavirus cases, bringing the nation’s total to 2,792 cases, a senior health official said.

Of the new cases, 16 had come into contact with a previously confirmed case, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration.

No new deaths were reported for the third consecutive day. Thailand has had a total of 47 fatalities, and 1,999 patients have recovered. 

Hello, this is Joseph Stepansky in Doha taking over from my colleague Kate Mayberry .

06:00 GMT – 

I am now handing over the blog to my colleagues in Doha. Thank you for reading.

05:55 GMT – UN calls for $350 million for global emergency supply system

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has issued an urgent call for $350 million to scale-up the global emergency supply system and ensure crucial assistance to tackle the coronavirus gets to the world’s poorest countries.

The system is co-ordinated by the World Food Programme and includes regional warehousing and staging hubs, shipping services, medical evacuation for front line workers, infrastructure and the construction of treatment centres.

“Every human being, in every nation around the world, is facing the same mortal threat,” the UN body said in a statement signed by other UN and humanitarian organisations. “Every step that speeds that recovery saves lives.”

05:25 GMT – China gets back to work, but caution rules in edgy Beijing

China’s getting back to work and traffic jams have reappeared on Beijing’s streets.

But life in the capital is anything but normal as Kelly Dawson reports

05:15 GMT – The world’s biggest lockdown saves lives, but businesses fight for survival

The world’s biggest lockdown is saving lives in India.

But while there’s been government help for some of the poorest, and big companies will be supported by changes to financial regulations, small and medium-sized businesses are struggling.

“It’s pretty terrible,” restauranteur Arjun Chawla told Al Jazeera. “I’m trying to use the time to experiment on new dishes and have the restaurant deep-cleaned. That’s pretty much all I can do.”

Read Tish Sanghera’s story for Impact here

04:30 GMT – Germany updates coronavirus situation 

Germany’s Robert Koch Institute says confirmed cases rose by 1,775 to 141,672, a second day of decline. The number of deaths from COVID-19 rose by 110.

04:20 GMT – New Zealand to relax lockdown from next week

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the country’s nationwide lockdown will be extended slightly, but relaxed from next Monday although some restrictions will remain in force.

“New Zealand will move out of Alert Level 4 lockdown at 11:59pm on Monday April 27, one week from today,” Ardern told a press conference.

The country will then remain at Alert Level 3 for two weeks, with the government deciding on the way forward on May 11. 

02:55 GMT – Rare leatherback turtles return to Thai beaches empty of tourists

Thailand has found the largest number of nests of rare leatherback sea turtles in two decades on beaches that have been emptied of tourists by the coronavirus pandemic, environmentalists say.

The 11 turtle nests authorities have found since last November were the highest number in 20 years, said Kongkiat Kittiwatanawong, the director of the Phuket Marine Biological Center.

“This is a very good sign for us because many areas for spawning have been destroyed by humans,” he told Reuters. No such nests had been found for the previous five years.

Thailand turtles

A newly-hatched baby leatherback sea turtle makes its way to the sea for the first time in Thailand’s Phanga Nga district at the end of March. The turtles return to the same beach where they hatched to lay their eggs [Mongkhonsawat Leungvorapan/Reuters]

02:25 GMT – South Korea cases below 20 for third day 

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) has just given its latest update on the coronavirus.

The KCDC reported 13 new cases – seven from overseas – on Monday, bringing the total to 10,674. 

It’s the third day in a row where cases have been below 20, Yonhap news agency reported.

02:15 GMT – Malaysia parliament to resume on May 18 – for single day

Malaysia’s parliament will sit for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic on May 18, but only for a single day and with no debates.

A power grab in Malaysia at in late February led to the resignation of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the fall of the Pakatan Harapan administration leaving the country without a government for just over a week.

The new leadership includes Mahathir’s former political party (without Mahathir) and the parties that lost to Pakatan in May 2018.

02:00 GMT – New Zealand due to announce lockdown decision

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is due to announce later on Monday whether to ease the lockdown imposed in late March to tackle the coronavirus.

Ardern is expected to announce her decision in a couple of hours.

New Zealand reported nine new cases on Monday and no deaths. 


00:45 GMT – China reports zero deaths for second day

China has just released its latest coronavirus update.

The National Health Commission says there were no deaths reported on the mainland on April 19, the second consecutive day.

It also reported 12 new cases of coronaviurs – eight of them imported – as well as 49 new asymptomatic cases.

00:00 GMT – Pence says US has sufficient testing capability to support states

US Vice President Mike Pence says the US has sufficient testing capacity nationwide to allow any of the states to start lifting lockdown orders, providing they meet other criteria required for relaxation.

The other criteria include 14 days of declines in infections and enough hospital capacity to treat everyone who gets sick. 

 23:40 GMT (Sunday) – Trump says willing to help Iran – if asked

US President Donald Trump says the US would be willing to provide aid to Iran to help with deal with the coronavirus pandemic if Tehran requested it.

“If Iran needed aid on this, I would be willing,” he said at the daily press briefing in the White House.

23:00 GMT (Sunday) – Economists in Australia urge continued lockdown

A group of at least 170 economists in Australia have written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the country’s national cabinet to urge the government to continue social distancing measures, amid a growing debate over whether to ease the country’s lockdown to boost the economy.

“We believe a callous indifference to life is morally objectionable and that it would be a mistake to expect a premature loosening of restrictions to be beneficial to the economy and jobs, given the rapid rate of contagion,” they wrote in an open letter.  

“We recognise that the measures taken to date have come at a cost to economic activity and jobs, but believe these are far outweighed by the lives saved and the avoided economic damage due to an unmitigated contagion.” 


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur. 

Read all the updates from yesterday (April 19) here.

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