Confirmed coronavirus recoveries hit 1m worldwide: Live updates

About a third of some 3.2 million known COVID-19 patients have recovered, with total number of deaths exceeding 228,000.

A social worker puts a protective mask on an elderly woman at a nursing home, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Artes, near Barcelona, Spain April 30, 2020. REUTERS/Nacho Doce
  • More than 3.8 million people in the US filed new claims for jobless benefits over the past week, bringing the six-week total since the beginning of coronavirus-related lockdowns to more than 30m.

  • The Eurozone’s economy shrunk by 3.8 percent in the first quarter, the biggest hit since records began in 1995.

  • Worldwide, the number of confirmed infections stood at more than 3.2 million, with some 230,000 deaths and more than 1 million recoveries.

  • Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said he tested positive for coronavirus and will self-isolate to protect other cabinet members, promising to be in constant contact “on all the main issues.”

  • WHO says it is “very concerned” about community spread in a number of countries in West Africa.

Here are the latest updates:

Thursday, April 30

23:50 GMT – IMF chief lauds Japan’s spending to combat coronavirus

IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva on Thursday lauded Japan’s plans to spend about 20 percent of its gross domestic product to respond to the economic challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and help the world’s poorest countries, urging others to do their part.

Japan, the world’s third largest economy behind the United States and China, was the largest contributor to IMF financial resources and the largest contributor to the fund’s concessional lending facilities, Georgieva said in a statement.

“While it has the clear intention to support the Japanese economy, Japan will also underpin the stability of the global economy through contributions to the International Monetary Fund’s resources for the provision of debt relief and concessional financing to low-income countries,” she said.

22:00 GMT – Trump says has seen evidence linking Wuhan lab to coronavirus

Speaking to reporters, Trump said he has seen evidence that the coronavirus originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology, but he would not disclose what the evidence was. 

The comments came on the same day that US intelligence agencies said they have concluded that the new coronavirus was “not man-made or genetically modified” but said they were still examining whether the origins of the pandemic can be traced to contact with infected animals or an accident at a Wuhan lab.

The Chinese government said earlier on Thursday that any claims that the coronavirus was released from a laboratory are “unfounded and purely fabricated out of nothing”.

20:57 GMT – Can the US economy recover?

As the pandemic spreads in the US, the country’s economy is likely to face its worst crisis since the Great Depression.

Millions of US citizens have lost their jobs and consumer spending has seen its biggest decline in 40 years.

What can be done to reverse the crash?

Find out more here.

20:47 GMT – NASCAR to resume season in mid-May

NASCAR will be the first major sport in the United States to return to action amid the COVID-19 pandemic after the organisers of the popular racing series said that the season will resume without fans in mid-May.

NASCAR, which postponed racing in mid-March due to concerns over the coronavirus, said its season will resume on May 17 at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina.

The race will be the first of seven over an 11-day span at Darlington Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“NASCAR and its teams are eager and excited to return to racing, and have great respect for the responsibility that comes with a return to competition,” Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer said in a statement.

“NASCAR will return in an environment that will ensure the safety of our competitors, officials and all those in the local community.”

NASCAR: Ford EcoBoost 200
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Brett Moffitt celebrates after clinching the 2018 truck series championship and winning the Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway [File: Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters]

20:08 GMT – Brazil sees record rise in cases

Brazil reported a record 7,218 confirmed coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, raising its total to 85,380 cases.

The country’s health ministry added the death toll had increased by 435 to 5,901.

19:46 GMT – California closes Orange County beaches 

Gavin Newsom said he had ordered beaches in Orange County in the southern part of the US state to close, after crowds defied public health guidelines to throng the popular shoreline last weekend.

Read more here.

Orange County Beaches In Southern California Remain Open During Coronavirus Lockdown
People are seen gathering on the Corona del Mar State Beach on April 25, 2020 in Newport Beach, California [Michael Heiman/AFP]

19:43 GMT – Peru deaths surpass 1,000

The death toll in Peru rose to 1,051 from 943 the previous day, the country’s ministry of health said in a statement. 

Meanwhile, the number of cases had risen by 3,045 to 36,976.

Peru has the second highest number of confirmed cases and deaths in Latin America.

19:33 GMT – UN chief laments lack of global leadership 

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres lamented a lack of leadership by world powers and a divided international community in the fight against the coronavirus as he raised concern about inadequate support for poor countries.

In response to questions about global leadership, Guterres told a news conference that the international community was divided when it was “more important than ever” to be united.

“There is … a disconnect between leadership and power. We see remarkable examples of leadership but they are usually not associated with power. And where we see power we sometimes do not see the necessary leadership,” Guterres said.

“I hope this will be overcome sooner rather than later,” he added.

18:36 GMT – Overcrowded DRC prisons ‘ticking time-bomb’

Main prisons in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are filled at 432 percent on average, making them some of the most overcrowded in the world.

Leading health experts say these overcapacity prisons seriously risk outbreaks of COVID-19, threatening the lives of detainees, guards and the outside population.

Read Peter Yeung’s story from Goma here.

18:07 GMT – UK ‘past peak’ of coronavirus outbreak, PM says

Britain is “past the peak” of its coronavirus outbreak, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, despite recording another 674 deaths in the last 24 hours.    

“For the first time, we are past the peak of this disease … and we are on the downward slope,” Johnson, making his first appearance at a daily government briefing since his own battle with COVID-19, said 

“We are coming through the peak or rather we are coming over what could have been a vast peak, as though we have been going through some huge Alpine tunnel.     

“And we can now see the sunlight and the pastures ahead of us. So it’s vital that we don’t now lose control and run slap into  a second and even bigger mountain.”

UK In Sixth Week Of Coronavirus Lockdown
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who returned to Downing Street this week after recovering from COVID-19, said the country needed to continue its lockdown measures to avoid a second spike in infections [Dan Kitwood/Getty Images]

17:05 GMT – Global number of recoveries top 1 million 

Around a third of the world’s known coronavirus patients, some 1,004,483 people, have recovered from the disease, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University.

16:59 GMT – Russian PM Mishustin diagnosed with coronavirus

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin told President Vladimir Putin that he had been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

Speaking at a televised meeting, Mishustin suggested that First Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov should serve as acting prime minister in his absence. Putin supported his proposal.

Russian Prime Minister Mishustin chairs a meeting via video link in Moscow
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin chairs a meeting on measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) via video link in Moscow, Russia earlier this month [Dmitry Astakhov/Reuters]

16:46 GMT – Italy’s daily tallies fall

Deaths from the coronavirus in Italy climbed by 285, against 323 on Wednesday, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the daily tally of new infections stood at 1,872, down from 2,086 the day before.

The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on February 21 now stands at 27,967, the agency said, the second highest in the world after that of the United States.

The number of officially confirmed cases, which includes those who have died or recovered, was 205,463, the third highest global tally behind those of the United States and Spain.

People registered as currently carrying the illness declined to 101,551 from 104,657 on Wednesday.

16:41 GMT – UK death toll hits 26,711 

The death toll in the United Kingdom rose by 674 to 26,711, Prime Minister Boris Jhonson said in his first appearance after recovering from the coronavirus.

16:29 GMT – Poland lifts quarantine rule for workers, students who often enter from neighbouring states

People working or studying close to the Polish border will be able to cross it regularly again as of May 4 without needing to undergo a two-week quarantine, Poland’s prime minister said.

“The growth of new coronavirus cases is relatively low and stable. We haven’t won with the epidemic, but we increasingly have it under more control,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in a post on his Facebook page.

“It means we can take more decided steps to allow economic life to speed up,” he wrote.

The loosening of restrictions he mentioned applies to those resident in areas of Germany, Lithuania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic close to the land border with Poland. But entry into Poland remains barred to all others unless they undergo the two-week quarantine.

16:24 GMT – NY governor says may need ‘army’ to trace contacts of patients

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that he would need an “army” of between 6,400 and 17,000 people to trace the contacts of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus as part of a strategy to limit outbreaks.

Cuomo said that former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg would, in coordination with Johns Hopkins University, oversee the recruitment and training of these “contact tracers” and make the program available to governments worldwide. 

16:22 GMT – Travel within Europe ‘not on the agenda’: Merkel

The question of allowing travel within Europe as the coronavirus crisis eases is currently “not on the agenda,” German   Chancellor Angela Merkel said. 

16:09 GMT – Turkey reports new cases, deaths 

The number of positive cases in Turkey rose by 2,615, according to the health ministry, brining the total number of cases in the country to 120,204.

The death toll has risen by 93, brining the total number to 3,174.

15:44 GMT – Half the countries in Europe have eased restrictions

The WHO said about half of Europe’s countries had relaxed coronavirus-related restrictions.

Speaking to reporters in Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, Hans Kluge, head of the WHO Regional Office for Europe, said 44  states in the European region had imposed partial or complete restrictions of movement in the fight against the pandemic.

Of those, 21 have begun easing their restrictions, to different extents. An additional 11 countries are planning to do so in the coming days.

However, Kluge warned: “I said before, this virus is unforgiving. We must remain vigilant, persevere and be patient.”

15:26 GMT – Virus threatens fate of abandoned dogs in Greece

As a nationwide lockdown enters its second month in Greece, animal rescue groups and shelters have become overwhelmed with the number of strays piling up in their facilities.

Although dog adoption in central Athens and other urban city centres continues, as some seek companionship in the form of pets during the lockdown, international dog adoption from Greece to countries across Europe and the US has come to a standstill.

Thousands of dogs who were slated to travel abroad to new homes are now stranded in shelters across the country, which has become a popular source for international adoption, waiting for coronavirus travel restrictions to be lifted. As the weeks pass, the backlog of dogs is increasing and the cost of care is becoming unmanageable for some facilities.

Read Fahrinisa Campana’s story from Athens here.

Greece dogs
The municipality of Thessaloniki places volunteer feeders in central parts of the city to feed the stray animals, which due to the restrictions for COVID-19 are in danger of starvation [Nikos Arvantidis/EPA-EFE]

15:15 GMT – Could oil crisis radically redefine US-Saudi relations?

An armada of tankers laden with an estimated 50m barrels of Saudi Arabian crude is heading towards United States shores – cargo US shale oil producers regard as a foreign invasion delivered by a lower-cost competitor hell-bent on driving them out of business.

For President Donald Trump, the timing is particularly vexing. With US voters heading to the polls in November, Trump is under fire for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, while the US economy – a cornerstone of his re-election campaign – is being annihilated by lockdowns.

Now an oil price crash rooted in COVID-19 disruptions and aggravated by Saudi shenanigans has many US oil firms staring down the barrel of bankruptcy.

Read the story by Patricia Sabga & Radmilla Suleymanova here.

MBS Trump
US President Donald Trump (R) and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC [File: Mark Wilson/Bloomberg]

15:04 GMT – Minds focused on May 7 for lockdown review: UK PM spokesman

The UK government is focused on May 7 when a review of social distancing measures to fight the coronavirus outbreak is due, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

Johnson, who chaired his first meeting of his top ministers on Thursday after falling ill with COVID-19, received an update on the crisis from his chief scientific adviser and chief medical officer, but work is ongoing on the lockdown measures.

“We don’t want to relax the social distancing measures or do anything that could lead to the virus, which the British public has done so much to suppress, being … spread in an exponential way again and that will guide our approach on the way forward,” the spokesman told reporters.

“The date we are working towards is May 7. That is the date for the next review of the social distancing measures … that is where minds are focused.” 

14:09 GMT – Pfizer aims for 10-20 million vaccine doses by end of 2020

Pfizer aims to make 10-20 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine it is developing with Germany’s BioNtech by the end of 2020 for possible emergency use depending on trial results, the US drugmaker’s vaccines head said.

“Of course we need to see and wait to see how the vaccine’s efficacy and safety is demonstrated, hopefully in the coming months,” Nanette Cocero, the global head of Pfizer Vaccines, said on a conference call.

“But assuming that is demonstrated, we are looking to ramp up manufacturing rather quickly to have around 10 to 20 mln doses by the end of this year, which are expected to then of course be used in an emergency type of setting.” 

coronavirus vaccine
Neal Browning receives a shot in the first-stage study of a potential vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus [File: Ted S. Warren/AP Photo]

13:40 GMT – Bosnia extends passanger air traffic halt

Bosnia’s central government extended until June a halt to all passenger air traffic to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Zoran Tegeltija said.

The measure, excluding freight planes carrying medical aid for the Balkan country, had been in effect since March 30 to April 30.

Bosnia, which has registered 1,757 cases of the coronavirus and 69 deaths, declared a nationwide state of emergency on March 17.

13:38 GMT – Denmark says virus spread has not accelerated since reopening

The spread of COVID-19 in Denmark has not accelerated since the country began a gradual looswening of restrictions in mid-April, the State Serum Institute, which is responsible for preparedness against infectious diseases, said.

The so-called R rate, which shows the average number of infections one person with the virus causes, has increased slightly in the past two weeks but remains below 1.0, the institute said.

“However, there are no signs that the COVID-19 epidemic is accelerating,” it said.

13:36 GMT – England hospital death toll rises to 20,137

A further 391 people who tested positive for the coronavirus in English hospitals have died, taking the total there to 20,137, health officials said.

Within the 391, 15 of the patients aged between 49 and 97 had no known underlying health condition.

Hello, this is Farah Najjar taking over from my colleague Joseph Stepansky.

13:05 GMT – UK focused on May 7 for lockdown review: PM spokesman

Britain’s government is focused on May 7 when a review of social distancing measures to fight the coronavirus outbreak is due, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said

Johnson, who chaired his first meeting of his top ministers on Thursday after falling ill with COVID-19, received an update on the crisis from his chief scientific adviser and chief medical officer, but work is ongoing on the lockdown measures.

“We don’t want to relax the social distancing measures or do anything that could lead to the virus, which the British public has done so much to suppress, being … spread in an exponential way again and that will guide our approach on the way forward,” the spokesman told reporters.

“The date we are working towards is May 7. That is the date for the next review of the social distancing measures … that is where minds are focused.”

13:00 GMT – Lufthansa pilots offer to sacrifice up to 45 percent of salary: Union

Pilots at Lufthansa are ready to sacrifice up to 45 percent of their salaries for more than two years to help cut costs, their union, Cockpit, has said, as the airline struggles with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The concessions amount to more than 350 million euros and make a significant contribution to the viability of the company,” Cockpit said in a statement.

The offer affects pilots at Lufthansa’s namesake core brand, its freight division and its budget carrier Germanwings. 

12:55 GMT – 30 million have sought US unemployment assistance since outbreak began

More than 30 million people in the US have filed unemployment claims since mid-March after parts of the economy were shut down to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The US registered an additional 3.8 million unemployment claims last week, according to data released by the Department of Labor on Thursday, as the economy reels from the coronavirus pandemic. 

The figure comes on top of more than 26 million claims already filed since mid-March amid efforts by governments to shut down parts of the economy to stem the spread of the virus. 

Wall Street
US flags fly outside of the New York Stock Exchange as markets continue to react to the coronavirus disease 

12:50 GMT – WHO says very concerned at community spread in West Africa

The WHO is worried by the community spread of the new coronavirus in a significant number of West African countries, the regional head of the organization has said.

Sub-Saharan Africa has confirmed around 23,800 cases with over 900 deaths. A number of countries have issued targeted lockdowns in some major cities, as well as dusk-to-dawn curfews and restrictions on interurban travel, but have stopped short of nationwide lockdowns as in most European countries and South Africa.

On Tuesday, the government of Senegal said in its daily outbreak briefing that one case of community infection in the Casamance region of the country contaminated 25 other people.

“We are very concerned about West Africa where we are seeing some community spread, in a significant number of countries compared with others,” Matshidiso Moeti told a news conference, without identifying the countries.

12:45 GMT – British Airways plans to cut pilot numbers by a quarter: Letter 

British Airways is seeking to cut pilot numbers by a quarter as it slashes costs to weather the coronavirus crisis, according to a letter sent to union leaders and seen by Reuters news agency.

Under the plan, BA would cut 1,130 captain and co-pilot jobs from its headcount of 4,346, the IAG-owned airline’s head of flight operations told the BALPA union in the letter.

“In a short space of time the situation has significantly deteriorated,” the April 28 letter reads, adding that BA may yet be forced to suspend the few services still running from London Heathrow. “There are no clear signs of improvement in air passenger demand.”

A spokeswoman for BA did not immediately return calls and messages seeking comment on the planned cuts, which were first reported by Sky News.

12:40 GMT – Dutch cases rise to 39,316, with 84 new deaths 

The Netherlands’ number of confirmed coronavirus cases has risen by 514 to 39,316 health authorities said, with 84 new deaths.

The country’s death toll stands at 4,795, the Netherlands’ Institute for Public Health (RIVM) said in its daily update.

The RIVM cautioned it only reports confirmed cases, and actual numbers are higher.

Netherlands blog entry
People, some wearing face masks, observe social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus when standing in line to buy traditional King’s Day pastry in Amsterdam, the Netherlands [Peter Dejong/The Associated Press]

12:30 GMT – Kuwait’s Jazeera Airways lays off over a third of staff

Kuwait’s Jazeera Airways has laid off over a third of its staff and can dip into its cash reserves to get through the coronavirus crisis, its chairman said.

Several governments around the world are supporting airlines hammered by the pandemic that has virtually halted international travel.Kuwait halted all commercial flights on March 13 as the Gulf Arab state rolled out restrictions to control the spread of the virus that has now infected 3,740 people and killed 24 there.

Jazeera, one of the region’s few listed airlines, has laid off 320 employees, including cabin crew, ground staff and support staff, or 37% of its workforce.

“We kept only the sufficient number to run the current situation,” Marwan Boodai told Reuters by phone. “We hope that there will be an opportunity to re-employ them again in the coming months and we hope they will return.”

12:15 GMT – Japan unlikely to lift virus state of emergency next week: Abe     

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said it will be “hard” to lift a nationwide state of emergency imposed over the coronavirus next week as local media reported he plans for an extension, possibly by another month. 

The measure was initially declared on April 7 across seven regions experiencing a spike in infections, but was later expanded to cover the entire country.     

With the original month-long period coming to an end next week after the country’s annual Golden Week holidays, local media reported that Abe was now expected to extend the measure, either until the end of May or for another full month until June 6.

“Considering the burden carried by medical officials, I recognise the present situation as very severe,” Abe told reporters. “It’s hard to return to the days of the past, starting on May 7.” 

12:00 GMT – Germany to reopen religious institutions: Govt source     

Germany is poised to reopen churches, mosques and synagogues for religious services, but under stringent conditions to prevent transmission of the novel coronavirus, a government source told AFP news agency Thursday.

The number of participants will be limited and attendees will have to keep a distance from each other, according to a plan to be approved by Chancellor Angela Merkel and premiers of Germany’s 16 states when they hold a conference later on Thursday.

11:45 GMT – Ireland to consider easing restrictions every 2-4 weeks, PM says

Ireland’s roadmap for gradually easing coronavirus restrictions will lay out how any changes will be made every two to four weeks, but the government will intervene earlier if things go off track, Acting Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has said. 

Varadkar listed five criteria to be considered each time a change is considered: the progress of the disease, healthcare capacity and resilience, testing and contact tracing capacity, the ability to shield at-risk groups, and the risk of secondary morbidity and mortality due to the restrictions themselves.

“The easement of the current restrictions will be slow and gradual. The lifting will not necessarily mirror the manner in which they were escalated,” Varadkar told parliament, adding that the plan was due to be completed on Friday.

Dublin - phone - reuters
A man looks at his phone in Dublin as the spread of the coronavirus continues in Dublin, Ireland [Jason Cairnduff/Reuters]

11:30 GMT – Europe flooded with cocaine despite trade disruptions

Latin American drug lords have sent bumper shipments of cocaine to Europe in recent weeks, including one in a cargo of squid, even though the coronavirus epidemic has stifled legitimate transatlantic trade, senior anti-narcotics officials told Reuters news agency.

The illegal drugs industry has been disrupted by the virus, with international supply chains busted and millions of customers on lockdown.

But drug kingpins have risen to the challenge, packing huge loads of cocaine into the fewer container ships and commercial airplanes in circulation in a sign they were ready to take higher risks to deliver their wares.

“Based on seizures of bigger-than-usual shipments of cocaine, it would be fair to say that Europe was flooded with cocaine ahead of lockdowns,” Bob Van Den Berghe, senior law enforcement officer at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), told Reuters.

11:15 GMT – Swedish town uses chicken manure to help stop gathering

A town in southern Sweden has turned to a traditional source to try to prevent the coronavirus spreading during an annual festive event – chicken manure. 

The university town of Lund began spreading chicken droppings in its central park to put off would-be revellers who would usually come on April 30 to celebrate Walpurgis Night.

The occasion, marking the shift away from dark, chilly winter days towards brighter spring and summer days, is typically celebrated with picnics, parties and bonfires across the country, and regularly attracts thousands of students. 

“This is a park where usually 30,000 people gather, but with COVID-19 this is now unthinkable,” the town’s mayor, Philip Sandberg, told Reuters news agency. “We don’t want Lund to become an epicentre for the spread of the disease.”

11:00 GMT – Iran virus death toll surges past 6,000: ministry     

Iran’s health ministry has said that 71 new fatalities from the novel coronavirus took the country’s overall death toll past the 6,000 mark.     

“The number of deaths from this disease effectively crossed 6,000 today,” ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said in televised remarks.     

“Considering that we lost 71 of our countrymen in the past 24 hours, a total of 6,028 of those infected with COVID-19 have passed away to date,” he added.

10:50 GMT – Tajikistan confirms first cases 

Tajikistan has confirmed its first 15 coronavirus cases, the Central Asian nation’s Healthcare Ministry has said.

Five cases have been confirmed in the capital city of Dushanbe and 10 more in the Sughd province which borders Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, the ministry said.

10:40 GMT – European lockdowns ‘could avert 11,300 air pollution deaths’

Improved air quality in Europe due to lockdowns to combat the coronavirus pandemic has delivered health benefits equivalent to avoiding 11,300 premature deaths, according to a study published on Thursday.

Researchers extrapolated the likely impact on diseases caused or made worse by air pollution, which has fallen dramatically as hundreds of millions of people have stayed at home over the past month.

“You could compare it to everyone in Europe stopping smoking for a month,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst at the Helsinki-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), which conducted the study.

“Our analysis highlights the tremendous benefits for public health and quality of life that could be achieved by rapidly reducing fossil fuels in a sustained and sustainable way.”

Read more here

Venice canals run clear due to coronavirus lockdown
The canals in Venice are clearer than they have been for a long time with decreasing traffic of boats due to lockdown measures taken in the face of coronavirus [File: Federico Vespignani/Anadolu]

10:20 GMT – Keeping faith under the lockdown?

Much like our daily routines, religious and cultural rituals have been derailed by the coronavirus pandemic.

A global ban on gatherings has meant that holidays like Passover, Easter and Vaisakhi are being celebrated in isolation. The same is happening for Muslims observing Ramadan and Eid.

Even those who are not religious are having to adapt for birthdays, weddings, even the way we mourn the dead.

Start Here explains how centuries of religious and cultural practices have change.

10:10 GMT – Qatar produces new artificial respirators

Qatar has started manufacturing artificial respiratory machines in order to cover the requirements of the health sector domestically and internationally, in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani visited the Barzan Holding Company, which is affiliated to the defence ministry, and was briefed on the production lines for manufacturing the Savr-Q ventilators.

Read more here

Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani - Ventilators [Al Jazeera]
Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani visited the production line of Qatari ventilators at the Barzan Holding Company in Doha [Al Jazeera]

09:55 GMT – Indonesia says infections rise above 10,000

Indonesia has confirmed 347 new coronavirus infections, taking the total in the Southeast Asian country above 10,000 for the first time with 10,118 infections, health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said.

Yurianto reported eight new deaths, taking the total of fatalities to 792, while 1,522 have recovered.More than 72,300 people have been tested.

09:40 GMT – Malaysia reports 57 new cases with two new deaths

Malaysian health authorities have reported 57 new coronavirus cases, raising the cumulative total to 6,002 cases.

The health ministry also reported two new deaths, bringing the total fatalities to 102.

09:35 GMT – Italy PM Conte says to ease lockdown on basis of local conditions

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he will gradually relax the country’s coronavirus lockdown taking into account differences in contagion levels in different parts of the country.

In a speech to parliament, Conte said a new stimulus package to support the economy, due to be presented in a few days, would include $16.3 billion for companies and 25 billion directly for payroll workers and the self-employed.

The lockdown imposed on March 9 will be gradually rolled back from May 4 and agreed with local authorities “taking account of the regions where the epidemiological situation is less severe,” Conte told the lower house of parliament.

However, the prime minister warned regions not to ease restrictions unilaterally, without consultations.

venice - reuters
A man delivers roses, symbol of the patron of Venice Saint Mark, on his feast day during the coronavirus lockdown across the country in Venice, Italy [Manuel Silvestri/Reuters]

09:25 GMT – Spain daily death toll falls to lowest tally in nearly six weeks

The number of fatalities related to the novel coronavirus recorded overnight in Spain fell to 268, the lowest tally in nearly six weeks, the country’s health ministry has said.

The overall death toll rose to 24,543 on Thursday up from 24,275 on the previous day, the ministry said. The number of cases registered in the country rose to 213,435 from 212,917 the day before.

09:20 GMT – Eurozone economy shrinks 3.8 percent as restrictions take toll

The eurozone economy shrank by 3.8 percent in the first quarter of the year as coronavirus lockdown measures began to bite, official data has shown.

Across the EU, gross domestic product contracted by 3.5 percent in the first major indication of the economic devastation facing the bloc as a result of the pandemic.     

The European single currency area also saw a slowdown in inflation to 0.4 percent in April, driven by a collapse in energy prices.

09:15 GMT – Czechs gov’t says spread contained, plans to carefully reopen

The spread of the novel coronavirus has been contained in the Czech Republic and the government will continue to cautiously open up the economy, Health Minister Adam Vojtech said on Thursday.

The country has seen the number of new cases drop below 100 for the past eight consecutive days, and the number of active cases has also been on the decline.The ministry said the reproduction rate of the virus has dropped to 0.7, which means every newly infected person passes the infection to less than one other person. 

The positive developments have prompted the government to start reopening shops and services as well as non-urgent medical care as doctors fear the impact of neglect in standard care. 

“So far we do not see a negative trend resulting from previous relaxations,” Vojtech told a televised news conference.”We will proceed with caution, gradually in the upcoming waves, and I believe we are on a good path.”

queuing in prague - reuters
A woman sits on a chair while waiting in line to be tested for the coronavirus as a part of a study about undetected infections in Prague, Czech Republic [David W Cerny/Reuters]

09:10 GMT – Spanish economy shrinks by 4.1 percent in first quarter

The Spanish economy shrank by 4.1 percent in the first quarter compared to the same period last year, showing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.      

Official statistics released on Thursday showed that compared to the last quarter of 2019, Spain’s GDP had shrunk by 5.2 per cent in the January-to-March period.

Spain – Europe’s fourth biggest economy – imposed some of the strictest lockdown measures of any country in order to slow the outbreak of the novel coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease it causes.

08:55 GMT – Hungarian schools to remain closed until end of May: Gov’t

Schools in Hungary will remain closed until the end of May and events with more than 500 participants cannot be held until Aug. 15, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff Gergely Gulyas has said. 

Orban announced on Wednesday that some restrictions outside Budapest imposed to contain the coronavirus outbreak will be lifted starting next week. 

Existing restrictions will continue for now in the capital, which has reported the highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths.

08:45 GMT – UK ‘Colonel’ Tom’s fundraising exceeds $37 million

The total raised by Britain’s “Colonel” Tom Moore for health service charities has exceeded $37 million veteran’s 100th birthday on Thursday.

Moore captured the hearts of a nation during the COVID-19 pandemic by walking 100 laps of his garden to raise money to support frontline health workers.

08:35 GMT – Philippines reports 276 new cases, 10 more deaths

The Philippines has reported 276 new coronavirus infections and 10 more deaths, bringing its total number of cases to 8,488 and fatalities to 568.

It also said 20 more individuals have recovered, bringing total recoveries to 1,043.

08:25 GMT – German jobless total soars in April: Official data     

The jobless total in Germany leaped by 13.2 percent in a single month to more than 2.6 million in April, official data has shown, highlighting the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on Europe’s top economy.

In seasonally adjusted terms, the unemployment rate jumped from 5.0 percent to 5.8 percent, the BA federal labour agency said, while some 750,000 companies applied to place 10.1 million workers on government-funded shorter hours schemes.

08:15 GMT – Pharma company CEO says they’ll know if Oxford’s vaccine works in June or July 

The chief executive of British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said it will know by June or July whether a coronavirus vaccine it is working on with the University of Oxford will be effective or not.

“By June, July we will already have a very good idea of the direction of travel in terms of its potential efficacy,” CEO Pascal Soriot told BBC radio on Thursday.

“We’ll continue working with the Oxford Vaccine Unit to bring it to patients and to regulatory authorities first of all as soon as possible,” he added.

COVID-19 vaccine trials starting in UK

08:00 GMT – Pakistan register highest single-day rise in cases for second day 

Coronavirus cases in Pakistan have risen by 874, the highest single day increase, for the second consecutive day, to 15,759 cases countrywide, according to government data

New deaths from COVID-19 rose by 19 to a total 346, with 4,052 patients having recovered since the start of the country’s outbreak in late February.

Pakistan corona
People line up to receive free food as the time to break fast approaches during Ramadan amid a coronavirus lockdown of the Punjab province [Sohail Shahzad/EPA]

07:50 GMT – Russia case tally passes 100,000 with record daily rise

Russia has reported 7,099 new cases of the novel coronavirus, a record daily rise, bringing its nationwide tally to 106,498.

The official nationwide death toll rose to 1,073 after 101 people with the virus died in the last 24 hours, Russia’s coronavirus crisis response centre said.

07:40 GMT – Singapore reports 528 new cases, taking total to 16,169

Singapore has confirmed 528 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, its Health Hinistry said, taking the city-state’s total cases to 16,169.

Singapore has so far reported the most cases in South East Asia.

HRW: COVID-19 lockdown violators in Philippines abused 

07:25 GMT – Germany social distancing will ‘certainly’ be extended until May 10: Merkel aide

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff said on Thursday that social distancing measures in Europe’s largest economy would “certainly” be extended until May 10 for the time being.

Helge Braun told broadcaster n-tv a larger discussion about further steps to ease the lockdown would happen on May 6. Some shops have already reopened.

Coronavirus restrictions protested in Germany
Protesters took to the streets in Berlin on April 25 to demonstrate against the measures taken to combat the coronavirus outbreak [Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu]

07:15 GMT – Britain releases 40 of 4,000 prisoners identified for early release 

Britain has released 40 of a possible 4,000 prisoners that were identified for early release, after the government got a better control on the spread of the coronavirus in prisons, Justice Minister Robert Buckland said on Thursday.

“The picture is a much better one than presented itself to me even a month ago,” he told Sky News on Thursday.

07:00 GMT – Yemen reports first two deaths

Yemen has reported its first two deaths from the novel coronavirus, its health minister told Yemen TV late on Wednesday.

Yemeni authorities also reported five confirmed cases of the coronavirus, the first time the war-torn country has reported multiple cases.

The United Nations has said it fears the disease could be spreading undetected in a country where millions face famine and lack medical care.

Read more here

Staff of the Yemeni civil defense wearing protective gear, prepare to spray disinfectant during a demonstration of an anti-proliferation training of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, in Sanaa, Yemen, 12 Apr
Yemen’s long-running conflict has left millions of the country’s people facing famine and vulnerable to coronavirus [File: Yahya Arhab/AFP]

06:45 GMT – Britain could miss COVID-19 testing target, minister says

The UK could miss its target of carrying out 100,000 coronavirus tests a day by the end of April, Justice Minister Robert Buckland has said.

Some 52,429 tests were carried out on Wednesday, according to the latest figures, putting Britain on course to miss the target set by the health minister.

“Even if it isn’t met, we are well on our way to ramping this up,” Buckland told the BBC.

06:30 GMT – Ukraine crosses 10,000 cases

Ukraine now has 10,406 confirmed coronavirus cases and 261 deaths, Health Minister Maksym Stepanov has told a briefing.

The government has put lockdown measures in place until May 11 and has said it expects the pandemic to peak in Ukraine early next month.

06:15 GMT – California likely to announce closure of state’s beaches and parks

California Governor Gavin Newsom is likely to announce on Thursday the closure of the state’s beaches and parks after crowds jammed beaches last weekend, according to a memo cited by local media, amid concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

The memo was sent by the governor’s office to California’s police chiefs, local media reported. Newsom’s office did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment late on Wednesday.

“After the well-publicized media coverage of overcrowded beaches this past weekend, in violation of Governor Newsom’s Shelter in Place Order, the Governor will be announcing tomorrow that ALL beaches and all state parks in California will be closed, effective Friday, May 1st,” according to the memo posted by the FOX 11 Los Angeles channel.

A heatwave hits Southern California amid the coronavirus pandemic. Huntington Beach, California, US.
A heatwave hits Southern California amid the coronavirus pandemic [Etienne Laurent/EPA]

06:00 GMT – Activist Thunberg helps launch effort to protect children

Teen climate-change fighter Greta Thunberg aimed her activism at the coronavirus on Thursday, helping launch a campaign with the United Nations to help protect children from the pandemic with the purchase of soap, masks and gloves.

Thunberg used funds she has raised to combat climate change to donate $200,000 to the U.N.’s children’s agency, UNICEF, as did the Danish anti-poverty group Human Act to kick off the campaign, UNICEF announced.

“Like the climate crisis, the coronavirus pandemic is a child-rights crisis,” Thunberg said in a statement.”It will affect all children, now and in the long-term, but vulnerable groups will be impacted the most.”

Proceeds from the campaign will be used to provide children with soap, masks, gloves and hygiene supplies, according to UNICEF.

Greta Thunberg - reuters
Environmental activist Greta Thunberg participates in a video conversation during the coronavirus pandemic [Reuters]

05:30 GMT – Thailand reports 7 new cases, no new deaths 

Thailand has reported seven new coronavirus cases but no new deaths, taking its tally to 2,954 cases while fatalities remained at 54 since the outbreak began in January.

New daily infections have stayed in the single digits for four consecutive days.

Nearly 91 percent of patients have recovered and gone home, leaving 213 still in the hospital, according to Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman of the government’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration


This is Joseph Stepansky in Doha taking over the live updates from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed.


04:52 GMT – Sri Lanka to reimpose full nationwide curfew 

Sri Lanka’s government reimposed a 24-hour curfew across the Indian Ocean island nation after a recent resurgence of coronavirus cases.

Sri Lanka has reported 630 COVID-19 patients including seven deaths. Of the total, 308 cases were reported after April 22 and many of them were navy sailors or their close contacts.

Sri Lanka army
A Sri Lankan army personnel wearing a facemask holds a stop sign at a checkpoint during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 outbreak in Colombo on April 29, 2020 [Ishara S Kodikara/ AFP]

The virus is believed to have entered a navy camp after sailors were deployed to search for a group of people who had contact with a COVID-19 patient and were evading quarantine.

Authorities isolated the camp and took the necessary steps to quarantine about 4,000 troops there after infections rose.

The blanket curfew will resume at 8pm. It was originally imposed on March 20 but had been eased in recent days for about two-thirds of the country. The capital, Colombo, is among the districts considered high-risk and its 24-hour curfew was never eased.

04:03 GMT – UN urges countries to avert ‘hunger catastrophe’ for millions of children

The World Food Programme and the United Nations children’s agency have urged governments to shore up the futures of the 370 million children worldwide who depend on school meals.

“For millions of children around the world, the meal they get at school is the only meal they get in a day. Without it, they go hungry, they risk falling sick, dropping out of school and losing their best chance of escaping poverty,” said David Beasley, the WFP Executive Director.

“We must act now to prevent the health pandemic from becoming a hunger catastrophe and to ensure that no one is left behind.”

03:39 GMT – Maldives reports its first coronavirus death

Health authorities in the Maldives have said an 83-year-old woman died in the country’s capital, Male, after contracting the new coronavirus.

The death on Wednesday was the island nation’s first reported death from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus. The Maldives has recorded 280 cases, of which the majority are among the country’s migrant labour force.

03:15 GMT – IMF approves $650m in aid to Dominican Republic

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved $650m in emergency assistance to the Dominican Republic to combat the effect of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The pandemic has significantly weakened the country’s macroeconomic outlook for 2020 and created financing needs that require additional support,” the IMF said in a statement.

The money will be used to finance increased healthcare spending and to provide assistance to the most vulnerable. 

02:57 GMT – China reports four new coronavirus cases

Health authorities in China have reported four new cases of COVID-19 at the end of Wednesday. All were imported.

The figure brings the total number of imported cases in the mainland to 1,664 and takes the country’s tally to 82,862. 

Students Beijing
Students wearing face masks leave a school in Beijing as senior high school students in the Chinese capital returned to campus on April 27, 2020 [Tingshu Wang/Reuters]

02:45 GMT – First batch of Hong Kong residents stranded in Pakistan to return home

The first batch of Hong Kong people stranded in Pakistan due to coronavirus-related border closures are due to depart Islamabad on a chartered flight today, says the government of Hong Kong.

Upon their arrival in Hong Kong, the 300 returnees will be tested for COVID-19 and will have to undergo 14 days of quarantine. There are about 1,600 Hong Kong residents stranded in Pakistan right now, according to the territory’s government. 

02:32 GMT – US threats ‘could block affordable COVID-19 drugs’

Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF) criticised the US government for threatening trade sanctions against countries it believes are not adequately protecting intellectual property policies in the pharmaceutical sector.

The move by the US Trade Representative (USTR) could block the targeted countries from making affordable drugs to treat the coronavirus, the humanitarian group said.

The countries listed in the USTR’s Special 301 Report include India, Brazil, China, Chile and Canada.

“At a time when governments across the globe are struggling to provide adequate healthcare, it is ludicrous that the USTR is continuing to aid pharmaceutical corporations to profit from the abuse of intellectual property,” said Leena Menghaney, head of South Asia for MSF’s Access Campaign.

“It is a matter of concern that the US government is going after countries in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic for encouraging generic competition and price-lowering mechanisms to ensure access to medicines.”

01:41 GMT – South Korea reports no new domestic coronavirus cases

Health authorities in South Korea have said they recorded no new domestic cases of coronavirus infections at the end of Wednesday, a first for the country since its outbreak began to worsen in February.

However, there were four new imported cases, said the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The figure takes the national tally to 10,765. The death toll is up by one to 247.

01:01 GMT – European lockdowns could avert 11,300 air pollution deaths

Improved air quality in Europe due to lockdowns to combat the coronavirus pandemic has delivered health benefits equivalent to avoiding 11,300 premature deaths, according to research published on Thursday.

Researchers extrapolated the likely effect on diseases caused or made worse by air pollution, which have fallen dramatically as hundreds of millions of people have been forced to stay home over the past month.

“You could compare it to everyone in Europe stopping smoking for a month,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst at the Helsinki-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, which conducted the study.

“Our analysis highlights the tremendous benefits for public health and quality of life that could be achieved by rapidly reducing fossil fuels in a sustained and sustainable way.”

00:33 GMT – Cities face 100 million ‘new poor’ in post-pandemic world

About 100 million people living in cities worldwide will likely fall into poverty due to the coronavirus pandemic, experts have said, calling for mapping tools to identify vulnerable communities and investment focusing on slum areas.

“Within cities, we need to focus on those who need help the most, the poor and the vulnerable have been very seriously affected,” says Sameh Wahba, global director for the World Bank’s urban, disaster risk management, resilience and land global practice.

“Our estimate is that there will be possibly upward of a 100 million so-called ‘new poor’ on account of loses of jobs and livelihoods and income,” Wahba told a webinar with members of the media.

Without data, government food and financial aid is not reaching slum areas where about one billion people live worldwide, added activist Sheela Patel.

00:26 GMT – UK to test 100,000 people to check coronavirus spread

The United Kingdom’s health ministry has said it plans to test a randomly chosen group of 100,000 people for the new coronavirus as part of its efforts to understand infection rates better before loosening restrictions on the public.

The tests to see if people are currently infected with the respiratory disease will be led by London’s Imperial College and polling company Ipsos MORI. The chosen people will be sent self-testing kits to see if they are infected.

The UK’s government is due to review next week whether to relax a nationwide lockdown brought in on March 23 to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which has so far killed more than 26,000 people in the UK.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives. You can find all the key developments from yesterday, April 29, here.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies