Confirmed coronavirus cases top 2.5m worldwide: Live updates

The WHO says the virus, which has killed over 171,000 people globally, likely originated from bats in China.

A nurse in PPE speaks to a resident at the Wren Hall care home in Nottingham, UK [Frank Augstein/AP]
A nurse in PPE speaks to a resident at the Wren Hall care home in Nottingham, UK [Frank Augstein/AP]
  • There’s so much oil sloshing around the system and no demand for it that oil futures have plunged below zero for the first time in history.
  • Globally, more than 2.5 million people have been diagnosed with the virus. More than 170,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.
  • The US accounts for about a quarter of all deaths.
  • Pakistan has reported its deadliest day. 

Here are the latest updates:

Tuesday, April 21

23:00 GMT – Trump immigration ban to apply to those seeking permanent status

Donald Trump’s new executive order banning immigration to the US will last 60 days with the chance of renewal, and it will apply narrowly to those seeking permanent immigration status, the United States president said.

Trump said he would likely sign the order on Wednesday. He added that details would be revealed later on Tuesday or Wednesday. 

22:45 GMT – US Senate approves $484bn funding for small businesses, hospitals

The United States Senate approved legislation worth $484bn to provide funding for a small business jobs programme, hospitals overrun by the coronavirus outbreak, and a national testing impetus to help tamp down the pandemic.

The Senate bill, agreed to in advance by the White House, allocates $25bn for a testing strategy that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats insisted was key to reopening the US economy. The bill calls on the Trump administration to define a strategy to provide nationwide testing and report on that plan to Congress.

The bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent and will now advance to the House of Representatives, which is expected to vote on it as soon as Thursday.

20:50 GMT – A ‘functional and effective’ meeting with Trump: Cuomo 

Following a visit to the White House, New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo said he had an “effective” discussion with US President Donald Trump, who has appeared to support calls for an end to lockdowns.

Trump clashes with New York governor over COVID-19 testing

“We have a tremendous job that we have to get done and put everything else aside and do the job, and the tone of the conversation was very functional and effective,” Cuomo told a MSNBC reporter.

“I stayed focused on what we were there to talk about and for me the substantive agenda was testing – who does what, how do we get it up the scale – and somebody has to stand up for funding for the states.”

Cuomo said Trump did not pressure him on the reopening of New York, the epicentre of the pandemic in the US.

20:20 GMT – US videogame sales skyrocket

Video games sales surged last month, unsurprisingly, as many people across the US found themselves cooped up inside their houses under self-isolation rules.

According to data from research firm NPD, sales of gaming hardware, software and accessories jumped 35 percent to $1.6bn last month from a year earlier.

It is the highest growth for the month since 2008, when sales grew over 52 percent to $1.8bn NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said.

Sales of gaming consoles Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch rose 63 percent to $461m in March from a year earlier.

9:55 GMT – Trump immigration ban to apply for 90 days: Report

Trump’s declared executive order to halt immigration would deny entry for people seeking most types of work visas for at least 90 days, according to a draft version obtained by Bloomberg.

The new policy would include exemptions for healthcare or medical research professionals, and for those seeking jobs in “food production and directly helping to protect the supply chain”, which could apply to farm workers.

The draft also states technology workers in the US on H-1B visas will have to provide updated certifications that they are not displacing US workers.

Trump to suspend all immigration into US over COVID-19

19:30 GMT – South Africa unveils $26bn relief plan

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a $26bn relief package to shore up the economy and support people in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The pandemic requires an economic response that is equal to the scale of the disruption it is causing,” he said in a televised address, adding that the government had approached international financial institutions such as the World Bank, IMF and The African Development Bank.

Ramaphosa said one tenth of the package will go towards the most vulnerable people over the next six months, in a country described by the World Bank as the world’s most unequal.

18:45 GMT – Nigerian president calls for prisoners’ release

As the novel virus keeps spreading, “overcrowded facilities pose a potent threat to the health of the inmates and the public in general” said in a statement Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, urginf the chief judge Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad to free prison inmates who have been awaiting trial for six years or more. 

Nigeria: Aid workers warn 2 million displaced at risk of COVID-19

“Most of these custodial centres are presently housing inmates beyond their capacities […] hence the need for urgent steps to bring the situation under control,” the document read, adding that 42 percent of Nigeria’s 74,000 or so prisoners were awaiting trial.

Buhari said inmates with no confirmed criminal cases against them, elderly prisoners and those who were terminally ill could be discharged.

18:20 GMT – Lebanon: MPs meet in theatre, protesters out in cars

Dozens of protesters poured back onto the streets of the Lebanese capital Beirut, protesting in their cars to maintain physical distance as the country combats the coronavirus outbreak.

Anti-government demonstrators wave Lebanese flags as they protest in their cars, amid a countrywide lockdown to combat the spread of the coronavirus [Mohamed Azakir/Reuters]

Large convoys of cars drove from Martyrs’ Square, the birthplace of the country’s uprising against the civil war-era ruling class in October, to the vicinity of a large theatre complex where MPs met on Tuesday to approve dozens of laws, including legalising the cultivation of cannabis for medical and industrial use.

Read more here.

17:45 GMT – ‘Xenophobic scapegoating’: Trump plan to ban immigration slammed

Democrats, immigration lawyers and advocates slammed US President Donald Trump after saying he will “temporarily suspend immigration” due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Opponents, such as Virginia Democrat Don Beyer, said that the proposed executive order amounts to “xenophobic scapegoating”.

Read the full story here

17:15 GMT – Companies join UK effort to build ventilators

Several engineering, aerospace, automotive and Formula One companies in the have joined forces to produce ventilators with the aim of building more than 1,500 per week.

The VentilatorChallengeUK consortium was formed in response to a call by the UK government for companies to help boost the production of medical equipment.

Dick Elsy, who leads the consortium, said the group could produce more than the current government order of 20,000 ventilators, according to Reuters news agency.

Ventilators are key for treating coronavirus as it takes over the body’s breathing process when the disease has caused the lungs to fail [Cabinet Office/Reuters]

16:50 GMT – Trump calls for financial lifeline for struggling US oil industry

Fresh on the heels of the worst day ever for United States oil prices, President Donald Trump said he has asked his administration to come up with a plan to throw a financial lifeline to the ailing US shale patch where many firms are in danger of going bust as crude prices collapse.

US oil and gas companies from Texas to Wyoming are struggling to stave off bankruptcy as worldwide stay-at-home orders and business stoppages designed to contain the spread of coronavirus obliterate global demand for fuel.

Read more on our latest story

16:31 GMT – Italy, Turkey, Canada: Latest figures 

While some countries are easing restrictions in an attempt to minimise the economic impact of the coronavirus, the pandemic continues to affect populations worldwide.

Italy reported 534 new deaths over the last 24 hours, bringing the total death tool up to 24,648 amid more than 180.000 infections. However, the Mediterranean country marked its record increase in the number of recovered people, now at almost 49,000.

Philippines jails: Many inmates, staff test positive for COVID-19

Canada confirmed a jump to 37,382 cases, from 35,392 the previous day, and 1,728 deaths, up from 1,611.

Meanwhile in Turkey, the health ministry announced the number of cases had risen to 95,591, with 4,611 additions in one day. The death toll rose to 2,259, with 119 additional fatalities.

16:04 GMT – G20 ministers urge food export curbs only in emergency: Germany

Restrictions on food exports should only be undertaken in emergencies with strict conditions, Germany’s agriculture ministry said during a virtual meeting of agriculture and food ministers of the Group of 20.

The meeting participants said food export curbs should only be used when they are “proportionate, transparent, temporary and conform to the rules of the World Trade Organisation”. the German ministry said in a statement.

Julia Kloeckner, the German agriculture minister, said: “Free trade, especially in times of crisis, means securing food supplies.”

How coronavirus is disrupting food supply chain in US

15:45 GMT – Global hunger could double: UN

The number of people facing acute food insecurity could jump to 265 million, according to a new report by the UN World Food Programme (WFP). 

The impact of lost tourism revenues, falling remittances and travel and other restrictions linked to the coronavirus pandemic is expected to leave about 130 million more people acutely hungry this year, in addition to 135 million already in that category. 

“We all need to come together to deal with this because if we don’t the cost will be too high – the global cost will be too high: many lost lives and many, many more lost livelihoods,” said Arif Husain, chief economist and director of research, assessment and monitoring at the WFP.

Read more here

15:38 GMT – NY governor to ‘tell the truth’ in Trump meeting

Andrew Cuomo, New York state governor, said he planned to “tell the truth” in his Tuesday meeting with US President Donald Trump about the coronavirus crisis and would ask for the federal government for help in ramping up testing.

Cuomo also stressed during a daily briefing that he planned to take a regional approach to reopening businesses and schools in his state, the US epicentre of the pandemic.

“We will make reopening decisions in New York State on a regional basis. We recognize not all regions are impacted with COVID-19 in the same way,” Cuomo wrote on Twitter.

15:17 GMT – Spanish children will be allowed to leave their homes

After being locked at home for over a month, Spanish children will be allowed for the first time to leave their home as fears over their mental health have been growing. 

“Children with stable families won’t notice the effects long term. But for those in conflictive situations, it can cause more severe damage, cases of anxiety, depression and so on,” said  Francesca Martin Garcia, a child psychologist and director of one of southern Spain’s foremost mental health centres.

Prime Minister Petro Sanchez hinted at a maximum age level of 12 for outings, which media reports say would be limited to 90 minutes and need to be accompanied by an adult.

To know more, read Alasdair Fotheringham’s report from Grenada. 

15:03 GMT – Dozens of cases reported in Morocco prison

Sixty-eight people, mostly staff, tested positive to coronavirus at a prison in the southern Moroccan city of Ouarzazate, prison authorities said on Tuesday.

Earlier this monthm Morocco released 5,645 prisoners to help reduce the risk of the coronavirus spreading in its prisons as has happened in other countries.

At the Ouarzazate facility, at least six inmates were among those to have contracted the coronavirus and all were now undergoing testing, a prison statement said.

14:37 GMT – Virus biggest crisis since WWII: Erdogan

Turkey to free thousands of its prisoners to curb coronavirus

The human cost and economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic have turned it into an era-defining global crisis, said Turkey’s president on Tuesday.

“With its economic fallout, the pandemic has turned into the biggest crisis since World War II,” said Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

His remarks came during a central executive board meeting of his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party via videoconferencing. Turkey has so far registered 90,980 cases with a death toll of 2,140.

14:20 GMT – Italy PM says EU summit unlikely to reach final deal on stimulus

As European countries prepare for what is expected to be a key economic meeting on Thursday, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte expressed doubts over the bloc’s capacity to find a solution to its economic problems amid the crisis.

“I don’t believe the upcoming meeting of the 27 leaders will find a definitive solution but I will do everything … to ensure it expresses a clear political path in the only reasonable direction,” Conte said, addressing the Italian Senate.

He added the future of the EU depended on it finding sufficient common resources to tackle the crisis.

Conte also said Rome would not veto the use of the eurozone bailout fund because other countries, including Spain, had said they were interested in using it, but he reiterated that he did not see it as a useful tool for Italy.

European Commission: Members should coordinate on virus curbs

14.03 GMT – Children, women casualties of Uganda’s transport ban

In Uganda, the government has imposed a transport ban as part of a series of measures to spead the coronavirus pandemic.

Critics say, however, the restrictions have left no realistic provision for emergency care, leading in some cases to deaths.

Read Sally Hayden’s story from Gulu, northern Uganda, here.

 

Hi, this is Virginia Pietromarchi and I will be taking over the blog from my colleague Usaid Siddiqui.

 

13:26 GMT – Saudi to ease restrictions in Ramadan 

Saudi Arabia plans to ease curfew hours it imposed on several cities during the month of Ramadan to allow people more time to shop for essential needs within the boundaries of their neighbourhoods, state news agency (SPA) reported on Tuesday.

Currently, people living in areas under 24-hour curfew can go out for healthcare and to supermarkets from 6am to 3pm. In Ramadan these hours will start from 9am until 5pm, SPA said.

12:56 GMT – Austrian restaurants, churches and some schools to reopen from May 15

Austria will further loosen its coronavirus lockdown on May 15 by allowing restaurants to reopen and religious services to resume, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said.

Schools are already due to reopen for senior students in early May. Kurz told a news conference that schools would reopen for other years in a step-by-step process beginning on May 15.

The country let DIY and garden centres as well as smaller shops reopen a week ago. Larger shops are due to follow from May 1.

12:52 GMT – Iraq eases restrictions ahead of Ramadan

Iraqi authorities will partially scale back the 24-hour curfew imposed to contain the new coronavirus in a move to balance the restrictions for the month of Ramadan.

The new curfew will be implemented mainly at night, from 7pm until 6am local time as of April 21 until May 11.

The total ban, however, will stay in place on Fridays and Saturday.

Restrictions on public gatherings, gatherings of more than three people and social distancing rules remain in place while restaurants and cafes will be permitted to provide delivery services only.

12:45 GMT – Indonesia bans traditional Ramadan exodus to rein in coronavirus

Indonesia will ban its traditional annual exodus of people streaming out of cities at the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, as the Southeast Asian nation looks to curb the spread of coronavirus, President Joko Widodo said.

Indonesia’s tally of 616 virus deaths is the highest in East Asia after China, but Widodo had previously resisted a ban, seeking instead to persuade people to stay put.

But health experts had warned that allowing millions in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country to travel to homes in towns and villages over Ramadan, which starts this week, could accelerate the spread of the disease.

Indonesian health workers dying amid equipment shortages

12:35 GMT – Thailand extends foreigners’ visas as coronavirus cases slow

Thailand’s cabinet approved a second automatic visa extension for foreigners for three more months on Tuesday, in a bid to prevent long queues at immigration centres and stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Foreigners whose visas had expired since March 26 will be permitted to stay until July 31 without having to apply for an extension, said Narumon Pinyosinwat, a spokeswoman for the Thai government.

12:30 GMT – Coronavirus: India charity making 70,000 meals a day for the poor

The streets of Mumbai, India’s financial capital, are forlorn and neighbourhoods eerily quiet, with the rustle of leaves caused by the warm breeze being the only audible sound in the vicinity.

But a suburban restaurant is bustling with activity as 8 to 10 men briskly portion out khichdi (boiled rice with lentils) from large pots into smaller containers. Intent on their work, they keep their eyes on the vessels as their hands move the hot meals along.

Read more here.

12:15 GMT – Dutch coronavirus cases rise by 729 to 34,134 -authorities

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Netherlands has risen by 729 to 34,134, health authorities said on Tuesday, with 165 new deaths.

Total deaths stand at 3,916, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) said in its daily update.

The RIVM repeated that it only reports cases and deaths confirmed by testing, and actual numbers are larger.

12:10 GMT – Italy PM warns easing lockdown risks increasing contagion curve

Italy will this week announce plans for the gradual reopening from a lockdown imposed to fight the coronavirus emergency that will be applied starting from May 4, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Tuesday.

The lockdown, closing most Italian businesses and preventing people from leaving their homes for all but essential needs, has been in place since March 9, putting a major strain on the eurozone’s third-largest economy.

Read more here.

Iran battles COVID-19: Thousands of volunteers disinfect cities

12:00 GMT – Indonesia’s Aceh holds public floggings despite virus fears

Six people were publicly flogged in Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province on Tuesday for breaking local Islamic law, despite widespread bans on mass gatherings over coronavirus fears.

Officials insisted they followed social distancing rules but vowed that the global pandemic would not stand in the way of doling out justice.

“To comply with current conditions, we’re trying to cut unnecessary procedures like the usual opening speech,” said Safriadi, the official responsible for Sharia punishments in provincial capital Banda Aceh.

“We just carried out the flogging directly to make it simpler. Whipping will still go on, but we’re limiting the number of people involved,” added Safriadi, who uses one name.

11:45 GMT – UN urges world to quickly scale up medicines, vaccines

The United Nations General Assembly demanded global action to quickly scale up the development of and access to medicines, vaccines and equipment to battle the pandemic, while the World Health Organization warned on Tuesday that rushing to ease coronavirus lockdowns could lead to a resurgence of the outbreak.

The UN resolution asked Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to work with the WHO and make recommendations to ensure that all people have equitable and timely access to testing, medical supplies, drugs and future vaccines, especially in developing countries.

African officials have been outspoken about the need for medical supplies across the 54-nation continent, where health systems have historically been underfunded and will be overwhelmed by the virus.

11:29 GMT – No new corona cases in Lebanon in past 24 hours – health ministry

Lebanon recorded no new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours for the first time during the country’s outbreak, the health ministry said in its daily report.

It said that after 487 tests conducted in the last 24 hours the number of infections stood at 677, with 21 deaths.

Under Lebanon’s lockdown since mid-March, people can only leave their homes to buy food or medicine, with most businesses closed [File: Hussam Chbaro/Anadolu]

11:12 GMT – Lebanese MPs sprayed with sanitiser at makeshift Parliament

Lebanese MPs were sprayed with sanitiser as they arrived for a legislative session on that was relocated from the Beirut Parliament building to a theatre to allow for social distancing against the coronavirus.

MPs had their temperatures taken upon arrival at the UNESCO Palace building and their legs were sprayed by a man in hazmat suit. Many wore face masks during media interviews.

Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri sat on a desk on stage as the three-day session began.

MPs will debate draft laws including one to regulate the cultivation of cannabis for medical use, a controversial amnesty, and a proposal to lift immunity from prosecution for government ministers.

10:55 GMT – Pakistan records highest number of coronavirus deaths in a day

Pakistan has seen its highest rise in deaths in a single day from the coronavirus, with 17 new cases taking the country’s death toll from the highly contagious virus to at least 192, according to government data.

Monday also saw the highest single-day rise in cases in Pakistan, with 705 confirmed cases taking the country’s tally to 9,214, according to the data.

Read more here.

10:37 GMT – Virus outbreak at migrant hotel near Athens

Authorities in Greece have locked down a migrant hotel housing 470 asylum seekers amid reports that scores of residents tested positive for the new coronavirus.

The migration ministry said a pregnant woman from Somalia living at the hotel in Kranidi, 166 kilometres (104 miles) southwest of Athens, had tested positive.

News reports said Tuesday that scores of other asylum seekers staying at the hotel, which is supervised by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), had also tested positive.

The IOM said it had “interpreters, psychologists, social workers and legal counsellors … in constant contact with all stakeholders to support in this challenging situation”.

The 28-year-old woman had been placed under “complete isolation in her room” and the entire hotel is under lockdown, the ministry said.

After virus control, Greece hopes for economic recovery

10:21 GMT – Coronavirus likely of animal origin, no sign of lab manipulation – WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) said that all available evidence suggested that the novel coronavirus originated in bats in China late last year and it was not manipulated or constructed in a lab.

US President Donald Trump said last week that his government was trying to determine whether the coronavirus emanated from a lab in Wuhan, in central China.

“All available evidence suggests the virus has an animal origin and is not manipulated or constructed virus in a lab or somewhere else,” WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told a Geneva news briefing. “It is probable, likely that the virus is of animal origin.”

10:08 GMT – Spain records 430 new coronavirus deaths

New deaths attributed to the new coronavirus in Spain are slightly up again, with 430 fatalities that bring the total death toll to 21,282 from a 4-week low of 399 daily deaths on Monday.

Spain is reporting nearly 4,000 new infections for a total of 204,178, a two percent day-to-day increase in line with the average for the past four days, health ministry data shows.

The government is assessing already how to roll back one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns, starting from next Monday, by allowing children to go out onto the streets for brief periods. Spain’s centre-left cabinet is discussing details on how the measure will be implemented during Tuesday’s weekly meeting.

09:45 GMT – Iran says 1,000 foreign prisoners temporarily released

Iran’s judiciary said it has temporary released more than 1,000 foreign prisoners due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, following criticism by UN human rights experts.

“What Iran has done in guaranteeing prisoners’ health and granting furlough to them is a significant move” compared with what other countries have done, said judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili.

British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, arrested in 2016 and serving a five-year jail term for sedition, was among 100,000 prisoners temporarily released in March.

Her leave had been extended until May 20, her lawyer told state news agency IRNA.

British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is seen after being temporarily released from a Tehran jail on March 17, 2020 [File: Nazanin Campaign/Handout/Reuters]

09:30 GMT – Afghanistan’s Ghani tests negative for coronavirus

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and the first lady have tested negative for the novel coronavirus, officials announced after reports of an outbreak at the presidential palace.

Presidential spokesperson Sediq Sediqqi said the tests were conducted at their own request. “The president is healthy,” Sediqqi tweeted.

At least 40 employees of the palace have been infected by the virus, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

09:15 GMT – Global hunger could double due to COVID-19 blow – UN

The number of people facing acute food insecurity could nearly double this year to 265 million due to the economic fallout of COVID-19, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said.

The impact of lost tourism revenues, falling remittances and travel and other restrictions linked to the coronavirus pandemic are expected to leave some 130 million people acutely hungry this year, adding to around 135 million already in that category.

“COVID-19 is potentially catastrophic for millions who are already hanging by a thread,” said Arif Husain, chief economist and director of research, assessment and monitoring at the WFP.

Brazil’s Bolsonaro joins protest against coronavirus restrictions

09:00 GMT – Virgin Australia airline seeks bankruptcy protection 

Virgin Australia, the nation’s second-largest airline, announced it had entered voluntary administration, seeking bankruptcy protection after a debt crisis worsened by the coronavirus shutdown pushed it into insolvency.

The airline said in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange that it had appointed a team of Deloitte administrators to “recapitalize the business and help ensure it emerges in a stronger financial position on the other side of the COVID-19 crisis”.

Virgin is one of the first major airlines to seek bankruptcy protection in response to the pandemic. Virgin’s administrators have taken control of the company and will try to work out a way to save either the company or its business.

The move came after the Australian government refused Virgin’s request for a 1.4 billion Australian dollar ($888 million) loan.

Virgin is one of the first major airlines to seek bankruptcy protection in response to the pandemic [File:Loren Elliott/Reuters]

08:45 GMT – Indonesia reports 375 new coronavirus infections, 26 deaths

Indonesia reported 375 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, taking the total in the Southeast Asian country to 7,135.

Health ministry official Achmad Yurianto reported 26 new coronavirus deaths, taking the total to 616.

More than 46,700 people have been tested and 842 people had recovered [Achmad Ibrahim/AP]

08:30 GMT – WHO: Prepare for a new way of living amid coronavirus

The World Health Organization said rushing to ease coronavirus restrictions will likely lead to a resurgence of the illness, a warning that comes as governments start rolling out plans to get their economies up and running again.

“This is not the time to be lax. Instead, we need to ready ourselves for a new way of living for the foreseeable future,” said Dr Takeshi Kasai, the WHO regional director for the Western Pacific.

He said governments must remain vigilant to stop the spread of the virus and the lifting of lockdowns and other social distancing measures must be done gradually and strike the right balance between keeping people healthy and allowing economies to function.

08:15 GMT – Denmark says public gatherings will not exceed 500 people until September

Denmark will not allow public gatherings to exceed 500 persons until at least September 1, the Danish health ministry said in a statement.

The statement contradicted earlier media reports, which said the government would allow larger public gatherings from May 10. A current upper limit on public gatherings of 10 people is in effect until May 10.

08:10 GMT – Philippines reports nine new coronavirus deaths, 140 more infections

The Philippines’ health ministry recorded nine new coronavirus deaths and 140 additional confirmed cases.

In a bulletin, the health ministry said total coronavirus deaths have reached 437 while infections have risen to 6,599.

But 41 more patients have recovered, bringing total recoveries to 654, it added.

The Phillipines has undertaken strict lockdown measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus [Ez/Getty Images]

Hello, this is Usaid Siddiqui in Doha taking over from my collegue Kate Mayberry.

04:00 GMT – ICRC steps up support in congested Asian prisons

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which works in prisons worldwide, is stepping up efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus in overcrowded prisons in the Philippines, Cambodia and Bangladesh.

As well as a 48-bed isolation centre for Manila’s prisons, it has donated 20 tonnes of healthcare, hygiene and sanitation items to Cambodia’s Directorate General of Prisons and organised hygiene training sessions for prison staff in Bangladesh where it has also distributed disinfection materials.

03:35 GMT – Not so super: Singapore pulls virus superheroes after backlash

Singapore has pulled the Virus Vanguard, a group of five characters it developed as part of a public information campaign on its lockdown, dubbed the circuit breaker.

“We have received quite a lot of feedback on the characters and we will be reviewing them,” the government said on its official Facebook page. “We are sorry if we offended anyone.”

The five characters included Dr Disinfector, Care-leh Dee (pronounced Care Lady) and Fake News Buster.

Critics said the approach was too frivolous given the scale of the epidemic in the city-state, now the largest in Southeast Asia.

03:20 GMT – Philippines stepping up testing for coronavirus

The Philippines is stepping up testing for the coronavirus with the assistance of the Red Cross whose laboratory aims to test 1,000 samples a day.

02:50 GMT – Panic in Palu as Indonesia coronavirus cases surge

Palu was the city in Indonesia’s Sulawesi island that was shaken by an earthquake and swamped by a tsunami before parts were swallowed up by the earth in a phenomenon known as liquefaction.

That was in September 2018 and thousands of people are still living in cramped temporary shelters – tents even – reliant on aid for regular food and water. Now they have to worry about the coronavirus.

“As soon as the government said there were cases in Palu, I began panicking,” said Tari Yalijama, a 32-year-old mother of three who lives in a temporary shelter. Ian Morse has more on the situation in the Indonesian city.

Some residents of Palu continue to live in tents more than 18 months after the triple disaster of September 2018. NGOs delivered some basic supplies this month {Supplied/Al Jazeera]

02:30 GMT – Trump tweets US immigration to be temporarily suspended

US President Donald Trump says he plans to sign an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration “in light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy”.

Read more here.

02:00 GMT – Hong Kong to extend coronavirus restrictions

Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam says the territory will extend its coronavirus restrictions by 14 days.

On Monday, Hong Kong reported no new cases of the virus for the first time since early March.

Under restrictions that came into force on March 29, public gatherings of more than four people are banned, gyms, cinemas, bars and other entertainment centres are closed and foreign travellers have been barred from entering the territory.

Hong Kong’s entertainment districts have fallen quiet after bars and entertainment venues were told to close at the end of March [Jerome Favre/EPA]

00:45 GMT – China reports 11 new confirmed coronavirus cases

China’s latest coronavirus update shows just 11 new confirmed cases on the mainland on April 20, with no new deaths.

The National Health Commission said four of the new cases were imported.

There were seven cases of local infection, including six in the northeastern border province of Heilongjiang and one in the southern province of Guangdong.

China also reported 37 new asymptomatic coronavirus cases on the mainland on April 20, compared with 49 a day earlier.

00:30 GMT – UN member states demand ‘equitable’ access for COVID-19 vaccines

The 193 members of the UN General Assembly on Monday adopted a resolution calling for “equitable, efficient and timely” access to any future vaccines developed to fight the coronavirus.

The resolution also highlighted the “crucial leading role” played by the World Health Organization (WHO), which has faced criticism from the United States and others over its handling of the pandemic.

The resolution was drafted by Mexico and received US support. It calls for strengthening the “scientific international cooperation necessary to combat COVID-19 and to bolster coordination,” including with the private sector.

00:00 GMT – Trump criticises governors over coronavirus testing

US President Donald Trump has criticised governors who have said they cannot ease lockdowns because they do not have enough coronavirus tests.

Maryland’s Republican Governor Larry Hogan said on Monday he had secured 500,000 tests from South Korea after more than 20 days of negotiations, and said states had been forced to fend for themselves and compete against each other for tests.

At his daily briefing on Monday, Trump claimed that Hogan did not understand “too much about what was going on” while Illinois’ Democratic Governor JB Pritzker “did not understand his capacity”.

The president said: “We’re in very good shape on testing.”

—-

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 20) here.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

Related

More from News
Most Read