US to stockpile possible coronavirus vaccines: Live updates

The US will place ‘huge multi-hundred million dollar bets’ on producing vaccines currently in trials, official says.

  • The US government plans to stockpile hundreds of millions of doses of vaccines that are currently under development, in hopes of having a successful vaccine ready for mass distribution as soon as possible, a health official has said. 

  • Germany’s coronavirus-hit economy has contracted by 2.2 percent in the first quarter of the year in its steepest three-month slump since the 2009 financial crisis.

  • Wuhan, the Chinese city planning to test all of its 11 million residents, has assessed more than three million people since April and will focus its testing efforts on the remaining residents. 

  • Officials confirmed the first coronavirus infection of a Rohingya refugee in the sprawling camps in southern Bangladesh.

  • Globally, more than 4.5 million people have been infected and more than 306,000 have died from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. About 1.6 million people have recovered.

Here are all the latest updates:

Friday, May 15

22:15 GMT – US prepares for graduation under lockdown

With the majority of Americans still under coronavirus-related lockdowns and school and college campuses closed, students who are set to graduate in 2020 are seeking other ways to mark this milestone – they will not get a chance to don a scholarly cap and gown and celebrate with friends and family.

On Saturday, TV networks will broadcast an event called ‘Graduate Together,’ with former President Barack Obama and basketball player LeBron James, while Obama will be joined by his wife Michelle and other names from the worlds of politics and entertainment for a YouTube event on June 6 called ‘Dear Class of 2020.’

Meanwhile, students are doing what they can to celebrate. Convoys of cars beeping their horns have become a common sight in US towns, while others are holding ceremonies at home with their families.

22:00 GMT – Brazil cases continue to surge

Brazil’s health ministry confirms 218, 223 cases of the coronavirus, and 14,817 deaths as numbers continue to surge. Brazil has the highest number of confirmed cases in Latin America. 

21:45 GMT – Panama extends international flight

Panama has extended by one month to June 22 its ban on international flights due to the coronavirus outbreak, the country’s aviation authority said on Friday.

The Panama Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement the suspension was due to concerns about “public health”.

21:30 GMT – Trump says he wants to make COVID-19 vaccine free

US President Donald Trump said he was looking at possibly making a coronavirus vaccine available free of charge.

“We’re looking at that, actually,” Trump said when asked by a reporter at the White House whether a vaccine would be free.

20:45 GMT – IMF approves $520 mn emergency loan for Jamaica     

The IMF has approved a $520 million loan for Jamaica to help the island nation deal with urgent needs raised by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The shock of coronavirus came after the country successfully graduated from an IMF-supported reform program, but is now hit by the need for emergency spending amid a travel shutdown, the Washington-based crisis lender said.

“Despite the authorities’ best efforts, the pandemic is severely impacting the Jamaican economy, as a sudden stop in tourism and falling remittances are generating a sizable balance-of-payments need,” IMF Deputy Managing Director Tao Zhang said in a statement.

New Jersey hit hard by COVID-19 crisis

20:30 GMT – Latin America gov’ts using repression in COVID-19 fight: Amnesty

Lockdown measures put in place across Latin America to limit the spread of the coronavirus pandemic have repressed civil liberties and violated human rights, a rights group said on Friday. 

Amnesty International said it has verified nearly 60 incidents in the region over the past seven weeks that show governments using arbitrary, punitive and repressive tactics to enforce quarantine orders.

“The footage we have verified from across the Americas since late March provides worrying indications that governments are reverting to the kinds of repression we documented in 2019 and earlier, but this time to enforce pandemic-related public health measures,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

Read more here

Riot police preparing to contain people who were detained for violating El Salvador’s nationwide lockdown measures in San Salvador, El Salvador [Jose Cabezas/Reuters] 

20:10 GMT – Brazil outgoing health minister thanks Bolsonaro, gives no reason for quitting

Brazil’s outgoing health minister Nelson Teich said in a press briefing on Friday that he had decided to resign from his position, becoming the second person to leave the top public health position in less than a month in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Teich thanked President Jair Bolsonaro for offering him the opportunity to work as minister and said he had given it his best but gave no reason for why he had chosen to resign.

19:50 GMT – Amazon planning to reopen its French warehouses from May 19

Amazon has said it is aiming to gradually reopen its French warehouses from May 19 as the US e-commerce giant is finalizing an agreement with unions and work councils that should put an end to a spat that led to a more than one-month closure of the sites.

Its six French warehouses have been closed since April 16 following court rulings that ordered it to restrict deliveries during the COVID-19 pandemic or face hefty fines.

“We are currently finalizing a process with French unions and works councils, and we are hopeful that we will be able to re-open our French fulfillment centres in the coming days”, Amazon said.

A worker carries Amazon boxes during a delivery in the Bronx, New York [Angus Mordant/Bloomberg] 

19:30 GMT – ‘Lot of work to do’ as EU seeks deal on pandemic recovery fund: Senior official

There is no agreement yet between European Union countries on how much of the bloc’s proposed new coronavirus recovery fund should be handed out as grants to member states and how much in loans, a senior EU official has said.

The official spoke to Reuters news agency on the condition of anonymity as the EU executive in Brussels pushed back until May 27 the unveiling of its new proposal for the bloc’s next long-term budget, and the accompanying Recovery Fund, aiming to kick-start growth on the continent headed for its worst-ever economic downturn.

“The jackpot question is what is the size and what will be loans and grants,” the official said. “Here there is a lot of work to do… This process is an extremely fragile one.”

EU urges end to lockdown as tourism industry collapse

19:15 GMT – Six people held in Cameroon for distributing face masks

Opposition activists have been arrested in Cameroon for distributing face masks and disinfectant gel, their lawyers and Human Rights Watch said.

The six individuals were arrested on Monday in a busy market in the capital Yaounde. They are all supporters of main opposition leader Maurice Kamto, who lost the 2018 presidential election to veteran leader Paul Biya.

Cameroon’s government has banned an initiative by Kamto to collect funds to fight the novel coronavirus, ordering banks to close its accounts and freeze the money.

19:00 GMT – Eurovision organisers plan alternative show to replace cancelled contest 

Diehard Eurovision fans will not go entirely without this year, organisers have said.

The 2020 song contest was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but its organisers are set to host an alternative television show on Saturday, with video performances from past and present participants.

The two-hour-long, non-competitive show called ‘Europe Shine a Light’ will be broadcast by 40 public broadcasters across Europe. The makers said they want to “celebrate what Eurovision stands for and create a sense of unity across borders”.

The show will include all of this year’s entries together, singing “Love Shine a Light” from their respective living rooms by video link. The song by Katrina and the Waves was the winning entry in the 1997 Eurovision contest.

Fans watch on a big screen the 2019 Eurovision song contest final in the fans zone by the beach in Tel Aviv, Israel [File: Corinna Kern/Reuters]

18:40 GMT – France reports 104 more deaths, raising total to 27,529

French health authorities have reported 104 new coronavirus deaths or a slowing increase of 0.4 percent, bringing the total to 27,529, still the fourth-highest in the world.

In a statement, the ministry added the number of confirmed cases had risen to 141,919, up from 141,356 on Thursday, which is also a rise of 0.4 percent in 24 hours.

18:20 GMT – IMF Georgieva urges tech companies to be responsible with pandemic windfalls

Big technology companies that are reaping gains as result of increased reliance on online systems during the coronavirus crisis should work to increase access to the digital economy for all, the head of the IMF has said.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told an event hosted by Politico that the crisis was devastating the global economy, but it also offered an opportunity to tackle persistent inequality and other priorities such as climate change, if recovery funds were properly focused.

“I very much hope that the leadership of tech companies will see this as a chance to demonstrate responsible capitalism, responsible behavior,” she said.

A student takes online classes at home, with his companions, using the Zoom APP during the coronavirus outbreak in El Masnou, north of Barcelona, Spain [Albert Gea/Reuters]

18:00 GMT – Indian media accused of Islamophobia for its virus coverage

Critics have accused a large section of Indian media of blaming Muslims for the spread of the coronavirus, which so far has infected more than 82,000 people in the country and caused 2,649 deaths.

Read more here

The alleged Islamophobic campaign by the news media has had real consequences [File: Adnan Abidi/Reuters]

17:40 GMT – Trump: US government will invest in top vaccine candidates

US President Donald Trump has said the government would invest in all the top coronavirus vaccine candidates and said a list had been narrowed to 14 promising possibilities with a plan to narrow further.

At an event in the White House Rose Garden, in which many administration officials wore masks but the president did not, Trump expressed his hope that a vaccine would be in place before the end of the year and said his administration would mobilize its forces to get a vaccine distributed once one was in place.

17:20 GMT – UK may look into how care homes make deaths public

Britain’s health minister Matt Hancock has said he may look into care homes’ approach to making coronavirus deaths public after authorities declined to disclose the number of deaths in individual care homes.

Across the United Kingdom, thousands of people have died in care homes after becoming infected with the coronavirus, according to the government’s own statistics.

Campaigners for the welfare of elderly people and their relatives told Reuters they want the UK government to be more transparent after they were not informed that coronavirus deaths were happening in the care homes.

“I didn’t know about that and it’s certainly something that I’d like to look into because our overall approach in this is that transparency is the best way forward,” Hancock said at the daily Downing Street briefing.

US nursing homes: Advocates say more coronavirus testing needed

17:00 GMT – Ireland to introduce mandatory 14-day quarantine for travellers: PM    

Ireland will introduce a legally binding 14-day quarantine period for travellers arriving in the nation, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has said. 

The Irish cabinet agreed to make it mandatory for arrivals to fill out forms outlining where they will quarantine. “We’re going to examine means by which it can be enforced thereafter,” Varadkar said.     

Travellers from the British province of Northern Ireland will be exempt.

Swedish technology aims to allow truck drivers to work from home

16:40 GMT – WHO probing possible COVID-19 link to rare disease in children

The WHO has said it was studying a possible link between COVID-19 and an illness similar to Kawasaki disease that has sickened and killed children in Europe and the United States.

“Initial reports hypothesise that this syndrome may be related to COVID-19,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing, calling on clinicians worldwide to help “better understand this syndrome in children.”

16:20 GMT – Italy’s daily death toll and new cases dip

Deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy fell to 242 on Friday, against 262 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the daily tally of new cases dipped to 789 from 992 on Thursday.

The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on Feb. 21 now stands at 31,610 the agency said, the third highest in the world after those of the United States and Britain.

The number of confirmed cases amounts to 223,885, the fifth highest global tally behind those of the United States, Spain, Britain and Russia.

People registered as currently carrying the illness fell to 72,070 from 76,440 the day before.

Coronavirus: Lockdown Italy | People and Power

16:00 GMT – WHO head says vaccines, medicines must be fairly shared

Scientists and researchers are working at “breakneck” speed to find solutions for COVID-19 but the pandemic can only be beaten with equitable distribution of medicines and vaccines, the head of the World Health Organization has said.

“Traditional market models will not deliver at the scale needed to cover the entire globe,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing in Geneva. 

15:40 GMT – France: First case of child dying from Kawasaki-like disease

A nine-year-old boy has died in France from a Kawasaki-like disease believed to be linked to coronavirus, his doctor said on Friday, the first such confirmed death in the country as similar child fatalities are being investigated in New York and London.

The child died after a “neurological injury related to a cardiac arrest”, said Fabrice Michel, head of the paediatric intensive care unit at La Timone hospital in the Mediterranean port city of Marseille.

Read more here

Pupils wearing protective face masks are seen in a classroom at a primary school during its reopening in Paris [Benoit Tessier/Reuters]

15:30 GMT – Brazil health minister resigns after just weeks on the job

Brazil’s health minister Nelson Teich has handed in his resignation his office said, after less than a month on the job as the country becomes a world hotspot for coronavirus.

Teich, who disagreed with right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, will hold a press conference later Friday. Brazil has now surpassed Germany and France and had more than 200,000 confirmed cases of the virus as of Thursday. 

The resignation comes less than a month after Teich’s predecessor, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, was dismissed by Bolsonaro after the two sparred over the country’s coronavirus response. 

Brazil’s president defiant as coronavirus death toll soars

15:20 GMT – Yemen reports 21 new cases including 3 deaths

Yemen’s Saudi-backed government reported on Friday 21 new coronavirus cases, including three deaths, the coronavirus committee said on Twitter.

The committee added that 13 of the new cases were in Aden, and eight in Hadramout, including the three deaths.

The Aden-based government committee said the tally for confirmed coronavirus cases in areas under its control now stands at 106, including 15 deaths.

COVID-19 threatens to worsen Yemen devastation

15:00 GMT – German football league Bundesliga is back after break

Germany’s Bundesliga will be the first major football league in Europe to resume after a two-month break due to the coronavirus pandemic, despite many fans opposing the resumption of the season.

The Bundesliga, however, will not be the same when it restarts on Saturday with no children to accompany players to the field, no contact between rivals in the tunnel before the games, and no handshakes with the referee or match officials.

The games will be played in empty stadiums with only about 300 essential staff and officials attending. Players have been told not to spit, celebrate in groups or touch hands with teammates.

General view of a match ball during the warm up before the match that will be played behind closed while the number of coronavirus cases grow around the world [Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters]

14:45 GMT – UK death toll rises 384 to 33,998

The number of people who have died in the United Kingdom after testing positive to COVID-19 has risen by 384 to 33,998, Britain’s health ministry has said.

The number of deaths was as of 1600 GMT on Thursday, the government said. A total of 236,711 people had tested positive for the virus as of 0800 GMT on Friday.

14:20 GMT – US to stockpile vaccine candidates as trials continue: Health secretary

The US government plans to stockpile hundreds of millions of doses of vaccines that are under development to combat the novel coronavirus with the goal of having one or more vaccines ready to deploy by the end of the year, the health secretary has said.

“We’ve got over 100 vaccine candidates that have been discovered,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told Fox Business Network.

“What we’re doing now is we’re narrowing those down to the core group that we’re going to place huge multi-hundred million dollar bets on and scale massive vaccine domestic production so that we by the end of the year, we hope, would have one or more safe and effective vaccines and hundreds of millions of doses.”

The first human trials of potential coronavirus vaccines began in March [File: Ted S Warren/The Associated Press]

14:00 GMT – Denmark reports zero deaths for first time since March

Denmark, the first country in Europe to gradually start reopening, reported no coronavirus-related deaths on Friday from the day earlier for the first time since March 13.

Denmark’s total number of confirmed cases rose by 78 to 10,791 since Thursday, with the number of hospitalisations falling by 10 to 137. The death toll remained unchanged at 537.

“Milestone today: In the last day we have had 0 deaths as a result of COVID-19 in Denmark,” Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said on Twitter.

13:40 GMT – Pandemic teleworking is straining families: EU study

The COVID-19 pandemic is placing unprecedented strain on families and working life, an EU study showed on Friday, with more than a fifth of people who now work at home in households with younger children struggling to concentrate on their jobs.

The study by EU agency Eurofound, which seeks to improve living and working conditions, found that over a third of people working in the 27-nation European Union had started teleworking as a result of the pandemic.

Of those, 26 percent live in households with children under 12 and a further 10 percent with children aged from 12 to 17. Of those living with younger children, 22 percent reported difficulties in concentrating on their jobs all or most of the time. That compared with 5 percent of households with no children and 7 percent with older children.

Will working from home, work?

13:25 GMT – Georgia will end state of emergency on May 22 – PM

Georgia will end the state of emergency it declared over the new coronavirus on May 22, Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said.

The South Caucasus country of 3.7 million, which has registered 671 cases of the coronavirus and 12 deaths as of Friday, introduced the state of emergency on March 21 and extended it on April 21.

The state of emergency entails a night curfew from 9 pm till 6 am, closure of restaurants, cafes and most shops, a suspension of public transport and a ban on gatherings of more than three people. Grocery stores, pharmacies and petrol stations remain open.


This Joseph Stepansky in Doha taking over from Umut Uras. 


12:55 GMT – Austria’s Swiss and Liechtenstein borders to fully reopen on June 15

Austria has struck the same border-opening agreement with Switzerland and Liechtenstein as the one it previously announced with Germany, to fully allow travel from June 15, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has said.

“We have reached an agreement with Germany, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, namely a significant easing from today and a full opening of borders from June 15,” he told a news conference, adding that talks were under way with its eastern European neighbours.

12:40 GMT – Czech Republic eases lockdown

The Czech Republic has said it would allow gatherings of up to 300 people later this month as coronavirus infections remained among the lowest in Europe.

Gatherings including sports events will be allowed as of May 25, when businesses including restaurants and pubs will also be allowed to open, Health Minister Adam Vojtech said.

Shopping centres, cinemas, barbers and restaurant terraces opened on Monday after nearly two months under lockdown in the country of 10.7 million people.

A worker in a protective suit disinfects the statue of first Czechoslovak President T. G. Masaryk at Hradcanske Square in Prague in March [Martin Divisek/EPA]

12:25 GMT – Norway likely to keep travel restrictions until August 20: PM

Norway will likely maintain current travel restrictions to and from the Nordic country until Aug. 20, Prime Minister Erna Solberg has said.

The measures include official advice against travelling abroad unless necessary, a 10-day quarantine for all people returning from abroad and barring entry to most non-Norwegians who do not have the right to live and work in Norway.

12:05 GMT – French lockdown led to less drug trafficking and spike in prices

The lockdown imposed in France to combat the coronavirus led to a sharp drop in drug trafficking and a huge spike in prices, officials have said.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told a news conference that there had been a drop of 30-40 percent in drug trafficking in France, while anti-drug trafficking official Stéphanie Cherbonnier said prices jumped by 30-60 percent.

“We have noted a massive increase in prices,” said Cherbonnier, who added that drug traffickers had sought to get around the lockdown by using home delivery and drive-in services.

11:45 GMT – Spain’s coronavirus death toll climbs by 138 on Friday: ministry

Spain’s death toll from coronavirus registered its lowest increase since Monday as health authorities registered 138 new fatalities, the health ministry reported.

The overall coronavirus death toll rose to 27,459, while the number of diagnosed cases rose to 230,183 cases from 229,540 on Thursday, the ministry said.

11:30 GMT – Slovenia first EU nation to declare end of epidemic at home

Slovenia, a mountainous nation of two million people, has become the first European country to proclaim an end to the coronavirus epidemic at home.

The European Union member state’s government said the COVID-19 spread is under control and there is no longer a need for extraordinary health measures.

Read more on this story here.

The first coronavirus case in Slovenia was recorded on March 4 [Jure Makovec /AFP]

10:50 GMT – Water shortages cause hardships in Zimbabwe amid ogoing pandemic

Water shortages are causing increased hardships for many in Zimbabwe, on top of the coronavirus restrictions in place and a crippling economic crisis.

“Social distancing, here? You can’t avoid the pushing, everyone wants a drop,” a resident in Chitungwiza says. 

10:20 GMT – Hundreds get virus at main Kazakh oil field

More than 400 people have tested positive for the coronavirus at Kazakhstan’s top-producing oil field, health officials have said.

The number of infections at the giant Tengiz oil field rose from 17 on Thursday to 401 by Friday, according to officials in the Atyrau region.

They said the workers were being treated and their contacts traced. However, Health Minister Yelzhan Birtanov on Thursday criticised quarantine measures at the field.

09:55 GMT – Japanese economist: Coronavirus could last years

Japan should boost coronavirus testing and offer more generous cash payouts to households as the epidemic could last for several years, an economist appointed to a government panel on the virus response has said.

The government can fund huge spending on the coronavirus by issuing more bonds, which the central bank can buy to avoid causing a rise in long-term interest rates, said Keiichiro Kobayashi, who was appointed on Tuesday to join a committee advising the government on measures to combat the pandemic.

“It could take up to four years,” he said, referring to the time needed to develop and distribute an effective vaccine or medicine to combat the virus. Consumption will fall globally during that time, he added.

Japan has reported nearly 16,000 coronavirus infections and over 650 deaths [Koji Sasahara/AP] 

09:35 GMT – Hong Kong economy contracts 8.9 percent in first quarter

Hong Kong’s economy shrank 8.9 percent in the first quarter compared with a year earlier, the government said, as the coronavirus pandemic dealt a heavy blow to the city following months of social unrest.

It is the third straight quarter of year-on-year contractions for the Asian financial hub, and its worst quarterly drop since records began in 1974.

The first quarter’s pace compares with a decline of three percent in the previous quarter, and an advance estimate of negative 8.9 percent.

09:15 GMT – Portugal’s economy tanks 3.9 percent in first quarter 

Portugal’s economy contracted 3.9 percent in the first quarter from the preceding three-month period as the coronavirus epidemic and subsequent restrictions on movement started taking their toll mainly in March, official data showed.

The National Statistics Institute also said in its flash estimate that the country’s gross domestic product shrank 2.4 percent compared to the same period a year earlier.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, the economy grew 0.7 percent quarter-on-quarter and 2.2 percent year-on-year.

08:55 GMT – Malaysia reports 36 new coronavirus cases with no new deaths

Malaysia has reported 36 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours with no additional deaths, the health ministry said.

The country has recorded a total of 6,855 infections with 112 fatalities. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Malaysia has recorded a total of 6,855 infections with 112 fatalities[EPA]  

08:30 GMT – Virus-hit German economy suffers worst contraction since 2009

The German economy contracted by 2.2 percent in the first quarter, its steepest three-month slump since the 2009 financial crisis as shops and factories were shut in March to contain the spread of the coronavirus, preliminary data showed.

On the year, gross domestic product in Europe’s largest economy fell by 2.3 percent from January to March after a 0.4 percent expansion in the previous three months, seasonally adjusted figures from the Federal Statistics Office showed.

Analysts polled by the Reuters agency had expected national output to shrink by 2.2 percent quarter-on-quarter and two 2 percent contraction year-on-year in seasonally adjusted terms.

08:15 GMT – Philippines’ coronavirus infections top 12,000, deaths pass 800 mark

The number of novel coronavirus cases in the Philippines’ has passed the 12,000 mark, and more than 800 people have now died, the health ministry said.

In a bulletin, the ministry reported 16 more coronavirus deaths, bringing the total to 806. It recorded 215 additional infections, increasing the total tally to 12,091. But 123 more patients have recovered, bringing total recoveries to 2,460.

07:50 GMT – Russia reports 10,598 new coronavirus infections

Russia reported 10,598 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, pushing its nationwide case tally to 262,843.

Russia’s coronavirus taskforce said 113 people had died over the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll from the virus to 2,418.

Russia’s coronavirus taskforce says 113 people died in the country over the last 24 hours [Anadolu]

07:35 GMT – China: COVID-19 risks from imported cases are ‘controllable’

The risk of a COVID-19 resurgence in China from so-called imported infections is controllable, an official of the National Health Commission (NHC) said.

China reported four new coronavirus cases on the mainland on May 14, all of them locally transmitted. China has banned most foreigners from entering its borders since late March as the pandemic spread globally.

NHC Vice Minister Zeng Yixin also told reporters during a briefing that some COVID-19 vaccines are set to complete their second-phase clinical trials in July.

07:18 GMT – Ghana’s dancing pallbearers urge people to stay home

The Nana Otafrija service group, known as Ghana’s dancing pallbearers, provides funeral services featuring men dressed in black and white suits and sunglasses.

They get down to festive beats while carrying a coffin on their shoulders in funeral ceremonies.

The pallbearers have been enjoying international fame in pandemic times, urging people to stay home and exercise social distancing.

They say: “Now remember, stay at home or dance with us.”

06:50 GMT – UK approves Abbott’s COVID-19 antibody test

The UK has given the green light to Abbott Laboratories to produce a COVID-19 antibody test, shortly after it gave the same approval to Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding, health officials said.

Mass antibody testing with millions of kits is being considered by many countries as a way to speed the reopening of economies devastated by lockdowns and to introduce more tailored social distancing measures.

06:20 GMT – Thailand reports seven new coronavirus cases, all from overseas

Thailand has reported seven new coronavirus cases, while the number of deaths remained unchanged at 56.

The new cases were all patients who arrived from Pakistan last week and have been in state quarantine, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration.

Thailand has confirmed a total of 3,025 cases since the coronavirus outbreak started in January and earlier in the week reported zero new daily cases for the first time in two months.

Thailand has confirmed a total of 3,025 cases since the coronavirus outbreak started in January [Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP]

Hello, I’m Umut Uras in Doha, Qatar, taking over from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives.

I’m handing over to my colleague, Umut Uras, in Doha, Qatar now. Here’s a quick summary of the latest developments:

– Slovenia called an end to its COVID-19 outbreak, becoming the first country to do so.

– Cafes and pubs are reopening in parts of Australia

– Brazil cases hit a daily record even as President Jair Bolsonaro lobbied business leaders to pressure the governor of Sao Paolo to lift lockdown measures.

05:35 GMT – China’s factory output posts first increase for 2020

China’s factory output rose for the first time this year as the world’s second-largest economy slowly emerged from its coronavirus lockdowns. 

Industrial production climbed 3.9 percent in April from a year earlier, data showed on Friday, faster than the 1.5 percent increase forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts and following a 1.1 percent fall in March.

But China continues to face significant challenges in its services sector, particularly in retail. Of particular concern for policymakers ahead of next week’s annual meeting of Parliament is the prospect of a spike in unemployment, which poses serious political risks for the nation of 1.4 billion.

“Overall, this set of data shows only small and gradual improvements in economic activity, which could upset markets as China is seen as the ‘first out’ economy from COVID-19,” said Iris Pang, chief economist for Greater China at ING.

05:02 GMT – Study says virus could infect more than 200 million people in Africa

A World Health Organizations (WHO) modelling study has indicated the coronavirus could kill 150,000 people in Africa and infect 231 million people in a year unless urgent action is taken.

Authors of the research said even though many African nations have been swift to adopt containment measures, health systems could still quickly become overwhelmed.

That would divert already limited resources to tackle major health issues in the region, such as HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and malnutrition, worsening the effects of coronavirus.

“The region will have fewer deaths, but occurring more in relatively younger age groups, amongst people previously considered healthy – due to undiagnosed non-communicable diseases,” the report said, adding that these trends are already emerging.

Transmission is estimated to be greatest in smaller nations, with Mauritius found to have the highest risk of exposure. Of the continent’s larger countries, South Africa, Cameroon and Algeria were also in the top 10 for exposure risk.

03:52 GMT – S Korea reports 17 more cases linked to Seoul night club cluster

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) has reported 29 new cases, 17 of which are linked to bars and clubs in Seoul’s nightlife district of Itaewon.

The latest figures brought the total number of cases in the Itaewon cluster to 148.

The Yonhap news agency said health authorities will disinfect nightclubs and bars this weekend, “in an effort to prevent the Itaewon infection cluster from expanding into a mass outbreak.”

3:18 GMT – China’s Wuhan tests almost a third of residents

Wuhan, the original epicentre of China’s coronavirus outbreak, has tested more than three million residents for the pathogen since April and will now focus its testing efforts on the rest of its 11 million population, according to state media.

The priority will be residents who have not been tested before, people living in residential compounds that had previous cases of the virus, as well as old or densely populated estates, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing a Wuhan government meeting.

Authorities in Wuhan plan to conduct tests on everyone in the city after detecting a cluster of infections over the weekend – the first since the city’s lockdown was lifted on April 8.

A medical worker takes a swab sample from a resident to be tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province on May 14, 2020. [STR/ AFP]

02:54 GMT – Bangladesh urged to end internet blackout in Rohingya camps

A UK charity is urging authorities in Bangladesh to lift internet restrictions in camps housing hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees after the first cases of the coronavirus were detected there on Thursday.

“We urge Bangladesh and the international community to do everything they can to ensure that all necessary aid reaches those who need it,” said Tun Khin, president of Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK).

“This must also be a wake-up call to the Bangladeshi authorities to lift internet restrictions in the camps. The current blackout is not just preventing aid groups from doing their jobs, but also blocking refugees from accessing life-saving information.”

02:26 GMT – Truck drivers test positive at Costa Rica-Nicaragua border

Health officials in Costa Rica said 23 truck drivers entering the country from Nicaragua have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past week.

All of them were asymptomatic. Two others who showed symptoms were turned away without tests.

The results are another sign that the spread of the virus in Nicaragua could be greater than its government has acknowledged. The country has reported only 25 confirmed cases and eight deaths, and its government has not imposed social distancing measures and continues to promote mass gatherings.

02:12 GMT – US alerts doctors to COVID-19 linked condition in children

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned doctors about a serious rare inflammatory condition in children linked to the coronavirus.

The CDC’s case definition includes current or recent COVID-19 infection or exposure to the virus, a fever of at least 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celcius) for at least 24 hours, inflammatory markers in blood tests, and evidence of problems affecting at least two organs that could include the heart, kidneys, or lungs.

The agency called the condition multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children.

01:54 GMT – Four million girls at risk of child marriage

The global charity World Vision says four million girls are at risk of child marriage in the next two years because of the coronavirus pandemic, with deepening poverty likely to drive many families to marry off their daughters early.

The risks are further exacerbated by the fact that schools have been closed and organisations working to combat child marriage have been finding it harder to operate during lockdowns.

“When you have any crisis like a conflict, disaster or pandemic rates of child marriage go up,” Erica Hall, World Vision’s child marriage expert, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “If we don’t start thinking about how to prevent it now it will be too late. We can’t wait for the health crisis to pass first.”

Pupils observing social distance rules listen to their teacher at the Saint Germain de Charonne school in Paris on May 14, 2020, as primary schools in France reopen this week [Franck Fife/ AFP]

01:38 GMT – Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club to partially reopen

US President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club will partially reopen to members this weekend as South Florida slowly reopens from the coronavirus lockdown.

An email sent on Thursday to members said the Palm Beach resort’s Beach Club restaurant, its pool and its whirlpool will reopen on Saturday after being closed for two months, but its main building that includes hotel rooms, the main dining area and the president’s private residence will remain closed.

Members will have to practice social distancing and lounge chairs will be set two metres (six feet) apart. They will have to bring their own towels.

01:31 GMT – China hits one-month mark since last reported virus death

China has gone a month without announcing any new deaths from the coronavirus.

The National Health Commission reported four new cases of the virus on Friday, all local cross-infections in the northeast province of Jilin where a cluster of uncertain origin has been detected in recent days. The last time the commission reported any deaths was on April 14.

In total, China has reported 4,633 deaths among 82,933 cases since the virus was first detected late last year in the central city of Wuhan.

01:25 GMT – Brazil cases hit daily record

Brazil has registered a daily record of 13,944 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday as President Jair Bolsonaro urged business leaders to push for lifting lockdown orders in the country’s financial centre, Sao Paulo.

Health ministry data showed a total of 202,918 confirmed cases and 13,933 deaths in Brazil, the hardest-hit country in Latin America, at the end of Thursday. 

But Bolsonaro, who opposes the lockdowns, told a virtual gathering of business leaders to “play tough” with Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria, who has issued social distancing orders and said he will not comply with Bolsonaro’s latest decree to reopen gyms and beauty salons.

“One man is deciding the future of Sao Paulo,” Bolsonaro said, referring to Doria. “He is deciding the future of Brazil’s economy. With all due respect, you have to call the governor and play tough – play tough – because it’s a serious issue, it is war. Brazil is at stake.”

Sao Paulo, Brazil’s most populous state and home to a third of its economic output, has seen hospitals pushed to the limit as it records the worst outbreak in the country.

00:12 GMT – Slovenia calls an end to its coronavirus epidemic

The Slovenian government is calling an official end to its coronavirus epidemic, becoming the first European country to do so after authorities confirmed less than seven new coronavirus cases each day for the past two weeks.

People now arriving in Slovenia from other European Union states will no longer be obliged to go into quarantine for at least seven days as was the case from early April, the government has said in a statement. But a 14-day quarantine remains in place for people coming in from non-EU states.

Citizens will still have to follow basic rules to prevent a possible spread of infection, the government has said, without elaborating. People have been required to wear masks in indoor public spaces, stand at least 1.5 metres (five feet) apart and disinfect hands upon entering public spaces.

The country of two million people has so far reported 1,464 coronavirus cases and 103 deaths.

00:04 GMT – Cafes and bars reopen in parts of Australia

New South Wales (NSW), Australia’s most populous state, is reopening restaurants, cafes and bars after a two-month shutdown, under the condition they limit customers to 10 at any one time. 

Gladys Berejiklian, premier of NSW, has cautioned people to remain vigilant and maintain social distancing.

“Easing restrictions has failed in so many places around the world and I don’t want that to happen in NSW, I want people to have personal responsibility for the way we respond,” Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.

In the Northern Territory, pubs are opening with no restrictions on patron numbers and there are no limits on public gatherings or house visits.

Victoria, Australia’s second-most populous state, is currently retaining most of its lockdown measures.


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 updates from yesterday (May 14) here

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

Related

More from News
Most Read