Coronavirus death toll in France nears 14,400: Live updates

Number of deaths increase in France but slightly fewer people were admitted into intensive care for fourth day in a row.

Medical workers disembark a patient infected with the COVID-19 out of a medicalised TGV high speed train after it arrived on April 10, 2020 at Bordeaux''s train station with 24 coronavirus patients on

France has reported a drop in coronavirus deaths on the previous 24 hours, with the total toll from the coronavirus epidemic in the country now 14,393.

There were 315 deaths in hospital over the last day, compared with 345 the day earlier.

Italy’s Civil Protection Agency has reported the lowest number of coronavirus deaths since March 19, with 431 fatalities recorded in the last 24 hours, down from 619 the previous day.

In Spain, the number of fatalities rose by 619 on Sunday from a nearly three-week low of 510 on Saturday, breaking a three-day streak of daily declines and taking the country’s death toll to 16,972.

Globally, more than 109,000 people have died from the new coronavirus and confirmed infections topped 1.7 million.

Here are all the latest updates:

Sunday, April 12

20:40 GMT – OPEC+ approves historic oil deal amid coronavirus pandemic

OPEC, Russia and other oil-producing nations agreed on Sunday to cut output by a record amount, representing around 10 percent of global supply, to support oil prices amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The group, known as OPEC+, agreed to reduce output by 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) for May-June, after four days of marathon talks and following pressure from US President Donald Trump to arrest the price decline.

Read more here.

20:30 GMT – Could coronavirus-induced recession be more deadly than the disease?

Just how deadly could a coronavirus-induced recession be? One recent study suggests the current economic slowdown roiling the world may end up killing more people than the virus itself. But some economists say the downturn could actually boost overall life expectancy. In the end, how it affects you could boil down to the role you play in the global economy.

United States President Donald Trump has seized on the likely lethality of a recession to argue that the US economy should be reopened as soon as possible.

“You have suicides over things like this when you have terrible economies,” Trump said in a news conference on March 24. “You have death. Probably – and I mean definitely – would be in far greater numbers than the numbers that we’re talking about with regard to the virus.”

Read more here.

20:00 GMT – What’s behind the shortage of coronavirus protective equipment gear

Face masks cost less than a dollar but are so scarce they are being snatched up during the coronavirus pandemic.

But this is not happening in the developing world. It’s taking place in some of the richest countries that are being challenged by a shortage of medical equipment.

France is reported to have seized masks meant to be shipped to Spain and Italy. The US is accused of diverting gear intended for German police.

An estimated 3.5 billion masks are needed by the American healthcare system to fight this outbreak. But there are not enough. So, how’s that hampering the fight against the pandemic?

What’s behind a global shortage of equipment to protect people against coronavirus? I Inside Story (23:45)

19:00 GMT – Turkey’s interior minister resigns

Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu has resigned over a much criticised last-minute weekend curfew across major Turkish cities to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

“May my country, which I never wished to hurt, and our president, to whom I will be faithful all my life, forgive me,” Soylu said in a statement.

African nationals ‘mistreated, evicted’ in China over coronavirus (2:24)

18:30 GMT – Jordan extends month-long lockdown

Jordan extended until the end of April a month-long lockdown that has seen the closure of schools, universities and government agencies.

Government spokesman Amjad Adailah said Prime Minister Omar Razzaz took the decision in light of “developments and recommendations” related to the pandemic.

The country had declared a nationwide round-the-clock curfew on March 20 as part of measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

18:00 GMT – Somali state minister dies from coronavirus

The justice minister of Somalia’s autonomous Hirshabelle state, Khalif Mumin Tohow, has died after contracting the novel coronavirus, the second recorded death in the country.

Tohow died on Sunday in Mogadishu’s Martini hospital a day after he tested positive for COVID-19 in the town of Jowhar, the administrative capital of Hirshabelle.

According to local media, Tohow, who was Somali-British, travelled to the United Kingdom in February before he came back to the Horn of Africa nation.

17:35 GMT – South Africa coronavirus cases rise to 2,173

South Africa has announced 145 new coronavirus cases, taking the total number of infections to 2,173, a health ministry statement said.

The statement stopped short of specifying whether any new fatalities had been recorded, which stood at 25 as of Saturday.

Spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Soweto
A woman carries a bag of maize meal during the distribution of food parcels to vulnerable residents by the local government [Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters]

17:25 GMT – Libyan hospital treating coronavirus patients cases attacked

Armed fighters loyal to Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar have attacked medical warehouses belonging to a hospital in the capital Tripoli that is treating coronavirus patients, the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) has said.

The attack targeted depots of the Al-Khadra Hospital in al-Swani in the capital, Tripoli, with Grad missiles, according to a statement by the GNA.

Last week, the UN condemned heavy shelling of the hospital in which at least three civilians were wounded, calling it a “clear violation of international law”.

The North African country has so far reported 25 cases of the coronavirus and one death.

Read more here.

17:15 GMT – France’s coronavirus death toll rises to 14,393

France’s coronavirus death toll rose to 14,393 from 13,832 a day earlier, the French public health authority said.

The total number of infections meanwhile reached 95,403.

Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) developments in Grand-Est region of France
French rescue team wearing protective suits carry a patient on a stretcher at Mulhouse hospital [Christian Hartmann/Reuters]

17:00 GMT – Turkey coronavirus cases reach 56,956, total deaths 1,198

Turkey coronavirus cases rose by 4,789 to 56,956 in the past 24 hours, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

The number of deaths reached 1,198 from 1,101 the previous day. So far, 3,446 people have recovered, the minister said.

16:45 GMT – Amnesty video shows ‘extreme overcrowding’ at Cambodia prison

Amnesty International has shared a new video it received that claims to show extreme overcrowding and “inhumane conditions” in a Cambodian prison amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The video, released on Friday, shows at least 25 prisoners crammed into a small cell and lying on the floor.

There is hardly any space for them to move, prompting Amnesty to label it “first-hand evidence of the inhumane conditions” in Cambodian prisons.

Read more here.

Amnesty video shows ‘extreme overcrowding’ in Cambodia prison (1:21)

16:30 GMT – Italy reports lowest number of coronavirus deaths since March 19

Italy has reported the lowest number of coronavirus deaths since March 19, with 431 fatalities recorded in the last 24 hours, down from 619 the previous day.

According to the Civil Protection Agency, the death toll since the beginning of the outbreak stands at 19,899, the second highest after that of the United States.

The total number of infections reached 156,363, of which 34,211 have recovered.

An ‘extraordinary’ Easter in Jerusalem amid coronavirus closures (2:35)

16:15 GMT – Canada coronavirus death toll reaches 674, total cases 23,719

The number of deaths from the coronavirus in Canada rose by 74 to 674 in a day, official data posted by the public health agency showed on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the total number of infections coronavirus reached 23,719.

A frontline healthcare worker attends people at the Etobicoke General Hospital drive-thru COVID-19 assessment centre as the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases continue to grow, in Toronto,
A frontline healthcare worker attends people at a drive-thru COVID-19 assessment centre in Toronto [Carlos Osorio/Reuters]

16:00 GMT – Sri Lanka makes cremations compulsory for coronavirus deaths

Sri Lanka made cremations compulsory for coronavirus victims, ignoring protests from the country’s Muslim population which says the rule goes against Islamic tradition.

Three Muslims are among the seven people who have so far died from the infectious disease in the country. Their bodies were cremated by the authorities despite protests from relatives.

“The corpse of a person who has died or is suspected to have died, of … COVID-19 shall be cremated,” Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi said on Sunday. The decision has also been criticised by rights groups.

Read more here.

14:50 GMT – Etihad Airways to operate special flights to Europe, Japan

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways will operate special flights to Brussels, Dublin, London, Tokyo and Zurich between April 14 and 22.

The announcement came after the UAE government said it would permit a limited number of outbound-only flights for those wishing to leave the country after suspending regular service last month. 

14:30 GMT – UK coronavirus death toll passes 10,000

The death toll from the coronavirus in the UK has surged passed the 10,000 mark after 737 fatalities were recorded overnight.

The figure now stands at 10,612.

With virus death tolls in Italy and Spain on a downward slope, there are growing fears that the UK will end up being the country with the most virus deaths in Europe.

14:00 GMT – May 1 target date for relaxing US stay-at-home restrictions

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn said the Trump administration was considering May 1 as a target date to start relaxing stay-at-home restrictions.

“We see light at the end of the tunnel,” he told ABC’s “This Week.”

Hahn, however, warned that there were many factors to take into account in finally determining when it would be safe to lift restrictions, he said

Hi, this is Ramy Allahoum in Doha taking over from my colleague Joseph Stepansky.

12:40 GMT – UK PM Johnson discharged from hospital

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been discharged from a London hospital as he continues his recovery from COVID-19, his office has said.

“On the advice of his medical team, the PM will not be immediately returning to work. He wishes to thank everybody at St Thomas’ for the brilliant care he has received,” a spokesman said. 

Read full story here.

12:30 GMT – Where does the world stand on a coronavirus vaccine?

Scientists around the world are racing against time to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus that has killed more than 100,000 people and infected more than 1.7 million worldwide.

In some of the worst affected countries such as China and Italy, the infections and deaths have levelled off in recent days, but experts warn the risk of a new wave of outbreaks is imminent without a vaccine.

Read more about where things currently stand in the pursuit of a coronavirus vaccine here.

moderna vaccine
A pharmacist gives Jennifer Haller the first shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for the new coronavirus [Ted S Warren/The Associated Press]

12:15 GMT – Dutch infections top 25,000, deaths rise to 2,737 deaths

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Netherlands has topped 25,000, health authorities said on Sunday, with the number of deaths rising by 94 to 2,737.

The Netherlands’ National Institute for Health (RIVM) has reported 1,188 new infections over the past 24 hours, taking the total to 25,587.

The rate of increase in infections and deaths has slowed for several days helped by social distancing measures

11:45 GMT – Riot highlights coronavirus risk in Indonesia’s prisons

A riot in a prison in Indonesia’s North Sulawesi province where at least one guard is reportedly exhibiting COVID-19-like symptoms has highlighted the risk posed by the coronavirus the Southeast Asian nation’s 524 overcrowded jails.

On Saturday afternoon, the inmates of Tuminting Prison in the city of Manado went on a rampage and set fire to buildings. Hundreds of police and soldiers later stormed the jail with live rounds being fired and at least one inmate shot in the chest, according to a source at the facility and various local media reports.

Read more here.

Indonesian prisoners approaching the end of their sentences are released to avoid the possibility of a surge in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection in overcrowded prisons in Depok
Prisoners approaching the end of their sentences are released to avoid the possibility of a surge in COVID-19 infection in overcrowded prisons in Depok, near Jakarta, Indonesia, April 2, 2020 [File: Asprilla Dwi Adha/Antara Foto/via Reuters]

11:20 GMT – ‘We are social animals’: Hong Kong residents flout virus rules

People in Hong Kong thronged beaches, ferries and outlying islands on Sunday, many of them violating a ban on gatherings of more than four people aimed at containing the spread of the new coronavirus.

Clear blue skies lured people to popular areas across the territory over the long Easter weekend and many of them were without surgical masks. People in the city of 7.4 million have made a point of wearing masks in the past months.

“We always stay at home and it is quite boring,” said Banny Mak, 24, a local resident.”We are social animal(s), we need to go out for some fun. I think with proper protection (for) ourselves and to protect other people. I think it is already ok to go out.”

Hong Kong has recorded 1,005 cases of COVID-19, which has killed four people in the city.

hong kong
A child wearing a face mask sits on the backseat of a bicycle at Cheung Chau island during Easter weekend Joyce Zhou/Reuters]

11:00 GMT – Portugal’s Sporting to cut player wages by 40 percent

Players at Sporting will have their salaries cut by 40 percent for three months as the club attempts to mitigate financial losses from the suspension of games during the coronavirus outbreak, Portuguese news agency Lusa reported.

Lusa also reported Sporting’s board of directors will take a 50 percent pay cut.

With the pandemic shutting down global sport on an unprecedented scale, Sporting is the first of Portugal’s three major football clubs to announce the cuts. FIFA has urged clubs worldwide to consider wage reductions in order to protect their finances.

empty football ground - reuters
A view shows empty sports grounds of the secondary school during a partial lockdown, imposed to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Kiev, Ukraine [Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters]

10:45 GMT – ‘Life will prevail’ says Jerusalem archbishop on Easter Sunday

With Jerusalem under lockdown over coronavirus, Easter Sunday was marked at the traditional site of Jesus’s death and resurrection by just a handful of Christian clerics.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, normally packed with pilgrims, was closed to the public last month due to COVID-19, amid similar restrictions affecting sites sacred to Jews and Muslims.

After walking through a deserted Old City bathed in early morning sunlight, a purple-robed Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Vatican’s apostolic administrator in the Holy Land, spoke briefly outside the church:

“Easter is a time for life. Despite the sign of death we are seeing everywhere, life will prevail, as long as someone is giving life out of love for the others. Happy Easter,” he said, before entering the ancient sandstone building.

10:30 GMT – Pope gives Easter prayer for the infected

Pope Francis offered a Easter Sunday prayer for those killed and suffering from the novel coronavirus that has killed more than 100,000 people worldwide.

“Today my thoughts turn in the first place to the many who have been directly affected by the coronavirus: the sick, those who have died and family members who mourn the loss of their loved ones, to whom, in some cases, they were unable even to bid a final farewell,” the pope said in a livestreamed message from an empty Saint Peter’s Basilica.

Pope Francis leads an Easter vigil service with no public participation due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, in Vatican
Pope Francis leads the Easter vigil Mass in St Peter’s Basilica with no public participation [Reuters]

10:00 GMT – Iran death toll rises by 117 to 4,474

Iran’s death toll from COVID-19 has risen by 117 in the past day to 4,474, health ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur has said.

The Islamic Republic has recorded 71,686 cases of the new coronavirus which causes the disease, Jahanpur said.

Iran has been the country hardest hit by the pandemic in the Middle East.

09:45 GMT – Spain’s daily death toll rises after days of decline, total at 16,972

Spain’s daily death toll from the coronavirus rose by 619 on Sunday from a nearly three-week low of 510 on Saturday, the Ministry of Health has said, breaking a three-day streak of daily declines.

The country’s total death toll from the virus climbed to 16,972 from 16,353, the ministry said in a statement. Overall cases rose to 166,019 from 161,852.

Spain church coronavirus
Pictures of the faithful of the Nuestra Senora de la Paz church, placed on the church’s benches, as priest Raul Garcia officiates a Holy Week mass [Nacho Doce/Reuters]

09:25 GMT – Malaysia reports 153 new cases with 3 new deaths

Malaysia’s health ministry has reported 153 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, raising the cumulative total to 4,683, the highest in Southeast Asia.

The latest data includes three new deaths, raising the total number of fatalities from the outbreak to 76.

The ministry said 45 percent of all confirmed cases have recovered.

09:15 GMT – Indonesia reports biggest daily jump in cases

Indonesia has reported 399 new cases of the coronavirus, its biggest daily jump so far, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 4,241, according to data provided by a health ministry official, Achmad Yurianto.

Yurianto said there were also 46 new coronavirus-related deaths, taking the total to 373

09:05 GMT – Philippines reports highest single-day death toll

The Philippines has recorded 50 coronavirus deaths, its highest in a single day, taking the toll to 297.

In a bulletin, the health ministry said 220 new infections took the tally of virus cases to 4,648. But 40 more patients recovered, for a total of 197 recoveries.

A woman wearing a protective face mask reads the Bible in a gymnasium which turned into a shelter for the homeless following the enforcement of a community quarantine in Manila
A woman wearing a protective face mask reads the Bible in a gymnasium which turned into a shelter for the homeless following the enforcement of a community quarantine in Manila [Eloisa Lopez/Reuters]

09:00 GMT – China’s Harbin orders 28-day quarantine after rise in imported cases

China’s northeastern city of Harbin will implement a 28-day quarantine measure for all arrivals from abroad, its government said in a statement posted online.

People entering the capital of Heilongjiang province bordering Russia will be held at a quarantine center for 14 days at first, followed by another 14 days at home, it added.

They will also be subjected to two nucleic acid tests and an antibody test.

The government will also lock down for 14 days residential units in which confirmed and asymptomatic coronavirus cases are found, it added.

08:45 GMT – Beijing to reopen some schools after closures

Beijing schools closed by the coronavirus outbreak will reopen to senior high school students and senior middle school students, state broadcaster CCTV reported, citing a spokesman for the Beijing Municipal Education Commission.

Senior high school students are set to return to campus on April 27, and senior students at middle schools will return to campus on May 11, said spokesman Li Yi at a press conference, according to the CCTV report.

China mourn coronavirus
People holding flowers observe a moment of silence at a memorial event in Beijing on April 4 [Reuters]

08:30 GMT – Japan PM criticised as tone deaf after lounge-at-home Twitter video

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has prompted an angry response from some Twitter users after sharing a video of himself lounging on a sofa with his dog, drinking tea and reading, along with a message telling people to stay at home.

“Who do you think you are?” became a top trend on Twitter, with users saying Abe’s message ignored the plight of those who were struggling to make a living amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Abe’s video, which featured his pet dog, was a response to popular musician Gen Hoshino, who uploaded a video of himself singing about dancing indoors and invited people to collaborate.

“At a time when people are fighting for survival, to show a video of such luxury … one can’t help but wonder, ‘who do you think you are?’,” one Twitter user said.

08:15 GMT – China’s Suifenhe city, bordering Russia, strengthens controls

China’s northeastern city of Suifenhe, on the country’s border with Russia, has said it is strengthening border controls as part of measures to prevent imported cases.

The city will also step up controls on traffic and enforce strict quarantine measures, city authorities said in a statement. It has also banned all types of gatherings and drawn up a list of businesses that must be suspended from operations.

07:55 GMT – ‘I owe them my life’: UK PM Johnson praises medics

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he owes his life to the staff of Britain’s state-run National Health Service, in his first comments since being released from intensive care for treatment for COVID-19.

Johnson, 55, was taken to St Thomas’s Hospital in central London a week ago, suffering from persistent symptoms of the disease caused by the new coronavirus. On April 6 he was moved into intensive care, where he remained until April 9.

“I can’t thank them enough. I owe them my life,” Johnson said of the staff at the hospital, which is just across the River Thames from the Houses of Parliament. The comments were released to journalists and confirmed by his office on Sunday.

Johnson was back on his feet by Friday, taking short walks between periods of rest, in what his office described as the early stage of recovery. In its most recent official update on Johnson’s condition, Downing Street said he “continues to make very good progress”.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives a press conference about the ongoing situation with the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak inside 10 Downing Street in London, Tuesday, March 17, 2020. For most p
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanked medics after leaving intensive care [Matt Dunham/The Associated Press]

07:45 GMT – Russia cases rise by more than 2,000 in biggest daily increase

Russia has reported 2,186 new coronavirus cases, the largest daily increase since the start of the outbreak, bringing the national tally of confirmed cases to 15,770.

The number of coronavirus-related deaths rose by 24 to 130, the Russian coronavirus crisis response centre said.

07:20 GMT – Egypt postpones Banque du Caire stake sale: Chairman

Egypt has postponed its plans to sell a minority stake in state-owned Banque du Caire in an initial public offering (IPO) starting mid-April due to the spread of the coronavirus, a local newspaper on Sunday quoted the bank chairman as saying.

Chairman Tarek Fayed had told Reuters news agency in March that the plan remained to sell the stake, worth about $500 million, provided investor interest held up in the face of the virus.

“Plans to offer a share of the bank on the Egyptian Stock Exchange are currently deferred due to the spread of the new coronavirus globally and locally, and the impact on both local and global stock markets,” Fayed told the private Almasry Alyoum newspaper in an interview published on Sunday.

He provided no further detail. The sale would be Egypt’s biggest sale of state assets since 2006.

06:30 GMT – Britain pledges aid to prevent second wave

Britain says it is pledging $248m to the WHO and charities to help slow the spread of the coronavirus in vulnerable countries and so help prevent a second wave of infections.

“While our brilliant doctors and nurses fight coronavirus at home, we’re deploying British expertise and funding around the world to prevent a second deadly wave reaching the UK,” Member of Parliament Anne-Marie Trevelyan said in a statement. “Coronavirus does not respect country borders so our ability to protect the British public will only be effective if we strengthen the healthcare systems of vulnerable developing countries too.”

The British government said 130 million pounds ($162m) would go to United Nations’s agencies, with 65 million ($81m) for the WHO. Another 50 million pounds ($62m) would go to the Red Cross to help war-torn and hard to reach areas, and 20 million pounds ($25m) to other organisations and charities.

The cash would help areas with weak health systems such as war-ravaged Yemen, which reported its first case on Friday, and Bangladesh, which is hosting 850,000 Rohingya refugees in crowded camps, it said.

Zimbabwe lockdown: Restrictions eased as damage to livelihoods grows (2:42)

05:40 GMT – Indonesia orders transport curbs ahead of Ramadan exodus

Indonesia has imposed curbs on public transport ahead of the annual exodus to home villages that marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the government has said.

About 75 million Indonesians usually stream home from bigger cities at the end of Ramadan, due this year at the end of May, but health experts have warned against a surge in cases after a slow government response masked the scale of the outbreak.

Public buses, trains, airplanes and ships will be allowed to fill only half their passenger seats, under a new regulation that also limits occupation of a private car to just half the seats, while a motorcycle may be ridden only by one person.

“The essence of this new regulation is to carry out public transport control…while still meeting the needs of the people,” transport ministry spokeswoman Adita Irawati said in a statement posted on the cabinet secretariat website.

A medical officer wearing a protective suit checks a woman with a thermal scanner amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Tegal
A medical officer wearing a protective suit checks a woman with a thermal scanner amid the coronavirus outbreak in Indonesia [Oky Lukmansyah/Reuters]

05:35 GMT – Thailand reports 33 new cases, three new deaths

Thailand has reported 33 new coronavirus infections on Sunday, for a total of 2,551 cases, as well as three more deaths, taking the southeast Asian nation’s toll to 38.

Two Thai men aged 74 and 44, and a woman aged 65 died, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government’s Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration.

05:30 GMT – China’s Guangzhou says it enforces curbs equally for foreigners, citizens

China’s southern city of Guangzhou treats foreigners and Chinese nationals equally in enforcing measures to contain the coronavirus, local government officials have said, as the city steps up scrutiny of foreigners.

The anti-virus curbs apply to all Chinese citizens and foreigners, with no discrimination in enforcement, Cai Wei, an officer of the city’s public security bureau, told a news conference.

Several African countries have demanded that China tackle their concerns that Africans in Guangzhou are being mistreated and harassed amid fears the virus could spread from imported cases.

Last week, the city’s US consulate said local government officials were ordering bars and restaurants not to serve clients who appeared to be of African origin. Anyone with “African” contacts faced mandatory virus tests followed by quarantine, regardless of recent travel history or previous isolation, it said in a statement, advising African-Americans or those who feared being targeted to stay away.

05:20 GMT – Guatemala registers 16 new cases, infections rise to 153

Guatemala has reported 16 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the Central American nation’s total to 153 cases, President Alejandro Giammattei said.

Three people have died from coronavirus infections in Guatemala so far, officials say

Hello, this is Joseph Stepansky in Doha taking over from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed .

05:12 GMT – UN envoys urge greater action on Middle East ceasefire call

The five United Nations envoys in the Middle East are urging all warring parties in the region to end hostilities and turn their focus to “the true fight of our lives” – tackling the threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The envoys for Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict stress that solidarity is required to face the challenge of COVID-19. But this cannot happen “if the guns of war and conflict are not silenced,” they say.

04:02 GMT – Passengers on virus-hit Antarctic cruise ship return to Australia

More than 100 Australians and New Zealanders stranded on board a virus-hit cruise ship off Uruguay has landed in Melbourne, according to Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne.

Those on board the chartered flight to Melbourne includes people who tested negative and others confirmed ill with the virus. Passengers exhibiting symptoms are being taken to hospitals in Melbourne, while the rest will be taken to a hotel to begin a 14-day quarantine period, officials say.

Some 128 of the 217 passengers on board the Greg Mortimer have tested positive for the coronavirus. The tourists were on an expedition to Antarctica.

03:27 GMT – Myanmar extends ban on international flights

The Ministry of Health and Sports is extending a ban on international flights into the country as part of its efforts to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.

The initial ban was due to expire on April 13, but is now being extended until April 30, according to a government statement.

03:18 GMT – Japan’s Abe sets stay home example in Twitter video

Japan’s prime minister is urging the public to stay home with a Twitter video showing images of him sitting at home, cuddling his dog and reading a book.

“I can’t meet my friends and I can’t have a drinking party, but these actions are surely saving many lives,” Shinzo Abe says.

Popular singer Gen Hoshino is also featured in the video on a split screen, performing a song advocating social distancing. It goes: “Let’s survive and dance, each one of us, wherever we are, all of us as one, let’s sing at home.”

02:41 GMT – ‘Our job is to buy time’: Italian doctor describes what it’s like to treat virus patients

Maurizio Cecconi, chair of Anasthesia and Intensive Care at the Humanitas Hospital in Milan, describes the strategies doctors are using to treat coronavirus patients in Italy in the absence of therapeutics.

“In Lombardy, it became very clear there was a high percentage of cases that required respiratory support. Up to 10-12 percent required invasive mechanical ventilation,” he tells Al Jazeera.

“Unfortunately, so far, we don’t have specific therapies against this virus. What we do have is good supportive care. So what we try to do in intensive care is … to give our patients in intensive care rest while we do the work of breathing for them.

“We call some of these strategies protective lung strategies because the ventilators we use don’t cure the lung, they give precious time to the lungs to heal. So our job really is to buy time for our patients so that their immune systems can fight the virus.”

02:20 GMT – North Korea calls for stricter anti-virus measures

North Korea is calling for stricter measures to “check the inroads” of the rapidly spreading coronavirus, state media reported, without specifying if there were any reported infections in the country.

The Korean Central News Agency says officials at a meeting presided over by Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un adopted a joint resolution “on more thoroughly taking national measures for protecting the life and safety of our people to cope with the worldwide epidemic disease”.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un takes part in a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un takes part in a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea [KCNA via Reuters]

01:36 GMT – China reports 99 new coronavirus cases

China’s National Health Commission is reporting 99 new cases of the coronavirus on the mainland, including 97 involving overseas travellers.

The figure is a jump from a total of 46 new cases reported a day earlier. Mainland China’s tally of infections now stands at 82,052, while the death toll stands at 3,339.

01:26 GMT – Do numbers lie? Data and statistics in the age of the coronavirus

Infection rates, death rates – the news is full of statistics about the coronavirus, but how accurate are they?

Watch the latest episode of The Listening Post to find out more about the challenges of quantifying the scale of a new pandemic and how that affects decision-making and risk calculations.

00:55 GMT – IRS deposits first stimulus payments in US taxpayer accounts

The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says the first coronavirus stimulus checks have been deposited in taxpayers’ accounts.

The economic impact payments are part of a $2.2 trillion package passed by the US Congress to help people and businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Most adults will get $1,200 and parents will receive $500 for each qualifying child.

“We know many people are anxious to get their payments; we’ll continue issuing them as fast as we can,” the IRS says in a tweet.

00:10 GMT – Trump warned ‘early and often’ on coronavirus pandemic

An examination by The New York Times reveals top White House advisers and experts in the US intelligence community warned President Donald Trump early on about the potential for a coronavirus pandemic.

The warnings include a memo by Peter Navarro, Trump’s top trade adviser, in which he said a pandemic could kill as many as 500,000 people in the US and cause trillions of dollars in economic losses.

Alex M Azar II, health and human services secretary, directly warned Trump of the possibility of a pandemic on January 30, the second warning he delivered to the president about the virus in two weeks, according to The Times.

But Trump “was slow to absorb the scale of the virus’s risk,” focusing instead on controlling the message and protecting gains in the economy. The Times also blames internal divisions, lack of planning and the president’s faith in his own instincts for the US’s halting response.

00:00 GMT – Saudi Arabia extends curfew until further notice

King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud is ordering the extension of Saudi Arabia’s coronavirus curfew until “further notice”, reports the state news agency SPA.

The Saudi monarch initially imposed a 21-day curfew on March 23, from 7pm to 6am, to contain the coronavirus, but expanded the controls to 24 hours in the capital, Riyadh, and other big cities last week.

The Ministry of Interior affirms the continuation “of all special precautionary measures that were previously announced in a number of cities, governorates and residential areas, in addition to preventing movement across the 13 regions of the kingdom”.

Hello, I’m Zaheena Rasheed, in Male, Maldives, with Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. You can find all the updates from yesterday, April 11, here.

Source: Al Jazeera