US coronavirus deaths top 40,000: Live updates

New York registers almost half of 40,585 fatalities, with more than 742,000 coronavirus infections reported countrywide.

A nurse wipes away tears as she stands outside NYU Langone Medical Center on 1st Avenue in Manhattan as New York Police Department (NYPD) Mounted Police and other units came to cheer and thank healthc
  • Coronavirus-related deaths in the US topped 40,000 with New York recording nearly half of all fatalities.  Governor Andrew Cuomo said the coronavirus curve is “on the descent” after hospitalisations and deaths continue to fall.
  • Iran partially reopened its capital, Tehran, allowing “low-risk businesses”, including shops, factories and warehouses to resume operations. But Algeria, Morocco, Croatia and Spain extended lockdowns, while Uzbekistan prolonged social distancing measures.
  • The Nigerian president’s chief of staff died from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus. Abba Kyari’s was the highest-profile death in the West African country.
  • Globally, more than 2.3 million people have been infected and more than 164,000 people have died, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. 

Here are the latest updates:

Sunday, April 19

20:58 GMT – Middle East tourism fair in Dubai cancelled

Dubai’s Arabian Travel Market, one of the Middle East’s biggest travel and tourism fairs, has been cancelled, organisers said.

The exhibition was in March rescheduled to June 28 to July 1 at Dubai’s World Trade Centre from its original dates of April 19 to 22.

“After consultation with our key stakeholders and after listening to our industry, ultimately it became apparent that the best course of action, and with everyone’s best interests in mind, is to postpone the event to 2021,” organisers said on the event’s website.

20:48 GMT – Tunisia extends lockdown to May 4

Tunisia is extending a lockdown to May 4, after which it will ease restrictions gradually on some economic activities, Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh said.

The government has said it expected Tunisia’s economy would shrink by up to 4.3 percent, the steepest drop since independence in 1956.

20:34 GMT – Deaths in Africa rise by 55

The number of deaths in Africa rose by 55 in the last 24 hours, with the total toll at 1,080, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (Africa CDC).

Data compiled by the Africa CDC showed that total cases had reached 21,317 after 1,047 additional cases.

North Africa has been the hardest hit on the continent followed by its western, southern central and eastern regions.

20:15 GMT – Cases in Peru top 15,000, second highest in Latin America

Peru reported over 15,000 cases, the second-highest tally in Latin America, as the coronavirus continues to ravage the economy of the world’s No. 2 copper producer.

The crisis has paralysed Peru and left millions without jobs.

Peru has reported a total of 15,628 cases and 400 deaths, the health ministry said.

In Latin America, only Brazil has more cases.

20:04 GMT – France to allow visits to nursing and seniors’ homes

France is now allowing visits to seniors’ and nursing homes as part of an easing of restrictions.

From Monday the right to visit will be re-established, albeit with restrictions, French Health Minister Olivier Veran said at a press conference with Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.

No more than two relatives may visit a resident in a senior or social care facility at the same time. In addition, physical contact is still prohibited, Veran said. 

The visit ban has been in effect since mid-March. 

19:55 GMT – Honduras extends curfew by one week

Honduras extended a curfew through April 26 in an attempt to curb the coronavirus which has infected 472 people and killed 46.

“In order to better control the spread of COVID-19, we decided to extend the current total curfew from Sunday (April) 19 at 3:00 pm, until Sunday, April 26, 2020, at 3:00 pm,” said the spokesman for the Honduran security ministry, Jair Meza.

19:25 GMT – US deaths top 40,000

The number of coronavirus-related deaths in the US topped 40,000, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University.

It showed the number of fatalities countrywide at 40,585, with almost half of them in New York.

19:12 GMT – Croatia partially lifts travel restrictions

Croatia will partially scrap the travel ban within the country on Sunday at midnight (22:00 GMT), Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said on Nova TV.

From Monday, people will be able to travel freely within their districts, he said. Croatia is split into 20 districts.

The borders of Croatia will remain closed.

19:09 GMT – Poland records jump in cases a day ahead of easing restrictions

Poland saw its biggest jump in coronavirus cases with 545 new infections recorded, according to health ministry data, a day before the country plans to ease some of its restrictions.

Parks and forests will be reopened on Monday and limits on the numbers of people allowed in shops will be eased, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Thursday.

Poland so far has 9,287 confirmed cases.

18:40 GMT – Saudi Islamic body recommends prayers at home for Ramadan

Saudi Arabia’s top Islamic authority has called on Muslims worldwide to perform communal prayers including the nightly taraweeh prayer at home during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan which begins next week.

“The Muslim should avoid gatherings because they are considered the main reason for spreading infection, according to related medical reports,” the council said, according to the state Saudi news agency SPA.

General view of Kaaba at the Grand Mosque which is almost empty of worshippers, after Saudi authority suspended umrah amid the fear of coronavirus outbreak, at Muslim holy city of Mecca
The holy Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia is shown empty of worshippers [Ganoo Essa/Reuters]

18:15 GMT – Italy’s daily death toll hits one-week low

Italy said that deaths from the coronavirus pandemic rose by 433, the lowest daily tally in a week, and the number of new cases slowed to 3,047 from a previous 3,491.

The death toll as reported by Italy’s Civil Protection Agency had risen by 482 on Saturday, down from 575 on Friday.

This plateau is down considerably from peaks reached around the end of March, but the downtrend has not proceeded as fast as was hoped in a country that has been in lockdown for six weeks.

18:10 GMT – Trump, Erdogan agree on cooperation against coronavirus

US President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan agreed in a phone call to work together to counter the threat posed by the coronavirus outbreak, Turkey’s presidency said.

The two leaders “agreed to continue their close cooperation against the threats that the coronavirus pandemic poses to public health and our economies,” it said.

17:03 GMT – Qatar reports 440 new cases

Qatar’s Health Ministry reported 440 new cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours bringing the total number of people currently undergoing treatment to 4,922.

So far eight people have died in total from COVID-19.

16:35 GMT – New York State curve ‘on the descent’: Cuomo

The outbreak in New York, the epicentre of the epidemic in the US is “on the descent,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

“We are past the high point, and all indications at this point is that we are on the descent,” Cuomo told a press conference.

“Whether or not the descent continues depends on what we do but right now we’re on the descent.”

New York recorded 1,384 new hospitalisations on Saturday, down from 1,915 on Friday, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Deaths rose by 507 on Saturday compared to an increase of 540 a day earlier.

16:16 GMT – Chinese lab chief: Wuhan institute not a source of coronavirus

The head of the Institute of Virology in the Chinese city of Wuhan has rejected allegations in the US that the
coronavirus could have originated in his laboratory.

“There’s no way this virus came out from us,” said Yuan Zhiming in an interview with state television, the English-language transcript of which was published by Chinese media.

“We clearly know what kind of virus research is going on in the institute and how the institute manages viruses and samples,” he said, adding that there is no evidence to prove that the virus has artificial or synthetic traces.

The director said he understood why people jumped to conclusions about his institute in Wuhan, the city where the pandemic originated.

“But it’s bad when some are deliberately trying to mislead people,” Zhiming said.

16:10 GMT – Deaths in France near 20,000, ICU numbers fall

France recorded 395 more deaths, bringing the total to 19,718, as the pace in fatalities continued to slow and the number of patients in intensive care decreased.

France’s public health chief Jerome Salomon told a news briefing that the total number of people in intensive care units fell for the 11th day in a row, to 5,744 – the lowest level since March 30.

15:52 GMT – EU commissioner slams Europe’s ‘morbid dependency’ on China

European Commission vice-president Vera Jourova criticised the EU for what she said was its “morbid dependency” on China and India for medical supplies.

“This crisis has revealed our morbid dependency on China and India as regards pharmaceuticals,” Jourova said in a debate on Czech state television.

“This is something that makes us vulnerable and we have to make a radical change there,” added the Czech commissioner, who is in charge of values and transparency in the Commission.

“We will reassess the [supply] chains… and try to diversify them and, ideally, produce as many things as possible in Europe,” Jourova said.”This is a big lesson we have learnt.”

15:48 GMT – India aviation regulator tells airlines not to take bookings

India’s aviation regulator told airlines not to take bookings as the government has not yet decided when to recommence flights after a lockdown scheduled to end on May 3.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued the notification after some Indian airlines started taking bookings for May 4 onwards.

Indigo, the country’s largest airline, and Vistara, owned by Singapore Airlines and Tata Group, had said earlier they would begin operations in a phased manner from May 4.

15:30 GMT – Cases in Chile top 10,000, third highest in Latin America

Chile reported over 10,000 cases of coronavirus, the third-highest tally in Latin America.

Large areas of its capital Santiago, a city of six million, are under lockdown, and all non-essential businesses have been closed for weeks.

Chile has reported a total of 133 deaths, the health ministry said.

In Latin America, only Brazil and Peru have more cases.

15:15 GMT – US death toll exceeds 39,000

The US reported 2,009 coronavirus-related deaths over the past day, surpassing the 39,000 mark, according to John Hopkins University.

The total tally counted 39,095 deaths and 735,336 cases.

The US continues to lead the world in the number of infections and deaths, followed by Spain and Italy.

15:00 GMT – Cases in Canada rise by almost 12 percent in a day

The total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Canada rose by just under 12 percent to 1,506 in a day, according to official data posted by the public health agency.

In a statement posted shortly before 15:00 GMT, it said the number of people diagnosed with the coronavirus climbed to 33,922. The respective figures on Saturday were 1,346 deaths and 32,412 positive diagnoses.

14:55 GMT – Zimbabwe lockdown extended by two weeks

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa extended a lockdown, saying the country had not yet met conditions set down by the World Health Organization to lift the measures.

Three people have died from the coronavirus out of the 25 confirmed infected, but health experts expect the figures to rise once authorities ramp up testing.

Mnangagwa said the government will allow mining companies, which generate the most foreign currency, to resume work while manufacturers would work at limited capacity.

Read more here.

14:35 GMT – Pakistan starts repatriating stranded UAE-based nationals

Pakistan has started repatriating some of its citizens from the UAE, which had threatened to review labour ties with countries refusing to take back their nationals during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The first Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight carrying 227 “stranded passengers” from Dubai and other emirates left for Islamabad on Saturday evening, Pakistan’s consulate general in Dubai said in a Twitter post.

It was not clear when other flights would depart. More than 40,000 Pakistanis in the UAE have registered with the consulate to return home, two UAE newspapers reported.

14:25 GMT – UK not thinking of easing lockdown measures yet: minister

Britain is not considering lifting the lockdown imposed almost four weeks ago to control the coronavirus outbreak given “deeply worrying” increases in the death toll, a senior minister said.

Britain is at or near the peak of a health crisis in which more than 15,000 people have died – the fifth highest national death toll of a pandemic linked to at least 150,000 deaths worldwide.

14:20 GMT – US Lawmakers close to deal on funding for small business

US lawmakers are close to an agreement on approving extra money to help small businesses hurt by the pandemic and could seal a deal as early as Sunday, congressional and Trump administration officials said.

“I think we’re very close to a deal today and I’m hopeful we can get that done,” US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in an interview with CNN.

13:50 GMT – UK hospital deaths rise by smallest amount in nearly two weeks

Britain’s hospital death toll from COVID-19 rose by 596 to 16,060 as of 16:00 GMT Saturday, the smallest increase in nearly two weeks, the health ministry said.

Data published on Sundays has shown smaller increases in the number of fatalities. April 6 marked the last time the health ministry reported a smaller increase in the daily death toll.

Staff wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) disinfect a London Ambulance outside The Royal London Hospital in east London on April 19, 2020. The number of people in Britain who have died in hosp
The number of people in the UK who have died in hospital from the coronavirus rose to 16,060, according to daily health ministry figures [Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP]

13:42 GMT – Fire tears through Greece refugee camp after coronavirus protest

A fire has torn through one of Greece’s largest refugee camps on Chios island, causing widespread damage and rendering up to hundreds of people homeless.

The blaze started following a protest over the death of a 47-year-old Iraqi asylum seeker who was cleared of having the coronavirus. But many residents at the overcrowded camp still believed she died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Read about it here.

Greece island migrant camp
Authorities fear coronavirus outbreaks in Greece’s crowded island camps [Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP]


This is Mersiha Gadzo in Doha taking over the live updates from my colleague Linah Alsaafin.


12:43 GMT – Dutch report lowest daily death rate in over 3 weeks

The number of deaths caused by the novel coronavirus in the Netherlands has risen by 83, Dutch health authorities said, which was the smallest reported daily increase since March 26.

The total number of deaths among people known to have been infected with the coronavirus increased to 3,684, while the number of confirmed infections rose by 1,066 to 32,655.

12:28 GMT – Leading member of Guinea government dies from coronavirus

Conakry, Guinea
Workers dressed in full-body gear prepare to disinfect shops and streets in Conakry, Guinea during a cleaning and disinfecting campaign as a preventive measure against the spread of the coronavirus. [File: Cellou Binani/AFP]

A top government official in Guinea and close ally of President Alpha Conde has died from the new coronavirus, the government said.

Sekou Kourouma, who was secretary-general of the government and a former minister, was taken ill last week and died in Conakry on Saturday.

“Several senior state officials (have died) as a result of complications related to COVID-19,” the government said in a statement.

At least two other officials have died of COVID-19 – the president of the electoral commission Salif Kebe and Victor Traore, a former director of Interpol in Guinea.

The country has officially reported 518 cases of the coronavirus and five deaths.

12:13 GMT – UK not thinking of easing virus lockdown measures yet

Ministers Attend COBRA Meeting To Discuss Coronavirus
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove said it was too early to consider lifting coronavirus lockdown [File: Luke Dray/Getty Images]

Britain is not considering lifting the lockdown imposed almost four weeks ago to control the coronavirus outbreak given “deeply worrying” increases in the death toll, a senior minister said.

Britain is at or near the peak of a health crisis in which more than 15,000 people have died – the fifth-highest national death toll of a pandemic linked to at least 150,000 deaths worldwide.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said a BuzzFeed report that the government was considering lifting the lockdown in phases over the coming months was not correct.

“The facts and the advice are clear at the moment that we should not be thinking of lifting of these restrictions yet,” Gove told Sky News.

12:00 GMT – Singapore reports 596 new coronavirus cases, taking total to 6,588

Singapore’s health ministry confirmed 596 new coronavirus infections, taking the total number of cases in the city-state to 6,588.

The vast majority of the new cases are migrant workers living in dormitories and 25 are permanent residents, the health ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

11:20 GMT – Russia confirms 6,060 new cases of coronavirus

Russia on Saturday confirmed 6,060 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the tally to 42,853 in the country.

In a statement, the emergency team said 43 percent of the new cases did not have clinical symptoms.

The death toll from the coronavirus in the country reached 361 as 48 more people died over the past 24 hours.

11:00 GMT – Saudi top religious authority recommends home prayers in Ramadan

General view of Kaaba at the Grand Mosque which is almost empty of worshippers, after Saudi authority suspended umrah amid the fear of coronavirus outbreak, at Muslim holy city of Mecca
General view of the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque after Saudi authorities suspended Umrah pilgrimages amid fears of a coronavirus outbreak in the Muslim holy city of Mecca [File: Ganoo Essa/Reuters]

Saudi Arabia’s highest religious body, the Council of Senior Scholars, urged Muslims worldwide to pray at home during Ramadan if their countries require social distancing to curb the spread of the coronavirus, state news agency SPA reported.

The holy fasting month of Ramadan begins later this week. During the month, believers usually break their fast with families and friends and perform an evening prayer, known as Taraweeh, in large gatherings at mosques.

“Muslims shall avoid gatherings, because they are the main cause of the spread of infection … and shall remember that preserving the lives of people is a great act that brings them closer to God,” it said in a statement.

10:49 GMT – Indonesia confirms 327 new coronavirus cases, total 6,575

Indonesia reported 327 new coronavirus cases, taking the total number of infections to 6,575.

Health ministry official Achmad Yurianto also reported 47 new deaths, taking the total to 582.

The figures come a day after the chairman of the Indonesian Doctors Association said that the country’s actual death toll could be nearly twice the official numbers.

In response, Yurianto told reporters in an online briefing on Sunday to “avoid the added psychological burden of untrue news”.

10:32 GMT – India’s Maharashtra state allows some economic activity 

Migrant labourers watch a movie on their mobile phone while resting under a bridge during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronaviru
Migrant labourers watch a movie on a mobile phone while resting under a bridge during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Mumbai [Indranil Mukherjee/AFP]

India’s Maharashtra state, the country’s largest regional economy, will allow a limited number of sectors to resume business on Monday, after a weeks-long shutdown to slow the spread of coronavirus left millions out of work.

Maharashtra, home to financial centre Mumbai, has the biggest share of India’s 15,713 infections, including a large number now ripping through its densely packed slums.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray told a news conference on Sunday that some activity would be permitted in the least-affected parts of the state while observing a strict lockdown in the red zones that have the maximum number of cases.

“We need to start the economic wheels again. We are giving selective permissions from tomorrow, especially in orange zones and green zones,” he said, referring to areas with lower levels of infection.

10:15 GMT – Spain’s coronavirus toll slows, with 410 deaths overnight

Spain’s death toll from the new coronavirus outbreak rose by 410 on Sunday, down from 565 on Saturday, the Health Ministry said, bringing the total to 20,453 deaths in one of the world’s hardest-hit countries.

The number of overall coronavirus cases rose to 195,944 on Sunday from 191,726 on Saturday, it added.

This is the lowest number of daily deaths since March 22.

On Saturday night, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced in an address to the nation his plans to extend the lockdown until May 9. From there, he said there would be a “cautious and progressive” relaxation of quarantine measures. 

09:55 GMT – Germany’s coronavirus cases rise by 2,458 to 139,897

blog germany
Visitors of a weekly market wear protective masks, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Dresden, Germany [Matthias Rietschel/Reuters]

Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases have risen by 2,458 to 139,897, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Sunday.

That was lower than a 3,609 increase reported on Saturday, when cases of infections had been increasing for four days in a row.

The reported death toll has risen by 184 to 4,294, the Sunday tally showed.

09:25 GMT – Japan passes 10,000 domestic cases of COVID-19

The Japanese health ministry said 568 new cases of the coronavirus were reported on Saturday, bringing the domestic total to 10,361. A combined total including 712 others from a cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo earlier this year came to 11,073, with 174 deaths.

The number of cases is still relatively small compared to the US and Europe, but that is only as many as Japan’s limited testing has detected and actual infections are believed to be far more widespread.

Japan has finally started setting up additional testing centres in Tokyo and elsewhere, allowing primary care doctors to send suspected patients directly to testing stations rather than having them go through public health centres to screen eligibility, an earlier requirement that had prevented and delayed the testing and treatment of many people.

Experts have noted that their strategy of going after clusters to trace infections is no longer effective to keep up with the surging cases, and more tests are needed.

08:48 GMT – Pakistan starts repatriating UAE-based nationals stranded by coronavirus

Pakistan has started repatriating some of its citizens from the United Arab Emirates, which had threatened to review labour ties with countries refusing to take back their nationals during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The first Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight carrying 227 “stranded passengers” from Dubai and other emirates left for Islamabad on Saturday evening, Pakistan’s consulate general in Dubai said in a Twitter post.

It was not clear when other flights would depart. More than 40,000 Pakistanis in the Gulf Arab state have registered with the consulate to return home, two UAE newspapers reported.

The UAE and other Gulf states have reported increased infections among low-income migrant workers who live in overcrowded quarters. Some have moved to rehouse them in shuttered schools or dedicated centres, and are trying to arrange flights to repatriate them.

08:30 GMT – Philippines records 12 new coronavirus deaths, 172 more cases

Northern Philippines Under Lockdown To Contain Spread Of The Coronavirus
The Phillipines has undertaken strict lockdown measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus [Ez/Getty Images]

The Philippines’ health ministry reported 12 new coronavirus deaths and 172 new infections.

The Southeast Asian country now has a total of 6,259 confirmed coronavirus cases and 409 deaths, it said in a bulletin.

It said 56 more patients have recovered, bringing the total to 572.

08:18 GMT – Taiwan reports 22 new coronavirus cases, mostly navy sailors

Taiwan’s government on Sunday reported 22 new coronavirus cases, 21 of whom had been on a Taiwanese navy mission to the Pacific island state of Palau last month.

Speaking at a news conference, Taiwan Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said the cases had so far only been discovered on one of the three ships that had visited Palau, but that further investigations were needed before they could say where exactly the sailors had contracted the virus.

The new cases bring Taiwan’s total to 420, six of whom have died.

08:00 GMT – Israel’s COVID-19 cases surpass 13,300

The death toll in Israel from the coronavirus rose to 171, as seven more people died, the country’s health ministry said.

The ministry said 97 new cases were reported in the country, bringing the tally to 13,362, with some 156 of them in a critical condition.

Caretaker Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel will relax some of its lockdown measures on Sunday because the spread of the virus was slowing down. Israel was better off than other countries, he told a televised news conference.

“We have one of the lowest death rates,” he said.

07:50 GMT –  Singapore reports 596 new coronavirus cases, taking total to 6,588

Singapore’s health ministry confirmed 596 new coronavirus infections, taking the total number of cases in the city-state to 6,588.

The vast majority of the new cases are migrant workers living in dormitories and 25 are permanent residents, the health ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

07:15 GMT – Panama holds 1,700 migrants in jungle due to coronavirus

About 1,700 undocumented migrants heading to the US are being held in a jungle camp by Panama authorities after several cases of the new coronavirus were detected among them, an official source said.

They are being kept in La Penita, close to the Colombian border, in facilities designed to accommodate about 200 people. 

“Seventeen migrants have been infected with the new coronavirus,” the official source said on condition of anonymity.

The infected people have already been removed from the camp.

In Panama, which has 4,273 coronavirus infections and 120 deaths, migrants are treated at three temporary border posts where the government, UNICEF and the Red Cross provide them with water, food and medical care.

06:52 GMT – Pakistan to keep mosques open during Ramadan

Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Lahore
Muslims attend Friday prayers after the government limited congregational prayers and ordered people to stay home, in efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19, in Lahore, Pakistan [Mohsin Raza/Reuters]

Even as Pakistan’s daily confirmed cases inch higher, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government buckled to pressure from religious scholars who refused to order mosques throughout the country closed during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.

Pakistan recorded 7,993 confirmed cases till Sunday, a daily increase of 514. Sixteen people died of the virus in the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 159. But in Pakistan, religious scholars have become a powerful force, often using the fear of taking mobs to the streets as leverage to force the government to bow to their demands.

Pakistan has been blamed for contributing to the outbreak of the virus in other parts of the world including the Gaza Strip after it refused to stop a gathering of tens of thousands of Tablighi Jamaat (Islamic missionaries) until early March. By the time the event was cancelled, thousands were already in Pakistan and many returned to their countries infected.

06:30 GMT – India to supply hydroxychloroquine to UAE

A chemist displays hydroxychloroquine tablets in New Delhi, India, Thursday, April 9, 2020. Amidst concerns over domestic shortage, India has lifted the ban on some drug exports including hydroxychlor
A chemist displays hydroxychloroquine tablets in New Delhi, India [File: Manish Swarup/The Associated Press]

India has agreed to provide hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) tablets to the United Arab Emirates to be used for treating COVID-19 patients, the Arab state’s embassy in New Delhi said.

India last month banned the export of HCQ as sales soared to secure supplies for itself as US President Donald Trump touted the drug as a potentially effective treatment for the deadly virus. It said this month it would send supplies to some countries.

“The first shipment of medicine, currently on its way to the UAE, includes 5.5 million pills for treatment of patients with COVID-19,” the embassy tweeted late on Saturday.

06:15 GMT – Rwanda, DRC make wearing mask mandatory

Wearing face masks in public will soon be mandatory, Rwanda’s health minister said, as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country reached 144.

Daniel Ngamije said the latest guidelines require everyone to wear a mask in public, and at home during the lockdown and thereafter.

“From next Monday, local companies will start making masks to help supply affordable quantities on the market. Wearing masks will be effective in preventing spread of COVID-19,” he said.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the governor of the capital of Kinshasa, Gentiny Ngobila, said the mandatory wearing of masks will begin on April 20.

Hello, this is Linah Alsaafin taking over from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed.

04:55 GMT – Australia calls for probe into WHO, China virus response

Marise Payne, Australia’s foreign minister, is calling for an independent investigation into the global response to the coronavirus pandemic, including the World Health Organization’s handling of the crisis.

Canberra will “insist” on a review that would investigate, in part, China’s early response to the outbreak in Wuhan, the city where the virus was first detected last year, Payne said, in an interview with public broadcaster ABC.

“We need to know the sorts of details that an independent review would identify for us about the genesis of the virus, about the approaches to dealing with it [and] addressing the openness with which information was shared,” she says.

Payne adds that the fallout from the pandemic may change the relationship between Australia and China “in some ways”, with her concern around Beijing’s transparency now “at a very high point”.

04:40 GMT – Mexico reports 7,497 cases, 650 deaths

Hugo Lopez-Gatell, Mexico’s deputy health minister, says the country has registered 7,497 confirmed coronavirus cases and 650 deaths till Saturday.

That is up from 6,875 cases and 546 deaths on Friday.

03:46 GMT – Greek Easter services held in empty churches 

Greek Orthodox priests held Easter services in empty churches on Saturday night due to restrictions in place to try and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Greece is under lockdown and the government had warned faithful to stay away from churches.

Priests still carried out services and fireworks were set off over the Acropolis at the stroke of midnight, ushering in Easter Sunday.

Greek Orthodox Easter
A family hold candles at a balcony during the Greek Orthodox Easter celebration amid coronavirus pandemic in Athens, Greece, April 19, 2020 [Goran Tomasevic/ Reuters]

Many in the northern port city of Thessaloniki and around Greece stepped out on their balconies at the stroke of midnight with lit candles to mark the resurrection.

The threat of a fine for violating the lockdown measures did not stop some faithful who stood outside St Demetrios Church in Thessaloniki with lit candles, while the church bells rang at midnight.

02:50 GMT – More Guatemalans deported from US test positive

Guatemala’s President Alejandro Giammattei says 19 more Guatemalans deported from the US to the Central American nation have tested positive for coronavirus.

The latest figures bring the total number of infections from the plane to 32.

The affected migrants are believed to have arrived from Alexandria, Louisiana on Monday.  Guatemala has now suspended all flights of deportees from the US.

02:19 GMT – China reports 16 new cases

Health authorities in China are reporting 16 new coronavirus cases in the mainland, the lowest number since March 17 and down from 27 a day earlier.

Of the new cases, nine are imported from abroad. There are no new deaths.

The latest figures bring the total number of cases in the mainland to 82,735.

02:00 GMT – Infections in S Korea falls to single digit for first time in two months

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting eight new cases of the coronavirus, marking the first time infections in South Korea fall to a single digit since the outbreak peaked in February. 

Of the eight, five involve travellers from overseas. 

The nation’s total tally is 10,661 cases and 234 deaths. 

01:23 GMT – Virtual all-star concert for front-line workers kicks off 

Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones and Beyonce are taking part in a global special of music, comedy and personal stories in what Gaga calls a “love letter” to front-line workers battling the coronavirus pandemic.

The two-hour “One World: Together at Home”, broadcast across multiple television channels in the US and overseas, features a Who’s Who of pop culture, with contributions, filmed from their homes, from Elton John, Stevie Wonder, British football star David Beckham and former US first ladies Michelle Obama and Laura Bush. 

“I’m so grateful for the healthcare workers, the medical workers, all the grocery store workers and delivery people, the postal workers, all the other nonprofits that are working so hard,” Gaga says.

“This is really a true love letter to all of you all over the world, and I hope a reminder of the kindness that’s occurring right now,” she adds.

Hosted by three of the biggest late-night television show hosts in the US – Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon – the special pays tribute to teachers and healthcare, grocery, delivery, postal and other workers.

The event, organised by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the nonprofit group Global Citizen, is the biggest celebrity effort so far to mark the coronavirus pandemic.

00:53 GMT – Europe’s virus death toll tops 100,000

Europe now accounts for a total of 100,510 coronavirus deaths – nearly two-thirds of the 157,539 fatalities worldwide, according to an AFP tally.

Many countries are testing only the most serious cases and the number of confirmed infections is likely to be a fraction of the true total.

Italy and Spain remain the hardest-hit countries in Europe, with 23,227 and 20,043 deaths, respectively, followed by France with 19,323 deaths. The United Kingdom’s official death toll is 15,464.

00:36 GMT – Brazilian drivers protest against lockdown restrictions

Hundreds of people in trucks, cars and motorcycles, are taking to the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and the capital city of Brasilia, calling for governors to resign over lockdown measures that have forced most businesses to close for weeks.

In Rio de Janeiro, about 100 vehicles are seen in the gridlock, cruising down Atlantica Avenue, along the iconic and temporarily shut-down Copacabana beach.

“Either we just have the pandemic, which is already a lot, or we have the pandemic and chaos,” says Anderson Moraes, a state legislator who had called for Rio residents to join the protest. “For sure, lives are more important than anything else, but we can’t take decisions today without thinking about tomorrow. Because tomorrow, I don’t know how a family man will be when he sees his children going hungry.”

In Brasilia, President Jair Bolsonaro who opposes the lockdowns reiterates his intention to start reopening the economy. “The fear was excessive,” he says, denouncing the “greed” of politicians “who have shut down everything and created panic”.

“People want a return to normality,” the president says in a Facebook Live session shortly before meeting with a small crowd of supporters who had gathered outside the Planalto presidential palace.

Manifestations Pro-Bolsonaro Across Brazil
Supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro wave the Brazilian flag as they take part in a motorcade to protest against quarantine and social distancing measures to combat the new coronavirus outbreak on April 18, 2020, in Sao Paulo [Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images]

Hundreds of people are protesting against the virus-related lockdowns in the US too, with rallies in states including Texas, Maryland, New Hampshire and Ohio. 

In Washington, DC, Trump tells reporters that some state governors have gotten “carried away” and imposed “unreasonable” restrictions.

Read more about the protests in the US here.

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 18, here

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies