Coronavirus cases top 1 million with 50,000 deaths: Live updates

Pandemic worsens in the United States and Europe as number of confirmed infections worldwide exceeds one million.

Healthcare workers wheel the body of deceased person from the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, New Yor

More than 1,002,000 people have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 disease worldwide, as the death toll surpassed 51,000 while about 208,000 patients recovered.

The coronavirus pandemic death toll in Spain passed 10,000 on Thursday, as the country reported its highest single-day number of deaths since the outbreak began, with the total rising by more than 1,000 to 10,096 among 110,238 infections.

The United States – the world’s hardest-hit country – recorded more than 5,600 coronavirus deaths, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. It has confirmed more than 236,000 cases of the disease.

Here are the latest updates:

Thursday, April 2

23:20 GMT Thursday – Trump to Iran: If they want help, we will give them help 

President Donald Trump has said that if Iran requests his administration for help in dealing with the coronavirus emergency, that he would be willing to do it.

“They have a very big case of virus. A very, very big case. One of the worst on Earth if you believe what you’re reading and I happen to believe what I see and what I know. If they want help, we will give them help.”

Earlier, presumptive Democratic nominee for president, former Vice President Joseph Biden said he supports the lifting of sanctions against Iran as the country deals with the deadly disease.

23:15 GMT – Trump invokes law to expand protective masks 

President Donald Trump has invoked the Defense Production Act to rapidly expand domestic manufacturing of N95 protective masks by Minnesota-based by 3M to assist first responders.

A memorandum signed by Trump calls for DHS Secretary Chad Wolf to “use any and all authority available” under the act to acquire masks produced by 3M Co FEMA Administrator Rear Adm John Polowczyk is charged to determine the number of masks needed, according to the memo.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told lawmakers in late February that the US needed a stockpile of about 300 million N95 face masks for medical workers on the front lines of stemming the spread of the virus.

23:10 GMT – Trump admin moves toward promoting broader use of face masks

The Trump administration is formalizing new guidance to recommend that many Americans wear face coverings when leaving home, in an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

The recommendations, still being finalized Thursday, would apply to those who live in areas hard-hit by community transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Trump, who was tested again for coronavirus Thursday using a new rapid test, indicated Tuesday he would support such a recommendation. “If people wanted to wear them, they can,” he said.

20:30 GMT – US borrowers seeking aid from banks face hurdles

United States borrowers seeking a reprieve from mortgage, auto or credit card payments because of coronavirus hardships are not getting the help they expected from big banks that promised assistance in recent weeks.

Read more here.

20:25 GMT – US doctors seek opioid production boost

United States doctors running out of narcotics needed for COVID-19 patients on ventilators are asking the federal government to raise production limits for drugmakers, according to a letter seen by Reuters news agency, after national quotas had been tightened to address the opioid addiction crisis.

Read more here.

20:12 GMT – Two stranded cruise ships given approval to dock in Florida

Passengers aboard two cruise ships that have had coronavirus cases and deaths have been given the green light to disembark at a Florida port.

Broward County Commissioner Michael Udine said that an agreement had been reached between local, state and federal officials and Carnival Corp, which owns the Zaandam and the Rotterdam. And Port Everglades traffic records list the two ships’ arrival as “confirmed”.

The cruise line Holland America is operating the ships. Holland America says 45 passengers who are mildly sick will stay on board until they recover, but that it needs 10 people to be taken to a Fort Lauderdale hospital for immediate medical care.

Libya fears 150,000 displaced vulnerable to COVID-19 (02:20)

20:00 GMT – Trump issues order to boost ventilator manufacturing

US President Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to aid companies building ventilators for coronavirus patients to receive the supply of materials they need.

In a memo released by the White House, Trump directed the US Health and Human Services secretary to use his authority to help facilitate the supply of ventilator materials for six companies – General Electric Co, Hill-Rom Holdings Inc , Medtronic Plc, Resmed Inc, Royal Philips NV and Vyaire Medical Inc.

19:40 GMT – Bolsonaro says coronavirus ‘not all it’s being made out to be’

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro continued to downplay the coronavirus epidemic, saying it is “not all it’s being made out to be” and denying that any hospital in the country has reached its full capacity due to the outbreak.

Speaking to church ministers outside his official residence in Brasilia, he urged state governors not to be so “radical”, warning that their confinement and quarantine measures are taking a heavy toll on the economy.

He estimated that 60 percent to 70 percent of Brazilians will eventually contract the virus.

18:23 GMT – World Bank to roll out $160bn emergency aid

The World Bank approved a plan to roll out $160bn in emergency aid over 15 months to help countries deal with the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic.

The board of the Washington-based development lender announced the first set of fast-track crisis funding, with an initial $1.9bn going to projects in 25 countries, and operations moving forward in another 40 nations, the bank said in a statement.

The bank is also working to redeploy $1.7bn of existing funding, including the use of “catastrophic drawdowns”, a type of emergency credit line.

18:21 GMT – France’s death toll jumps to nearly 5,400

The number of cumulative known deaths from coronavirus in France surged to nearly 5,400 as the country started including fatalities in nursing homes in its data.

Jerome Salomon, head of the public health authority, said the number of coronavirus-related deaths in hospitals rose 12 percent on Thursday to 4,503 from a day earlier.

He added that a provisional tally showed that a cumulative 884 people in total had died in nursing homes. This makes for a total of 5,387 lives lost to coronavirus in France.

18:20 GMT – Lebanon municipalities ‘discriminate’ against refugees

Nearly two dozen Lebanese municipalities have implemented restrictions targeting Syrian refugees amid the coronavirus pandemic, including curfews that do not apply to other foreigners or Lebanon’s citizens, according to Human Rights Watch.

Read more here.

18:19 GMT – UK looking at virus immunity certificates

The United Kingdom is looking at issuing immunity certificates to people who have developed resistance to the coronavirus, but there needs to be more research into the science behind it, health minister Matt Hancock said.

People who have had COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, develop antibodies to fight the virus, but it is unclear how long any immunity they develop lasts.

“[An immunity certificate] is an important thing that we will be doing and are looking at but it’s too early in the science of the immunity that comes from having had the disease,” Hancock said at a news conference.

17:31 GMT – Portugal shuts all airports to commercial flights during Easter

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced the closure of all airports to commercial flights during the usually busy Easter holiday period to stop the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

The airports will shut between April 9 and April 13 and only flights repatriating citizens or transporting goods will be allowed to operate.

17:05 GMT – Turkey’s death toll rises to 356, total cases 18,135

Turkey’s death toll from the coronavirus outbreak increased by 79 to 356, its highest daily rise, while the number of confirmed cases from the disease rose by 2,456 to 18,135, health ministry data showed.

It said 18,757 tests had been carried out in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of tests conducted in Turkey to 125,556 since the outbreak began.

17:01 GMT – Moscow extends partial lockdown until May 1

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said a partial lockdown and other restrictions introduced to halt the spread of the coronavirus would remain in place until May 1.

Residents of Moscow, the epicentre of Russia’s coronavirus outbreak, have since Monday been allowed to leave their homes only to buy food or medicine nearby, get urgent medical treatment, walk the dog or take out the rubbish.

16:33 GMT – Malawi reports its first three cases

Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika says the African country recorded its first three coronavirus cases.

“Malawi had no cases of the virus. Sadly, we now have three confirmed cases,” Mutharika said in an address to the nation.

16:25 GMT – Five key developments in Spain

Spain has the world’s second-highest number of fatalities and rising unemployment, but there is hope amid the crisis.

Read more here.

16:20 GMT – How to talk to your children about coronavirus

With many of the world’s people confined to their homes amid efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, families are finding themselves spending more time than ever together.

For many, this is an unexpected opportunity to connect with spouses, children and siblings. But one question has come bubbling up: how should adult caregivers be talking about coronavirus to the children in their lives?

Read more here.

Coronavirus Pandemic Causes Climate Of Anxiety And Changing Routines In America
A special intake tent at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York City [Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP]

16:14 GMT – New York has ventilators to last six days: Governor

New York has enough ventilators in stock to last another six days at the current rate they are being used in hospitals to treat coronavirus patients, the governor said.

Andrew Cuomo told a daily briefing the statewide coronavirus cases had increased to 92,381, up from 83,712 a day earlier, with deaths rising to 2,373 from 1,941.

16:10 GMT – Trump signals oil price war truce as Saudis call OPEC+ meeting

Saudi Arabia on Thursday called for an emergency meeting between the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies led by Russia, in the face of mounting pressure from US President Donald Trump to call a truce in an oil price war that has sent crude prices plummeting and engendered US shale oil producers. 

Read more here.

15:28 GMT – Iran’s parliament speaker tests positive for coronavirus

Iran’s parliament says Speaker Ali Larijani has tested positive for the new coronavirus and is in quarantine.

15:22 GMT – Canada’s tally jumps by 1,115 cases

Canada’s public health agency data shows the number of coronavirus cases went up by 1,115 in a day to 10,132. The death toll increased by 22, bringing the total to 127. 

14:41 GMT – Romanian doctors to get 500 euros monthly bonus

Romanian doctors, nurses and other personnel dealing with coronavirus cases will receive a monthly bonus of about 500 euros ($543) a month, President Klaus Iohannis said.

“I demanded the government to reroute European (Union) funding, to give a monthly bonus of 500 euros to front line personnel dealing with COVID[-19] infected patients. I am prepared to deliver solutions,” Iohannis told a video briefing.

About 15 percent of all coronavirus infections in Romania are medical personnel.

14:37 GMT – US jobless claims surge to 6.65 million

Another week, another record shattered as the coronavirus pandemic unleashes unprecedented carnage on the US economy.

The number of Americans filing for initial unemployment benefits surged to 6.65 million in the week ending March 28, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Thursday, obliterating the previous record 3.3 million set only the week before.

Read more here.

14:35 GMT – As Iran struggles to fund virus fight, US keeps squeezing economy

The war against the coronavirus pandemic is literally a life and death fight for nations. But Iran is waging it with an economy badly crippled by US sanctions that have Tehran bereft of financial resources to mount an effective public health response.

Read more here.

14:08 GMT – Putin extends non-working days until April 30

President Vladimir Putin said Russians will continue not going to work while receiving pay until the end of the month to combat the coronavirus.

In his second televised address on Russia’s response to the virus, Putin said in Moscow “so far it has not been possible to turn around the situation despite the measures taken by federal and city authorities”.

Regional authorities should take decisions on what needs to be shut down based on the “objective situation” while ensuring people’s safety, Putin said.

A journalist wearing a protective face mask is seen in an elevator in Pyatigorsk
A poster with Russian President Vladimir Putin reads: ‘Putin, we are with you!’ [Eduard Korniyenko/Reuters]

14:06 GMT – Four French soldiers test positive

Four soldiers in West Africa have tested positive for coronavirus, the French army said.

The army also said three of the infected soldiers have been repatriated to France.

13:46 GMT – Singapore confirms 49 new cases

Singapore reported 49 more coronavirus cases, its health ministry said, taking the city-state’s total infections to 1,049.

The country recorded its fourth coronavirus-related death.

13:30 GMT – UK death toll rises to 2,921, up 24 percent in a day

The UK’s death toll from the coronavirus rose 24 percent to 2,921 as of April 1.

As of 08:00 GMT on April 2, a total of 163,194 people had been tested of which 33,718 tested positive, the health ministry said.

“Of those hospitalised in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus, 2,921 have sadly died,” the health ministry said.

13:25 GMT

Hello, I am Tamila Varshalomidze in Doha, taking over the blog from my colleague Joseph Stepansky.

12:55 GMT – Boeing announces voluntary layoff plan     

Boeing has unveiled a voluntary worker layoff programme, telling employees that it hoped to avoid “other workforce actions” as the aviation industry reels from the coronavirus crisis.

The initiative, announced by Boeing Chief Executive David Calhoun, that such belt-tightening was needed amid the hit to the industry caused by the pandemic.

He said, “It’s important that we start adjusting to our new reality now.”

12:50 GMT – Pandemic forces postponement of crucial UN climate summit

This year’s United Nations global climate summit is being postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic , the host UK has said.

The most important climate summit since Paris 2015, also called COP26, was scheduled to take place in the British city of Glasgow in November. It will now be held in 2021.

UN negotiators say the postponement, which pushes the summit after the US presidential election, will allow them to assess whether they will have support in the White House after US President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 Paris agreement in 2017 and rolled back Obama-era environmental policies.

Boris Johnson Launches UN Climate Change Conference To Be Held Later This Year
Some 30,000 people, including 200 world leaders, were due to attend the 10-day conference [Jeremy Selwyn/WPA Pool/Getty Images]

12:40 GMT – UK health minister to set out new testing measures 

UK Health minister Matt Hancock will set out on Thursday how Britain will boost its testing regime to help tackle the coronavirus outbreak, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, acknowledging more needed to be done.

Johnson believed Britain must see a “massive increase” in testing to “unlock the coronavirus puzzle and defeat it in the end”, the spokesman said. 

“We acknowledge that more needs to be done in relation to testing, we need to be testing more people and we need to be making progress very quickly … The health secretary will set out later the steps we are going to be taking to ensure that there is a significant increase in testing.” 

12:35 GMT – ‘Dear Elon’: Ukraine takes up Tesla’s ventilator offer via Twitter

Ukraine has taken to Twitter to ask Elon Musk to send it ventilators after the billionaire chief executive of Tesla Inc offered to ship them across the world during the coronavirus pandemic.

Musk said this week he was ready to send the life-saving machines wherever his company delivers, free of charge.

“Dear Elon, Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe with population nearly 40 mln citizens,” Ukraine’s embassy in Washington, DC wrote on Twitter late on Wednesday. “The pandemic situation in Ukraine is approaching its peak, April is going to be the hardest. People in hospitals need ventilators. We are ready to cooperate! Dyakuyemo! [Thank you!]”

12:30 GMT – Portugal extends state of emergency

Portugal’s parliament has approved the extension of a state of emergency by another 15 days  to stop the spread of the coronavirus, as the number of deaths from the disease rose over 200.

“If decreeing a state of emergency was necessary 15 days ago, it is essential that we renew it today,” Prime Minister Antonio Costa told parliament. “All the effort we have made so far will be compromised if it does not continue.”

Just one lawmaker voted against the measure, with 10 abstentions and 215 votes in favour. Senior Socialist lawmaker Ana Catarina Mendes deemed the move “hard but necessary”. Portugal has confirmed 9,034 coronavirus cases and 209 deaths.

12:20 GMT – Twitter removes accounts linked to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, other countries

Twitter has taken down thousands of accounts linked to Egypt, Honduras, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Serbia for either taking directions from the governments or promoting pro-government content.

Twitter and other social media companies are under pressure to clean up misinformation and hateful content on their platforms, while abuse related to the coronavirus outbreak has also increased scrutiny of their actions.

Twitter said it removed the accounts because they violated its policies and were a targeted attempt to undermine the public conversation. It took down 2,541 accounts in the Egypt-based El Fagr network because it created fake accounts to amplify messages critical of Iran, Qatar, and Turkey.

12:15 GMT – Saudi Arabia imposes 24-hour curfew in Mecca, Medina

Saudi Arabia has imposed a 24-hour curfew in Mecca and Medina, the interior ministry said, extending measures taken to combat the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected more than 1,700 people and killed 16.

The interior ministry said in a statement there were some exceptions, including for essential workers and for residents to buy food and access medical care. The curfew had previously been from 1500 to 0600. 

12:10 GMT – Deaths in Netherlands increase to 1,339

The number of deaths caused by an infection with the new coronavirus in the Netherlands has increased by 166 to 1,339, health authorities have said. 

The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the country increased by 8 percent to 14,697, the Dutch Institute for Public Health said.

12:00 GMT – Israel’s health minister gets coronavirus; top officials isolate

Coronavirus has forced more top Israeli officials into isolation after the country’s health minister, who has had frequent contact with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, tested positive, the health ministry said on Thursday.

Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman and his wife, who also contracted the virus, are in isolation but said they feel well and are being treated, a ministry statement said.

Shortly after the announcement, the prime minister’s office said Netanyahu returned to self-quarantine because of his contact with Litzman.

Read more here

Israeli Health Minister Yakov Litzman, a rabbi from the United Torah Judaism party, waves to journalists after handing in his resignation to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during the weekly cabine
Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman has tested positive for coronavirus [Gali Tibbon/Reuters]

11:55 GMT – Former Somali PM dies of coronavirus in London

Somalia has entered a three-day mourning period after Nur Hassan Hussein, the former prime minister, died in a London hospital on Wednesday after contracting the new coronavirus.

He was 83.

Popularly known as Nur Adde, he was the East African country’s prime minister from November 2007 to February 2009.

Read more here

epa01254269 French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner (unseen) and Somali Premier Nur Hassan Hussein Adde address the media during their joint press conference at the Quai d'Orsay, in Paris, France, 13
Nur Hassan Hussein, the former prime minister of Somalia, has died of coronavirus in London [Horaico Villalobos/EPA]

11:45 GMT – Public anger grows as Bosnian mother denied test dies

Advija Kanlic, a 52-year-old woman from Sarajevo, had serious symptoms of coronavirus infection for more than a week, including high fever and shortness of breath.

For six days, her children asked the health service for a coronavirus test, but their requests were routinely rejected because she had not been to any country with a serious outbreak.

It was not until after she died that authorities finally conducted a COVID-19 test and confirmed the infection.

Read more here

Coronavirus precautions in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Officials make preparations at Bjelave Student Hostel for people coming from Italy as a preventive measure against coronavirus in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina [Samir Jordamovic/Anadolu Agency]

11:35 GMT – LATAM Airlines to cut all but 5 percent of flights in April

LATAM Airlines, South America’s largest carrier, will only operate 5 percent of its regularly scheduled passenger flights in April due to the coronavirus crisis, the company has said.

The airline said it will keep 39 domestic routes in Brazil, 13 in Chile and 4 international routes. LATAM had previously said it would cut 70 percent of its flights. 

11:30 GMT – British ventilator consortium targeting 1,500 units per week

 A consortium of British engineers, aerospace and Formula One companies are hoping to produce at least 1,500 ventilators a week within a matter of weeks.

Companies including Airbus, Ford, Rolls-Royce and BAE have come together with seven Formula One teams to ramp up production of two existing ventilators made by Penlon and Smiths Group in Britain.

The companies answered a call by Prime Minister Boris Johnson for industries to help build life-saving equipment ahead of the peak of the coronavirus outbreak.

Spain reports 950 coronavirus deaths in 24 hours; highest daily toll

11:20 GMT – Switzerland death toll rises to 432

The Swiss death toll from the coronavirus epidemic has risen to 432, the country’s public health agency has said, from 378 people on Wednesday.

The number of positive tests increased to 18,267 from 17,139, it said.

11:10 GMT – Zambia records first death

Zambia has recorded its first death from coronavirus, and the number of confirmed cases has risen by three to 39, Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya has said.

Chilufya said the three new cases had all got the virus from people who had travelled abroad. 

Anti-malaria drug used to fight COVID-19 in Senegal

11:00 GMT – EU executive chief concerned Hungary emergency measures go too far

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has expressed concern that coronavirus restriction measures taken by Hungary went too far and insisted they should be limited in time and subject to scrutiny. 

Hungary’s parliament on Monday granted Prime Minister Viktor Orban an open-ended right to rule by decree and introduced jail sentences for anyone hindering measures to curb the spread of the virus or spreading false information about the pandemic. 

“I am concerned that certain measures go too far and I am particularly concerned about the situation in Hungary,” von der Leyen told a news conference on Thursday.

“These emergency measures have to be limited to what is necessary, they have to be strictly proportionate because they have to be adequate in this situation, they should not last indefinitely and very importantly they should be subject to regular scrutiny,” she continued. 

10:45 GMT – India’s toaster-sized ventilator to help in pandemic fight

Light, portable and easy to use, a small ventilator originally created by an Indian robot scientist and a neurosurgeon is offering hope in the country’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Because it doesn’t need much power to run, and can be set up anywhere, the AgVa portable ventilator is allowing less-critical patients to be moved back home.

As the coronavirus toll rises in India, production of AgVa’s ventilator shot up from 500 a month to 20,000. 

Read more here.

10:35 GMT – Next EU budget should be ‘Marshall Plan’ for Europe: Von der Leyen

The next EU budget should be a new “Marshall Plan” to stoke Europe’s recovery from the coronavirus crisis, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said.

“We know in this crisis that we need quick answers,” she told a news conference, adding that the long-term budget, known as the multi-annual financial framework (MFF) was recovery’s strongest tool.

“We want to shape the MFF in such a way that it is a crucial part of our recovery plan… I think the European budget should be the Marshall Plan we are laying out together as a European Union for the European people,” she said, referring to the US aid programme for Western Europe from 1948 to stimulate a recovery after World War II.

10:30 GMT – Over half of UK residents say gov’t too slow in response: Poll

More than half of UK residents think Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government was too slow to order a lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus, according to a new opinion poll.

The Ipsos MORI poll, carried out online March 27-30 showed 56 percent of people believed the government’s enforcement of social distancing measures was too late, compared with 4 percent who felt it was done too soon.

Ipsos MORI said it interviewed 1,072 British adults, aged 18 to 75. 

UK On Lockdown Due To Coronavirus Pandemic
56 percent of people surveyed believed the government’s enforcement came too late [Naomi Baker/Getty]

10:25 GMT – India races to find 9,000 exposed residents

Indian officials are racing to track down some 9,000 people exposed to the country’s biggest infection cluster, linked to a Muslim missionary group’s gathering in the capital last month.

The number of cases jumped by more than half to 1,965 on Wednesday, fuelled by infections among people who either attended prayers and lectures at the Tablighi Jamaat’s headquarters in a densely packed Delhi neighbourhood or came into contact with attendees later.

A government official said about 9,000 people linked to the Delhi cluster were unaccounted for, of which 2,000 were identified as Tablighi Jamaat officials and the rest as primary contacts.

“This has emerged as a critical node in our fight against the coronavirus, we need these people to come forward, so we can quarantine them,” the official leading the operation to trace potential virus carriers told Reuters news agency, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

10:15 GMT – India turns trains into isolation wards

India has begun converting trains and stadiums into isolation wards to deal with an anticipated surge in coronavirus cases.

Indian Railways on Wednesday said work had begun on modifying 20,000 carriages into medical facilities, with each carriage containing 16 beds.

This means that a total of 320,000 patients could be cared for in the “quarantine coaches”, a statement from the railways said.

Read more here

india isolation
An Indian railway employee works to convert a train coach into an isolation ward [Anupam Nath/The Associated Press]

10:10 GMT – Irish restrictions may go beyond April 12

The highly restrictive measures Ireland put in place last week to slow the spread of coronavirus may well be extended beyond the initial deadline of April 12, Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney has said.

Ireland’s prime minister significantly ramped up restrictions last Friday when he ordered citizens to stay home and only leave to buy groceries, for brief individual physical exercise or make absolutely essential family visits.

“I think people do need to realise that these restrictions may go on for some time. We’ve set an initial period, but I think it may well be that we will need to go beyond that initial deadline, but again that will be a decision taken with the best public health advice,” Coveney told a news conference.

10:05 GMT – Zoom pulls in more than 200 million daily users during worldwide lockdowns

Zoom’s daily users ballooned to more than 200 million in March from a previous maximum total of 10 million, the video conferencing app’s boss Eric Yuan has said, as the company fought to dispel concerns over privacy and “Zoombombing”. 

The use of Zoom and other digital communications have soared, with political parties, companies, schools, and millions across the world working from home after lockdowns were enforced to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

At least 100 sailors on US aircraft carrier contract COVID-19

10:00 GMT – Iran’s death toll from coronavirus rises to 3,160

Iran’s death toll from the coronavirus has reached 3,136, with 124 deaths in the past 24 hours, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur told state television on Thursday, adding that the country had 50,468 cases of infection.

“We have 3,956 infected people in critical condition … There were 2,875 new cases of infected people in the past 24 hours … 16,711 people have recovered from the disease,” Jahanpur said

09:45 GMT – Spain’s coronavirus death toll passes 10,000

Spain’s coronavirus death toll has risen to 10,003 from 9,053, according to the country’s health officials, the highest daily toll since the outbreak began. 

Meanwhile, the number of infections rose to 110,238, up from 102,136 the previous day. 

Despite the new figure, Health Minister Salvador Illa insisted there was reason for optimism, saying that “the data shows that the curve   has stabilised – we have reached the highest point and things are slowing down.” 

09:35 GMT – Belgium death toll tops 1,000

Coronavirus deaths in Belgium increased sharply and passed the 1,000 mark, health officials said. 

The official toll in the country of 11.4 million has doubled in the space of three days, in part because figures have been updated with a backlog of fatalities from retirement homes.

There have now been 1,001 deaths and 15,348 recorded cases since the outbreak started, officials told a daily news conference.

09:30 GMT – Emirates to operate flights to repatriate visitors, ex-pats

Emirates has received approval from UAE authorities to operate a number of outbound passenger flights starting April 6 to repatriate visitors and residents who wish to return to their home countries, the company’s chairman said in a tweet on Thursday.

One of the world’s biggest long-haul airlines, Emirates looks to resume flights gradually in line with the lifting of travel and operational restrictions, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said.

09:15 GMT – Turkish minister expects flights back to normal by end of June

Turkey’s tourism minister has said he expects flights to return to normal by the end of June after airlines cancelled most flights to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Mehmet Nuri Ersoy told broadcaster CNN Turk that air traffic from Asia would likely be opened first, followed by Russia, then the Balkans and Europe. Domestic flights would also restart, he said. 

Turkish Airlines has extended the cancellation of its flights from April 17 to May 1, while limited domestic flights continue. Pegasus Airlines, a Turkish budget carrier, has stopped all flights.

09:10 GMT – Malaysia reports 208 new coronavirus cases, total over 3,000

Malaysia has reported 208 new coronavirus cases, taking the total to 3,116, the highest in Southeast Asia.

The Ministry of Health recorded a total of 50 deaths, five reported on Thursday.

09:00 GMT – Philippines reports 11 new coronavirus deaths, 322 more infections

The Philippines’ health ministry has recorded 11 new deaths and 322 additional cases of coronavirus infection.

The latest figures bring the death toll to 107 and infections to 2,633, Health Secretary Francisco Duque told a regular news conference, reiterating that people should stay home while the country’s main island of Luzon is under a month-long strict quarantine.

Philippines - healthcare workers
Protesters call for improvements in the health sector amid coronavirus outbreak [Rolex Dela Pena/EPA]

08:45 GMT – More than a quarter of UK firms have cut staff: Report

More than a quarter of British companies are reducing staff levels over the short term as the coronavirus crisis hits the country’s economy, a newly published survey shows. 

“Over a quarter (27 percent) of responding businesses said they were reducing staff levels in the short term, while 5 percent reported recruiting staff in the short term,” the Office for National Statistics said.

08:30 GMT – Ugandan doctors say lockdown could cause more deaths

Ugandan health workers have accused the government of endangering the lives of expectant mothers and those needing emergency treatment by requiring them to secure permission before going to a hospital.

President Yoweri Museveni imposed a lockdown on Monday to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus, which included banning private cars from the roads for 14 days. He said the government would assist in transporting those who find themselves in medical emergencies to hospitals.

But there is no functioning public ambulance system for medical evacuations, with many pregnant women, as well as those injured in accidents or crime, often relying on private means to get to hospitals.

“Other medical emergencies like maternal have not stopped because coronavirus has come,” Ekwaro Obuku, a former head of Uganda’s national association of physicians, told Reuters news agency. “No mother in labour pains should ask for permission to deliver her baby. We will end up having unnecessary and preventable deaths.”

Wearing a surgical mask is now mandatory in some countries

08:15 GMT – Thailand to announce nationwide curfew starting Friday

Thailand is to announce a nationwide curfew between 10pm and 4am starting Friday to try to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, the government has said in a statement.

The curfew will have some exceptions, including for the transport of medical supplies, movement of people into quarantine or treatment, and travel of medical personnel, according to the statement shown to reporters.

“The prime minister will make the announcement this evening on national television around 6pm,” deputy spokeswoman Ratchada Thanadirek told Reuters news agency when reached by phone.

07:45 GMT – Russia cases jump to more than 3,500 in record daily rise

Russia’s coronavirus case tally jumped has jumped to 3,548, a record daily increase of 771, according to Russia’s crisis response centre.

Cases have been recorded in 76 of Russia’s more than 80 regions, but Moscow remains the epicentre of the outbreak with 595 cases, the centre said. Thirty people have died across the country, it said.

07:30 GMT – Top UK health official says ‘everybody is frustrated’ over stalled testing

One of the UK’s top health officials has said there is widespread frustration within the government that the country was not testing enough people yet.

“Everybody involved is frustrated that we haven’t got to the position yet that we need to get to,” Paul Cosford, emeritus medical director of Public Health England, told BBC radio.

“But we’ve got up to almost 13,000 tests a day being available,” he said.

07:20 GMT – Almost 900,000 Spanish workers lost their job since lockdown

Some 898,822 workers lost their jobs since March 12 in Spain, social security data showed on Thursday, more than half of which are temporary workers.

The number of people officially registered as unemployed in the country rose to 3.5 million in March, the highest level since April 2017.

07:15 GMT – Cyprus extends flight ban for another two weeks

Cyprus has extended a ban on commercial air links with 28 countries for another two weeks  to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The ban, introduced on March 21 for a 14-day period, will remain for a further 14 days, Cypriot Minister of Transport Yiannis Karousos said in a tweet. He said the decision was dictated by the situation in Cyprus, and the “dramatic” situation in other European states.

Cyprus has recorded 320 coronavirus cases and nine deaths. It has imposed tough restrictions on movement, including a night curfew and allowing people to leave their homes only once a day with a special permit. 

07:05 GMT – China says US officials made ‘shameless’ comments about its reporting

China’s foreign ministry said US officials are making “shameless” comments casting doubt about China’s reporting of coronavirus cases in the country.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said during a daily briefing that China has been open and transparent about the coronavirus outbreak that began in the country late last year, and accused the US of politicising a health issue, adding that the US should instead focus on the safety of its people.

“These comments by those US politicians are just shameless and morally repulsive,” Chunying said. “They should abandon such politicising of public health issues. This is just immoral and inhuman – and will be denounced by people all around the world.”

The statement comes after the US intelligence community, in a classified report to the White House, concluded that China’s reporting has been intentionally incomplete, according to media reports. 

Read more here

China Wuhan
Foreign ministry spokeswoman said China has been open and transparent about the coronavirus outbreak  [Aly Song/Reuters]

07:00 GMT – British Airways in union talks to suspend about 32,000 staff: Report

British Airways is in talks with its union to discuss a plan to suspend about 32,000 staff in response to the coronavirus pandemic, a person familiar with the situation told Reuters news agency.

The British flag carrier has cut flights and warned it will need to cut jobs to survive the outbreak as the battered aviation sector scrambles to lower costs.

06:45 GMT – Greece quarantines migrant camp after positive test

Greece has quarantined a migrant camp after 20 asylum seekers tested positive for coronavirus, the migration ministry has said.

Movement in and out of the Ritsona camp, 75 kilometres (45 miles) northeast of Athens and home to some 2,500 people, will be restricted for 14 days the ministry said, adding that police would monitor implementation.

Sixty-three people were tested after a 19-year-old female migrant who gave birth in an Athens hospital was found to be infected, becoming the first recorded case among thousands of asylum seekers kept in overcrowded camps across the country. None of the confirmed cases had any symptoms, the ministry said.

Read more here

A view of a refugee camp in Ritsona, northern of Athens, Greece, REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
Thousands of asylum seekers are kept in overcrowded camps across Greece [File: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters]

06:40 GMT – Thailand reports 104 new cases, three new deaths

Thailand has reported 104 new coronavirus cases, bringing its total to 1,875 cases, a spokesman for the government’s Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration has said.

Three new deaths in the country bring total deaths to 15, spokesman Taweesin Wisanuyothin said.

06:30 GMT – China says new deaths steady at six

China reported six new coronavirus deaths as of the end of Wednesday, the same number as the previous day. 

China had 35 new cases on April 1, all of which were imported, the National Health Commission said. 

06:15 GMT – New holiday for Indonesia to replace traditional Eid exodus?

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has said the government is considering announcing a new national holiday to prevent the annual mass exodus that usually takes place at the end of the Muslim fasting month, Ramadan.

Widodo said at a cabinet meeting that measures could be put in place during the new holiday to help “bring some calm to the people”.

Minister of Social Affairs Juliari Batubara also told reporters that the government plans to give special assistance to residents of Jakarta this year to limit the exodus from the capital during the holiday period, which falls over April and May. 

Nearly 90 percent of Indonesians are Muslim and usually return to their home villages at the end of Ramadan, buying new clothes and enjoying a feast with their families and friends.

06:00 GMT – Australia begins pre-clinical testing for vaccine

Australia’s national science agency has said it commenced the first stage of testing potential vaccines for COVID-19, as it joins a global race to halt the coronavirus pandemic.

Pre-clinical testing by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), comprising injecting ferrets with two potential vaccines, was underway at its high-containment biosecurity facility near Melbourne.

The first phase will take around three months, CSIRO’s director of health Rob Grenfell told Reuters news agency, adding that any resulting vaccine would not be available to the public before late next year. Human trials of one of the two vaccines being tested was expected to begin later this month or early next month.

Australia has reported around 5,200 cases and 24 deaths.

05:45 GMT – WHO expects Malaysia cases to peak mid-April

The number of coronavirus cases in Malaysia is expected to peak in mid-April, the World Health Organization said on Thursday, adding that there are signs of a flattening of the infection curve.

“Based on available data, the WHO Country Office has projected that Malaysia will see a peak in hospitalized cases in mid-April,” Ying-Ru Lo, the WHO’s head of mission and representative to Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore told Reuters news agency in emailed comments.

The number of critically ill patients is estimated to reach the peak within the next week, she said. There have been 2,908 confirmed cases in the country and 45 deaths. 

Hello, this is Joseph Stepansky in Doha taking over from my colleague Kate Mayberry

05:30 GMT – Summary of this morning’s developments

I will hand over the blog to my colleagues in Doha shortly.

A brief summary of developments this morning:

  • It seems the US will allow the passengers on board the Zaandam cruise ship, where there are a number of coronavirus cases, to disembark in Florida.
  • The US is also planning to evacuate sailors from its USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier, which has reported cases of the virus. The ship is currently in Guam.
  • Australia is optimistic that its “stay at home” measures are helping slow the rate of infection.
  • Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is being mocked for his plan to send two masks to each household in the country.

05:25 GMT – Health workers in the Philippines battle not only virus but stigma

The Philippines has the second-worst coronavirus outbreak in Southeast Asia, but the doctors and nurses on the front lines find themselves battling not only a virus, but the stigma of infection.

As Al Jazeera’s Ana Santos reports from Manila, they have been turfed out of their homes, told not to board buses and refused service at stalls and restaurants. 

05:05 GMT – Philippines ambassador to Lebanon dies of COVID-19

Bernardita Catalla, the Philippine ambassador to Lebanon, has died of COVID-19 at a hospital in Beirut.

05:00 GMT – China sending flight to UK to bring students home

A chartered flight is currently on its way to London to collect a group of Chinese students who have been unable to return home. China has organised similar repatriation flights from countries including Italy and Iran.

The Chinese government says it has given out “health packages” with more than 11 million masks and 500,000 disinfecting products to Chinese students in hard-hit countries.

04:55 GMT – South Korea says 158 short-term visitors in isolation

South Korea says 158 short-term visitors have been isolated in designated facilities a day after it began enforcing two-week quarantines on everyone arriving from overseas.

Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip on Thursday also said 224 South Korean nationals and 11 foreigners remained at the airport awaiting the results of virus tests after showing symptoms when they arrived in the country on Wednesday.

Eight foreign nationals were denied entry after they refused to accept the quarantine.

04:30 GMT – Germany cases rise to more than 73,500

Germany’s Robert Koch Institute says the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country has risen to 73,522 while 872 people have died of the disease.

Cases rose by 6,156 compared with the previous day while the death toll climbed by 140.

04:15 GMT – Jazz great Ellis Marsalis dies from pneumonia at age of 85

Ellis Marsalis Jr, jazz pianist, teacher and patriarch of a New Orleans musical clan that includes famed performer sons Wynton and Branford, has died after battling pneumonia brought on by the coronavirus, one of his sons said late on Wednesday. 

“Pneumonia was the actual thing that caused his demise,” Ellis Marsalis III told Associated Press. “But it was pneumonia brought on by COVID-19.”

The 85-year old jazz patriarch lived in New Orleans. Four of his six sons are musicians.

Ellis Marsalis
Ellis Marsalis, seen here at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival last year, died from pneumonia brought on by the coronavirus at the age of 85 [File: Sophia Germer/AP Photo] 

04:00 GMT – Japan’s Abe under attack over two-mask plan

People in Japan have responded to a promise by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to send two reusable cloth face masks to every household with mockery.

The hashtag “Abenomasks”, a play on the prime minister’s signature “Abenomics” economic policy, was trending on Twitter.

02:35 GMT – Shenzhen announces sweeping ban on breeding, consuming wildlife

The southern Chinese city of Shenzhen has issued the most sweeping ban yet on the breeding and consumption of wild animals.

The Shenzhen regulations permanently ban the trade in and consumption of wild animals, a step beyond the temporary ban issued by the central government at the start of the current outbreak. Along with snakes, lizards and other wild animals, it also bans the consumption of dog and cat meat.

Those who break the law risk fines reflecting the value of the wildlife seized, starting at 150,000 yuan ($21,400).

The coronavirus has been traced to a market in Wuhan that sold wild animals such as pangolins and civet cats, as well as more conventional fare such as chicken and fish. 

02:30 GMT – Australia says it is slowing the spread of the coronavirus

Some good news from Australia, where Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said the country is slowing the spread of the coronavirus, and parliament will reopen next Wednesday.

02:10 GMT – Trump says cruise ship passengers to be evacuated in Florida

US President Donald Trump says passengers on board the Zaandam cruise ship will be evacuated after it docks in Florida.

The Zaandam was anchored off Panama but was denied entry after passengers reported COVID-19 symptoms [Carlos Lemos/EPA]

The ship, where dozens have fallen ill from coronavirus, and at least two have died of it, has been barred from several South American countries.

The Zaandam and its sister ship, Rotterdam, are expected to enter US waters early on Thursday and dock in Fort Lauderdale.

Trump said the US was “sending medical teams on board the ships” and taking people off, after which non-Americans would be repatriated.

02:10 GMT – South Korea starts campaigning for parliamentary polls

South Korea started campaigning for the April 15 parliamentary elections on Thursday with the government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, and its impact on the economy, expected to be among voters’ key concerns.

There are 253 direct seats and 47 proportional seats up for grabs, with voters able to cast two ballots – one for a candidate and one for a political party, according to Yonhap news agency.

South Korea
The government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak is expected to be among voters’ key concerns [Yonhap via Reuters]

01:55 GMT – HRW warns on Cambodia emergency powers

Human Rights Watch said Cambodia’s emergency law could enable longtime prime minister Hun Sen to restrict all civil and political liberties, target the media and crack down on human rights defenders.

“These sweeping, undefined and unchecked powers should set off alarm bells among Cambodia’s friends and donors,” HRW’s Asia Director Brad Adams said in a statement.

The group urged Cambodia to submit a new draft prioritising public health and safeguarding basic rights. The bill is due to go to the one-party National Assembly next week.

00:15 GMT – Sailors to be taken off aircraft carrier by Friday: US Navy

Nearly 3,000 sailors on board a US aircraft carrier where the coronavirus has spread will be taken off the ship by Friday, Navy officials said on Wednesday.

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said some need to remain on board the USS Theodore Roosevelt to protect the ship and run critical systems.

He said about 1,000 have gone ashore and that number will grow to at least 2,700 in a couple of days. Just under 100 of the nearly 5,000 sailors on the ship, now docked in Guam, have tested positive for the virus.

Read more here

At least 100 sailors on US aircraft carrier contract COVID-19

00:00 GMT – Israel’s health minister and his wife test positive for coronavirus

Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman and his wife have tested positive for coronavirus, his office said late on Wednesday.

The Health Ministry says the 71-year-old and his wife are feeling well, receiving medical care and will remain in isolation.

Litzman is the most senior Israeli official to be diagnosed with the virus and will continue to work from home.


I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur with Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read all the updates from yesterday (April 1) here.  

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies