US coronavirus cases surpass 1 million: Live updates

A third of global infections reported in the US, where death toll exceeds 57,000 and recoveries stand at 114,000.

Detroit residents line-up to be tested for free for the coronavirus virus disease (COVID-19) at the Sheffield Center in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., April 28, 2020. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook
  • French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe presented plans to unwind a nationwide lockdown from May 11 conditional on the number of new cases dropping below 3,000 per day, making urban transport as accessible as possible.

  • China accused US politicians of telling lies to distract from their own performance, shortly after US President Donald Trump renewed his verbal attacks on China. 

  • Worldwide, the number of people confirmed to have coronavirus has risen to more than three million, and at least 215,000 have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. More than 920,000 people have recovered.

  • First signs that the transmission of the novel coronavirus has again picked up were visible in German official data, just as the country attempts a cautious easing of its lockdown measures.

Here are the latest updates:

Tuesday, April 28

21:00 GMT – Peru coronavirus cases surpass 30,000

Peru’s health ministry confirmed its toll of coronavirus cases had surpassed 30,000, with 854 associated deaths.

Infections have prompted the collapse of some medical facilities, with bodies being kept in hallways, masks being repeatedly reused, and protests breaking out amongst medical workers concerned over their safety.

20:35 GMT – IMF approves $3.4bn for Nigeria to address coronavirus

The IMF board approved $3.4bn in emergency financing for Nigeria to help deal with the economic damage inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The loan aims “to support the authorities’ efforts in addressing the severe economic impact of the COVID-19 shock and the sharp fall in oil prices”, the IMF said in a statement.

The funds come from the IMF’s Rapid Financing Instrument, which has been ramped up to get aid quickly to developing nations most vulnerable to the economic effects of shutdowns aimed at stopping the virus’ spread.

20:12 GMT – US state of Illinois posts its largest single-day death toll

Illinois health officials reported that 142 people had died due to COVID-19 during the past 24 hours, the state’s largest single-day death toll since the outbreak began.

Illinois also posted 2,219 new cases, the second largest daily total. The state has had a total of 2,125 COVID-19 deaths and 48,102 confirmed cases, according to data from the state’s department of health.

Lebanon braces for more protests as economy sinks due to coronavirus (21:38)

20:03 GMT – UN warns of new crisis as COVID-19 looms over Yemen

The United Nations has said nearly one million displaced people in Yemen risk losing their shelter, warning of a dire funding shortfall and “a very real probability” that the new coronavirus is already circulating undetected in the war-torn country.

Some $89.4m is urgently needed in coming weeks to keep life-saving aid programmes running, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday, adding that the shortfall threatens critical assistance for Yemenis and refugees “most vulnerable” to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Read more here.

19:42 GMT –  

Quebec, the Canadian province hit hardest by the coronavirus outbreak, on Tuesday said it would slowly reopen its economy in May while keeping some social restrictions to avoid possible flare-ups.

“Our challenge is to gradually restart the economy without restarting the pandemic,” Premier Francois Legault told a briefing on Tuesday. Quebec will start with the civil engineering and road construction sector, factories and some stores while watching data on new infections.

“It’s important to keep the controls,” Legault said.

Read more here.

COVID-19: UN warns of potential health crisis among children (02:28)

19:04 GMT – British Airways to slash up to 12,000 jobs

The parent company of British Airways said it is set to cut up to 12,000 jobs as part of a restructuring plan as the carrier grapples with the fallout of the pandemic.

IAG said it was still deliberating its options but that it was “likely that they will affect most of British Airways’ employees and may result in the redundancy of up to 12,000”.

Passenger demand will take “several years” to return to 2019 levels, it added.

State and national leaders in the United States signalled an increasing willingness to curtail coronavirus-related lockdowns even as increased testing showed that the number of people infected by the virus surpassed one million for the first time.

More than 57,000 people have died from complications of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, public health officials at Johns Hopkins University reported.

Read more here.

18:05 GMT – Czech parliament approves state of emergency until May 17

The lower house of the Czech parliament extended until May 17 the state of emergency that underpins the government’s main measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus, a shorter extension than the government had sought.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis had asked for an extension until May 25, from the current April 30, to be able to keep various restrictions on business in place for longer.

It was not immediately clear whether the government would seek another way to extend the measures.

Is freedom a casualty in the war against coronavirus? (25:00)

18:03 GMT – UK cuts number of ventilator designs it supports

Britain said it would end support for four projects designed to boost the number of ventilators available in the battle against coronavirus, as it backs eleven other devices.

“This selection criteria… takes into account projections for ventilator demand, the availability of other devices which already have regulatory approval, the performance and clinical usefulness of each device and the progress to date on each device’s overall development,” the government said.

There are nearly 11,000 of the mechanical breathing apparatus available to the publicly-funded health service with a consortium of firms including McLaren, Airbus and Ford working to fulfill a government order.

17:09 GMT – New disease affecting UK infants ‘possibly linked to coronavirus’

A rare inflammatory syndrome which researchers believe to be linked to COVID-19 is a concern, although it has not led to any deaths of children in the United Kingdom so far, Britain’s health ministry said.

Italian and British medical experts are investigating a possible link between the coronavirus pandemic and clusters of severe inflammatory disease among infants who are arriving in hospital with high fevers and swollen arteries.

Read more here.

‘Won that battle’: NZ takes first steps out of virus lockdown (02:08)

17:06 GMT – New York hospitalisations at month low: Governor

The number of people admitted to a hospital in New York for the novel coronavirus dropped to its lowest daily level in more than a month, the latest sign the crisis is subsiding in the hardest-hit state, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

Cuomo also told a daily news conference that regions of his state that want to reopen would need to have hospital capacity below 70 percent and a transmission rate below 1.1, the threshold beyond which the virus tends to spread rapidly.

16:47 GMT – Spain aims to phase out lockdown by end of June

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced a four-phase plan to lift the lockdown enforced on the nation to control one of the world’s worst outbreaks of the coronavirus with an aim to return to normality by the end of June.

The lifting of the strict measures will begin on May 4 and vary from region to region depending on factors such as how the rate of infection evolves, the number of intensive care beds available locally and how regions comply with distancing rules, he said.

Colombia mayors move to block people from returning to work (02:37)

16:35 GMT – Turkey’s death toll rises to 2,992

The number of people who have died from COVID-19 in Turkey rose by 92 in the last 24 hours to 2,992, health ministry data showed, continuing a downward trend.

The total number of cases rose by 2,392 to 114,653, the data showed, the highest total outside Western Europe or the United States.

A total of 38,809 people have so far recovered from the new coronavirus, which causes the respiratory disease COVID-19. The number of tests carried out in the past 24 hours was 29,230.

16:08 GMT – Italy’s tops 200,000 coronavirus cases, daily death toll rises

Deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy climbed by 382, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the total of people infected since the start of the outbreak reached 201,505. The daily tally of new infections stood at 2,091.

People registered as currently carrying the illness fell to 105,205, including 1,863 people in intensive care. Of those originally infected, 68,941 were declared recovered.

The agency said 1.275 million people had been tested for the virus, out of a population of about 60 million.

16:03 GMT – Greece to gradually ease lockdown from May 4

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday announced a gradual easing of coronavirus lockdown rules from May 4, but said implementation would be monitored on a daily basis.

“Having contained the first wave of the virus, we are now ready to move to the second phase, the gradual de-escalation of (lockdown) measures,” Mitsotakis said in a televised address.

New Orleans fights to keep famous music scene alive amid lockdown (03:18)

15:35 GMT – 

Pakistan has registered its deadliest day in terms of deaths from the coronavirus, with at least 20 people dying, taking the country’s toll to 301 deaths since the outbreak began in late February, government data shows.

Cases in the South Asian nation have been spiking since last week, with 751 new infections recorded on Monday, taking the overall number of cases to 14,079, data collected by Al Jazeera shows.

Read more here.

15:30 GMT – Putin extends Russia’s non-working period until May 11

President Vladimir Putin extended a non-working period in Russia aimed at containing the spread of the novel coronavirus until May 11, speaking during a televised meeting with senior government officials and regional heads.

Restrictions were due to be lifted at the end of April, but Putin said the peak of Russia’s coronavirus infections had not yet been reached.

He ordered the government to come up with fresh measures aimed at supporting the economy and citizens, and to prepare recommendations on gradually easing the coronavirus lockdown restrictions by May 5.

French fishing industry: Fighting to survive lockdown (02:27)

15:20 GMT – France unveils plan for ending lockdown

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe promised that enough face masks will be available for all from May 11, the tentative date for the start of exiting from the nationwide lockdown.

Philippe said the reopening will start the kindergartens and elementary schools allowed to resume operation on a voluntary basis, followed by some middle schools from May 18 and the decision on upper schools will be made by the end of the month.

The country plans to carry out at least 700,000 COVID-19 tests per week by May 11 and make urban transport as accessible as possible by the start of the re-opening.

14:50 GMT – UK death toll under-reported by 52 percent

The United Kingdom is on track to become one of Europe’s worst-hit countries in the coronavirus pandemic, according to data on Tuesday that showed deaths from COVID-19 had already topped 20,000 by April 17, including a fast-rising toll in care homes.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the death toll involving COVID-19 in England and Wales was 52 percent higher than the daily figures for deaths in hospitals released by the government as of April 17, according to data that include deaths in the community.

Read more here.

Coronavirus lockdown boosts back-yard cultivation in the UK (02:37)

14:26 GMT – Portugal to lift state of emergency from May 3

Portugal’s lockdown, which shut most non-essential services last month to contain the spread of the coronavirus, will be lifted from May 3, but the reopening of the economy will be a slow and gradual process, the country’s president said.

“What matters in this new phase is that the Portuguese know that containment remains important so we must take small steps and constantly evaluate (the situation),” President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa told a news conference as he announced Sunday’s end of a state of emergency first imposed on March 18.

14:15 GMT – France to lift lockdown only after cases drop below 3,000 per day

France will not end its nationwide lockdown unless the number of new cases of coronavirus infection drops below 3,000 per day, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told parliament.

“The lockdown being lifted on May 11 depends on new cases dropping below 3,000 a day … If the indicators are bad, the lockdown will not be lifted on May 11,” Philippe said.

The number of confirmed new cases dropped below 3,000 on April 15. In the past two weeks, the number of new cases per day was on average about 2,162 per day.

14:05 GMT

Hello, this is Tamila Varshalomidze in Doha, taking over the news updates from my colleague Usaid Siddiqui.

Senegal trials begin for $1 COVID-19 test kit (02:51)

12:40 GMT – Iran counts 71 virus deaths as new cases top 1,000

Iran announced 71 deaths from the new coronavirus, and said there were also more than 1,000 new cases of infection in the Islamic republic.

The fatalities recorded in the past 24 hours brought to 5,877 the overall death toll from the illness in the Middle East’s hardest-hit country.

Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 1,112 people tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. 

That took to 92,584 the total number of infections recorded in Iran since it announced its first cases in mid-February.

12:30 GMT – UK not ready to change social distancing measures

Britain is not yet at the point of wanting to change its strict guidelines on social distancing to curb the spread of COVID-19, with the government focusing on reviewing the measures by May 7, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said.

“It is important that they remain in place for now. We need to pass five tests before we can think about moving on to the next phase in the coronavirus response. We are not there yet,” the spokesman told reporters.

“What we need to be focused on is everybody following the social distancing rules and ensuring that we have got the spread of this virus fully under control.”

12:15 GMT – Lift sanctions to prevent ‘disaster’ in Sudan: UN

Sudan risks being plunged into a humanitarian disaster by COVID-19 unless sanctions are lifted and donors provide financial support, the UN rights chief said.

Michelle Bachelet said the transitional government is facing ongoing unilateral sanctions, the failure of international institutions to provide debt relief, and a deficit of international support.

“The tipping point could be COVID-19,” Bachelet warned.

“The health system is simply not equipped to handle an outbreak on the scale we have seen elsewhere in the world. There is only one way to prevent a humanitarian disaster, and that is for the donors to step up and extend a helping hand to Sudan.”  

Khartoum remains on a US blacklist as a state sponsor of terrorism, stifling investment.

12:00 GMT – Dutch coronavirus cases rise to 38,416

Netherlands blog entry
People, some wearing face masks, observe social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus when standing in line to buy traditional King’s Day pastry in Amsterdam, the Netherlands [Peter Dejong/The Associated Press]

The Netherlands’ number of confirmed coronavirus cases has risen by 171 to 38,416 health authorities said, with 48 new deaths.

The country’s death toll stands at 4,566, the Netherlands’ National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) said in its daily update.

The RIVM cautioned it only reports confirmed cases, and actual numbers are higher.

11:39 GMT – Oregon strip club brings burlesque to coronavirus carry-out

An Oregon strip club forced into the takeout-dining business in the age of the coronavirus has returned to its burlesque roots by offering delivery and drive-through services featuring exotic dancers – a concept the owner has promoted as Food 2 Go-Go.

Determined to keep some semblance of his business intact, Lucky Devil owner Shon Boulden retooled his kitchen to offer food for delivery.

Within weeks, Lucky Devil was up and running with two new adult-entertainment options – a drive-through pole-dance show for carry-out orders, and food deliveries by dancers – accompanied by bouncers to enforce proper social distancing.

11:23 GMT – Singapore says its COVID-19 cases may be higher than official tallies

singapore blog entry
Medical personnel assist a migrant worker as he enters an ambulance at a factory-converted dormitory, amidst the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Singapore [Edgar Su/Reuters]

Singapore said the number of migrant workers infected with coronavirus in the city-state may be higher than official tallies as symptomatic patients had been isolated in dormitories with mass outbreaks before testing.

The nation of 5.7 million people has nearly 15,000 confirmed coronavirus infections, one of the highest in Asia, largely due to infections in cramped bunk-bed accommodation housing more than 300,000 mostly South Asian workers.

11:05 GMT – BP announces $4.4bn quarterly loss as oil prices crash

British energy giant BP said it slumped into a $4.4bn net loss in the first quarter as the coronavirus pandemic crushed demand for oil, triggering a price crash.

“Our industry has been hit by supply and demand shocks on a scale never seen before,” BP’s new chief executive Bernard Looney said in an earnings statement, having seen crude prices plunge from around $70 per barrel at the start of the year to close to $10 currently. Furthermore, he confirmed there would be job losses.

US oil futures below $0 for first time in history

10:45 GMT – South Asia faces fresh health crisis as children miss vaccinations

South Asia could face a further public health crisis as children miss routine vaccinations, the UN warned on Tuesday, spurring fears that the fallout from the novel coronavirus pandemic might reverse hard-earned gains in the region.

The United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said hundreds of thousands were at risk as lockdowns across South Asia halted immunisation drives and parents refrained from taking their children to doctors to be inoculated.

India coronavirus migrants

10:20 GMT – Turkey flies medical aid to coronavirus-stricken US

A Turkish military plane carrying medical supplies and protective equipment was heading for the United States on Tuesday to deliver aid to its NATO ally battling the coronavirus outbreak.

The United States, which has the highest death toll and reported cases in the global pandemic, welcomed the “generous donation” of 500,000 surgical masks, 4,000 overalls, as well as disinfectant, goggles and face shields.

“We are proud to announce that Turkey will deliver medical supplies to the United States, upon our NATO ally’s request, to support America’s fight against the coronavirus,” Turkey’s Communications Directorate said.

09:45 GMT – China lab rejects COVID-19 conspiracy claims

Claims that the coronavirus pandemic originated in a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan have no basis in fact, the head of the lab told Reuters, adding that there were still no conclusive answers as to where the disease started.

Conspiracy theorists have claimed SARS-CoV-2, now responsible for more than 200,000 deaths worldwide, was synthesised by the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), based in the city where the disease was first identified.

Though the scientific consensus is that the coronavirus evolved naturally, such claims have gained traction. US President Donald Trump said on April 15 that his government was investigating whether it had originated in the Wuhan lab.

09:05 GMT – As Germany lockdown eases, spread of coronavirus worsens

First signs the transmission of the coronavirus has again picked up were visible in German official data, just as the country attempts a cautious easing of its lockdown measures.

The reproduction or infection rate – under close watch by health authorities – mounted again to 1.0, meaning each infected person passes the virus on to one other, figures from the Robert Koch Institute for disease control showed.

Read more here.

VW reopens factory - reuters
Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Stephan Weil and a worker wear protective masks at the Volkswagen assembly line after the company restarts Europe’s largest car factory after coronavirus shutdown in Wolfsburg, Germany [Swen Pfoertner/Pool via Reuters]

09:00 GMT – Egypt extends state of emergency on virus, security fears

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi ordered the renewal for three months of a long-running state of emergency, citing health as well as security concerns.

The country has been under a state of emergency since April 2017 when twin church bombings claimed by an ISIL armed group affiliate killed dozens of people.

The new extension comes as the government battles to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the Arab world’s most populous country.

The health ministry has so far recorded 4,782 COVID-19 cases in the population of 100 million.

08:50 GMT – US politicians ‘telling barefaced lies’ over coronavirus pandemic: China

Beijing has accused US politicians of “telling barefaced lies” over the coronavirus pandemic that has swept the globe, after President Donald Trump threatened to seek damages from China for the outbreak.

“They have only one objective: shirk their responsibility for their own poor epidemic prevention and control measures, and divert public attention,” said foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang at a press briefing.

08:30 GMT – Virus-hit Spain’s jobless rate jumps to 14.4 percent

Spain’s unemployment rate jumped in the first quarter to 14.4 percent, figures from national statistics institute INE showed Tuesday, as a nationwide coronavirus lockdown hit the eurozone’s fourth largest economy.

The jobless rate was up from 13.8 percent in the previous quarter, its lowest level since the third quarter of 2008 but still the highest rate in the eurozone after Greece.

Spain, one of the hardest-hit nations by the coronavirus pandemic, imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 14 which has largely paralysed its economy.

Spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Ronda
Spain has over 200,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus [File: Jon Nazca/Reuters]

08:10 GMT – Philippines nears 8,000 coronavirus infections

The Philippines’ health ministry reported 19 more coronavirus deaths and 181 infections.

In a bulletin, the health ministry said total deaths have increased to 530 while confirmed cases have risen to 7,958. But 43 more patients have recovered, bringing total recoveries to 975.

07:50 GMT – UK says some children have died from syndrome linked to COVID-19

Some children in the United Kingdom with no underlying health conditions have died from a rare inflammatory syndrome which researchers believe to be linked to COVID-19, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.

Italian and British medical experts are investigating a possible link between the coronavirus pandemic and clusters of severe inflammatory disease among infants who are arriving in hospital with high fevers and swollen arteries.

Read more here.

07:30 GMT – Trump warned about virus repeatedly in Jan and Feb: Report

US President Donald Trump was repeatedly warned about the dangers of the novel coronavirus in intelligence briefings in January and February, The Washington Post reported late Monday.

The warnings – more than a dozen included in classified briefings known as the President’s Daily Brief — came during a time the president was mostly downplaying the threat of a COVID-19 pandemic.

The Post, citing unnamed current and former US officials, said the warnings were contained in the daily classified summary of the most important global issues and security threats.

Trump resists pressure to curtail his coronavirus briefings

07:10 GMT – Novartis profit up as world flocks to buy medicine

Swiss pharma giant Novartis reported higher profits for the first quarter as customers rushing to buy treatments during the coronavirus outbreak boosted the bottom line.

Net profit for the first quarter rose 16 percent to $2.1 billion while sales increased by 11 percent.

“COVID-19 did result in increased forward purchasing by customers, including at the patient level, as some patients filled prescriptions to cover a longer period of time,” Novartis said.

06:55 GMT – China says Indian criticism of coronavirus test kits is ‘irresponsible’

China has criticised India’s decision to stop using Chinese testing kits for the novel coronavirus because of quality issues as unfair and irresponsible in the latest strain in their ties.

The Indian Council of Medical Research, the top agency dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, said on Monday it planned to return the kits for antibody tests procured from two Chinese firms because of poor accuracy.

The Chinese embassy said it was deeply concerned by the Indian decision and Chinese authorities had validated the equipment produced by the two firms, Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech and Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics.

“It is unfair and irresponsible for certain individuals to label Chinese products as ‘faulty’ and look at issues with preemptive prejudice,” embassy spokeswoman Ji Rong said in a statement.

Read more here

China - coronavirus
The Chinese embassy in India said it was deeply concerned by India’s decision to stop use Chinese testing kits [File: Alex Plavevski/EPA]

06:40 GMT – 300,000 coronavirus masks sent to pregnant women in Japan may be faulty – reports

Some 300,000 coronavirus masks sent to pregnant women in Japan as part of a government handout have been found to be faulty, media reports said, the latest in a string of complaints about how the government has dealt with the pandemic.

The efforts of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government to distribute protective cloth masks in its fight against the coronavirus have been marred by complaints about mould, insects and stains in a number of the masks handed out so far.

Just days after it began supplying every household with two washable, reusable masks at a total cost of $430 million, complaints emerged, many of them from pregnant women, of soiled or defective products.

UN: Pandemic disrupts women’s access to reproductive services

06:25 GMT – David Beckham kicks off new initative via social media to cope with COVID-19

Former England international David Beckham kickstarted a new initiative via social media as part of new ways to cope with staying indoors as result of various quarantine measures in dealing with the current COVID-19 pandemic.

#EmbracingNewNorms is a social media campaign that is the first step of a broader holistic initiative for people to put their health first as they ease into the new normal that has become daily life.

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


04:55 GMT – Pakistan records biggest single-day rise in deaths

Pakistan recorded 20 deaths from the coronavirus on Monday, the highest since the outbreak began and bringing the total death toll to 301. The number of cases rose by 751 to 14,079.

Al Jazeera’s Asad Hashim says the number of deaths is doubling roughly every eight days while the number of cases is doubling in about 11 days.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged people to take social distancing seriously. 

Read more here.

04:25 GMT – China, South Korea, Germany update latest coronavirus cases

A quick summary of some of the national updates on coronavirus cases released on Tuesday morning.

Mainland China reported six new coronavirus cases for April 27, three of them involving travellers from overseas. The National Health Commission says total cases in China now stand at 82,836. The country reported no new deaths.

South Korea reported 14 new cases bringing the total to 10,752. It is the 10th day in a row that the country has reported fewer than 15 daily cases, but the health authorities note that the outbreak is “persisting” amid an increase in imported cases and concerns about clusters of infections.

Germany is gradually easing its coronavirus controls, although face masks are now required in many settings [Sascha Steinbach/EPA]

In Germany, the Robert Koch Institute for infectious disease says it confirmed 1,144 new cases with 163 deaths. That brings Germany’s total cases to 156,337, with 5,913 deaths.

04:15 GMT – 2,200 Indonesians have died with coronavirus symptoms

More than 2,200 Indonesians have died with acute symptoms of COVID-19 but have not been recorded as victims of the disease, Reuters news agency reported on Tuesday citing a review of data from 16 of the Southeast Asian nation’s 34 provinces.

Indonesia’s official nationwide death toll is 765, with the 16 provinces accounting for 693 of them. 

03:50 GMT – Malaysia should stop jailing people who breach lockdown: HRW

The Human Rights Watch has called on Malaysia to stop jailing people who flout the Movement Control Order imposed on March 18, with more than 15,000 people arrested for breaching the order so far.

Among those jailed is a university student who left her home to deliver a birthday cake to her boyfriend. She was sentenced to seven days behind bars and fined 1,000 Malaysian ringgit ($229). She risks an extra two months behind bars if she cannot pay the fine.

“The Malaysian authorities should understand that protecting the country’s entire population from COVID-19 means reducing its crowded prison population, not putting more people behind bars,” said HRW Asia director Phil Robertson.

03:10 GMT – Southeast Asia Ramadan bazaars go digital

Traditional Ramadan bazaars in countries like Malaysia and Singapore have gone online as traders take to WhatsApp and Facebook to sell their food, Reuters reported.

Siti Zabedah Abdul Wahab’s family business selling murtabak – a flatbread stuffed with meat and fried – began taking orders online weeks before the start of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn till dusk.

Malaysia Ramadan
Women sell murtabak, a thin pastry filled with minced meat curry, eggs and onion at a traditional Ramadan bazaar in Kuala Lumpur [File: Ahmad Yusni/EPA]

Both Malaysia and Singapore have cancelled this year’s Ramadan bazaars because of the coronavirus.

The events usually attract huge crowds and are a lucrative time for food vendors.

02:30 GMT – China ‘unity’ song’ triggers outrage in Philippines 

A “unity” song penned by China’s ambassador to the Philippines in tribute to efforts to tackle the coronavirus, which was shared on YouTube, has triggered outrage in the Southeast Asian nation.

Critics told Al Jazeera’s Jamela Alindogan the song was nothing more than propaganda, pointing out that the video was shared as China stepped up its controversial claims to the entire South China Sea. Parts of the waters are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

02:20 GMT – Hong Kong civil servants to return to work from May 4

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam says civil servants will begin returning to work from May 4 but the government has still to decide on whether to ease travel and social distancing measures that are due to expire next week.

The territory reported no new cases of coronavirus on Monday, and has had only 16 cases over the past nine days. There have been a total of 1,038 cases in Hong Kong since the outbreak began in January, with four deaths.

01:45 GMT – Hard to hold Tokyo Olympics in 2021 without COVID-19 vaccine

The head of the Japan Medical Association has said it will be difficult to hold the Tokyo Olympics next year without an effective vaccine against the coronavirus.

“I am not saying that Japan should or shouldn’t host the Olympics, but that it would be difficult to do so,” JMA President Yoshitake Yokokura said at a media briefing.

Japan had spent $13bn preparing for the Games before announcing a one-year delay last month. 

01:30 GMT – Taiwan pushes WHO role in rare ministerial call with US

The health ministers of Taiwan and the United States held a rare call late on Monday with Taiwan thanking the US for its support in pushing for Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Organization despite Chinese objections.

Taiwan Health Minister Chen Shih-chung thanks US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar “for the strong support extended by the United States for Taiwan’s participation in the WHO”, Taiwan’s Health Ministry said in a statement.

“Minister Chen told Secretary Azar that he hopes the US will continue to support Taiwan’s full participation in the World Health Assembly as observer, and WHO meetings, mechanisms and activities,” it added.

The World Health Assembly is the WHO’s decision-making body.

00:15 GMT – Three China activists missing after archiving censored virus news stories

Three Beijing-based Internet activists have gone missing after archiving online censored news stories about the coronavirus, a relative told the AFP news agency.

Chen Mei, Cai Wei and his girlfriend with the family name Tang disappeared on April 19, according to Chen’s brother Chen Kung. They had been working to collect articles and content about the virus for a crowd-sourced project on GitHub.

00:00 GMT – Australia’s Bondi Beach reopens as lockdown loosened

Sydney’s Bondi Beach and two neighbouring beaches have been reopened as the government of New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, began to loosen coronavirus restrictions.

The state said it would also allow up to two adults to visit another person’s home from Friday. They would also be allowed to take their children.

About half of Australia’s 6,723 cases of coronavirus have been in New South Wales.

Australia Bondi
People were up early to surf as Bondi Beach was reopened after it was closed to curb the spread of the coronavirus [Loren Elliott/Reuters]

23:30 GMT (Monday) – Trump resumes briefings, attacks China

US President Donald Trump returned to his daily briefings to attack China over its handling of the coronavirus.

Trump said China could have stopped the virus before it spread across the world and that his administration was investigating what happened.

“We’re doing very serious investigations … We are not happy with China,” Trump told the White House media conference. “There are a lot of ways you can hold them accountable. We believe it could have been stopped at source. It could have been stopped quickly and wouldn’t have spread all over the world.”


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

You can read the updates from yesterday (April 27) here.

South Asia could face a further public health crisis as children miss routine vaccinations, the UN warned Tuesday, spurring fears that the fallout from the novel coronavirus pandemic might reverse hard-earned gains in the region. 
The United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said hundreds of thousands were at risk as lockdowns across South Asia halted immunisation drives and parents refrained from taking their children to doctors to be inoculated. 
“While the COVID-19 virus does not appear to make many children seriously ill, the health of hundreds of thousands of children could be impacted by this disruption of regular immunisation services,” said Jean Gough, director of UNICEF’s South Asia office.
Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies