US GDP drops 4.8% as coronavirus impact hits hard: Live updates

It is the sharpest decline since the Great Recession, an abrupt end to the longest economic expansion in US’s history.

A volunteer with Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, hands out boxes of food to LAX workers in the parking lot of The Forum during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in I
  • The US economy has taken its hardest hit since the height of the Great Recession, with its GDP contracting 4.8 percent in the first quarter of the year.

  • The chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus defended the body’s record in its response to the new coronavirus, saying it acted “quickly and decisively” since the beginning. 

  • Worldwide, the number of confirmed infections stood at 3.1 million, with more than 224,600 deaths and 957,000 recoveries.

  • US health expert Anthony Fauci welcomed the news that experimental antiviral drug remdesivir helped improve outcomes for COVID-19 patients during a clinical trial by Gilead Sciences Inc.

Here are the latest updates:

Wednesday, April 29

22:00 GMT – NYC’s Bangladeshi community struggles to cope with coronavirus

Many in New York City’s Bangladeshi community know someone or of someone who has died from COVID-19. More than 210 Bangladeshis in the US have died, with about 190 in New York alone, according to Md Taher, a community health worker in Brooklyn.

About 7 percent of the city’s coronavirus deaths are known to be Asians, according to government data of cases with known race or ethnicity. While it is far lower than other racial and ethnic groups and it is unclear what percentage of the Bangladeshi community has been infected with or died from the virus, advocates say the group has been hit particularly hard due to high levels of poverty, close living quarters, many working in the informal labour market and high rates of diabetes.

Read more

21:50 GMT – Nurses to anti-lockdown activists: My life’s on the line. Go home!

Health workers across the US are increasingly coming out – though following social distancing guidelines and wearing PPE – to protest against the anti-lockdown demonstrators.

“I was heartbroken standing there watching and hearing all those cars honking and then holding up their signs,” Yetta Timothy, who protested against anti-lockdown activists in Pennsylvania, told Al Jazeera. 

Read more

US anti-lockdown protests
A demonstrator tries to block the sign of counter-protester Dr Erich Bruhn during a protest against lockdown measures put into place because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Richmond, [Leah Millis/Reuters] 

21:00 GMT – Slovenia to ease coronavirus restrictions

Starting from Thursday, Slovenians will be allowed to travel outside their local municipalities for the first time in a month.

“Thanks to you, Slovenia is the most successful (in curbing the coronavirus) among all neighbours of the focal country Italy,” Prime Minister Janez Jansa told the country’s citizens while announcing the move.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Simona Kustec told national TV Slovenia that schools and kindergartens, which have been closed since the middle of March, would gradually reopen.

20:36 GMT – Brazil has record number of new cases 

The number of confirmed coronavirus case in Brazil soared by a record 6,276 to 78,162, according to the country’s health ministry. The death toll stood at 5,466 deaths.

Women react during a collective burial of people that have passed away due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Parque Taruma cemetery in Manaus, Brazil April 28, 2020. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly
Women react during a collective burial of people that have passed away due to the coronavirus disease, at the Parque Taruma cemetery in Manaus, Brazil [Bruno Kelly/Reuters]

20:25 GMT – Ireland restrictions likely to stay

Ireland’s chief medical officer said he was still not in a position to recommend relaxing stay-home coronavirus restrictions.

“We’re at a point where the number of people in intensive care, in a hospital bed is still quite high and if we were to ease restrictions at this moment in time, as opposed to next Tuesday (May 5), we could potentially run into difficulties sooner,” Tony Holohan told a news conference.

“We’re advising on Friday, but there are five or six days left between now and May 5,” he said, adding that he did not think the advice would change on Friday when health chiefs meet and make updated recommendations to government.

20:10 GMT – Top automakers to delay restarting of US production

Volkswagen AG (VW) and Toyota Motor Corp said they would delay restarting US production amid concerns over the automotive supply network.

VW said it was indefinitely delaying the resumption of production at its Tennessee assembly plant that had been set to restart on May 3.

Toyota said it would delay the resumption of North American manufacturing operations to the week of May 11 from the week of May 4 after an “extensive review with our supplier and logistics network.”

A worker wears a protective mask at the Volkswagen assembly line after VW re-starts Europe's largest car factory after coronavirus shutdown in Wolfsburg, Germany,
While Volkswagen resumed production in Germany, the motomaker has postponed the re-starting of its activities in the US amid concerns over the automotive supply network [Swen Pfoertner/Reuters]

19:47 GMT – South Africa records biggest daily rise

South Africa reported 354 news coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, its highest jump to date, bringing the total number to 5,350.

In a Twitter post, the country’s health department said the figure represented a 73 percent on the previous day, adding that death toll had risen by 10 to 103.

It also said the total number of tests conducted to date was 197,127, of which 11,630 were done in the last 24 hours.

19:26 GMT – Bosnia reports sharp rise in cases after relaxing lockdowns

Bosnia registered its biggest daily jump in new infections this month following the gradual easing of lockdowns in its two autonomous regions, the Bosniak-Croat Federation and the Serb Republic.

There were 93 new infections and two deaths in the previous 24 hours, compared with 20 new infections a day earlier and 49 the day before that, officials said.

The total number of infected people rose to 1,677 with 65 deaths.

19:05 GMT – Finland to gradually reopen schools and daycare centres

The government of Finland announced plans to reopen schools and daycare centres that have been closed for almost a month.

Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin said children would return to school gradually, starting on May 14 for a little more than two weeks, before their summer break begins as usual at the start of June.

Students at upper secondary and vocational schools will continue to study remotely, she added.

Is reopening economies a risky move? I Inside Story

18:37 GMT – Organist Cameron Carpenter takes Bach to Berlin seniors 

How Kenya’s artists are coping amid COVID-19 pandemic

Unable to play at the Berlin Philharmonic as planned, US musician Cameron Carpenter decided to put his organ and some loudspeakers on a truck to play for seniors and care homes in the German capital.

“The idea is to share Germany’s great composer J.S. Bach and to try to give a cultural service to the city of Berlin if possible,” he said, after drawing excited seniors onto their balconies with his music.

Carpenter, who in 2009 became the first organist to be nominated for a Grammy Award, plans to play at various locations across Berlin over several days.

18:15 GMT – Crime slumps in virus-hit Italy, but loan-sharking jumps

Italy’s crime rate plunged by 66.6 percent in March, according to official figures. The interior ministry said some 68,069 crimes were registered across the country last month, against 203,723 in March 2019.

However, it warned that the easing of coronavirus-related restrictions, which are due to be lifted from May 4, could create space for organised crime gangs, as mobsters try to take advantage of companies battling to stay afloat.

Meanwhile, reports of criminal loan-sharking rose by 9.1 percent, underscoring concern that struggling firms and families are having to turn to illegal financing networks to make ends meet during the pandemic.

FILE PHOTO: Police officers wearing protective face masks check documents of drivers, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Ostia, near Rome, Italy April 13, 2020.
Authorities warn that the easing of coronavirus-related restrictions on May 4, could create space for organised crime gangs, as mobsters [Remo Casilli/Reuters]

17:47 GMT – How do we keep the faith under lockdown?

Much like our daily routines, religious and cultural rituals have been derailed by the coronavirus pandemic.
A global ban on gatherings has meant that holidays like Passover, Easter and Vaisakhi are being celebrated in isolation. The same is happening for Muslims observing Ramadan and Eid. 

Start Here explains how centuries of religious and cultural practices have changed. Watch the show below.

How do we keep the faith under lockdown? | Start Here

17:25 GMT – Positive reactions from Trump, Fauci to antiviral trial

Gilead Science Inc said its experimental antiviral drug remdesivir helped improve outcomes for patients with COVID-19 in a clinical trial, and provided data suggesting it worked better when given earlier in the course of illness caused by the virus.

In the US, the news was welcomed by President Donald Trump and leading health expert Anthony Fauci, who warned, however, that the data on the drug needs further analysis.

Last week, a draft study abstract released inadvertently said remdesivir had failed to improve patients’ condition or reduce the pathogen’s presence in the bloodstream. The drugmaker said at the time that the findings were inconclusive because the study had been terminated early.

Read more here.

16:59 GMT – Healthcare workers across Africa share their coronavirus stories

As in other parts of the world, doctors and nurses from across Africa are confronted with challenges in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, while others remain optimistic about the systems within which they operate.

Go here to read their stories of fighting the pandemic on the front lines. 

Ask us anything: How is sub-Saharan Africa tackling COVID-19? | The Stream

16:42 GMT –  WHO defends pandemic handling 

The chief of the WHO defended the body’s record in its response to the new coronavirus.

“From the beginning, the WHO has acted quickly and decisively to respond to warn the world,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a news briefing.

He also gave a timeline of what the body knew in the lead-up to declaring COVID-19 a global emergency on January 30.

“We sounded the alarm early and we sounded it often,” Tedros said.

16:30 GMT – Serbians to protest for a third straight day

Stuck at home under curfew, Serbians are expected to vent their anger against the government’s coronavirus containment measures for a third evening in a row.

Armed with tin pans, drums, whistles and horns, citizens standing near their windows have expressed their frustration with restrictions such as a daily curfew from 16:00 GMT and weekend lockdowns.

The government has started to lift restrictions as the rate of infections slows, but said that a lockdown should remain in place.

The country has so far reported 8,724 cases and 173 deaths.

Serbian opposition bangs pots and pans to protest government's policies during coronavirus crisis Dragan Djilas, the head of the opposition Alliance for Serbia, bangs
Dragan Djilas, the head of the opposition Alliance for Serbia, bangs a pot from his terrace to protest government policies during the coronavirus crisis in Belgrade, Serbia [Marko Djurica/Reuters]

16:05 GMT – Yemen’s Aden city sets three-day curfew

Authorities in the Yemeni port city of Aden have declared a three-day, 24-hour curfew starting at midnight local time, after five new infections were confirmed.

The announcement came from the Southern Transitional Council (STC), a separatist group that declared self-rule on Sunday in southern Yemeni provinces including Aden.

15:58 GMT – ‘Turkey passing over peak of pandemic’

Turkey’s health minister said the country is currently passing the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, but the drops in numbers must be consistent.

“The number of recovered patients in Turkey in the past 24 hours reaches twice that of newly diagnosed patients,” Fahrettin Koca said in a press conference in Ankara.

The coronavirus death rate in Turkey dropped for intubated patients from 74 to 14 percent, and for intensive care patients from 58 percent to 10 percent, Koca added.

So far, the country reported almost 3,000 deaths amid more than 114,000 infections, according to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University. 

Employees of Ankara Metropolitan Municipality youth center sews face masks, in Ankara, Turkey, on April 28, 2020, amid the spread of the novel COVID-19 coronavirus.  Adem ALTAN / AFP
Employees of Ankara Metropolitan Municipality youth center sew face masks in Ankara, Turkey [Adem Altan/AFP]

15:46 GMT – Life after lockdown 

When we first heard from Peng Peng, Al Jazeera’s cameraman in Beijing, it was for our first episode on COVID-19.

He and his family were suddenly trapped in Hubei province as the novel coronavirus began spreading. The world has changed since he went into lockdown, but the latest update from him is one that brings us hope.

15:27 GMT – Plan to use malaria drug in Mumbai slums temporarily shelved

A plan to give the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to thousands of people in Mumbai’s crowded slums to prevent coronavirus infections has temporarily been shelved.

Indian health officials in Mumbai said that a test to prove the efficacy of the much-touted but largely untested drug was still in the cards, but for now, they would follow government guidelines.

Read the full story here

15:07 GMT – Chinese labs doing contagious pathogen work under unknown security: Pompeo

In the latest exchange between the US and China over the origin of the coronavirus, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington believed Beijing may lack the adequate security to prevent future pandemics.

“There are multiple labs that are continuing to conduct work, we think, on contagious pathogens inside of China today,” Pompeo told a State Department news conference.

“And we don’t know if they are operating at a level of security to prevent this (coronavirus pandemic) from happening again. Remember this isn’t the first time that we’ve had a virus come out of China.”

14:35 GMT – Ramadan inside Delhi quarantine centres

Thousands of members of Tablighi Jamaat, a Muslim missionary organisation in India, are still being kept in isolation wards despite testing negative for coronavirus.

“It has been almost a month and three coronavirus tests done on me which came out negative, but I am still here in this centre, not allowed to meet my family or friends,” said member Izhar Ahmad, who was quarantined after a Tablighi Jamaat event in Delhi in March was linked to coronavirus infections.

Since then, the organisation’s members have been subjected to a hostile media campaign, with Hindu far-right groups accusing the Muslim community of spreading the virus.

Read Shereena Qazi’s story here.

India Imposes Nationwide Lockdown To Contain The Coronavirus Outbreak
Members of Muslim communities in India have been subjected to a hostile media campaign with Hindu far-right groups accusing them of spreading the coronavirus [Yawar Nazir/Getty Images]

14:05 GMT – US Navy to conduct investigation over USS Theodore Roosevelt

The US Navy will conduct a legal investigation of circumstances surrounding the spread of the coronavirus aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, a move that effectively delays a decision on whether to reinstate the ship’s captain, officials told Reuters news agency.

One of the sources said the wider investigation is intended to last no longer than 30 days and that the intention is to look more closely at an array of issues related to the Roosevelt’s encounter with the virus and how decisions were made.

Captain Brett Crozier had been relieved of his command after he urgently appealed for members of his crew who had fallen ill to be allowed to disembark for medical care in Guam.

13:20 GMT – Switzerland unveils $1.95bn aviation aid package

Airbus posts more than $500m first-quarter loss for 2020

The Swiss government will ask Parliament to approve a 1.9 billion Swiss francs ($1.95bn) aid package for the country’s aviation sector as travel plans have been drastically reduced due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The government is seeking 1.275 billion francs in loan guarantees for the carriers and another 600 million francs for companies that provide services to the industry, including Swissport International, Gategroup and SR Technics.

Governments worldwide have been intervening to prop up carriers as estimated revenue losses have climbed to $314bn, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Hi, this is Virginia Pietromarchi in Doha and I’ll be taking over the live blog from my colleague Saba Aziz. 


12:40 GMT – Coronavirus hammered US economy in first quarter

The US economy contracted in the first quarter at its sharpest pace since the Great Recession as stringent measures to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus almost shut down the country, ending the longest expansion in the nation’s history.

The Commerce Department said gross domestic product fell at a 4.8 percent annualised rate in the January-to-March period after expanding at a 2.1 percent rate in the final three months of 2019.

The first-quarter decline was the steepest pace of contraction in GDP since the first quarter of 2009. The decline reflected a plunge in economic activity in the last two weeks of March, which saw millions of Americans seeking unemployment benefits.

Protestors Rally At Los Angeles City Hall Against Shelter-At-Home Order
Demonstrators hold US flags as they participate in a protest outside City Hall in Los Angeles, California calling on officials to reopen the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic. [Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP]

12:20 GMT – Germany expects record recession due to pandemic

The German economy is expected to shrink 6.3 percent in 2020 because of the coronavirus, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said, the biggest slump in Europe’s top economy since records began in 1970.

“The effects of the coronavirus pandemic will push our economy into a recession after 10 years of growth,” Altmaier said, adding that the government expected the economy to rebound in 2021.

The government expects the recession to bottom out in the second quarter and economic activity to pick up again after that.

12:10 GMT –  Etihad delays return of passenger flights to June 16

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways said it now plans to start operating regular passenger flights from June 16, delaying the resumption for a second time this month.The airline has opened bookings for flights across its network from June 16, it said in a statement, though cautioned that could change should current restrictions be extended. Etihad on April 25 said it would extend the suspension until at least May 16 due to the coronavirus outbreak. It earlier planned to start resuming flights from May 1.

Airbus posts more than $500m first-quarter loss for 2020

12:05 GMT – Dutch coronavirus cases rise to 38,802

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Netherlands has risen by 386 to 38,802 health authorities said, with 145 new deaths.The country’s death toll stands at 4,711, 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.

11:50 GMT – Boeing to cut staff, plane output after $641m loss

Planemaker Boeing announced sweeping cost-cutting measures after reporting a first-quarter loss of $641m following the hit to the airline business from the coronavirus pandemic. The aerospace giant plans to reduce its workforce by 10 percent through a combination of voluntary and involuntary layoffs and will slash production of its main commercial planes, including the 787 and 777, Chief Executive David Calhoun said in a message to employees that accompanied an earnings release. The company expects to resume 737 MAX production at low rates in 2020, but did not give a timeline.

Boeing Re-Opens Some Manufacturing Facilities Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
Workers meet on the flight line near a Boeing 737 MAX factory, shortly after the company resumed operations, in Renton, Washington [Stephen Brashear/Getty Images/AFP]

1:45 GMT – Tunisia to reopen food, construction sectors next week

Tunisia will start relaxing its lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus next week, government ministers said, with the first sectors to be reopened including the food industry, construction and half the public service. Other sectors will be relaxed from May 11, the health minister and the minister in charge of major projects told a news conference, including clothing shops and malls, while some public transport will also resume.

11:30 GMT – Russia extends entry ban for foreigners 

Russia has extended an entry ban for foreigners to slow the coronavirus as the country registered a steep risein the number of new infections. The decree barring foreigners from entering the country, which was introduced in mid-March and set to expire Thursday, was extended until Russia has the virus under control, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said. “I have signed a government resolution on extending it until the fight against the infection is over and the epidemic situation has improved,” he told officials meeting to discuss Russia’s response to the pandemic.

Coronavirus: Can Russia flatten the curve? | The Stream

11:25 GMT – Iran says businesses reopened as no end in sight to virus 

Iran reopened for business despite its persistent coronavirus outbreak as there was no end in sight to the crisis, its president said, as 80 new deaths were announced. “Due to uncertainty about when this virus will end, we are preparing for work, activity and science,” said President Hassan Rouhani. “We have to follow all the medical instructions, but work and production are as essential as these precautions,” he told a televised cabinet meeting. The government has allowed many businesses to reopen since April 11 after shutting most down in mid-March to stem the spread of the disease.

11:20 GMT – Newborn Syrian baby recovers from COVID-19 

A newborn Syrian baby has recovered from COVID-19 after treatment in Izmir, on the Aegean coast of Turkey. Baby Aziz was diagnosed with the disease just five days after opening his eyes to the world, and he was discharged from the hospital with a round of applause after nearly a month of treatment. Aziz was taken to intensive care unit for newborns as he had difficulty breathing.

COVID-19: UN warns of potential health crisis among children

11:00 GMT – Germany extends foreign travel warning to June 14

Germany is extending an existing warning against foreign travel until June 14 to stem the coronavirus pandemic, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said. “We have not yet reached the point where we can recommend care-free travel,” Maas said, adding “therefore it is necessary to extend the worldwide travel warning until mid-June”. Europe’s biggest economy has brought home 240,000 stranded tourists in the last four weeks, Maas said, adding that “we’re not going to undertake such an action again in the coming summer”.

10:30 GMT – German, Dutch and Finnish MotoGP races cancelled

MotoGP’s German, Dutch and Finnish rounds in June and July have all been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the sport’s governing body and promoter announced. The German Grand Prix had been scheduled for June 21, followed by the Dutch TT at Assen on June 28 with Finland’s new Kymi Ring making its debut on July 12. MotoGP’s season has yet to start, with the first 11 races affected by the virus, and organisers have yet to publish a fully revised calendar.

MotoGP Tests
The season-opening Qatar MotoGP scheduled for March was cancelled [Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images]

10:00 GMT – Iran reports 80 new deaths from coronavirus

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in Iran rose by 80 in the past 24 hours to 5,957, health ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said in a statement on state TV. The total number of diagnosed cases of new coronavirus in Iran, one of the countries hardest hit by the outbreak in the Middle East, has reached 93,657, he said. Here is a map showing all the confirmed cases in the region.

09:45 GMT – German company begins testing possible vaccine

German pharmaceutical company BioNTech said it has begun testing a potential vaccine for the new coronavirus on volunteers. BioNTech, which is working with US-based Pfizer, said 12 participants of a clinical trial in Germany have received doses of the vaccine candidate BNT162 since April 23. BioNTech said in a statement that in a next step, it will begin increasing the dose of BNT162 in a trial involving about 200 participants aged 18 to 55. Read more here

09:30 GMT – Spain’s daily toll slightly up with 325 new deaths

Spain recorded 325 deaths from the novel coronavirus overnight, up from 301 reported the previous day, the health ministry said. The overall death toll from the virus, however, rose by 453 to 24,275, it said, adding that some of the additional cases were from the previous days. The number of diagnosed cases rose by 2,144 from Tuesday to 212,917, the ministry said.

COVID-19: A moment of silence for fallen front-line workers in UK

09:15 GMT – Highest daily jump in COVID-19 deaths in India

India saw its highest jump in deaths related to the novel coronavirus in a 24-hour period even as regional governments prepared to ease lockdown restrictions. A total of 73 people affected by the virus had died since Tuesday morning, taking the country-wide toll to 1,007, the federal health ministry said. The number of positive cases crossed 30,000. The highest number of COVID-19 cases has been reported from Maharashtra, largely in its two biggest cities Mumbai and Pune, and the national capital New Delhi.

9:09 GMT – UK PM announces birth of son after he and fiancee had coronavirus

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds have announced the birth of a healthy son. Both had suffered from coronavirus, but Johnson’s illness was far more severe as he received treatment at an intensive care unit at a London hospital. Both have now recovered and Johnson recently returned to work.

Commonwealth Day Service 2020
Johnson, 55 and and his fiancee Symonds, 32, announced in February that they were expecting a child [File: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images]

08:50 GMT – Indonesia reports 260 coronavirus cases, 11 deaths

Indonesia confirmed 260 new coronavirus infections, taking the total in the southeast Asian nation to 9,771, according to health ministry official Achmad Yurianto. Yurianto reported 11 new deaths, taking the total number of fatalities to 784, while 1,391 people have recovered. More than 67,700 people have been tested.

HRW: COVID-19 lockdown violators in Philippines abused

08:45 GMT – Poland to reopen hotels and malls on May 4 

Poland will reopen hotels and shopping centres on May 4 while it will consider reopening pre-schools on May 6, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said. Poland started relaxing some curbs earlier in April, saying they were costly for the economy. It has reopened forests and parks and eased rules on the number of customers in shops.By Wednesday, the European Union member state of 38 million had reported 12,415 cases and 606 deaths.

08:35 GMT – Beijing to lower COVID-19 emergency response level

Beijing’s municipal government said it will lower its COVID-19 emergency response level on Thursday, removing quarantine requirements for some people arriving from other low-risk parts of the country.The decision by Beijing to lower its emergency response measures to level II from level I comes on the same day China announced that the parliament will begin its key annual session in the capital on May 22.The number of new daily COVID-19 cases in the country have dropped sharply from the height of the epidemic in February. 

Daily Life In Beijing After China Declared Epidemic Contained
Life in Beijing is slowly returning to normal following a city-wide lockdown on January 25 to contain the coronavirus outbreak [Lintao Zhang/Getty Images]

08:30 GMT – Azerbaijan to keep borders closed till May 31

Azerbaijan will keep its borders closed until May 31 to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, the government said on Wednesday.The former Soviet republic has so far recorded 1,717 coronavirus cases and 22 deaths from the virus.Read more about travel restrictions and border shutdowns around the world here

08:15 GMT – Turkey extends closure of schools to end-May

Turkey has extended the closure of schools until the end of May as part of its measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus, Education Minister Ziya Selcuk said.Ankara announced the initial closure of schools on March 12 after it reported its first case of COVID-19 and now has nearly 115,000 cases with a death toll of nearly 3,000.

Children play in front of the locked Fatih Mosque as Turkey suspended mass prayers in mosques nationwide until the risk of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) passes in Istanbul
Children play in front of the locked Fatih Mosque as Turkey suspended mass prayers in mosques nationwide until the risk COVID-19 passes in Istanbul [File:Umit Bektas/Reuters]

07:55 GMT – Russia’s coronavirus cases near 100,000 mark

Russia has reported 5,841 new cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing its overall nationwide case tally to 99,399.The official nationwide death toll reached 972 after 108 people with the virus died in the last 24 hours, Russia’s coronavirus crisis response centre said.Russia, the world’s largest country by territory, has been on lockdown since President Vladimir Putin announced the closure of most public spaces in late March.Read more here

07:40 GMT – Singapore confirms 690 new coronavirus cases

Singapore’s health ministry confirmed 690 more coronavirus infections, taking total cases in the country to 15,641.Most of the new cases are among migrant workers living in dormitories in the city-state, which has among the highest number of coronavirus infections in Asia.Here is listof all the countries with confirmed cases.  

07:30 GMT – Turkey sends aid to US to fight COVID-19

Turkey has assured “all means of solidarity” with the United States in “combatting the coronavirus outbreak and normalisation process after the pandemic”. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent a letter to his US counterpart Donald Trump together with the medical aid that Turkey sent to the US on Tuesday to support the country’s fight against the coronavirus as it has reported over one million confirmed cases.Erdogan said he hopes the aid helps US people recover from COVID-19.

07:10 GMT – Global airlines face unprecedented turbulence

Grounded planes
Grounding flights amid the coronavirus pandemic is threatening the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people in the airlines and related industies [File: Nick Oxford/Reuters]

The global airlines industry is bleeding billions of dollars in cash, with some carriers already facing bankruptcy and others seeking government help.More than half of the world’s fleet of passenger aircraft has been grounded because of travel bans, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), an airline industry group.European aviation giant Airbus reported a net loss of 481 million euros ($522m) in the first quarter under the impact of the coronavirus crisis.Read more here.

07:00 GMT – Japan PM: Impossible to hold Olympics unless virus curbed 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the postponed Tokyo Olympics could not take place next year unless the coronavirus pandemic is contained. “We’ve been saying the Olympic and Paralympic Games must be held in a complete form, in that athletes and spectators can all participate safely,”  Abe said in response to an opposition legislator in parliament.  “It would be impossible to hold the Games in such a complete form unless the coronavirus pandemic is contained,” he added. 

Mar 24, 2020; Tokyo, Japan; Olympic rings monument at Rainbow Bridge, Odaiba, Tokyo. On Monday the IOC announced that the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics Games would be postponed due to the COVID-19 corona
The International Olympic Committee announced last month that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games would be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic [File: Yukihito Taguchi/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters]

06:30 GMT – Australia to ramp up testing with 10 million more kits

Australia plans to expand screening for the coronavirus after securing 10 million more test kits from China.Australia, which has been one of the most successful countries in containing COVID-19, has so far carried out around 500,000 tests in a population of 25 million people.”These 10 million tests will allow our state and territory public health units to be able to test right through 2020, to provide us with the capacity to contain, suppress and defeat the virus,” Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters in Melbourne.

Bondi Beach
Surfers prepare to enter the water at Bondi Beach in Sydney as coronavirus pandemic restrictions are eased [Rick Rycroft/AP]

06:00 GMT – Pakistan records second deadliest day of pandemic

Pakistan registered its deadliest day from the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, with 26 people dying of the highly contagious COVID-19 virus, taking the country’s death toll to 327 since its outbreak began in late February.Cases also rose by their highest single-day amount on Tuesday, increasing by 806 to 14,885, of which 11,113 are active cases, as per data collected by Al Jazeera.

Pakistan: Once used by Taliban, Swat FM 98 now fights coronavirus

Tuesday was the second consecutive day for Pakistan to have registered its deadliest day, with 20 deaths recorded the day before.At least 3,425 patients have recovered since the start of the outbreak, government data says.

05:50 GMT – Qatar sends virus aid to Iran and Algeria

Qatar has sent medical supplies to Iran and Algeria to support their fight against the novel coronavirus.Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani ordered urgent medical aid to be sent to Algeria, according to a report by the state-run Qatar News Agency (QNA).The country also sent aid to Iran for the fourth time with some 16 tons of medical supplies, the report added.

05:45 GMT – Hotels in Poland to be open for summer holidays

Hotels in Poland will be open for summer holidays, traditionally held over July and August in the country, government spokesman Piotr Muller told state radio, while adding that the novel coronavirus infections were still on the rise in the country.On Wednesday, the Polish government is set to announce its decision with regards to re-opening some businesses that were closed until now due to the pandemic.The government has extended school closures until May 24.

05:40 GMT – Tokyo governor calls to extend nationwide emergency

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has called for an extension of Japan’s nationwide “state of emergency,” which requests people to stay home and social distance, to stem the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.”Tokyo is still facing a serious situation and so I would like to have it go on longer,” she told reporters.The state of emergency, declared by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, lasts through May 6.

Japan In Third Week Of Coronavirus State of Emergency
Japan has begun to see a slow down in COVID-19 infections after several weeks under a state of emergency intended, amongst other things, to reduce person-to-person contact  [Carl Court/Getty Images] 

Hello. This is Saba Aziz in Doha, taking over the blog from my colleague Kate Mayberry.

05:15 GMT – Germany to extend tourism travel warning to June 14: Der Spiegel

Germany will announce on Wednesday a warning on overseas tourism will be extended until June 14, according to the the magazine Der Spiegel.The country is slowly loosening its coronavirus controls but there are concerns the virus is picking up.Earlier, the Robert Koch Institute announced there were 1,304 more coronavirus cases and 202 more deaths.

04:45 GMT – Cambodia using COVID-19 for bogus arrests: Human Rights Watch

Cambodia is using the COVID-19 outbreak to carry out arbitrary arrests of opposition supporters and government critics, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.The group said at least 30 people, including 12 linked to the dissolved Cambodian National Rescue Party had been arrested on charges of spreading “fake news” and other offences since the pandemic began.”Prime Minister Hun Sen is busy tightening his grip on power and throwing political opposition figures and critics in jail while the world is distracted by COVID-19,” deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said in a statement. “Peaceful political activity and criticising the government are not crimes, including during a pandemic. The authorities should drop the bogus charges and release those detained.” 

04:00 GMT – Brazil deaths reach record amid deepening Bolsonaro scandal

Brazil’s Health Ministry reported a record 474 people died from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, bringing the country’s death toll to 5,017.President Jair Bolsonaro, who is at the centre of the biggest political storm since he took office last year, had little to say when asked about the escalating coronavirus crisis.“So what? I’m sorry, but what do you want me to do?” he said when reporters asked about the record deaths. Bolsonaro on Tuesday named a family friend to head the federal police, days after the country’s justice minister quit and accused the president of meddling in law enforcement. You can read more here.

03:10 GMT – China’s parliament to sit on May 22 after coronavirus delay

China’s parliament will start its key annual session in Beijing on May 22, more than two months later than originally planned because of the outbreak of the coronavirus.China usually ratifies major legislation and unveils economic targets at the parliament, which was initially scheduled to start on March 5.China’s top political consultative body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, has also proposed to start its annual session on May 21.

COVID-19: The Beginning of a Pandemic | Between Us

It’s not clear yet how long the two meetings will last. The gatherings usually involve more than 5,000 delegates travelling to Beijing from all over China for at least 10 days, but the capital currently has stricty quarantine rules on anyone entering the city from elsewhere.

02:30 GMT – Winston the pug becomes first dog in US to test positive for coronavirus

A pug named Winston has become the first pet dog in the United States to test positive for the coronavirus.Winston belongs to a family who are taking part in the Molecular and Epidemiological Study of Suspected Infection research study at Duke University.A handful of pet cats and dogs have previously been found with the virus.

US dog
Winston is believed to be the first dog in the US to have tested positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 in humans, [Heather Seabury McLean/via Reuters]

02:15 GMT – European countries move towards gradual easing, focus on testing

Several European countries are eyeing a gradual end to their coronavirus lockdowns as infection rates slow and death rates decline.Governments from France to Spain, Greece and Russia are setting out plans to reopen schools, shops and businesses with many looking to testing and tracing to keep control of the virus. Social distancing measures will remain in force too.“Our emergence from quarantine will be done step by step,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a televised address. “No one can rule out the risk of the threat rekindling. A return [to normal life] must not lead to a relapse.”You can read more about what’s going on in each country here.

Employees prepare a coffee shop for reopening as Greece begins a gradual relaxation of its coronavirus lockdown [Alexandros Vllanchos/EPA]

02:05 GMT – Alphabet warns of difficult period for Google advertising business

Alphabet, the company that owns Google, posted double-digit advertising growth in the three months ended March 31 despite the economic slowdown from the novel coronavirus.But Alphabet Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat told analysts on Tuesday that while users were searching more, they were looking up less commercial topics, and advertisers were cutting spending.”As of today, we anticipate the second quarter will be a difficult one for our advertising business,” Porat said.Porat said search ad revenue had declined by a “mid-teens percentage” by the end of March compared with a year earlier. Impact has more on that story here.

02:00 GMT – China reports 22 new cases of coronavirus, no deaths

China’s National Health Commission says the mainland had 22 new cases of coronavirus for April 28, all but one of them in people who had returned from overseas. The total number of deaths remains unchanged at 4,633. 

00:10 GMT – ICRC calls on Asian countries to include migrants in coronavirus response

The International Committee of the Red Cross says governments in the Asia Pacific must “systematically include” migrants, regardless of their legal status in their coronavirus response programmes, and take “all possible measures” to reduce the use of immigration detention.”Governments in the region should do more for the migrants,” said Christine Cipolla, ICRC regional director for Asia and the Pacific. “It is in their best interest. It saves lives. It protects society as a whole.”Migrants, including refugees, make up a large proportion of the population in several countries and play a crucial role in the economy, the ICRC statement noted.

23:30 GMT (Tuesday) – US considering coronavirus testing on some international flights

US President Donald Trump says the US is considering testing passengers on international flights for the coronavirus.”We’re looking at doing it on international flights coming out of areas that are heavily infected,” Trump said at the White House.” He added that the administration was already discussing the plan with airlines and it could be introduced “in the very near future”.The US has a third of all confirmed coronavirus cases in the world and the most deaths anywhere.—-Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.Read all the latest updates from yesterday (April 28) here.

Thousands members of a Muslim missionary organisation, Tablighi Jamaat, who were quarantined across the country, after a Jamaat event in Delhi are still in the government isolation wards.

“It has been almost a month and three coronavirus  tests done on me which came out negative, but I am still here in this centre, not allowed to meet my family or friends,” said Izhar Ahmad from the quarantine centre in Delhi’s Wazirabad area.

Since then Jamaat members have been subjected to a hostile media campaign with Hindu far-right groups accusing the Muslim community of spreading the virus.

Read here the full story.


Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies