India’s Modi announces $270bn coronavirus package: Live updates

Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveils a massive economic stimulus plan worth 10 percent of the country’s GDP.

Migrant workers who arrived from neighboring Maharashtra state line up to board a truck as they are transported to a quarantine center in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh state, India, Sunday, May 10, 2020. I
  • India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveils a $270bn stimulus package to boost the country’s battered economy after a weeks-long lockdown to curb the coronavirus pandemic. 
  • The United States reports a record $738bn budget deficit last month caused by a surge in government spending and low revenues amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Dr Anthony Fauci, the US’s top infectious disease expert, warns Congress if the country reopens too soon it will result in “needless suffering and death”.
  • More than 80,000 people are now known to have died in the United States from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. Globally, more than 288,000 have died.

Here are the latest updates.

Tuesday, May 12

22:30 GMT – Researchers revise US COVID-19 death forecast upward again

A newly revised coronavirus mortality model predicts more than 147,000 Americans will die from COVID-19 by early August, up nearly 10,000 from the last projection, as restrictions for curbing the pandemic are increasingly relaxed.

The latest forecast from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) reflects “key drivers of viral transmission like changes in testing and mobility, as well as easing of distancing policies,” the report said.

22:00 GMT – Brazil: Coronavirus cases surpass Germany, sees record daily death toll

Brazil’s confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 177,589 on Tuesday, according to the health ministry, surpassing Germany’s 170,508 confirmed cases of the disease.

Brazil also declared 881 deaths in the last 24 hours, a record for a single day. There were 9,258 new cases registered in the 24-hour period.

21:30 GMT – WHO sees ‘potentially positive data’ in treating coronavirus

The World Health Organization said some treatments appear to be limiting the severity or length of the COVID-19 disease and it was focusing on learning more about four or five of the most promising ones.

“We do have some treatments that seem to be in very early studies limiting the severity or the length of the illness but we do not have anything that can kill or stop the virus,” spokeswoman Margaret Harris told a briefing, referring to the body’s so-called Solidarity Trial of drugs against the disease.

“We do have potentially positive data coming out but we need to see more data to be 100 percent confident that we can say this treatment over that one,” she added, saying more research was needed and planned.

Harris did not name the treatments. Gilead Science Inc says its antiviral drug remdesivir has helped improve outcomes for COVID-19 patients.

21:15 GMT – Smokers fuming over South Africa’s U-turn on tobacco sales

South African smokers rejoiced last month as President Cyril Ramaphosa lifted a ban on tobacco sales imposed as part of draconian measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

But less than a week later, one of his cabinet ministers reversed the decision for “health-related” reasons – specifically, that many smokers roll their cigarettes, then share them.

“When people zol, they put saliva on the paper, and then they share that zol,” said cabinet minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, referring to a South African word for hand-rolled cigarettes.

Dlamini-Zuma, a medical doctor, is a key member of a special cabinet task force handling the health crisis, which has seen South Africans go under one of the world’s most stringent lockdowns.

“The way tobacco is shared does not allow for social distancing,” said Dlamini-Zuma, adding it “actually encourages the spread of the virus”.

The U-turn prompted some half a million people to sign a petition demanding the resumption of cigarette sales.

21:00 GMT – Cubicle comeback? Pandemic will reshape office life for good

Office jobs are never going to be the same. When workers around the world eventually return to their desks, they’ll find many changes due to the pandemic. For a start, fewer people will go back to their offices as the coronavirus crisis makes working from home more accepted, health concerns linger and companies weigh up rent savings and productivity benefits.

At a minimum, the COVID-19 crisis could be the death knell for some recent polarising office trends, such as the shared workspaces used by many tech startups to create a more casual and creative environment. Cubicles and partitions are making a return as the virus speeds the move away from open-plan office spaces, architects say.

Design firm Bergmeyer is reinstalling dividers on 85 desks at its Boston office that had been removed over the years. That “will return a greater degree of privacy to the individual desks, in addition to the physical barrier which this health crisis now warrants”, said Vice President Rachel Zsembery.

20:50 GMT – US airlines tell crews not to force passengers to wear masks

The top three United States airlines have told their flight attendants not to force passengers to comply with a new policy requiring face coverings, just encourage them to do so, according to employee policies reviewed by Reuters.

American Airlines Holdings Inc, Delta Air Lines Inc and United Airlines Holdings Inc have told employees that they may deny boarding at the gate to anyone not wearing a face covering, and are providing masks to passengers who do not have them, the three carriers told Reuters.

“Once on board and off the gate, the face covering policy becomes more lenient. The flight attendant’s role is informational, not enforcement, with respect to the face-covering policy,” American told its pilots in a message seen by Reuters explaining its policy, which went into effect on Monday.

IATA airlines facemasks
Delta Air Lines Inc and United Airlines Holdings Inc have told employees that they may deny boarding at the gate to anyone not wearing a face covering [File: Jim Urquhart/Reuters]

20:40 GMT – Brazil’s Bolsonaro challenges governors to sue over gym reopenings amid COVID

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro said that governors protesting his decree to reopen gyms and hair salons can file lawsuits against it, escalating a dispute over local lockdowns instituted to slow the spread of the new coronavirus outbreak.

Bolsonaro’s latest decree widening the list of businesses considered “essential,” announced late on Monday, was in line with his view that the economic damage and lost jobs from shuttered businesses are worse than the effects of the virus itself.

20:23 GMT – US stocks close lower, ending Nasdaq streak with 2.1 percent fall

The Nasdaq’s six-day winning streak ended as US stocks pulled back after a top government scientist warned against ending the coronavirus shutdowns and reopening the economy too quickly.

At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 23,764.78, down 1.9 percent or more than 450 points.

Bull on Wall Street
The broad-based S&P 500 fell 2.1 percent to 2,870.12, and, after rising over the last six days, the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index shed 2.1 percent to end at 9,002.55 [File: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg]

20:09 GMT – Opinion: Western media shows death only when it is in Africa

The Ebola epidemic, which struck in 2014, affected six countries in Africa, with isolated cases being recorded in North America and Western Europe. The disease killed more than 11,300 people, all but one in West Africa, particularly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Although this is a fraction of the numbers associated with COVID-19 today, the coverage in the Western press was much less restrained, at least as far as the showing of bodies and portrayal of grief was concerned.

Read more here.

19:50 GMT – Pence to ‘keep distance’ from Trump: White House

US Vice President Mike Pence, whose press secretary tested positive for coronavirus, has decided to “keep his distance” from President Donald Trump for a few days, the White House said.

Katie Miller, Pence’s press secretary, tested positive for the virus last week along with a personal valet to Trump.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Pence, who heads the White House coronavirus task force, “has made the choice to keep his distance for a few days” from the president.

Trump: ‘Don’t ask me. Ask China’

19:30 GMT – Crew from virus-hit liner disembark in Uruguay

More than 60 crew members from the coronavirus-hit cruise ship Greg Mortimer were allowed on to disembark in Uruguay to quarantine in two hotels.

The crew began disembarking onto buses at around midday. The liner had been moored in Montevideo’s port since Monday.

Of those on board, 36 had tested positive for the novel coronavirus and were due to be taken to a specially equipped hotel.

19:15 GMT – UK coronavirus outbreak kills at least 20,000 in care homes – Reuters 

At least 20,000 people have died in care homes in England and Wales as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Reuters calculations based on official data.

In the eight weeks to May 1, there were 37,627 people who died in care homes of all causes in England and Wales, according to data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

A care home amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak
The UK has reported over 32,000 deaths to date from the coronavirus [File: Eddie Keogh/Reuters]

18:55 GMT – Canada coronavirus death toll passes 5,000, Trudeau wants seniors’ care reform

The Canadian coronavirus death toll passed the 5,000 mark and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said major reforms were needed for seniors’ residences, where more than 80 percent of the victims lived.

The public health agency said the number of deaths edged up by 2.9 percent to 5,049, from 4,906 on Monday, one of the smallest daily gains so far.

Canada is the 11th nation to record more than 5,000 deaths.

18:41 GMT – US gives ‘up to 1,000’ ventilators to South Africa 

The US government is donating “up to 1,000” ventilators to South Africa to help the country respond to COVID-19 as the Trump administration addresses criticism that it hasn’t done enough for countries in need.

“South Africa is the first country in the world to receive this state-of-the-art equipment” from the National Security Council and USAID, the US Embassy said in a tweet.

Last week, however, Mexico said it received a US shipment of 211 ventilators as part of aid promised by President Donald Trump.

18:20 GMT – Germany must help other EU states get back on their feet – Merkel

Germany must help its European Union neighbours revive their economies after the coronavirus crisis, Chancellor Angela Merkel told a meeting of legislators from her conservative bloc, according to several participants.

It is essential for Germany, as an export nation, that its EU partners also do well, Merkel told the legislators, with a view to consultations on an EU reconstruction programme, both the scale and the financing of which were open, the chancellor said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

18:01 GMT – US posts record $738bn budget deficit in April

The United States reported a record $738bn budget deficit in April, as an explosion in government spending and a shrinking of revenues amid the novel coronavirus pandemic put it deeply into the red. 

The Treasury Department said the budget deficit last month was the first to reflect the enormity of government spending that has been authorized to try to mitigate the economic impact of the crisis, which until recently saw most of the country under strict lockdown orders and many businesses shuttered to contain the spread of the virus.

17:32 GMT – Giroir says US could do 40-50 million tests per day by September

Trump administration “testing czar”, Admiral Brett Giroir, told the Senate the US could be performing at least 40 million to 50 million tests per month by September.

But that would work out to only between 1.3 million and 1.7 million tests per day.

Harvard researchers say the US must do 900,000 daily tests by this Friday in order to safely reopen.
Giroir is assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services. He spoke via video conference at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee.

17:16 GMT – Egypt receives $2.77bn in IMF emergency financing: Report

Egypt has received $2.77bn in emergency financing from the International Monetary Fund, its state news agency reported, citing a senior central bank source.

The IMF had approved the funding on Monday to help Egypt to contend with the new coronavirus pandemic that has brought tourism to a standstill and triggered capital flight.

16:58 GMT – Ghana fish factory partially reopens after cases swell

A fish-processing plant in Ghana where more than 500 workers tested positive for the coronavirus has partially reopened, owner Thai Union Group PCL said.

Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo said on Sunday that one worker at the fish factory in the coastal city of Tema had infected 533 other employees.

Local government and trade union officials have confirmed to Reuters news agency that the plant is Pioneer Food Cannery Limited, which is owned by Thai Union, the world’s top producer of canned tuna.

Fishermen tend their boats and fishing nets at Cape Coast
Ghana has reported 5,127 cases, including 22 deaths, to date, and has conducted by far the most tests in the region [File: Kweku Obeng/Reuters]

16:38 GMT – Qatar faces tough choices as coronavirus guts natural gas demand

Hemmed in by weak demand and scarce storage, the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas may soon face a stark choice: curb output or ignite a battle for market share that has the potential – just as in the oil market – to turn gas prices negative.

Qatar began in February redirecting LNG cargoes away from Asia, where the coronavirus was hobbling sales, and sending them instead to northwestern Europe. That quick fix did not last, as the pandemic soon engulfed Europe’s biggest economies and left Qatar struggling for places to park unsold cargoes.

Read more here.

16:10 GMT – Trump sides with Musk over reopening of California Tesla plant

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday threw the weight of the White House behind Tesla Inc and its CEO Elon Musk after the electric carmaker reopened an assembly plant in California in defiance of local officials. 

Trump took to Twitter, writing: “California should let Tesla & @elonmusk open the plant, NOW. It can be done Fast & Safely!”

Read more here.

15:45 GMT – Canadian rocker Bryan Adams faces backlash over ‘racist’ post

Canadian rocker Bryan Adams faced a backlash and accusations of anti-Chinese racism over his online rant about the pandemic forcing the cancellation of his London shows this week.

The “Cuts Like a Knife” singer said in Twitter and Instagram posts that his gigs at the Royal Albert Hall were nixed thanks to “bat eating, wet market animal selling, virus making greedy bastards”.

He went on to say “the whole world is now on hold, not to mention the thousands that have suffered or died from this virus”, admonishing the Chinese to “go vegan”.

Bryan Adams gives concert in Istanbul
Adams was accused of ‘fanning the flames of anti-Chinese racism’ for his comments [File: Arif Hüdaverdi Yaman/Anadolu]

15:31 GMT – India PM announces $270bn economic package

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Tuesday a $270bn economic package to boost flagging growth as the country grapples with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and weeks-long lockdown.

“This economic package is for India’s self-reliant movement. It is for the cottage, small and medium scale industries,” Modi said in a national television address.

The package – worth about 10 percent of India’s GDP – came as the country was set to mark its 50th day in lockdown as the number of virus cases topped 70,000 with 2,200 deaths.

15:13 GMT – Sweden to revise strategy after surge in elderly death

The government of Sweden is set to shift gears in its strategy after a rise in elderly death in the nordic country, US news outlet Bloomberg reported.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven’s administration is planning to spend 2.2 billion kronor ($220m) on “ratcheting up staff levels” to assist the country’s elderly population, according to Bloomberg.

14:53 GMT – 113-year-old Spanish woman beats coronavirus

A 113-year-old woman in Spain’s northeastern province of Girona has recovered after contracting the novel coronavirus.

Local media reported Monday that Maria Branyas, the oldest person in Spain, beat the virus after battling it for several weeks.

After testing positive, Branyas was quarantined in a room at her nursing home and later tested negative for the virus.

14:36 GMT – Lebanon to go into four-day closure to prevent virus spread

Lebanon’s government agreed on a “full closure” of the country for four days, the presidency said as the cabinet met on Tuesday to try to ward off a second wave of coronavirus infections.

The closure starts on Wednesday night.

Authorities have warned of a resurgence in recent days as the number of cases jumped to its highest point in more than a month after the government eased some lockdown restrictions.

Coronavirus Lebanon
Lebanon has officially announced 870 cases of COVID-19, including 26 deaths [Daniel Carde/Getty]

14:18 GMT – Air passengers in France don protective clothing

Dozens of passengers at Paris’s Charles De Gaulle airport waiting to board their flight to leave the French capital had a glimpse of the new travel regulations imposed by the French government to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Airport regulations now make it mandatory for all passengers to cover their mouths and noses.

Air France
Each passenger boarding an Air France flight had their temperature checked by a special laser gun pointed at the forehead, a supplementary safety measure the airline has decided to enforce [File: Regis Duvignau/Reuters]

14:05 GMT – Putin’s spokesman hospitalised with coronavirus

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman has been hospitalised with the coronavirus.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Interfax news agency on Tuesday: “Yes, I’ve gotten sick. I’m being treated.”

Read more here.

13:44 GMT – Qatar Airways praised for 100,000 free tickets to ‘heroic’ health workers

The European Union welcomed a move by Qatar Airways to provide 100,000 free tickets to health professionals around the world to thank them for their courage in fighting the coronavirus.

In a statement to Qatar News Agency, Cristian Tudor, ambassador of the EU to Qatar, noted health professionals “are making the difference” in the battle against COVID-19, and “they deserve our wholehearted, unreserved praise”.

“EU efforts to repatriate stranded citizens could not have achieved the same impressive results without support from international airlines, including notably Qatar Airways, which have continued to operate flights to Europe during the most difficult weeks of the pandemic, often incurring economic losses,” Tudor said.

Qatar Airways launches new measures to tackle COVID-19

13:40 GMT – UK railworker dies after man ‘with coronavirus’ spat at her

A railway station worker in the United Kingdom died from COVID-19 last month after she was spat at and coughed over by someone claiming to have the virus, her trade union said on Tuesday.

Transport union TSSA said Belly Mujinga, 47, contracted the coronavirus with a colleague within days of the assault on the pair at London’s Victoria station on March 22.

Read more here.

 This is Usaid Siddiqui in Doha taking over from my colleague Mersiha Gadzo.

13:20 GMT – Indian trains start rolling again despite virus surge

India’s enormous railway network tentatively ground back to life as a gradual lifting of the world’s biggest coronavirus lockdown gathered pace even as new cases surged.

Restrictions have been steadily eased, however, particularly in rural areas, and some Indian trains – on a network that normally carries more than 20 million passengers a day – resumed on Tuesday.

More than 54,000 tickets for an initial 30 services sold out online within three hours on Monday, reports said.

Two trains left New Delhi on Tuesday afternoon with 2,300 people on board. Others left different cities including Mumbai.  

Indian government accused of silencing dissent

13:00 GMT – Russia has world’s second-highest number of cases: AFP

Russia has the world’s second-highest number of coronavirus infections after reporting another 10,899 new cases on Tuesday, an AFP news agency tally says.

The new cases brought Russia’s total to 232,243, surpassing the number of infections in the UK and Spain and now behind only the US, which has reported more than 1.3 million cases, according to the tally compiled from official sources.

12:40 GMT – Putin’s spokesman tests positive for coronavirus

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman says he is hospitalised with the coronavirus.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Interfax news agency, “Yes, I’ve gotten sick. I’m being treated.”

Peskov, 52, has been Putin’s spokesman since 2008, but started working him with in the early 2000s.

Russians who have the virus but light or no symptoms of illness are allowed to stay home, and it wasn’t immediately clear if Peskov’s hospitalisation reflects the gravity of his condition or was an extra precaution.

Reporters from the Kremlin pool said on Twitter that Peskov was last seen in public on April 30 “at a meeting with Vladimir Putin”. It was not clear whether it means the two were in the same room, as Putin has been conducting all his meetings via teleconference in recent weeks.

12:35 GMT – Fauci warns of ‘suffering and death’ if US reopens too soon

Dr Anthony Fauci, the US’s top infectious disease expert, warned Congress if the country reopens too soon during the coronavirus pandemic, it will result in “needless suffering and death”.

Fauci, a member of the coronavirus task force charged with shaping the response to COVID-19, testified via video conference after self-quarantining as a White House staffer tested positive for the virus.

Fauci, in a statement to The New York Times, warned that officials should adhere to federal guidelines for a phased reopening, including a “downward trajectory” of positive tests or documented cases of coronavirus over two weeks, robust contact tracing and “sentinel surveillance” testing of asymptomatic people in vulnerable populations, such as nursing homes.

“If we skip over the checkpoints in the guidelines … then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country,” Fauci wrote. “This will not only result in needless suffering and death, but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal.”

Should we worry about surveillance during the pandemic? | Start Here

12:32 GMT – Lebanon to go into four-day closure to prevent virus spread

Lebanon’s government agreed on a “full closure” of the country for four days, the presidency said as the cabinet met to try to ward off a second wave of coronavirus infections.

The closure starts on Wednesday night.

Authorities have warned of a resurgence in recent days as the number of cases jumped to its highest point in more than a month after the government eased some lockdown restrictions.

12:28 GMT – Qatar records 1,526 new cases, no deaths

Qatar’s health authority says the country’s COVID-19 infection tally rose to 22,116 with 1,526 people testing positive in the last 24 hours. The death toll remained 14. 

12:11 GMT – UK: Job support scheme extended as coronavirus deaths top 38,000

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has extended the government’s job retention scheme – the costly centrepiece of the United Kingdom’s attempts to mitigate the coronavirus hit to the economy – by a further four months until the end of October.

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Sunak added that the funding would be kept at the rate which offers Britons 80 percent of their wages.

Read more here.

10:44 GMT – WHO sees ‘potentially positive data’ on treatments

The World Health Organization said that some treatments appear to be limiting the severity or length of the COVID-19 respiratory disease and said the body is focusing on learning more about four or five of the most promising ones.

“We do have some treatments that seem to be in very early studies limiting the severity or the length of the illness but we do not have anything that can kill or stop the virus,” spokeswoman Margaret Harris told a virtual briefing, referring to the body’s so-called Solidarity Trial of drugs against the disease.

“We do have potentially positive data coming out but we need to see more data to be 100 percent confident that we can say this treatment over that one,” she added.

Coronavirus clips the wings of the world’s second-oldest airline (02:51)

10:35 GMT – Spain’s adds lowest daily number of new cases in 2 months

The number of newly diagnosed cases of coronavirus in Spain in one day fell to its lowest in more than two months, the health ministry reported.

Health authorities identified 594 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the total to 228,030. The number of fatalities related to the disease rose 176 on Tuesday to 26,920.

09:52 GMT – Summer holiday abroad is unlikely, UK health minister says

British people are unlikely to be able to go on international holidays this summer because of the pandemic, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.

Asked on ITV’s This Morning show if people should accept that the normal summer holiday season for travelling abroad is cancelled, he replied: “I think that’s likely to be the case.”

09:32 GMT – IMF raises Kenya’s risk of debt distress to high from moderate

The International Monetary Fund raised Kenya’s risk of debt distress to high from moderate due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis, it said in an assessment.

“The risk of debt distress has moved to high from moderate due to the impact of the global COVID-19 crisis which exacerbated existing vulnerabilities,” the fund said.

09:25 GMT – London Diamond League athletics meeting cancelled

The Diamond League athletics meeting scheduled to be held at the London Stadium on July 4-5 has been cancelled, UK Athletics said.

“The decision has been made in light of the ongoing global pandemic,” it said in a statement.

09:09 GMT – Death toll in Indonesia tops 1,000

The death toll in Indonesia passed the 1,000 mark as the country recorded 16 new deaths and 484 new infections, health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said.

Indonesia has now reported 1,007 deaths and 14,749 cases.

Healthcare workers take a swab sample from a passenger amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at a commuter train station in Bogor near Jakarta, Indonesia, May 11, 2020. REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar
Healthcare workers take a swab sample from a passenger at a commuter train station in Bogor near Jakarta, Indonesia [Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana/Reuters]

08:56 GMT – Fauci to warn on risk of opening US economy too soon

Senior health official Anthony Fauci set to testify before the US Senate will warn legislators about the risks of reopening the economy too soon, saying it could lead to “needless suffering and death”, according to the New York Times.

Read more here.

epa08310093 Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci (R) speaks as US President Donald Trump (L) listens during a Coronavirus Task Force news conference in t
Anthony Fauci, right, speaks as US President Trump, left, listens during a Coronavirus Task Force news conference on March 20, 2020 [Al Drago/ EPA]

08:48 GMT – Denmark increases testing, contact tracing to prevent second wave

Denmark will significantly increase testing and put a contact tracing system in place to prevent a second wave of infections, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said.

“If the spread reignites, we need to know in time. This is why we need an effective tracing of the virus spreading,” Frederiksen told reporters.

“We need to isolate the sick, so we can break the infection chains without having to close down society again,” she said.

08:42 GMT – Nurses fighting coronavirus lack handwashing facilities: Report

One in six healthcare centres around the world lack safe handwashing facilities and nurses, at the front line of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, are struggling to wash even their own hands, an international aid group has warned.

Read more here.

Salimata Dagnogo, 32, Matron of Talo Health Centre, collects dirty water from an open well in the village. Salimata has worked at Talo for eight years and faces big challenges in her role without the
Salimata Dagnogo, 32, collects dirty water from an open well in a village in Mali. She has worked at Talo for eight years and faces big challenges in her role without the availability of clean water [Guilhem Alandry/WaterAid]

08:23 GMT – ‘Madness’ to hold Uganda vote if virus persists: President Museveni

Uganda’s long-time President Yoweri Museveni said it would be wrong to hold a presidential election due early next year if the coronavirus persists, signalling for the first time a possible postponement.

“To have elections when the virus is still there… It will be madness,” the 75-year-old Museveni, whom opponents cast as an authoritarian clinging to power, said in an interview with the local NBS Television aired late on Monday.

08:19 GMT – Austrian football league likely to restart in first week of June

Austria’s national soccer league, the Bundesliga, will likely restart matches in the first week of June, a senior official said.

The match schedule will likely be discussed at a meeting on Wednesday, the league’s Chief Executive Christian Ebenbauer said at a news conference in Vienna.

07:55 GMT – Several coronavirus patients killed in Russia hospital fire

Several coronavirus patients were killed and about 150 evacuated after a fire in the intensive care unit at a hospital in Russia, according to the country’s emergency ministry.

Read more here.

Coronavirus precautions in Russia
The number of new cases of the coronavirus in Russia rose by 11,656 on Monday [Sefa Karacan/Anadolu]

07:48 GMT – China says it is not yet time to relax measures

China’s health authorities said the reappearance of local clusters of coronavirus cases in recent days suggests that counter-pandemic measures cannot be relaxed yet.

While prevention and control efforts have normalised, that does not mean measures can be eased, Mi Feng, a spokesman at the National Health Commission, said at a media briefing.

Wuhan on Monday reported its first cluster of coronavirus infections since a lockdown on the city, the original epicentre of the outbreak in China, was lifted a month ago.

Outside image - blog - 12 may - china headline
A worker checks passengers’ body temperatures and a health code on their phones before they take a taxi in Wuhan, China’s central Hubei province [Hector Retamal/AFP]

07:30 GMT – ‘It can’t last forever’: UK to unveil changes to furloughing scheme

The UK will announce changes to a programme that is paying the wages of more than six million workers at businesses affected by the coronavirus, its health minister said.

The UK’s finance minister, Rishi Sunak, will make a statement on the government’s economic package at 11:30 GMT.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that Sunak would speak about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which pays employers 80 percent of the wages of staff who are on temporary leave.

“Obviously it can’t last forever and we are going to have to make changes. He’s going to announce the details of that,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock told LBC radio.

07:23 GMT – Spain orders two-week quarantine for all overseas travellers

Spain ordered a two-week quarantine for all overseas travellers coming to the country from May 15.

Travellers will have to remain locked in and will only be allowed to exit for grocery shopping, go to health centres and in case of “situation of need”, an official order said.

The quarantine has been enforced for all travellers incoming to Spain between May 15 and May 24, when the state of emergency is due to end.

07:14 GMT – Singapore reports 884 new cases

Singapore’s health ministry said it confirmed another 884 coronavirus cases, raising the total number of infections to 24,671.

06:43 GMT – UK to set out details on making workplaces safer

The UK government will set out details on how to make workplaces safer as some businesses start to return to work after Prime Minister Johnson set out a plan on how to exit the lockdown.

Health Secretary Hancock said the business ministry would set out details.

“We work not only with employers but also with the trade unions who last night called what we’re coming out with a step forward,” Hancock said.

06:37 GMT – Ryanair to restore 40 percent of flights from July

Ryanair will restore 40 percent of flights from July 1, the Irish low-cost carrier said, after running a skeleton service since mid-March as the pandemic grounded planes worldwide.

“Ryanair will operate a daily flight schedule of almost 1,000 flights, restoring 90 percent of its pre-COVID-19 route network,” it said in a statement.

Crew and passengers will wear face masks and have to pass temperature checks, it said.

06:23 GMT – French economic activity down 27 percent in April

French economic activity dropped 27 percent in April compared with its expected trajectory before the pandemic, the Bank of France.

The economy was expected to grow 0.1 percent in the first quarter of the year, the central bank said, with the 27 percent drop counted from where it would have reached in April.


Hi, this is Mersiha Gadzo in Doha taking over the live updates from my colleague Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.


05:00 GMT – New Zealand sticks with Taiwan over coronavirus and WHO

New Zealand’s foreign minister on Tuesday said the country had to stand up for itself after China warned its backing of Taiwan’s participation at the WHO could damage bilateral ties.

Taiwan, with the backing of the United States, has stepped up efforts to be allowed to take part as an observer at next week’s World Health Assembly (WHA), the WHO’s decision-making body – angering China.

Senior ministers in New Zealand last week gave their backing to Taiwan, saying the island should be allowed to join the WHO as an observer given its success in limiting the spread of the novel coronavirus. China responded that the Pacific country should “stop making wrong statements”.

“We have got to stand up for ourselves,” Winston Peters, New Zealand’s foreign minister, said at a news conference when asked about China’s comment. More on that story here.

04:00 GMT – Seoul nightclub case cluster rises to 101

The number of coronavirus cases linked to a 29-year-old man who went clubbing in the district of Itaewon in the South Korean capital has risen to 101 nationwide, Yonhap news agency quoted Seoul mayor Park Won-Soon saying on Tuesday.

The man tested positive for coronavirus on May 1/2 after visiting five clubs and bars in Itaewon. The authorities are trying to track down thousands of people who visited the area around the same time, but many of the clubs’ entry logs turned out to have false information, Yonhap said.

Park says the city has now secured a list of 10,905 people who visited Itaewon through data provided by mobile phone companies and has sent text messages urging them to be screened. They also found 494 people through credit card transactions.

03:30 GMT – Novelist Murakami to host special radio show for Japan

Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami is to host a one-off radio show to try and lift the country’s spirits amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic.

Murakami will play his favourite songs and welcome listener comments during the special on May 22.

“I’m hoping that the power of music can do a little to blow away some of the corona-related blues that have been piling up,” the novelist wrote on a webpage announcing the plan.

03:10 GMT – Governments urged to ensure health and safety of frontline nurses

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and the International Council of Nurses are calling on governments to commit to ensuring the protection and safety of nurses and other health workers, especially in resource-poor, disaster and conflict settings.

The organisations say healthcare workers’ health and safety is vital for a “competent” medical response during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“The pandemic has seen frontline nurses rightly recognised as heroes, but they are also ordinary mothers and fathers with their own families to protect,” International Council of Nurses President Annette Kennedy said in a joint statement issued by the organisations. “They deserve to be able to work free from fear, whether because of a lack of PPE or because of harassment and attack.”

We’ve reported previously on the stigma faced by medical workers in the Philippines. Read that story here. May 12 is International Nurses Day.

Outside image - blog - 06 May - Philippines headline
Health workers don protective clothing before treating patients at a COVID-19 isolation facility in Manila. Some nurses and doctors in the country say they have been abused or forced from their homes as a result of their work [Ezra Acayan/Getty Images]

02:55 GMT – Trump stomps out of media briefing after ‘racist’ exchange

US President Donald Trump abruptly ended Monday’s coronavirus briefing after a testy exchange with an Asian-American reporter that was denounced by several observers, including other journalists, as “racist”.

TV network CBS News reporter Weijia Jiang asked Trump why he continued to insist that the US was doing better than other countries when it came to testing for the virus.

His response was to tell her it was a question she should ask China.

Read more on the exchange and the reactions to it here.

02:40 GMT – ‘Catastrophic failure’: Oxfam’s verdict on efforts to forge a global ceasefire

The international community’s attempts to forge a global ceasefire to help curb the spread of the coronavirus have been a “catastrophic failure”, Oxfam International said in a new report published on Tuesday.

Oxfam said fighting continues across many conflict-torn countries despite a March appeal from United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for warring sides to lay down their weapons.

“We expected leadership from the Council as well as many of those countries who say they support a ceasefire, but who nevertheless remain active participants in conflicts around the world, conducting military operations, selling arms and supporting third parties,” said Oxfam Interim Executive Director Jose Maria Vera. 

Read more on that story here.

02:20 GMT – Iran to re-open mosques from Tuesday for certain nights in Ramadan

All mosques in Iran are to reopen temporarily on Tuesday, the official IRIB news agency reported.

The decision was made in consultation with the ministry of health, IRIB quoted Mohammad Qomi, the director of the Islamic Development Organization, as saying.

Qomi said later on Monday that mosques would only be open for three days commemorating specific nights during Ramadan and it was unclear whether they would stay open, according to the Fars news agency.

The move comes even though some parts of the country have seen a rise in infections.

02:00 GMT – Indonesians receive rice rations from automated dispenser

Indonesia is rolling out “rice ATMs” in a bid to ensure those worst affected by the coronavirus outbreak can get the foods they need to survive. 

The vending machines are packed with rations of good-quality rice and operated by magnetic cards.

“Each day we prepare 1.5 tonnes (of rice]) for around 1,000 residents,” said Ibrahim, an army official supervising distribution in a military camp on the outskirts of Jakarta told Reuters. “We will continue doing it every day, without rest, even on weekends, we will distribute non-stop.”

Ten machines have been set up in the capital with daily wage earners, the unemployed, those who do not own a house and people who live below the poverty line eligible for the rations.

Indonesia rice
A man collects his rice ration from an automated dispenser in Jakarta last week [Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana/Reuters]

01:45 GMT – UK PM Boris Johnson forced to clarify confusing lockdown measures

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been forced to clarify his government’s plans to ease lockdown measures in the United Kingdom after a pre-recorded speech on Sunday night led to confusion. chaos and parody.

More on that story here.

And the parody – courtesy of comedian and actor Matt Lucas, and now watched millions of times – below.

00:30 GMT – Seven or eight “top” vaccine candidates: WHO chief

The World Health Organization chief says there are approximately seven or eight “top” candidates for a vaccine to combat the coronavirus and work on them is being accelerated.

WHO Director-General Ghebreyesus told a UN Economic and Social Council video briefing on Monday the effort to find a vaccine had been helped by the 7.4 billion euros ($8 billion) pledged a week ago by leaders from 40 countries, organisations and banks for research, treatment and testing.

But he added more funds would be needed.

“We have good candidates now,” Tedros said. “The top ones are around seven, eight. But we have more than a hundred candidates.”

“We are focusing on the few candidates we have which can bring probably better results and accelerating those candidates with better potential,” he said.

Tedros did not identify the top candidates.

00:05 GMT – Trump insists his administration has ‘met the moment’ on coronavirus testing

US President Donald Trump is insisting his administration has “met the moment” and “prevailed” on coronavirus testing. 

Speaking in the Rose Garden at the White House, Trump reiterated that everyone who wants a test can get one, although officials later clarified that to everyone who “needs” a test. 

The White House has now ordered everyone entering the West Wing to wear a mask, after two cases of COVID-19 were confirmed among staff.

23:55 GMT (Monday) – Gyms, hair salons in Brazil declared ‘essential’ services

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has declared gyms and hair and beauty salons “essential” services allowing them to remain open despite the coronavirus lockdown. 

Right-wing Bolsonaro has been a vocal opponent of the lockdowns imposed by state and municipal governments across Brazil despite the mounting number of cases and deaths.

“The question of life has to be taken in parallel with jobs,” Bolsonaro said on Monday outside his official residence. “Without the economy, there is no life, there are no doctors, there are no hospital supplies.” 


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

Read all the updates from yesterday (May 11) here.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies