Coronavirus could kill 190,000 in Africa, WHO warns: Live updates

With no containment, the outbreak could kill between 83,000 and 190,000 on the continent in the first year, WHO says.

  • The coronavirus pandemic could kill between 83,000 and 190,000 people in Africa in the first year and infect between 29 million and 44 million during that period if it is not contained, the WHO has warned.
  • Russia’s coronavirus cases, which now stand at over 177,000, have overtaken France and Germany to become the fifth highest total in the world after a record daily rise.
  • Prime Minister Imran Khan said Pakistan will ease lockdown in phases from Saturday despite an increase in number of coronavirus cases in the country.
  • Senior German health official Lars Schaade said a second coronavirus wave could hit Germany before autumn. Case numbers are falling but this is not an all-clear signal, Schaade said at a news conference.
  • Globally, more than 3.7 million people have been confirmed infected with the new coronavirus so far, and more than 264,000 have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Thursday, May 7

23:35 GMT – US airliner to mandate temperature screening on all passengers

Frontier Airlines said on Thursday it would begin temperature screenings for all passengers and crew members on June 1 and bar anyone with a temperature at or exceeding 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 C).

The move, in what Frontier said was the first among major US airlines, followed the industry mandating facial coverings for all passengers and heightened cleaning to address coronavirus concerns and a massive air travel decline.

Frontier customers will be screened via touchless thermometers prior to boarding. If a reading is at or exceeds 100.4 F, customers will be given time to rest and potentially receive a second check, the company said, adding it would work with any customer with an elevated temperature to rebook travel for a later date.

22:45 GMT – UN body warns of ‘mega-famines’

The United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that the world faces “mega-famines” if enough funds are not pledged to combat the ripple effects of coronavirus pandemic on the world’s most fragile countries, which are  already grappling with food insecurity.

“What we are facing now is a double pandemic … [of] famines that could impact us at biblical proportions,” WFP’s executive director David Beasley said during a conference in Geneva on Thursday.

Read more here

20:30 GMT – Latvia to ease  restrictions for public gatherings from May 12

Latvia will raise the limit for public gatherings to 25 people from two beginning May 12, as the country starts to ease restrictions introduced back in March to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus, the government has said.

The government still extended the state of emergency, which has allowed it to introduce a series of actions to curb COVID-19, to June 9, but said a string of measures would be eased starting on Tuesday. Latvia currently has 909 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 18 deaths.

“The first is that it will be allowed to gather up to 25 people at the same time, but … precaution remains,” Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said late on Thursday, adding people would still have to observe two meters distance from each other.

European Union preparing to reopen borders

20:15 GMT – Mexico turns ex-presidential residence into base for nurses, doctors 

Mexico has transformed the luxurious former presidential “Los Pinos” complex, which was for many decades the country’s most prestigious residence, into a temporary home for healthcare workers battling the coronavirus outbreak.

Once famed for its sumptuousness, the sprawling residence now appears sparse with converted rooms housing modest single beds with crisp white sheets and grey metal lockers, similar to those found in hospital changing rooms.

Mexican officials say they expect the outbreak to peak this week. So far Mexico has registered 27,634 coronavirus cases and 2,704 deaths but officials say low testing means both figures underestimate the spread of the disease across the country.

About 58 doctors and nurses are already staying in Los Pinos but officials say up to 100 people could be accommodated in the complex that acted as a home for successive Mexican leaders and their families since 1934.

Police walk outside the former presidential residence of Los Pinos in Mexico City [Rebecca Blackwell/The Associated Press]

19:45 GMT – New York extends moratorium on rent evictions by 60 days

New York will extend a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent for another 60 days until August 20 to alleviate anxiety over the economic impact of the coronavirus, Governor Andrew Cuomo has said during a daily briefing.

The governor in March had issued a moratorium on residential and commercial evictions that lasted through June, but he said he wanted to reduce the anxiety of families struggling through the economic shutdown. It is now extended until Aug. 20.

“I hope it gives families a deep breath,” Cuomo said at his daily briefing.

The executive order will also ban late fees for missed payments and allow renters to apply their security deposit to a payment, though they’d have to pay it back over time.

19:15 GMT – Trump says Putin accepted US offer of ventilators

President Donald Trump has said Russian President Vladimir Putin had accepted his offer to provide ventilators to aid in the fight against the novel coronavirus causes a potentially deadly respiratory illness, adding that Russia is having a hard time with the disease.

Trump and Putin spoke by phone on Thursday, where they discussed the coronavirus as well as arms control, according to the White House.

COVID-19 in Africa: Misinformation thwarting containment

18:45 GMT – WHO: Pandemic could kill up to 190,000 in Africa in first year if not contained

The novel coronavirus could kill between 83,000 and 190,000 people in Africa in the first year and infect between 29 million and 44 million in the first year if containment measures fail, the WHO has warned.

The projections are contained in a new WHO Africa study based on assumptions that containment measures are not put in place or fail,  WHO Africa head Matshidiso Moeti told reporters in a teleconference.

Most countries on the continent have imposed restrictions on public gatherings, international travel and curfews among other measures meant to curb the spread of the virus.The virus hit Africa later than other continents and transmission rates are lower than elsewhere. 

“The importance of promoting effective containment measures is ever more crucial, as sustained and widespread transmission of the virus could severely overwhelm our health systems,” Dr Moeti said in a statement. “Curbing a largescale outbreak is far costlier than the ongoing preventive measures governments are undertaking to contain the spread of the virus.”

18:30 GMT – Northern Ireland says ‘no headroom’ to lift restrictions now 

Northern Ireland does not plan to soften restrictions designed to curb the spread of COVID-19 at this time due to the high infection rate, Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill has said.

“We have no headroom for change at this moment in time,” O’Neill told a press briefing, saying that the reproduction rate, or R0, of the disease in the British province was 0.8-0.9 compared to around 0.5 in both England and Ireland.

How is coronavirus affecting the sports industry?

18:10 GMT – France death toll just below 26,000

The number of people who have died from a coronavirus infection in France has increased by 178 or 0.7 percent to 25,987, the lowest rate of increase in four days.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said earlier in the day that France would start lifting its almost two-months old national lockdown from Monday. The Health Ministry said in a statement the number of people in intensive care units fell by 186 or 5.9 percent to 2,961, a total below the 3,000 threshold for the first time since March 25.

The number of people in ICU – a key measure of a health system’s ability to deal with the epidemic – is now well below half the peak of 7,148 seen on April 8.

The number of people in hospital with coronavirus also fell again to 23,208 from 23,983, continuing an uninterrupted three-week fall and down almost 30 percent from an April 14 peak of 32,292.

A nurse prepares medical equipment at the intensive care unit of the Lariboisiere Hospital in Paris [Joel Saget/AFP] 

17:50 GMT – UK: 400,000 Turkish gowns ‘not good enough’ for front-line staff

The UK government says a shipment of personal protective equipment (PPE) from Turkey intended to help ease supply problems is sitting in a warehouse because it does not meet British standards.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said on Thursday that the 400,000 medical gowns are not “of the quality that we feel is good enough for our front-line staff” treating coronavirus patients.

The shipment has become an embarrassment for the UK government since a minister announced on April 18 that it would arrive the next day.

Read more here

UK: Black Africans dying at much higher rate than white Britons

17:40 GMT – Denmark to allow reopening of entire retail sector from Monday

Danish shopping malls will be allowed to open again on Monday as the Nordic country enters its second phase of reopening after the coronavirus lockdown, the government has said.

Smaller stores have already reopened but the entire retail sector, including shopping malls, will be allowed to reopen from May 11, and restaurants and cafes one week later.

The result of negotiations with neighbouring countries about border controls and travel bans will be announced by June 1, the government said.

17:30 GMT – Massachusetts must allow gun retailers to reopen despite pandemic: judge

A federal judge ordered authorities in the US state of Massachusetts to allow gun shops to reopen after the governor deemed them non-essential businesses that needed to close to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

US District Judge Douglas Woodlock in Boston ruled that the restrictions ordered by Governor Charlie Baker in response to the pandemic imposed an “improper burden” on the constitutional rights of citizens seeking to possess firearms.

US graduate students face uncertain future amid COVID-19 crisis

17:20 GMT – Large number of cases among Afghan medics spark alarm in Kabul: Report

More than a third of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Afghan capital have been among doctors and other healthcare staff, two senior health officials have told Reuters news agency, in a sign that the war-torn country is struggling to deal with the pandemic.

The officials cited a lack of protective equipment for medics as well as a lack of awareness among some medical staff of the precautions needed to avoid infection.

However, it is not clear whether the apparently disproportionate rate of infection might be at least in part because medical staff are more likely to be tested for the illness.

The total of 925 confirmed cases in Kabul has included some 346 medical staff, a government health official and an Afghan doctor who is on the board of a government-led pandemic task force said. As of Thursday, 3,563 people have tested positive and 106 people have died from COVID-19 in Afghanistan, according to official figures.

Read more here

A health worker checks the body temperature of a devotee as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus before the Friday prayers in [Kabul Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

17:05 GMT – With record daily cases, Russia overtakes France and Germany

Russia now has the fifth most cases of the coronavirus in the world, surpassing the totals of France and Germany. 

Russia reported a record 11,231 new cases on Thursday, bringing its total to 177,160, the fourth highest in Europe and the fifth highest in the world. 

Moscow’s mayor has suggested there are three times as many cases in the capital city than official numbers reflect.

Coronavirus: Can Russia flatten the curve? | The Stream

17:00 Norway eyes reopening most of society by mid-June: PM

Norway aims to reopen by mid-June most of the public and private institutions that have been closed to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, Prime Minister Erna Solberg has said.

“Thanks to our common efforts since March, we have brought the contamination under control,” Solberg told a news conference. “We can therefore, over time, lighten the toughest measures.”

The Nordic country was one of the first in Europe to curb activities to rein in the spread of the novel coronavirus, on March 12, and to relax some restrictions once it got the outbreak under control, in late April.

16:50 GMT – Turkey death toll rises by 57 to 3,641

The number of people who have died from COVID-19 in Turkey has risen by 57 in the last 24 hours to 3,641, according to health ministry data.

The overall number of cases rose by 1,977 to 133,721, the data showed, the highest total outside Western Europe, the United States and Russia. The number of daily deaths and new cases has fallen sharply from peaks recorded last month.

Employees of Ankara Metropolitan Municipality youth center sew face masks in Ankara, Turkey [Adem Altan/AFP]

16:40 GMT – UK death toll rises 539 to 30,615

Britain’s COVID-19 death toll has risen by 539 to 30,615, according to figures announced by the foreign ministry.

The figures, collated by government agency Public Health England and equivalents in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, comprise deaths in all settings following positive coronavirus tests and cover the period up to 1600 GMT on Wednesday.

Another dataset published by Britain’s Office for National Statistics published on Tuesday showed a higher toll. This included deaths where coronavirus is mentioned on the death certificate, and the data is only published weekly.

Why is the mortality rate for covid-19 lower in some countries?

16:30 GMT – Easing British lockdown is ‘point of maximum risk’: Raab

Any easing of Britain’s lockdown represents a huge risk and could be stalled by an increase in infection rates, foreign minister Dominic Raab has said, warning that if social distancing lapsed, the virus would spread exponentially.

“The point at which we make even the smallest of changes to the current guidance will be a point of maximum risk. If people abandon the social distancing … the virus will grow again at an exponential rate,” Raab told a news conference.

16:20 GMT – Italy daily death toll falls, new cases stable

Deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy have climbed by 274, against 369 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the daily tally of new infections declined marginally to 1,401 from 1,444 on Wednesday.

The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on February 21 now stands at 29,958, the agency said, the third highest in the world after the US and Britain.

The number of confirmed cases amounts to 215,858, the third highest global tally behind the United States and Spain.

Pandemic fallout: Health experts warn of mental illness surge

16:10 GMT – Georgia to lift lockdown in Tbilisi on Monday

Georgia will lift its lockdown in the capital Tbilisi and allow shops to reopen on Monday as part of a gradual easing of coronavirus restrictions, Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia has said.

He told a televised cabinet meeting on Thursday that a lockdown imposed in another large city, Rustavi, would be lifted on May 14. The country would reopen to foreign tourists from July 1, with domestic tourism resuming from June 15.

Tbilisi, Rustavi, Batumi and Kutaisi were locked down on April 15, with bans on vehicles entering or leaving. Batumi and Kutaisi were released last week.

Georgia still has a state of emergency until May 22, which includes a night curfew, the closure of restaurants, cafes and most shops, the suspension of public transport and a ban on gatherings of more than three people. Grocery stores, pharmacies and petrol stations remain open.

Is China facing a global backlash against coronavirus? | Inside Story

16:00 GMT – Canada, provinces agree to boost wages of essential workers: Trudeau

Canada and the ten provinces have agreed to boost the pay of essential workers such as those working in seniors’ residences, where many coronavirus cases have occurred, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said.

Trudeau told a briefing that Ottawa would contribute C$4 billion, which he said represented 75  percent of the total cost. The provinces will be responsible for determining who is essential and how much they receive, he added.

A body is removed from Centre d’hebergement Yvon-Brunet, a seniors’ long-term care centre, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus in Montreal, Canada [Christinne Muschi/Reuters]

15:50 GMT – France to keep borders closed until at least June 15: Interior minister

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said that following the lifting of the coronavirus lockdown in France on May 11, the country’s borders would remain closed until further notice.

“Since the start of the crisis the closure of the borders is the rule, and the authorisation to cross a border is the exception. We have to keep this protection in place, this will not change soon,” Castaner told a televised news conference.

He said that the restrictions would remain in place until at least June 15.

Europe pandemic: Coronavirus restrictions eased in some countries

15:40 GMT – Kremlin says Trump offered to send medical aid to Russia

US President Donald Trump offered during a phone call with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to send medical aid to Moscow to help fight the coronavirus pandemic, the Kremlin has said.

In a readout of the phone call, the Kremlin said the two presidents had also discussed global oil markets, noting their support for last month’s output deal between OPEC and non-OPEC producers, something they said had helped stabilise oil prices.

15:30 GMT – Trump tests negative after report valet infected

US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have tested negative for coronavirus after finding out a member of the US military who worked on the White House campus had become infected, a White House spokesman has said.

The military official was identified by CNN as personal valet to Trump. 

US President Donald Trump has tested negative for coronavirus [Doug Mills/EPA]

15:20 GMT – Japan approves Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir

Japan has approved Gilead Sciences Inc’s remdesivir as a treatment for COVID-19, making it the country’s first officially authorised drug to tackle the coronavirus disease.

Japan reached the decision just three days after the US drugmaker filed for fast-track approval for the treatment.

“There has so far been no coronavirus medicine available here so it is a significant step for us to approve this drug,” a Japanese health ministry official said at a press briefing. Remdesivir will be give to patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms, he added.

With no other approved treatments for COVID-19, interest in the drug is growing around the world.

Where are we with a coronavirus vaccine? | Start Here

15:00 GMT – Belarus: Life as normal despite ravaging epidemic

Belarus, a country of about 9.5 million people where most live in urban centres, has been run by the same president, Alexander Lukashenko, since 1994, and is now grappling with one of Europe’s highest per capita coronavirus infection rates.

According to Johns Hopkins University data, there are at least 19,255 cases of the new coronavirus. 

COVID-19 has led to the deaths of at least 112 people in the country, but some experts say that many coronavirus-related fatalities are registered as cases of pneumonia.

Lukashenko, who is campaigning for the presidential election to be held by the end of August, has repeatedly played down the danger of the coronavirus, saying a lockdown would be ineffective, unjustified and bad for business and society.

Read more here

People enjoy the good weather by the lake, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, on the outskirts of Minsk, Belarus, on May 1, 2020 [Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters]

14:45 GMT – Paris region will end lockdown slower than rest of France: PM

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has said France would gradually end its lockdown from Monday, May 11, but some restrictions would remain in place in the Paris region where the new coronavirus is still circulating.

“From Monday we will progressively unwind the lockdown that started on March 17… but the country is cut in two, with the virus circulating more quickly in some regions, notably in the Ile de France region, which is very densely populated,” he said.

In other parts of France, secondary schools, cafes and restaurants may open from early June if the infection rate remains low.

French fishing industry: Fighting to survive lockdown

14:30 GMT – IMF approved $18 bn in 50 requests for emergency aid: Spokesman

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved requests for emergency pandemic aid from 50 of its 189 members for a total of about $18 bn, and is continuing to work quickly through the remaining 50-plus requests, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said.

The IMF’s executive board would consider a request from Egypt for both emergency financing and a stand-by lending arrangement on May 11, Rice told reporters during an online briefing.

Rice did not name all the countries that still have requests pending, but, in answer to questions, said the Fund’s staff were currently considering requests from Sri Lanka, South Africa and Zambia.

IMF says ‘worst recession since Great Depression’ is likely

14:20 GMT – No fans in Dutch stadiums until vaccine developed: Health minister

Sporting events in the Netherlands will have to take place without fans in attendance until there is a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge has said said.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Wednesday organised sport could resume from September 1, but de Jonge said mass gatherings would not be allowed until a vaccine had been developed.

“We cannot yet mention a date for the last step, the mass gatherings. That is actually only possible if there is a vaccine and no one knows how long it will take,” de Jonge wrote in a letter to the Dutch parliament. “We hope of course soon, but a year or more is very real.”

14:10 GMT – 33 million have sought US unemployment aid 

Nearly 3.2 million laid-off workers in the US applied for unemployment benefits last week as the business shutdowns caused by the viral outbreak deepened the worst economic catastrophe in decades.

Roughly 33.5 million people have now filed for jobless aid in the seven weeks since the coronavirus began forcing millions of companies to close their doors and slash their workforces. That is the equivalent of one in five Americans who had been employed back in February, when the unemployment rate had reached a 50-year low of just 3.5 percent.

The Labor Department’s report released on Thursday suggests that layoffs, while still breathtakingly high, are steadily declining after sharp spikes in late March and early April. Initial claims for unemployment aid have now fallen for five straight weeks, from a peak of nearly 6.9 million during the week that ended March 28.

14:00 GMT – Public Masses in Italy to resume May 18

Italy’s government and Roman Catholic bishops have signed an agreement to allow the faithful to attend Masses again from later this month, ending a standoff between the Church and state over the coronavirus lockdown.

The government banned attendance at Masses in early March, part of its prohibition on gatherings as it sought to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Many Catholics asserted that church services should have been permitted along with other essential activities such as food shopping.

With Thursday’s agreement, Masses for the public can resume on May 18 but under strict conditions outlined in a protocol signed by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, president of the Italian Bishops Conference.

Individual pastors will determine the maximum number of people who can fit in a church while staying at least a metre (yard) apart. If there is demand, additional Masses should be held, rather than allowing more people into the church for one service, the protocol says. The faithful will also have to wear masks in church. 

Priest Don Giuseppe leads a Mass to an empty church in San Fiorano in northern Italy [Marzio Toniolo/Reuters]

13:30 GMT –  Moscow lockdown measures extended till May 31: Mayor

Restrictions aimed at containing the spread of the novel coronavirus in Moscow have been extended until May 31, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has said in a blog post on his personal website.

Some measures in place since late March will be eased from May 12, he said, including the return to work for industrial and construction companies. But Sobyanin added it was still too early to reopen sports facilities, restaurants and theatres.

Moscow is the epicentre of Russia’s coronavirus crisis, with 92,676 of the country’s 177,160 cases, though Sobyanin said earlier the real number of cases in the capital was around 300,000.

Police officers wearing protective face masks speak in a street amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in Moscow [Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters]

13:15 GMT – UK’s 2020 Notting Hill Carnival cancelled 

London’s Notting Hill Carnival, an annual celebration lead by the city’s British West Indian population, will not take place on the streets in 2020, its board has announced. 

Instead, organisers said they were planning an alternate event that revelers will be able to participate in from home. 

“This has not been an easy decision to make, but the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic and the way in which it has unfolded means that this is the only safe option,” the board said in a statement. 

The carnival, which was first held in 1961, was meant to begin on August 30. 

__________________________________________________________

This is Joseph Stepansky in Doha taking over the live updates from my colleague Mersiha Gadzo.

___________________________________________________________

12:41 GMT – UK will announce very limited easing of lockdown: PM Johnson’s spokesman

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce a very limited easing of the UK’s lockdown next week because the government will not do anything to risk a second spike in COVID-19 cases, his spokesman said.

Johnson is scheduled to announce possible changes to social restrictions on Sunday following a review by ministers.

His spokesman told reporters that while the government understood the lockdown’s huge impact on the economy, it would be worse to ease the measures too soon.

12:40 GMT – Saudi Arabia forms police unit to enforce curbs on social gatherings

Saudi Arabia has formed a police unit to monitor violations of rules banning gatherings of more than five people imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the state news agency SPA said.

The kingdom had previously said such gatherings were prohibited and said on Thursday that those breaching the rules would be punished by law. It also encouraged people to report in breach of the restrictions.

12:37 GMT – Egypt extends nationwide nighttime curfew until end of Ramadan

Egypt extended a nationwide nighttime curfew until end of the holy month of Ramadan to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said.

12:28 GMT – Germany’s Bundesliga football league confirms return on May 16

The Bundesliga and second division will return from a suspension caused by the coronavirus outbreak on May 16, the German football league (DFL) said.

Football officials are hoping to restart the league without spectators in May [Martin Meissner/AP]

12:14 GMT – Cases in the Netherlands rise by 455 to 41,774

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Netherlands rose by 455 to 41,774, with 84 new deaths, health authorities said.

The country’s death toll stands at 5,288, the National Institute for Health (RIVM) said in its daily update.

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

12:07 GMT – Japan approves Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir as COVID-19 drug

Japan approved Gilead Sciences Inc’s remdesivir as a treatment for COVID-19, the health ministry said, making it the country’s first officially authorised drug for the disease.

Japan reached the decision just three days after the US drugmaker had filed for approval.

Remdesivir was granted authorisation last week by the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use for COVID-19.

An ampule of Remdesivir is pictured during a news conference at the University Hospital Eppendorf (UKE) in Hamburg, Germany [Ulrich Perrey/Reuters]

12:05 GMT – Putin warns global market rivalry rising amid pandemic

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that international rivalry on global markets was rising because of a fall in demand caused by the pandemic.

“Against the backdrop of falling global demand, the struggle for international markets for deliveries of fuel and raw material goods, food, and other products has intensified,” Putin said at a government meeting broadcast on state television.

12:00 GMT – Bangladesh cartoonist, writer charged for anti-government posts

A Bangladeshi cartoonist and a writer are among 11 people to be charged for posting content on social media critical of the government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Read about it here.

Police have arrested at least 40 people in recent weeks under the controversial law [Monirul Alam/EPA]

11:44 GMT – Coronavirus cases in Africa surpass 50,000

Africa reported more than 50,000 cases of coronavirus across the continent, according to the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

South Africa tops the list with almost 8,000 confirmed cases as the World Health Organization expresses worry of community spread in West Africa.

Read more here.

11:16 GMT – Malaysia reports 39 new cases

Malaysia confirmed 39 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 6,467 coronavirus infections.

The total number of coronavirus-related deaths stands at 107.

11:13 GMT – Africa disease control body rejects Tanzania assertion that tests are faulty

The head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) rejected an assertion by Tanzania’s president that his nation’s coronavirus tests are faulty and are giving too many false positives.

“The tests that Tanzania is using we know they are working very well,” Dr. John Nkengasong told journalists on a conference call.

The Africa CDC, along with the Jack Ma Foundation, a charity run by a Chinese billionaire, supplied the tests, Nkengasong said.

11:02 GMT – Mayor says Moscow’s real tally is more than triple the official

Moscow’s mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, said that the real number of cases in the Russian capital was actually around 300,000, a figure that is more than three times higher than the official total, the TASS news agency reported.

Authorities reported 92,676 cases in Moscow and 177,160 cases nationwide.

Coronavirus in Russia: Largest number of new daily cases in Europe

10:58 GMT – Pakistan to ease lockdown in phases from Saturday

Pakistan will ease its lockdown from Saturday, Prime Minister Imran Khan said, despite the fact that the number of cases in the country is still accelerating.

The decision is due to the country’s large number of poor people and labourers who cannot afford to live under lockdown any more, he said.

“We know that we’re doing it at a time when our curve is going up… but it is not edging up as we were expecting,” Khan said in a televised address.

Markets will be allowed to reopen five days a week, but all shops must close by 5pm every evening.

Public transportation remains suspended, as well as intercity travel.

10:53 GMT – Qatar records 918 new cases

Qatar reported 918 new coronavirus cases, raising the total number of cases to 16,592.

12 deaths have so far been recorded in the country.

09:55 GMT – Spain’s daily death toll falls again

Spain’s daily death toll fell to 213 from 244 the day before, the health ministry reported.

The total number of coronavirus deaths rose to 26,070, up from 25,857 on Wednesday. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases increased to 221,447 from 220,325 the previous day.

09:00 GMT – Black, Indian and Pakistani people more likely to die: UK stats

Black people and those of Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnicity have a significantly higher chance of dying from COVID-19 than white people, the British statistics office said.

“The risk of death involving the coronavirus among some ethnic groups is significantly higher than that of those of White ethnicity,” the Office for National Statistics said.

“Black males are 4.2 times more likely to die from a COVID-19-related death and Black females are 4.3 times more likely than White ethnicity males and females,” the ONS said.

“People of Bangladeshi and Pakistani, Indian, and Mixed ethnicities also had statistically significant raised risk of death involving COVID-19 compared with those of White ethnicity.”

Read more here.

08:50 GMT – Second coronavirus wave possible in Germany before autumn

A senior German health official warned there could be a second coronavirus wave before autumn depending on people’s behaviour, just as the country is opening up its economy again.

Case numbers are falling but this is not an all-clear signal, Lars Schaade, Vice President of the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases, said at a news conference.

Germany lockdown: Gradual reopening as virus cases taper off

08:42 GMT – Polish parliament supports law allowing election to be held by postal ballot

The Polish lower house of parliament, the Sejm, approved government-sponsored legislation that would allow the presidential election to resume by postal ballot, according to voting records.

The presidential election was scheduled to take place on Sunday. The ruling party wants to hold it by postal ballot due to the pandemic, a plan opposition parties strongly oppose, saying the election would not be transparent or fair.

Although lawmakers have now approved in principle a postal ballot, the deputy prime minister said earlier on Thursday that June was now the earliest date that the election could be held.

Read more about Poland’s presidential vote here.

08:40 GMT – Reproduction rate at 0.65 in Germany

The reproduction rate of the coronavirus in Germany is currently estimated at 0.65, the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases said.

The rate is one of the factors that are closely monitored when deciding on further loosening restrictions.

A rate of 0.65 means that 100 people who contracted the disease infect on average 65 more, meaning the number of new infections will decrease.

08:37 GMT – Japan’s emergency could be lifted early in some areas

Japan’s state of emergency could be lifted early in some areas of the country that have seen declines in new infections, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said.

Nishimura told a news conference it was possible the emergency would be lifted for some areas around May 14.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe extended the nationwide state of emergency until May 31.

Commuters wearing face masks cross a street by a railway station in Tokyo on May 7 [Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP]

08:00 GMT – China accuses Pompeo of telling lies over its handling of coronavirus

China accused US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of telling one lie to cover up another in his attacks against Beijing over the pandemic.

The remarks were made by Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, who reiterated that Beijing has been transparent about the outbreak that emerged in China late last year and that US politicians are making baseless accusations against China.

The US has accused Beijing of mishandling the outbreak.

Read more here.

US-China ties: White House says China covered up COVID-19 cases

07:55 GMT – Russia reports new record in daily rise of cases

Russia recorded 11,231 new coronavirus cases, a record daily rise that raised the case total to 177,160.

Russia’s coronavirus taskforce said 88 people died overnight, bringing the death toll to 1,625.

Moscow, the worst-hit area, also reported a record overnight case increase of 6,703 new cases.

Moscow’s mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that the case total was rising in Moscow because the amount of testing had stepped up.

07:50 GMT – China says it opposes US, others trying to politicise COVID-19

China said it supports World Health Organization efforts to investigate the origin of the pandemic, and opposes attempts by the US and some other countries to politicise the issue and attack Beijing.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, asked about US President Donald Trump’s comments comparing the outbreak to Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 attacks, said the enemy the US faced was the coronavirus and not China.

Read more about what Trump said here.

Trump claims coronavirus came from Wuhan lab

07:10 GMT – Singapore reports 741 new cases, taking total to 20,939

Singapore reported 741 new coronavirus cases, its health ministry said, bringing the total number of cases to 20,939.

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

06:50 GMT – Bank of England forecasts a real wakeup call: UK minister

Bank of England forecasts that the UK could be facing the biggest economic slump for 300 years are a “real wake up call”, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said.

In what it called an illustrative scenario, the BoE said it saw a plunge of 14 percent in UK’s economy in 2020 followed by 15 percent rebound in 2021.

Lewis also said the public should be cautious over media articles that the government’s stay at home message to curb the spread of the coronavirus would be significantly changed in a review of the lockdown over the next few days.

“I would just say to people to not get too carried away with what we may be reading and just wait until the government guidelines and the prime minister’s statement,” Lewis told BBC TV.

The Bank of England forecasts that the UK could be facing the biggest economic slump for 300 years [Hollie Adams/Getty Images]

06:30 GMT – Merkel’s chief of staff: Pandemic to last at least for rest of year

The pandemic will last for at least the rest of this year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff told Deutschlandfunk radio.

“We are not living after the pandemic now – rather we are living in the middle of a pandemic, one that will be with us for a while – at least for this year and that’s being very optimistic,” Helge Braun said.

Merkel announced steps on Wednesday to ease the lockdown in Germany but at the same time launched an “emergency brake” mechanism allowing for renewed restrictions in case infections pick up again.

06:00 GMT – Thailand records three new cases, no new deaths

Thailand reported three new coronavirus cases, bringing its total to 2,992, a senior official said.

Of the new cases, two were Thai men who had returned from Kazakhstan and have been in state quarantine, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman of the government’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration.

The third case was a 59-year-old Thai woman in the southern province of Yala, he said.

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Hi, this is Mersiha Gadzo in Doha taking over the live updates from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed.

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05:01 GMT – Poland postpones May 10 presidential election

Poland’s governing parties say they have agreed to postpone a presidential election on May 10 after it became clear the poll could not be held via a postal vote because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the governing Law and Justice (PiS), says: “The Speaker of Parliament will announce new presidential elections as soon as possible”.

Read more here.

04:46 GMT – UN appeals for $4.7bn more to fight pandemic

The United Nations is issuing a new appeal for $4.7bn in funding to “protect millions of lives and stem the spread of coronavirus in fragile countries”.

The money is on top of the $2bn the UN already called for when it launched its global humanitarian response plan on March 25. It has received about half of that money so far.

“The most devastating and destabilising effects” of the novel coronavirus pandemic “will be felt in the world’s poorest countries,” says UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock. “Extraordinary measures are needed.”

The full $6.7bn response plan prioritises some 20 countries, including Afghanistan, Syria, Liberia, Pakistan, the Philippines and Zimbabwe.

The funds are to be used to buy medical equipment to test and treat the sick, provide hand-washing stations, launch information campaigns and develop new programmes to better combat food insecurity.

04:23 GMT – New Zealand ‘could resume professional sport next week’

Grant Robertson, New Zealand’s sports minister says professional sport could resume as early as next week when authorities decide whether to ease coronavirus restrictions further.

“Moving to Alert Level 2 continues to expand the opportunities for sport and recreation and reintroduces the opportunity for competitive sport – both at a local and professional level,” Robertson says. “Obviously, the paramount concern is that a return to competitive sport is done safely.”

New Zealand Rugby says it is “thrilled” and has plans for 10 rounds of domestic games for the country’s five Super Rugby teams, who have been idle since the season was suspended in March.

03:45 GMT – Cases in India continue to surge despite strict lockdown

India’s health ministry says the number of coronavirus infections rose to 52,952 in India, up by 3,561 over the previous day, despite a strict weeks-long lockdown. The death toll is up by 89 to 1,783.

The spurt in cases has come from the densely packed metropolises of Mumbai, New Delhi and Ahmedabad which are also the growth engines of the economy.

Read about it here.

Meanwhile, health officials in the southern city of Chennai are rushing to contain a coronavirus outbreak in one of Asia’s largest fruit and vegetable markets.

So far, the Koyambedu market has been linked to more than 500 cases in several districts of Tamil Nadu state and the adjacent Kerala state. Over 7,000 people with connections to the market are being traced and quarantined, says J Radhakrishnan, the leader of Chennai’s response to the coronavirus.

03:11 GMT – US officials warn against ‘COVID-19 parties’

Officials in the US state of Washington are expressing concern over reports of people organising “COVID-19 parties” to intentionally spread the virus.

“Gathering in groups in the midst of this pandemic can be incredibly dangerous and puts people at increased risk for hospitalisation and even death,” warns John Wiesman, the state’s secretary of health.

“Furthermore, it is unknown if people who recover from COVID-19 have long-term protection,” he says. “There is still a lot we don’t know about this virus, including any long-term health issues which may occur after infection.”

Wiesman’s comments came after officials in the state’s Walla Walla County reported that some of the 94 cases in the region appear to have been intentionally spread or contracted at so-called “COVID-19 parties”. The aim of these gatherings is for non-infected people to mingle with an infected person in an effort to catch the virus.

02:53 GMT – Korean Air to resume some suspended flights in June

South Korea’s largest airline says it will resume some of its suspended flights to North America, Europe and Asia next month to expand cargo transport and prepare for a possible increase in travellers as countries ease their coronavirus restrictions.

Despite the increased flights, Korean Air says it will still be operating only 32 of its 110 international routes in June. They include the cities of Washington, DC, Seattle in the US, Vancouver and Toronto in Canada and Amsterdam and Frankfurt in Europe.

Flights to Singapore, Malaysia’s Kula Lumpur, Myanmar’s Yangon and Vietnam’s Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City will also resume.

02:47 GMT – US sees first death of detainee in immigration custody

US authorities say a 57-year-old man held in immigration custody in San Diego, California, has died from complications related to the coronavirus.

The death of Carlos Ernestor Escobar on Wednesday marks the first reported death from the virus among about 30,000 people held in immigration custody in the US.

Escobar, who his sister describes as “one-of-a-kind”, had been held at the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego and was hospitalised in late April.

Read more here

02:18 GMT – Bolsonaro’s spokesman tests positive for virus

Otavio Rego Barros, spokesman for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, has tested positive for the new coronavirus.

The 59-year-old former army general “is home following all recommended protocols” after his positive test result was confirmed on Tuesday, the president’s office says.

More than 20 top Bolsonaro officials have tested positive for the virus, including communications chief Fabio Wajngarten and National Security Minister Augusto Heleno. Bolsonaro himself says he tested negative.

In this file photo taken on April 11, 2019, Otavio Rego Barros, presidential spokesman speaks during a ceremony marking the first 100 days of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s government at Planalto Palace in Brasilia. He has tested positive for the coronavirus [File: AFP]

01:57 GMT – China reports 2 new coronavirus cases, both imported

China’s National Health Commission is reporting two new coronavirus cases on May 6.

Both were so-called imported cases involving travellers from overseas. The two cases from the day before were also imported.

China’s total number of coronavirus cases now stands at 82,885, while the death toll remains unchanged at 4,633.

01:39 GMT – All children’s activities back to normal in Iceland

Iceland is further easing coronavirus-related restrictions, allowing gatherings of up to 50 people and letting all children’s activities to return to normal.

“It is extremely important to remain vigilant and minimise the risk of a renewed outbreak. If we see any signs of a re-emerging of the virus, we will be prepared to implement appropriate measures to extinguish any localised infection clusters,” says Thorolfur Gudnason, its chief epidemiologist.

01:29 GMT – Pandemic is pushing up price of illegal drugs, UN says

Coronavirus-related border controls, lockdowns and flight shortages are making illegal drugs more expensive and difficult to obtain around the world, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

“Many countries across all regions have reported an overall shortage of numerous types of drugs at the retail level, as well as increases in prices, reductions in purity and that drug users have consequently been switching substance (for example, from heroin to synthetic opioids) and/or increasingly accessing drug treatment,”  the UNODC says in a new report.

01:17 GMT – Amazon indigenous groups launch fund to fight coronavirus

Indigenous groups from nine countries in the Amazon basin are calling for donations to help protect three million rainforest inhabitants who are vulnerable to the spread of the novel coronavirus because they lack adequate access to healthcare.

They say the failure of regional governments to consider the needs of indigenous people in their plans for curbing the pandemic makes it imperative to find other funding to buy food, medicine and basic protective equipment such as masks.

Satere-mawe indigenous people are seen using a smartphone to contact a doctor in Sao Paulo state to receive medical guidance amid the COVID-19 pandemic at the Sahu-Ape community, near Manaus, Amazonas State, Brazil, on May 5, 2020 [Ricardo Oliveira/ AFP]

The Amazon Emergency Fund aims to raise $3m in the next two weeks and $5m over 60 days, say its organizers at the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon Basin (COICA).

“We cannot wait any longer for our governments … We are in danger of extinction,” says Jose Gregorio Diaz Mirabal, general coordinator of COICA and a member of the Wakuenai Kurripaco people of Venezuela.

The coronavirus has already infected 180 of the 600 indigenous tribes of the Amazon basin and killed 33 of their members in a single month, he says.

00:48 GMT – UK study finds higher risk of virus deaths for ethnic minorities

The risk of dying from coronavirus is “two to three times higher” for the UK’s black and minority ethnic communities, according to an academic analysis of health service data.

The study, by University College London (UCL), finds the average risk of death for people of Pakistani heritage is 3.29 times higher, for a black African background it is 3.24 times higher and 2.41 times higher for Bangladeshi.

Black Caribbean communities are 2.21 times more at risk, and Indian groups 1.7 times.

In contrast, the researchers find a lower fatality risk for white populations in England.

“Rather than being an equaliser, this work shows that mortality with COVID-19 is disproportionately higher in black, Asian and minority ethnic groups,” says UCL’s Dr Delan Devakumar, the study’s co-author.

“It is essential to tackle the underlying social and economic risk factors and barriers to healthcare that lead to these unjust deaths.”

00:24 GMT – El Salvador to suspend public transport for 15 days

El Salvador will temporarily suspend public transport from Thursday onwards in a bid to strengthen efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The measure will remain in place for 15 days, a government decree says.

El Salvador, which has reported 15 deaths from the pandemic, has applied some of the toughest measures in the Americas to tackle the coronavirus.

00:07 GMT – Brazil hits new daily record for novel coronavirus cases, deaths

Brazil, one of the world’s emerging coronavirus hot spots, is reporting a record number of cases and deaths with the health minister flagging the possibility of strict lockdowns in particularly hard-hit areas.

Official figures show 10,503 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the last 24 hours, well above the previous record of 7,288 cases on April 30. There are 615 deaths, up from the previous record of 600 on Tuesday.

Health Minister Nelson Teich tells reporters for the first time that an increasing number of local authorities may have to institute “lockdowns,” as the coronavirus growth curve does not appear to be flattening. He is not naming any specific cities or states.

While authorities have ordered non-essential services and businesses closed in most states, residents are still allowed to circulate. A lockdown, which so far has only been implemented in the city of Sao Luis in the country’s northeast, prohibits people from leaving their homes except for certain necessary activities.

Still, Teich says, some areas of the country that had not borne the brunt of the pandemic may be able to consider gradually opening up.

Teich’s comments stand in stark contrast to comments over the past two months from President Jair Bolsonaro, who has called the virus a “little flu” and criticised business shutdowns ordered by governors as more damaging to the country’s economy than the virus itself.

Teich took office last month as virus cases started surging in Brazil. He pledged to save lives and the economy and said at the time that he and Bolsonaro saw eye to eye.


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives. 

For key developments from yesterday, May 6, go here

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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