S Korea reports no new domestic coronavirus cases: Live updates | News
The United States economy has taken its hardest hit since the height of the Great Recession, with its gross domestic product (GDP) contracting 4.8 percent in the first quarter of the year. Meanwhile, the Eurozone’s economy shrunk by 3.8 percent in the first quarter.
The chief of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, defended the body’s record in its response to the new coronavirus, saying it has acted “quickly and decisively” since the beginning.
Worldwide, the number of confirmed infections stood at 3.1 million, with more than 224,600 deaths and 957,000 recoveries.
- US health expert Anthony Fauci welcomed the news that experimental antiviral drug remdesivir helped improve outcomes for COVID-19 patients during a clinical trial by Gilead Sciences Inc.
Here are the latest updates:
Thursday, April 30
12:15 GMT – Japan unlikely to lift virus state of emergency next week: Abe
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said it will be “hard” to lift a nationwide state of emergency imposed over the coronavirus next week as local media reported he plans for an extension, possibly by another month.
The measure was initially declared on April 7 across seven regions experiencing a spike in infections, but was later expanded to cover the entire country.
With the original month-long period coming to an end next week after the country’s annual Golden Week holidays, local media reported that Abe was now expected to extend the measure, either until the end of May or for another full month until June 6.
“Considering the burden carried by medical officials, I recognise the present situation as very severe,” Abe told reporters. “It’s hard to return to the days of the past, starting on May 7.”
12:00 GMT – Germany to reopen religious institutions: Govt source
Germany is poised to reopen churches, mosques and synagogues for religious services, but under stringent conditions to prevent transmission of the novel coronavirus, a government source told AFP news agency Thursday.
The number of participants will be limited and attendees will have to keep a distance from each other, according to a plan to be approved by Chancellor Angela Merkel and premiers of Germany’s 16 states when they hold a conference later on Thursday.
Germany eases virus restrictions as small businesses open
11:45 GMT – Ireland to consider easing restrictions every 2-4 weeks, PM says
Ireland’s roadmap for gradually easing coronavirus restrictions will lay out how any changes will be made every two to four weeks, but the government will intervene earlier if things go off track, Acting Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has said.
Varadkar listed five criteria to be considered each time a change is considered: the progress of the disease, healthcare capacity and resilience, testing and contact tracing capacity, the ability to shield at-risk groups, and the risk of secondary morbidity and mortality due to the restrictions themselves.
“The easement of the current restrictions will be slow and gradual. The lifting will not necessarily mirror the manner in which they were escalated,” Varadkar told parliament, adding that the plan was due to be completed on Friday.
11:30 GMT – Europe flooded with cocaine despite trade disruptions
Latin American drug lords have sent bumper shipments of cocaine to Europe in recent weeks, including one in a cargo of squid, even though the coronavirus epidemic has stifled legitimate transatlantic trade, senior anti-narcotics officials told Reuters news agency.
The illegal drugs industry has been disrupted by the virus, with international supply chains busted and millions of customers on lockdown.
But drug kingpins have risen to the challenge, packing huge loads of cocaine into the fewer container ships and commercial airplanes in circulation in a sign they were ready to take higher risks to deliver their wares.
“Based on seizures of bigger-than-usual shipments of cocaine, it would be fair to say that Europe was flooded with cocaine ahead of lockdowns,” Bob Van Den Berghe, senior law enforcement officer at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), told Reuters.
Syria: Al-Assad accused of disrupting medical supplies
11:15 GMT – Swedish town uses chicken manure to help stop gathering
A town in southern Sweden has turned to a traditional source to try to prevent the coronavirus spreading during an annual festive event – chicken manure.
The university town of Lund began spreading chicken droppings in its central park to put off would-be revellers who would usually come on April 30 to celebrate Walpurgis Night.
The occasion, marking the shift away from dark, chilly winter days towards brighter spring and summer days, is typically celebrated with picnics, parties and bonfires across the country, and regularly attracts thousands of students.
“This is a park where usually 30,000 people gather, but with COVID-19 this is now unthinkable,” the town’s mayor, Philip Sandberg, told Reuters news agency. “We don’t want Lund to become an epicentre for the spread of the disease.”
Sweden response to coronavirus outbreak divides opinion
11:00 GMT – Iran virus death toll surges past 6,000: ministry
Iran’s health ministry has said that 71 new fatalities from the novel coronavirus took the country’s overall death toll past the 6,000 mark.
“The number of deaths from this disease effectively crossed 6,000 today,” ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said in televised remarks.
“Considering that we lost 71 of our countrymen in the past 24 hours, a total of 6,028 of those infected with COVID-19 have passed away to date,” he added.
10:50 GMT – Tajikistan confirms first cases
Tajikistan has confirmed its first 15 coronavirus cases, the Central Asian nation’s Healthcare Ministry has said.
Five cases have been confirmed in the capital city of Dushanbe and 10 more in the Sughd province which borders Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, the ministry said.
10:40 GMT – European lockdowns ‘could avert 11,300 air pollution deaths’
Improved air quality in Europe due to lockdowns to combat the coronavirus pandemic has delivered health benefits equivalent to avoiding 11,300 premature deaths, according to a study published on Thursday.
Researchers extrapolated the likely impact on diseases caused or made worse by air pollution, which has fallen dramatically as hundreds of millions of people have stayed at home over the past month.
“You could compare it to everyone in Europe stopping smoking for a month,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst at the Helsinki-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), which conducted the study.
“Our analysis highlights the tremendous benefits for public health and quality of life that could be achieved by rapidly reducing fossil fuels in a sustained and sustainable way.”
Read more here.
10:20 GMT – Keeping faith under the lockdown?
Much like our daily routines, religious and cultural rituals have been derailed by the coronavirus pandemic.
A global ban on gatherings has meant that holidays like Passover, Easter and Vaisakhi are being celebrated in isolation. The same is happening for Muslims observing Ramadan and Eid.
Even those who are not religious are having to adapt for birthdays, weddings, even the way we mourn the dead.
Start Here explains how centuries of religious and cultural practices have change.
How do we keep the faith under lockdown? | Start Here
10:10 GMT – Qatar produces new artificial respirators
Qatar has started manufacturing artificial respiratory machines in order to cover the requirements of the health sector domestically and internationally, in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
On Wednesday, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani visited the Barzan Holding Company, which is affiliated to the defence ministry, and was briefed on the production lines for manufacturing the Savr-Q ventilators.
Read more here.
09:55 GMT – Indonesia says infections rise above 10,000
Indonesia has confirmed 347 new coronavirus infections, taking the total in the Southeast Asian country above 10,000 for the first time with 10,118 infections, health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said.
Yurianto reported eight new deaths, taking the total of fatalities to 792, while 1,522 have recovered.More than 72,300 people have been tested.
Afghanistan forced to release prisoners as healthcare collapses
09:40 GMT – Malaysia reports 57 new cases with two new deaths
Malaysian health authorities have reported 57 new coronavirus cases, raising the cumulative total to 6,002 cases.
The health ministry also reported two new deaths, bringing the total fatalities to 102.
09:35 GMT – Italy PM Conte says to ease lockdown on basis of local conditions
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he will gradually relax the country’s coronavirus lockdown taking into account differences in contagion levels in different parts of the country.
In a speech to parliament, Conte said a new stimulus package to support the economy, due to be presented in a few days, would include $16.3 billion for companies and 25 billion directly for payroll workers and the self-employed.
The lockdown imposed on March 9 will be gradually rolled back from May 4 and agreed with local authorities “taking account of the regions where the epidemiological situation is less severe,” Conte told the lower house of parliament.
However, the prime minister warned regions not to ease restrictions unilaterally, without consultations.
09:25 GMT – Spain daily death toll falls to lowest tally in nearly six weeks
The number of fatalities related to the novel coronavirus recorded overnight in Spain fell to 268, the lowest tally in nearly six weeks, the country’s health ministry has said.
The overall death toll rose to 24,543 on Thursday up from 24,275 on the previous day, the ministry said. The number of cases registered in the country rose to 213,435 from 212,917 the day before.
09:20 GMT – Eurozone economy shrinks 3.8 percent as restrictions take toll
The eurozone economy shrank by 3.8 percent in the first quarter of the year as coronavirus lockdown measures began to bite, official data has shown.
Across the EU, gross domestic product contracted by 3.5 percent in the first major indication of the economic devastation facing the bloc as a result of the pandemic.
The European single currency area also saw a slowdown in inflation to 0.4 percent in April, driven by a collapse in energy prices.
UK farmers forced to throw away fresh produce
09:15 GMT – Czechs gov’t says spread contained, plans to carefully reopen
The spread of the novel coronavirus has been contained in the Czech Republic and the government will continue to cautiously open up the economy, Health Minister Adam Vojtech said on Thursday.
The country has seen the number of new cases drop below 100 for the past eight consecutive days, and the number of active cases has also been on the decline.The ministry said the reproduction rate of the virus has dropped to 0.7, which means every newly infected person passes the infection to less than one other person.
The positive developments have prompted the government to start reopening shops and services as well as non-urgent medical care as doctors fear the impact of neglect in standard care.
“So far we do not see a negative trend resulting from previous relaxations,” Vojtech told a televised news conference.”We will proceed with caution, gradually in the upcoming waves, and I believe we are on a good path.”
09:10 GMT – Spanish economy shrinks by 4.1 percent in first quarter
The Spanish economy shrank by 4.1 percent in the first quarter compared to the same period last year, showing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Official statistics released on Thursday showed that compared to the last quarter of 2019, Spain’s GDP had shrunk by 5.2 per cent in the January-to-March period.
Spain – Europe’s fourth biggest economy – imposed some of the strictest lockdown measures of any country in order to slow the outbreak of the novel coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease it causes.
08:55 GMT – Hungarian schools to remain closed until end of May: Gov’t
Schools in Hungary will remain closed until the end of May and events with more than 500 participants cannot be held until Aug. 15, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff Gergely Gulyas has said.
Orban announced on Wednesday that some restrictions outside Budapest imposed to contain the coronavirus outbreak will be lifted starting next week.
Existing restrictions will continue for now in the capital, which has reported the highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths.
Hungary’s PM Orban gets sweeping powers to tackle coronavirus
08:45 GMT – UK ‘Colonel’ Tom’s fundraising exceeds $37 million
The total raised by Britain’s “Colonel” Tom Moore for health service charities has exceeded $37 million veteran’s 100th birthday on Thursday.
Moore captured the hearts of a nation during the COVID-19 pandemic by walking 100 laps of his garden to raise money to support frontline health workers.
100 laps before he turns 100: How to raise $25m for the NHS
08:35 GMT – Philippines reports 276 new cases, 10 more deaths
The Philippines has reported 276 new coronavirus infections and 10 more deaths, bringing its total number of cases to 8,488 and fatalities to 568.
It also said 20 more individuals have recovered, bringing total recoveries to 1,043.
08:25 GMT – German jobless total soars in April: Official data
The jobless total in Germany leaped by 13.2 percent in a single month to more than 2.6 million in April, official data has shown, highlighting the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on Europe’s top economy.
In seasonally adjusted terms, the unemployment rate jumped from 5.0 percent to 5.8 percent, the BA federal labour agency said, while some 750,000 companies applied to place 10.1 million workers on government-funded shorter hours schemes.
EU leaders agree to unite on economic recovery
08:15 GMT – Pharma company CEO says they’ll know if Oxford’s vaccine works in June or July
The chief executive of British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said it will know by June or July whether a coronavirus vaccine it is working on with the University of Oxford will be effective or not.
“By June, July we will already have a very good idea of the direction of travel in terms of its potential efficacy,” CEO Pascal Soriot told BBC radio on Thursday.
“We’ll continue working with the Oxford Vaccine Unit to bring it to patients and to regulatory authorities first of all as soon as possible,” he added.
COVID-19 vaccine trials starting in UK
08:00 GMT – Pakistan register highest single-day rise in cases for second day
Coronavirus cases in Pakistan have risen by 874, the highest single day increase, for the second consecutive day, to 15,759 cases countrywide, according to government data
New deaths from COVID-19 rose by 19 to a total 346, with 4,052 patients having recovered since the start of the country’s outbreak in late February.
07:50 GMT – Russia case tally passes 100,000 with record daily rise
Russia has reported 7,099 new cases of the novel coronavirus, a record daily rise, bringing its nationwide tally to 106,498.
The official nationwide death toll rose to 1,073 after 101 people with the virus died in the last 24 hours, Russia’s coronavirus crisis response centre said.
07:40 GMT – Singapore reports 528 new cases, taking total to 16,169
Singapore has confirmed 528 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, its Health Hinistry said, taking the city-state’s total cases to 16,169.
Singapore has so far reported the most cases in South East Asia.
HRW: COVID-19 lockdown violators in Philippines abused
07:25 GMT – Germany social distancing will ‘certainly’ be extended until May 10: Merkel aide
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff said on Thursday that social distancing measures in Europe’s largest economy would “certainly” be extended until May 10 for the time being.
Helge Braun told broadcaster n-tv a larger discussion about further steps to ease the lockdown would happen on May 6. Some shops have already reopened.
07:15 GMT – Britain releases 40 of 4,000 prisoners identified for early release
Britain has released 40 of a possible 4,000 prisoners that were identified for early release, after the government got a better control on the spread of the coronavirus in prisons, Justice Minister Robert Buckland said on Thursday.
“The picture is a much better one than presented itself to me even a month ago,” he told Sky News on Thursday.
07:00 GMT – Yemen reports first two deaths
Yemen has reported its first two deaths from the novel coronavirus, its health minister told Yemen TV late on Wednesday.
Yemeni authorities also reported five confirmed cases of the coronavirus, the first time the war-torn country has reported multiple cases.
The United Nations has said it fears the disease could be spreading undetected in a country where millions face famine and lack medical care.
Read more here.
06:45 GMT – Britain could miss COVID-19 testing target, minister says
The UK could miss its target of carrying out 100,000 coronavirus tests a day by the end of April, Justice Minister Robert Buckland has said.
Some 52,429 tests were carried out on Wednesday, according to the latest figures, putting Britain on course to miss the target set by the health minister.
“Even if it isn’t met, we are well on our way to ramping this up,” Buckland told the BBC.
Britain now has Europe’s second-highest COVID-19 death toll
06:30 GMT – Ukraine crosses 10,000 cases
Ukraine now has 10,406 confirmed coronavirus cases and 261 deaths, Health Minister Maksym Stepanov has told a briefing.
The government has put lockdown measures in place until May 11 and has said it expects the pandemic to peak in Ukraine early next month.
06:15 GMT – California likely to announce closure of state’s beaches and parks
California Governor Gavin Newsom is likely to announce on Thursday the closure of the state’s beaches and parks after crowds jammed beaches last weekend, according to a memo cited by local media, amid concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
The memo was sent by the governor’s office to California’s police chiefs, local media reported. Newsom’s office did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment late on Wednesday.
“After the well-publicized media coverage of overcrowded beaches this past weekend, in violation of Governor Newsom’s Shelter in Place Order, the Governor will be announcing tomorrow that ALL beaches and all state parks in California will be closed, effective Friday, May 1st,” according to the memo posted by the FOX 11 Los Angeles channel.
06:00 GMT – Activist Thunberg helps launch effort to protect children
Teen climate-change fighter Greta Thunberg aimed her activism at the coronavirus on Thursday, helping launch a campaign with the United Nations to help protect children from the pandemic with the purchase of soap, masks and gloves.
Thunberg used funds she has raised to combat climate change to donate $200,000 to the U.N.’s children’s agency, UNICEF, as did the Danish anti-poverty group Human Act to kick off the campaign, UNICEF announced.
“Like the climate crisis, the coronavirus pandemic is a child-rights crisis,” Thunberg said in a statement.”It will affect all children, now and in the long-term, but vulnerable groups will be impacted the most.”
Proceeds from the campaign will be used to provide children with soap, masks, gloves and hygiene supplies, according to UNICEF.
05:30 GMT – Thailand reports 7 new cases, no new deaths
Thailand has reported seven new coronavirus cases but no new deaths, taking its tally to 2,954 cases while fatalities remained at 54 since the outbreak began in January.
New daily infections have stayed in the single digits for four consecutive days.
Nearly 91 percent of patients have recovered and gone home, leaving 213 still in the hospital, according to Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman of the government’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration
04:52 GMT – Sri Lanka to reimpose full nationwide curfew
Sri Lanka’s government reimposed a 24-hour curfew across the Indian Ocean island nation after a recent resurgence of coronavirus cases.
Sri Lanka has reported 630 COVID-19 patients including seven deaths. Of the total, 308 cases were reported after April 22 and many of them were navy sailors or their close contacts.
The virus is believed to have entered a navy camp after sailors were deployed to search for a group of people who had contact with a COVID-19 patient and were evading quarantine.
Authorities isolated the camp and took the necessary steps to quarantine about 4,000 troops there after infections rose.
The blanket curfew will resume at 8pm. It was originally imposed on March 20 but had been eased in recent days for about two-thirds of the country. The capital, Colombo, is among the districts considered high-risk and its 24-hour curfew was never eased.
04:03 GMT – UN urges countries to avert ‘hunger catastrophe’ for millions of children
The World Food Programme and the United Nations children’s agency have urged governments to shore up the futures of the 370 million children worldwide who depend on school meals.
“For millions of children around the world, the meal they get at school is the only meal they get in a day. Without it, they go hungry, they risk falling sick, dropping out of school and losing their best chance of escaping poverty,” said David Beasley, the WFP Executive Director.
“We must act now to prevent the health pandemic from becoming a hunger catastrophe and to ensure that no one is left behind.”
During #COVID19 school closures, the world’s most vulnerable children are missing out on more than education.
For millions of children in fragile countries, school is a place of safety🏚️, the promise of a daily meal🍛, as well as access to 🩹💉health and nutrition. pic.twitter.com/cb9ylakSnZ
— World Food Programme (@WFP) April 29, 2020
03:39 GMT – Maldives reports its first coronavirus death
Health authorities in the Maldives have said an 83-year-old woman died in the country’s capital, Male, after contracting the new coronavirus.
The death on Wednesday was the island nation’s first reported death from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus. The Maldives has recorded 280 cases, of which the majority are among the country’s migrant labour force.
03:15 GMT – IMF approves $650m in aid to Dominican Republic
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved $650m in emergency assistance to the Dominican Republic to combat the effect of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The pandemic has significantly weakened the country’s macroeconomic outlook for 2020 and created financing needs that require additional support,” the IMF said in a statement.
The money will be used to finance increased healthcare spending and to provide assistance to the most vulnerable.
02:57 GMT – China reports four new coronavirus cases
Health authorities in China have reported four new cases of COVID-19 at the end of Wednesday. All were imported.
The figure brings the total number of imported cases in the mainland to 1,664 and takes the country’s tally to 82,862.
02:45 GMT – First batch of Hong Kong residents stranded in Pakistan to return home
The first batch of Hong Kong people stranded in Pakistan due to coronavirus-related border closures are due to depart Islamabad on a chartered flight today, says the government of Hong Kong.
Upon their arrival in Hong Kong, the 300 returnees will be tested for COVID-19 and will have to undergo 14 days of quarantine. There are about 1,600 Hong Kong residents stranded in Pakistan right now, according to the territory’s government.
02:32 GMT – US threats ‘could block affordable COVID-19 drugs’
Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF) criticised the US government for threatening trade sanctions against countries it believes are not adequately protecting intellectual property policies in the pharmaceutical sector.
The move by the US Trade Representative (USTR) could block the targeted countries from making affordable drugs to treat the coronavirus, the humanitarian group said.
The countries listed in the USTR’s Special 301 Report include India, Brazil, China, Chile and Canada.
“At a time when governments across the globe are struggling to provide adequate healthcare, it is ludicrous that the USTR is continuing to aid pharmaceutical corporations to profit from the abuse of intellectual property,” said Leena Menghaney, head of South Asia for MSF’s Access Campaign.
“It is a matter of concern that the US government is going after countries in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic for encouraging generic competition and price-lowering mechanisms to ensure access to medicines.”
01:41 GMT – South Korea reports no new domestic coronavirus cases
Health authorities in South Korea have said they recorded no new domestic cases of coronavirus infections at the end of Wednesday, a first for the country since its outbreak began to worsen in February.
However, there were four new imported cases, said the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The figure takes the national tally to 10,765. The death toll is up by one to 247.
01:01 GMT – European lockdowns could avert 11,300 air pollution deaths
Improved air quality in Europe due to lockdowns to combat the coronavirus pandemic has delivered health benefits equivalent to avoiding 11,300 premature deaths, according to research published on Thursday.
Researchers extrapolated the likely effect on diseases caused or made worse by air pollution, which have fallen dramatically as hundreds of millions of people have been forced to stay home over the past month.
“You could compare it to everyone in Europe stopping smoking for a month,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst at the Helsinki-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, which conducted the study.
“Our analysis highlights the tremendous benefits for public health and quality of life that could be achieved by rapidly reducing fossil fuels in a sustained and sustainable way.”
00:33 GMT – Cities face 100 million ‘new poor’ in post-pandemic world
About 100 million people living in cities worldwide will likely fall into poverty due to the coronavirus pandemic, experts have said, calling for mapping tools to identify vulnerable communities and investment focusing on slum areas.
“Within cities, we need to focus on those who need help the most, the poor and the vulnerable have been very seriously affected,” says Sameh Wahba, global director for the World Bank’s urban, disaster risk management, resilience and land global practice.
“Our estimate is that there will be possibly upward of a 100 million so-called ‘new poor’ on account of loses of jobs and livelihoods and income,” Wahba told a webinar with members of the media.
Without data, government food and financial aid is not reaching slum areas where about one billion people live worldwide, added activist Sheela Patel.
00:26 GMT – UK to test 100,000 people to check coronavirus spread
The United Kingdom’s health ministry has said it plans to test a randomly chosen group of 100,000 people for the new coronavirus as part of its efforts to understand infection rates better before loosening restrictions on the public.
The tests to see if people are currently infected with the respiratory disease will be led by London’s Imperial College and polling company Ipsos MORI. The chosen people will be sent self-testing kits to see if they are infected.
The UK’s government is due to review next week whether to relax a nationwide lockdown brought in on March 23 to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which has so far killed more than 26,000 people in the UK.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives. You can find all the key developments from yesterday, April 29, here.