Read the latest on the spread of the novel coronavirus around the world here
08 May, 2020, 03:15 pm
Last modified: 08 May, 2020, 10:30 pm
Men and women wearing protective gears and face masks prepare to sanitize at the centre of La Paz, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in La Paz, Bolivia, April 2, 2020. REUTERS/Manuel Claure
May, 8 2020 - 10:29 PM
Italy tops 30,000 coronavirus deaths, new cases edge down
Italy on Friday became the third country in the world to record 30,000 deaths from the coronavirus, reporting 243 new fatalities compared with a daily tally of 274 the day before.
Italy's total death toll from Covid-19 since its outbreak came to light on Feb. 21 now stands at 30,201, the Civil Protection Agency said. Only the United States and Britain have seen more deaths from the virus.
The daily number of new infections fell slightly to 1,327 from 1,401 on Thursday, taking the total of confirmed cases since the epidemic began to 217,185, the third highest global tally behind those of the United States and Spain.
May, 8 2020 - 10:21 PM
French finance minister says Eurogroup has reached 240 billion euro deal
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Friday that euro zone finance ministers had reached an agreement on a 240 billion euro(210.27 billion pounds) treasury line to support countries hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Two European officials had said earlier that the finance ministers had agreed on Friday to offer cheap credit lines that can be tapped until the end of 2022 by countries struggling in the wake of the pandemic.
The credit line of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the EU rescue fund, will be operational on June 1, Le Maire said on Twitter.
May, 8 2020 - 10:01 PM
After historic job losses from virus, Americans begin heading back to work
The coronavirus pandemic triggered the steepest monthly loss of American jobs since the Great Depression, the US government said on Friday, while Michigan and California prepared to put people back to work to end weeks of a manufacturing shutdown.
The dismal Labor Department report for April underscored the urgency facing the country as it seeks to revive business and social life. At least 40 of the 50 states are taking steps to lift stay-at-home restrictions on all but essential businesses.
Two manufacturing powerhouses, Michigan and California, outlined plans on Thursday to allow their industrial companies to begin reopening over the next few days.
The closely watched monthly report showed the unemployment rate surging to 14.7 percent last month, the steepest loss since the Great Depression some 90 years ago and shattering the post-World War Two record of 10.8 percent touched in November 1982.
Plastic shields in place, Dutch schools to reopen amid coronavirus
At the Springplank school in the Dutch city of Den Bosch, staff have installed plastic shields around students’ desks and disinfectant gel dispensers at the doorways as part of preparations to reopen amid the country’s coronavirus outbreak.
New infections in the Netherlands have been declining for weeks, and the government on Wednesday announced a schedule to relax some of its lockdown measures, with elementary schools to reopen on May 11.
“Our teachers are not worried. We have flexible screens that we bought so we can protect our teachers if students are coughing,” said Rascha van der Sluijs, the school’s technical coordinator.
Though schools have been closed since March 14, many including the Springplank have remained open with skeleton staff for a handful of students whose parents work in essential sectors such as healthcare. Most have been taking classes online.
May, 8 2020 - 09:12 PM
Stop! French philosopher Latour urges no return to pre-lockdown normal
What if rather than hurrying back to a pre-lockdown “business as usual” to revive economies hammered by the coronavirus pandemic, countries built a new normal where the fight against climate change was paramount?
French philosopher Bruno Latour, a life-long environmental activist, is advocating just this, inviting people to resist a return to the old ways as governments ease restrictions.
Latour, 72, says the pandemic has unexpectedly showed it is possible to shut down global economic activity, despite leaders saying for decades that the train of progress could not be stopped.
Yemen reports nine new coronavirus cases in Aden, two more deaths
Yemen on Friday reported nine new coronavirus cases in Aden, the interim headquarters of the government, including one death, and said a second person infected in the southern province of Lahaj had died.
This takes the total count in areas under control of the internationally recognised government to 34 infections with seven deaths.
May, 8 2020 - 08:20 PM
Portugal's exports and imports slump in March as pandemic bites
Portugal’s exports fell by 13 percent in March after a near 1 percent rise the previous month as the coronavirus crisis shut down large parts of the economy, data from the National Statistics Institute (INE) showed on Friday.
The pandemic is set to leave long-lasting scars on Portugal’s economy which was propelled back to growth by exports and booming tourism after the 2010-14 economic and debt crisis.
The INE said the steep drop was mainly caused by a 33.5 percent slump in exports of cars and auto parts to two of the country’s main markets, Spain and France. The food and beverages sector was the only one to post an increase in exports, of nearly 4%.
Still, the country’s trade deficit shrank by nearly 9 percent from the same month a year ago to 1.586 billion euros ($1.72 billion), as imports also fell by nearly 12 percent, the INE said.
May, 8 2020 - 07:54 PM
Spanish cat tests positive for coronavirus
A cat belonging to a family in the Spanish region of Catalonia tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the professor who conducted an autopsy on the pet said on Friday.
It did not die from the virus, however, but from a pre-existing respitory condition fairly common among cats, said Professor Joaquim Segales of Catalonia’s Animal Health Research Centre.
The cat, named Negrito, was the sixth feline to be detected with the disease globally. It belonged to a household in the Barcelona area where several family members had caught the virus. It was tested for the infection in a post-mortem on April 22 and found to have a low charge.
“The vet who euthanised the cat realised that the animal presented a very grave respiratory pathology and feared it might suffer from Covid-19,” Segales said.
May, 8 2020 - 07:24 PM
Coronavirus deals US job losses of 20.5 million, historic unemployment rate in April
The US economy lost a staggering 20.5 million jobs in April, the steepest plunge in payrolls since the Great Depression and the starkest sign yet of how the novel coronavirus pandemic is battering the world's biggest economy.
The Labor Department's closely watched monthly employment report on Friday also showed the unemployment rate surging to 14.7 percent last month, shattering the post-World War Two record of 10.8 percent touched in November 1982.
The bleak numbers strengthen analysts' expectations of a slow recovery from the recession caused by the pandemic, adding to a pile of dismal data on consumer spending, business investment, trade, productivity and the housing market. The report underscores the devastation unleashed by lockdowns imposed by states and local governments in mid-March to slow the spread of Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus.
India mounts huge airlift to return stranded citizens home
Doctors in hazmat suits ran temperature checks on passengers at Delhi airport and bags were disinfected as the first group of Indians returned home on special flights from Singapore and the Gulf on Friday since a sweeping lockdown was imposed in March.
Some 400,000 Indians were expected to be brought back from the United States and the United Kingdom, besides southeast Asia and the Gulf, in a mammoth airlift mounted by state carrier Air India.
Separately, the Indian navy sent warships to the island nation of Maldives for citizens stranded there since the government cut off all travel and ordered its 1.3 billion people to stay indoors to prevent a surge in coronavirus infections.
Indian court seeks government reply over challenge to mandatory Aarogya Setu app
A court asked the Indian government on Friday to respond to a challenge against its order for compulsory use of a contact tracing app by public and private sector employees returning to work amid the world’s biggest coronavirus lockdown.
India launched the Aarogya Setu, or “Health Bridge”, app last month. Downloaded to the phones of 94 million Indians, it makes use of Bluetooth and GPS to alert users who may have encountered people who later test positive for the virus.
But mandatory use of the app forces a user to “give away data to a system which he may or may not approve of, thereby attacking his right of informational autonomy,” a member of the opposition Congress party said in a petition to the high court in Kerala.
Coronavirus may push up euro zone borrowing by 1.5 trillion euros - ECB
Euro zone governments may need to borrow an additional 1.5 trillion euros(1.31 trillion pounds) this year to keep their economies afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said on Friday.
“The ECB estimates that – in our medium scenario of a drop in GDP of around 8 percent – the additional government financing needs in the euro area this year resulting from the recession and the required fiscal measures may exceed 10 percent of euro area GDP,” Lagarde said.
This would put the additional debt issuance due to the pandemic in the range of 1 trillion to 1.5 trillion euros in 2020 alone.
May, 8 2020 - 06:31 PM
Eyeing lockdown exit, Singapore to test all nursing homes
Singapore plans to test all 16,000 elderly residents of its nursing homes for the coronavirus over the coming weeks, as it edges towards exiting a nationwide lockdown next month.
The city-state recorded 768 new coronavirus on Friday, taking its total infections to 21,707 - one of the highest rates in Asia largely due to mass outbreaks among a young population of low-paid migrant labourers living in crowded dormitories. It has recorded only 20 deaths from the virus, with the majority being over the age of 60. Four of the deaths have been residents of nursing homes.
“We have not seen widespread outbreaks in nursing homes so far but we cannot let our guard down,” health minister Gan Kim Yong said at the announcement of the testing plan on Friday.
May, 8 2020 - 06:18 PM
South Africa to grant 19,000 inmates parole to curb coronavirus spread
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday some low-risk prisoners would be granted parole to help curb the spread of the coronavirus in correctional facilities.
Around 19,000 people would be freed by the move, taken in response to a UN call on all countries to reduce prison populations so that social distancing and self-isolation conditions could be observed, Ramaphosa said.
South Africa, which long battled high crime rates and violence against women and children, has 155,000 prisoners. The country of 58 million has recorded 8,232 cases of Covid-19 as of Thursday and 161 deaths.
“In South Africa, as in many other countries, correctional facilities have witnessed outbreaks of coronavirus infections among inmates and personnel,” Ramaphosa’s statement said.
China open to probe of origins of coronavirus, says envoy - report
China is open to an independent investigation to determine the origins of the coronavirus now sweeping the world, its ambassador to Berlin told a German magazine on Friday, amid US allegations that it came from a laboratory.
China has dismissed as groundless US and Australian questioning of how it had handled the coronavirus pandemic, saying it had been open and transparent, despite growing scepticism about the accuracy of its official death toll.
"We are open to an international investigation," Wu Ken told Der Spiegel magazine in an interview. "We support the exchange of research among scientists.
Beaches open in Barcelona as Spain decides on next steps of lockdown exit
The Spanish government will decide on Friday in which regions bars, restaurants and places of worship will open under the next phase of a gradual exit from the coronavirus lockdown, although it looked likely that Madrid and Catalonia would not move forward.
In a sign of life returning to normal, Barcelona beaches opened for a short window from 6 am to 10 am on Friday to allow people to swim and jog. People paddled on boards and swam in the water under the supervision of police.
“This is freedom,” said smiling swimmer Marta Torrents, speaking on the beach dressed in a wet-suit. “To be able to go out to sea and swim - for me, this is perfect.”
Spain has been one of the worst-hit countries globally from the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 26,000 fatalities. The regions of Madrid and Catalonia, home to Barcelona, account for around half of all recorded infections.
May, 8 2020 - 05:44 PM
Spain's coronavirus daily death tolls rises again on Friday
Spain’s daily death toll from the coronavirus rose to 229 on Friday, up from 213 on the previous day, the health ministry reported.
Overall deaths rose to 26,299 from 26,070 on Thursday and the number of diagnosed cases rose to 222,857 up from 221,447 the day before, the ministry said.
May, 8 2020 - 05:36 PM
Indonesia eases coronavirus travel ban despite fears it's too early
Two weeks after Indonesia banned air and sea travel to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the transport ministry has confirmed that flights and public transport will conditionally resume.
The ban, which came into effect on April 23, was scheduled to run until the end of May, but on Friday the transport ministry confirmed what has been criticised by civil society groups as a “confusing” policy backflip.
Those who work in security, defence and health services, or have emergency health reasons, will be allowed to travel if they have tested negative for the novel coronavirus and have a letter from their employer, the ministry told Reuters.
Migrant workers going home will also be allowed to travel.
May, 8 2020 - 05:27 PM
China to gradually reopen cinemas as virus under control
China will gradually reopen cinemas, museums and other recreational venues, the state council said on Friday, as the coronavirus has passed its peak in the country.
The reopening of those places will be subject to restrictions including reservations and a limit on numbers attending, the cabinet said in a statement on its website.
May, 8 2020 - 05:15 PM
Wuhan market had role in virus outbreak, but more research needed: WHO
A wholesale market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan played a role in the outbreak of the novel coronavirus last year, as the source or possibly as an "amplifying setting", the World Health Organization said on Friday, calling for more research.
Chinese authorities shut down the market in January as part of efforts to halt the spread of the virus and ordered a temporary ban on trade and consumption of wildlife.
"The market played a role in the event, that's clear. But what role we don't know, whether it was the source or amplifying setting or just a coincidence that some cases were detected in and around that market," said Dr Peter Ben Embarek, a WHO expert on food safety and zoonotic viruses that cross the species barrier from animals to humans.
Indonesia prepares 'exit strategies' to reopen parts of economy
Indonesia is considering plans for a phased resumption of businesses in Southeast Asia's biggest economy from as early as June 1, with the easing of restrictions aimed at curbing the novel coronavirus, government documents showed.
The proposals come as medical experts have criticised Indonesia for being slow to respond to the outbreak. Its official death toll of 930 is the highest in East Asia outside China.
Still, there is mounting concern about the deepening economic impact of restrictions with at least 2 million people losing their jobs in the past six weeks and poverty increasing.
Facebook to allow employees to work remotely until year end
Facebook Inc said on Friday it would allow its workers who are able to work remotely to do so until the end of the year as the coronavirus pandemic forces governments to extend stay-at-home orders to curb the spread of the disease.
The social media giant also expects most offices to stay closed until July 6, according to a company spokesperson.
The virus, which has infected more than 3.8 million people globally so far, has forced strict lockdowns in most countries and changed the way businesses function, with work from home emerging as the new norm.
May, 8 2020 - 04:56 PM
Australia annoyed as US pushes Wuhan lab Covid-19 theory
Australian officials are frustrated that their push for an inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus is being undermined by the White House, which has sought to link the outbreak to a Chinese lab, government, diplomatic and intelligence sources told Reuters.
Washington’s attack on China has given Beijing room to argue that Australia’s request for an independent inquiry is part of a US-led agenda to blame it for the coronavirus outbreak, the sources said.
Canberra has been caught in a diplomatic squeeze between Washington, its main security ally, and already strained relations with Beijing, it major trading partner, even as its successful handling of the coronavirus has it planning to reopen the economy. One government source said that officials were working hard to cast the review as open-minded and global, and that the American approach of “let’s get China” wasn’t helping.
May, 8 2020 - 04:45 PM
Indonesia reports 336 coronavirus infections, 13 deaths
Indonesia reported 336 new coronavirus infections on Friday, taking the total in the Southeast Asian country to 13,112, said health ministry official Achmad Yurianto.
Yurianto reported 13 more deaths, taking the total to 943, while 2,494 have recovered.
More than 103,300 people have been tested, he said.
May, 8 2020 - 04:30 PM
South Korea tracks new coronavirus outbreak in Seoul nightclubs
South Korean health authorities are investigating a small but growing coronavirus outbreak centred in a handful of Seoul nightclubs, seeking to keep infections in check as the country moves to less restrictive social distancing measures.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said on Friday at least 15 people have confirmed cases of the virus linked to the clubs in Itaewon, a neighbourhood popular with Koreans and foreigners in the city.
South Korea has reported only a handful of cases in recent days, the majority of them in people arriving from overseas. The nightclub infections, while still limited, are expected to increase, and come at a time when the country has eased some social distancing restrictions.
“These venues have all the dangerous conditions that we were the most concerned about,” KCDC director Jeong Eun-kyeong said on Friday, referring to crowding and ventilation issues.
Social distancing signs around the world show the new normal
They range from simple spray-painted circles on the ground in a Mogadishu market to bright and breezy floor stickers in a Dubai mall, which blow a kiss and urge: "Hey there beautiful, don't forget to keep a safe distance."
The markings that will oblige us to keep apart in busy social settings, in order to prevent transmission of the new coronavirus, are appearing on shop floors, city pavements and train or tram platforms the world over.
As people emerge from weeks of lockdown, they face an array of new measures to try and keep the virus in check and protect society's most vulnerable.
Grappling with coronavirus, Malaysia's premier to face confidence vote
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will face a confidence vote in parliament on May 18, having been focused on fighting an outbreak of the coronavirus in Malaysia since emerging at the head of a new coalition a little over two months ago.
The motion proposing a confidence vote was brought by Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s 94-year-old veteran leader who resigned the premiership in February as the multi-ethnic coalition he had led fell apart. Muhyiddin, who had formerly been among Mahathir’s trusted lieutenants, was sworn in on March 1, having emerged at the head of an ethnic Malay dominated coalition whose parties together hold a slender majority, controlling 116 of the 222 seats in parliament.
Muhyiddin had earlier postponed the start of parliamentary proceedings by two months in March, as the opposition pushed for a confidence vote to challenge his new government.
May, 8 2020 - 04:02 PM
Australia plans to end most Covid-19 restrictions by July
Australia will ease social distancing restrictions in a three-step process, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday, as Canberra aims to remove all curbs by July and get nearly 1 million people back to work amid a decline in coronavirus cases.
Australia in March imposed strict social distancing restrictions, which coupled with the closure of its borders, are credited with drastically slowing the number of new infections of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.
With fewer than 20 new infections each day, Morrison said Australian states and territories on Friday agreed a road map to remove most of the curbs.
Whistleblower offers window into HHS’s flawed Covid-19 response
A new whistleblower complaint has drawn attention for its allegations that the Trump administration retaliated against a scientist who sent early coronavirus warnings. The case also provides an insider account of the dysfunction critics say paralyzed the Department of Health and Human Services at the dawn of the Covid-19 response.
The complaint by Dr Rick Bright, who headed a federal agency called the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, until April 20, says HHS Secretary Alex Azar and his top aides dismissed experts' warnings about the impending epidemic, failed to implement vital procedures and got sidetracked with political backbiting.
Bright's complaint, filed Tuesday, was the subject of media reports for its description of the administration's scramble to make malaria drugs available at President Trump's behest. However, the complaint also offers fresh details that haven't been highlighted. They show how tensions between public health agencies likely delayed a more aggressive early government response.
Sony to make, donate face shields to Japan hospitals
Sony Corp said on Friday it will manufacture and donate medical face shields to hospitals in Japan, amid worries about the availability of protective equipment for healthcare workers dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
Sony joins a growing list of global companies such as Boeing and Exxon Mobil helping to provide hospitals with face shields, which protect frontline workers from potential virus-containing droplets released by coughing, sneezing and other forms of close contact.
The Japanese technology and entertainment company said it has begun producing face shields repurposed from eye shields normally used by surgeons to view images on Sony's 3D medical monitors.
Chinese drugmaker in talks to test coronavirus vaccine globally
The drugmaker behind one of China's most promising coronavirus vaccine candidates is in talks to conduct late-stage trials globally as the race for immunization against Covid-19 intensifies, Bloomberg reports.
Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech Ltd is in discussion with regulators in other countries, and the World Health Organization, to launch phase III clinical trials in regions where the novel coronavirus is still spreading rapidly, CEO Yin Weidong said in an interview Thursday.
"To evaluate whether the vaccine can give protection, we need to study the relation between disease incidence and vaccination," Yin said. "You can't do that when there's no cases."
Facebook, YouTube remove 'Plandemic' video with 'unsubstantiated' coronavirus claims
Facebook Inc and YouTube, the video service of Alphabet Inc's Google, said on Thursday that they were removing a video that made medically unsubstantiated claims relating to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The 26-minute video dubbed "Plandemic" went viral this week across social media platforms. It features Judy Mikovits, an activist among people who contend that many common vaccines are dangerous.
Mikovits says in the video that wearing masks activates the coronavirus within people, without providing evidence, and criticizes orders to stay away from beaches.
Japan businesses re-open as government eyes end to emergency measures in some regions
As Japan prepares to ease coronavirus restrictions in some parts of the country, a growing number of the country's businesses were planning to resume operations after month-long shutdowns have brought economic activity to a grinding halt.
Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Friday that the government was looking at ways to bring some parts of the country out of lockdown measures as infections in several regions outside main centres were reporting zero infections on a daily basis.
"The number of new infections of the coronavirus is significantly falling, he told reporters. "There are more prefectures with no new coronavirus cases, so lifting the state of emergency is within sight."
Great Depression-like US job losses, unemployment rate expected in April
The US economy likely lost a staggering 22 million jobs in April, in what would be the steepest plunge in payrolls since the Great Depression and the starkest sign yet of how the novel coronavirus pandemic is battering the world's biggest economy.
A report that is closely watched in any given month but especially so now with non-essential businesses in mandatory shutdowns nationwide to contain the coronavirus, the Labor Department's monthly employment report on Friday is also expected to show the jobless rate surging to at least 16 percent last month. That would shatter the post-World War Two record of 10.8 percent touched in November 1982.
The numbers will likely strengthen analysts' expectations of a slow recovery from the recession caused by the pandemic. It would add to a pile of bleak data on consumer spending, business investment, trade, productivity and the housing market in underscoring the devastation unleashed by lockdowns imposed by states and local governments in mid-March to slow the spread of Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus.
May, 8 2020 - 03:37 PM
WHO says 80,000 Covid-19 cases reported daily in April, spike in India, Bangladesh
An average of 80,000 Covid-19 cases were reported each day in April to the World Health Organization, the top UN health agency has said, noting that South Asian nations like India and Bangladesh are seeing a spike in the infections.
The numbers are declining in regions such as Western Europe, Times of Indian reported.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday that countries must also be able to manage any risk of the disease being imported into their territories, and communities should be fully educated to adjust to what will be a "new norm".
100-year-old Bangladeshi living in UK walks garden laps for virus victims while fasting
A Bangladeshi born 100 year old man living in United Kingdom (UK) is walking laps in his east London garden to raise funds for victims of coronavirus in Bangladesh, UK and dozen other countries.
Dabirul Choudhury, who was born in 1920 in Bangladesh and moved to London to study English literature in 1957, is walking while keeping fast for Ramadan, reports Al Jazeera.
Inspired by Tom Moore, a fellow British centenarian who attracted worldwide attention by walking garden laps and raising almost 33 million pounds ($41m) for the National Health Service (NHS), Choudhury had a target of 100 laps when he started his mission on April 26.
Up to 190,000 people could die of Covid-19 in Africa if not contained, WHO estimates
A new study by the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa finds that 83,000 to 190,000 people in Africa could die of Covid-19 and 29 million to 44 million could get infected in the first year of the pandemic if containment measures fail.
Based on prediction modelling, the research looks at 47 countries in the WHO African Region with a total population of one billion, says a press release from the organization.
The new estimates are based on modifying the risk of transmission and disease severity by variables specific to each country in order to adjust for the unique nature of the region. The model predicts the observed slower rate of transmission, lower age of people with severe disease and lower mortality rates compared to what is seen in the most affected countries in the rest of the world. This is largely driven by social and environmental factors slowing the transmission, and a younger population that has benefitted from the control of communicable diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis to reduce possible vulnerabilities.
Trump, Pence test negative after White House valet contracts coronavirus
US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have tested negative for the novel coronavirus after a member of the US military who works at the White House as a valet came down with the virus.
During a meeting with the governor of Texas in the Oval Office on Thursday, Trump told reporters he had little contact with the man and would be tested daily going forward.
Neither Trump nor Pence wore masks during the meeting.
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