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A 61-year-old man has died in the Gaza Strip after contracting the coronavirus, Palestinian authorities said on Wednesday as they clamped down on an outbreak in the enclave.

The man had suffered previous illnesses and had been on a respirator, the health ministry said. It was the first death among the general population since an infected woman died at a quarantine centre in March.

A Palestinian baker wearing a protective mask prepares the dough for fresh bread at a bakery in Gaza City during lockdown in the Palestinian enclave due to increasing cases of coronavirus infections.

A Palestinian baker wearing a protective mask prepares the dough for fresh bread at a bakery in Gaza City during lockdown in the Palestinian enclave due to increasing cases of coronavirus infections. Photograph: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

Health officials said nine more cases were discovered on Wednesday. Six of them were in the isolated Maghazi refugee camp where a first four cases had been confirmed on Monday, prompting Gaza’s Hamas authorities to impose a full lockdown.

The three other cases were in northern Gaza Strip, indicating the virus has begun to spread into different areas of the enclave of 2 million people.

A Palestinian man shops at a mini-market in Gaza City amid restricted movement due to increasing cases of Covid-19. The new cases raised alarm bells this week in the sealed-off enclave that has weathered the pandemic relatively well so far.

A Palestinian man shops at a mini-market in Gaza City amid restricted movement due to increasing cases of Covid-19. The new cases raised alarm bells this week in the sealed-off enclave that has weathered the pandemic relatively well so far. Photograph: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

The outbreak outside Maghazi remains slow but it cemented concerns by local and international health organisations over the territory’s potentially disastrous combination of poverty, densely populated refugee camps and limited hospital capacity.

With local authorities maintaining a lockdown in all cities, people were instructed to stay home at all times and to wear face masks if, in cases of extreme necessity, they had to go out.

A Palestinian boy and girl wearing protective masks in Gaza City.

A Palestinian boy and girl wearing protective masks in Gaza City. Photograph: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which helps over half of Gaza’s population, said it was looking into alternative plans to continue health, education and food services to beneficiaries should the lockdown be extended.

Adnan Abu Hasna, UNRWA spokesman in Gaza, said clinics remained open but physical presence was prohibited, instead staffers were providing medical consultation over the phone and some medication was delivered to patients at home.

Abus Hasna said:


We are in constant consultation with the health ministry and we are also in discussion over the implementation of our own alternative plans in order to ensure the continuation of delivering services to refugees.

Monday’s cases were uncovered after a woman traveled to the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where she tested positive, the Gaza health ministry said.

A ministry spokesman urged everyone who might have visited a supermarket outside a hospital in central Gaza to quarantine themselves and report to medics immediately.

A police officer speaks with Palestinians riding a donkey-drawn cart during lockdown after Gaza reported its first cases of Covid-19 in the general population.

A police officer speaks with Palestinians riding a donkey-drawn cart during lockdown after Gaza reported its first cases of Covid-19 in the general population. Photograph: Mohammed Salem/Reuters



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Coronavirus live news: cases climb in Victoria, Australia, amid record infections globally | World news


Thanks to strict quarantine measures and an aggressive and widespread testing programme, Vietnam has kept its virus total to an impressively low 415 cases, and had reported no locally transmitted infections for 100 days.

But on Friday, Vietnam’s health ministry said in a statement that a 57-year-old man from Danang, a popular tourist hotspot, had tested positive three times for the virus, prompting the isolation of 50 people he came in contact with.

One hundred and three people connected to the patient were tested for the virus but all returned negative results, the statement said.

The health ministry has not officially confirmed the case as Covid-19, which comes at a time when Vietnam was about to resume international commercial flights and as domestic tourism is surging.

It did not say how the man contracted the virus, but said he had not left Danang for nearly a month. He was initially diagnosed with pneumonia.

Late on Friday, authorities in Hanoi reinstated a recommendation to wear masks in public places as Vietnam’s benchmark VN Index closed down 3.22%.



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Coronavirus live updates: Bolsonaro hides Brazil death figures; minister criticises Australian BLM protests | World news


The exodus of migrant workers from big cities is plunging India’s factories into a crisis, Agence France-Presse reports.

An acute shortage of workers has turned the roar of machines to a soft hum at a footwear factory near New Delhi, just one of thousands in India struggling to restart after migrant workers decided to leave town during the virus lockdown.

India is slowly emerging from strict containment measures that were imposed in late March as leaders look to revive the battered economy, but manufacturers don’t have enough workers to man the machinery.

The big cities, once an attractive destination for workers from poor, rural regions, have been hit by reverse migration as millions of labourers flee back to their home villages, some uncertain if they will ever return.

Sanjeev Kharbanda, a senior executive with Aqualite Industries, which owns the footwear factory in the northern state of Haryana, said: “Sixty per cent of our labourers have gone back. How can we run a production unit with just one-third of our workforce?”

A worker is waiting for products to arrive on a production line at the Aqualite footwear factory in Bahadurgarh in the northern Indian state of Haryana.

A worker is waiting for products to arrive on a production line at the Aqualite footwear factory in Bahadurgarh in the northern Indian state of Haryana. Photograph: Money Sharma/AFP/Getty Images

Kharbanda said the company’s sports shoe unit had been sitting idle as there were no skilled workers to operate the high-tech machines.

“We are running just one shift now. The cost of production has gone up and our profits are going down,” he said, a conveyor belt carrying semi-finished flip-flops running slowly in the background.

In Gujarat state’s Surat city – where 90% of the world’s diamonds are cut and polished – many factories have been unable to open after more than two-thirds of workers fled, Surat diamond association president Babu Kathiriya told AFP.

Meanwhile, the state’s salt refineries have started doubling salaries to lure staff back. But experts say the workers may not return anytime soon.

There are an estimated 100 million migrant workers – nearly a fifth of the labour force and contributing to an estimated 10% of GDP – across the nation of 1.3 billion people.

Many are employed as cheap labour across a vast range of sectors including textiles, construction, mines and small businesses.



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Coronavirus live news: Europe halts delivery of faulty Chinese face masks; WHO says Covid-19 may never go | World news


Medical workers in Indonesia are complaining of persistent delays to an increase in coronavirus testing promised by their president, Joko Widodo, Reuters reports.

The south east Asian nation, the world’s fourth most populous, has the highest coronavirus death toll in east Asia outside China, and one of the lowest global testing rates.

Indonesia reported 568 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, taking the total to 16,006, with 1,043 deaths. It has so far conducted around 50 tests per 100,000 people, compared with 2,500 per 100,000 in neighbouring Singapore.

Widodo promised in April that 10,000 tests would be performed each day, but the goal is yet to be reached, with testing rates on average hovering at less than half that figure. Health experts have urged Jakarta to rapidly increase its testing rate to determine the true spread of the virus across the Indonesian archipelago, saying that without sufficient data the full extent of the outbreak will remain unknown.

A man covers his face with a shirt instead of a face mask while in a queue to get the Takjil, food for breaking the Ramadan fast, in central Jakarta.

A man covers his face with a shirt instead of a face mask while in a queue to get the Takjil, food for breaking the Ramadan fast, in central Jakarta. Photograph: Muhammad Zaenuddin/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock

“We can’t even get the results after two weeks,” Meneldi Rasmin, a consulting doctor at Persahabatan Hospital in Jakarta, told Reuters.

“So we cannot determine whether it’s COVID-19 or not. We can only judge them (the patients) from clinical symptoms,” he said, attributing the delay to limited equipment capacity.

In between his rounds at Persahabatan Hospital where medical staff move about in white protective gear, Rasmin called for testing capacities to be scaled up not only in the capital, but across the sprawling country.

“Early detection by rapid testing should take place in every small district. Local clinics should take control, instead of (centralized) rapid testing,” he said.
“It should be organized at the community level, working together with the district authority.”



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Coronavirus live news: confirmed deaths in Brazil surpass known Chinese toll | World news






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Doctors on the frontline also widely believe that the real numbers are much higher – one factor being people dying at home.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one medic in Rio de Janeiro state said three patients who were intubated after testing positive using faster, less accurate serological tests died during his overnight shift last weekend at a public hospital in the town of Nova Iguaçu.


If one doctor saw this (in one night) I think it’s unlikely the number for the whole of Brazil is 474.





Confirmed deaths in Brazil surpass known Chinese toll

Brazil’s total number of confirmed deaths has now overtaken the WHO’s figure for China as cases accelerate in Latin America’s biggest country.

On Tuesday, the Brazilian health ministry reported 474 deaths over the previous 24 hours, taking the total to 5,017 – more than China, where the virus was first reported and which has seen 4,643 deaths so far, according to the WHO.

Brazil now has 71,886 confirmed cases after adding 5,385 in the last 24 hours, though widespread underreporting and a generalised lack of tests means numbers are almost definitely much higher. The G1 news site reported on Tuesday that deaths in São Paulo are 168% more than the official number of 2,049.

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Streamed films to be eligible for Oscars









In the UK, leading BAME campaigners have said the credibility of an inquiry into why black, Asian and minority ethnic people are being disproportionately affected by Covid-19 is being undermined among those it seeks to serve by the appointment of Trevor Phillips.

The former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission was selected despite being suspended from the Labour party last month for alleged Islamophobia, including a reference to UK Muslims as being “a nation within a nation”.

The first four UK doctors with Covid-19 known to have died were all Muslim.

And Labour’s former shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, has said:


We need a public inquiry. Very sadly, the public health executive have chosen to make Trevor Phillips one of their advisers on their inquiry, which I think means that their inquiry is dead on arrival.









The US vice-president Mike Pence has been heavily criticised for failing to wear a face mask on a visit to the Mayo Clinic’s facilities in Minnesota.

Pence leads the US government’s coronavirus taskforce, though he is typically overshadowed by Donald Trump or medical experts at the regular press briefings.

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French police officers patrol and control citizens while a strick lockdown comes into in effect to stop the spread of the Covid-19

French police officers patrol and control citizens while a strick lockdown comes into in effect to stop the spread of the Covid-19 Photograph: Laurent VU/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock

France has suggested extending a two-week lockdown to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus as the interior minister blasted “idiots” who flout home confinement rules and put others at risk, AFP reports.

President Emmanuel Macron has ordered French residents to stay at home except for essential excursions such as going to the doctor, walking the dog, or going for a solitary run, and banned any gatherings.

For a two-week period that began Tuesday, people can go to work only if their employer cannot make tele-commuting possible.

But news reports have shown groups of friends and families strolling in parks despite the clampdown, prompting calls from some officials for even stricter limits.

Many have been observed ignoring the one-metre (three feet) safe inter-personal distance in queues at the essential businesses that were allowed to stay open.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said people ignoring the measures were “idiots”.

“There are people who underestimate the risk… There are people who think they are modern-day heroes by breaking the rules while they are in fact idiots,” he told Europe 1 radio.

Macron on Thursday urged companies and workers to continue their activities “in compliance with the health safety rules”.

Genevieve Chene, who heads France’s public health agency, said between two and four weeks are needed for the outbreak to be adequately contained.

“Within two to three weeks we should be able to observe a slightly different dynamic” to the outbreak’s momentum, she told Franceinfo radio, and “a significant braking” within two to four weeks.

“It is likely that it is indeed necessary to extend (the containment measures) in order for the braking to be sufficient,” Chene said.

Meanwhile, the French government has started requisitioning hotel rooms for homeless people to occupy during the confinement period, Housing Minister Julien Denormandie announced.

More than 170 rooms will be made available in Paris by the end of the week, and the government has identified 80 sites elsewhere across the country to accomodate the country’s estimated 250,000 homeless people.



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Coronavirus: China death toll reaches 212 after WHO declares global emergency – live news | World news






Coronavirus has been declared notifiable disease in Queensland, Australia

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I’d like to say a big thanks to everyone who sent in information, it’s been extremely helpful.

Here’s a summary of some key updates before I hand over to the Australia team, who’ll continue the coverage from Sydney:

  • The virus has spread to at least 9,320 people around the world, surpassing that of the SARS epidemic over a year long period (2002-2003).
  • 212 people have died, all in China.
  • There are 98 confirmed cases of infection outside mainland China in at least 18 countries.
  • The United States reported its first case of person-to-person transmission, joining Germany, Vietnam and Japan in recording similar incidents.
  • BA has suspended all flights to and from mainstream China until the end of February. Other countries have also implemented a flight ban, most recently Italy.
  • Almost 200 US citizens have been evacuated and have arrived at a military base in California. They will be isolated for a minimum of 72 hours. The US is said to be planning another airlift in the coming days.
  • France have evacuated 200 citizens who are currently flying back to southern France where there’ll be quarantined for 14 days. The European Commission has said it is planning a flight to evacuate more European nationals.
  • The Chinese Football Association has postponed its domestic games in 2020, and the World Athletics Indoors Championships, due to take place in the Chinese city of Nanjing in March, have been moved to 2021.
  • Google and IKEA became the latest franchises to shut their Chinese shops and offices.

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In Australia, confirmed cases of the virus have climbed to 9, but two people have been released and are “post-viral” according to the country’s health minister, Greg Hunt.

Authorities have been tracking down passengers that were on a plane with a Chinese tourist who flew from Melbourne to the Gold Coast on 27 January.

The 44-year-old man, from Wuhan, was diagnosed with coronavirus and was being treated in isolation in hospital on the Gold Coast.

The Guardian understands that at least one passenger who was on that plane to the Gold Coast has been asked to stay home from work. The passenger is not believed to be at high risk but as a precaution has been asked to remain at home for the time being.

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The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have confirmed that following a last-minute decision from China, dependents of British nationals and dual nationals will be allowed on to the evacuation flight.

Previously, restrictions imposed by China meant those with Chinese passports were not permitted to leave the country, and China does not recognise dual nationality.

The U-turn meant that Matt Raw and his 75-year-old mother Hazel were given permission to fly along with Raw’s wife Ying, who holds a Chinese passport.

It’s uncertain whether other families in similar situations have been given the go-ahead to board the plane, or whether they have been able to make it to the airport in time.

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