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China accused of hiding coronavirus data from WHO: Live updates | News


  • At least two US senators have accused China of hiding data from the World Health Organization that could have altered the course of the coronavirus outbreak, even as a Chinese official denied delays in sharing information and said the government acted openly and transparently.

  • The malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine – which President Donald Trump took to try to prevent COVID-19, proved ineffective for that purpose in the first large, high-quality study to test it in people in close contact with someone with the disease, according to a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine.

  • Spanish legislators have voted to extend the state of emergency a final time through to June 21. It is the sixth time the measure has been renewed, meaning the restrictions will remain in force, although they have been eased since the start of the lockdown in mid-March.

  • Around 6.4 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than 383,000 people have died, including some 107,000 in the US. More than 2.7 million have recovered from the disease.

Here are the latest updates:

Thursday, June 4

01:03 GMT – 9-month-old among new fatalities of coronavirus in US

A 9-month-old who tested positive for COVID-19 was among eight more people whose deaths were related to the coronavirus in the US state of Kentucky, Governor Andy Beshear has announced.

The latest deaths raised the statewide death toll to 450 since the pandemic began. There are more than 107,000 fatalities across the US.

In announcing the infant’s death, Beshear said: “Far too often, people think that it’s something that only happens to medically compromised seniors. This is a reminder of how deadly this virus can be. How precious all of our lives are.”

00:20 GMT – China reports new COVID-19 cases

Coronavirus - China

Students wearing masks to curb the spread the new coronavirus leave after the end of a school day in Beijing on Wednesday [Ng Han Guan/AP]

China reported on Thursday one new coronavirus case and four new asymptomatic COVID-19 cases as of the end of June 3, according to Reuters news agency quoting the health commission.

The National Health Commission said all five of the cases were imported, involving travellers from overseas. For June 2, China reported one confirmed case and 4 asymptomatic cases.

China does not count asymptomatic patients, those who are infected with the coronavirus but do not exhibit symptoms, as confirmed cases. The total number of infections in China stands at 83,022. The death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

00:05 GMT – Report raises coronavirus concerns about China, WHO; Beijing denies

At least two US senators said that China hid data from the World Health Organization (WHO) that could have altered the course of the coronavirus outbreak, even as a Chinese official denied delays in sharing information and said the government acted openly and transparently.

They were referring to an Associated Press investigation published this week that found China stalled on providing critical coronavirus information to WHO, which expressed considerable frustration in private even as it praised the country in public. Politicians said the report raised key questions, and public health experts said it shed light on a story that has become highly politicised.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called the AP report “seriously inconsistent with the facts”. He read off a timeline of events that did not contradict the AP’s findings and added that China had always maintained “close and good communication and cooperation with WHO.”

00:01 GMT – Malaria drug fails to prevent COVID-19 in a rigorous study

A malaria drug US President Donald Trump took to try to prevent COVID-19 proved ineffective in the first large, high-quality study to test it in people in close contact with someone with the disease, AP news agency reported.

Results published by the New England Journal of Medicine show that hydroxychloroquine was no better than placebo pills at preventing illness from the coronavirus. The drug did not seem to cause serious harm, though – about 40 percent on it had side effects, mostly mild stomach problems.

“We were disappointed. We would have liked for this to work,” said the study leader, Dr David Boulware, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Minnesota. “But our objective was to answer the question and to conduct a high-quality study,” because the evidence on the drug so far has been inconclusive, he said.

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Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Read all the updates from yesterday (June 3) here.


SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies



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Coronavirus Live Updates : NPR


Rev. Nicolás Sánchez is seen on his iPhone used to livestream Easter Vigil Mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in North Hollywood, Calif., which was closed under the state’s coronavirus lockdown order.

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Rev. Nicolás Sánchez is seen on his iPhone used to livestream Easter Vigil Mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in North Hollywood, Calif., which was closed under the state’s coronavirus lockdown order.

Damian Dovarganes/AP

California churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship can reopen, the California Department of Public Health announced on Monday. Additionally, in-store retailers are allowed to resume business throughout the state.

The changes are part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest round of modifications to the state’s stay-at-home order that is intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The new guidelines for “places of worship and providers of religious services and cultural ceremonies” stipulate religious centers must limit attendance to 100 persons or 25% of the building’s capacity, whichever is lower.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom says places of worship can resume in-person services pending county approval. Attendance will be limited to fewer than 100 or 25% of the building’s capacity, whichever is lower.

Eric Risberg/AP


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California Gov. Gavin Newsom says places of worship can resume in-person services pending county approval. Attendance will be limited to fewer than 100 or 25% of the building’s capacity, whichever is lower.

Eric Risberg/AP

The guidelines recommend against passing collection plates and baskets or sharing other communal religious objects, and urge worshipers to refrain from singing or performing group recitations because of the “increased likelihood for transmission from contaminated exhaled droplets.”

The state also requires religious leaders to ensure more than six feet of physical distancing among congregants.

“Congregants engaging in singing, particularly in the choir, and group recitation, should wear face coverings at all times and when possible, these activities should be conducted outside with greater than 6-foot distancing,” state the CDPH guidelines.

Reopenings must be approved by each county’s public health department before going into effect. Additionally, county officials can add their own rules and restrictions. The state will reevaluate the guidelines after 21 days.

Worship services were temporarily halted and non-essential retail stores have been closed throughout most of the state since March 19, under Newsom’s initial order, though some rural counties received permission to begin partial reopening earlier this month.

Now, the CDPH has cleared the way for stores across the state to begin making sales again. The state’s retail guidelines do not require but “strongly” recommend employee screenings, face coverings and social distancing.

Friday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Newsom’s order banning in-person religious services in a challenge brought by South Bay Pentecostal Church. The church filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court Sunday.

President Trump has called on places of worship to reopen and has said he will “override” governors who refuse to do so, though it’s not clear he has such authority.

Some of California’s largest counties, including Los Angeles and several in the San Francisco Bay Area, have yet to approve the reopening of either worship services or in-store retail.



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Coronavirus map LIVE: Vaccine breakthrough as trial drug induces rapid immune response | UK | News


Blood samples from a group of 108 vaccinated adults showed both neutralising antibodies and T-cell responses against the novel coronavirus in most of those tested,  China’s CanSino Biologics Inc reported on Friday in The Lancet medical journal. Further studies will be needed to confirm whether the vaccine protects against infection. Co-author Professor Wei Chen from the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology in Beijing said: “These results represent an important milestone.

The trial demonstrates that a single dose of the new adenovirus type 5 vectored COVID-19 (Ad5-nCoV) vaccine produces virus-specific antibodies and T cells in 14 days, making it a potential candidate for further investigation”

Coronavirus deaths in the UK have risen by 350 in the last 24 hours bringing the total number of deaths from the invisible killer disease to 36,393.

Health bosses said the UK’s death toll from confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose by 351 to 36,393 as of 4pm on May 21. A total of 254,195 people had tested positive for the coronavirus as of 8am on May 22.

While the R rate remains at 0.7-1, signally no change from last week, but transmission it is still slowly decreasing.

Meanwhile, at today’s Government briefing, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced all visitors to the UK will now be required to self-isolate for two weeks, with penalties of up to £1,000 for those who fail to comply.

Vaccine China

The new vaccine induces a rapid immune response, scientists said (Image: GETTY)

It comes after India reported its biggest 24-hour rise in coronavirus cases after they eased lockdown restrictions as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under pressure to go one step further and ease the UK’s lockdown restrictions to fight COVID-19 again.

India registered some 6,000 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, the country’s biggest jump in 24 hours, as New Delhi eases a nationwide lockdown and airlines prepare to resume some domestic flights.

India, which has a population of 1.3 billion people, reported a total of over 118,000 confirmed cases, roughly 5 percent increase from Thursday’s figures. Included in the total are 3,583 deaths.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extended a lockdown, begun on March 25, to May 31, but relaxed rules in areas with lower numbers of cases and allowed state governments to issue their own guidelines on some matters.

It comes amid fears South America is fast becoming the epicentre of coronavirus as is confirm 518,498 cases and 26,599 deaths. Brazil reported 291,579 cases and 18,859 deaths as of Wednesday, while Peru has one of the fastest-growing death rates in the world. 

Meanwhile, in Chile cases of COVID-19 trebled since the start of the month, while Ecuador has also seen deaths from coronavirus rise threefold in May.

Doctors across the continent have warned the countries already-high death and confirmes cases are not showing the real picture and are not being reported because a lack of testing.

Isabella Rêllo, a doctor from a hospital in Rio de Janeiro, said: “What is happening is a huge underreporting.

“There are many more cases.”

While South Korea, which has managed to stabilise an increase in infections and is gradually reopening schools, has reported 20 new cases of coronavirus.

Nine of the cases were reported in Seoul. 

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Coronavirus latest: Boris Johnson joins in the Clap for Carers (Image: PA)

Saturday May 23

1.30am update: Trump-backed drug 

A major study of hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug used and backed by Donald Trump has suggested it could increase deaths of patients treated with it. 

Professor Mandeep R Mehra, lead author of the study and executive director of the Brigham and Women’s hospital advanced heart disease centre in Boston, US, explained:  This is the first large-scale study to find statistically robust evidence that treatment with chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine does not benefit patients with Covid-19. 

“Instead, our findings suggest it may be associated with an increased risk of serious heart problems and increased risk of death. Randomised clinical trials are essential to confirm any harms or benefits associated with these agents. In the meantime, we suggest these drugs should not be used as treatments for Covid-19 outside of clinical trials.”

aleid wolfsen

Aleid Wolfsen has raised concerns over coronavirus app privacy in Europe (Image: GETTY)

1.00am update: Size of government 

Wakefield MP Imran Ahmad Khan has used a column in Conservative Home to insist the increase in Government powers due to the pandemic should not be permanent. 

Mr Ahmad Khan wrote: Milton Friedman once stated that ‘nothing was so permanent as a temporary government programme’, words which reverberate amongst those who fear the new powers and responsibilities the state has taken on will not be given up lightly. Conservatives do not wish to let this transition become a permanent one, and have set out the relevant policies and strategies to ensure that these powers are laid down in due course.

“This is not an issue of dogmatic ideologies. Libertarians may wish for a smaller citizen-centric state, and socialists may long for a larger controlling state. But it is ultimately the Conservative Party which acknowledges that the citizen is king, and their wishes, whether they be for more or less, must be taken as the only legitimate foundation for all future policies.

“I know in Wakefield, and elsewhere, citizens called upon Boris Johnson and their Conservative representatives to protect the NHS, depart from the EU and maintain fiscal responsibility while providing first rate services.”

0.30am update: Teaching unions 

A leading teaching union has raised concerns over plans to reopen schools based on scientific advice. 

NASUWT held talks with the Department of Education this week and  general secretary Patrick Roach said: “The papers highlight the significant gaps in evidence, knowledge and understanding which remain in terms of the susceptibility of children to Covid-19 and how infectious those with mild and asymptomatic cases of the virus may be.

 “The Committee states that large-scale community testing is needed to better understand and monitor the prevalence of and susceptibility to Covid-19 in children, yet the Government’s plans for the reopening of schools from 1 June are premature whilst a widespread community testing system will not be in place.

“The Sage papers published today will only add to teachers’ uncertainty and anxiety.”

0.00am update: Privacy concerns 

Former Utrecht mayor and head of the Dutch privacy authority, Aleid Wolfsen has raised concerns over the privacy protection in apps European governments are using to aide the coronavirus fight. 

Mr Wolfsen explained:  “We must avoid deploying a solution that is unclear whether it actually works, with the risk that it will mainly cause other problems.” 

He warned using telecoms data to track illness spread could never be truly anonymous. 

Friday May 22

donald trump

Donald Trump has called for places of worship to reopen (Image: GETTY)

11.30pm update: Trump threatens to override Governors 

US President Donald Trump has threatened to override Governors as he called on states to allow places of worship to reopen. 

In a statement to reporters, Trump implored:  “The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now.

“By this weekend.

“If they don’t do it I will override the governors.” 

He explained churches, mosques and synagogues will be declared essential services. 

11.00pm update: Hotel impact 

During the first quarter of 2020, an estimated two-thirds of Hong Kong hotel rooms sat empty according to Colliers’ Asia Hotel report. 

Michael Li, executive director of The Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners, told South China Morning Post the hit was worse than the 2003 SARS outbreak. 

He added:  “With no tourist arrivals, hotel operators had to undertake a price war to fight for guests, but a lot of rooms are still sitting empty.”

10.30pm update: George Soros warning

Hungarian financier and hedge fund manager George Soros has warned the EU might not survive coronavirus in a question and answer briefing sent to reporters. 

Mr Soros said:  “If the EU is unable to consider it now, it may not be able to survive the challenges it currently confronts.

 “This is not a theoretical possibility; it may be the tragic reality.”

The 89-year-old called for perpetual bonds to allow the EU to survive. 

Gursimran Hans has taken over live reporting from Ciaran McGrath. 

9pm update: Labour calls for Number 10 to explain Cummings reports

Labour has demanded a “very swift explanation” from Downing Street over reports that Boris Johnson’s senior aide Dominic Cummings broke the Government’s lockdown rules.

The Mirror reported that he was spotted at his parents’ home in Durham when he was recovering from Covid-19, after travelling from his London home.

A Labour spokesman said: “If accurate, the Prime Minister’s chief adviser appears to have breached the lockdown rules. The Government’s guidance was very clear: stay at home and no non-essential travel.

“The British people do not expect there to be one rule for them and another rule for Dominic Cummings. Number 10 needs to provide a very swift explanation for his actions.”

8.58pm update: Dominic Cummings investigated by police after breaking Boris Johnson’s lockdown rules

Boris Johnson’s top aide Dominic Cummings was investigated by police after breaking coronavirus lockdown rules.

Dominic Cummings was investigated by the police after breaching the Government’s own lockdown rules, according to reports.

The Prime Minister’s top adviser was spotted at his parents’ home in Durham – more than 250 miles away from his home in London – days after he was said to have started self-isolating.

An investigation by the Mirror and the Guardian said Mr Cummings was in the North of England, instead of isolating in London.

7.47pm update: Testing visitors would not work, says Vallance

Testing visitors to Britain for coronavirus would not circumvent the fresh requirement for them to quarantine for 14 days after their arrival, the chief scientific adviser has suggested.

Home Secretary Priti Patel announced on Friday that self-isolation periods of two weeks will be imposed on new arrivals to the UK from June 8, with fines for anyone who breaches the measure designed to prevent new waves of coronavirus from overseas.

Speaking at the daily Downing Street briefing on Covid-19, Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK Government’s chief scientific adviser, said test results were not conclusive enough to catch every case of coronavirus.

He explained that the swab tests being used were not able to decipher whether someone was in the early stages of having contracted coronavirus, a period when those carrying the virus are likely to be asymptomatic.

6.49pm update: 115 more coronvirus cases in Ireland

Ireland has recorded 115 new coronavirus cases, making a total of 24,506, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said. 

The death toll has risen to 1,592 after a further 11 deaths were announced by the National Public Health Emergency Team.

6.32pm update: French cases spike by almost 400

The total number of COVID-19 cases in France has increased from 144,163 to  144,556, the French Government has confirmed.

6.22pm update: Ports boss voices quarantine concerns

Richard Ballantyne, Chief Executive of the British Ports Association, has outlined his worries about the Government’s new quarantine rules for visitors to the UK.

Mr Ballantyne, speaking after Home Secretary Priti Patel led the Government’s daily briefing, said: “Quarantine rules could slow recovery and kill off any opportunity of a summer recovery for passenger travel and tourism.

“We are pleased that freight workers and Irish routes are excluded from the rules, but now Ministers must put exemptions in place for other transit corridors such as France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain.

“Establishing ‘sea bridges’ with neighbouring European countries where the risk is low must be a high priority and the focus should not just be on aviation which has more complicated challenges.”

5.50pm update: Border Force chief pledges spot checks

Also speaking at the briefing, Paul Lincoln, Border Force director general, said spot checks would be carried out on the accuracy of quarantine forms of those arriving into the UK from abroad.

He said: “At the border there will be spot checks conducted by Border Force officers.

“Any obvious errors will trigger a requirement for the passenger to complete another form or potentially be refused entry into the UK.”

Mr Lincoln said the Border Force expected most people to comply with the measures but the agency was ready to act in cases where the rules were not followed.

He added: “Given the high levels of compliance to date, we expect the vast majority of people will take this seriously and do the right thing.

“We will, however, take enforcement action against a small minority of people who may disregard these actions and therefore further endanger people’s lives.”

5.47pm update: If quarantine was needed it should have been introduced earlier, says Labour’s Thomas-Symonds

Responding to news of the Government’s new quarantine measures, Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “Labour supports these measures but is clear they are no substitute for a long-term, well thought through approach.

“The Government’s handling of arrivals into the UK has lacked urgency, coherence and clarity from the outset.

“If quarantine is needed, it should not have taken so long for measures to be introduced. Too little thought has been given to testing and screening at airports.

“Far greater transparency is needed and the scientific evidence underpinning this decision should be made public.”

5.38pm update: “If we move to fast we’ll get a second peak,” warns Sir Patrick

Sir Patrick emphasised the ongoing importance of social distancing to prevent a second peak.

He said: “This peak is an artificial peak, it’s a peak that we managed to suppress by the things that you have all done, we have all done to adhere to social distancing.

“The risk is that if we move too fast and do things in the wrong way, we get a second peak that would look exactly the same, and that’s what we’ve got to avoid.”

He added: “As some of the rules around this are relaxed, it’s important that we do maintain the social distancing and we do maintain the rules around distance between people and our interactions.”

5.32pm update: R number stable, says Sir Patrick Vallance

Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance told the briefing the R Number – which denotes the rate of infection – was currently between 0.7 and 1, meaning the epidemic in the UK was “either flat or declining”.

The number of new infections was about 61,000 per week at the moment, roughly one in 1,000 people, Sir Patrick added.

Sir Patrick Vallance

Sir Patrick Vallance speaks at the briefing (Image: BBC)

5.28pm update: Plan will be reviewed every three weeks, says Patel

Ministers would work to “find new ways to reopen international travel and tourism in a safe and responsible way”, Home Secretary Priti Patel pledged.

She said: “We also recognise how hard these changes will be for our travel sector, and leisure sectors, who are already struggling through these unprecedented times.

“So, across Government, we will continue to work with them and support what is an incredibly dynamic sector to find new ways to reopen international travel and tourism in a safe and responsible way.”

Ms Patel said the plan will be reviewed every three weeks.

5.20pm update: Quarantine comes at a time when it will be “the most effective”

Ms Patel said she was imposing quarantine plans for new arrivals at the time “it will be the most effective”.

She added: “The answer as to why we’re bringing in these measures now is simple: It is to protect that hard-won progress and prevent a devastating resurgence in a second wave of the virus.

“As we are taking this action, we are taking it at a time that it will be the most effective.”

She said that passenger arrivals have been down 99 percent compared to the previous year but now the peak has passed, steps to “guard against imported cases” needed to be imposed.

5.15pm Stiff penalty for anyone breaching quarantine rules

Anyone caught breaking the 14-day quarantine rule could face a fine of £1,000, Ms Patel warned.

Penalties could rise still further if the rate of infection from abroad increases.

5.11pm update: Visitors to UK will be required to self-isolate for two weeks

Anyone arriving in the UK from 8 June 8 will be required to self-isolate for 14 days, Ms Patel said.

She explained there was a risk people visiting the UK over the summer or returning from overseas holidays might bring the virus with them.

Imported cases could pose a “larger threat” going forward, she says, with action is needed to manage the risk of transmission.

Arrivals from the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man will be exempt,as will medical professional helping to treat the virus and seasonal agricultural workers staying on the farms where they are working.

5.04pm update: Patel leads daily briefing

Home Secretary Priti Patel is leading today’s daily coronavirus briefing.

Priti Patel

Priti Patel gets the briefing underway (Image: BBC)

4.58pm update: Drug touted by Trimp tied to increased risk of death in COVID-19 patients

The malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which US President Donald Trump says he has been taking and has urged others to use, was tied to increased risk of death in hospitalised COVID-19 patients, according to a large study published in the medical journal Lancet.

In the study, which looked at over 96,000 people hospitalised with COVID-19, those treated with hydroxychloroquine or the related chloroquine had higher risk of death than patients who were not given the medicines.

The authors said they could not confirm if taking the drug resulted in any benefit in coronavirus patients.

They wrote: “Urgent confirmation from randomised clinical trials is needed. This study was not a placebo-controlled trial.

4.52pm update: UK death toll passes 45,000

The number of deaths involving COVID-19 in the UK has passed 45,000, according to the latest available data.

Figures published on Friday by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency showed that 664 deaths involving COVID-19 had been registered in Northern Ireland up to May 20.

On Wednesday, figures from the National Records of Scotland showed 3,546 deaths involving COVID-19 had been registered in Scotland up to May 17.

And the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, published on Tuesday, showed 39,071 deaths involving COVID-19 occurred in England and Wales up to May 8 (and had been registered up to May 16).

Together, these figures mean that so far 43,281 deaths have been registered in the UK where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, including suspected cases.

A further 1,832 hospital patients in England who had tested positive for COVID-19 died between May 9 and May 21, according to figures published on Friday by NHS England.

Together with the total figure of 43,281 registered deaths, this indicates the overall death toll for the UK is now just over 45,000.

4.36pm update: Don’t take risks, urges Foster

Arlene Foster, Northern Ireland’s First Minister, has urged the public to guard against complacency ahead of the bank holiday weekend.

Ms Foster told the Executive’s daily media briefing: “In the absence of a vaccine, the threat from coronavirus is no less than it was when we had to implement the lockdown.

“COVID-19 is still lurking. It thrives when people become complacent and it spreads when people become blase about public health advice, and it kills when people start acting as if the threat is no longer with us.”

“The key to the lifting of more restrictions is by being sensible.”

Arlene Foster

Arlene Foster has urged people not to take risks (Image: GETTY)

4.28pm update: Spain’s total cases top 234,000

Spain total number of confirmed coronavirus cases now stands at 234,824, up from 233,037 yesterday, according to the country’s health ministry.

The death toll rose by 56 to 28,628 over the same period.

4.24pm update: Enough’s enough, urges woman who started “clap for carers”

The architect of the weekly “clap for carers” gesture has said next Thursday’s show of support should be the last, amid concerns the event has become politicised.

Annemarie Plas, a Dutch national living in South London, said she was “overwhelmed” by the support for the cacophonous ritual, but said it was better to stop when it was at “its peak”.

She said: “I think it’s good to have the last of the series next Thursday, because to have the most impact I think it is good to stop it at its peak.

“Without getting too political, I share some of the opinions that some people have about it becoming politicised.

“I think the narrative is starting to change and I don’t want the clap to be negative.”

4.18pm update: Children half as likely to catch COVID-19, study suggests

Children could be half as likely to catch coronavirus as adults and teachers do not appear to be at greater risk than other professions, according to new evidence.

The research emerged on Friday in papers assessing the impact of relaxing school closures from the Goverment’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).

Teaching unions and some councils have spoken out against the Government’s plans to begin a phased reopening of schools in England on June 1.

A review of global studies led by University College London found those aged under 20 had 56 percent less chance of being infected.

Children coronavirus

Children are significantly less likely to contract coronavirus, the study indicates (Image: GETTY)

4.03pm update: Ikea poised to reopen 19 stories

Ikea is set to reopen 19 stores across England and Northern Ireland, making it the latest big-name chain to announce plans to welcome back customers.

The stores are set to start reopening from June 1 and social distancing wardens will patrol stores to help shoppers and ensure they keep their distance.

But families will be banned, with Ikea saying it will allow one adult and one child per household inside the store at any one point.

The 19 stores reopening are Croydon, Greenwich, Lakeside, Wembley, Tottenham, Norwich collection point, Birmingham, Nottingham, Belfast, Manchester, Warrington, Gateshead, Leeds, Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Reading, Southampton, Bristol and Exeter.

3.50pm update: Bank Holiday shutdown means pubs will miss out on sale of 10 million pints

Pubs will miss out on sales of 10 million extra pints of beer over the bank holiday weekend because of the continued lockdown, it has been estimated.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) said pubs would have been packed on a normal late May Bank Holiday, with good weather forecast, and the FA Cup final usually held on the Saturday.

The trade body noted that pubs were the first businesses to be ordered to shut down by the Government in March and could be among the last to re-open.

The BBPA said not all pubs will reopen from July as many won’t be able to meet the social distancing measures required by then.

2.54pm update: Tributes paid to ‘fiercely proud’ NHS nurse

A “fiercely proud” nurse who died after contracting coronavirus had been working to keep his colleagues safe.

Joselito Habab, known as Jo, died at Whiston Hospital on Wednesday with his wife Michelle, an A and E nurse, by his side, a spokesman for Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said.

The father-of-one, originally from Manila in the Philippines, joined the trust almost 18 years ago.

He worked as a staff nurse in trauma and orthopaedics until 2011 when he became a clinical nurse educator and was awarded employee of the month.

2.50pm update: Easing two metre social distancing under review 

Easing the two-metre social distancing rule will continue to be kept under investigation, public health leaders have said.

Public Health England’s medical director Professor Yvonne Doyle told MPs that the UK had taken a “cautionary” approach to introducing the rule when other countries were using shorter distances.

She told the Science and Technology Select Committee on Friday that until more is known about how coronavirus is transmitted, the two-metre rule was “important”.

But when asked why the UK had decided on two metres when other countries like France, China and Hong Kong advised one metre, she said it will continue to be reviewed to see if it can be reduced.

She added: “We are aware of the international differences and I am sure this will be the subject of continued investigation as to whether two metres is actually necessary or whether that can be reduced further.”

READ MORE: Scientist warns it is ‘unlikely’ one drug will be effective on its own

coronavirus news

The UK’s stages for easing the lockdown (Image: EXPRESS)

2.40pm update: Ikea to reopen stores

Ikea is set reopen 19 stores across England and Northern Ireland from June 1 with a new series of safety measures to ensure social distancing, the retailer has announced.

The homewares chain said social distancing wardens will patrol the store and the number of customers would be limited. Stores in Scotland, Wales and Ireland will remain closed, in line with Government coronavirus guidance.

2.31pm update: Sturgeon lockdown roadmap attacked

Nicola oadmap out of Scotland’s lockdown resrictions have been criticised as “confusing” after the Scottish First Minister broke away from the UK-wide strategy to fight the coronavirus crisis.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon outlined a four-phase path out of the lockdown to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, with the first beginning on May 28, earlier this week.

Julia Hartley-Brewer posted on Twitter: “But, but… it’s so CONFUSING.”

2.23pm update: Wales coronavirus death toll

Public Health Wales said a further seven people have died after testing positive for coronavirus, taking the total number of deaths in Wales to 1,254.

Another 138 people have tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 12,984.

2.14pm update: UK death toll rises 351

The UK’s death toll from confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose by 351 to 36,393 as of 4pm on May 21, the health ministry said.

A total of 254,195 people had tested positive for the coronavirus as of 8am on May 22.

coronavirus latest

People are urged to follow two metre social distancing rules (Image: GETTY )

1.24pm update: Downing Street warning ahead of Bank Holiday

Downing Street has urged the public to “continue to abide by the social distancing rules” ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend.

It follows reports that beaches and beauty spots have been packed as the temperature has increased.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: “All of the anecdotal evidence suggests that the vast majority of the public are still following the rules.

“And by doing so are helping to save lives and we thank them for that.

“We recognise the sacrifices which the public are making but as we head into the long weekend we must all renew our efforts and continue to abide by the social distancing rules.”

12.28pm update: Spain eases lockdown restrictions

Lockdown restrictions to fight COVID-19 have been eased in Madrid.

12.20pm update: Fury over ‘Clap for Nic’ campaign 

Fury has erupted after a ‘Clap for Nic’ campaign was launched to applaud Nicola Sturgeon for her efforts during the coronavirus outbreak.

Supporters of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon are calling for people to clap between 6pm and 6.10pm tonight in tribute to the Scottish National Party leader for how she has handled the coronavirus crisis and “for not being bullied by Westminster”.

But critics of Ms Sturgeon have reacted in outrage, saying the SNP’s management of the COVID-19 crisis has been “shambles” and said they would not be joining the cla

Furious Twitter users took to the social media site to express their disgust at the plans for ‘Clap for Nic’.

coronavirus latest

Downing Street urged Britons to follow social distancing rules over the Bank Holiday (Image: PA)

11.59am update: Visa extensions granted to overseas nationals 

Overseas nationals who cannot return home due to the coronavirus pandemic will be granted visa extensions until the end of July.

This will apply to anyone whose leave expired after January 24 and cannot leave the country because of travel restrictions or self-isolation, the Home Office said.

But those currently in the UK on temporary visas, such as visitor visas, should return home as soon as it is safe and possible to do so, the department added.

It said: “Those who contact the Home Office for these visa extensions will be expected to return to their home countries as soon as possible once flight and border restrictions are lifted.”

People affected needed to contact a coronavirus immigration team which has been set up, by using an online form.

They added: “No immigration enforcement action will be undertaken during this time” for those who contact the team to notify them their visa has expired.

Some requirements on visa sponsors, like rules for non-EU nationals in the country for work or study, have also been waived.

11.15am update: Scientists launch new challenge on Boris Johnson’s June return date

A former chief scientific adviser has said keeping children out of school for an extra two weeks could halve their risk of contracting coronavirus.

10.54am update: PM faces rebellion over coronavirus lockdown

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing a potential cabinet uprising over his lockdown easing strategy.

While the Prime Minister favours a cautious approach to allowing people get back to normal, the majority of ministers support a “back to work” initiative in June.

If the country does not see an unexpected increase in the number of new coronavirus cases over the next 10 days, Mr Johnson’s close circle want him to reopen as many businesses as possible, The Daily Telegraph reports.

10.32am update: Children half as likely to catch coronavirus

Children and young people could be half as likely to catch coronavirus than adults, a scientific review of studies worldwide has found.

Those aged under 20 were 56 percent less likely to contract SARS-CoV-2, the official name of the new coronavirus which causes the disease Covid-19, from an infected person, the researchers said.

But the analysis of global test and tracing and population screening studies led by University College London (UCL) found the evidence “remains weak” on the likelihood that children transmit the virus. 

coronavirus latest

A desserted London during the coronavirus lockdown (Image: PA)

10.20am update: Police issues ‘don’t be an idiot’ warning ahead of bank holiday

A Chief Constable has issued a “don’t be an idiot” warning ahead of the bank holiday weekend after his officers were forced to break up a 100-strong street party.

Footage of people gathering in Handsworth, Birmingham, on Wednesday night, with one reveller asking officers if Covid-19 was real, has been released by West Midlands Police.

The force’s Chief Constable, Dave Thompson, re-tweeted the footage with a message stating: “I commend the amazing, patient work of officers in this footage.

“It’s what we have seen day in day out.”

Pointing out that similar behaviour could spread coronavirus and also divert officers from other work, Mr Thompson added: “Don’t be an idiot this weekend.”

8.42am update: Policeman attacked by mob for investigating social distancing 

A police officer has been taken to hospital after being attacked by a group of youths he was investigating for a possible breach of COVID-19 guidelines.

Surrey police say a lone officer was called to West Byfleet Park outside south-west London at 7.40pm after a report a group of young males were potentially contravening social distancing guidelines.

The officer was attacked while engaging with the men, and was taken to hospital with minor injuries to the wrist and head.

Police say three people – one adult and two juveniles – were arrested a short time later and taken into custody.

Any witnesses should call 101 quoting PR/ 45200052505.

coronavirus latest

Coronavirus latest: People in London head out as coronavirus restrictions are eased (Image: PA)

7.43am update: Next phase of testing to begin in older adults 

The next phase of coronavirus vaccine testing will focus on the immune response in older adults, the director of the Oxford University vaccine group said.

Professor Andrew Pollard told BBC Breakfast the first phase of the testing looked at the vaccine’s safety in people aged under 55.

Speaking about the next steps in the trials, he said: “Now we are looking at whether older adults have a similar immune response, then looking at those in the front line.

“There are two groups, the first are those over the age of 55, and they are divided into those being 55 and 70, and those who are over 70.

“And in that group we are looking very closely at immune responses, particularly in the oldest adults where often immune responses are a bit weaker than in younger adults.”

7.32am update: Next phases begin in vaccine trial 

Southampton researchers have begun recruiting volunteers for the next two phases in clinical trials they hope could bring a coronavirus vaccine this year.

Scientists at University Hospital Southampton (UHS) and the University of Southampton want to recruit up to 10,260 people from the area to trial the vaccine, the university said in a statement.

Work began in January on the vaccine, which uses a virus taken from chimpanzees and has been developed by the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute and the Oxford Vaccine Group.

The first phase of trialling involved 160 health volunteers between 18 and 55.

Phases II and III involve vastly increasing the number of volunteers while expanding the age range to include older adults and children.

coronavirus latest

Coronavirus testing is being increased (Image: PA)

7.24am update: India reports biggest 24-hour rise in virus cases as lockdown eases

India registered some 6,000 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, the country’s biggest jump in 24 hours, as New Delhi eases a nationwide lockdown and airlines prepare to resume some domestic flights.

The country of 1.3 billion people reported a total of over 118,000 confirmed cases on Friday, a roughly 5 percent increase from Thursday’s figures. Included in the total are 3,583 deaths.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extended a lockdown, begun on March 25, to May 31, but relaxed rules in areas with lower numbers of cases and allowed state governments to issue their own guidelines on some matters.

7.18am update: UK extends COVID-19 mortgage payment holiday by three months

Britain has extended its mortgage payment holiday scheme for homeowners in financial difficulty during the coronavirus pandemic for another three months.

The Treasury said over 1.8 million mortgage payment holidays had been taken up from a scheme that was launched in March.

Homeowners still struggling financially could also have the option of making reduced payments.

John Glen, economic secretary to the Treasury said in a statement: “Everyone’s circumstances will be different, so when homeowners can pay some or all of their mortgage, they should work with their lender on a plan; but if they are still struggling, I want them to know that help is there.”



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UK government borrowing hits record high in April and retail sales slump – business live | Business






Full story: Borrowing surge amid crisis





Retail sales slump: What the experts say









Covid-19 fears and Hong Kong tensions hit markets





UK internet shopping hits record high









UK borrowing: What the economists say









Introduction: Government borrowing hits £62bn in April

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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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China reports two new coronavirus cases: Live updates | China News


  • The United States government was slow to understand how fast coronavirus was spreading from Europe, which accelerated outbreaks across the country, says Dr Anne Schuchat, the number-two official at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • In Venezuela, more than 40 people died during a riot about coronavirus-related restrictions on family visits, while prisoners at a Brazilian jail held guards hostage for several hours in protest to the suspension of all visits.

  • Worldwide, the number of confirmed infections stands above 3.35 million, with nearly 239,000 deaths and approximately 1.05 million recoveries.

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) reiterated the coronavirus is believed to be “natural in origin”, responding to a claim by US President Donald Trump that he had seen evidence that indicated the virus emerged from a virology institute in Wuhan, China.

Here are the latest updates:

Sunday, May 3

06:35 GMT – S Korea to further ease physical distancing rules

South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said the country will further relax physical distancing rules starting on May 6.

The government “will allow businesses to resume at facilities in phases that had remained closed up until now, and also allow gatherings and events to take place assuming they follow disinfection guidelines”, he told a televised meeting of government officials.

06:10 GMT – Philippines temporarily bars incoming flights

Incoming passenger flights are barred from entering the Philippines for one week to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“This decision is meant to decongest our quarantine facilities to protect our people by preventing the further spread of COVID-19 and also ensure that our overseas Filipino workers are well taken care of when they arrive from abroad”, officials said in a statement.

Some 20,000 repatriated Filipinos are undergoing mandatory quarantine in the capital, Manila, officials said. Entry to the country is closed to all except repatriated Filipinos.

As of Sunday, the country has reported 8,928 infections and 603 deaths.

05:30 GMT – Thailand reports lowest number of cases, as some restrictions ease

Marking its lowest number since early March, Thailand reported three new coronavirus cases and no new deaths as it started easing restrictions on some business and aspects of life.

The country allowed businesses such as restaurants, hair salons and outdoor markets to reopen as long as physical distancing was maintained and temperature checks carried out.

So far, there have been a total of 2,966 infections and 54 deaths.

Hairdressers wear face shields and masks as they tend to customers at a barbershop in Bangkok on May 3, 2020, after it reopened due to an easing of measures to combat the spread

Hairdressers wear face shields and masks as they tend to customers at a barbershop in Bangkok after it reopened due to an easing of measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 [Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP]

04:51 GMT – World ‘needs a robust airline system for COVID-19 recovery’

Geoffrey Thomas, editor-in-chief of Airline Ratings, has said a lot more needs to be done to assist airlines with their recovery

“Across the globe, we’ve all got to make concessions. This is all costing us money. At the same time, whether we are supporting our local airline or our favourite local restaurant with takeaways – everybody needs help, and the airlines are no different. Because the airlines are losing half of their revenue for 2020, and some of the bailouts are absolutely massive,” he told Al Jazeera.

“In certain jurisdictions, it has been enough. For instance in the Middle East – some of the countries there have stepped up significantly, like Qatar. In other jurisdictions, they haven’t. In Australia, the federal government hasn’t supported its two airlines. So coming out of COVID-19, you’re going to get some airlines that are very well looked after and other ones that are not.”

He added: “A lot more needs to be done because aviation is the fabric of the economy of the world and we need a robust airline system to help with this recovery … Certainly, we want to preserve as many of these airlines as we possibly can for the highly competitive market that we want post-COVID-19.”

03:56 GMT – UK made contingency plan for Johnson’s death as he battled COVID-19

Boris Johnson, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, has said the British government made contingency plans for his death as his condition deteriorated while he battled COVID-19 last month in intensive care.

In an interview with The Sun newspaper on Sunday, Johnson said he was given “litres and litres of oxygen” to keep him alive. 

“They had a strategy to deal with a ‘death of Stalin’-type scenario,” Johnson told The Sun. “It was a tough old moment, I won’t deny it.”

03:05 GMT – Roche gets US FDA approval for antibody test

Roche Holding AG said received emergency use approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for an antibody test to help determine if people have ever been infected with the coronavirus.

The Swiss drugmaker said its antibody test, Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2, has a specificity greater than 99.8 percent and can help assess patients’ immune response to the new coronavirus, officially known as SARS-Cov-2.

02:36 GMT – South Korea reports 13 new cases 

Health authorities in South Korea reported 13 new coronavirus cases, of which 10 were imported. 

The country reported fewer than 15 cases for more than two weeks, and authorities say they plan to loosen social distancing rules this week. Details of the so-called “everyday life quarantine” are expected later today, according to the official Yonhap news agency. 

02:17 GMT – Rise in virus cases in crowded Indian jails prompts concerns

The spread of the coronavirus in India’s notoriously crowded prisons prompted authorities to impose jail lockdowns and release thousands of pretrial detainees on parole, as health experts worry the cramped facilities are serving as breeding grounds for the disease.

“It is a terrifying situation. If measures aren’t taken soon, then things can become extremely difficult,” Madhurima Dhanuka, head of the Prison Reforms Program for the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, told the Associated Press news agency.

Although there are no official numbers on how many inmates have been infected by the virus, India’s correction facilities are slowly recording more infections and have temporarily banned visitors.

On Thursday, authorities locked down Nagpur Central Jail in coastal Maharashtra, among the Indian states worst hit by the pandemic. It was the eighth prison in Maharashtra to be locked down. The move came after 19 inmates in Indore Central Jail in central Madhya Pradesh state tested positive for the virus on Tuesday.

Indian prisons are highly overcrowded. According to the latest data by the National Crimes Record Bureau in 2018, India has some 450,000 prisoners, exceeding the country’s official prison capacity by about 17 percent.

Prisons in New Delhi and neighbouring Uttar Pradesh state have the highest occupancy rates, at more than 50 percent above capacity.

Making matters worse, “the health facilities in prisons are not up to the mark,” said Dhanuka.

02:06 GMT – China reports two new coronavirus cases

China reported two new coronavirus cases for May 2, up from one the day before, according to data from the National Health Commission.

One case was imported and the other is local. This compared with one imported case and no domestic transmissions on May 1. The NHC also reported 12 asymptomatic cases for May 2, down from 20 the day before.

The number of confirmed cases in China has reached 82,877. With no new deaths reported, the death toll remains at 4,633.

01:46 GMT – Hundreds in US state of Oregon protest stay-at-home order

Hundreds opposed to Oregon’s stay-at-home order demonstrated in the city of Salem as health officials announced five additional deaths from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus

Most of the protesters did not wear face masks, but they waved American flags and Trump campaign signs in the rain. Other signs read, “Reopen Oregon” and “Let me earn a living”.

A group of healthcare workers demonstrated at the top of the Capitol steps, urging a phased plan to ease the state’s social distancing requirements. Most of the other protesters ignored them.

Oregon protest

A woman holds a sign saying Open Oregon on the steps of the state capitol at the ReOpen Oregon Rally on May 2, 2020, in Salem, Oregon [Terray Sylvester/Getty Images/AFP]

01:04 GMT – Pelosi, McConnell decline coronavirus tests for US Congress

The top Republican and Democrat in Congress said they are respectfully declining an offer of quick COVID-19 tests offered by the Trump administration.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, normally fierce political rivals, say Congress is “grateful” for the offer, but “wants to keep directing resources to the front-line facilities where they can do the most good the most quickly”.

The US’s 100 senators, many of whom are advanced in age, will return to Washington, DC on Monday following a recess that was prolonged due to the pandemic.

00:54 GMT – Yemen’s Houthi rebels call for more test kits

Taha al-Mutawakel, the Houthi public health minister, urged the United Nations to increase the number of testing kits for COVID-19. 

“We are sending this appeal given the global situation of coronavirus, the ongoing assault against our country, the embargo on our country, and because the amount of the PCR tests which the World Health Organization has sent to us is very little and is about to run out,” he told reporters in Sanaa on Saturday.

00:26 GMT – UN calls for probe into Venezuela prison riot that left 46 dead

The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has called for an investigation into a prison riot in western Venezuela that left 46 people dead and 75 injured.

The OHCHR said on Twitter it is “gravely concerned” about the incident on Friday at the Los Llanos penitentiary in Portuguesa state. The South American country’s prisons are infamous for extreme levels of violence and poor conditions.

“We urge the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation, tackle overcrowding, and guarantee basic rights,” the office said.

The riot came shortly after prison officials barred inmates’ family members from bringing them food, a measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus within prisons.

00:12 GMT – Guards freed after prison riot at Brazil’s Manaus

Prison authorities in Brazil said 10 guards and five inmates suffered non-critical injuries following an uprising at a prison in Manaus, a state capital in the Amazon rainforest.

The inmates held seven guards hostage for more than five hours, but the situation was brought under control, according to the state’s public security secretariat.

Relatives of inmates said the prisoners at Puraquequara prison were protesting the suspension of all family visits and poor conditions at the lockup amid the coronavirus pandemic.


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

You can find all the key developments from yesterday, March 2, here. 





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






Updated





Updated





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.

Updated





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.

Updated









Updated



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Coronavirus live news: US oil market collapses into negative prices | World news


Trump claimed at the start of the press conference that the coronavirus rate was better in the US than many other places in the country.

While the death rates in the US, both in comparison to the number of confirmed cases and in comparison to the population, are relatively good, they are not the best in the world based on the most reliable available data – which even experts agree may not be all that reliable.

Research by the US’s Johns Hopkins University showed that as of April 13, the death rate in the US was 4% of cases and 6.73 deaths per 100,000 population. That is significantly better than rates in hard hit countries such as Italy, Spain, the UK and France, and similar overall to Iran, which was also an early hotspot. But death rates are higher in the US than Germany, South Korea, Japan, Australia, and many other countries.

The death rate in China had been recorded as 4% of cases and 0.2 deaths per 100,000 population. That was before the Chinese government increased the official death toll from Wuhan, the original base of the outbreak, by 50%. And there are ongoing questions about all of China’s reported numbers in relation to the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the New York Times has published a long and useful article detailing the enormous difficulties in pinpointing death rates in different countries and even different areas and populations within countries.

The virus swept in so quickly and is still so relatively new that we are only now grasping that there may be huge numbers of people who have or had Covid-19 without showing symptoms, have not been tested or who died at home or in a care home without that death every being verified as resulting from coronavirus.

The New York Times gives a rough rule of thumb that, according to various unofficial Covid-19 trackers that calculate the death rate by dividing total deaths by the number of known cases, about 6.4% of people infected with the virus have now died worldwide.



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Ramadan prayers in Saudi to be held at home: Live Updates | News


  • Saudi Arabia has announced Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr prayers will take place at home amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Chinese city of Wuhan has raised its number of coronavirus fatalities by 1,290 to 3,869, most of China’s total. That brings the total fatalities nationwide to at least 4,642.
  • The number of people who have caught the disease, also known as COVID-19, has now reached 2,152,000 worldwide, with nearly 145,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.

Here are the latest updates:

Friday, April 17

14:05 GMT – Can the IMF overcome roadblocks to give aid to Iran? 

Iran entered the coronavirus crisis with a crippled economy that has left it ill-equipped to battle the disease and poorly positioned to eventually rebound from the pandemic’s myriad ravages.

Deprived of financial resources due to relentless rounds of US economic sanctions, Tehran did something in March it had not done in over a half a century: go cap in hand to the International Monetary Fund to request a $5bn emergency loan to fight COVID-19.

But asking is not getting. And even if the IMF is inclined to step up with an aid package, there is a massive obstacle to overcome. The US is the Fund’s biggest shareholder and can use its heft to obstruct financial assistance to Iran.

Read more here. 




China’s GDP shrinks for first time in recorded history (3:30)

14:00 GMT – ‘Life now is so difficult’: Food prices rocket amid DRC lockdown 

Swarms of black flies cover a festering slab of meat on Patrick Bwira’s stall in Goma’s sprawling Virunga market. Business for the 21-year-old butcher has dried up dramatically as a lockdown imposed in the city due to the coronavirus pandemic has ramped up pressure on the economy and seen food prices rocket.

“It’s very difficult,” said Bwira. “For now, I only just scrape enough money to eat. But no more than that – I can’t afford to do anything else in my life.”

For Bwira, the wholesale price for a small cut of beef has risen by a third, up to 8,000 Congolese francs ($4.66), all but wiping out his meagre daily earnings.

“I can’t go on like this,” he said.

Read more here. 

13:50 GMT – Netherlands coronavirus cases rise to 30,449 

The Netherlands has reported 1,235 new coronavirus cases, bringing its total number of infections to 30,449, the Dutch Institute for Public Health said. 

Meanwhile, the death toll rose by 144 to 3,459. 

13:40 GMT – UK’s coronavirus death toll reaches 14,576, total cases 13,729 

Britain’s death toll from the coronavirus has reached 14,576, up from 13,729 the previous day, the health ministry said. 

“341,551 people have been tested of which 108,692 tested positive,” it added. 

12:45 GMT – Qatar reports 560 coronavirus cases in past 24 hours

Qatar has reported 560 new COVID-19 cases, taking its total number to 4663, with 49 people recovering in one day.

No new deaths were reported.

Qatar stats

Qatar has 4663 coronavirus cases to date [MoPH]

12:30 GMT – Pakistanis gather for Friday prayers defying coronavirus advisory

A lack of consensus between religious leaders and the Pakistani government has seen Friday congregational prayers still being held at some mosques across the country, in defiance of government guidelines on social distancing amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

In the capital, Islamabad, hundreds gathered at the Red Mosque, led by hardline religious leader Abdul Aziz, to offer prayers, standing shoulder-to-shoulder and filling the mosque’s main hall to capacity.

Read more here.

12:12 GMT – The Scottish Muslim couple winning hearts amid coronavirus crisis

A Muslim couple, who own a grocery store in Falkirk, Scotland, has donated 3,000 masks and delivered more than 1,000 food parcels to people vulnerable to the coronavirus, winning praise from their community.

Dozens of NHS workers have died of COVID-19 and although the UK government downplays any correlation between the shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the deaths, healthcare workers across the country are struggling to cope

Read more here.

12:00 GMT – Papua New Guinea premier tested for coronavirus

Papua New Guinea’s prime minister is in self-isolation and has been tested for COVID-19 after possibly coming into contact with an infected person.

The precautions were taken after a staffer at the country’s main coronavirus emergency center, which premier James Marape recently visited, tested positive for COVID-19, according to ABC News.

The report said all workers at the National Operations Center, as well as people who visited the facility over the past week, including Marape, the country’s police minister and several journalists, are being tested for COVID-19.

11:45 GMT – Saudi grand mufti: Ramadan night, Eid prayers to be done at home amid coronavirus

Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh, the highest religious authority in the country, said that Muslim prayers during Ramadan and for the subsequent Eid al-Fitr feast should be performed at home if the coronavirus outbreak continues, Saudi’s Okaz newspaper reported.

“Ramadan’s Taraweeh (evening) prayer can be performed at home if it cannot be performed at mosques due to the preventive measures taken to fight the spread of coronavirus,” he said in response to a question, adding that same applies for Eid prayers, according to the paper.

10:35 GMT – Spain’s daily death toll from coronavirus rises to 585 on Friday

Spain’s overnight death toll from coronavirus rose to 585, up from 551 on Thursday but still far off figures of over 900 registered during the peak of the outbreak in early April.

It was unclear why the difference in the government’s death toll from Thursday and Friday did not reflect the overnight death rate.

The number of overall coronavirus cases rose to 188,068 on Friday from 182,816 on Thursday, a 2.9 percent increase.

10:06 GMT – Virus outbreak at Philippine jail fuels calls for prisoner releases

Eighteen guards and inmates at a jam-packed Philippine prison have tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said Friday, heightening fears of a rapid spread of the illness inside the country’s jails.

Another 30 prisoners were showing symptoms inside the Quezon City Jail in the capital Manila – a facility so crowded that inmates take turns sleeping on staircases and in open-air basketball courts.

The outbreak has fuelled calls from rights groups for the early release of prisoners charged with non-violent offences as well as the sick and elderly in an effort to ease congestion and lower the risk of transmission.

The Philippines has a steadily rising number of confirmed coronavirus cases, with 5,878 infections and 387 deaths to date.

09:45 GMT – Eastern Europeans flown in for ‘vital’ jobs on UK, German farms

Seasonal workers from Romania were flown into the United Kingdom on a special charter flight on Thursday evening to help fill a shortage of workers to pick fruits and vegetables on the country’s farms.

A flight from Bucharest, operated by Air Charter Service (ACS), touched down at Stansted Airport near London at around 5pm, carrying 150 people from Romania, Glenn Phillips from ACS tells Al Jazeera. Workers were then taken by bus to farms in the Midlands and the South East.

Read more here.

09:10 GMT – Africa coronavirus cases could hit 10 million in six months: WHO

Coronavirus cases in Africa could surge from just thousands now to 10 million within three to six months, according to provisional modelling, a regional World Health Organization (WHO) official said.

But Michel Yao, head of emergency operations for WHO Africa, said on Thursday it was a tentative projection that could change. He noted worst-case predictions for the Ebola outbreak had not come true because people changed their behaviour in time.

Read more here.

More:

08:50 GMT – Russia registers new record number of COVID-19 cases

Russia announced a new record number of coronavirus cases as well as deaths caused by the infection.

A total of 4,069 new cases were confirmed, bringing the tally to 32,007, the country’s emergency team said in a statement.

The death toll rose to 273, as 41 people died over the last 24 hours, the statement said.

08:20 GMT – Germany’s coronavirus outbreak ‘manageable again’ – health minister

The coronavirus outbreak in Germany has become manageable again as the number of patients who have made a recovery has been higher than the number of new infections every day this week, Health Minister Jens Spahn said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday Germany would take small steps out of lockdown with the partial reopening of shops next week and schools from May 4.

“The outbreak has – as of today – become controllable and manageable again,” Spahn told a news conference, adding that the health care system had “at no time been overwhelmed so far”.

Coronavirus precautions in Germany

Earlier, Spahn said a coronavirus contact-tracing app will be ready for Germans to download and use on their smartphones in three to four weeks [File: Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu]

07:40 GMT – Pope prays for pregnant women during pandemic

Pope Francis asked the faithful to pray for pregnant women as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Speaking to an audience of a few priests and nuns at morning mass in his residence at the Vatican, the pope said “I would like us to pray for women who are expecting a baby”, to give them “courage to carry these children” in a world that “will certainly be a different world”.

The pope has been conducting all his events within the Vatican walls as the pandemic continues to spread around the globe.

06:45 GMT – London mayor calls for compulsory face masks on transport

London Mayor Sadiq Khan called on the British government to make face masks compulsory for people travelling around the capital or shopping.

The mayor said evidence from around the world showed that face coverings help stop the spread of the virus.

New York has ordered residents to wear masks or substitute face coverings when in any public situation that may not allow them to be at least six feet away from others.

“In those circumstances where its not possible for us to keep our social distance, think of public transport usage, think of when you’re in a shop, we should be using non-medical facial coverings like bandandas, like scarves, like reusable masks,” Khan told the BBC.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan

The UK’s distancing guidelines do not mention face masks, but Khan said that should change [File: Jack Taylor/Getty]

06:23 GMT – Saudi Arabia faces coronavirus crisis from position of strength: Minister

Saudi Arabia is facing the current global crisis from a position of strength, given its strong financial position and reserves, and relatively low government debt, its finance minister said.

Mohammed al-Jadaan said in the virtual meeting of the International Monetary and Financial Committee, held on Thursday, that the Saudi government’s priorities are necessary resources for its healthcare system, as well as financial and economic support to those affected while taking into account the re-prioritisation of spending under the current circumstances, Saudi state news agency SPA reported.




US state governors to decide on easing lockdowns


Hello, this is Usaid Siddiqui taking over from my colleague Ted Regencia.


 

05:32 GMT – Pakistan gets $1.5bn loan from IMF

The International Monetary Fund has given Pakistan $1.5bn in emergency financing to help absorb some of the devastating economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The government has been handing out roughly $70 to more than 10 million families hit hardest by the lockdown.

Pakistan has 7,025 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 135 deaths, an increase of 11 in the last 24 hours.

Pakistan

The government of Pakistan has been handing out roughly $70 to more than 10 million hardest-hit families [BK Bangash/AP]

05:01 GMT – New cases in South Korea down for fifth day

South Korea has reported 22 new cases of the coronavirus, the fifth day in a row its daily jump was in the 20s, with no fresh cases reported in the hardest-hit city of Daegu, where infections have waned in past weeks.

South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said on Friday that its national totals have reached 10,635 cases, with 230 reported deaths.

04:28 GMT – Myanmar to release 25,000 prisoners

Myanmar will release almost 25,000 prisoners in an amnesty to mark the traditional New Year, the president’s office said on Friday, as the government also grapples with the spread of the coronavirus.

President Win Myint said 24,896 people jailed across the country, including 87 foreigners, would be freed unconditionally “to bring delights to the citizens of Myanmar and taking into consideration humanitarian concerns”

Concerns have been raised about the spread of the virus among prisoners in Myanmar jails.

04:00 GMT – China arrests hoarders of face masks

Chinese police have arrested 42 people for hoarding and driving up the price of the cloth material used to make face masks, as well as illegally producing shoddy and inferior material for resale.

The Ministry of Public Security said in a statement Friday that a nationwide taskforce had been formed to crack down on crimes related to the production of masks.

The statement said raids in the southern industrial hub of Guangdong and three other provinces in early and mid-March resulted in the breaking of 20 cases and the seizure of material worth almost $5m.

China has become a major exporter of masks and the raw material for making them, and sought to tighten quality standards following complaints from some countries about inferior products.

Masks - China

China’s Ministry of Public Security said a nationwide taskforce had formed to crack down on crimes related to the production of masks [Andy Wong/AP]

03:50 GMT – Singapore reports 728 new coronavirus cases

Singapore has reported 728 new coronavirus cases, a record daily high for a second straight day that was broadly expected amid increased testing in dormitories housing foreign workers.

The health ministry said foreign workers accounted for 90 percent of the new cases, with five new clusters reported in the crowded dormitories housing up to 20 men in each room with shared facilities. It said the sharp rise in cases pushed total infections past the 4,000 mark to 4,427.

03:05 GMT – UN warns coronavirus putting children in jeopardy

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is warning that coronavirus is putting many of the world’s children “in jeopardy”, is urging families everywhere and leaders at all levels to “protect our children”.

Guterres said “children have so far been largely spared from the most severe symptoms of the disease.”

But with a global recession gathering pace, he said: “There could be hundreds of thousands additional child deaths in 2020.”

Coronavirus - Brazil

Manicurist Leticia Machado, 31, poses for a photo with 4 of her 7 children at her home in Rio de Janeiro during the coronavirus lockdown [Silvia Izquierdo/AP]

02:55 GMT – China reports more imported coronavirus cases

China’s National Health Commission reported 26 new coronavirus cases on Friday, including 15 coming from abroad.

Beijing made the announcement as the country’s bureau of statistics said the COVID-19 pandemic has been the most difficult public health emergency since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

The news also comes as the government announced that the country’s economy has shrunk 6.8 percent during the first quarter of 2020 – the first ever economic contraction since 1976.

02:40 GMT – Australia may keep some coronavirus restrictions for a year

Australian public life could be constrained for another year because of the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned on Friday, as the country’s most populous state mulled sending children to school in shifts.

Morrison said some measures, like a rule requiring people to stand at least 1.5 metres apart, would likely remain for several months, given there was no guarantee a vaccine would be developed in that time.

“Social distancing is something we should get very used to,” Morrison told radio station 3AW. “It could be a year, but I’m not speculating about that.”

02:06 GMT – Japanese cabinet official tests positive for coronavirus

Japan’s cabinet announced on Friday that another official had tested positive for the coronavirus, the third case among officials at the cabinet office.

The infected cabinet official, who is in his 50s, works at the cabinet’s council for science, technology and innovation, but had no close contact with ministers around when he developed symptoms from April 10, an official at the cabinet office said. He was confirmed with the virus on April 16.

Two officials who worked with the man, and were within two metres, are staying at home but have not yet been tested, based on cabinet policy, according to the cabinet office.

As of Thursday, there were an estimated 9,000 infections in Japan and nearly 200 deaths.

More:

01:40 GMT – Xi, Putin discuss coronavirus response of China and Russia

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, have spoken over the phone to discuss their countries’ latest response to the pandemic, state-own Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.

According to the report, Xi and Putin rejected the “politicisation of the pandemic”, which first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Xi was quoted as saying that Beijing is “confident” that under Putin’s leadership, Russia will “stem the spread” of the disease. It has been reported in recent days that several Chinese nationals who returned to their country through the Russian border had tested positive for the coronavirus.

01:28 GMT – Guatemala: 44 deportees from US positive of coronavirus

At least 44 of the 76 Guatemalans deported on one flight from the US this week have tested positive for coronavirus, a Guatemalan government official with knowledge of the situation said, amid rising rejection of deportees due to virus fears.

Later, Guatemala Minister of Foreign Affairs Pedro Brolo told AP news agency that the government had again suspended deportation flights. He did not explain why, but said the move was temporary.

Guatemala - coronavirus

At least 76 Guatemalan citizens who were deported from the US arrived in the capital on Monday [Moises Castillo/AP]

00:32 GMT – Trudeau says Canada’s restrictions with US to remain

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that the country’s border restrictions with the US will remain in place “for a significant amount of time” as the two countries fight the coronavirus outbreak.

Washington and Ottawa agreed last month to clamp down on non-essential travel while allowing trade to continue across their lengthy shared frontier.

“As we move forward, there will be special thought given to this relationship. But at the same time we know that there is a significant amount of time, still, before we can talk about loosening such restrictions,” Trudeau told a daily briefing.

00:21 GMT – Balkan states agree to coordinate coronavirus response

Health ministers of the Western Balkan countries have agreed to facilitate any joint action in the fight against the coronavirus, according to the Kosovo Health Ministry.

A statement on Thursday said Kosovar Health Minister Arben Vitia had telephone calls with his colleagues in the region in which they agreed that “transport routes for goods, health personnel and medical equipment remain free.”

All countries are in lockdown, with only goods able to cross borders.

COVID-19 has infected 8,801 people and killed 233 in the six Western Balkan countries.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Hello, I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. You can find all the updates from yesterday, April 16, here.





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The city skyline of downtown Buffalo, N.Y. on October 21, 2012.

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The city skyline of downtown Buffalo, N.Y. on October 21, 2012.

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The nation’s counties say they are facing major challenges meeting the demands of the coronavirus pandemic. Local governments are seeing a steep rise in the number of people seeking help from programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“On a daily basis, we’re seeing ten times as many applications as we normally would,” says Mark Polancarz, a county executive in the Buffalo, N.Y. area. Counties eventually are reimbursed for the payments, but that process is largely on hold while offices are shut down and county employees are forced to work from home. “The counties are on the frontlines having to provide that right up front…and we don’t have the revenue sources that normally would cover that.”

With the pandemic, Teryn Zmuda, an economist with the National Association of Counties says, “Budgets and the financial viability of our counties is being hit hard at the local level.” Counties rely mostly on sales and property taxes for their revenue. Both are likely to take a big hit from the economic downturn that’s resulted from the pandemic.

Counties and states stand to receive some $150 billion in federal aid from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress. Matt Chase, the National Association of Counties’ executive director says, “The biggest challenge we have is the way the law was written. We cannot be reimbursed for lost revenue.” At a time when counties have growing expenses, they’re facing significant declines in revenue that make responding to the pandemic even more difficult.

In the Chicago area, Cook County board president Toni Preckwinkle says her county has a reserve fund that can cover at least two months of expenses. “But clearly, when the economy falls off a cliff, even people who have the recommended reserves are challenged,” she says. “Crunch time for us I think is May.” Her staff is working on new budget projections that may leave the county with some tough choices.

Another major concern for local governments is the uncertainty of the municipal bond market. Soaring interest rates on bonds have dramatically driven up costs for counties and largely shut them out from the market at a time when they need access to credit. Faced with increased expenses and less cash on hand, counties are looking to the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve for help. Congress has made available $454 billion that could be used to shore up the municipal bond market. NACO director Chase says he’s not sure how much support is needed. “We would like it be…big enough to signal to investors that the tax-exempt municipal market is safe and is a wise investment.”

Counties are also caught in a dilemma about what to do about elections. As seen this week in Wisconsin, holding elections during a pandemic brings many challenges. In a call with county executives last week, Chase says elections topped their list of concerns. Especially in rural counties he says, there are two issues. The first is finding suitable poll locations. “We often use nursing homes, schools and community halls that may be shut down.” The second problem is finding people to staff the polls. “These volunteers are often 65 years or older, often in their seventies. And they are telling our counties right now, ‘If you hold the election, we will not show up.'” As a result, counties are delaying elections where possible and increasingly studying using mail in ballots.



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