What you need to know
- Global confirmed cases stand at over 1.6 million with over 100,000 dead, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University
- Italy and Ireland are extending their lockdown measures until May
- Spain records its lowest death toll in 17 days
- A newspaper reports that Italy’s lockdown will be extended to May 3
- On Good Friday, over 2 billion Christians will stay away from church and many other events and vacations have been canceled
Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)
22:39 Two million protective face masks and 50,000 protective suits arrived in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate on Friday evening. The personal protective equipment (PPE) is set to be distributed to hospitals, care homes, health authorities and other public health institutions in the state. It will also be delivered to the police service, judiciary and asylum seeker reception centers, said a statement released by the state’s government.
Companies in Rhineland-Palatinate ordered the PPE from China. The gear was flown to Germany via Belgium before being transported to the German city of Mainz under police protection. Masks and other PPE have become highly sought-after by governments around the world during the pandemic. Germany accused the US of “piracy” after a shipment of face masks bound for Germany were diverted from an airport in Bangkok.
21:47 Lifting coronavirus measures prematurely could lead to a “deadly resurgence,” cautioned the World Health Organization (WHO). Spain and Italy are both relaxing some measures while their lockdowns continue – the countries have been hardest-hit by the virus in Europe. Italy has reported over 18,000 deaths from COVID-19, while Spain has recorded over 15,900.
“I know that some countries are already planning the transition out of stay-at-home restrictions. WHO wants to see restrictions lifted as much as anyone,” said the health body’s chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, speaking at a virtual news conference in Geneva. “At the same time, lifting restrictions too quickly could lead to a deadly resurgence. The way down can be as dangerous as the way up if not managed properly.”
The WHO is working with countries affected by the virus to develop strategies for “gradually and safely easing restrictions,” said Ghebreyesus.
20:46 Uruguay on Saturday will repatriate 112 Australians and New Zealanders from a cruise ship that has been stranded in the La Plata River near capital Montevideo since March 27, the government of the small South American country said.
The operation is to begin Friday evening when the ship is scheduled to dock in the Port of Montevideo. The Greg Mortimer is an Antarctic cruise ship operated by Aurora Expeditions.
The passengers, most of whom have tested positive for the coronavirus, are to be bussed to a special airport terminal with strict health controls. They are scheduled to board a Melbourne-bound charter flight in the early morning hours of Saturday.
20:11 France reported 987 more people have died of COVID-19, putting the total death toll at 13,197 on Friday.
Authorities also reported a drop in COVID-19 patients requiring intensive care, lowering the tally from 7,066 on Thursday to 7,004 on Friday. The number of the infected now stands at 90,676, with 4,342 new cases registered in 24 hours.
“We seem to be reaching a plateau, albeit a high level,” health ministry director Jerome Salomon told reporters.
19:59 US President Donald Trump said he was forming a “council” to help restart public and economic life in the country.
At the daily White House briefing on Thursday, Trump said some state governors would take part in it, following reports that the body would include Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow. “We will be announcing that in a short while. Probably Tuesday,” Trump told reporters.
19:55 Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro took to the streets of the capital, Brasilia, on Friday, drawing crowds and greeting followers in his latest public attack on social distancing measures to fight the coronavirus outbreak. Bolsonaro, who describes COVID-19 as a “little flu,” says the restrictions mandated by state governors and his own public health officials are an unnecessary drag on the economy. The president’s stance drew sharp criticism both within the country and abroad. Brazil is the country hardest hit by the pandemic in Latin America, with the death toll crossing 1,000 on Friday.
The ministry’s latest figures gave a toll of 19,638 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 1,056 deaths.
19:30 At the daily White House briefing, US President Donald Trump said the infection curve in the US was flattening.
“In the midst of grief and pain, we are seeing clear signs that our aggressive strategy is saving countless lives,” he said.
Previously, some health officials warned it would be too soon to re-open the nation’s economy in early May. When asked during the briefing, Trump said he would “certainly listen” to the experts’ advice.
The White House coronavirus response coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, confirmed that officials saw “encouraging signs,” but warned that “as encouraging as they are, we have not reached the peak.”
She said there were positive reports from New York City, and that the US was starting to reduce the infection curve “like Italy did about a week ago.”
19:17 Turkey has ordered a 48-hour curfew in 31 cities starting midnight Friday in a bid to contain the transmission of the coronavirus in the country. The Interior Ministry said in a statement the order would last until midnight Sunday in dozens of cities, including the economic hub of Istanbul and the capital, Ankara. The announcement comes on a day when the nation’s death toll from COVID-19 crossed 1,000. Turkey currently has over 47,000 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2, according to Johns Hopkins University.
18:15 Moscow will start issuing passes for people who still need to leave their homes amid lockdown, starting with those heading to work. The system could later be expanded to give passes to people moving around in their neighborhoods, said Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin.
“The pass system for moving around the city necessarily means additional restrictions and inconvenience,” Sobyanin said. “But when the issue is health and lives of an enormous number of people, there is no choice.”
The mayor also said the pandemic crisis has been growing more severe this week in the city of 12 million residents.
“There is a rapid growth of people seriously suffering from pneumonia,” Sobyanin said in a video address on Friday. “If previously there were around 500 people being hospitalized per day, today its already 1,300.”
Russia has almost 12,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with nearly two-thirds of them reported in the nation’s capital.
18:05 In Italy, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he has made the “difficult” decision to extend the country’s lockdown until May 3. Meanwhile, Italy’s daily rate of new infections and deaths has dropped with the total number of COVID-19 cases now at 147,577.
The daily increase in total cases has been under 4% since Sunday, compared with increases of more than 20% in early March.
The death rate on Friday dropped to 570, down from the previous day’s 610.
The number of people who have recovered from the disease has risen by 1,985, to 30,455, while the number of patients in intensive care has fallen for the seventh day in a row, by 108 to 3,497.
17:44 Over 100,000 people have now died from the new coronavirus, according to figures provided by the Johns Hopkins University. On Friday afternoon, the tally showed 100,376 deaths and over 1,650,000 confirmed cases. The US-based university also said nearly 368,700 people have already recovered from the disease. Italy has seen the most deaths so far — 18,849.
17:00 Here’s a round-up of the latest developments on the health emergency in Europe:
UK: The United Kingdom’s official coronavirus-related death toll jumped by 980 on Friday to 8,958. It’s the biggest daily rise in UK fatalities to date.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson needs time to recover from coronavirus and is unlikely to be back at work soon, his father said Friday. Johnson, 55, spent three nights in the intensive care unit at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London after his COVID-19 symptoms worsened. He was moved back to a regular ward on Thursday evening, and his office said he was in “the early phase of his recovery.”
Ireland: Ireland has extended the lockdown measures it put in place to combat the spread of coronavirus until May 5, Irish PM Leo Varadkar said.
“The restrictions we introduced two weeks ago were due to expire on Sunday. Today the expert recommendation is to extend them for a further three weeks,” he said in a televised address. “What we’re doing is difficult, but it’s making a difference and we have to keep going,” he added.
Ireland has shut bars, restaurants and nonessential retail, and told people not to travel more than two kilometers (1.2 miles) from their home or visit friends and family.
Poland: Poland may see the peak of infections from the coronavirus in the coming days, government spokesman Piotr Muller said. “It seems that if we will maintain our discipline, there is a chance that this infection rise may reach its maximum in the coming days, to gradually slow down later,” Muller told public broadcaster TVP Info.
Earlier, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Poland may see a peak of infections in May or June. Poland reported 5,742 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 175 deaths as of Friday evening, according to data published by Johns Hopkins University. 318 people have so far recovered from the disease.
France: Fifty crew members aboard France’s sole aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, have tested positive for coronavirus and parts of the ship have been put in lockdown, France’s Defense Ministry said.
Spain: The coronavirus death toll curve in Spain flattened further on Friday and the government prepared to start easing one of the world’s strictest lockdowns. The number of daily deaths fell to 605 on Friday, the lowest figure since March 24, the Health Ministry said. The rate of increase has dropped to 4%, down from 20% two weeks ago. Spain’s total death toll stood at 15,843 as of Friday.
“We are seeing the curves are on the decline, even though there are still many cases,” said Maria Jose Sierra, the deputy head of health emergencies. Although health officials say the pandemic has peaked in the country, they have urged the population to adhere strictly to the ongoing restrictions which were put in place on March 14 in order to slow the spread of the virus.
Portugal: Portugal is extending the state of emergency imposed to combat coronavirus until May 1, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said on Friday. “At this decisive moment, we cannot lower our guard.”
Speaking at a morning show on TVI television on Friday, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said: “It would be a wrong signal for the country to lift the state of emergency.”
“There is still no light at the end of the tunnel,” Costa said. “We have to walk through this tunnel and the more disciplined we are now the faster we will get to the end of it.”
Italy: Italy’s daily coronavirus death toll and new cases have declined slightly. The country on Friday reported 570 new deaths from the pandemic, down from the previous day’s 610, bringing the total number of fatalities to 18,849. The number of new cases also slowed modestly to 3,951 from a previous 4,204.
Lithuania: Lithuania’s government is working on a plan to slowly and deliberately bring the country out of its coronavirus-induced lockdown, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said on Friday. The prime minister told the BNS news agency that the government will next week outline a four-step plan to cautiously relax restrictions, but only if existing social distancing rules continue to be adhered to.
Greece: Authorities in central Greece have placed a Roma settlement under a two-week quarantine after discovering several coronavirus cases among its inhabitants. “There will be tests throughout the area that is under lockdown,” local governor Costas Agorastos told the Proto Thema daily Friday, adding that screenings would also be carried out in other Roma communities in the area.
An additional 200 people in the community were tested Friday, state news agency ANA said. The civil protection authority has not reported the result of the tests.
Belgium: Belgium’s death toll from the novel coronavirus pandemic has topped 3,000, officials said after the country recorded 496 more deaths in the past 24 hours. Health authorities said the big jump over previous daily counts included 171 fatalities in retirement homes that took place in the last half of March.
14:51 Turkey’s largest city Istanbul — the epicentre of Covid-19 infections in the country — may soon run out of enough intensive care units to cope with the spread of the virus, a medical expert has warned.
With nearly 16 million inhabitants, Istanbul has some 4,600 intensive care beds — 80% of which are already occupied, Turkish Medical Association head Sinan Adiyaman told the DPA news agency
The occupancy rate will increase, Adiyaman warned, adding that Turkey was far from prepared for the peak of the outbreak.
Turkey has so far reported 908 deaths from the virus and 42,282 infections. Istanbul has 60% of all coronavirus cases in the country.
The government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has shared plans to build two pandemic hospitals in the city within 45 days.
14:42 Travelers entering Germany from abroad must now go into home quarantine for two weeks under new rules to stem the further spread of the coronavirus in the country.
At Germany’s largest transport hub, Frankfurt airport, several thousand people were affected on Friday. Some 80% of those travelers had returned home as part of the German government’s repatriation operation, according to a federal airport police spokesman.
Police were on hand at the airport from early Friday to inform travelers about the rules, which also mean they must report to their local health authority upon returning home.
There are exemptions for truck drivers, cross-border commuters, and people who have spent less than 24 hours out of the country, with the regulation in place until at least April 19.
14:31 The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other oil-producing nations like Russia agreed to boost crude prices by cutting production by as much as 10 million barrels a day, or a tenth of daily global supply. More countries, including the US, were discussing Friday their own cuts in what would be an unprecedented global pact to stabilize the market.
The agreement aims to cut production by 10 million barrels per day until July, then 8 million barrels per day through the end of the year, and 6 million a day for 16 months beginning in 2021. Mexico had initially blocked the deal but has later agreed to it following intervention from US President Donald Trump.
The price of crude is down by over 50% since the start of the year as the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a collapse in demand following a slump in economic activity and lockdowns in a number of countries worldwide.
16:15 Hundreds of Christians in the German city of Dusseldorf were able to attend a Good Friday church service despite the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to a drive-in cinema.
Some 400 cars turned up for the service, which worshippers were able to listen to via their car radios.
The ecumenical service was jointly led by both a Protestant and Catholic member of the clergy, who stood together on a stage. Some followers brought their convertibles, others opened their sunroofs.
Tickets, which were available for free online ahead of the event, were scanned through car windows to reduce the risk of infection.
A Catholic Mass is to be held on Easter Sunday and a Protestant service on Easter Monday.
14:03 Thousands of Romanian seasonal workers on Friday waited to board chartered planes to Germany after the government decided to allow the flights despite the new coronavirus pandemic. On Thursday, images of some 1,800 seasonal workers waiting shoulder by shoulder in a packed parking lot at the airport in Cluj-Napoca in central Romania made rounds on television and on social media.
Authorities are investigating whether the crowd breached strict social distancing and other rules to stop the spread of the new coronavirus. Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said it was “inadmissible” that workers had waited for flights in large numbers without “measures taken regarding physical distancing and protective equipment.”
Around 300,000 seasonal workers travel to Germany each year, mainly from Poland and Romania, to help with fruit and vegetable harvests, according the German Farmers’ Association. Romania, which has recorded 5,467 coronavirus cases and 265 deaths so far, declared a state of emergency last month and banned regular flights to a number of EU countries, including Italy, Spain, France and Germany.
13:32 The small town of Oberammergau in southern Germany, world-famous for its passion play, could be being largely spared from coronavirus infections because of its 17th-century vow to put on the performance every 10 years, its pastor believes.
The residents made the vow in 1633 as the bubonic plague was ravaging Europe, praying that God would spare them if they kept their promise.
“God helped the people back then. He saved them from the plague epidemic, spared them. That continues similarly today,” said Pastor Thomas Gröner. The town did, indeed, have far fewer deaths in 1634 than the year before, according to the death register of the time.
Although the town has so far had only two cases of COVID-19, the pandemic has forced the postponement till 2022 of the 42nd performance of the play, which depicts the last weeks of Christ on Earth as recounted in the Christian bible.
12:13 South Korean officials have said that 91 patients who were thought to be clear of the novel coronavirus had tested positive again. But the director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Jeong Eun-kyeong, said the patients had not necessarily been re-infected and that the virus may have been “reactivated.” Investigations are ongoing that will examine the correctness of test results, among other things.
The announcement could nonetheless fuel concern that people who have recovered from COVID-19 may not become immune to the disease. This would be bad news for many countries hoping that populations will develop enough immunity to prevent a resurgence of the pandemic.
11:44 The current pandemic could drive 420–580 million people back into poverty in a worst-case scenario, undoing some 10 years of work fighting the problem, researchers at the United Nations University in Tokyo say. They think the Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia will be the worst-hit regions.
Their study said that “the potential impact of COVID-19 poses a real challenge to the UN Sustainable Development Goal of ending poverty by 2030 because increases in the relative and absolute size of the number of poor … could represent a reversal of approximately a decade of progress in reducing poverty.”
11:40 The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris still marked Good Friday despite France’s stick lockdown measures and a hole in its roof from last year’s fire. With only three companions, Archbishop Michel Aupetit proceeded into the 800-year-old structure wearing a builder’s helmet which he took off to bow before the Crown of Thorns.
One of the holiest relics in Christianity, the crown is traditionally believed to have been placed on Jesus’ head by Roman soldiers mocking him before the crucifixion commemorated on Good Friday. The relic was rescued by firefighters during the blaze that devastated the cathedral a year ago next Wednesday.
11:32 German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has criticized Donald Trump’s handling of the outbreak as too slow. He told Der Spiegel magazine that while China took very authoritarian measures, while in the US, the virus was played down for a long time.” He added that “these are two extremes, neither of which can be a model for Europe.”.
Maas told the magazine he hoped Washington would rethink its international relationships in light of the coronavirus crisis, adding that aggressive trade policies may have hurt the country’s ability to procure protective equipment.
10:43 France says 50 sailors aboard the aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle have tested positive for the coronavirus. The Defense Ministry said three people have been evacuated and the ship is continuing its journey to Toulon in southern France. None of the 50 crew who tested positive for COVID-19 have suffered “worsening health” so far, the ministry’s statement said. The origin of the virus was not yet known but all crew were now wearing face masks.
10:12 Iran, the country most affected by the pandemic in the Middle East, has reported 122 new deaths. The total death toll is now 4,232. Another 1,972 people tested positive in the past 24 hours, making a total of 68,192, Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpur told state TV, adding that 3,969 people were in critical condition.
09:55 The leaders of North Macedonia’s two largest parties are self-isolating after giving an interview to a reporter who later tested positive for the coronavirus. Reporters were told that Social Democrat former prime minister Zoran Zaev and Hristijan Mickoski, head of the nationalist opposition VMRO, will remain at home for two weeks. The reporter is in a hospital in a stable condition. North Macedonia had officially reported 663 COVID-19 cases by Thursday afternoon.
09:48 Belgium has recorded 496 new deaths, taking the total number of people killed with COVID-19 to 3,019. Health authorities said the big jump over previous daily counts included 171 fatalities in retirement homes that took place in the last half of March.
09:43 There are growing calls for a debt jubilee for developing countries whose economies are likely to be ravaged by the health emergency. Chief of the United Nations Development Programme Achim Steiner told DW that wealthier nations have a responsibility to provide “massive investment in developing countries” and consider debt relief or cancellation during the pandemic. He warned that the health crisis “is becoming a social and economic and a developmental crisis,” adding that poorer states don’t have sufficient health infrastructures in place and lack social safety nets to deal with the impact of the pandemic.
Steiner said the UN and the international community must cooperate and step up efforts to help developing countries “stabilize” their health systems and “urgently” provide fiscal means.
09:34 Spain has reported 605 new fatalities, its lowest death toll in 17 days. Health Ministry figures put the overall number of deaths at 15,843. The country has also seen 4,576 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, taking the total confirmed infections to 157,022.
09:18 Italy will extend most measures of the country’s month-long lockdown until May 3 to avoid a second coronavirus wave, according to local media. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will reportedly issue a decree either Friday or Saturday prohibiting people from taking walks or lingering in parks
The newspaper Corriere della Serra said the prime minister will allow a small number of businesses, including stationery shops and a number of agricultural machinery manufacturers to reopen when the existing measures expire on April 13 due to mounting pressure.
Most Italians have been banned from leaving their houses since March 12. “If scientists confirm it, we might begin to relax some measures already by the end of this month,” Conte told the BBC on Thursday.
09:11 Malta’s armed forces have rescued 64 North African migrants from a sinking boat inside the country’s rescue zone and brought them ashore.; The move came hours after the government warned that no refugees would be allowed into the country after it closed its ports due to the coronavirus pandemic. The migrants will be kept in detention.
“It is in the interest, and is the responsibility, of such people not to endanger themselves on a risky voyage to a country which is not in a position to offer them a secure harbor,” the Maltese government said. The island nation had imposed a 14-day quarantine on all travelers entering the country. There are currently 319 confirmed cases of the virus and one registered coronavirus-related death.
08:06 Here is a round-up of the latest on the health emergency in Asia:
Cambodia: The country’s parliament has passed a law paving the way for a state of emergency, which Prime Minister Hun Sen has said he might have to declare to strengthen the country’s fightback against the coronavirus. The emergency measures would give Sen far-reaching powers. The prime minister has previously been strongly condemned by rights groups and the international community for his aggressive crackdowns on opponents, civil rights groups and the media.
“The purpose of making this law for Cambodia is not unique, as there is this law already in many other democratic countries,” said Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin. “The law is intended to protect public order, security, people’s interests, lives, health, property and the environment.”
The law allows the government to control media, monitor communications and restrict the distribution of information that could stoke unrest or considered to be a threat to national security.
China: Beijing says it’s willing to boost trade relations with countries, including the US, as its coronavirus epicenter Wuhan emerged from a monthslong lockdown and resumed production. The Ministry of Commerce said China will likely see a resurgence in foreign trade but added that uncertainty about the coronavirus epidemic is the country’s biggest challenge.
Japan: Tokyo has asked some businesses including restaurants, internet cafes, and pachinko (gambling) venues to shorten their opening hours from Saturday during a month-long emergency through May 6. City governor Yuriko Koike said she was calling for the shutdown of various businesses after resolving a feud with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s team over the extend of business closures. Meanwhile, Japan’s ancient city of Kyoto has warned tourists to stay away.
Indonesia: Jakarta has imposed a partial lockdown, deploying soldiers and police to enforce its toughest social-distancing restrictions yet. Those found violating the new rules can face a heavy fine and up to a year in jail. The government has banned gatherings of more than five people, reduced public transport and limited restaurants to online delivery orders. President Joko Widodo declared a state of emergency in March but rejected calls for a nationwide lockdown fearing economic collapse and widespread poverty.
Pakistan: The country plans to end its three-week lockdown following warnings that a prolonged economic halt could lead to some 18 million job losses and plunge half of the country’s population into poverty. The cabinet decided to allow people to resume work in agricultural fields and re-open several industries including steel and cement manufacturing from April 14. Pakistan’s retail and transport sectors would be the next to emerge out of the lockdown.
South Korea: Twenty-seven new cases of coronavirus were registered on Friday, making it the ninth consecutive day when new cases numbered less than 100. The country has seen a decrease since its peak in early March when it was reporting around 500 cases every day. However, health official Jeong Eun-kyeong warned of a “quiet spread” as social distancing measures are eased and public life begins to return to normal.
Vietnam: The country plans to take a $1 billion international loan as budget deficit widens. The government will also aim to disburse $30 billion (€27.4 billion) in public investment funds this year, up 67% year-on-year, in the hopes it would boost the economy following a blow from the coronavirus outbreak. There are 255 cases of the virus nationwide.
Southeast Asia: Foreign ministers have endorsed the establishment of a regional ASEAN COVID-19 response fund as well as a number of other collective measures to combat the virus including the sharing of information and strategies to ease the impact of the coronavirus crisis. The diplomats from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a regional intergovernmental organization, also scheduled a meeting with counterparts from China, Japan and South Korea in a video conference on Tuesday to discuss the pandemic.
07:22 Billions of people under lockdown around the world have been urged to stay home during the Easter weekend, despite public holidays and religious commemorations. However, those living in northern Germany’s state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania have been told they can go on day trips to the coast and the Baltic Sea islands.
A court in Greifswald on Thursday overturned a travel ban imposed by the state government, which had only redrafted the regulations a day earlier to list the tourist resorts as prohibited areas.
The ruling means that trips to the coast and the Mecklenburg Lake District are now permitted until and including Easter Monday. The ruling doesn’t apply to tourists from other German states, who are banned from entering the area until at least April 19.
07:14 New York City has shortened the time it will hold unclaimed bodies before they are buried in a public cemetery. The medical examiner’s office will now keep
remains in storage for just 14 days before they’re sent to a burial ground on Hart Island. Normally, about a handful of bodies per day are interred there — people whose families can’t afford a funeral, or who go unclaimed by relatives. On Thursday, some 40 caskets were lined up for burial, and two fresh trenches have been dug in recent days.
New York is bearing the brunt of the pandemic in the United States, accounting for around half the number of deaths. On Thursday, the death toll climbed to more than 7,000 after an additional 799 people died — a grim new city record for fatalities.
07:00 Armenia confirm 16 new cases of the novel coronavirus , the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports.
According to data released on Thursday, 921 cases of coronavirus were registered in the country.
Overall, 937 cases of coronavirus are confirmed as of Friday morning.
A total of 5,160 tests – 258 in the last day – have come back negative, and 777 people – it has increased by 4 in the last day – are currently being treated.
According to the latest data, 149 coronavirus patients – 11 people in the last day – have recovered so far, whereas 11 others have died in Armenia from the disease.
06:40 Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) says it’s concerned about the prospect of coronavirus aid fraud. The Funke media group cited an internal BKA paper that warned about the likelihood of deceptive applications for loans, grants and social benefits offered by the government to offset the worst economic effects of the pandemic.
On Thursday, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia halted payments of emergency aid to solo self-employed and small businesses after several people set up fake business websites and then tried to apply for the rescue funds.
The state said legitimate applications will be continued to be processed but that payments had been halted temporarily pending an investigation.
06:30 Pakistan plans to end its three-week lockdown after a new study warned that a prolonged economic halt could lead to some 18 million job losses and plunge half of the country’s population into poverty. Some parts of the country face strict curfews enforced by the military in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.
The cabinet decided to allow people to resume work in agricultural fields and re-open several industries including steel and cement manufacturing from April 14. “We are going to resume key sectors that employ millions,” said Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan, adding that Pakistan’s retail and transport sectors would be the next to emerge out of the lockdown.
Researchers at the state-run Pakistan Institute of Development Economics had warned that the construction and retail sectors could be hit hardest. “As a result, 120 million people or more than half of the population are at risk of falling beneath the poverty line,” said Mahmood Khalid, one of the co-authors of the study. The easing was announced despite the number of coronavirus infections climbing to 4,500.
06:10 A plan to hold a 10-person rally in Munich to ensure the preservation of the right to protest in Germany despite the coronavirus lockdown has been rejected by the country’s highest court.
While the judges acknowledged the importance of freedom of assembly in a democratic state, the Constitutional Court concluded that the temporary ban during the outbreak is intended to protect the lives and physical well-being and integrity of citizens.
The court ruled that the three-hour demonstration on the banks of the Isar river could result in more than ten participants joining, including onlookers, and that the gathering could trigger counter-demonstrations.
05:30 The United Nations Security Council has held its first meeting on the coronavirus pandemic. The UN’s most powerful body has been silent since COVID-19 started circling the globe. Following the talks, the Council issued a brief statement, expressing “support for all efforts of the secretary-general concerning the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to conflict-affected countries and recalled the need for unity and solidarity with all those affected.”
UN chief Antonio Guterres had warned the Council that the outbreak is threatening global peace and “potentially leading to an increase in social unrest and violence.” He said the Council’s role is “critical to mitigate the peace and security implications of the COVID-19 pandemic” and “would count for a lot at this anxious time.”
05:25 Major oil producers except Mexico have agreed to cut output in May and June by 10 million barrels per day (bpd), following a collapse in prices due to the coronavirus pandemic and a Saudi-Russian price war.
The oil cartel OPEC says the agreement will also reduce production to eight million bpd from July to December. A virtual meeting of OPEC countries, allies and other key non-members dragged on into the small hours after beginning on Thursday afternoon.
The deal depends on Mexico’s support to take effect. The country wanted its share of the cut reduced by three-quarters to 100,000 barrels.
04:50 Nearly three months after the first coronavirus case was reported outside of China, Yemen has confirmed its first infection. The country’s national emergency committee for COVID-19 said the case was detected in the southern Hadramout province under the control of the internationally recognized government.
Humanitarian workers and the international community have warned that a coronavirus outbreak in the war-torn country, will have catastrophic impacts.
The Saudi-led coalition on Thursday said it had begun observing a unilateral ceasefire in Yemen to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but Houthi rebels dismissed the initiative as political manoeuvering.
04:20 Germany has seen 266 new deaths and 5,323 new infections since the previous day’s update from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The national disease control agency put the overall tally at 2,373 deaths and 113,525 confirmed cases. Johns Hopkins University, which publishes a tally of the global pandemic, puts German fatalities at 2,607 out of 118,235 cases. The two figures vary as RKI depends depend on data transmission from state and local levels and is updated around once a day, while JHU updates figures in real-time.
04:00 Burundi plans to carry on with its presidential election on May 20, as the world struggles to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. The East African nation has reported 3 confirmed cases of COVID-19 but the ruling party’s candidate, General Evariste Ndayishimiye cited “God’s protection” to let everyday life proceed as normal.
“Do not be afraid. God loves Burundi and if there are people who have tested positive, it is so that God may manifest his power in Burundi,” he said.
03:50 South Korea has reported 27 new cases of coronavirus on Friday, making it the ninth consecutive day when new cases numbered less than 100. The country has seen a decrease since its peak in early March when it was reporting around 500 cases every day.
The southern city of Daegu, which has been the country’s coronavirus epicenter so far with 6,807 cases, registered zero new infections for the first time, local news agency Yonhap reported. But health official Jeong Eun-kyeong has warned against complacency, raising the possibility of a broader “quiet spread” as social distancing measures are eased and public life begins to return to normal.
03:45 In Australia, police checkpoints and patrolling to enforce a coronavirus lockdown have led to authorities seizing illicit drugs. On Friday, police in Queensland busted a vehicle carrying marijuana worth A$450,000 (€260,736; $285,300) at a border checkpoint. Multiple such cases have been reported in New South Wales and Sydney.
In addition to being charged with drug-related offenses, the people were also fined for being outdoors during the lockdown, without a valid reason.
02:00 The United States has reported 32,385 new confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 1,700 people died on Thursday. The number of new deaths is slightly lower than the previous day’s toll.
The total number of infections in the US, according to the Johns Hopkins University, is now 461,437, with fatalities up to 16,478 deaths.
01:40 Mainland China has reported 42 new cases of coronavirus on Friday, another fall from 63 the day before. Most of the new infections are among travelers from overseas.
Despite the decreasing numbers, China remains concerned about a second wave of infections, potentially triggered by travelers. As city and travel restrictions are lifted this week, many people within China will be traveling for the first time in months.
The northeastern Heilongjiang province has reported a spike in new cases recently due to Chinese nationals entering the province from neighboring Russia.
01:10 Here’s a round-up of the latest from the Americas:
Canada: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the country will not return to normal until a vaccine for coronavirus is developed.
“The initial peak, the top of the curve, maybe in late spring with the end of the first wave in the summer,” he said, shortly after health officials projected the pandemic could kill 11,000 to 12,000 people in the country.
“There will likely be smaller outbreaks for a number of months after that. This will be the new normal. Until a vaccine is developed,” Trudeau said, adding that Canadians will have to be vigilant for a year.
By the time the pandemic ends, Canada could see between 934,000 to 1.9 million COVID-19 cases, according to projections released by the federal government. So far, Canada has more than 19,000 confirmed cases, 407 have died.
Brazil: Rio de Janeiro confirmed the first coronavirus-related deaths in the city’s favelas or slums, where poverty, poor sanitation, and overcrowding could lead to widespread transmission. These include two deaths in Rocinha, Latin America’s largest slum. Brazil has been the hardest hit by COVID-19, with more than 800 deaths so far.
Brazil’s Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta once again defied his boss, President Jair Bolsonaro by refusing to endorse the use of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, to treat COVID-19. Mandetta almost lost his job on Thursday for supporting strict social distancing measures.
Chile: The country will be issuing certificates to people who have recovered from COVID-19, allowing them to move freely, the country’s health minister said. “Those given a medical discharge certificate will be freed from all types of quarantine or restriction, specifically because they can help their communities enormously since they pose no risk,” Jaime Manalich said. The certificate will be issued to people who suffered from COVID-19 but tested negative two weeks later. More than 1,200 people have been identified as recovered patients. Chile has 5,546 confirmed cases, and 48 people have died.
Ecuador Hundreds of Ecuadorian prisoners will be making coffins to help as Guayaquil, the epicenter of one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in Latin America faces a shortage. The Andean country has confirmed 4,965 cases of the coronavirus, with 272 dead. About 68% of the cases are in Guayaquil.
00:45 The United Nations Security Council has met for the first time to discuss the coronavirus pandemic. The virtual meeting was hosted by Germany and took place after nine of the council’s 10 non-permanent members called for a meeting to discuss their inaction.
The body is charged with maintaining international peace and security, but its member states have disagreed on what form this should take when dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The pandemic also poses a significant threat to the maintenance of international peace and security — potentially leading to an increase in social unrest and violence that would greatly undermine our ability to fight the disease,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the council in the closed-door meeting.
Both the United States and China have been reluctant to get the council involved in dealing with the global pandemic. US President Donald Trump has repeatedly insisted on referring to the virus’s Chinese origin in discussing it, annoying Beijing.
Germany described the pandemic as an “international peace and security issue,” but several other countries, notably China, Russia and South Africa, said health matters were not part of the Security Council’s brief.
00:30 The United States has by far the most cases of any country in the world. More than 460,000 people have been infected and 16,478 have died.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious-diseases expert, said the need for hospitalization of COVID-19 cases in the country has seen a sharp decline.
“At the same time as we’re seeing the increase in deaths, we’re seeing a rather dramatic decrease in the need for hospitalizations,” Fauci said. “What we are doing is working.”
New York City continues to be especially badly hit, with a record death count of 799 reported on Thursday. “You can’t relax,” warned Governor Andrew Cuomo, while also expressing hope that social distancing measures may be working. New York City also announced it has hired contract laborers to help bury the dead on Hart Island, a place traditionally used to bury those with no known next of kin.
The state of Michigan has extended a stay-at-home order through to April 30, amid the widespread belief that other states would follow suit. Gatherings and travel remain significantly limited in the state.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has joined calls for a release of comprehensive racial data on the coronavirus pandemic, to put a spotlight on “structural racism.” With Biden set to win the Democratic nomination, many Democrats are calling for a postal vote system to be more widely introduced ahead of November’s presidential election, in case social distancing measures are still in place.
New figures show that nearly 17 million Americans have lost their jobs since mid-March as a result of the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. About 6.6 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week, data released by the US Labor Department showed. This is in addition to the more than 10 million in the weeks before that.
00:00 Welcome of the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic.
In reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, unless otherwise specified, DW uses figures provided by the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Coronavirus Resource Center in the United States. JHU updates figures in real time, collating data from world health organizations, state and national governments and other public official sources, all of whom have their own systems for compiling information.
Germany’s national statistics are compiled by its public health agency, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). These figures depend on data transmission from state and local levels and are updated around once a day, which can lead to deviation from JHU.
ed/ mm (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa, EFE , DW)