Coronavirus live news: global deaths near 90,000 as US says isolation measures are working

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Confirmed global cases pass 1.5m – as it happened” was written by Helen Sullivan (now and earlier) ; Nadeem Badshah , Damien Gayle, Gregory Robinson, and Amy Walker, for theguardian.com on Thursday 9th April 2020 23.44 UTC

12.44am BST

That’s it for this coronavirus pandemic live blog. We’ve launched a new one at the link below where I’ll be taking you through the latest news, analysis and the occasional cheerful tweet for the next few hours:

12.38am BST

A satisfying PSA from the Ohio Department of Health:

12.36am BST

That White House press briefing is now over.

Here are the main points:

  • White House officials are looking at whether health workers can wear reusable cloth gowns, instead of disposable ones, which are running out.
  • The US treasury is on track to issue first cash payments by next week. Mike Pence says the administration is “on the timetable” to send out the first round of stimulus checks by the end of next week. Many Americans will receive up to ,200.
  • Trump said that the US has “purchased and stockpiled millions and millions of doses” of hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug Trump has been touting as a game-changer in the fight against Covid-19. Medical experts, including the US National Institute of Health’s Anthony Fauci, has said there is no clinical evidence yet that the drug can effectively treat the disease.
  • Ventilator shortages: “We’re in good shape,” Trump said. “You’re not hearing of people needing ventilators much.” It is true that some states have ended up with more ventilators than they think they need. However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a national shortage. The US has roughly 173,000 ventilators, according to the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University. Experts from Harvard Medical School predict that the US could end up needing 31 times that number to treat coronavirus patients.
  • Trump said his conversation with Vladimir Putin and Mohammed Bin Salman was “very good,” he said. They’re “getting close to a deal” and “getting along very well.”

12.31am BST

Dr. Fauci, on what it could mean to “reopen” the country:

“Often, people say re-open the government, like it’s a light switch on-and-off for the entire country. We have a very large country with really different patterns of disease and outbreaks in different parts of the country. So, it’s not going to be a one size fits all.”

It’s worth noting here that the federal government doesn’t have the power to “switch on” the economy all at once. States, counties and cities ultimately have a lot of authority to enforce distancing measures for as long as they deem necessary.

12.26am BST

Coronavirus testing by age:

Earlier in the briefing Dr. Deborah Birx presented the following numbers on testing nationally:

  • People younger than 25: 200,000 have been tested of which 11% tested positive
  • Age 25-45: 500,000 were tested, 17% were positive
  • Age 45-65: 500,000 were tested, 21% were positive
  • Age 65-85: 200,000 were tested, 22% were positive
  • People older than 85: 30,000 tested, 24% were positive

Updated at 12.26am BST

12.25am BST

There are more than 100,000 Americans being tested for coronavirus every day, Pence says.

12.25am BST

At the White House press briefing happening now, Vice President and leader of the Coronavirus Task Force Mike Pence also said that White House officials are looking at whether health workers can wear reusable cloth gowns, instead of disposable ones, which are running out. Hospitals may have to “recycle gowns” to stretch their supplies.

12.23am BST

You can get in touch with me directly on Twitter @helenrsullivan – questions, comments, tips and news from where you live are welcome.

12.21am BST

That’s it from my esteemed colleague Nadeem Badshah for today. I’m Helen Sullivan, with you now for the next few hours.

We’ll be bringing you the latest from the White House press conference for the next little while, where Vice President Mike Pence says the US treasury is on track to issue first cash payments by next week. Pence said the administration is “on the timetable” to send out the first round of stimulus checks by the end of next week. Many Americans will receive up to US,200.

12.18am BST

Key developments in the global coronavirus outbreak today include:

Boris Johnson moved out of intensive care

The British prime minister has been moved out of intensive care but remains at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, Downing Street said.

A spokesman for the Boris Johnson said: “The prime minister has been moved this evening from intensive care back to the ward, where he will receive close monitoring during the early phase of his recovery. He is in extremely good spirits.”

Johnson was transferred to an intensive care unit on Monday.

Global death toll passes 94,000, US overtakes Spain’s total casualties

The global death toll has passed 94,000 on the Johns Hopkins University tracker – the current figure is 94,807.

The US has now overtaken Spain with over 16,000 deaths. Spain has 15,238, according to the Maryland-based university’s research.

Italy is the country with the highest coronavirus-related deaths at 19,279.

Trump says new coronavirus treatment ‘will be tested soon’

President Trump said that Pfizer has found a “promising new treatment that might prevent the virus from replicating” and that it hopes to begin testing in clinical trials “very soon”.

In a press conference, he added that through the FDA’s coronavirus treatment acceleration programme, 19 therapies and treatments are being tested and 26 more “are in the active planning for clinical trials”.

However, there has been scepticism over Trump’s earlier claims for possible treatments including the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine.

South Africa extends lockdown by a further fortnight

South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, has announced it will extend its coronavirus lockdown by a further two weeks.

He had imposed a 21-day total lockdown on the country’s 56 million inhabitants on 27 March, enforced by the police and the army.

On Thursday, Ramaphosa said: “This evening, I stand before you to ask you to endure even longer. I have to ask you to make even greater sacrifices so that our country may survive this crisis and so that tens of thousands of lives may be saved.”

France’s death toll rises to more than 12,000

The country has said the total death toll in hospitals and nursing homes has risen to 12,210, from 10,869 on Wednesday, with care homes accounting for more than a third of all fatalities.

The number of people in intensive care has fallen slightly for the first time since the start of the outbreak.

Jérôme Salomon, head of the public health authority, said there were now 7,062 people in intensive care at hospitals, a net decrease of 82 from a day earlier.

US economy ‘could reopen in May’

The US treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, said the American economy could start to reopen for business in May despite experts’ emphasis on prolonged physical distancing measures to defeat the coronavirus.

Asked on CNBC whether he thought Donald Trump could reopen the economy so soon, Mnuchin said: “I do.”

“As soon as the president feels comfortable with the medical issues, we are making everything necessary that American companies and American workers can be open for business.”

Australian minister fined for breaching lockdown rules

The New South Wales minister for arts, Don Harwin, has been fined ,000 for breaching the state’s strict public health orders.

It emerged he had left Sydney for his property on the Central Coast, despite the government urging the public to delay non-essential travel.

The NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, has resisted calls to sack Harwin, saying he did not break the rules because he moved to his Central Coast home before the state lockdown came into effect.

Eurozone countries strike deal on coronavirus rescue

Eurozone finance ministers have reached an agreement on an emergency rescue package aimed at responding to the economic adversity triggered by coronavirus.

Finance ministers from countries including the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and France clapped over their teleconference.

“We acted decisively for our citizens in less than a month,” Mário Centeno, the Portuguese finance minister and president of the group, told his counterparts.

The package includes a boost to the lending capacity of the European Investment Bank and a new unemployment insurance scheme proposed by the European commission.

WHO had warned about risk of Covid-19 in January

The World Health Organization warned the US and other countries about the risk of human-to-human transmission of Covid-19 as early as 10 January, and urged precautions even though initial Chinese studies at that point had found no clear evidence of that route of infection.

Technical guidance notes seen by the Guardian and briefings by top WHO officials warned of potential human-to-human transmission and made clear that there was a threat of catching the disease through water droplets and contaminated surfaces, based on the experience of earlier coronavirus outbreaks.

Donald Trump has attempted to blame the WHO for the pandemic, pointing to a WHO tweet on 14 January saying “there was no human-to-human transmission”.

Pope holds Holy Thursday mass in empty St Peter’s Basilica

Pope Francis presided at a scaled-down Holy Thursday mass in an empty St Peter’s Basilica.

He spoke from a secondary altar behind the main one he normally uses and the occasion was attended by only two dozen people, including a few aides, nuns and a scaled-down choir.

The pope said: “These days more than 60 (priests) have died here in Italy while taking care of the sick, in hospitals. Together with the doctors and nurses they are the saints next door.”

11.57pm BST

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said it would be the “worst of all possible worlds” to let some parts of the UK come out of lockdown at different times.

Speaking to the BBC’s Newsnight programme, Burnham said: “The suggestion I’ve heard, and I really don’t like the sound of it, is this idea it might be phased on a regional basis.

“So lifted in London first, and possibly then possibly in the Midlands. All that I can tell you is it would be impossible to sustain here if there were images of people going back to pubs in other parts of the country.

“It’s got to be the same thing for the whole of the country.”

He added: “A phased release, I think, would be awful. The worst of all possible worlds and I hope the Government will resist that.”

11.41pm BST

Trump says new coronavirus treatment will be tested soon

In a press conference, President Trump said that Pfizer has found a “promising new treatment that might prevent the virus from replicating” and that it hopes to begin testing in clinical trials “very soon”.

He added that through the FDA’s coronavirus treatment acceleration programme, 19 therapies and treatments are being tested and 26 more “are in the active planning for clinical trials”.

11.27pm BST

The New South Wales minister for arts, Don Harwin, has been fined ,000 for breaching the state’s strict public health orders.

For more information, head over to our Australia blog –

11.14pm BST

Eurogroup finance ministers have reached an agreement over an emergency rescue package aimed at responding to the economic adversity caused by coronavirus.

Finance ministers from countries including the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and France clapped at the end of their teleconference.

“We acted decisively for our citizens in less than a month,” Mário Ceteno, the eurogroup president, told ministers.

The package includes a boost to the lending capacity of the European Investment Bank and a new unemployment insurance scheme proposed by the European Commission, The Financial Times reported.

The group will also propose a recovery fund to help with the post-lockdown economic recovery.

10.55pm BST

A police force have been forced to reassure people they will not be searching their shopping trolleys after a chief constable threatened to introduce the measure if “we don’t get the compliance we would expect”.
Northamptonshire Police chief constable, Nick Adderley, prompted criticism after saying his force was “only a few days away” from “marshalling supermarkets and checking the items in baskets and trolleys to see whether it’s a legitimate, necessary item”. He also warned roadblocks would be set up if members of the public did not adhere to government guidelines designed to curb the spread of coronavirus. Within hours of his comments in a news conference being reported, the force’s official Twitter account has seemingly contradicted him. “To clarify some suggestions made in the media, we absolutely will NOT be searching people’s shopping trolleys in Northamptonshire,” it said.
“The same message was communicated to our officers from the very moment we were given these new powers.”

10.44pm BST

Emergency workers battling coronavirus are being spat on or coughed at daily by people who have or claim to have the virus, the Director of Public Prosecutions said.
Max Hill QC said many had been jailed for assault or for crimes that cash in on the COVID-19 pandemic, and warned that others who commit such offences would be fast-tracked into court and risked prison. He told the Crown Prosecution Service’s website: “It is disappointing to see charges come in on a daily basis of hard-working police officers, NHS staff and other vital workers, being coughed or spat at, sometimes deliberately exposing them to the risk of infecting them with coronavirus.

“We take these offences immensely seriously and want to make it absolutely clear that where there is evidence to do so, people will be prosecuted and can face up to one year in prison.”

10.40pm BST

Friday’s Telegraph front page

10.37pm BST

The Guardian’s UK edition front page

10.34pm BST

Friday’s Daily Mail front page

10.33pm BST

The Daily Telegraph’s Friday splash

10.31pm BST

Tomorrow’s Daily Mirror

10.30pm BST

Friday’s front pages in the UK have come in, starting with The Times.

10.24pm BST

UN secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, warned the coronavirus pandemic is deepening existing inequalities and is having devastating social and economic consequences for women and girls that could reverse limited progress toward gender equality over the last 25 years.

He said in a video message and policy paper that across every sphere, from health to the economy, security to social protection, the impact of COVID-19 are exacerbated for women and girls simply by virtue of their sex.

While early data indicates the mortality rates from COVID-19 may be higher for men, Gutterres said nearly 60 per cent of women around the world work in the informal economy – earning less, saving less, and at greater risk of falling into poverty.

He said millions of womens jobs have been lost at the same time that their unpaid work has increased exponentially as a result of school closures and children being at home, and the increased needs of older people.

In this file photo United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press briefing at United Nations Headquarters(Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)
In this file photo, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press briefing at United Nations Headquarters,
(Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

Photograph: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

10.12pm BST

Uganda’s president has released a video of his home workout to encourage people to stay indoors during the coronavirus lockdown, becoming the country’s answer to Joe Wicks.

10.01pm BST

Chileans have a “moral duty” to stay home over the Easter holiday to stave of the spread of the coronavirus, Interior Minister Gonzalo Blumel said after reports surfaced of wealthy Santiago residents sneaking off to coastal enclaves by helicopter and private plane.

Chile has confirmed nearly 6,000 coronavirus cases, among the highest tallies in Latin America.

The hardest hit regions of capital Santiago, a city of 6 million, are posh, high-end neighborhoods at the foot of the Andes Mountains.

Quarantine measures in many of those normally bustling communities require residents to shelter in place.

“What is going to be tested this weekend is how responsible, how supportive, we are as Chileans,” Blumel said.

“Staying at home is not only an obligation, it is a moral and ethical duty.”

Chilean health officials said earlier this week they planned to cordon off the city, setting up road checkpoints manned by police and military, to prevent city dwellers from fleeing to second homes in rural areas at the risk of spreading the virus.

But Santiago mayor Felipe Guevara told state television the city had received complaints “that people are using their own or leased helicopter or aircraft to leave the metropolitan region for their second home.”

Guevara said aviation officials would ask tough questions of any pilot seeking to leave the city.

9.53pm BST

The UK’s housing secretary Robert Jenrick has responded on Twitter to The Guardian’s story about him visiting his parents.

9.38pm BST

Egypt reported 139 new cases of coronavirus, bringing its total since the start of the outbreak to 1,699, according to a health ministry statement.

The Arab world’s most populous country also recorded 15 new deaths, raising the total number to 118.

9.03pm BST

Reacting to the news that Boris Johnson has left intensive care and returned to a ward, Dr Tom Wingfield, senior clinical lecturer and honorary consultant physician at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, said: “Being well enough to leave intensive care is a really encouraging sign that a patient is improving clinically.

“It means that they no longer need specialist ICU care, which includes continuous monitoring and, in some cases, a ventilator.

“They may still require close monitoring on a ward. Close monitoring means regular measurement of ‘vital signs’ like blood pressure, pulse rate, breathing rate, and oxygen levels, and also clinical review by doctors, nurses, and other health and social care professionals.

“Every patient is different and the time it takes for them to be fit enough to be discharged from hospital or recover to full health can vary widely. Nevertheless, leaving ICU is an extremely important first step on their road to recovery.”

8.54pm BST

Iran’s supreme leader suggested that mass gatherings may be barred through the Muslim holy month of Ramadan amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International said it believes at least 35 Iranian prisoners were killed by security forces suppressing riots by inmates over the virus.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made the comments in a televised address as Iran prepares to restart its economic activity.

“We are going to be deprived of public gatherings of the month of Ramadan” Khamenei said.

“In the absence of these meetings, remember to heed your prayers and devotions in your lonesomeness.”

Ramadan is scheduled to begin in late April and last through most of May.

8.49pm BST

The UK’s foreign secretary Dominic Raab has tweeted his joy that prime minister Boris Johnson has been moved out of intensive care.

8.40pm BST

From our Latin America correspondent Tom Phillips:

Rio de Janeiro’s governor @wilsonwitzel has tweeted out this photograph of a coronavirus field hospital being built beside one of the world’s most iconic football stadiums, the Maracanã.

The Maracanã – which has hosted two World Cup finals, in 1950 and 2014 – is one of two major Brazilian stadiums being converted into Covid-19 field hospitals as the country braces for a big increase in coronavirus cases.

The other is São Paulo’s Pacaembu which has been turned into a 200-bed clinic for coronavirus patients who do not require intensive care treatment.

So far Brazil has recorded 16,238 cases and 824 deaths although low testing rates mean the true figures are likely to be much higher. Most cases have been concentrated in southeastern Brazil, of which both Rio and São Paulo are part.

Other Brazilian cities turning football stadiums into hospitals include Boa Vista in the Amazon state of Roraima and Fortaleza in northeast Brazil.

8.13pm BST

The US treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, said on Thursday that the American economy could start to reopen for business in May, reports Reuters, despite experts’ emphasis on prolonged physical distancing measures to defeat the coronavirus.

Asked on CNBC whether he thought Donald Trump could reopen the economy so soon, Mnuchin said: “I do.”

“As soon as the president feels comfortable with the medical issues, we are making everything necessary that American companies and American workers can be open for business.”

Updated at 8.19pm BST

7.56pm BST

Boris Johnson is out of intensive care but the UK prime minister remains in hospital with coronavirus.

7.49pm BST

South Africa extends lockdown by a further fortnight

South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the country’s coronavirus lockdown will be extended by a further two weeks.

He had imposed a 21-day lockdown on the country’s 56 million inhabitants on 27 March, enforced by the police and the army.

Updated at 9.00pm BST

7.39pm BST

Pope Francis presided at a scaled-down Holy Thursday Mass in an empty St Peter’s Basilica, praising ordinary doctors, nurses and priests who risk their lives helping coronavirus victims as “the saints next door”.

The mass usually packs the basilica with up to 10,000 people, including cardinals, bishops and locals.

But because of coronavirus restrictions, Pope Francis spoke from a secondary altar behind the main one he normally uses and the occasion was attended by only two dozen people, including a few aides, nuns and a scaled-down choir.

The pope said: “These days more than 60 (priests) have died here in Italy while taking care of the sick, in hospitals.

“Together with the doctors and nurses they are the saints next door.”

Meanwhile, Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli will sing at the Duomo cathedral in Milan bare of worshippers on Easter Sunday.

He told Reuters: “The Duomo will be completely empty. This, on its own, already makes the situation abnormal.

“But in this case, and I repeat, as this won’t be a concert and it won’t be a performance, it will be a prayer and as a consequence it will not be important who is present physically but rather who wants to be with me spiritually in that moment.”

Bocelli will be accompanied only by the cathedral organist, Emanuele Vianelli, playing one of world’s largest pipe organs and performing a repertoire of sacred works including Pietro Mascagni’s Sancta Maria.

Updated at 7.48pm BST

7.24pm BST

Boris Johnson moved out of intensive care

The UK prime minister has been moved out of intensive care, Downing Street said.

A spokesman for Johnson said: “The prime minister has been moved this evening from intensive care back to the ward, where he will receive close monitoring during the early phase of his recovery.

“He is in extremely good spirits.”

For more, visit our UK blog:

Updated at 7.29pm BST

7.13pm BST

The UK’s weekly nationwide applause for NHS workers will take place at 8pm UK time.

Updated at 7.29pm BST

7.05pm BST

France death toll rises to more than 12,000

France has said the total death toll in hospitals and nursing homes has risen to 12,210, from 10,869 on Wednesday, Reuters is reporting.

The number of confirmed cases in hospitals has increased to 86,334 today from 82,048 on Wednesday, while 30,767 are in hospital with the virus.

6.58pm BST

The World Health Organisation reports that there have now been 1,202 cases confirmed in Iraq, and that 69 people have died from the disease there, while 425 have so far recovered.

According to the latest situation report from the country published by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, about a quarter of the cases are in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) and the remainder are in federal Iraq.

The Iraqi government has extended curfews and movement restrictions in federal Iraq until 18 April, and the Kurdistan regional government has extended curfews and movement restrictions until 10 April.

Iraqis pictured on Wednesday walking in an empty street where months before anti-government protests were taking place, during the lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus
Iraqis pictured on Wednesday walking in an empty street where months before anti-government protests were taking place.
Photograph: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP via Getty Images

Like many other poorer regions of the world, Iraq has a shortage of chemicals for coronavirus testing kits, the WHO reported. It said it had collaborated with scientists at Basrah university to manufacture some substances domestically, and that local production of disinfectants and hand sanitiser had also been stepped up.

The World Food Programme reported surges in the prices of foods and other commodities, the OCHA report said. According to the report:

Social distancing measures such as mandatory movement restrictions are reducing the economic activity in the country, which negatively impacts the most vulnerable groups such as day labourers and low-income workers.

Nearly all governorates reported price increases in food items; approximately half reported price hikes in hygiene items, while three reported increases in fuel prices. Significant price spikes were observed during the last two weeks of March.

That’s it from me, Damien Gayle, until tomorrow.

Updated at 7.03pm BST

6.43pm BST

Global death toll passes 90,000, US overtakes Spain’s total casualties

The global death toll has passed 90,000 on the Johns Hopkins University tracker – the current figure is 90,057.

The US has now overtaken Spain with 15,774 deaths. Spain has 15,238, according to the Maryland-based university’s research.

Italy is the country with the highest coronavirus-related deaths at 17,669.

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

Updated at 7.05pm BST

6.23pm BST

Despite claims to the contrary by Donald Trump, the World Health Organization warned the US and other countries about the risk of human-to-human transmission of Covid-19 as early as 10 January, and urged precautions even though initial Chinese studies at that point had found no clear evidence of that route of infection, write Peter Beaumont in London and Julian Borger in Washington.

Technical guidance notes seen by the Guardian and briefings by top WHO officials warned of potential human-to-human transmission and made clear that there was a threat of catching the disease through water droplets and contaminated surfaces, based on the experience of earlier coronavirus outbreaks.

In recent days, Trump has attempted to blame the WHO for the pandemic, pointing to a WHO tweet on 14 January saying “there was no human-to-human transmission”.

“In many ways, they were wrong. They also minimised the threat very strongly,” the US president said, before threatening to cut funding to the organisation.

Trump supporters have been calling for the resignation of the WHO’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus , and for a congressional investigation of the body’s performance.

Updated at 6.30pm BST

6.10pm BST

Why are coronavirus mortality rates so different?

How can we understand the risk of dying from Covid-19 when there are so many numbers flying around? There are actually three types of fatality rate, which are calculated in different ways and tell you different things.

When we know what each means and how they work, we can learn more about how new infections such as the coronavirus affect us, the Guardian’s video team reports.

Updated at 6.21pm BST

6.10pm BST

Second record-breaking death toll in New York

New York broke its record for the largest single-day coronavirus death toll for the third consecutive day, the state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, announced at his daily briefing.

New York recorded 799 deaths from coronavirus yesterday, bringing the state’s total death toll to 7,067. New York has lost about the same number of people to coronavirus as the UK.

Cuomo said the state would be bringing in additional funeral directors to help deal with the surge of deaths.

As the state mourns the loss of several thousand New Yorkers, there are also signs that social distancing is flattening the curve.

Yesterday, the state recorded the lowest number of new hospitalisations since the crisis started. The number of ICU admissions and intubations are also down.

“We are saving lives by what we are doing today,” Cuomo said.

Read more updates from the US on our US coronavirus live blog.

Updated at 6.14pm BST

6.04pm BST

A hospital consultant who wrote a public plea to the UK prime minister for more personal protective equipment for frontline staff in British hospitals has died from the coronavirus, Matthew Weaver reports.

Abdul Mabud Chowdhury, a consultant urologist at Homerton hospital in Hackney east London, died after spending 15 days in Queens hospital, Romford.

Last month he wrote a Facebook message to Boris Johnson outlining the urgent need for PPE for frontline staff and calling for testing for healthcare workers to be fast-tracked.

He wrote: “Dear and respectable prime minister Mr Boris Johnson, Please ensure urgently PPE for each and every NHS health worker.”

Updated at 6.15pm BST

6.00pm BST

The coronavirus crisis is not a “blank cheque” to flout civil liberties, the UN human rights commissioner warned on Thursday as she criticised some states’ adoption of “unlimited” emergency powers, AFP reports.

Addressing the first-ever virtual meeting of the United Nations human rights council in Geneva, Michelle Bachelet said:

Emergency measures may well be needed to respond to this public health emergency. But an emergency situation is not a blank cheque to disregard human rights obligations

Emergency measures should be necessary and proportionate. I am profoundly concerned by certain countries’ adoption of emergency powers that are unlimited.

Updated at 6.16pm BST

5.52pm BST

The World Health Organization has reported a drastic shortage of intensive care beds to treat Covid-19 patients in Africa, where it estimates there are only around five per million people, compared with 4,000 per million people in Europe.

As the WHO’s Africa branch reported a spread of the coronavirus beyond urban centres, officials insisted containment was still possible. But they warned of dire consequences if it was not achieved.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said:

Tackling cases in rural areas that often lack the resources of urban centres will pose an immense challenge for already strained health systems in Africa. There is a critical shortage of treatment facilities for critical cases of Covid-19 in Africa.

As elsewhere in the world, the toll of coronavirus in Africa is concentrated among older people. The WHO reported that according to a preliminary analysis more than half (55%) of reported deaths were of people over 60 years, despite their accounting for only 16% of total cases.

Updated at 6.04pm BST

5.36pm BST

Italy death toll rises by 610

Italy’s coronavirus curve has been flattening but is yet to show signs of a definitive decrease as deaths rose by 610 on Thursday, 68 more than on Wednesday, Angela Giuffrida reports.

The figures from the civil protection authority showed current infections rose by 1,615, or 1.7%. The overall number of cases, including those who have died or recovered, rose 4,204 (2.9%) to 143,626.

The number of intensive care beds in use continues to decline, as does the number of people hospitalised for the virus. Of the 96,877 people currently infected, 64,873 are recovering at home.

Italy has registered 143,626 confirmed cases of the virus to date, including 18,279 deaths and 28,470 survivors.

Italy’s lockdown is due to expire on 13 April but is likely to be extended by another two weeks.

• This entry was amended on 10 April 2020, to correct the figure regarding current infections, and to add information about the rise in the total number of cases.

A man sits on a bench in the Piazza Navona, in Rome, and reads the newspaper
A man sits on a bench in the Piazza Navona, in Rome, and reads the newspaper
Photograph: Steve Bisgrove/REX/Shutterstock

Updated at 12.22pm BST

5.33pm BST

Around the world people ordered to stay home to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic have turned to online fitness instructors to stay in shape.

Now the president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, has got in on the act, publishing a video to social media to educate his compatriots about how to work out indoors.

The video had been hotly anticipated on social media after Museveni on Wednesday called on Ugandans to stop exercising outdoors in groups and promised to release a video showing them how to get their fitness fix at home.

True to his word, Museveni released his two-minute and 25 second instructional video on Facebook and Twitter on Thursday afternoon. Appearing barefoot and wearing a grey tracksuit in a spacious office with a plush red carpet, he tells viewers:

It’s good to go outdoors when there is no problem but when there’s a need you can go indoors. This is just an office. Because I don’t have time, I always do my exercises here or even in my home, in my room.

“So you start by warming up,” he says before jogging from one end of the room to the other, increasing his pace and making an effort to keep his knees up.

The 75-year-old retired general then begins to do push-ups, placing his hands on a white towel laid on the floor. In the background aides are heard counting 30 push-ups, although the camera cuts away at one point.

According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics 71 percent of people living in the capital, Kampala, share a one-roomed home with several others.

Uganda has recorded 53 cases of the coronavirus, and has implemented a 14-day lockdown with transport banned and a nightime curfew, however people are still allowed to move around on foot in groups of less than five.

Museveni, who is seeking a sixth term in office next year, has given almost daily briefings on the virus. He has become a hit on social media with his advice, telling landlords they can “demand their money later”, complaining about security officers who “like beating people” or urging that ‘this is not the time for exams.”

Updated at 5.44pm BST

5.12pm BST

UK Covid-19 death toll rises by 881 to 7,978

The latest figures are running on our UK-focused coronavirus live blog.

As of today, in the UK 243,421 people have been tested for Covid-19. Of them, 65,077 have tested positive and the number of people admitted to hospital with symptoms stands at 16,784.

Of those who have contracted the virus 7,978 have died.

5.04pm BST

Botswana’s president and 63 MPs self-isolate

The president of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi, and 63 of the country’s MPs are to self-isolate after a nurse assigned to screen legislators for coronavirus tested positive for it herself.

Health minister Lemogang Kwape told parliament that some legislators at a special session on had interacted with a health worker who later tested positive for the virus. “Everyone who was here has to undergo mandatory quarantine from here,” the director of health services, Malaki Tshipiyagae, announced.

This includes Masisi, and all 63 MPs of the ruling and opposition parties.

Botswanan president Mokgweetsi Masisi addresses a special parliamentary meeting in Gaborone, Botswana, on Wednesday
Botswanan president Mokgweetsi Masisi addresses a special parliamentary meeting in Gaborone, Botswana, on Wednesday
Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

It is the second time in less than a month that Botswana’s leader will have been quarantined.

The special session had been called to debate Masisi’s request to extend Botswana’s state of emergency for another six months – one of a slew of measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus in the diamond-rich country.

Parliament gave its approval on Thursday.

The landlocked country has announced seven new confirmed cases of coronavirus, bringing the tally to 13, one of whom has died.

4.55pm BST

António Guterres, the UN secretary general, has released a statement saying he welcomes the unilateral ceasefire declared by Saudi Arabia over its war in Yemen, which he said he hopes will help the war-torn country handle its coronavirus epidemic

I welcome the announcement by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on behalf of the ‘Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen’, of a unilateral ceasefire in Yemen. This can help to advance efforts towards peace, as well as the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

I now call upon the Government of Yemen and Ansar Allah to follow through on their commitment to immediately cease hostilities. I also call on the Government and the Houthis to engage with each other, in good faith and without preconditions, in negotiations facilitated by my Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths.

Only through dialogue will the parties be able to agree on a mechanism for sustaining a nationwide ceasefire, humanitarian and economic confidence-building measures to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people, and the resumption of the political process to reach a comprehensive settlement to end the conflict.

Nurses in Sanaa, Yemen, receive training on using ventilators provided by WHO in preparation for any possible spread of Covid-19
Nurses in Sanaa, Yemen, receive training on using ventilators provided by WHO in preparation for any possible spread of Covid-19
Photograph: Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

After five years of war, Yemen has little civil infrastructure left to manage an outbreak of Covid-19. According to a risk report published yesterday by ACAPS, only 51% of the country’s health centres are fully functional, and there are only three testing sites, with the capacity for a few hundred tests a day at most.

Forecasting the potential impact on the country, ACAPS’s report suggests:

By the time COVID-19 is identified in Yemen, it will likely be spreading rapidly through the population. While a proportion of cases will be hospitalised, hospitals will struggle to implement sufficient protective measures in COVID-19 treatment wards. This may cause patients with other ailments to decide not to visit healthcare facilities for fear of contracting COVID-19.

  • This post was amended on 15 April 2020 to correct the spelling of the organisation ACAPS.

Updated at 9.31am BST

4.30pm BST

4.25pm BST

Brazil’s health minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, has admitted authorities will have to deal with drug traffickers and paramilitary gangs as they seek to stop the spread of Covid-19 through the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, Tom Phillips, the Guardian’s Latin America correspondent, reports.

Heavily armed criminal gangs control many of the city’s thousand or so favelas, which this week recorded their first coronavirus deaths. And at a press conference on Wednesday, Mandetta conceded his workers would have to talk to them.

“Health authorities do communicate with traffickers and paramilitares, yes, because they are human beings too and they also have to cooperate, help and take part,” said the minister, a doctor who did part of his training in Rio’s favelas.

People wait to get donations of basic food supplies distributed by an NGO at the Cidade de Deus (City of God) favela in Rio de Janeiro
People wait to get donations of basic food supplies distributed by an NGO at the Cidade de Deus (City of God) favela in Rio de Janeiro.
Photograph: Mauro Pimentel/AFP via Getty Images

Brazil’s health ministry told one local newspaper the minister’s comments – in many ways just a statement of the obvious – were designed to send a message to gang leaders that once the coronavirus began spreading through the densely populated favelas, health workers would have to come in.

But the declaration caused outrage among supporters of Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, with whom the health minister has been sparring over Brazil’s reaction to coronavirus. “Has this guy been smoking crack?” tweeted Edson Salomão, one of the founders of a group called Rightwing São Paulo. “WTF.”

Updated at 4.41pm BST

4.16pm BST

Africa’s top health official has issued a warning to wealthy countries hoarding medical equipment that if the coronavirus is left to spread in Africa the whole world remains at risk.

“We cannot be neglected in this effort,” John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters in a briefing on Thursday.

“The world will be terribly unsafe, and it will be completely naive, if countries think they can control Covid-19 in their countries but not in Africa.”

African nations are being forced to compete with wealthier countries for testing kits, as well as ventilators for patients having difficulty breathing and protective equipment for frontline health workers.

Nkengasong warned that the very future of the continent will depend on how this matter is handled as cases, now over 11,000, quickly rise. “We may not actually know how big is the size of the problem without scaling up testing,” Nkengasong was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

4.05pm BST

Health authorities in Pakistan have reported 250 new confirmed cases of coronavirus, bringing the total in the country to 4,322, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on Thursday.

According to OCHA, the most affected province due to Covid-19 virus was Punjab with 2,171 cases, followed by Sindh with 1,036. So far 467 (12%) cases had fully recovered and discharged while 1,139 were currently in hospital, of which 25 were in critical condition.

Pakistani English-language newspaper Dawn was reporting 65 deaths across Pakistan since the beginning of the outbreak. It ran higher figures for infections and recoveries on its home page than those given by the UN.

3.49pm BST

The World Health Organization’s top officials in Africa say it’s too early to make an assessment of the impact of lockdowns and other measures across the continent but called for all such restrictions to be accompanied by effective public health measures to be worth their very significant social and economic costs, writes Jason Burke, the Guardian’s African correspondent.

The total number of cases in Africa remains relatively low compared to Europe or the US, though the official stats by no means reflect the true spread of the disease. The total this morning was 11,400, with 572 deaths, up from 6,600 a week ago.

Almost all countries across Africa have imposed measures to enforce social distancing, ranging from very strict nationwide lockdowns, such as in South Africa and Liberia, to strict measures targeting individual cities, such as in Kenya and Nigeria, or simply closing big gatherings and meetings.

But the impact on communities that live in overcrowded neighbourhoods in big African cities, where many people rely on their daily earnings to eat, is massive. It has been compounded by a series of other economic shocks – such as a drastic drop in the amount of cash sent back to families by workers in the Gulf or elsewhere.

“The lockdowns are having a big cost and we really need to work together to make sure they are having an impact,” Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa, told reporters in an online briefing on Thursday.

There is some good news, WHO officials said. There has been a lot of progress in ramping up testing capabilities, with pretty much all countries on the continent now theoretically able to test their citizens for the disease. As elsewhere however, there are shortages in the key chemicals needed for the tests, and that’s causing problems.

This is particularly true in South Africa, which has the highest number of cases and has adopted a strategy based on aggressive screening and testing to try to stamp out any clusters and outbreaks of the disease before it can spread.

Officials in South Africa have yet to decide whether to extend the lockdown in South Africa, now in its third week. Government medical advisors say the decision will depend on whether they can establish a good understanding of the spread of the disease in the coming days. One possibility may be to lift some restrictions but maintain strict rules to limit social distancing, but, they say, nothing is decided.

Other governments across the continent will face similar decisions in coming days and weeks. None will be easy, officials say, and the experience of European or Asian countries should not necessarily guide policy in the very different circumstances found in Nairobi, Kinshasa, Juba or Bamako.

3.41pm BST

The International Organization for Migration has issued a call for states to “uphold international obligations”, days after Italy closed its ports in an apparent attempt to block access to boats carrying migrants across the Mediterranean.

“Migrants continue to attempt the Mediterranean crossing, fleeing violence, abuse and poverty amid heightened concern over the Covid-19 pandemic,” the IOM said in a statement on Thursday.

At least six boats, carrying roughly 500 people, have departed from Libya since the beginning of this month, the IOM said, adding that an NGO vessel that had rescued 150 adrift in the Mediterranean remains at sea “without an assigned port of safety”.

The organisation’s statement says:

International maritime law and human rights obligations must be upheld during the Covid-19 emergency. The crisis should strengthen our collective resolve to preserve life, protect rights and find common, adaptable solutions to the challenges that affect us all.

… We recognise that while many countries have chosen to tighten control at their borders in an effort to contain the spread of the pandemic, it is crucial that such measures be implemented in a non-discriminatory manner, in line with international law, and prioritises the protection of the most vulnerable.

On Wednesday, Lorenzo Tondo reported that the Italian government had declared its seaports “unsafe” due to the coronavirus pandemic, and would not authorise the landing of migrant rescue boats until the end of the emergency.

The measure – the first of its kind in Italian history – appeared designed to prevent rescue boats from disembarking migrants in the upcoming weeks, as departures from Libya have increased in recent days with the arrival of good weather.

Updated at 3.54pm BST

3.30pm BST

Kenya has reported five new confirmed cases of coronavirus, bringing the total number of infections so far in the country to 184. Seven patients have died, and 12 have recovered.

The health ministry publishes all the details of its latest coronavirus reporting on Twittter.

Updated at 3.54pm BST

3.24pm BST

The Canadian death toll from the coronavirus outbreak is likely to be between 11,000 and 22,000 by the end of the pandemic, health officials said on Thursday, outlining the two most likely scenarios.

The officials told a briefing that they expected between 500 and 700 people by April 16. The death toll so far is 435, reports Reuters.

3.24pm BST

Health authorities in Singapore on Thursday reported an increase of 287 confirmed cases of coronavirus, double the increase registered a day earlier, with the majority linked to dormitories used to house foreign workers.

The latest rise in cases is the biggest reported to date in the south east Asian city state, which was one of the first outside China to detect the virus. It brings the total to 1,910, Straits Times reports.

Singapore’s strict surveillance and quarantine regime initially slowed the outbreak, but recent rises in locally transmitted cases have raised fresh concerns, the Guardian reported on Wednesday, as the city reported 142 new infections.

Thousands of foreign workers – many of whom work in essential services in the city – are to be moved to army camps, floating hotels and vacant housing blocks, Straits Times reports.

This is Damien Gayle taking over the blog again. You can send me tips or news from your area to damien.gayle@theguardian.com, or via Twitter DM to @damiengayle.

3.08pm BST

Number of confirmed cases worldwide exceeds 1.5 million

The latest numbers from Johns Hopkins University, which has tracked the spread of the virus during the pandemic, now puts the confirmed global total of cases at 1,502,618.

Updated at 3.28pm BST

2.58pm BST

A record one million Canadians lost their jobs in March from the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s statistical agency said on Thursday.

The previous benchmark for monthly job losses in Canada was set in January 2009 when 125,000 jobs disappeared, reports Leyland Cecco from Toronto.

In its monthly Labour Force Survey, Statistics Canada said the country’s unemployment rate jumped more than 2.2 percent to 7.8%.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses Canadians on the COVID-19 pandemic on Wednesday,
Justin Trudeau addresses Canadians on the Covid-19 pandemic on Wednesday,
Photograph: Sean Kilpatrick/AP

Economists, and the prime minister, had warned the numbers would be grim. Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday:

It’s going to be a hard day for the country. We’re facing a unique challenge. But I know that if we pull together our economy will come roaring back after this crisis.

Ontario experienced the largest job losses, with 403,000 losing their jobs. Quebec lost 264,000 jobs and British Columbia lost 132,000.

Trudeau’s government has scrambled in recent weeks to help out-of-work Canadians, including a monthly benefit of ,000 for residents who have lost jobs due to the virus.

More than 5 million Canadians have so far applied for the programme, suggesting the scope of job losses are deeper than anticipated and renewing fears that April’s job losses will exceed the unprecedented numbers posted in March.

Updated at 3.18pm BST

2.37pm BST

Germany’s army is donating 60 mobile ventilators free of charge to the UK following a call for help as the NHS scrambles to get hold of enough life-saving equipment as the Covid-19 pandemic intensifies.

Speaking to the Guardian, a spokesperson for the German defence ministry confirmed a report in Der Spiegel, according to which the Bundeswehr would send 60 pieces of equipment from its own depot across the Channel as soon as possible.

The German ministry said it would not invoice the UK for the ventilators.

More than 480 ventilators are understood to have arrived in the UK from overseas since March. They have been bought or donated from China, US, Germany, Sweden and Taiwan.

Updated at 2.53pm BST

2.31pm BST

The pandemic will turn global economic growth “sharply negative” in 2020, triggering the worst fallout since the 1930s Great Depression, with only a partial recovery seen in 2021, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said.

Kristalina Georgieva said the crisis would hit emerging markets and developing countries hardest of all, which would need hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign aid, Reuters reports.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva speaks during a conference hosted by the Vatican on economic solidarity in February 2020.
IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva speaks during a conference hosted by the Vatican on economic solidarity in February 2020.
Photograph: Remo Casilli/Reuters

Georgieva said:

Just three months ago, we expected positive per capita income growth in over 160 of our member countries in 2020.

Today, that number has been turned on its head: we now project that over 170 countries will experience negative per capita income growth this year.”

If the pandemic faded in the second half of the year, the IMF expected a partial recovery in 2021, Georgieva said, but she warned the situation could also get worse.

I stress there is tremendous uncertainty about the outlook: it could get worse depending on many variable factors, including the duration of the pandemic.”

Updated at 2.40pm BST

2.18pm BST

Some African countries could see a peak in coronavirus cases in the coming weeks, and testing should be urgently increased in the region, World Health Organization (WHO) officials said on Thursday.

Michel Yao, the WHO Africa programme manager for emergency response, told a media teleconference on Thursday:

During the last four days we can see that the numbers have already doubled. If the trend continues, and also learning from what happened in China and in Europe, some countries may face a huge peak very soon.”

The numbers of people recorded as infected with the coronavirus in Africa have been relatively low so far, with nearly 11,000 cases and 562 deaths, according to a Reuters tally based on government statements and WHO data.

The WHO’s Africa head, Matshidiso Moeti, said there was an “urgent need” to expand testing capacity beyond capital cities in Africa, as the virus spreads through countries.

Updated at 2.32pm BST

2.08pm BST

Good afternoon, I’m taking over the live blog for the next hour. If you want to follow me or contact me on Twitter to share insight or send tips, I’m on @Gregoryjourno or send me an email at gregory.robinson@guardian.co.uk

1.53pm BST

What happens if you are in hospital with the coronavirus?

In this video, the Guardian’s health editor, Sarah Boseley, explains the different ways coronavirus can affect people, the likelihood of going to hospital and what will happen to people who are admitted.

Updated at 1.54pm BST

1.38pm BST

US unemployment rises 6.6m in a week

More than 6.6 million Americans lost their jobs last week, taking the total to 16 million job losses in the last three weeks as the coronavirus pandemic brings the US economy to a standstill, the US labor department confirmed on Thursday, writes Dominic Rushe in New York and Michael Sainato in Florida.

About 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week as shutdowns across the US led employers to furlough workers in nearly every corner of the job market. Economists had expected 5.25 million Americans to file for unemployment benefits for the week ending 4 April.

Layoffs that started in the restaurant and leisure industries have now spread to manufacturing, construction and even healthcare. Job losses are rising in every state and economists are predicting the unemployment rate will soon reach 15% or higher, levels unseen since before the second world war.

The latest snapshot of economic devastation wrought by Covid-19 came as the virus itself continued its relentless spread. More than 86,000 deaths have been reported around the world and the US has over 432,000 confirmed cases, the most of any nation.

But while the numbers are stark, economists cautioned it was too early to say what the long-term impact of Covid-19 will be on the economy.

Updated at 2.05pm BST

1.30pm BST

I don’t know about your part of the world, but where I live in London has seen an explosion in the number of joggers and cyclists on the streets as people use their officially sanctioned single outing a day to get some exercise.

Many countries around the world have made daily exercise one of the few exceptions to strict lockdowns intended to curb the spread of coronavirus. But what if your daily jog, cycle, or even walk, with sanctioned fellow runners, cyclists or walkers could actually put people at greater danger of catching the disease?

That’s what new research by a team of Dutch and Belgian researchers has found. They are warning that existing social distancing advice does not account for the increased potential spread of the virus in aerosol droplets that catch in the slipstream of heavily breathing runners and cyclists.

In a white paper made freely available online by lead researcher Bert Blocken, professor of civil engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology, they say:

Walking, running or cycling are welcome activities to ease one’s mind in times of Covid‐19. But it is best not to exercise these outdoor sports in each other’s slipstream, according to recent research by Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands and KU Leuven in Belgium.

While the official advice to remain a specified distance away from other individuals outside your household works indoors, or in calm weather, Blocken says:

If someone exhales, coughs or sneezes while walking, running or cycling, most of the microdroplets are entrained in the wake or slipstream behind the runner or cyclist. The other person who runs or cycles just behind this leading person in the slipstream then moves through that cloud of droplets.

The slipstream is the zone that arises right behind a person when they are walking or cycling, and which pulls the air a bit along with this moving person, as it were.

Cyclists like to position themselves in the slipstream of others to reduce their air resistance. But someone who walks or runs also has such a slipstream. We have seen that no matter how that zone forms, droplets end up in that air stream. So it’s best to avoid that slipstream.

Blocken has made a couple of video animations and posted them on Twitter to illustrate what he means.

A note of caution: Blocken admits that his team’s findings are not peer reviewed. But, he adds: “Given the situation, we decided it would be unethical to keep the results confidential and keep the public waiting months for the peer review process to be completed.”

He says that full details of the scientific study will be posted as a LinkedIn article.

Updated at 2.26pm BST

1.10pm BST

The UK government has given an update on the condition of the prime minister, Boris Johnson, who spent his third night in intensive care last night after falling ill with Covid-19, Rowena Mason reports.

The prime minister’s spokesman said Johnson continues to receive standard oxygen treatment, adding:

Boris Johnson had a good night and continues to improve in intensive care at St Thomas’s hospital. He is in good spirits.

Updated at 1.38pm BST

1.00pm BST

Coronavirus death toll in Spain passes 15,000

The number of people killed by the coronavirus in Spain passed 15,000 on Thursday, but the daily death toll fell to 683 after two consecutive days of rising above 740, Sam Jones reports from Madrid.

Figures released by the health department suggest that the spread of the virus is continuing to slow down: between Wednesday and Thursday, the rise in the number of new cases was 3.9%, compared with a daily average of 12% at the end of March and 20% in mid-March.

To date, Spain has confirmed 152,336 cases of the virus, and 15,238 deaths. However, there are growing doubts over the way in which the country is counting the dead.

Mourners pray in front of the coffin of a person who died from coronavirus, at the Spanish Muslim military cemetery in Grinon.
Mourners pray in front of the coffin of a person who died from coronavirus, at the Spanish Muslim military cemetery in Grinon.
Photograph: Juan Medina/Reuters

Recently released data from judicial authorities in Madrid suggest that 6,600 more people than usual died in the last two weeks of March, compared with the official tally of 3,500 Covid-19 deaths in the region.

Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, is once again seeking Congress’s approval to extend the state of emergency – this time until 26 April.

Speaking in parliament on Thursday morning, he defended his government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis and said the continuing lockdown, which has been in effect since 14 March, was the best way to tackle contagion. He said:

We’re all aware of the enormous sacrifice that this second extension requires from people who, quite logically, are fed up with the efforts of the past month.

But we also know that it’s vitally important that we consolidate all the advances that have been made with so much pain and suffering over that time. And that’s something we’ll only manage to do if we maintain the state of emergency for as long as scientists consider it necessary.

Updated at 1.40pm BST

12.56pm BST

A group of doctors in Zimbabwe have taken their government to court over its failure to provide medical staff working on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic with masks, Nyasha Chingono reports from Harare.

The Zimbabwe Association for Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) is seeking to compel the authorities to urgently provide personal protective equipment for medical practitioners, warning that medics in the troubled health sector will otherwise die.

“There are simply no adequate PPEs for health personnel working at public and private health facilities in the country. We attest to the shortages because we work there,” read the court application, seen by the Guardian.

“If no urgent steps are taken to address the shortcomings, the country will be caught unprepared to handle a possible escalation of the Covid-19 pandemic and many lives will be lost, sadly including the lives of those at the frontline.”

A man wearing a face mask walks in a suburb in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Monday
A man wearing a face mask walks in a suburb in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Monday
Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock

ZADHR said 1,500 staff working in public hospitals required at least three masks daily, a “luxury” the government was failing to provide.

“Yet it is a necessity if we are to avert the Italian disaster, where a large number of health practitioners got infected through the provision of health services to patients,” the statement said.

According to Reuters, Zimbabwe had reported 11 confirmed cases of coronavirus and three deaths by Thursday.

Updated at 1.42pm BST

12.48pm BST

Food supplies across the world will be “massively disrupted” by the coronavirus, and unless governments act the number of people suffering chronic hunger could double, some of the world’s biggest food companies have warned, writes Fiona Harvey, the Guardian’s environment correspondent.

Unilever, Nestlé and PepsiCo, along with farmers’ organisations, the UN Foundation, academics, and civil society groups, have written to world leaders, calling on them to keep borders open to trade in order to help society’s most vulnerable, and to invest in environmentally sustainable food production.

They urge governments to “take urgent coordinated action to prevent the Covid-19 pandemic turning into a global food and humanitarian crisis”. Maintaining open trade will be key, as will investing in food supply chains and protecting farmers in the developed and developing world, they say.

The G20 is coming under increasing pressure to act: a group of Nobel prize-winning economists and former senior development bank officials wrote to the forum advising that trillions of dollars would be needed to help the developing world cope with the Covid-19 pandemic. This week more than 100 former heads of government, including Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy, also called on the G20 to act urgently or risk recurrent outbreaks.

Updated at 12.48pm BST

12.35pm BST

For a republic that dispatched most of its own royal family to the guillotine 227 years ago, the French have an enduring fascination with the British monarchy, writes Kim Willsher in Paris.

Queen Elizabeth II addresses the nation on Sunday
Queen Elizabeth II addresses the nation on Sunday
Photograph: Getty Images

The Queen’s speech on Sunday was broadcast live on three television news networks with simultaneous translation and followed by 2.35 million viewers an estimated 8.6% of the watching public, according to the media observatory, Médiamétrie.

BFMTV reported its audience rose by more than half a million viewers for the speech.

Stéphane Bern, France’s leading royal expert, wrote in Le Figaro that the Queen’s speech had “moved not just the British nation”.

She is a symbolic figure. When we say “the Queen” we immediately think of the “Queen of England”. She is a kind of mater dolorosa (sorrowful mother: a reference to the image of the Virgin Mary holding a dying Jesus), the soul of the nation.

Bern was particularly impressed by the queen’s “humility” in thanking NHS and other frontline workers.

“I found her very elegant. She was taking a back seat, unlike the politicians,” Bern said.

In another interview, Bern added the Queen had “underscored British values of calm, camaraderie and self-discipline”.

She is like a rock in a storm, here we have a woman who has reigned for 68 years and who will soon be 94 years old, who has known the war…and made reference to it.

The fondness of older French people for the monarch, always referred to as “La Reine d’Angleterre” (the Queen of England), has been transmitted to a younger generation via the hugely popular Netflix series, The Crown.

This fascination has been widely documented in the French media. In 2016, Adelaïde de Clermont-Tonnerre, a French editor, said she was astonished to hear people shouting “Long live the Queen”, when Elizabeth II visited Paris in 2014.

Updated at 12.39pm BST

12.31pm BST

A second person has died from Covid-19 in Malta, where the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus currently stands at 299.

The Maltese health ministry said the 79-year-old, who had underlying health conditions, had been receiving care at the Karin Grech hospital after first testing positive for the coronavirus on Monday, the Times of Malta reports.

A 92-year-old woman became Malta’s first Covid-19 death on Wednesday. People over the age of 65 and people with underlying health conditions have been warned to remain indoors and only to leave their homes to buy food.

Updated at 12.47pm BST

12.23pm BST

The number of new infections continued to rise in Afghanistan on Thursday, as thousands of migrants poured back from Pakistan amid a surge of infections in Kandahar, Akhtar Mohammad Makoii reports from Herat.

Health officials reported 40 new coronavirus cases recorded in last 24 hours, bringing the total number in the country to 484. However, due to a lack of some testing materials, no suspected patients were tested for a second straight day in Herat.

As of Tuesday the number of infections was 257 in Afghanistan’s worst affected area. Local health officials said the materials arrived in Herat on Thursday afternoon and the process will restart soon.

A health ministry spokesman warned that the virus has now spread into the society and most of the new infections have no history of travel to Iran.

Health workers check the temperature of people on their way into Kandahar, where thousands of migrants have just returned from Pakistan
Health workers check the temperature of people on their way into Kandahar, where thousands of migrants have just returned from Pakistan
Photograph: Muhammad Sadiq/EPA

All three provinces which have border with Iran are under partial curfew in a bid to contain the spread of the virus. But with streets still packed with vehicles and people walking freely around, experts warn that fighting the outbreak will be challenging.

The country’s capital, Kabul, is the second most affected city with 95 positive cases – 10 confirmed in the last 24 hours. The city went under full lockdown on Wednesday. Health workers and food suppliers, media workers, security officials and telecom services employees are exempt, the interior ministry said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Pakistan opened its border with Afghanistan for three days and thousands of Afghan migrants returned, mostly to Kandahar, raising concerns in the province as the number of infections rose to 30.

Afghanistan has so far recorded 15 deaths of Covid-19, while 32 patients have recovered.

Updated at 12.46pm BST

12.13pm BST

Indonesia has reported its biggest daily increase in confirmed cases of coronavirus since officially reporting its first last month, Reuters reports.

The health ministry official Achmad Yurianto on Thursday announced 337 new infections had been detected in the past 24 hours, taking the total in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country to 3,293. He reported 40 new deaths linked to the virus, taking the total Covid-19 death toll to 280.

A woman hangs cloth face masks on a string to dry before distributing them around her neighbours in Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, on Thursday
A woman hangs cloth face masks on a string to dry before distributing them around her neighbours in Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, on Thursday
Photograph: Willy Kurniawan/Reuters

According to a report by Rebecca Ratcliffe, the Guardian’s south-east Asia correspondent, on Wednesday Indonesia’s government announced the closure of schools and workplaces in the capital, Jakarta, where a sudden rise in burials has raised concerns over undetected cases.

President Joko Widodo had previously resisted lockdown measures imposed in many other south-east Asian nations, but there are fears infections are not being spotted by authorities.

Updated at 1.45pm BST

12.02pm BST

Wednesday marked the 100th day since China, on 31 December 2019, first reported cases of pneumonia caused by a then unknown coronavirus to the World Health Organization. Since then there have been more than 1.3m confirmed cases, and more than 75,000 deaths. Billions of people are confined to their homes and stock markets have plummeted

The Guardian’s visuals team has put together an interactive graphic showing how the pandemic has spread across the globe, from the very beginnings of the outbreak in Wuhan. It’s worth a look.

Updated at 12.42pm BST

12.00pm BST

Bangladesh puts Rohingya camps under “complete lockdown”

Bangladesh has imposed a “complete lockdown” in its Cox’s Bazaar district, which is home to over a million Rohingya refugees from neighbouring Myanmar.

The area “will be put under complete lockdown – no entry, no exit – until the situation improves,” a government directive issued late on Wednesday said, according to AFP. No cases have been confirmed in the camps but one infection has been recorded nearby.

The consequences of an outbreak in Cox’s Bazaar are potentially catastrophic. Earlier this week, Save the Children reported that the district, which is home to a total of 3.3 million people, does not have a single ventilator to treat patients with severe Covid-19 symptoms.

The official number of coronavirus cases in Bangladesh doubled to more than 200 nationwide in the last five days, including 20 deaths. There are reportedly 1,769 ventilators in place or in the pipeline in Bangladesh, a country of 165 million people.

Updated at 12.43pm BST

11.42am BST

The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, has issued a statement in support of the World Health Organization, after it came under attack from critics, including the US president, who claimed it was in hock to China.

Guterres’s statement comes after WHO director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, gave a spirited defence of the work of the WHO, and himself, in response to questions from journalists during a press briefing yesterday. Donald Trump had said on Twitter that the WHO “really blew it” adding that the organisation was “for some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China centric”.

Responding to the row in a statement published online, Guterres praised the “courage and determination” of WHO staff, and added:

It is my belief that the World Health Organization must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against Covid-19.

This virus is unprecedented in our lifetime and requires an unprecedented response. Obviously, in such conditions, it is possible that the same facts have had different readings by different entities. Once we have finally turned the page on this epidemic, there must be a time to look back fully to understand how such a disease emerged and spread its devastation so quickly across the globe, and how all those involved reacted to the crisis. The lessons learned will be essential to effectively address similar challenges, as they may arise in the future.

But now is not that time. Now is the time for unity, for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences.

Updated at 12.41pm BST

11.30am BST

Iran Covid-19 death toll passes 4,000

The official death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in Iran has passed 4,000, the country’s health ministry reported on Thursday, after 117 more people were confirmed to have died from the disease in the past 24 hours.

Kianoush Jahanpour, the health ministry spokesman, said the total death toll in the Islamic republic was now 4,110, while 32,309 had recovered, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

In total, the country has reported 66,220 confirmed cases since its outbreak – the worst so far in the Middle East – began. Of those, 3,918 people are still in a critical condition, Jahanpour said.

He added that 231,393 tests have so far been carried out.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressing the nation during a live TV speech from Tehran on Thursday
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressing the nation during a live TV speech from Tehran on Thursday.
Photograph: Leader Office Handout/EPA

The latest death toll from Iran comes as its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Thursday appealed for Iranians to help stop the spread of the coronavirus by staying at home to pray during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

“In the absence of public gatherings during Ramadan, such as prayers, speeches … which we are deprived of this year, we should not neglect worship, invocation and humility in our loneliness,” AFP reported him as saying in a televised speech.

Updated at 11.52am BST

11.14am BST

Summary

Here’s a roundup of global coronavirus news over the last few hours. That’s it from me, Amy Walker. I’ll be handing over to my colleague Damien Gayle now.

  • Italy may begin to lift current lockdown measures by the end of April. The prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, told the BBC that some restrictions could be relaxed if the spread of the disease continued to slow. On Wednesday, there were 542 coronavirus-related deaths in Italy, compared with 604 the previous day.
  • Concern is growing in China over asymptomatic cases of Covid-19. According to the People’s Daily, a state council body has ordered reporting and monitoring of those not showing symptoms despite carrying the virus to be stepped up.
  • The Spanish prime minister has said the country’s latest coronavirus data is “encouraging”. Pedro S ánchez told parliament on Thursday: “The fire starts to come under control.” The country has the second highest number of global cases.
  • Indian and Pakistani troops continue to fight over disputed Kashmir, despite surging coronavirus outbreaks. Data from the Indian army shows there were 411 ceasefire violations by Pakistan’s military in March, compared with 467 in the same month last year.
  • The UK and Ireland are expected to extend current lockdown measures over the Easter weekend. It comes as deaths in the countries continue to grow.
  • The US senate has asked its members not to use the videoconferencing app Zoom over security concerns. The app has experienced a surge in usage after lockdown measures were put in place around the world, but concerns have been raised about its lack of end-to-end encryption and uninvited guests crashing meetings.

Updated at 11.50am BST

11.14am BST

Hi there, this is Damien Gayle taking control of the international live blog for the next eight hours or so. I’ll be focusing on Europe, Africa and the Middle East as countries across the region report their latest death tolls and infection figures, any changes in the measures and policies to control the spread of the coronavirus, and the particular issues faced by their peoples.

As usual I will be hoping to hear from readers with any tips, suggestions or news that you think we have overlooked. Please drop me a line at damien.gayle@theguardian.com, or via direct message to my Twitter profile, @damiengayle. If you are sending me news to report on the blog it is helpful if you provide a link or two so that I can source it.

10.53am BST

The number of daily coronavirus-related deaths in Spain slowed on Thursday as 683 fatalities were recorded in 24 hours.

The total of people who have succumbed to the virus now stands at 15,238, the health ministry said.

Confirmed infections across the country rose to 152,446 from 146,690 on Wednesday.

People in Madrid are seen applauding healthcare staff from their apartments yesterday, as they have been doing every day at 8 pm since the crisis started.
People in Madrid are seen applauding healthcare staff from their apartments yesterday, as they have been doing every day at 8pm since the crisis started.
Photograph: Juan Naharro Giménez/Getty Images

Updated at 11.07am BST

10.31am BST

Scientists and politicians in Germany have this morning presented some fascinating preliminary findings of a forensic study of the outbreak in the Heinsberg municipality on the Dutch border, which has been called “Germany’s Wuhan”.

For the “Covid-19 case cluster study”, scientists from the University of Bonn went back to the town that had the first two fatalities from the virus in Germany and interviewed and tested 1,000 residents. Researchers are also trying to work out exactly how the virus got transmitted at a carnival event in the area on 15 February.

After analysing around half of the tests, the study’s director, Prof Hendrick Streeck, said on Thursday morning that 14% of the population in the area had developed immunity after contracting the coronavirus. Previous estimated had put the infection rate at only around 5%.

Streeck said the fatality case rate of the virus in the area had also turned out to be considerably lower than the currently currently registered for the country as a whole. In Heinsberg, only 0.37% of people who contracted the virus had died.

The latest figure for Germany as a whole, as calculated by Johns Hopkins University, is 1.98%.

Updated at 11.07am BST

10.23am BST

Indian and Pakistani troops in Kashmir are locked in cross-border fighting over the disputed region, despite surging coronavirus outbreaks.

Indian army data reviewed by Reuters shows there were 411 ceasefire violations by Pakistan’s military in March, the highest number in a single month since at least 2018.

In comparison, 267 violations in March 2019 were recorded by the Indian Army.

Kashmir has long been a source of conflict between the neighbours, but tension has grown after Delhi withdrew its autonomy last August, splitting it into federally administered territories.

Both countries claim the region in full, but rule only parts of it.

Updated at 11.06am BST

10.16am BST

Meanwhile in Poland, some measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 will be lifted after Easter, its deputy health minister has suggested.

During a news conference, Waldemar Kraska, said some restrictions would be eased in order to support the country’s economy.

Poland’s schools, hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and cinemas are currently closed as part of the restrictions.

Economists predict that the economy will shrink by 3.5% in 2020, triggering a steep rise in unemployment from the current level of 5.5%.

“After Easter we will want to turn on the economy a little,” said Kraska.

As of Thursday, 5,341 people had tested positive for the virus, while 164 had died in the country.

On Monday, Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party pushed through measures allowing its presidential election to go ahead in May by postal vote.

Updated at 11.05am BST

9.58am BST

Restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus in Ireland could remain in place for a period of weeks, its health minister has said.

Citizens were ordered to stay at home on 27 March until at least this Sunday.

But Simon Harris told broadcaster Virgin Media it was “highly likely” that the restrictions will be extended tomorrow.

Garda officers conduct checks on pedestrians and motorists in Dublin city centre on April 8.
Garda officers conduct checks on pedestrians and motorists in Dublin city centre on April 8.
Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP via Getty Images

He added that Ireland would have to move on to a “different terrain” after that.

“In relation to the roadmap, there is going to be a point in this country where we will have to live alongside the virus, for want of a better phrase, where sadly people will still get sick and sadly some people will still die but it is at a rate that is sustainable for our doctors to manage,” said Harris.

Updated at 11.04am BST

9.31am BST

Italy may start to lift current lockdown restrictions by the end of April if the spread of the disease in the country continues to slow.

Prime minister Giuseppe Conte told the BBC on Thursday:

We need to pick sectors that can restart their activity. If scientists confirm it, we might begin to relax some measures already by the end of this month.

He warned that restrictions would only be eased gradually, adding that Italy could not lower its guard to the threat of the virus.

On Wednesday, there were 542 coronavirus-related deaths in Italy, lower than 604 the previous day. The death toll now stands at 17,669.

The number of people in intensive care also declined from 3,792 to 3,693.

8.58am BST

Russia has reported a record one-day rise of 1,459 new cases of Covid-19, bringing its national total to 10,131.

The number of reported related deaths also increased by 13 to 76 on Thursday, the national coronavirus crisis response centre said.

Updated at 8.58am BST

8.53am BST

China is showing increasing concern over asymptomatic cases of Covid-19, ordering closer monitoring and reporting of “silent” carriers of the virus.

According to a report in the People’s Daily, a State Council body has issued directions that screening for such cases – where people are diagnosed with Covid-19 and are infective even though they develop no symptoms – must be stepped up.

Close contacts of confirmed cases, people involved in cluster outbreaks, and travellers from high-risk areas should all be targeted, the report said.

It said medical institutions were now ordered to report such infections online to disease control departments within two hours of detection, and an epidemiological survey completed within 24 hours. The survey includes an investigation of the patient’s contacts.

China has only been including asymptomatic cases in its daily tallies this month. They are an estimated 18-31% of cases, according to Shanghai-based infectious disease doctor Zhang Wenhong.

Updated at 9.17am BST

8.39am BST

The US senate has told members not to use video conferencing app Zoom over security concerns, the Financial Times reports.

Senators have been asked to find an alternative platform to aid remote working, according to a person who told the FT that they had seen the warning.

However, the senate is believed to have stopped short of imposing an official ban on Zoom Video Communications Inc’s services.

A woman lifts her glass and cheers with friends during a virtual happy hour amid the coronavirus  crisis on April 8 in Virginia, in the US.
A woman lifts her glass and cheers with friends during a virtual happy hour amid the coronavirus crisis on April 8 in Virginia, in the US.
Photograph: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Usage of the app has skyrocketed after lockdown measures were put in place around the world, meaning that millions of people are unable to see their loved ones, and many are working from home.

But the influx of users has raised concerns about issues including its lack of end-to-end encryption and uninvited guests joining meetings.

8.32am BST

The latest coronavirus data from Spain is “encouraging” and the country is close to the beginning of a decline in the epidemic, its prime minister has said.

“The fire starts to come under control,” Pedro Sánchez told parliament on Thursday. His comments came before a vote on the extension of a state of emergency by another two weeks until 26 April.

Updated at 8.41am BST

8.02am BST

More from our project marking 100 days since the Chinese government first warned the world about the new coronavirus.

My colleagues Laurence Topham and Katie Lamborn have compacted the last three months into a whirlwind eight-minute video charting the development of the pandemic:

7.57am BST

A hundred days after a Chinese government website announced the discovery of a “pneumonia of unknown cause”, it has become clearer that the dynamics behind the virus’s rapid expansion across the globe have relied heavily on “cluster effects”.

Each of the countries most heavily hit by the pandemic have reported similar stories of social, cultural or religious gatherings where large numbers spent numerous hours in close company – holding hands, kissing, sharing drinks from the same glass – which then turbo-charged the spread of the pandemic.

“One pattern we are seeing across the globe is that wherever there was singing and dancing, the virus spread more rapidly,” said Prof Hendrik Streeck, a virologist at the University of Bonn whose team of researchers has spent the last week carrying out the first “Covid-19 case cluster study” in Heinsberg.

You can read more on how social gatherings became rocket fuel for Covid-19 below:

Updated at 8.09am BST

7.50am BST

The UK government’s emergency committee is scheduled to meet today to discuss the coronavirus lockdown.

Dominic Raab, who is deputising for prime minister Boris Johnson while he remains in intensive care with the virus, will lead the COBRA summit ahead of an April 16 deadline to review the current restrictions.

But government sources have made it clear the lockdown is likely to be extended. On Thursday morning, culture secretary Oliver Dowden told Sky News:

“We are beginning to make progress on this, we’ve not seen the acceleration you would have expected had we not introduced this, the curve is beginning to flatten.

“This is the moment that we need to stick to the path we’ve chosen.

“The British people have really come behind this, we shouldn’t be giving up this Easter weekend, that is the number one thing.”

The UK’s daily death toll is nearing that of the highest daily figures reported in hard-hit Italy and Spain. On Wednesday, 938 fatalities were announced, bringing the total to 7,097.

You can read more on this from my colleagues Heather Stewart and Rowena Mason here:

7.30am BST

U2 has given €10m to support healthcare workers during the coronavirus outbreak in Ireland.

The band’s donation will be used to source and buy personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline staff.

RTE has reported the money is part of a scheme involving Irish aircraft leasing company Avolon, which is working with companies to raise funds to buy PPE from China.

The first delivery arrived at Dublin airport earlier this week.

The Irish government is already spending more than €200m securing additional equipment from the country, with Aer Lingus transporting the stock from Beijing to Dublin on dozens of flights.

I’m Amy Walker. You can get in touch with tips or follow me on Twitter (@amyrwalker).

7.06am BST

That’s it from me, Helen Sullivan, for now.

Today’s blog handover is dedicated to those among us who are living near active chainsaws, hammers, angle grinders and lawnmowers.

How thrilling it will be to learn what all the commotion was about when we finally emerge from our homes. And with all that we have learned about our neighbours’ tastes in music there will be no shortage of lively conversation.

Over to you, Amy Walker.

Updated at 7.15am BST

7.05am BST

Summary

  • At least 88,538 people have now died worldwide, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Around 1.5 million people have been infected, of whom 329,492 have recovered.
  • China reported a slight increase in new coronavirus cases for the second straight day, as the number of infections involving incoming overseas travellers hit a two-week high.
  • Boris Johnson’s condition improved on Wednesday, with the UK prime minister now sitting up in bed and “engaging positively” with the clinical team, the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, said. Johnson remains in intensive care.
  • German cases climb for third straight day. The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Germany rose by 4,974 in the past 24 hours to 108,202 on Thursday, climbing for the third straight day after four previous days of drops.
  • Japan confirms more than 500 cases on one day for the first time. Japan’s health ministry said Thursday that the country had more than 500 new cases for the first time on Wednesday.
  • The UK suffered its deadliest day since the outbreak began on Tuesday, as official figures showed 938 more people had died in hospitals, taking the overall total to 7,097. The true death toll is likely to be significantly higher.
  • The US recorded its highest one-day death toll on Tuesday, with 1,858 people dying on Tuesday. New York City was still the worst-affected part of the country, recording 806 fatalities. The city has registered more than 4,500 deaths. There are more than 400,000 cases in the country.
  • The US strategic national stockpile nearly out of personal protective equipment. America’s Strategic National Stockpile is nearly out of the N95 respirators, surgical masks, face, shields, gowns and other medical supplies desperately needed to protect front-line medical workers treating coronavirus patients.
  • But White House coronavirus task force officials say mitigation efforts are working, raising hopes of defying the worst case scenario projections.
  • Bernie Sanders suspended his presidential campaign, making Joe Biden the presumptive Democratic nominee. Sanders pledged to continue working to ensure progressive proposals are included in the party’s campaign platform.
  • Donald Trump once again scapegoated the World Health Organization. The WHO’s director-general earlier made a plea to avoid politicization as the world responds to crisis.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa to fall into recession in 2020, says World Bank. The coronavirus outbreak is expected to push sub-Saharan Africa into recession in 2020 for the first time in 25 years, the World Bank said in a new forecast.
  • Australia recorded its lowest number of new coronavirus cases in three weeks yesterday, with 96 new cases. This is the first time in three weeks the country has seen the number of new daily cases fall below 100.
  • Oxfam warned coronavirus could push half a billion people into poverty. More than half a billion more people could be pushed into poverty unless urgent action is taken to bail out poor countries affected by the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, Oxfam has warned.
  • Virus fears prompted a halt to Saudi military operations in Yemen. Concerns about a potential outbreak in Yemen, where no cases have been reported so far, are partly behind a decision to call a halt to the military action there that has left tens of thousands died and spread hunger and disease, a Saudi-led coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki has said.

Updated at 7.35am BST

6.55am BST

Japan confirms more than 500 cases on one day for the first time

Japan’s health ministry said Thursday that the country had more than 500 new cases for the first time on Wednesday, bringing the national total to 4,768 excluding hundreds from a cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo earlier this year.

The continuous climb comes two days after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and six other hard-hit prefectures, while asking people to reduce at least 70% of human interactions.

But many people were seen commuting to their offices Thursday morning in downtown Tokyo, as many Japanese companies are slow to allow remote-working for their employees, raising doubts over how effective measures can be under the state-of-emergency measures.

Commuters head to work through an underpass connecting from Shinjuku railway station in Tokyo on 9 April 2020.
Commuters head to work through an underpass connecting from Shinjuku railway station in Tokyo on 9 April 2020.
Photograph: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP via Getty Images

Updated at 7.02am BST

6.51am BST

South Korea South Korea says it has reported 39 more cases of the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, in a continued slowdown of the virus outbreak in the Asian country, AP reports.

A blimp with a sign calling for people to participate in early voting flies above Gwangju, South Korea, 9 April 2020.
A blimp with a sign calling for people to participate in early voting flies above Gwangju, South Korea, 9 April 2020.
Photograph: YONHAP/EPA

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement Thursday the additional cases increased the country’s total to 10,423. It says 6,973 of them have been recovered and released from quarantine. The centre says fatalities from the coronavirus rose by four to 204.

But, the 39 new cases are the smallest daily jump since Feb. 20. South Korea recorded 47 and 53 new cases on Tuesday and Wednesday.

There are still worries about a steady rise in infections linked to international arrivals, which has helped inflate the caseload in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area.

A total of 22 of the 39 new cases have been reported in Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi province.

6.49am BST

German cases climb for third straight day

The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Germany rose by 4,974 in the past 24 hours to 108,202 on Thursday, climbing for the third straight day after four previous days of drops, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 246 to 2,107.

Updated at 6.52am BST

6.47am BST

Sub-Saharan Africa to fall into recession in 2020, says World Bank

The rapidly-spreading coronavirus outbreak is expected to push sub-Saharan Africa into recession in 2020 for the first time in 25 years, the World Bank said in a new forecast on Thursday.

The bank’s Africa’s Pulse report said the region’s economy will contract 2.1% to 5.1% from growth of 2.4% last year, and that the coronavirus will cost sub-Saharan Africa billion to billion in output losses this year due to trade and value chain disruption, among other factors.

Africa has more than 10,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, 562 deaths and 1,149 recoveries, according to a Reuters tally based on government statements and WHO data.

“The Covid-19 pandemic is testing the limits of societies and economies across the world, and African countries are likely to be hit particularly hard,” World Bank Vice President for Africa Hafez Ghanem said.

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund are racing to provide emergency funds to African countries and others to combat the virus and mitigate the impact of sweeping shutdowns aiming at curbing its spread.

6.38am BST

UK front pages, Thursday 9 April 2020

6.18am BST

You can get in touch with me at any time with questions, comments, or tips on Twitter @helenrsullivan.

Updated at 6.18am BST

6.17am BST

UK domestic abuse helplines report surge in calls during lockdown

A helpline for perpetrators of domestic abuse who are seeking help to change their behaviour has received 25% more calls as the Covid-19 lockdown continues, fresh figures show.

The Respect phone line, which provides confidential advice to perpetrators about violence and domestic abuse, had a 26.86% increase in calls in the week starting 30 March, compared with the week before. The Respect phone line website recorded an increase in hits of 125% in the same period.

The figures come as Refuge, the UK’s largest domestic abuse charity, reported a 120% increase in calls to its helpline, which provides advice and facilitates referrals to refuge accommodation, in 24 hours following a fresh round of publicity on Monday.

6.12am BST

George and Amal Clooney have donated more than one million dollars (£807,000) to the coronavirus relief effort, including money for the NHS, PA reports.

The couple, who have a home in Berkshire, are understood to have donated money to six causes.

That includes a total of 0,000 (£242,000) to the NHS, the relief effort in the Lombardy region of Italy and the Lebanese Food Bank.

Amal, an internationally renowned human rights lawyer, was born in Lebanon.

Amal Clooney and George Clooney ‘Catch-22’ TV show premiere, London, 15 May 2019.
Amal Clooney and George Clooney ‘Catch-22’ TV show premiere, London, 15 May 2019.
Photograph: James Veysey/REX/Shutterstock

The couple also donated 0,000 dollars (£202,000) to both the Motion Picture and Television home, of which Hollywood star George is a board member, and to the US actors’ union SAG-AFTRA Fund.

The same sum went to the Los Angeles Mayor’s Fund, which helps provide childcare for the city’s emergency service and health care workers.

6.02am BST

Just a note that the Johns Hopkins University tracker, which is what the Guardian relies on for our infection, death and recovery figures, has changed the number of confirmed cases globally down from 1.5 million cases. This figure is likely to jump back up. At the moment it is showing 1,484,811 confirmed cases.

We’ll be keeping an eye on it in the meantime.

5.48am BST

Summary

  • At least 88,538 people have now died worldwide, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Around 1.5 million people have been infected, of whom 329,492 have recovered.
  • China reported a slight increase in new coronavirus cases for the second straight day, as the number of infections involving incoming overseas travellers hit a two-week high.
  • Boris Johnson’s condition improved on Wednesday, with the UK prime minister now sitting up in bed and “engaging positively” with the clinical team, the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, said. Johnson remains in intensive care.
  • The UK suffered its deadliest day since the outbreak began on Tuesday, as official figures showed 938 more people had died in hospitals, taking the overall total to 7,097. The true death toll is likely to be significantly higher.
  • The US recorded its highest one-day death toll, with 1,858 people dying on Tuesday. New York City was still the worst-affected part of the country, recording 806 fatalities. The city has registered more than 4,500 deaths. There are more than 400,000 cases in the country.
  • US strategic national stockpile nearly out of personal protective equipment. America’s Strategic National Stockpile is nearly out of the N95 respirators, surgical masks, face, shields, gowns and other medical supplies desperately needed to protect front-line medical workers treating coronavirus patients.
  • But White House coronavirus task force officials say mitigation efforts are working, raising hopes of defying the worst case scenario projections.
  • Bernie Sanders suspended his presidential campaign, making Joe Biden the presumptive Democratic nominee. Sanders pledged to continue working to ensure progressive proposals are included in the party’s campaign platform.
  • Donald Trump once again scapegoated the World Health Organization. The WHO’s director-general earlier made a plea to avoid politicization as the world responds to crisis.
  • Australia recorded its lowest number of new coronavirus cases in three weeks yesterday, with 96 new cases. This is the first time in three weeks the country has seen the number of new daily cases fall below 100.
  • Oxfam warned coronavirus could push half a billion people into poverty. More than half a billion more people could be pushed into poverty unless urgent action is taken to bail out poor countries affected by the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, Oxfam has warned.
  • Virus fears prompted a halt to Saudi military operations in Yemen. Concerns about a potential outbreak in Yemen, where no cases have been reported so far, are partly behind a decision to call a halt to the military action there that has left tens of thousands died and spread hunger and disease, a Saudi-led coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki has said.
  • Italy recorded 542 new deaths, but the rate has slowed slightly. The number of infected people increased by 1,195, or 1.3%. There was also a record day-to-day increase – 2,099 – in the number of people who have survived.
  • The World Trade Organization forecast a fall in global trade of up to a third. The suffering caused by the pandemic will be compounded by “unavoidable declines in trade and output”, the WTO’s director general said.

Updated at 7.41am BST

5.27am BST

Spanish sitcom tackles life in lockdown

From Herculean efforts to keep children from interjecting in conference calls to fitness classes derailed by daytime drinking, a new sitcom in Spain – billed as the first of its kind on primetime TV – is set to tackle the quirks of life in lockdown.

The show aims to offer a humorous take on the sweeping changes unleashed by the pandemic, said Álvaro Longoria, the creator and producer of Quarantine Diaries. “We are in no way trying to make fun of the people that are suffering. The focus is on those trying to make normal life out of an extraordinary situation.”

It is a delicate balance in Spain, where the virus has killed more than 14,500people and plunged its 47 million residents into one of the most restrictive lockdowns in Europe. For more than three weeks, social gatherings, leisurely walks and outdoor jogs have been banned in Spain, with residents ordered to remain in their homes except for essential trips.

Updated at 5.32am BST

5.19am BST

Vladimir Putin has taken a backseat in tackling Russia’s coronavirus outbreak, working remotely from his residence in the Moscow suburbs and delegating powers that he has spent a generation mostly accumulating in the Kremlin.

Cossack volunteers, wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus, patrol the Palace of Kuskovo museum-estate in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, 8 April, 2020.
Cossack volunteers, wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus, patrol the Palace of Kuskovo museum-estate in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, 8 April, 2020.
Photograph: Kirill Zykov/AP

Strict quarantine measures and border closures have been imposed by trusted lieutenants including the Moscow mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, and the new prime minister, Mikhail Mishustin, with officials leading parallel efforts to contain the virus and its economic fallout.

Putin, meanwhile, has mainly focused on cushioning the financial blow to Russians during teleconferences or in televised speeches from an empty office, a difficult perch from which to appear to be managing a crisis that he has seemed keen to hand off.

5.10am BST

International health officials are warning that the Nicaraguan governments perplexing weeks-long refusal to take measures to control the spread of the new coronavirus is heightening the risk of an epidemic in Central America even as neighbouring countries take tough action.

A person walks past closed stores in Managua, Nicaragua, 8 April 2020.
A person walks past closed stores in Managua, Nicaragua, 8 April 2020.
Photograph: Jorge Torres/EPA

President Daniel Ortega’s government urged Nicaraguans to party during Carnival celebrations, and it has said they should keep attending sports events and cultural festivals, and pack the countrys beaches during Holy Week vacations this week.

Doctors have been told not to alarm patients by wearing masks or using sanitizing gel.

Before schools closed for an extended vacation Friday, principals had threatened to expel students who missed class, and last month a third baseman was banned from professional baseball for three years after he asked to stop playing over virus fears.

Ortega’s administration has offered no detailed explanation for its refusal to take widely accepted measures. But the health minister has spoken of the need to support the economy, badly damaged by two years of anti-government protests and harsh crackdowns on dissent. Some analysts say Ortega and his circle may fear that anti-virus measures would weaken their hold on power.

5.06am BST

Mexican authorities said on Wednesday that about 60 personnel across two more hospitals have tested positive for the coronavirus, adding to a wave of infections among medical workers, according to local authorities and media reports.

A doctor and a paramedic from Mexico’s Emergency Medical Care System of Jalisco stand inside a mobile intensive care medical unit.
A doctor and a paramedic from Mexico’s Emergency Medical Care System of Jalisco stand inside a mobile intensive care medical unit.
Photograph: Ulises Ruiz/AFP via Getty Images

The two outbreaks struck a hospital outside Mexico City and one in the western state of Baja California Sur.

The coronavirus was first detected at the hospital in Tlanepantla de Baz, in Mexico state just outside the capital, on March 10, the head of Mexico’s social security institute, Zoe Robledo, said at the president’s regular news conference on Wednesday. At least 20 doctors tested positive there.

He said the transmission did not originate inside the facility and had been tracked to three separate cases – one patient and two doctors who did not have contact with each other.

He said the cluster was not similar to an outbreak in the city of Monclova in the northern border state of Coahuila, where 45 health workers have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the state’s health ministry.

4.58am BST

New Zealand will begin moving citizens to compulsory quarantine from Friday as they return from overseas, stepping up its efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus halfway through a four-week nationwide lockdown.

New Zealander Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament on 9 April 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand.
New Zealander Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament on 9 April 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand.
Photograph: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

“No one goes home, everyone goes into a managed facility,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, adding that 14 days spent in a government-approved facility would be a prerequisite for all foreign travellers.

“Even one person slipping through the cracks and bringing the virus in can see an explosion in cases, as we have observed with some of our bigger clusters,” she told a media briefing in Wellington on Thursday.

Ardern added that her cabinet would decide whether to extend the nationwide curbs on April 20, two days before the lockdown is set to end.

4.54am BST

Australian police said on Thursday they have taken the “black box” of a cruise ship which disembarked hundreds of passengers infected with the coronavirus in Sydney, as part of a homicide investigation into the country’s deadliest infection source.

This handout photo taken and released on April 9, 2020 by the New South Wales Police Force shows police officers about to raid the coronavirus-stricken Ruby Princess cruise ship and seize its black box at Port Kembla, Australia.
This handout photo taken and released on April 9, 2020 by the New South Wales Police Force shows police officers about to raid the coronavirus-stricken Ruby Princess cruise ship and seize its black box at Port Kembla, Australia.
Photograph: Nathan Patterson/NEW SOUTH WALES POLICE/AFP via Getty Images

The investigation got underway as the Australian authorities said the rate of new coronavirus infections hit its lowest number in three weeks and began arranging more flights to bring home citizens stranded abroad.

The Ruby Princess cruise ship, owned by Carnival Corp , has become a flashpoint of public anger in Australia after authorities granted the ship permission to disembark its passengers last month without health checks.

Hundreds of the passengers later tested positive for the coronavirus and 15 have died, out of Australia’s roughly 6,000 confirmed cases and 51 deaths.

4.49am BST

The governor of central Japan’s Aichi, which includes the city of Nagoya and also hosts Toyota Motor Corp, on Thursday said he would declare a state of emergency for his prefecture the following day.

Empty streets of Osaka after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a month-long state of emergency, Osaka, Japan - 8 Apr 2020.
Empty streets of Osaka after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a month-long state of emergency, Osaka, Japan – 8 Apr 2020.
Photograph: Aflo/REX/Shutterstock

Hideaki Omura made the announcement two days after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe formally imposed a state of emergency on Tokyo and six other parts of the country.

Aichi was not included in the emergency despite having the fifth-highest number of infections among Japan’s prefectures, data from public broadcaster NHK shows.

Omura told a news conference that his prefecture had been in talks with the central government and was making preparations towards being included.
The central government will respond “swiftly,” he said.

4.46am BST

Honduras will extend its national curfew to 19 April as the country ramps up efforts to contain the coronavirus, the security ministry said on Wednesday.

The Central American country registered 31 new cases of the virus, bringing its total to 343 cases and 23 deaths, the system for risk prevention said.

4.44am BST

China released new measures on Wednesday to try and prevent asymptomatic “silent carriers” of coronavirus from causing a second wave of infections, as the country reported another modest rise in new confirmed cases, Reuters reports.

A worker wearing a protective suit waits to control the temperature of passengers at Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan, in China’s central Hubei province early on 8 April 2020.
A worker wearing a protective suit waits to control the temperature of passengers at Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan, in China’s central Hubei province early on 8 April 2020.
Photograph: Héctor Retamal/AFP via Getty Images

Mainland China reported 63 new confirmed cases on Wednesday, up from 62 a day earlier, the National Health Commission said. Of those, 61 were travellers arriving from overseas, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in China to 81,865.

China also reported 56 new asymptomatic cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of such cases to 657 since data for such infections were published daily from 1 April.

The State Council, or Cabinet, on Wednesday published new rules to manage asymptomatic coronavirus carriers, or what some state media described as “silent carriers” of the virus.

Under the regulations, medical institutions must report detection of asymptomatic cases within two hours of their discovery. Local governments must then identify all known close contacts of the case within 24 hours.

Asymptomatic patients will be quarantined collectively for 14 days, and will be counted as confirmed cases if they start to show symptoms. People who have had close contact with them must also be quarantined for two weeks.

4.32am BST

Now, a song using Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s comments earlier this week regarding masks and “speaking moistly”:

Updated at 4.34am BST

4.29am BST

Podcast: 100 days that changed the world, Part 1

What began as a mystery virus at a Chinese market in December swiftly became a global crisis. The Guardian’s Michael Safi and Patrick Wintour recount the first 100 days as coronavirus took hold, upending the lives of billions of citizens.

4.23am BST

Easter lockdowns around the world

A view of chocolate Easter bunnies with mouth masks during the production at the Wawi company in Pirmasens, Germany 8 April 2020.
A view of chocolate Easter bunnies with mouth masks during the production at the Wawi company in Pirmasens, Germany 8 April 2020.
Photograph: Ronald Wittek/EPA

Measures ranging from the draconian to the quixotic – a French mayor has banned sitting on benches – represent a collective warning to citizens who may be tempted to take a break from the restraint of recent weeks.

The goal is to keep people at home, but diverging approaches on whether to allow Easter egg hunts, barbecues, watersports and other activities underline the unprecedented dilemmas facing authorities.

In Australia, police will use cameras and number-plate recognition technology to monitor traffic and patrol caravan parks and other holiday spots.

Beach towns along Brazil’s south-eastern coast are sealing themselves off to prevent an influx of tourists.

In France about 160,000 police and gendarmes have been deployed across the country to make sure people stay home during what is normally the weekend of the Tour de France’s Grand Départ.

The government imposed a full curfew on Wednesday afternoon lasting until Thursday morning to cover the Jewish Passover holiday, traditionally a gathering of friends and family to eat, drink and commemorate the Israelites’ flight from Egyptian slavery.

4.16am BST

Australia records lowest number of new daily cases in three weeks

Health minister Greg Hunt announces there were just 96 new cases on Wednesday, Australia’s lowest daily increase in three weeks.
Health minister Greg Hunt announces there were just 96 new cases on Wednesday, Australia’s lowest daily increase in three weeks.
Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Australia recorded its lowest number of new coronavirus cases in three weeks yesterday, with 96 new cases. This is the first time in three weeks the country has seen the number of new daily cases fall below 100.

Australia’s health minister Greg Hunt says 6,068 Australians have been diagnosed with Covid-19. Of those, 82 are in intensive care and 35 are on ventilators. 51 people have died.

Hunt says while the early signs that Australia is successfully flattening the curve are encouraging, there is still “a long way to go” and he urges people to stay at home, particularly over the break:

As we go into Easter with welcome news for Australia, the virus does not take a holiday – therefore none of us can relax and what we do.

This in many ways is the most important weekend we may face in the whole course of the virus.

If we can lock in the gains that we’ve made as a nation through the courage and sacrifice of those on the health, medical and policing frontlines, but also through the immense goodwill and discipline of Australians, then we can help really protect Australian lives going forward and give ourselves the pathway through.

For more on the situation in Australia, you can follow our Australian-specific coronavirus liveblog here.

Updated at 4.18am BST

3.54am BST

There has been a huge amount of praise today for Emily Maitlis’ cold open on the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme Newsnight last night.

Maitlis responded to the language that has been used by many of Boris Johnson’s colleagues, who have said the prime minister will recover from Covid-19 because of his “fortitude” and “strength of character”.

She also responded to the claim that the prime minister’s infection reveals the coronavirus is “the great leveller” when it is clear that lower-paid members of society like nurses, shelf-stackers, bus drivers and care home-workers are far more exposed to the virus and likely to die from it and that the experience of lockdown is very different depending on people’s wealth.

It’s worth a watch.

3.34am BST

Over to New Zealand now, where the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern ,has refused to postpone the country’s September elections over the coronavirus pandemic, despite calls for a delay from her deputy and the deputy opposition leader.

On Thursday New Zealand recorded a significant drop in corona cases for the fourth day in a row, with just 29 new infections, 11 fewer than the previous day.

Full story below:

Updated at 3.34am BST

3.33am BST

3.21am BST

You can get in touch with me at any time with questions, comments, jokes or tips on Twitter @helenrsullivan.

3.21am BST

US strategic national stockpile nearly out of personal protective equipment

America’s Strategic National Stockpile is nearly out of the N95 respirators, surgical masks, face, shields, gowns and other medical supplies desperately needed to protect front-line medical workers treating coronavirus patients.

Face shields and other supplies are pictured at Oklahoma’s Strategic National Stockpile warehouse in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, 7 April 2020.
Face shields and other supplies are pictured at Oklahoma’s Strategic National Stockpile warehouse in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, 7 April 2020.
Photograph: Sue Ogrocki/AP

The Department of Health and Human Services told the Associated Press Wednesday that the federal stockpile was in the process of deploying all remaining personal protective equipment in its inventory.

The HHS statement confirms federal documents released Wednesday by the House Oversight and Reform Committee showing that about 90% of the personal protective equipment in the stockpile has been distributed to state and local governments.

HHS spokeswoman Katie McKeogh said the remaining 10% will be kept in reserve to support federal response efforts.

For the last month, health care workers across the nation have taken to social media to illustrate the shortages by taking selfies wearing home-sewn masks on their faces and trash bags over their scrubs.

3.12am BST

ProPublica is reporting that a Dutch company, Royal Philips NV, which was meant to sell 10,000 ventilators to the US but did not deliver has now entered a new deal with the government – charging four times as much per machine:

The Dutch company that received millions of taxpayer dollars to develop an affordable ventilator for pandemics, but never delivered them, has struck a much more lucrative deal with the federal government to make 43,000 ventilators at four times the price.

The US Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday that it plans to pay Royal Philips N.V. 6.7 million for the new ventilators — paying more than ,000 each. The first 2,500 units are to arrive before the end of May, HHS said, and the rest by the end of December.

Philips refused to say which model of ventilator the government was buying. But in response to questions from ProPublica, HHS officials said the government is purchasing the Trilogy EV300, the more expensive version of the ventilator that was developed with federal funds.

3.02am BST

‘In a war, we draw’: Vietnam’s artists join fight against Covid-19

Chris Humphrey reports from Hanoi.

73-year-old artists Luu Yen The designed this propaganda poster, which calls on people to wear a mask to stem the spread of Covid-19.
73-year-old artists Luu Yen The designed this propaganda poster, which calls on people to wear a mask to stem the spread of Covid-19.
Photograph: Supplied

A masked healthcare worker stands valiant as a soldier, flanked by a bold slogan proclaiming that “to stay at home is to love your country”. Beneath, fine print implores residents to declare symptoms or report anyone escaping quarantine.

The poster, by artist Le Duc Hiep’s, is just one of numerous art forms to emerge from Vietnam – from viral hand washing songs to state stamps – that reflect the war-time spirit many in the country are invoking as they try to contain the virus.

With its archetypal propaganda aesthetic, nationalistic tone and heroic figures, one might assume Hiep’s poster was created by a communist state’s information ministry. In reality, he chose a design he felt would resonate with people to create a retrofitted PSA for those not following the rules.

2.55am BST

Summary

  • At least 88,444 people have now died worldwide, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. They say more than 1.5 million people have been infected, of whom 329,492 have recovered.
  • China reported a slight increase in new coronavirus cases for the second straight day, as the number of infections involving incoming overseas travellers hit a two-week high.
  • Boris Johnson’s condition improved, with the UK prime minister now sitting up in bed and “engaging positively” with the clinical team, the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, said. Johnson remains in intensive care.
  • The UK suffered its deadliest day since the outbreak began as official figures showed 938 more people had died in hospitals, taking the overall total to 7,097. The true death toll is likely to be significantly higher.
  • The US recorded its highest one-day death toll, with 1,858 people dying on Tuesday. New York City was still the worst-affected part of the country, recording 806 fatalities. The city has registered more than 4,500 deaths. There are more than 400,000 cases in the country.
  • Bernie Sanders suspended his presidential campaign, making Joe Biden the presumptive Democratic nominee. Sanders pledged to continue working to ensure progressive proposals are included in the party’s campaign platform.
  • Linda Tripp, who made the tapes of Monica Lewinsky discussing her relationship with Bill Clinton, has died. Tripp’s recordings of Lewinsky decribing the extramarital affair ultimately led to Clinton’s impeachment. The former Pentagon civil servant had reportedly been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer recently.
  • Donald Trump once again scapegoated the World Health Organization. The WHO’s director-general earlier made a plea to avoid politicization as the world responds to crisis.
  • Oxfam warned coronavirus could push half a billion people into poverty. More than half a billion more people could be pushed into poverty unless urgent action is taken to bail out poor countries affected by the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, Oxfam has warned.
  • Virus fears prompted a halt to Saudi military operations in Yemen. Concerns about a potential outbreak in Yemen, where no cases have been reported so far, are partly behind a decision to call a halt to the military action there that has left tens of thousands died and spread hunger and disease, a Saudi-led coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki has said.
  • Italy recorded 542 new deaths, but the rate has slowed slightly. The number of infected people increased by 1,195, or 1.3%. There was also a record day-to-day increase – 2,099 – in the number of people who have survived.
  • The World Trade Organization forecast a fall in global trade of up to a third. The suffering caused by the pandemic will be compounded by “unavoidable declines in trade and output”, the WTO’s director general said.

Updated at 7.50am BST

2.42am BST

US says mitigation efforts are working, raising hopes of defying worst case scenario

Social distancing and other mitigation efforts by the American people are working, raising hopes that the US can defy projected death tolls, the White House coronavirus task force said on Wednesday.

The task force projected on 31 March that the pandemic could claim between 100,000 and 240,000 American lives, even if the federal guidelines were maintained, based in part on evidence from Europe. There is now cautious optimism that the final total, while still monumental, will be lower.

Dr Deborah Birx, the response coordinator, told reporters: “We carefully looked at Italy and Spain and we are doing much better in many cases than several other countries and we’re trying to understand that. We believe that our healthcare delivery system in the United States is quite extraordinary.”

2.38am BST

Former acting U.S. Navy Secretary Thomas Modly’s controversial trip to Guam over the weekend where he ridiculed the commander of a coronavirus-stricken U.S. aircraft carrier cost taxpayers at least US3,000, officials said on Wednesday.

Navy Secretary Thomas Modly.
Navy Secretary Thomas Modly.
Photograph: Alex Brandon/AP

Modly resigned on Tuesday after mounting criticism for firing and ridiculing Captain Brett Crozier of the Theodore Roosevelt who pleaded for help to contain a coronavirus outbreak onboard.

Modly quit only after mounting pressure from Congress and a backlash from the crew, and followed U.S. President Donald Trump’s own suggestion on Monday that he might get involved in the matter.

Two U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Modly flew for about 35 hours on a C-37B, the military version of a Gulfstream jet.

The officials said that based on the flying time, the cost was 3,151.65, Reuters reports.

So far, 286 personnel onboard the carrier have tested positive for the coronavirus.

2.35am BST

China reports slight increase for second day

China reported a slight increase in new coronavirus cases for the second straight day, as the number of infections involving incoming overseas travellers hit a two-week high.

An aerial view of light show which demonstrates various words and phrases to encourage the city and citizens to stay strong and appreciate support other provinces give on the Second Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge.
An aerial view of light show which demonstrates various words and phrases to encourage the city and citizens to stay strong and appreciate support other provinces give on the Second Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge.
Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

China reported 63 new cases on Wednesday, up from 62 a day earlier, the National Health Commission said.

Of those, 61 involved travellers arriving from overseas, the health authority said on Thursday, the most since March 25.

That brings the total number of confirmed cases in mainland China to 81,865.

While infections have fallen from their peak in February after China locked down several cities and imposed strict travel restrictions, authorities have called for continued vigilance amid fears of a second wave of infections.

Updated at 2.53am BST

2.24am BST

Falkland islands authorities announced the cancelation of visitor permits Wednesday, closing the British overseas territory in the South Atlantic to most arrivals, after five cases of coronavirus were reported among military personnel on the islands.

West Point Island, Falklands.
West Point Island, Falklands.
Photograph: Krys Bailey/Alamy Stock Photo

Only returning residents, individual holding Falkland status, military personnel and other essential individuals will be allowed entry, with exceptions to be determined “on a case by case basis,” Falkland authorities said in statement. A two-week quarantine is already in place for arrivals.

With the suspension of most flights in South America, the commercial LATAM air service that connected the islands to Brazil and Chile has ceased being operational, meaning the islands’ only air connection is now through their twice-weekly Airbridge with the UK.

All five cases are individuals stationed at the Mount Pleasent Complex, where between one and two thousand British military personnel are stationed.

None of the around 3,400 civilian population have been reported as coronavirus positive.

2.15am BST

‘Please don’t politicise this virus,’ urged World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus a day after US president Donald Trump tried to pin blame on the WHO for thousands of American deaths from the coronavirus.

Trump accused the WHO of having ‘called it wrong’ and threatened to pull funding. Ghebreyesus gave a stern warning to those seeking to score political points amid the pandemic: ‘If you want to have many more body bags, then you do it. You have many other ways to prove yourselves,’ he said. ‘This is not the one to use for politics, it’s like playing with fire’

2.12am BST

Sex toy sales triple during New Zealand’s coronavirus lockdown

They were warned by the officials against stockpiling toilet paper or flour. But that’s not all New Zealanders have been hoarding, according to the nation’s largest retailer of sex toys, which said sales of its products tripled after Jacinda Ardern announced a month-long lockdown of the country.

The restrictions also prompted a tripling of sex toy sales in the 48 hours before the lockdown was imposed on 25 March, and the prospect of a boring month indoors seemed to have prompted New Zealanders to stash adult products that they might not have tried before, said Adult Toy Megastore, a New Zealand-based company.

“We’re selling a lot of beginner toys … all our beginner ranges are very popular,” said Emily Writes, a spokesperson for the business. “It definitely looks like people are saying: ‘I’ve got time, I might try something new.’”

2.06am BST

Cats can become infected with the new coronavirus but dogs appear not to be vulnerable, according to a study published on Wednesday, prompting the WHO to say it will take a closer look at transmission of the virus between humans and pets, Reuters reports.

A cat – not infected with coronavirus.
A cat – not infected with coronavirus.
Photograph: Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images

The study, published on the website of the journal Science, found that ferrets can also become infected with SARS-CoV-2, the scientific term for the virus that causes the Covid-19 disease.

Dogs, chickens, pigs and ducks are not likely to catch the virus, however, the researchers found.

The study was aimed at identifying which animals are vulnerable to the virus so they can be used to test experimental vaccines to fight the pandemic.

The study, based on research conducted in China in January and February, found cats and ferrets highly susceptible to the virus when researchers attempted to infect the animals by introducing viral particles via the nose.

They also found cats can infect each other via respiratory droplets. Infected cats had virus in the mouth, nose and small intestine. Kittens exposed to the virus had massive lesions in their lungs, nose and throat.

2.02am BST

Here are the two main developments from the White House’s daily press briefing on Wednesday evening:

  • Donald Trump once again scapegoated the World Health Organization. The WHO’s director-general earlier made a plea to avoid politicization as the world responds to crisis.
  • Trump also tore down the idea of voting by mail, alleging widespread fraud — without any evidence to back his claims.Last week, he said if Democrats succeed in their efforts to make it easier to vote by mail during the coronavirus pandemic, “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again”.

1.52am BST

Rock band U2 has donated €10 million to support health care workers battling coronavirus in Ireland.

U2 concert in Mumbai, India, 2019.
U2 concert in Mumbai, India, 2019.
Photograph: Pratik Chorge/Hindustan Times/REX/Shutterstock

The money will be used to source and buy personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline staff.

A spokeswoman for the band confirmed the move to the PA news agency.

RTE has reported the donation is part of an initiative involving Irish aircraft leasing company Avolon, which is working with public and private companies to raise funds to buy tonnes of PPE equipment from China.

1.45am BST

1.39am BST

Bernie Sanders, who has dropped out of the presidential race today, wrote an op-ed about the US coronavirus response for The Guardian.

In this unprecedented moment in American history, we need an unprecedented legislative response. President Trump is incapable of providing leadership, and instead continues to mislead the public and act out of political self-interest. So it is Congress that must lead, and it must do so now.

With anxiety growing, everyone in our country needs to know that, in the midst of this horrific pandemic and economic meltdown, their government is doing everything possible to keep them healthy and financially secure.

In other words, we need to build upon and expand the recent stimulus package with new and bolder emergency legislation which must be passed as soon as possible.

Here is Sanders’ announcement earlier:

Read the full piece for the Guardian at the link below:

Updated at 2.19am BST

1.32am BST

Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno on Wednesday called for an investigation into how local authorities handled the bodies of coronavirus victims in Guayaquil, the epicenter of the country’s outbreak that has overwhelmed health and sanitary authorities, Reuters reports.

Relatives of deceased patients wearing protective outfits arrive for their remains at Los Ceibos hospital in Guayaquil, Ecuador on 8 April 2020, amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Relatives of deceased patients wearing protective outfits arrive for their remains at Los Ceibos hospital in Guayaquil, Ecuador on 8 April 2020, amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Photograph: Jose Sanchez/AFP via Getty Images

Family members have complained via social media that public hospitals have failed to quickly locate the bodies of their loved ones and in some cases misidentified the remains.

“We will not allow anyone to be buried without being identified. They deserve a goodbye with dignity!” Moreno wrote via Twitter.

The tweet included a copy of a formal complaint over alleged irregularities filed by Jorge Wated, the state official tasked with handling corpses during the crisis.

As of Wednesday Ecuador had about 4,450 cases of the disease, with 242 confirmed deaths and another 240 who are suspected to have died from the virus.
Of those, 3,047 cases and 144 deaths were in the province of Guayas, where Guayaquil is located.

Health Minister Juan Carlos Zevallos said on Tuesday he had sacked an official who requested money in exchange for handing over the remains of a victim in a Guayaquil public hospital.

1.27am BST

In Mexico, a government body called Wednesday for authorities to investigate nightclubs that are advertising home delivery of table dances and other services amid the crackdown on large public gatherings and nonessential services during the coronavirus pandemic, AP reports.

The National Human Rights Commission said the offerings violate both the health campaign and womens rights.

The National Citizens Observatory of Feminicide said Tuesday that table dance take-out services are being offered by mens clubs that have been linked to allegations of sexual trafficking of women.

It said some of the clubs that were ordered closed 26 March to stem the spread of the coronavirus have taken to offering home delivery.

Women involved in such activities “are being exposed not just to being infected with Covid-19, but also to different forms of violence,” the group said in a statement.

Updated at 1.27am BST

1.20am BST

Donald Trump has blamed the World Health Organization for failures in the initial response to the coronavirus pandemic, even threatening to cut its funding, but most health experts say it has performed well with limited resources.

Accusing the WHO of giving bad advice, being “China-centric” and even withholding information, Trump claimed to have stopped US funding in a press briefing on Tuesday, only to claim a few minutes later that he was just considering it, pending a review of its performance.

In fact, the US is already about 0m in arrears in assessed contributions (national membership fees). It has given more in donations, and was the biggest single donor in 2019 – certainly far more than China, which gives a paltry amount given the size of its economy.

But the US is far from providing the majority of the WHO’s funds, as Trump claimed, and its voluntary contributions have largely been tied to specific projects. WHO’s total annual budget is about .5bn, and contributions from member states have not significantly increased over three decades.

1.09am BST

Oxfam warns coronavirus could push half a billion people into poverty

More than half a billion more people could be pushed into poverty unless urgent action is taken to bail out poor countries affected by the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, Oxfam has warned.

Ahead of three key international meetings next week, the charity said the impact of shutting down economies to prevent the virus spreading risked setting back the fight against poverty by a decade globally – and by 30 years in the hardest-pressed countries of sub-Saharan Africa, north Africa and the Middle East.

1.08am BST

Pakistan doctors beaten by police as they despair of ‘untreatable’ pandemic

My colleagues Hannah Ellis-Petersen and Shah Meer Baloch report:

Doctors in Pakistan have warned of “deplorable” conditions on the frontlines of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, describing the pandemic as untreatable in one region and accusing police of brutally suppressing protests over working conditions.

One doctor who took part in a sit-in on Monday to protest against a lack of personal protective equipment said he had been “beaten and humiliated” by police.

“In the beginning, I thought, ‘How could police use violence against the frontline fighters of Covid-19 when some days ago the same officers had saluted us for leading during the pandemic?’” said Amanullah, speaking from the police station where he was being held in Quetta, in the Balochistan region.

“But we were wrong. Sticks and butts of AK-47 rifles rained down on us. We were dragged through the street and thrown into trucks.” He and about 60 other doctors were held in police detention overnight and only released at midnight on Tuesday.

1.02am BST

New York City’s death toll from the coronavirus has been disproportionately high in black and Hispanic communities, and the city is starting an outreach campaign for those residents, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.

“We’re seeing folks who have struggled before really being hit particularly hard,” de Blasio said at a City Hall briefing.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio briefs media on the Covid-19 pandemic in the city at P.S. 1, New York, New York, United States, 7 Apr 2020.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio briefs media on the Covid-19 pandemic in the city at P.S. 1, New York, New York, United States, 7 Apr 2020.
Photograph: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/REX/Shutterstock

Preliminary data indicates that black people account for 28% of the city’s COVID-19 death toll, even though they are just 22% of the city’s population. Hispanic people account for 34% of the city’s virus death toll and 29% of its population, AP reports.

State health officials reported Wednesday that nearly 4,600 people have been killed by the virus in New York City. The city’s new round of data is based on a smaller number of cases, about 1,600, where the race and ethnicity of the victim is known.

De Blasio said the city would embark on a multimillion-dollar public service campaign to reach non-English speaking communities with information about the virus.

When the city fatality figures are adjusted to reflect the age makeup of ethnic groups within the city’s population, the disparities are more stark. The age-adjusted death rate for both blacks and Hispanics was more than double the rate for non-Hispanic whites.

Asians, meanwhile, experienced a much lower rate of fatalities: 8.4 per 100,000 residents, compared with 10.2 for non-Hispanic whites, 19.8 for non-Hispanic blacks and 22.8 for Hispanics.

Although the figures released Wednesday show racial disparities in who has died of the virus, the disparities are not as great as those that have been reported elsewhere in the country.

12.56am BST

Veep and Seinfeld star Julia Louis-Dreyfus has released a statement, too:

12.54am BST

UN Secretary General António Guterres has released a statement as Donald Trump continues to criticise the World Health Organization’s response to the coronavirus crisis.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
Photograph: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

Trump also called the WHO “China-centric”:

Statement by the Secretary-General – on COVID-19

The Covid-19 pandemic is one of the most dangerous challenges this world has faced in our lifetime. It is above all a human crisis with severe health and socio-economic consequences.

The World Health Organization, with thousands of its staff, is on the front lines, supporting Member States and their societies, especially the most vulnerable among them, with guidance, training, equipment and concrete life-saving services as they fight the virus.

It is my belief that the World Health Organization must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against Covid-19.

This virus is unprecedented in our lifetime and requires an unprecedented response. Obviously, in such conditions, it is possible that the same facts have had different readings by different entities. Once we have finally turned the page on this epidemic, there must be a time to look back fully to understand how such a disease emerged and spread its devastation so quickly across the globe, and how all those involved reacted to the crisis. The lessons learned will be essential to effectively address similar challenges, as they may arise in the future.

But now is not that time. Now is the time for unity, for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences.

12.39am BST

The White House daily press briefing has just ended and we’ll have a summary of what happened there for you shortly. In the meantime here are other major developments from the US today:

  • Bernie Sanders suspended his presidential campaign, making Joe Biden the presumptive Democratic nominee. Sanders pledged to continue working to ensure progressive proposals are included in the party’s campaign platform.
  • More than 400,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the US. The national death toll has surpassed 14,000 and at least 1,939 people died of the virus yesterday, marking the deadliest day in the US since the crisis started.
  • New York is starting to flatten its curve of coronavirus cases even as the state death toll continues to climb. New York’s “stay at home” order is having an impact on the number of coronavirus cases, governor Andrew Cuomo said, but yesterday’s death toll of 779 was the state’s worst single-day figure yet.
  • Linda Tripp, who made the tapes of Monica Lewinsky discussing her relationship with Bill Clinton, has reportedly died. Tripp’s recordings of Lewinsky decribing the extramarital affair ultimately led to Clinton’s impeachment. The former Pentagon civil servant had reportedly been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer recently.

12.35am BST

Summary

Hello and welcome today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic with me, Helen Sullivan.

As the world confirms more than 1.5 million cases of coronavirus, both the US and the UK have experienced their worst daily number of deaths.

There are also major political developments in both countries, with US Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders dropping out of the race and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson still in intensive care.

I’ll be with you for the next few hours. You can get in touch with me at any time with questions, comments, jokes or tips on Twitter @helenrsullivan.

  • At least 87,706 people have now died worldwide, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. They say more than 1.5 million people have been infected, more than 315,000 of whom have recovered.
  • Boris Johnson’s condition improved, with the UK prime minister now sitting up in bed and “engaging positively” with the clinical team, the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, said. Johnson remains in intensive care.
  • The UK suffered its deadliest day since the outbreak began as official figures showed 938 more people had died in hospitals, taking the overall total to 7,097. The true death toll is likely to be significantly higher.
  • The US recorded its highest one-day death toll, with 1,858 people dying on Tuesday. New York City was still the worst-affected part of the country, recording 806 fatalities. The city has registered more than 4,000 deaths. There are more than 400,000 cases in the country.
  • Virus fears prompted a halt to Saudi military operations in Yemen. Concerns about a potential outbreak in Yemen, where no cases have been reported so far, are partly behind a decision to call a halt to the military action there that has left tens of thousands died and spread hunger and disease, a Saudi-led coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki has said.
  • Italy recorded 542 new deaths, but the rate has slowed slightly. The number of infected people increased by 1,195, or 1.3%. There was also a record day-to-day increase – 2,099 – in the number of people who have survived.
  • It emerged that the European commission is preparing a “roadmap” to a coordinated lifting of lockdowns. However, EU member states were advised to extend their restrictions until 15 May.
  • The World Trade Organization forecast a fall in global trade of up to a third. The suffering caused by the pandemic will be compounded by “unavoidable declines in trade and output”, the WTO’s director general said.
  • The European Union reshuffled its aid budget, promising €20bn to Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and eastern Europe. The bloc’s chief diplomat, Josep Borrell, said: “Unless the virus is defeated everywhere, it will not be defeated anywhere.”
  • Work is due to restart at some of the German car factories owned by Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler in less than a fortnight. It said its German staff would work shorter hours until 30 April.
  • Italy declared its ports “unsafe” in a move that appeared designed to block rescue efforts for people struggling to cross the Mediterranean. The measure came as departures from Libya increased with the arrival of good weather.

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