Coronavirus live news: recoveries pass 1m as Trump contradicts intelligence on virus origin

US government experts say virus ‘not manmade or genetically modified’; Germany and Spain ease lockdowns; outbreak increasing in Africa

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Coronavirus live news: Kim Jong-un reportedly appears in public – as it happened” was written by Helen Davidson (now); Kevin Rawlinson, Damien Gayle, Jessica Murray, Aamna Mohdin and Helen Sullivan (earlier), for theguardian.com on Friday 1st May 2020 23.52 UTC

12.52am BST

We are closing the blog now but coverage will continue over here.

12.29am BST

Reuters: Police in the Chilean capital Santiago detained more than 50 protesters on Friday, saying they had violated rules intended to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Protesters gathered on the Labor Day holiday in Santiago’s central square, many shouting and displaying signs that railed against abuse of workers and a sharp rise in layoffs in the South American nation.

Calls to protest on social media warned those who attended the rally to “use gloves, masks and alcohol gel,” but police said demonstrators had failed to adhere to a nationwide rule against gatherings of more than 50 people.

The Carabineros police force said on Twitter that one of the protesters detained had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and was meant to be in isolation for another week.

Police officers clad in plastic-screened helmets and olive uniforms herded protesters into police vehicles, while water cannons mounted on trucks nearby dispersed others.

Santiago is under partial quarantine, but scattered, small protests against the government of center-right President Sebastian Pinera have persisted in areas not under lockdown.

12.21am BST

Hello, this is Helen Davidson taking over the live blog for the next little bit. Thanks to Kevin Rawlinson for his coverage over the last few hours.

Here is our latest catch-up on recent developments.

12.00am BST

The top US health official Dr Anthony Fauci will be prevented from testifying to a congressional committee examining the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic next week, the White House has said.

The Trump administration claimed it would be “counterproductive” to have individuals involved in the response testify. The White House spokesman Judd Deere told Reuters:

While the Trump administration continues its whole-of-government response to Covid-19, including safely opening up America again and expediting vaccine development, it is counter-productive to have the very individuals involved in those efforts appearing at congressional hearings.

We are committed to working with Congress to offer testimony at the appropriate time.

11.44pm BST

Trump said after the KCNA report that he will have something to say about Kim at the appropriate time.

There has been speculation about Kim’s health after he missed the birth anniversary celebrations of state founder Kim Il Sung on 15 April. The day is a major holiday in North Korea and Kim as leader usually pays a visit to the mausoleum where his grandfather lies in state.

A source familiar with US intelligence analyses and reporting told Reuters they could not immediately confirm the KCNA report. The White House and State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

11.41pm BST

According to Reuters, the news of Kim Jong-un’s appearance in public is now also being reported by North Korean sources.

The state news agency KCNA says he attended the completion of a fertiliser plant in a region north of the capital, Pyongyang, on Friday.

It is the first report of his public activity since 11 April. According to KCNA, Kim cut a ribbon at the ceremony and those in attendance “burst into thunderous cheers of ‘hurrah!’ for the Supreme Leader who is commanding the all-people general march for accomplishing the great cause of prosperity”.

Kim was accompanied by several senior North Korean officials, including his younger sister Kim Yo Jong, KCNA said.

Reuters said it could not independently verify the report.

11.03pm BST

Trump now hopes for fewer than 100,000 deaths

The US president Donald Trump has offered an increasingly bleak picture for the US, telling a White House event:

Hopefully, we’re going to come in below that 100,000 lives lost, which is a horrible number, nevertheless.

Trump, who initially dismissed the outbreak as a “hoax”, has oscillated between claiming that a death toll of between 100,000 and 200,000 people would represent a success and predicting it could be as light as 60,000 or 70,000.

According to the latest figures from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 62,406 people have died in the US since the outbreak began.

Updated at 11.05pm BST

10.32pm BST

Kim Jong-un reportedly appears in public

The North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has made his first public appearance in nearly three weeks, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

His absence amid the pandemic had been the cause of speculation, though South Korean and US officials had stressed their belief he was not ill and could simply have been sheltering from the pandemic.

Updated at 11.21pm BST

10.15pm BST

More than 70% of virus patients admitted to critical care are men, according to data from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC).

The research was based on a sample of 7,542 critically-ill patients confirmed as having Covid-19. It showed 5,389 of the patients were men compared to 2,149 women.

The report also found that men were more likely to die in critical care, with 51% dying in care compared to around 43% of women. In total about 49% of the 5,139 patients admitted to critical care who had recorded care outcomes had died, it found.

9.56pm BST

The FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn was careful to note that remdesivir has not received FDA approval as a coronavirus treatment and has only been approved for emergency use on severely ill patients who have been hospitalised.

FDA approval requires a much more lengthy review process, while an emergency use authorisation is issued more quickly after the agency weighs the potential risks and potential benefits of a treatment option to help address an emergency situation.

Today’s action is an important step in our efforts to collaborate with innovators and researchers to provide sick patients timely access to new therapies where appropriate, while at the same time supporting research to further evaluate whether they are safe and effective.

There’s tremendous interest among all parties to identify and arm ourselves with medicines to combat COVID-19, and through our Coronavirus Treatment Acceleration Program, the FDA is working around-the-clock and using every tool at our disposal to speed these efforts.

9.52pm BST

More people stayed home in Brazil, Japan and Singapore in April as their numbers of cases surged, while people in the United States and Australia returned to parks and jobs as infection rates flattened, data from Google suggest.

The latest weekly update of aggregated travel patterns Google collected from its users’ phones points to increased disobedience with lockdown orders in place since March but rising compliance with those issued last month.

9.43pm BST

US to allow emergency use of remdesivir for hospitalised patients

The US president Donald Trump has told reporters the drug remedesivir has been approved for emergency use to treat coronavirus patients.

The FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn clarified that the drug had specifically been cleared for emergency use on those in hospital.

The president said the approval represented a “very promising situation” and the White House’s taskforce coordinator Dr Deborah Birx added: “I think this really illustrates what can happen in such a short time.”

The emergency approval comes days after Dr Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, expressed cautious optimism about the results of a remdesivir drug trial.

The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery. What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus.

9.23pm BST

Albania is relaxing some of its restrictions from Monday, its prime minister Edi Rama has said.

It will enlarge its area of green zones and let taxis travel between cities. Then, from 11 May, it will allow shopping centres to open and cars to travel without permits.

While still enforcing an afternoon-to-dawn curfew, Albania has eased its restrictions this week, letting many retailers open except for bars and restaurants, though they may offer deliveries. Some people wore masks, others did not.

9.09pm BST

On 12 March, two weeks after Australia declared the coronavirus would become a pandemic and 47 days after the first case in Australia was detected in Melbourne, the World Health Organisation made it official.

That night, in Melbourne, organisers of the Australian Grand Prix were scrambling to keep the event open despite an 11th hour order from Victoria’s chief health officer that they could run the race but had to turn spectators away. It would be the first major event in Australia to be cancelled by the coronavirus. Within 24 hours, almost every other flagship event planned for the next month would follow suit.

This is the first 50 days of the shutdown.

8.39pm BST

Yemen has reported its first case in Taiz governorate, raising the number of diagnosed infections to seven with two deaths in the war-torn country that lacks medical care.

The United Nations says it fears the virus could be spreading undetected among an acutely malnourished population with inadequate testing capabilities. The national emergency coronavirus committee tweeted:

A new confirmed case of coronavirus was reported, the first in (southwestern) governorate of Taiz, in a man in his 40s.

Yemen recorded its first case in southern Hadharamout province on 10 April. On Wednesday, it announced five infections in the southern port of Aden, with two deaths.

8.13pm BST

Hundreds of people have gathered in a Berlin square to mark May Day in defiance of the ban on public gatherings of more than 20, exposing deep frustrations with physical distancing rules.

Reuters reports that police blocked roads around a square in Kreuzberg, traditionally the centre of left-wing May Day protests to prevent more people from joining what a police spokeswoman called an illegal gathering.

Leftist groups had called for the demonstration to denounce capitalism and urge solidarity, especially with refugees seeking to reach Europe. They had urged participants to wear masks and stay at least 1.5 metres apart.

“Saving lives is not a crime,” read a giant red banner dangled from a window, in a reference to the rescue ships saving refugees trying to reach Europe.

Most of those gathered appeared to be keeping a safe distance from one another. Riot police watched from a distance as a police helicopter circled overhead.

“We have prevented the parade from growing bigger and are using loudspeakers to urge people to disperse,” the police spokeswoman said, adding that the situation remained largely peaceful.

An overwhelming majority of Germans back the lockdown enforced by the country’s 16 states and backed by the chancellor Angela Merkel, despite its heavy toll on the economy, which is expected to contract by a record of more than 6% this year.

7.42pm BST

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reiterated that the virus is of natural origin after the US president’s uncorroborated claims he had seen evidence it originated in a Chinese lab, AFP reports.

Scientists believe it jumped from animals to humans, emerging in China late last year, possibly from a market in Wuhan selling exotic animals for meat.

Trump has refused to offer any details of or evidence for his claim that he has proof that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was actually the source of the outbreak.

Asked about Trump’s claim during a virtual press conference, WHO emergencies chief Michael Ryan stressed that the UN health agency had “listened again and again to numerous scientists who have looked at the sequences” of the virus.

“We are assured that this virus is natural in origin,” he said, reiterating a stance the UN agency has expressed previously.

7.18pm BST

Varadkar’s widely expected announcement was made in a solemn address that channelled the Vera Lynn song We’ll Meet Again.

Varadkar announced two tweaks to restrictions that are due to expire on 5 May: the 2km limit on exercise will extend to 5km and people aged over 70 who are cocooning will be allowed to exercise outdoors.

I know it’s been difficult. The uncertainty about when things will get back to normal and the fear of the virus itself. As a nation, our physical health has been attacked, our mental health eroded. Our economy battered and our society put to the ultimate test.

Restrictions were working and had saved thousands of lives but progress could be “swept away” with premature relaxation, he said.

It will take some time for our lives to get back to normal. To a new normal. But it will happen.

The reopening will have five stages, three weeks apart, starting on 18 May. If Covid-19 surges, it may be necessary to reverse, said Varadkar.

In the first phase outdoor workers, including builders and gardeners, will be able to return to work. Hardware shops, garden centres and other selected categories will be allowed to reopen and small outdoor gatherings will be permitted. “Not long from now, some summer night, we will see our friends again,” said Varadkar.

6.57pm BST

US meat production has continued to decline as the coronavirus crisis forces the shutdown of more processing facilities, sparking fears of shortages at grocery stores nationwide, writes Guardian US reporter Kenya Evelyn.

The US Department of Agriculture’s weekly report found that from 27 April, beef production was down nearly 25% compared to the same time last year. Pork production was down 15%.

While Sonny Perdue, the agriculture secretary, has said the US has “plenty of food for all of [its] citizens”, fewer pigs are being slaughtered at processing plants, down by nearly 50% since mid-March.

Meat processing companies have paused operations as some workers have tested positive for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Last month, Tyson Foods, one of America’s largest meat producers, warned “the food supply chain is breaking” in a full-page ad in newspapers including the New York Times.

“There will be limited supply of products,” the Arkansas-based company said, until it can reopen closed facilities.

6.55pm BST

Strict measures to continue in Ireland until 18 May

Restriction on movement are to continue for several more weeks in Ireland, although over-70s may now leaves their homes to exercise, Leo Varadkar has said.

In an address to the nation on Friday evening, the Taoiseach said most restrictions would remain in place until 18 May, “to weaken the virus further so it doesn’t make a comeback,” the Journal reported.

6.44pm BST

Thirty-four more people have died from Covid-19 in Ireland, taking the country’s total death toll 1,265, reports the Irish Department of Health.

There is now a total of 20,833 confirmed cases in the country after 221 more were detected since Thursday.

6.32pm BST

Markets slide on US-China Covid-19 trade war threat

Donald Trump threatening to reignite the US-China trade war in reaction to coronavirus has triggered a sell-off in global financial markets, as the economic costs of the pandemic continue to mount, Richard Partington, the Guardian’s economics correspondent, reports.

Against a backdrop of rising tension between the world’s two biggest economic superpowers, share prices resumed a downward slide on Friday with the FTSE 100 falling by 144 points, or 2.5%, in London.

Selling pressure resumed on Wall Street after recording gradual gains in recent weeks amid rising hopes a turning point had been reached for the coronavirus crisis. As fears over the economic costs from the disease mount and as the White House ramped up the threat of a renewed trade conflict with Beijing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by more than 2% in afternoon trading in New York.

Stock prices fell sharply in Japan, with the Nikkei index of leading Japanese company shares sliding by more than 500 points, or 2.8%. Markets in China, Hong Kong and South Korea were closed for public holidays.

Despite world leaders starting to outline plans to lift lockdown measures more than a month on from the depths of the crisis, the economic fallout from tight controls on social and business activity during the Covid-19 outbreak are now becoming increasingly clear

6.22pm BST

A US federal judge ordered authorities to release of people from three migrant detention centres in Florida to prevent a wider spread of the coronavirus and protect detainees with underlying conditions, the Associated Press reports.

District court judge Marcia Cooke issued an order late on Thursday for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to begin the steps to bring down the number of detainees from 1,400 to about 350 within two weeks.

Two others orders were also issued on Thursday by federal judges in California and Louisiana siding with groups seeking the release of immigrants at high risk.

In Miami, seven detainees at the Krome detention centre have tested positive for Covid-19. According to court filings at least eight members of staff have also been infected there.

The judge said she found violations of the Fifth and Eight Amendments that protect due process and against unusual punishment, as conditions are worsening each day at Krome and authorities have failed at practicing social distancing at one of the other facilities.

These failures have placed petitioners at a heightened risk of not only contracting COVID-19, but also succumbing to the fatal effects of the virus as some of the petitioners have serious underlying medical illness, Cook wrote in the document. Such failures amount to cruel and unusual punishment because they are exemplary of deliberate indifference.

ICE was ordered to submit a report on Sunday with the steps to release detainees.

Updated at 6.22pm BST

6.17pm BST

Summary

Here are the latest headlines in our global coronavirus news coverage:

  • The global number of infections passed 3.2m, while at least 233,000 have died, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University’s tally of official figures.
  • The UK death toll rose to at least 27,510 after officials reported 739 more deaths. The health secretary, Matt Hancock, said 177,454 people have tested positive; an increase of 6,201 since Thursday’s update. Of those, 15,111 are in hospital.
  • The US military has developed as potential breakthrough test that could identify carriers before they become infectious. Researchers hope the blood test will detect the virus about four days before current tests can.
  • Israel is to partially reopen schools on Sunday, with a full return for all students by 1 June. First, second and third graders as well as 11th and 12th graders can return to school from Sunday, the first day of the week in Israel.
  • US activists plan biggest rent strike in decades, calling for state leaders to cancel rent during the pandemic. Activists in New York, Pennsylvania and California are encouraging tenants to withhold rent, even if they can pay.
  • India extended its lockdown – the world’s biggest by population – for two more weeks, but with some easing of restrictions in areas with few cases.
  • South Africa began to ease its lockdown, with some industries allowed to reopen after five weeks. Africa’s most industrialised nation was already struggling with low growth and high debts when the lockdown began on 27 March.
  • The US handed m Covid-19 aid to fossil fuel firms, money that they are unlikely to have to pay back, according to a review of coronavirus aid meant for small businesses by investigative research group Documented and the Guardian.
  • Japan is preparing for a month-long extension to its state of emergency, its prime minister, Shinzo Abe, says. He imposed an initial month-long emergency for seven regions on 7 April, before expanding it across the whole country.

6.06pm BST

Six more people have died from coronavirus in Serbia, while 196 new infections were recorded, according to a report on local news site Telegraf.

The latest update brings the total death toll in the Balkan country to 185, with the overall number of confirmed cases now at 9,205.

Serbia has so far counted 113 male victims of the virus, and 72 female. Sixty-five patients are currently on respirators in the country.

5.52pm BST

Egypt has reported 14 more deaths from Covid-19, bringing the country’s total toll to 406.

According to the health ministry’s daily report, published on Facebook, 358 more confirmed cases of coronavirus were detected. So far 5,895 infections have been confirmed in Egypt, making it Africa’s second-worst affected country.

5.46pm BST

Deaths from the Covid-19 epidemic in Italy climbed by 269 on Friday, down from 285 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the daily tally of new infections stood at 1,965 against 1,872 on Thursday, Reuters reports.

The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on 21 February now stands at 28,236, the agency said – giving it the second highest death toll from the virus in the world after that of the US.

The number of officially confirmed cases, which includes those who have died or recovered, was 207,428, the third highest global tally behind those of the US and Spain.

People registered as currently carrying the illness declined to 100,943 from 101,551 on Thursday.

There were 1,578 people in intensive care on Friday against a previous 1,694, maintaining a long-running decline. Of those originally infected, 78,249 were declared recovered against 75,945 a day earlier.

The agency said 1.399 million people had been tested for the virus against 1.355 million the day before, out of a population of around 60 million.

5.37pm BST

Scientists in Germany have said children with the coronavirus may be as infectious as adults, and urged caution as schools and playgrounds across Europe start to reopen, Kate Connolly in Berlin and Kim Willsher in Paris report.

Researchers who analysed data on infected people found that the viral loads in children differed little from those in adults. Opening schools on the assumption that children are less likely to spread the virus was therefore ill-advised, said Christian Drosten, a virologist and Germany’s leading coronavirus expert, who led the team.

“In the current situation, we must warn against the unlimited reopening of schools and kindergartens,” he added.

Drosten’s study, which was released this week, examined the viral loads in the throats of 3,721 people, including more than 100 children, who tested positive for coronavirus in Berlin between January and April

He said he had been able to carry out his analysis once the number of tests carried out by Labor Berlin, the largest laboratory of its kind in Europe, had reached the critical mass of 60,000 earlier this week. That gave him and his team, including Terry Jones, a mathematician from the Centre for Pathogen Evolution at the University of Cambridge, enough data to be able to carry out an analysis of children who have had the virus.

5.33pm BST

The number of people who have died from Covid-19 in Turkey has risen by 84 in the last 24 hours to 3,258, with 2,188 new cases of the virus, Health Ministry data showed on Friday, according to Reuters.

The total number of cases rose to 122,392, the data showed, the highest total outside Western Europe or the US.

A total of 53,808 people have so far recovered. The number of tests conducted in the past 24 hours stood at 41,431, raising the total number of tests during the outbreak to 1.075 million.

5.22pm BST

UK death toll rises by 739 to 27,510

The UK has reported 739 more deaths from Covid-19, bringing the total death toll in the country to 27,510.

In a daily briefing on the outbreak, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, said 177,454 people have so far tested positive for coronavirus, an increase of 6,201 since yesterday.

Of those, 15,111 patients are currently in hospital, Hancock said.

You can see more more updates from the daily briefing on our UK blog.

5.12pm BST

South Africa begins to ease lockdown

South Africa began to ease its strict coronavirus lockdown on Friday, allowing some industries to reopen after five weeks of restrictions, AFP reports.

Africa’s most industrialised nation was already teetering with low growth and high debts when the lockdown kicked in on 27 March.

Its easing comes after the ratings agency S&P on Wednesday downgraded the country’s credit rating further to junk.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a televised May Day speech:

The poor and the working class are having to bear the burden of a global pandemic that has caused severe economic and social disruption …

As we begin the process of easing the lockdown and many people start returning to work, we must remain vigilant and careful …

The road ahead will be long and hard, and we will make mistakes.

Staff at a bookshop in Johannesburg prepare for its reopening on Friday
Staff at a bookshop in Johannesburg prepare for its reopening on Friday
Photograph: China News Service/China News Service via Getty Images

With 5,647 confirmed cases and 103 fatalities, South Africa has the continent’s highest Covid-19 death toll.

But a mid-April government survey published on Friday showed that respondents were more concerned about a potential economic collapse than contracting coronavirus.

5.08pm BST

People living in the poorest parts of the UK are dying from Covid-19 at double the rate of people in the richest areas, a data analysis has found, writes Caelainn Barr, the Guardian’s data projects editor.

The most deprived areas had 55.1 deaths per 100,000 people – more than double that of people in the least deprived areas, where the death rate was 25.3, according to figures from England and Wales published by the Office for National Statistics on Friday.

The findings have lead to calls for the government to support the most vulnerable and prompted questions about why poorer people appear to be dying in greater numbers than the wealthy.

Javed Khan, the chief executive of Barnardo’s, said the crisis highlighted “deep-rooted inequalities that have been papered over for decades”. He went on:

Vulnerable children and families – and those already experiencing disadvantage – risk becoming the forgotten victims. Without intervention this crisis will be devastating for a whole generation – their mental health, safety, education and job prospects are on the line.

The government must ensure that the emergency funding and resources already announced reaches those in need without delay. And in the months ahead funding decisions should reflect the scale of the challenge now facing vulnerable children and families.

4.55pm BST

India extends coronavirus lockdown for two weeks

India is to extend its coronavirus lockdown – the world’s biggest by population – but with some easing of restrictions in areas with few cases, according to AFP.

The home ministry said in a statement that in view of “significant gains in the COVID-19 situation”, areas with few or no cases would see “considerable relaxations”.

The lockdown imposed near the end of March has caused misery for millions of workers in India’s vast informal sector and dealt a major blow to Asia’s third-biggest economy.

Air travel and passenger trains ground to a halt because of the lockdown and only the transport of “essential goods” was allowed, causing major problems as well as considerable confusion for industry and agriculture.

However the stringent restrictions have been credited with keeping confirmed cases of coronavirus to about 35,000 cases as of Friday, with 1,152 deaths.

The government said Friday that many activities will remain prohibited nationwide including air and rail travel – except for “select purposes” – schools, restaurants and large gatherings such as places of worship.

Restrictions are being lifted largely according to what colour an area has been assigned in a government rating system.

India is split into red zones with “significant risk of spread of the infection”; green zones with zero cases or no confirmed cases in the past 21 days; and those in between as orange.

4.44pm BST

An outbreak of Covid-19 among workers in a meat factory in Tipperary has raised fears that the virus is spreading through abattoirs and meat-processing plants in Ireland, writes Ella McSweeney, for the Guardian’s Animals Farmed project.

Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on agriculture, Brian Stanley, told the Irish parliament last night that 120 workers at the Rosderra Meats plant in Roscrea had tested positive for the virus. He also said that of 350 workers at the plant, up to 140 were off sick last week. Rosderra is the largest pork-processing company in Ireland.

Michael Creed, Ireland’s agriculture minister, told MPs that he was aware of six meat-processing plants with two or more confirmed cases of Covid-19 among workers, although he did not name them.

A spokesperson for Rosderra Meats confirmed to the Guardian that a number of employees had tested positive for coronavirus. They said that the company had implemented stringent measures to ensure the safety of employees, and added that production will be scaled down until all staff return to work.

4.30pm BST

The World Health Organization’s daily coronavirus briefing is starting now. Today, the UN health agency is expected to announce a joint effort with the European Investment bank to support countries in addressing the health impact of Covid-19.

The partnership between WHO and the world’s largest international public bank is meant to boost cooperation to strengthen public health, supply of essential equipment, training and hygiene investment in countries most vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO said in a release on Friday.

It will will benefit from the EIB’s planned €1.4bn response to address the health, social and economic impact of COVID-19 in Africa.

Efforts will include: scaling up investment to tackle antimicrobial resistance; improving the effectiveness of malaria treatment; scaling up investment to tackle antimicrobial resistance

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, said:

Combining the public health experience of the World Health Organization and the financial expertise of the European Investment Bank will contribute to a more effective response to COVID-19 and other pressing health challenges.

WHO looks forward to strengthening cooperation with the EIB to improve access to essential supplies including medical equipment and training, and deliver better water, sanitation and hygiene where most needed. New initiatives to improve primary health care in Africa and support the EU Malaria Fund hint at the potential impact of our new partnership

4.23pm BST

As of 30 April, Vietnam has a coronavirus death count of zero and only 270 cases. Trang Bui, a Vietnamese freelance journalist based in Ho Chi Minh City, has written for the Guardian’s Comment section about how the south east Asian nation achieved it.

Out of the key factors that contributed to Vietnam’s successful coronavirus response, timeliness was the first. Vietnam acted early and did not hesitate to alert its citizens. On 28 January, when the country recorded only two cases, the government announced that it was planning for a scenario in which thousands of people could contract the virus.

4.15pm BST

4.12pm BST

Rwanda is to ease its coronavirus lockdown from Monday, allowing limited movement of people and restricted re-openings of restaurants and hotels, according to Reuters.

Movement between provinces in the central African country will still not be allowed, while schools will also remain shut until September, according to a government statement released late on Thursday.

All resumed services must adhere to health guidelines … mask wearing and social distancing.

Rwanda alongside neighbouring Uganda implemented some of the strictest lockdown measures in Africa to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, including shuttering all but the most essential businesses.

As of Thursday it had 243 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and no deaths.

4.07pm BST

US military develops breakthrough Covid-19 test

Scientists working for the US military have designed a new Covid-19 test that could potentially identify carriers before they become infectious and spread the disease, Giles Tremlett reports for the Guardian.

In what could be a significant breakthrough, project coordinators hope the blood-based test will be able to detect the virus’s presence as early as 24 hours after infection – before people show symptoms and several days before a carrier is considered capable of spreading it to other people. That is also around four days before current tests can detect the virus.

The test has emerged from a project set up by the US military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) aimed at rapid diagnosis of germ or chemical warfare poisoning. It was hurriedly repurposed when the pandemic broke out and the new test is expected to be put forward for emergency use approval (EUA) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) within a week.

“The concept fills a diagnostic gap worldwide,” the head of Darpa’s biological technologies office, Dr Brad Ringeisen, told the Guardian, since it should also fill in testing gaps at later stages of the infection. If given FDA approval, he said, it had the potential to be “absolutely a gamechanger”.

4.02pm BST

Comoros has reported its first case of coronavirus, the World Health Organization’s Africa office said. Its daily round up of Covid-19 figures from Africa showed that South Africa and Egypt still have the most confirmed cases, while Algeria has recorded the most deaths.

3.59pm BST

Riot police fanned out across Hong Kong on Friday after democracy activists threatened to defy a ban on gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic – but the streets remained largely calm, AFP reports.

Activists in the semi-autonomous financial hub, which had for months protested against a strengthening of control by China’s government, had issued calls to muster once more on May Day – despite emergency anti-virus laws banning more than four people gathering in public.

The threat largely failed to materialise, although hundreds of protesters did however gather in small groups at a shopping mall in the town of Shatin, chanting slogans and holding protest flags.

Riot police soon rushed into the mall and used pepper spray to disperse the crowd.

One protester, a retired firefighter who gave his name as Lam, said:

I feel that the movement has been watered down because of the pandemic, but I personally think we should keep fighting. If we shrink back and accept our fate, then we will be living under an authoritarian regime.

Riot police enter a shopping mall to disperse May Day protesters in Hong Kong
Riot police enter a shopping mall to disperse May Day protesters in Hong Kong
Photograph: Kin Cheung/AP
Hundreds of protesters gathered in small groups at a shopping mall in the town of Shatin, chanting slogans and holding protest flags
Hundreds of protesters gathered in small groups at a shopping mall in the town of Shatin, chanting slogans and holding protest flags
Photograph: Kin Cheung/AP
Woman is covered with pepper spray as riot police disperse people from the mall
Woman is covered with pepper spray as riot police disperse people from the mall
Photograph: Tyrone Siu/Reuters

3.39pm BST

A day after armed protesters against Michigan’s stay-at-home order entered the statehouse in Lansing, Donald Trump has once again expressed support for the rightwing movement, writes Joan E Greve, a Guardian US politics reporter.

Michigan’s Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, should, the president wrote in a tweet on Friday morning, “make a deal” with the demonstrators.

Some of the demonstrators in Lansing on Thursday carried assault rifles, causing alarm among legislators.

Some protesters, many without face coverings, entered the statehouse and demanded to be let on to the House floor, which is not allowed. The gallery was closed to the public to allow room for representatives and reporters to spread apart.

3.30pm BST

Cities around the world are taking the lead in post-coronavirus planning, with a raft of environmental initiatives being rolled out in places from Bogotá to Barcelona to ensure public safety and bolster the fight against climate breakdown, Guardian environment correspondents Matthew Taylor and Sandra Laville report.

Mayors from cities in Europe, the US and Africa held talks this week to coordinate their efforts to support a low-carbon, sustainable recovery from the crisis as national governments begin to roll out huge economic stimulus packages.

Many cities have already announced measures, from hundreds of miles of new bike lanes in Milan and Mexico City to widening pavements and pedestrianising neighbourhoods in New York and Seattle.

The initiatives are designed to allow people to move around urban spaces safely in a world where physical distancing will be the norm for the foreseeable future – and do so without sparking a drastic increase in air pollution.

The mayors who took part in the newly formed economic taskforce this week believe these initial schemes point the way to more radical long-term measures that will help tackle inequality and the climate crisis.

The mayor of Milan, who is heading the taskforce run by the C40 group of cities, said:

Our immediate priority is to protect the health of our residents and overcome the Covid-19 pandemic. However, we must also look towards how we will keep our people safe in the future. How we structure our recovery efforts will define our cities for decades to come.

3.24pm BST

Is expecting the worst the best way to handle the coronavirus crisis?

During the pandemic, it’s useful to see the role your coping mechanisms play, if only to stop yourself spiralling into anxiety, writes Oliver Burkemann, a Guardian writer based in New York, in his regular column on mental wellbeing.

Exactly how terrible are the next months and years going to be? As a generally apocalyptically minded sort of person, I’ve been feeling some pride in watching my favourite question become everyone else’s favourite question, too; it’s like being a 19th-century aristocrat and seeing your debutante daughter become the star of the London season. But in deciding who to listen to, and thus how alarmed to be, it’s easy to overlook a crucial factor: in a crisis as all-consuming as this one, nobody – not academic experts, not media commentators, not that one friend who keeps urging you to be less (or more) worried than you are – is a completely neutral observer. Because predictions about the future aren’t solely about the future. They’re also coping mechanisms for dealing with the present.

3.13pm BST

Damien Gayle here back at the reins of the blog now, with thanks to my colleague Jessica Murray for covering my break for the past hour. Remember, if you want to send me any tips, comments or suggestions for coverage please drop me a line at damien.gayle@theguardian.com, or a via Twitter DM to @damiengayle.

3.09pm BST

Boris Johnson is of course no newcomer to Greece, a country he visited regularly in pre-corona times to sojourn at his father’s villa in Pelion, the peninsula off the mainland overlooking the Aegean Sea.

Greek diplomats and politicians voice admiration for his knowledge of the classics.

But Britain’s handling of the disease – its soft-touch approach and consequential catastrophic death toll – has been met with disbelief in a nation that, despite the odds has kept Covid-19 under remarkable control.

In contrast to the 26,771 people who have succumbed to the pandemic in the UK which has registered 165,221 coronavirus cases so far, Greece has recorded 2,591 infections and a death toll of 140 after enforcing tough measures to curb the spread of the disease early on.

Addressing reporters at his daily briefing on Thursday, the Greek health ministry spokesman and infectious disease expert professor Sotiris Tsiodras spoke of “victory” saying incidents of the illness had clearly stabilised.

The UK is home to a large Greek community many of whom fled to Greece before commercial air traffic was suspended in March.

Indicative of the mood the popular Protothema newspaper reported the news of the birth of the prime minister’s latest child under the headline: “Johnson, father amid national sorrow over coronavirus.”

“In the midst of the national sorrow that has weighed down on British society, the birth of Boris Johnson’s son has once again brought his personal life, one that is as unconventional as he is, back in the public eye,” the paper wrote. “[A life] with two marriages, an engagement, three extra marital affairs and at least six children.”

Graffiti in Athens’ ancient Plaka district reading: “In the beginning there was Boris, Then there was God.”
Graffiti in Athens’ ancient Plaka district
Photograph: Helena Smith

3.05pm BST

Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, continued to fly in the face of science on Thursday when he called social isolation measures introduced by state governors and mayors “useless”.

He said:

We know that many people will die. I’m sorry.

Seventy percent of the population will be infected and, from what it seems, from what we are seeing now, up until now all this effort to flatten the curve was practically useless.

What’s the consequence, the collateral effect of this? Unemployment. The people want to go back to work.

The president has consistently sought to downplay the impacts of the pandemic, arguing that Brazilians would be immune because they jump in sewage, and mixing with supporters.

Brazil has 85,380 confirmed cases and 5,901 deaths with 435 reported in the last 24 hours as numbers accelerate.

His new health minister, Nelson Teich, earlier contradicted this view. “You can’t start freeing things up when you have a curve that is frankly ascending,” he said.

While there are no definitive studies about the impact of social isolation on the growth of Brazil’s cases, experts believe it has had a positive impact.

The worst-hit state of São Paulo, for instance, was supposed to see a peak in April but this has now been moved to May, the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper reported.

“Brazil had flattened the curve, yes, with isolation measures, but in the last two weeks we are seeing a loosening of isolation and what we are seeing is a new acceleration of the epidemic,” Fernando Bozza,a researcher in infectious diseases at the government research institute Fiocruz in Rio de Janeiro who is modelling the pandemic, told the Guardian.

2.54pm BST

Health workers react after the last patients were discharged from a temporary hospital in Madrid before its closure.
Health workers react after the last patients were discharged from a temporary hospital in Madrid before its closure.
Photograph: Sergio Pérez/Reuters

2.41pm BST

Malaysia on Friday detained hundreds of refugees and migrant workers for illegally living in the country, rights groups said, at a time of movement and travel restrictions imposed to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Malaysia has around two million registered foreign workers but authorities estimate many more are living in the Southeast Asian country without proper documents.

Malaysia does not formally recognise refugees, regarding them as illegal migrants.

The arrests followed immigration raids in a neighbourhood in capital Kuala Lumpur where thousands of migrant workers and refugees live, according to human rights groups and photos shared on social media.

Human Rights Watch and the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network said over 700 migrants were taken into custody including young children.

Malaysian police and the immigration department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Rachel Tan, programme officer at the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network, said the arrests were a “criminalisation of a people who toil in difficult and dangerous work conditions”.

The neighbourhood where the raids took place was close to an area with three buildings that had been placed under strict lockdowns last month after a surge in coronavirus cases there.

Malaysia has reported a total of 6,071 coronavirus cases and 103 deaths, and its prime minister said on Friday that most businesses will reopen from Monday following six-week long curbs that have caused a damaging economic slowdown.

2.33pm BST

Big Macs delivered on meal trolleys, hand washing stations at the entrance and designated waiting spots to separate customers could become a feature of McDonald’s restaurants in the Netherlands when they are allowed to reopen.

In a trial at a restaurant in the city of Arnhem, McDonald’s has been looking for ways to maintain social distancing when the coronavirus lockdown is relaxed.

McDonald’s Netherlands spokeswoman Eunice Koekkoek told Reuters:

We have tried to figure out how to keep our customers and employees safe, while maintaining a restaurant atmosphere.

These are drastic changes, but we hope to make them in a way that customers don’t notice them too much.

A McDonalds’ employee uses a trolley to deliver food to a ‘customer’ at a test location in a restaurant at in Arnhem, The Netherlands.
A McDonalds’ employee uses a trolley to deliver food to a ‘customer’ at a test location in a restaurant at in Arnhem, The Netherlands.
Photograph: Remko de Waal/ANP/AFP via Getty Images

Restaurants, bars and other public places in the Netherlands have been closed since 15 March.

But new infections have been dropping, prompting calls to loosen the lockdown after its current deadline of 19 May.

A decision on whether to reopen restaurants and bars is expected around 12 May, but the prime minister, Mark Rutte, has ruled out a return to normal.

If they do reopen, they will have to keep customers and staff at least 1.5 meters (5 feet) apart to avoid a new wave of infections.

McDonald’s says it could introduce table service, with burgers and fries wheeled to customers on trolleys from which they can pick up their orders.

Other new features would include hand-washing stations at the entrance and a host behind a plastic screen showing customers their place in line.

A man washes his hands at a McDonald’s test location set up in a branch at GelreDome in Arnhem.
A man washes his hands at a McDonald’s test location set up in a branch at GelreDome in Arnhem.
Photograph: Remko de Waal/EPA

Many restaurant owners in the Netherlands fear social distancing will simply put them out of business.

But McDonald’s expects its new set-up will work at 180 larger restaurants out of its 252 franchises in the country.

Koekkoek said:

On average this will allow us to serve around 66% of our normal number of customers.

We don’t expect reopening to be allowed before June.

But even then, we will move in steps. Readjusting 180 restaurants is a tall order.

Updated at 2.34pm BST

2.26pm BST

The Hungarian budget carrier, Wizz Air, flew into London’s Luton airport from Sofia on Friday, becoming one of the first European airlines to restart routes during the coronavirus pandemic.

At least one person onboard seen through the window was wearing a face mask.

A passenger wearing a protective face mask aboard a Wizz Air flight at Luton Airport.
A passenger wearing a protective face mask aboard a Wizz Air flight at Luton Airport.
Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Reuters

There were also dozens of passengers within the airport, spaced out for social distancing, possibly for the return flight which took off shortly afterwards.

European airlines have grounded the majority of their fleets over the last six weeks as governments imposed travel restrictions to combat the spread of the virus.

But Wizz Air said last week it planned to put some of its planes back in the air for essential travel, restoring services to destinations in Romania, Budapest in Hungary, Lisbon in Portugal and Spain’s Tenerife plus a few more.

The London Luton arrivals and departures board showed three Wizz Air flights were due to arrive and depart on Friday.

The airline says it is important to get the infrastructure operating and that there are people across Europe who need to travel for work.

A Wizz Air plane from Sofia, Bulgaria taxis to a gate after landing at Luton Airport.
A Wizz Air plane from Sofia, Bulgaria taxis to a gate after landing at Luton Airport.
Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Reuters

Across Europe, air traffic is down by about 90% according to global body IATA, with the flights that are still operating facilitating the repatriation of citizens, travel by medical experts and cargo supplies.

Given ongoing travel restrictions – UK government advice for example is for Britons to avoid all non-essential global travel and Wizz has said that it does not expect flights to be full, enabling it to maintain social distancing onboard.

The airline, whose geographic focus is on central and eastern Europe, has said all passengers must wear masks on flights while its crew will wear masks and gloves.

When travel restrictions do start to ease, it is likely that there will be tougher measures for flying, which could affect demand.

Britain is considering a two-week quarantine requirement for arrivals into the country.

2.21pm BST

India is extending its nationwide lockdown for another two weeks after 4 May, but will allow “considerable relaxations”.

These will apply in lower-risk districts marked as green and orange zones, under the government’s plan to fight the Covid-19.

2.19pm BST

Ural Airlines has begun delivering in-flight meals to travel-deprived Russians who miss the thrill of a catering cart rolling down the aisle because of coronavirus lockdown.

The airline, which is delivering its in-flight meals to customers in Moscow, St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, said the initiative was meant to provide people with “the taste of travel without leaving your home”.

“Everything is just like on the airplane except for the view,” it wrote on its Instagram page on Thursday.

Russia has closed its borders to foreigners and grounded international flights, except those repatriating Russians or returning foreign nationals to their country of origin.

Ural Airlines’ service offers the staples of airline meals – chicken, meat and fish – as well as orange, apple and tomato juice. The meal is served on a traditional airline tray.

Updated at 2.20pm BST

1.54pm BST

US hands m Covid-19 aid to fossil fuel firms

US fossil fuel companies have taken at least m in taxpayer money they likely won’t have to pay back, according to a review of coronavirus aid meant for struggling small businesses by the investigative research group Documented and the Guardian, writes Guardian US environment reporter Emily Holden in Washington.

A total of m is going to three coal mining companies, including two with ties to Trump officials, bolstering a dying American industry and a fuel that scientists insist world leaders must shift away from to avoid the worst of the climate crisis. The other m is being paid out to oil and gas services and equipment providers and other firms that work with drillers and coal miners.

Melinda Pierce, the legislative director for the Sierra Club, said:

The federal money Congress appropriated should be going to help small businesses and frontline workers struggling as a result of the pandemic, not the corporate polluters whose struggles are a result of failing business practices and existed long before Covid-19 entered the public lexicon.

Updated at 1.56pm BST

1.45pm BST

This fascinating thread is an account of how a remote fishing village in Iceland dealt with its coronavirus outbreak. It is worth clicking through to read in full.

1.38pm BST

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Netherlands has risen by 475 to 39,791 health authorities said on Friday, with 98 new deaths.

The country’s death toll stands at 4,893, the Dutch institute for public health and the environment (RIVM) said in its daily update.

The RIVM cautioned it only reports confirmed cases, and actual numbers are higher. But it said the latest figures are “in line with the impression that the measures [taken to deal with the outbreak] are working,” adding:

The number of new hospital admissions reported per day is still decreasing. The same applies to the number of reported deaths.

The country is on course to reopen primary schools on 11 May, with secondary schools planned to reopen the following month.

Updated at 1.48pm BST

1.30pm BST

The world’s largest public service union federation, Public Services International, has launched a 12-hour virtual May Day live stream to celebrate the public service workers who are keeping society going during the coronavirus pandemic.

With more than 600 affiliated unions, PSI represents more than 20 million workers in 180 countries. They are calling on unions and workers across the world to take action from their homes rather than in the streets. In a blog posted to their website today, PSI general secretary, Rosa Pavanelli, said:

This May Day, for the first time in a century, workers won’t be in the streets. They’re busy saving the world. They’re keeping our relatives on life support. They’re keeping food systems flowing. They are risking their lives to save lives – not as heroes, but as professionals. As Trade Unions, the only way we can do justice to these momentous efforts is by winning the deep, systemic change which workers, now more than ever, need and deserve.

Anyone who wants to take part is encouraged to post a solidarity message to frontline workers to social media, using the hashtag #VirtualMayDay, or chat join the live chat on the stream on Vimeo or Facebook.

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#VirtualMayDay from LabourStart on Vimeo.

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Updated at 1.32pm BST

1.13pm BST

By eschewing the kinds of lockdowns seen elsewhere in the world, Sweden has taken a different and controversial approach to tackling the coronavirus pandemic. That has led to international criticism and wounded national pride, writes Gina Gustavsson, an academic at Uppsala University. She asks: has Sweden’s coronavirus strategy played into the hands of nationalists?

Sweden has persisted with the strategy of coronavirus mitigation that the UK government eventually abandoned in March. The policy is widely supported by the public, even though the Swedish Covid-19 mortality rate is among the 10 highest in the world, at 240 per million population and steadily rising, and many of the nursing homes in Stockholm are now affected.

The typical explanation for this continued public support is that Swedes are trusting and unflappable. The country’s chief epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, the public face of the Swedish response to the pandemic, is after all a dry scientist-turned-bureaucrat, not some populist politician trying to whip up nationalist go-it-alone emotion.

But beneath the surface, Sweden is anything but calm. The public debate is inflamed with a sense of wounded national pride. As a believer in the kind of liberal nationalism that encourages self-critical national attachment, this pains me. But as a scholar of nationalism, I recognise the pattern. This is what Isaiah Berlin called the nationalism of “the bent twig”, which lashes out against anyone who steps on it.

Updated at 1.32pm BST

1.05pm BST

Thousands of Indian students unable to leave the UK because of the coronavirus lockdown are relying on food donations from charities because they can no longer afford to eat, Anna Fazackerly reports for the Guardian.

Student groups representing the students, from across Britain, have been coordinating emergency food drops with local community groups and charities. Many of the young people have lost their part-time jobs and can no longer afford even basic living costs.

The Indian National Students’ Association, one of the largest student groups, says so far it has helped to distribute food to more than 3,000 struggling students across the country. A second UK-wide students’ group, the National Indian Students and Alumni Union, says it has also had calls from hundreds of students who cannot afford food.

Charan Sekhon, the chair of an Anglo-Indian charity based in Bedford called the Seva Trust, which has delivered food parcels to more than 60 Indian students in its local area, says: “We have had lots of examples where students are actually starving. They haven’t got anything at all to eat.”

India banned all international flights from 22 March, giving students only two days to arrange to get home. Flights that typically cost around £300 were selling for £2,000, and thousands of students found themselves stranded in Britain.

Updated at 1.10pm BST

12.57pm BST

Singapore has begun moving migrant workers who have recovered from coronavirus infections to two cruise ships in an effort to curb its spread in workers’ dormitories, AFP reports.

After taking swift and aggressive measures that initially controlled its outbreak, Singapore has been hit by a bigger second wave among the work permit holders who carry out many of the basic services that keep the city running.

On Friday, Singapore’s ministry of health reported 932 new infections, the majority of which were among migrant workers, who are housed in sprawling dormitory complexes. Just five cases were found among Singapore nationals or so-called permanent residents. So far it has reported 17,101 cases but just 15 deaths.

A group of migrant workers boarded the SuperStar Gemini, a mid-sized cruise ship, on Wednesday, and another vessel, the SuperStar Aquarius, is ready to receive more after undergoing assessments by government agencies, the Singapore Tourism Board said on Friday.

Together, the vessels can accommodate up to 2,000.

Updated at 1.11pm BST

12.42pm BST

Fifteen people have been arrested in Istanbul, Turkey, for trying to stage a May Day march in defiance of coronavirus lockdown measures, according to the Associated Press.

The Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey, or DISK, tweeted that its head Arzu Cerkezoglu and several other union leaders were detained near Taksim Square, where they wanted to lay wreaths of carnations.

The Istanbul governor’s office said the demonstrators were later released. The statement added that various trade unions had left wreaths in Taksim Square, as permitted by the governor’s office, but that DISK had insisted on collectively marching to the square, which was in breach of lockdown and social distancing rules.

Turkish police officers detain a protester trying to march to Taksim Square during a May Day rally
Turkish police officers detain a protester trying to march to Taksim Square during a May Day rally.
Photograph: Ozan Köse/AFP via Getty Images
The Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey, or DISK, tweeted that its head and several other union leaders were detained
The Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey, or DISK, tweeted that its head and several other union leaders were detained.
Photograph: Erdem Şahin/EPA
Trade unionists struggle with Turkish riot police and plainclothes officers as they attempt to defy the ban on marching on May Day
Trade unionists struggle with Turkish riot police and plainclothes officers as they attempt to defy the ban on marching on May Day.
Photograph: Ümit Bektaş/Reuters
A trade unionist stands in front of the May Day wreath that she and others had hoped to place in the square, the site of a massacre of protesters on May Day in 1977
A trade unionist stands in front of the May Day wreath that she and others had hoped to place in the square, the site of a massacre of protesters on May Day in 1977.
Photograph: Emrah Gürel/AP

Taksim Square holds a symbolic value for Turkeys labour movement. In 1977, 34 people were killed there during a May Day event when shots were fired into the crowd from a nearby building.

Turkey has imposed partial lockdowns in 31 provinces every weekend and on national holidays. Exemptions apply, including for many labourers who continue to work amid the pandemic.

The ban on May Day demonstrations in Taksim has been in effect for several years, due to security concerns. Police closed all roads leading to Taksim Square with barricades and increased security presence Friday.

Turkey ranks seventh in the world for the number of confirmed infections with 120,204 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University, although experts believe the actual toll of the pandemic is higher than the tally. The country’s official death toll stands at 3,174.

Updated at 12.48pm BST

12.29pm BST

Summary

Here are the latest headlines in our international coverage of the coronavirus outbreak.

  • China’s Hubei province will lower its coronavirus emergency response from the highest to the second-highest level. The announcement follows months of strict lockdown. The virus was first detected in the province’s capital, Wuhan, in late 2019.
  • Deprived areas of England and Wales have double the death rates of affluent areas. Of the 20,283 Covid-19 registered deaths in England and Wales to 17 April, an overwhelming proportion of fatalities were of people from the poorest areas, figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed.
  • Russia reported 7,933 new cases of Covid-19 in a record daily rise, bringing the nationwide tally to 114,431. The official nationwide death toll rose to 1,169 after 96 people with the virus died in the last 24 hours, Russia’s coronavirus crisis response centre said.
  • Ryanair is to cut 3,000 jobs reduce staff pay by up to a fifth in response to the Covid-19 crisis, which has grounded flights. The no-frills airline said it did not expect passenger numbers or pricing to return to pre-coronavirus levels until summer 2022 at the earliest.
  • Queensland, Australia, cleared way for the National Rugby League season to restart. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has opened the state border in preparation for restart of the National Rugby League (NRL) season on 28 May.
  • One million people have recovered from coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Infections worldwide stand at 3,269,667. More than 233,700 people have died in the pandemic so far.
  • Trump claimed he has seen evidence that Covid-19 originated in Wuhan lab. When the president was asked if he has seen anything that gives you a “high degree of confidence” that coronavirus originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Donald Trump replied: “Yes, I have.” His own government experts say the virus was “not manmade or genetically modified”.

Updated at 12.31pm BST

12.25pm BST

Israel to partially reopen schools next week

Israel’s government just announced the country will partially reopen schools on Sunday, with a full return to for all students by 1 June, reports Oliver Holmes, the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent.

First, second and third graders as well as 11th and 12th graders can return to school as of Sunday, the first day of the week in Israel.

Childcare and kindergartens, ages zero to six, will remain closed for at least another week, the government said.

Despite seeing a drop in the number of daily virus infections during the past few days, the reopening of schools has been a contentious issue in Israel, with fierce debate within the government around whether it was a premature step.

Following Friday’s announcement, the mayor of Tel Aviv said he would not allow schools to open there.

Ron Huldai was quoted by Haaretz newspaper as saying the plan “doesn’t ensure the wellbeing and health of the children”.

A partial reopening has also been criticised by parents of children of different ages who will still not be able to work.

The country has 15,946 total confirmed cases and 223 deaths.

Updated at 12.36pm BST

12.16pm BST

A report by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) yesterday heighten concerns among US officials and lawmakers that the pandemic threatens to derail stalled US-led peace efforts, Akhtar Mohammad Makoii reports.

The spread of COVID-19 already has significantly impacted Afghanistan, the report said, from complicating the peace initiative to forcing border crossing closures that have disrupted commercial and humanitarian deliveries.

“Afghanistan’s numerous and, in some cases, unique vulnerabilities – a weak health-care system, widespread malnutrition, porous borders, massive internal displacement, contiguity with Iran, and ongoing conflict – make it likely the country will confront a health disaster in the coming months,” the report said.

Meanwhile Save the Children announced yesterday that around seven million children are at risk of hunger due to the lockdowns following spread Coronavirus in Afghanistan.

“At a time when Afghan children need adequate daily nutrition to help strengthen their immune systems to fight the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the price of basic foods is rising under the lockdown, making it harder for families to feed themselves,” the report said.

The organization also warned that a third of the country will face food shortages.

“A third of the population – including 7.3 million children – will face food shortages in April and May due to the current pandemic,” the organisation said.

According to the organisation, even before the global COVID-19 crisis, the total number of children who needed some form of humanitarian support this year stood at 5.26 million, making war-torn Afghanistan one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a child.

12.00pm BST

In case you needed it, here is a video explaining why the 5G coronavirus conspiracy theory is false.

11.58am BST

France’s education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, is today expected to announce strict rules for the reopening of crêches, nursery and primary schools later this month, writes Kim Willsher, the Guardian’s Paris correspondent.

A provisional document seen by Le Monde and AFP suggests rules will be strict in applying accepted barrier and social distancing regulations, but it has already been declared unworkable by teachers, especially for classes of younger children.

Teachers are expected to return on 11 May to prepare for the restarting of classes the following day.

A child plays football in front of the Parc des Princes’ Auteuil tribune entrance in Paris. Younger children are due back to school on 12 May
A child plays football in front of the Parc des Princes’ Auteuil tribune entrance in Paris. Younger children are due back to school on 12 May.
Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP via Getty Images

The draft health protocol says children must wash their hands on arrival at school, before and after visiting lavatories, before and after each meal, after playtime, after blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing and touching shared objects and before going home. Taps and running water are to be preferred but sanitising gel must be provided if this is not possible.

Ball games and contact games are banned and there is to be no exchange of personal objects. If more than one child touches an object it should be disinfected.

There must be staggered recreation and play breaks, and limited changes of room – French children tend to take different subjects in different classes – as well a one-way system organised in school buildings so pupils can maintain a 1-metre minimum distance from each other. Classes to be regularly disinfected and aired and doors left open to avoid pupils touching handles.

The wearing of masks is not obligatory for nursery school children, but is advised, and staff must wear masks.

There will also be a limit to the number of children in each class –reportedly 10 children for those in crêches and nurseries, and 15 in primary schools.

It must be stressed these are details in the provisional protocol, which needs to be confirmed by the education minister today.

The two lowest years in secondary schools will start back the following week, on 18 May. A decision on other years will be made at the end of May for a possible return to class on 2 June.

Another unknown factor is what say local mayors will have in deciding whether schools in their areas should reopen or if restarting classes poses too much of a risk, particularly in areas designated “red”, where the virus is circulating.

Updated at 12.13pm BST

11.47am BST

Japan extends state of emergency for a month

Japan is preparing for a month-long extension to its coronavirus state of emergency, prime minister Shinzo Abe said on Friday.

Abe imposed an initial month-long emergency for seven regions on 7 April, before subsequently expanding it across the whole country.

With measures due to expire next week, Abe said he had told his minister responsible for handling the outbreak, Yasutoshi Nishimura, to plan for an extension, AFP reports.

He was quoted as saying:

After receiving [a] report from the panel of experts, I asked Minister Nishimura to use extending the current framework of the state of emergency by about one month as the base scenario for swiftly drafting plans that will fit the needs of the regions

An extension of the state of emergency had been widely expected, despite the comparatively small scale of the outbreak in Japan, with nearly 14,300 infections recorded and 432 deaths so far.

11.31am BST

US activists plan biggest rent strike in decades

Thousands of people in the US plan to take part in a rent strike on Friday, calling for state leaders to cancel rent during the coronavirus crisis, writes Guardian US reporter Adam Gabbatt.

Activists in New York, Pennsylvania and California are encouraging tenants to withhold rent, whether they are able to pay or not, to draw attention to the plight of those unable to pay.

The protest is expected to represent the largest coordinated rent strike in America in decades, and comes as the labor department announced another 3.8 million people lost their jobs last week, with pressure growing on state leaders nationwide to increase their efforts on housing.

A woman raises her fist during a rent strike demonstration in front of the Los Angeles City Hall on Thursday
A woman raises her fist during a rent strike demonstration in front of the Los Angeles City Hall on Thursday. A nationwide rent strike begins today.
Photograph: Étienne Laurent/EPA

More than 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the past six weeks, as the coronavirus has caused widespread business closures.

The New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is among those voicing support for the strikes, which are being coordinated by an array of housing groups.

“People aren’t striking because they don’t feel like paying rent, they’re striking because they can’t,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

Updated at 11.54am BST

11.19am BST

Sixty-three more people have died from Covid-19 in Iran, bringing the total death toll in the country to 6,091, health ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said in a statement on state TV on Friday, according to Reuters.

The total number of diagnosed cases of the coronavirus in the Islamic Republic, one of the Middle Eastern countries hardest hit by the outbreak, has reached 95,646, including 2,899 in critical condition, he added.

A woman reads the Koran while taking part in a Ramadan service in a parking area of Tehran’s Eram park
A woman reads the Koran while taking part in a Ramadan service in a parking area of Tehran’s Eram park
Photograph: AFP via Getty Images

Updated at 11.22am BST

11.08am BST

Hello and happy International Workers Day to readers around the world. This is Damien Gayle taking control of the global live blog now for the next eight hours, bringing you the latest international news on the coronavirus outbreak.

If you have any tips, comments or suggestions for coverage please drop me a line via email to damien.gayle@theguardian.com, or in a direct message on Twitter to @damiengayle.

10.59am BST

Spain has recorded 281 coronavirus deaths over the past 24 hours, compared with 268 yesterday, as it prepares for the first phase of the lockdown exit strategy. The total number of deaths stands at 24,824.

On Saturday, people of all ages will be allowed out for exercise for the first time in seven weeks, a week after children were allowed out to play if accompanied by an adult. To avoid overcrowding, separate time slots have been allocated for the elderly, people with the children and everyone else.

Barcelona has opened half of its parks and closed 44 streets to traffic in order to facilitate social distancing. The Madrid region will monitor 2m mobile phones to observe how the relaxed lockdown is progressing.

Today, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the Madrid regional president, formally closed the vast field hospital at the capital’s IFEMA exhibition centre, which opened 41 days ago. The temporary hospital, which came to symbolise the nation’s fight against the virus, had 5,500 beds. Of the thousands of coronavirus patients admitted, 98% survived.

In a provisional assessment of the economic impact of the health crisis, the government estimates Spain’s GDP will fall by 9.2% this year. Ministers said today the virus has so far cost the nation €139bn, of which around €17bn has gone on paying furloughed employees. After ending 2019 with a public deficit of 2.8%, this year it is expected to be 10.7%.

Updated at 11.10am BST

10.55am BST

In Afghanistan, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases continued to surge on Friday in Kandahar as nationwide number of infections reached 2,335, amid increasing number of health workers testing positive.

A health ministry spokesman said 164 new Covid-19 cases were recorded in last 24 hours, most of which were new infections recorded in southern province of Kandahar as total number of confirmed cases reached 339 with 45 confirmed today in the province.

Four patients died in the same period, taking the death toll to 68 in the war-torn country. There have so far been 310 recoveries, 50 of which have been in last 24 hours.

Wahidullah Mayar, the health ministry spokesman, said 228 health workers have so far tested positive for Covid-19, most of them are confirmed in Kandahar with 38 cases.

In Kabul, the country’s worst affected area, the health ministry reported 44 new Coronavirus cases, bringing the total number to 617.

Mayar said spread of the virus in Afghanistan is “fast” and asked people to stay at home as the country is yet to reach its peak in number of deaths and infections.

Despite the lockdown, in most of cities streets were still crowded with vehicles and people walking freely around.

10.48am BST

Hundreds of workers at Amazon warehouses, Whole Foods grocery stores, Target retail stores, and shoppers at Instacart and Shipt called out sick on Friday as part of a coordinated one-day strike across the US in protest of working conditions and inadequate safety protections during the coronavirus pandemic.

The 1 May walkout began after Amazon ended its unlimited unpaid time off policy for workers at the end of April.

“The fact they took it away prior to the sick-out lets you know they’re aware of the sick-out and trying to stop people from participating in that,” said Derrick Palmer, an Amazon employee at the JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island, New York, who has worked at Amazon for more than four years. “Now they’re forcing people to go to work because if you run out of unpaid time off, that’s it, you’re fired.”

Palmer was one of the workers who participated in protests outside of JFK8 warehouse a few weeks ago in demand of safety protections for Amazon workers. An assistant manager at JFK8, Chris Smalls, was fired shortly after he organised the protest.

Palmer said that after the protests, Amazon began providing personal protective equipment to workers and enforcing social distancing rules and temperature checks, but he said cleaning procedures remain inadequate.

Updated at 11.11am BST

10.27am BST

The Office for National Statistics has published analysis on Covid-19 deaths by local areas and deprivation in England and Wales.

The London mortality rate was significantly higher than any other region.

The analysis found a strong link between how deprived an area is and the coronavirus mortality rate. In England, the mortality rate of deaths involving Covid-19 in the most deprived areas was more than double that in the least deprived areas:

  • Most deprived: 55.1 deaths per 100,000 population
  • Least deprived: 25.3 deaths per 100,000 population

The Guardian will be digging into this data set throughout the day, but you can read it yourself here.

Updated at 10.46am BST

10.21am BST

Armed protesters enter Michigan’s state capitol demanding an end to coronavirus lockdown.

Hundreds of protesters, some armed, attempted to enter the legislative chamber of Michigan’s state capitol, in response to moves to extend Covid-19 lockdown orders.

The demonstrators gathered as the Democrat governor, Gretchen Whitmer, pushed for stay-at-home orders to continue to mid-May. The state has recorded 3,789 coronavirus deaths.

Updated at 10.47am BST

10.00am BST

China’s Hubei province will lower its coronavirus emergency response from the highest to the second-highest level

China Xinhua News reports that Central China’s Hubei province, where the coronavirus outbreak started, will lower its emergency response from the highest to the second-highest level starting on 2 May, following months of strict lockdown.

Updated at 10.47am BST

9.47am BST

Here’s more information on Australia’s road to recovery by Guardian reporter Paul Karp and Daniel Hurst.

Scott Morrison has offered Australians an “early mark” to ease Covid-19 restrictions next week while warning a return to normality will depend on uptake of the Covidsafe contact tracing app.

The prime minister dangled the prospect of a potential loosening of the rules next Friday as he issued his strongest declaration yet that it was conditional on more downloads.

Morrison also revealed that net overseas migration is down 30% and is expected to fall by 80% in 2020-21, both compared with 2018-19, in a sign the economic contraction from Covid-19 will last much longer than restrictions to social life. Treasury officials and the Reserve Bank both estimate that unemployment is set to top 10%.

The first restrictions were eased this week with New South Wales allowing visits to friends and relatives, and a similar measure announced on Friday in the Australian Capital Territory, the first Australian jurisdiction with no active cases.

9.36am BST

In Greece, protesters have begun gathering in central Athens for traditional May Day marches, AP reports, despite authorities’ pleas to unions to move their demonstrations to next week after lockdown measures begin easing.

More than 100 people from the Communist party-affiliated PAME union gathered in Athens’ main Syntagma Square, outside parliament. Holding banners and red flags, and most wearing masks and gloves, the protesters stood roughly 2 metres (6.5ft) apart from each other as they waited for the march to begin.

Members of the communist-affiliated trade union PAME wearing protective masks and gloves practise social distancing during a rally commemorating May Day in Athens
Members of the communist-affiliated trade union PAME wearing protective masks and gloves practise social distancing during a rally commemorating May Day in Athens.
Photograph: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters
Members of the communist-affiliated trade union PAME wearing protective masks and gloves practise social distancing during a rally commemorating May Day in Athens.
Members of the communist-affiliated trade union PAME wearing protective masks and gloves practise social distancing during a rally commemorating May Day in Athens.
Photograph: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters
Members of the communist-affiliated trade union PAME wear scarves reading “The covered mouths have a voice” during a rally commemorating May Day, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Athens, Greece, May 1, 2020.
Members of the communist-affiliated trade union PAME wearing protective masks and gloves practise social distancing during a rally commemorating May Day in Athens.
Photograph: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

Updated at 9.48am BST

9.26am BST

The Philippines on Friday reported 284 new coronavirus infections and 11 more deaths, Reuters reports, bringing its total number of cases to 8,772 and fatalities to 579.

It also said 41 more individuals had recovered, bringing total recoveries to 1,084.

9.19am BST

France’s state-owned SNCF railways company estimates it will lose at least €3bn (£2.6bn) in revenue as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, Les Echos daily newspaper reported on Friday, citing unnamed sources.

Reuters reports the group has been running only 7% of its high-speed trains and 20% of regional services since mid-March and will be allowed to resume only about 30% of its network from 11 May as France seeks to manage the post-lockdown period.

Les Echos newspaper said strikes over government pension reforms that started in early December in France has already cost the company €1bn in lost revenue.

The newspaper said the company lost €700m in March, €1.4bn in April and expects losses to reach €3bn before a nationwide lockdown begins to ease from 11 May.

Updated at 9.45am BST

9.09am BST

Tourists in Tiananmen square during the Labor Day holiday in Beijing
Tourists in Tiananmen square during the Labor Day holiday in Beijing

Photograph: Wu Hong/EPA

EPA has this shot of a family wearing protective face masks while visiting Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, on 1 May.

China is loosening up nationwide restrictions after months of lockdown over the coronavirus crisis.

Labour Day in the country kicked off with a long weekend and an extended holiday, from 1-5 May, after the tourism industry has been hit during the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

Updated at 9.46am BST

8.57am BST

Rwanda will partially lift its virus lockdown from next week and allow people to move freely during the day more than six weeks after being confined, the prime minister’s office said Friday, AFP reports.

Rwanda was one of the first to impose strict lockdown measures in Africa, on 22 March, when it had only 19 cases, and to date has officially recorded 225 cases and zero deaths.

From Monday 4 May, people will be allowed to move freely from 5am to 8pm, but will need permission to do so later in the evening, the prime minister’s office said in a statement.

Businesses, manufacturing and construction operations will be allowed to resume with essential workers, while markets will be allowed to open with no more than 50%t of traders operating. Hotels and restaurants will be allowed to operate but must close by 7pm.

While people will be allowed to exercise in open spaces, sports facilities will remain closed.

No more than 30 people will be allowed to attend funerals, and schools, churches, gyms and bars will remain closed.

Updated at 9.46am BST

8.48am BST

The speaker of Pakistan’s national assembly said late on Thursday that he had tested positive for Covid-19, after hosting an iftar dinner to celebrate Ramadan, Reuters reports, and meeting prime minister Imran Khan and other high officials earlier in the week.

It remains unclear if Khan will be tested after Faisal Edhi tested positive. Khan tested negative in April, after meeting with the head of Pakistan’s biggest charity organisation, who was subsequently confirmed to have caught the disease.

The assembly, the lower house of parliament, is in recess, though opposition parties have been calling for it to convene to discuss the government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, where the number of cases has risen to 16,817, including 385 deaths.

Updated at 9.47am BST

8.43am BST

Russia reported 7,933 new cases of the coronavirus, a record daily rise

Russia reported its biggest daily rise of confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday , with 7,933 new cases.

The record daily rise brings the nationwide tally to 114,431, Reuters reports.

The official nationwide death toll rose to 1,169 after 96 people with the virus died in the last 24 hours, Russia’s coronavirus crisis response centre said.

8.37am BST

AFP have put together a brilliant photo gallery of May Day workers confronting coronavirus around the world. It is a celebration of the cleaners, transport workers, shop assistants, tradespeople, health workers and more who continue to serve despite the difficulties and risks of the pandemic.

Nassiba Belgherbi, 55, pharmacist, poses for a picture at her pharmacy in Algeria’s capital Algiers, on April 23, 2020 during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Nassiba Belgherbi, 55, pharmacist, poses for a picture at her pharmacy in Algeria’s capital Algiers, on April 23, 2020 during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Photograph: Ryad Kramdi/AFP via Getty Images
Spanish Ramon Montesinos Roman, a shepherd, poses with his flock of sheep in Ronda, on April 23, 2020 during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Spanish Ramon Montesinos Roman, a shepherd, poses with his flock of sheep in Ronda, on April 23, 2020 during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Photograph: Jorge Guerrero/AFP via Getty Images
Lalita Kesharwani, 41, vegetable vendor, poses for a picture in front of her stall during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Mumbai on April 22, 2020.
Lalita Kesharwani, 41, vegetable vendor, poses for a picture in front of her stall during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Mumbai on April 22, 2020.
Photograph: Punit Paranjpe/AFP via Getty Images
Dave Stanton, 57, a butcher poses for a picture outside his shop in Hartley Wintney, England, on April 25, 2020 during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Dave Stanton, 57, a butcher poses for a picture outside his shop in Hartley Wintney, England, on April 25, 2020 during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP via Getty Images

Updated at 8.39am BST

8.16am BST

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Germany increased by 1,639 to 160,758 on Friday, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.

The daily update showed the death toll rose by 193 to 6,481.

Updated at 8.20am BST

8.13am BST

Mikhail Mishustin, the Russian prime minister, who was tasked by Vladimir Putin with leading the response to the country’s coronavirus outbreak, has been diagnosed with Covid-19 and will self-isolate.

Mishustin, Russia’s most-high profile Covid-19 patient so far, disclosed the diagnosis during a televised video call with President Putin on Thursday evening. It was not immediately clear how severe Mishustin’s symptoms are, though one news agency reported that he had an elevated temperature of 39 degrees. Putin indicated during the call that Mishustin would be taken to hospital.

Confirmed coronavirus cases in Russia passed 100,000 on Thursday. The first deputy prime minister, Andrei Belousov, would take on Mishustin’s duties in his absence, Putin said.

8.07am BST

Ryanair to cut 3,000 jobs as coronavirus grounds flights

Ryanair is planning to cut 3,000 jobs and reduce staff pay by up to a fifth in response to the Covid-19 crisis, which has grounded flights.

The no-frills airline said it did not expect passenger numbers or pricing to return to pre-coronavirus levels until summer 2022 at the earliest.

As part of a programme of sweeping cost cuts, Ryanair said it could close a number of bases across Europe until air travel recovers.

The company, which expects to report a net loss of more than €100m (£87m) for the first quarter and through the summer, said restructuring and job losses would start in July.

The job cuts will affect mostly pilots and cabin crew, although the measures will also hit head office and back office teams.

8.00am BST

Queensland clears way for National Rugby League season to restart on 28 May

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has opened Queensland’s border in preparation for next month’s restart of the National Rugby League (NRL) season. Palaszczuk not only gave the green light for the state’s three NRL clubs to train at their base and travel interstate, but also host home games.

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison had said earlier on Friday it would be a matter for state jurisdictions to clear any resumption of sporting activities, following a meeting of the national cabinet.

Updated at 8.20am BST

7.52am BST

Hungary needs to prepare for a potential second wave of the coronavirus outbreak in October-November, even though the spreading of the virus will likely slow in the summer, prime minister Viktor Orbán told state radio on Friday, according to a report by Reuters.

Orban also said if authorities manage to reduce the death rate from the pandemic in Budapest, where 80% of deaths have been recorded, only then will current restrictions be eased in the capital city. Hungary will lift a large part of restrictions in the countryside from Monday.

Updated at 8.04am BST

7.41am BST

Migrant workers on Spanish farms that provide fruit and vegetables for UK supermarkets are trapped in dire conditions under lockdown, living in cardboard and plastic shelters without food or running water.

Thousands of workers, many of them undocumented, live in settlements between huge greenhouses on farms in the southern Spanish provinces of Huelva and Almeria, key regions for European supply chains.

Local union activists have been supporting the migrants, bringing them water, food and basic supplies since Spain declared a lockdown in mid March.

Clare Carlile from Ethical Consumer, a UK charity supporting the local activists, says the situation is the result of years of neglect of workers.

“They got visited by the Spanish army on 18 March and told to stay put, even though in some places running water is several kilometres away. Now, with Covid fears, a water truck comes twice a week. If you are at work and miss it you must walk several kilometres for water after a hard day.

“Failure of employers provide basic rights has for years created dire circumstances for the inhabitants of the settlements. Now, the pandemic has pushed the situation to crisis point.”

Updated at 8.03am BST

7.33am BST

London’s Heathrow airport, traditionally the busiest in Europe, said passenger numbers were expected to be down by around 97% in April.

Reuters reports that for the first quarter, revenue fell 12.7% to £593m (5m) and adjusted EBITDA fell by 22.4% to £315m.

Heathrow expects passenger numbers to remain weak until governments across the world fighting the coronavirus outbreak deem it safe to travel. The airport said it had £3.2bn in liquidity, sufficient to maintain the business at least over the next 12 months, even with no passengers.

A passenger wears a mask as he arrives at Heathrow airport
A passenger wears a mask as he arrives at Heathrow airport.
Photograph: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

Updated at 7.39am BST

7.26am BST

Morning, I’m Aamna Mohdin taking over the liveblog from my colleague Helen. Please do send tips and comments to aamna.mohdin@theguardian.com or you can tweet me at @aamnamohdin

7.19am BST

Carmela Fonbuena reports for the Guardian:

Philippine provinces considered to have a low to moderate number of coronavirus cases began easing lockdowns on Friday 1 May, amid concerns from local officials and residents who are wary that the real scale of the outbreak cannot be known until the country conducts more testing.

“Many provinces are still just seeing imported cases from other areas. When [strict lockdowns are] lifted they expect imported cases to come in,” said former health secretary Manuel Dayrit.

The rules remain unclear. The government initially said religious gatherings will be allowed provided physical distancing is observed, but it’s now under review following concerns raised.

Medical personnel in protective take a break from treating patients at a parking lot converted into a Covid-19 isolation facility on 30 April 2020 in Quezon city, Metro Manila, Philippines.
Medical personnel in protective take a break from treating patients at a parking lot converted into a Covid-19 isolation facility in Quezon city, Metro Manila, Philippines.
Photograph: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

The Philippines recorded 8,488 cases as of 30 April, including 568 deaths. The numbers are believed to be higher as the country of 110 million people has tested less than 100,000 individuals. It’s a testament to its poor healthcare system as many hospitals struggle to meet requirements for coronavirus testing.

The decision made by a national government taskforce on coronavirus put several local officials in a difficult position. In the provinces of Ilocos Norte, La Union, and Albay, where residents oppose the government decision, local leaders cannot extend strict lockdowns without government approval.

“Lifting will only return the virus into a second wave,” said Joey Salceda, a lawmaker from Albay province, which recorded three deaths among total 28 cases but he is afraid there are undetected cases.

Metro Manila will remain in strict lockdown but certain restrictions will be lifted to allow some government infrastructure work to continue. Groups of overseas Filipino workers stranded in the capital due to provincial lockdowns have been allowed go home, too.

Updated at 7.33am BST

7.07am BST

Although this development is definitely worth mentioning again, too:

With that, I’m ducking away. My colleague Aamna Mohdin will be with you for the next few hours.

7.01am BST

Summary

Here are the most important developments from the last few hours:

  • 1 million people have recovered from coronavirus. According to Johns Hopkins University data, more than a million people have now recovered from coronavirus infection, with the total at 1,014,524. Infections worldwide stand at 3,256,570. More than 233,300 people have died in the pandemic so far.
  • Boris Johnson says UK ‘past the peak’. The prime minister promised to set out next week how schools and workplaces could safely reopen once lockdown restrictions were eased, as he claimed the UK was past the peak of the coronavirus outbreak. Despite announcing an increase of 674 in the death toll of the virus, taking it to a total of 26,771, Johnson suggested the worst was over.
  • US jobless toll amounts to 18.4% of working-age population. Thirty million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits since 21 March. The White House let its two-week-old economic reopening guidelines expire on Thursday as half of all US states forged ahead with their own strategies for easing restrictions on restaurants, retail and other businesses shuttered by the coronavirus crisis, Reuters reports.
  • Trump claims he has seen evidence that Covid-19 originated in Wuhan lab. When the president was asked if he has seen anything that gives you a “high degree of confidence” that coronavirus originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Donald Trump replied: “Yes, I have.” His own government experts say the virus was ‘not manmade or genetically modified’. US intelligence agencies have been under pressure to link coronavirus to Chinese labs. Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, later said of the lab theory: “What we have before us doesn’t suggest that is a likely source”.
  • Protesters, some armed, gather inside Michigan state capitol. Hundreds of protesters, some armed, gathered inside Michigan’s state capitol on Thursday as state lawmakers debated the Democratic governor’s request to extend her emergency powers to combat coronavirus.
  • Major US airlines will require passengers to cover their faces during flights. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines said on Thursday they will soon require passengers to cover their faces during flights, following the lead of JetBlue Airways, Reuters reports.
  • British BAME Covid-19 death rate ‘more than twice that of whites’. The death rate among British black Africans and British Pakistanis from coronavirus in English hospitals is more than 2.5 times that of the white population, according to stark analysis by the Institute of Fiscal Studies.
  • UK food banks face record demand. The first two weeks of the coronavirus lockdown triggered an unprecedented rise in food bank use as the economy was hit and household incomes plunged, data from hundreds of emergency food aid charities reveals.
  • Jacinda Ardern’s popularity surges during lockdown. An opinion poll in New Zealand has found the prime minister’s approval rating jumped to 65% during the country’s nearly five-week strict lockdown. It puts her in a strong position ahead of this year’s general election. Her Labour party also did well, achieving a 55% approval rating.

Updated at 7.21am BST

6.56am BST

UK papers, Friday 1 May

6.50am BST

‘Australia has earned an early mark’

Australia has brought forward its decision on easing restrictions to next Friday 8 May in a further sign that the country is successfully flattening the curve.

Australia, which in late March recorded around 400 new cases of the virus a day, now consistently has fewer than 20 new cases daily. Restrictions on movement were put into place at the end of March, including the closure of schools in some states, as well as restaurants, pubs and some businesses, as well as restrictions on the number of people who can gather together.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was due to announce which of these restrictions would be lifted on 11 May after discussion with state premiers, but says the announcement has been brought forward three days, with a cheerful Morrison telling a press conference on Friday that “Australians have earned an early mark.”

He added that “we didn’t expect to be in this position six weeks ago”.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, flanked by Australia’s chief medical officer Brendan Murphy, speaks at a press conference on Friday.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, flanked by Australia’s chief medical officer Brendan Murphy, speaks at a press conference on Friday.
Photograph: Rohan Thomson/Getty Images

Australia’s chief medical officer, Brendan Murphy, said Australia will begin testing cohorts of asymptomatic people in an attempt to ensure early detection of any new outbreaks and avoid a second wave. That cluster testing will be focused on groups that have a high risk of exposure or work with vulnerable people, like aged care workers or healthcare workers. Teachers are among those who might get tested.

Says Murphy:

We need to test more people. If we are going to get on top of those small outbreaks … we cannot afford to have an outbreak that takes off so that we get a second wave when we reduce restrictions such as a number of other countries have seen. So our testing has to be very good.

He says that the case data shows that most people who transmit the virus do still have symptoms, so anyone with any symptoms should get tested.

The most important thing in testing is for anyone who has respiratory symptoms, a cough or a cold or a sore throat, to get tested … get tested and don’t go to work.

Updated at 6.50am BST

6.17am BST

Cholera and coronavirus: why we must not repeat the same mistakes

Coronavirus is not the only pandemic the world faces. There is another one raging right now. Since cholera first spread across the globe, two centuries ago, it has killed about 50 million people. In the time it takes you to read this article, another five people will have died from it. It is now mostly ignored in the west, but in other parts of the world, it has never gone away.

While I will surely be able to offer my patients in England a coronavirus vaccine in a year or two, and while western health systems will be reinforced to be more ready for a potential future outbreak, I worry that we may repeat the mistakes of cholera: conquering coronavirus everywhere except for the poorest parts of the world.

Updated at 6.53am BST

6.06am BST

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is addressing the media now.

He has been asked about US President Donald Trump’s comments late on Thursday. Trump said he had seen evidence that Covid-19 emerged from a laboratory in Wuhan, contradicting experts in his own administration who said it was not man made or genetically modified.

Morrison said he has not seen any evidence to suggest that’s the case, but says Australia is still pushing for an independent investigation into the origin of the disease.

What we have before us doesn’t suggest that that is the likely source. There’s nothing that we have that would suggest that that is the likely source but you can’t rule anything out in this scenario.

He says the virus did originate in Wuhan, but “the most likely scenario that has been canvassed related to wildlife wet markets”.

That is why Australia wants an “objective independent” investigation, he says.

While that can’t be ruled out its not something we have seen any hard evidence of that that is the position.

Morrison says an independent investigation would look at what happened and why it happened.

So we can learn if something similar could happen in any part of the world so the world will be able to respond quicker. Because clearly in these cases time is everything.

Updated at 6.10am BST

5.46am BST

Summary

  • 1 million people have recovered. According to Johns Hopkins University data, more than a million people have now recovered from coronavirus infection, with the total currently at 1,014,524.Infections worldwide stand at 3,256,570.233,363 people have died in the pandemic so far.
  • UK prime minister says the country now “past the peak”. Boris Johnson defended the decisions the UK government has taken. Speaking at the UK government’s daily press conference, Johnson said that the NHS has not been overwhelmed at any stage.
  • US jobless toll amounts to 18.4% of working-age population. The White House let its 2-week-old economic reopening guidelines expire on Thursday as half of all US states forged ahead with their own strategies for easing restrictions on restaurants, retail and other businesses shuttered by the coronavirus crisis, Reuters reports.
  • Trump to leave White House on Friday for first time in a month. US President Donald Trump will leave the White House on Friday for the first time in a month when he travels to the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.
  • Trump claims he has seen evidence of Covid-19 originating in Wuhan lab. When asked if he has seen anything that gives you a “high degree of confidence” that coronavirus originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, President Trump replied: “Yes, I have.” His own government experts say the virus was ‘not manmade or genetically modified’. US intelligence agencies have been under pressure to link coronavirus to Chinese labs.
  • Protestors, some armed, gather inside Michigan state capitol. Hundreds of protesters, some armed, gathered inside Michigan’s state capitol on Thursday as state lawmakers debated the Democratic governor’s request to extend her emergency powers to combat coronavirus.
  • Major US airlines will require passengers to cover their faces during flights. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines said Thursday they will soon require passengers to cover their faces during flights, following the lead of JetBlue Airways, Reuters reports.
  • British BAME Covid-19 death rate ‘more than twice that of whites’. The death rate among British black Africans and British Pakistanis from coronavirus in English hospitals is more than 2.5 times that of the white population, according to stark analysis by the Institute of Fiscal Studies.
  • UK food banks face record demand. The first two weeks of the coronavirus lockdown triggered an unprecedented rise in food bank use as the economy was hit and household incomes plunged, data from hundreds of emergency food aid charities reveals.
  • Germany eases lockdown measures. Germany is to re-open museums, galleries, zoos and playgrounds and allow religious services to resume, in measures agreed by the chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the leaders of 16 federal states.
  • Spain allocates times slots for outdoor activities, as death toll falls. Spain’s daily death toll fell to its lowest level in nearly six week, with 268 fatalities related to Covid-19 recorded overnight.
  • Eurozone records 3.8% slump, as European Central Bank chief warns of worse to come, with the eurozone potentially on course for a 15% collapse in output in the second quarter.
  • Covid-19 outbreak increasing across Africa, WHO warns. World Health Organization officials in Africa have said the Covid-19 outbreak is still increasing across the continent despite widespread efforts at containment.
  • Russian prime minister diagnosed with coronavirus. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has said he has been diagnosed with coronavirus and will self-isolate from the government in the country’s highest-profile case of the disease yet.

Updated at 5.53am BST

5.36am BST

Demand for coronavirus tests raises concerns over HIV and malaria

Governments were caught out when Covid-19 hit, having overlooked the need to be able to test for new diseases because they were focused on drugs and vaccines for those they already knew about.

Now there are fears that the rush to supply wealthier countries pressing for more tests may destabilise the fight against HIV, malaria and tuberculosis, illnesses that kill millions, mostly in low- and middle-income countries.

“Some companies are planning to reduce or stop malaria, HIV and TB test production,” said Dr Catharina Boehme, the chief executive of the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (Find) and an adviser to the World Health Organization. “They are shifting their production to Covid-19 tests.”

Boehme said companies could get about 18 cents for a rapid malaria test and for a Covid-19 test.

The Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria said it was concerned about “any action that might reduce the availability of tests or treatment for HIV, TB or malaria”

5.17am BST

The eels at a Japanese aquarium are lonely – and the aquarium staff are urging people to video call the creatures so that they do not grow too shy, AFP reports.

The Sumida Aquarium, housed in the landmark Tokyo Skytree tower, has been closed since the start of March and its animals have become used to a largely human-free environment during the two-month calm.

The “unprecedented situation” was having some unexpected downsides.

“Creatures in the aquarium don’t see humans except keepers and they have started forgetting about humans,” it said on its Twitter account this week. “Garden eels in particular disappear into the sand and hide every time the keepers pass by.”

That is causing difficulties for keepers trying to check on the health of the animals.

In a bid to reacquaint the eels with humans, the aquarium is setting up five tablets facing the tank housing the delicate creatures, with eel enthusiasts asked to connect through iPhones or iPads via the FaceTime app.

Once the video calls start, people are supposed to show their faces, wave and talk to the eels. But given the tender nature of the animals, callers are asked not to shout.

Updated at 7.10am BST

5.13am BST

Whistleblower complaint set to lift lid on Trump pressure to push untried drug

Donald Trump’s musing over whether cleaning people’s lungs with disinfectant might treat the coronavirus caused a furore but it may be the US president’s pushing of anti-malarial drugs that does far more lasting damage to his administration.

There is building anticipation over the content of an upcoming whistleblower complaint by Dr Rick Bright, who last week was abruptly removed as the head of the federal government office working on a vaccine for Covid-19.

It is understood that Bright is still working on the details of the complaint before lodging it with the Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general.

Bright, a vaccines expert, has claimed he was removed as head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (Barda) because he resisted an effort to expand the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat Covid-19. The drugs, approved to treat malaria, have yet to be proven effective for this new use but have been repeatedly promoted by Trump, who has called them a “game-changer”.

4.51am BST

Tony Allen, legendary drummer and Afrobeat co-founder, dies aged 79

The Nigerian drummer Tony Allen, who is credited with creating Afrobeat along with his old bandmate Fela Kuti, died suddenly at the age of 79 in Paris on Thursday, his manager said.

“We don’t know the exact cause of death,” Eric Trosset said, adding it was not linked to the coronavirus.

“He was in great shape, it was quite sudden. I spoke to him at 1pm then two hours later he was sick and taken to Pompidou hospital, where he died.”

Allen was the drummer and musical director of Fela Kuti’s band Africa ’70 in the 1960s and 70s, AFP reports.

During that time the pair created Afrobeat, combining west African musical styles such as highlife and fuji music with US jazz and funk. Afrobeat went on to become one of the totemic genres of 20th century African music.

Over Allen’s thrilling beat, Kuti laid out his revolutionary and pan-African message, which led him to become one of the abiding icons of the struggle for freedom across the continent.

4.33am BST

US President Donald Trump claims he has seen evidence of Covid-19 originating in a Wuhan lab. When asked at a press briefing if he has seen anything that gives you a “high degree of confidence” that coronavirus originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, President Trump replied: “Yes, I have.” He added that he was “not allowed” to tell reporters what that evidence was:

4.23am BST

US jobless toll amounts to 18.4% of working-age population

The White House let its 2-week-old economic reopening guidelines expire on Thursday as half of all US states forged ahead with their own strategies for easing restrictions on restaurants, retail and other businesses shuttered by the coronavirus crisis, Reuters reports.

The enormous pressure on states to reopen, despite a lack of wide-scale virus testing and other safeguards urged by health experts, was highlighted in new Labor Department data showing some 30 million Americans have sought unemployment benefits since 21 March.

People wait in a block-long line reaching around the corner to pick up food at the Masbia of Flatbush food pantry in Brooklyn, New York, USA, 30 April 2020.
People wait in a block-long line reaching around the corner to pick up food at the Masbia of Flatbush food pantry in Brooklyn, New York, USA, 30 April 2020.
Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA

The jobless toll amounts to more than 18.4% of the US working-age population, a level not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Physical separation of people – by closing schools, businesses and other places of social gatherings – remains the chief weapon against a highly contagious respiratory virus with no vaccine and no cure.

But with economic pain reaching historic proportions, agitation to relax stay-at-home orders and mandatory workplace restrictions has mounted.

For the second time in two weeks, hundreds of protesters – including armed militia group members – thronged Michigan’s state Capitol in Lansing demanding an end to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home orders.

The latest protest was sparked by the Democratic governor’s request, ignored by Republican lawmakers, to extend emergency powers she had invoked in a state hard hit by both the virus and closures to combat it.

3.58am BST

Trump to leave White House on Friday for first time in a month

US President Donald Trump will leave the White House on Friday for the first time in a month when he travels to the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.

Trump will make the 70-mile (113 km) trip to Camp David on Friday evening, according to a schedule released by the White House on Thursday night. The schedule did not indicate how long Trump would stay at Camp David.

The White House on a rainy day in Washington D.C. April 30, 2020.
The White House on a rainy day in Washington D.C. April 30, 2020.
Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

Trump has been holding regular press events at the White House to highlight his administration’s efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump’s last trip away from the White House was on 28 March to Norfolk, Virginia, where he bid farewell to the Navy’s USNS Comfort hospital ship as it sailed to New York City to help take the pressure off civilian hospitals.

Trump, who faces re-election in November, said on Wednesday he would visit Arizona next week for an “industry”-related event.

Updated at 4.21am BST

3.40am BST

Dan Collyns reports for the Guardian from Lima:

Municipal authorities in Peru shut down a bustling street market in Lima on Thursday after a spot test for Covid-19 revealed one in five stallholders were infected with the virus.

Out of 842 stallholders, 163 tested positive for the virus when a team of medics with military backup descended on the Caquéta food market in the working-class San Martín de Porres district in downtown Lima on Wednesday.

Municipal workers clean and disinfect the surroundings of the Caqueta market in the north of Lima on 30 April 2020.
Municipal workers clean and disinfect the surroundings of the Caquéta market in the north of Lima on 30 April 2020.
Photograph: Ernesto Benavides/AFP via Getty Images

Most Peruvians shop in open-air or covered food markets rather than supermarkets, where prices are more negotiable and markedly cheaper. But social distancing and sanitary guidelines are regularly flouted as punters haggle for bargains and stallholders make special offers to attract more customers.

Markets were “hot spots” for Covid-19, Peru’s defence minister Walter Martos told journalists as he took part in the surprise inspection on Wednesday which revealed the virus’ increasing hold on the country’s population even as a stringent lockdown was nearing the end of its seventh week.

“We know that this market is major convergence point and we have seen on our hotspots map that around this market there’s a large number of infected [people],” Martos said.

Peru’s President Martín Vizcarra said it was a stern warning to maintain social distancing: “These 163 [stallholders] have to stay at home and keep their distance to avoid infecting others.”

“When you go to buy potatoes or lettuce, you could be taking Covid-19 into your homes as an extra,” he said, using the Quechua word ‘Yapa’, which means a bonus portion offered to loyal customers.

President Vizcarra has been praised by Peruvians for his swift and decisive response to Covid-19 enforcing one of the earliest lockdowns in Latin America. Nonetheless, the Andean country’s curve of infection has continued to rise and it had Latin America’s second-highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases after Brazil, with 36,976 confirmed cases and 1,051 deaths on Thursday.

Poverty has been a major obstacle to the enforcement of the lockdown. Thousands have been trying to leave Lima in recent weeks, many saying they had to choose between hunger or homelessness in the city or the risk of exposure to Covid-19 as they attempt to return to their rural hometowns.

3.27am BST

Podcast: Who is Covid-19 killing?

More than 26,000 people in the UK have officially been recorded as having died from the coronavirus. In this episode we look beyond the headline figure at who is dying – and hear from friends and family about the lives cut short:

3.24am BST

1 million people recover from illness

According to Johns Hopkins University data, more than a million people have now recovered from coronavirus infection, with the total currently at 1,014,524.

Infections worldwide stand at 3,256,570.

233,363 people have died in the pandemic so far.

Updated at 3.24am BST

3.21am BST

Jacinda Ardern and her government soar in popularity during coronavirus crisis

Charles Anderson reports for the Guardian:

New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, reached an almost record-breaking approval rating while the country was in its strictest lockdown, according to a new leaked poll.

The poll, which was conducted by UMR and leaked to the New Zealand Herald, shows that Ardern’s Labour party has reached 55% approval, while the opposition National party has dropped to 29% – its lowest rating in more than a decade. The Greens were on 5% and New Zealand First – Labour’s Coalition partners – on 6%.

Ardern’s personal approval rating was 65% while the opposition leader, Simon Bridges, sat on 7%, according to the poll. It puts the PM close to her high of 70% approval in UMR polls during her term in office.

The poll also shows that 78% of New Zealanders believe the country is heading in the right direction – the highest since 1991.

3.12am BST

Nature is healing:

2.58am BST

China reported 12 new coronavirus cases for 30 April, up from four a day earlier, data from the country’s health authority showed on Friday.

Six of the cases were imported, the National Health Commission (NHC) said, up from four a day earlier. Of the domestic transmission cases, five were in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang and one in the northern region of Inner Mongolia.

China reported no domestic transmission cases a day earlier.

The NHC also reported 25 new asymptomatic cases for April 30, down from 33 a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed cases in the country has reached 82,874. With no new deaths on Thursday, the toll remained at 4,633.

Paramilitary police officers wear face masks and goggles as they march outside the Forbidden City, the former palace of China’s emperors, in Beijing on 1 May 2020.
Paramilitary police officers wear face masks and goggles as they march outside the Forbidden City, the former palace of China’s emperors, in Beijing on 1 May 2020.
Photograph: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

Updated at 2.58am BST

2.47am BST

Jair Bolsonaro says footballers in Brazil have ‘a small chance of dying’ from Covid-19

Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro wants to see football competitions restart soon despite the country’s high number of coronavirus cases, arguing that players are less likely to die from Covid-19 because of their physical fitness, Associated Press reports.

Bolsonaro is one of the few world leaders that still downplays the risks brought by the coronavirus, which he has likened to “a little flu”.

Most leagues in Brazil were suspended on 15 March. The Brazilian championship was scheduled to begin in May, but that looks unlikely as the country has become a coronavirus hot spot with more than 5,900 deaths. Doctors say the peak of the pandemic is expected to hit within two weeks.

Brazil’s president said his new health minister will issue a suggestion that games return without any fans in the stadiums, but he acknowledged many players might be reluctant.

“The decision to restart soccer is not mine, but we can help,” Bolsonaro said, adding he has spoken with Gremio coach Renato Portaluppi about the issue and was told that players are still worried about the virus.

Neighbouring Argentina has already cancelled the rest of the 2019-2020 season because of the pandemic. France also decided to end the season, declaring Paris Saint-Germain as league champions on Thursday.

2.30am BST

Get in touch on Twitter @helenrsullivan.

2.26am BST

India’s film industry, purveyor of song-and-dance spectacles to millions, will take at least two years to recover financially from the coronavirus pandemic, which is threatening big-ticket projects, putting at risk tens of thousands of jobs, Reuters reports.

That was the sombre assessment of about a dozen top producers, distributors and actors from Bollywood, the movie industry in India’s commercial capital of Mumbai, during a video conference this week, one of the participants said.

Motorists ride past the statues of Indian freedom fighter Subhas Chandra Bose (C), and actors in the Kannada cinema, Dr. Rajkumar (L) and Vishnuvardhan, wearing shawls on the face as protection against coronavirus, in Bangalore on 9 April 2020.
Motorists ride past the statues of Indian freedom fighter Subhas Chandra Bose (C), and actors in the Kannada cinema, Dr. Rajkumar (L) and Vishnuvardhan, wearing shawls on the face as protection against coronavirus, in Bangalore on 9 April 2020.
Photograph: Manjunath Kiran/AFP via Getty Images

Such dim prospects, even after the lockdown is lifted, threaten the box-office takings that make up 60% of industry earnings, spurring producers to say big-budget films and extravagant shoots in foreign locations will be shelved.

Bollywood has come to a grinding halt, with film production and theatres shut nationwide, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a 40-day lockdown to curb the virus, which has infected 31,000 people and killed more than 1,000 in India.
About 9,500 theatres are shut, and business at multiplexes and single-screen cinemas is unlikely to bounce back for weeks or even months, as infection fears linger and discretionary spending plunges.

Shares in India’s two largest multiplex operators, PVR and INOX Leisure, have plunged more than 40% from all-time highs in late February.

Brokerage Emkay also slashed its rating on both to “hold” from “buy”, saying they would suffer declines of more than 50% in visitor numbers, ticket sales, advertising revenue and food and beverage sales in fiscal 2020-21.

2.06am BST

Trump claims to have evidence coronavirus started in Chinese lab but offers no details

Donald Trump claimed to have seen evidence to substantiate the unproven theory that the coronavirus originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, despite US intelligence agencies’ conclusion that the virus was “not manmade or genetically modified”.

“We’re going to see where it comes from,” Trump said at a White House event on Thursday. “We have people looking at it very, very strongly. Scientific people, intelligence people, and others. We’re going to put it all together. I think we will have a very good answer eventually. And China might even tell us.”

Pressed to explain what evidence he had seen that the virus originated in a Chinese lab, Trump responded, “I can’t tell you that. I’m not allowed to tell you that.”

Prior to the White House event, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the clearinghouse for the web of US spy agencies, issued a statement asserting that the intelligence community “concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the Covid-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified”.

“The intelligence community will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan,” the statement added.

1.57am BST

Oh boy. Oh boy. Oh boy.

1.42am BST

Ms Du, door sensors and me: life with a Beijing Covid-19 quarantine handler

Every day for the last two weeks I have spoken with Ms Du, a mild-mannered, middle-aged woman who is my quarantine handler.

She calls me in the morning to remind me to send her my temperature. She calls again if I forget to send the afternoon reading. She texts rose emojis, reminding me to “please cooperate” with the rules. If I open my door, equipped with a sensor, to put the rubbish in the hall or pick up a delivery, she immediately calls and reminds me to let her know beforehand.

After returning from a reporting trip to Wuhan, I have been in strict self-isolation in my apartment in Beijing. Most days I get calls not just from Du but the local police station, perhaps checking the spelling of my name, someone from the health department asking about my travel history, or other representatives from the neighbourhood committee.

They send messages reminding me to cover my mouth when coughing and not to “spit wherever you please”. The calls and questions, politely made, are constant and after a few days I already feel harried. A pink slip of paper with hearts taped to my door alerts my neighbours how long my quarantine should last:

1.30am BST

France will contribute €50 per person towards bicycle repairs after a nationwide coronavirus lockdown ends on 11 May, taking an innovative step to encourage cycling and reduce overcrowding in metros and buses, where it is hard to practice the social distancing required to prevent virus transmission.

Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne announced on Thursday a €20 million ( million) plan for repairing bicycles, installing temporary bike parking spaces and financing cycling coaching sessions.

Borne said the government will also accelerate a programme allowing employers to cover up to €400 of travel costs of staff who cycle to work.

“We want this period to be a new stage towards a cycling culture and we want the bicycle to be the queen of deconfinement,” Borne said on her Twitter feed.

1.24am BST

Remdesivir: five Australian hospitals to receive experimental coronavirus drug

The US pharmaceutical company Gilead is finalising the location of five hospitals in Australia to receive the highly sought-after experimental Covid-19 drug remdesivir.

The only confirmed location is St Vincent’s hospital in Sydney, a major tertiary hospital and the centre of many of the New South Wales outbreak areas. A NSW Health spokeswoman confirmed the health department “has been engaging with Gilead on gaining access to the drug for Covid-19 patients”.

The news comes as the doctor informing the Covid-19 response in the White House, the immunologist Dr Anthony Fauci, promoted preliminary findings from a joint Gilead and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases study that suggested remdesivir could improve recovery time of patients. His comments have revived global hope in the drug, with no treatments now available for the virus.

1.13am BST

British BAME Covid-19 death rate ‘more than twice that of whites’

The death rate among British black Africans and British Pakistanis from coronavirus in English hospitals is more than 2.5 times that of the white population, according to stark analysis by the Institute of Fiscal Studies.

The highly respected thinktank also found that deaths of people from a black Caribbean background were 1.7 times higher than for white Britons.

NHS England figures published last week showed that hospital deaths per 100,000 among British people of a black Caribbean background were three times the equivalent number among the majority white British population. However, unlike previous analysis, the IFS research, published on Friday, strips out the role of age, gender and geography and shows that they do not explain the disparities.

1.07am BST

UK food banks face record demand in coronavirus crisis

The first two weeks of the coronavirus lockdown triggered an unprecedented rise in food bank use as the economy was hit and household incomes plunged, data from hundreds of emergency food aid charities reveals.

The Trussell Trust, the UK’s biggest food bank network, said it experienced its busiest ever period after lockdown was announced on 23 March, when it issued 50,000 food parcels in the space of a week, almost double its usual volume.

A similar picture emerged from the Independent Food Aid Network (Ifan), which said its food banks recorded a 59% increase in demand for emergency food support between February and March – 17 times higher than the same period a year ago.

1.01am BST

Just a donkey named Earl playing with a purple ball:

12.55am BST

Here’s the full story on the armed protestors in Michigan:

12.48am BST

Major US airlines will require passengers to cover their faces during flights

American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines said Thursday they will soon require passengers to cover their faces during flights, following the lead of JetBlue Airways, Reuters reports.

The move comes as airlines big and small contemplate how to comply with social-distancing recommendations in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

A flight attendant serves a snack on a Baltimore, Maryland bound Delta flight to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on 20 April 2020 in Linthicum Heights, Maryland.
A flight attendant serves a snack on a Baltimore, Maryland bound Delta flight to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on 20 April 2020 in Linthicum Heights, Maryland.
Photograph: Rob Carr/Getty Images

Most flights are nearly empty these days air travel is down 95% from a year ago, and the average domestic flight has 17 passengers, according to industry figures.

This week, JetBlue became the first US airline to announce it will require passengers to wear face coverings during flights, starting next week.

Wearing a face covering isn’t about protecting yourself, its about protecting those around you, said JetBlue President Joanna Geraghty. This is the new flying etiquette.

Earlier Thursday, Frontier Airlines said that it would begin requiring masks 8 May. Delta and United announced they would make masks mandatory starting Monday.

Updated at 3.15am BST

12.30am BST

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday that downstate New York’s entire public transport system (which includes New York City and Long Island) would be disinfected every 24 hours.

He also said he would need an “army” of between 6,400 and 17,000 people to trace the contacts of people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus as part of a strategy to limit outbreaks.

Cuomo said that former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg would, in coordination with Johns Hopkins University, oversee the recruitment and training of these “contact tracers” and make the program available to governments worldwide.

An MTA worker disinfects a subway station in the Manhattan borough of New York City, 4 March 2020.
An MTA worker disinfects a subway station in the Manhattan borough of New York City, 4 March 2020.
Photograph: Eduardo Muñoz/Reuters

12.24am BST

Protestors, some armed, gather inside Michigan state capitol

Hundreds of protesters, some armed, gathered inside Michigan’s state capitol on Thursday as state lawmakers debated the Democratic governor’s request to extend her emergency powers to combat coronavirus.

A tightly packed crowd of protesters, some carrying rifles, attempted to enter the floor of the legislative chamber, and were held back by a line of state police and capitol staff, according to video footage posted by local journalists.

“Let us in! Let us in!” the protesters chanted, as they stood shoulder-to-shoulder inside the statehouse. Few of them were wearing face masks.

Some of the protesters shouted anti-government slogans, including comparing Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer to Hitler.

One Democratic state lawmaker posted a photograph of men with rifles standing in a gallery yelling down at lawmakers below. “Some of my colleagues who own bullet proof vests are wearing them,” state senator Dayna Polehanki, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter.

A spokeswoman for the Michigan senate minority leader that at least one lawmaker was wearing a bullet-proof vest.

The footage from the protest sparked strong reactions from many Americans. One Black Lives Matter organizer commented on the striking difference between the reaction to unarmed black Americans protesting police violence and armed white Americans protesting against public health measures.

12.15am BST

Summary

Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of coronavirus news from around the world.

I’m Helen Sullivan, with you for the next few hours.

Please do get in touch on Twitter @helenrsullivan.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson has announced that the country is “past the peak”. Johnson – who has just returned to work after a bout of coronavirus, and the birth of his son – also said that the NHS has not been overwhelmed at any stage.

US president Donald Trump meanwhile has claimed to have evidence that Covid-19 originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, despite his own government experts saying the virus was “not manmade or genetically modified”. US intelligence agencies have been under pressure to link coronavirus to Chinese labs, the Guardian’s Patrick Wintour reports:

Here are the most important developments from the last few hours:

  • UK prime minister says the country now “past the peak”. Boris Johnson defended the decisions the UK government has taken. Speaking at the UK government’s daily press conference, Johnson said that the NHS has not been overwhelmed at any stage.
  • Trump claims he has seen evidence of Covid-19 originating in Wuhan lab. When asked if he has seen anything that gives you a “high degree of confidence” that coronavirus originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, President Trump replied: “Yes, I have.” His own government experts say the virus was ‘not manmade or genetically modified’. US intelligence agencies have been under pressure to link coronavirus to Chinese labs.
  • Germany eases lockdown measures. Germany is to re-open museums, galleries, zoos and playgrounds and allow religious services to resume, in measures agreed by the chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the leaders of 16 federal states.
  • Brazil sees record 7,218 new cases, raising the total to 85,380, Reuters reports the health ministry saying on Thursday.The death toll rose by 435 to 5,901.
  • Denmark says partial reopening has not accelerated virus spread. Denmark became the first country outside of Asia to ease lockdown measures a fortnight ago.
  • Spain allocates times slots for outdoor activities, as death toll falls. Spain’s daily death toll fell to its lowest level in nearly six week, with 268 fatalities related to Covid-19 recorded overnight.
  • Eurozone records 3.8% slump, as European Central Bank chief warns of worse to come, with the eurozone potentially on course for a 15% collapse in output in the second quarter.
  • Another 3.8 million Americans lose jobs as US unemployment continues to grow. The pace of layoffs appears to be slowing, but in just six weeks an unprecedented 30 million Americans have now sought unemployment benefits.
  • Covid-19 outbreak increasing across Africa, WHO warns. World Health Organization officials in Africa have said the Covid-19 outbreak is still increasing across the continent despite widespread efforts at containment.
  • Russian prime minister diagnosed with coronavirus. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has said he has been diagnosed with coronavirus and will self-isolate from the government in the country’s highest-profile case of the disease yet.
  • Tajikistan reports first coronavirus cases. Tajikistan, which was thought to be one of the few countries untouched by coronavirus, has recorded its first coronavirus cases.
  • South Korea reports no new domestic cases for first time since 29 February. South Korea reported on Thursday no new domestic coronavirus cases for the first time since its 29 February peak.
  • War-torn Yemen reports first virus deaths. The country reported its first two deaths and a new cluster of Covid-19 cases amid worries that the virus has been circulating undetected for some time.
  • Czechs say coronavirus spread is contained as country reopens. The Czech Republic has seen the number of new cases drop below 100 for the past eight consecutive days.
  • People out of work in Germany increased by 373,000 to 2.64 million in April. Data from the labour office also showed the unemployment rate increased to 5.8%, up from 5% in March, as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Updated at 3.19am BST

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