- Global death toll exceeds 47,000 as the number of infections nears one million
- Russia has seen a 43% rise on case in the last 24 hours
- Spain has registered another record one-day death tally
Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)
11:15 EU states can now apply for funding to help workers facing shorter hours during the coronavirus pandemic. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has just announced the ”Sure” scheme aiming to prevent large-scale layoffs.
11:05 The total number of coronavirus cases in Latin America and the Caribbean has passed 20,000, news agency AFP has reported. The figure is double that of five days ago, the agency said. Brazil is the most affected nation, with 6,931 cases and 244 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University figures.
11:00 Here are some of the latest numbers in the coronavirus outbreak:
Deaths in Belgium from COVID-19 have crossed the 1,000 threshold, health officials have announced. At 1,001, the death toll has doubled over the past three days. The sharp rise can partially be attributed to an update in figures from retirement homes. The total number of infections is 15,348.
Iran’s death toll has risen by 124 in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 3,136, according to the Health Ministry. The country currently has 50,468 cases of confirmed infection, Health Minister Kianush Jahanpur told state TV. He added that infections had risen by over 2,800 cases over the past day and nearly 4,000 infected individuals were in critical condition.
Spain continued its recent upward fatality trajectory and once again reported a record daily death toll. 950 individuals died of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing its death toll to 10,003, the Health Ministry said. It becomes the second country after Italy to cross the 10,000 death threshold.
The number of infection cases rose to 110,238 from 102,136 on Wednesday, though the rate appeared to be slowing.
10:30 Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused Lebanese authorities of introducing “discriminatory restrictions” aimed exclusively at Syrians within its response to the coronavirus crisis. Since early March, various municipalities have introduced curfews restricting the movement of Syrians in the country to certain times out of coronavirus concerns, HRW said. Such measures predated a nationwide curfew instituted by the government and did not apply to the broader population.
“The coronavirus does not discriminate and limiting the spread and impact of COVID-19 in Lebanon requires ensuring that everyone is able to access testing and treatment centers,” HRW researcher Nadia Hardman said.
Between 1.5 and 2 million Syrians currently live in Lebanon, 1 million of whom are officially recognized as refugees by the United Nations. There is no confirmed case of infection among refugees in Lebanon. The country has a total of 479 registered cases and 14 deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
10:15 An indefinite curfew has gone into effect in Togo, barring residents of the West African nation from leaving their homes between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. local time. The measure is aimed at slowing the spreading coronavirus.
The curfew was announced late Wednesday by President Faure Gnassingbe in a televised address. He also announced a 3-month state of emergency. The unprecedented move was “proof of the gravity of the situation that we face,” he said.
There have so far been 36 confirmed cases of infection and two deaths among the nation’s 8 million inhabitants. Gnassingbe’s family has ruled Togo for over five decades. He claimed a fourth-term following an election in February that the opposition claimed was rigged.
10:00 For many parents living under the coronavirus lockdown, finding enough to keep children busy is a big concern. Online tools are trying to help: One initiative has seen dozens of celebrities turn themselves into children’s storytellers.
09:50 Thailand announced it would institute a nationwide curfew starting Friday to try and slow the spread of coronavirus. Between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. local time people will be banned from going outside. Exceptions will include the movement of medical supplies, ill individuals and medical personnel, a government statement said. The curfew will officially be announced in the evening on national TV, Reuters reported, citing a government spokesperson.
09:35 Spain has recorded its highest-ever increase in monthly unemployment totals. The number of jobless claims went up 9.3% in March in comparison to February, the Labor Ministry announced Thursday. Between March 12 – 31, the number of individuals making social security contributions plummeted by 898,822. In comparison the number of contributors had risen by 64,843 in the first 11 days of March, revealing the drastic economic toll of nationwide restrictive measures instituted to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.
09:20 Germany has upped the number of intensive care beds in its clinics from 28,000 to roughly 40,000, Gerald Gass, the head of the German Hospital Society, told the daily Rheinische Post. Roughly 15,000 to 20,000 remain free, Gass added.
In addition, the number of beds equipped with ventilators, which are crucial in treating critical coronavirus patients struggling to breathe, has been upped from 20,000 to roughly 30,000, the medical head said.
In comparison to other European nations, Germany already had a higher per capita number of intensive care beds at the outbreak of the crisis. Such potentially life-saving resources are scarcer in other hard-hit nations, such as Italy and Spain, which have very strong health systems but a lower number of ICU beds that were quickly filled by the early and fast-rising numbers of critically ill patients.
09:10 The number of coronavirus infection cases in Russia has increased by a record 771 instances over 24 hours, bringing the national total to 3,548, the country’s crisis response center said. It represents a 43% increase.
Cases have been reported nationwide, but Moscow remains the center of the outbreak, with 595 documented cases. Thirty people have died from the disease nationwide, the center added.
Most of Russia is on lockdown, and workers were told to take two weeks of paid vacation starting this past Monday.
09:05 German President Frank Walter-Steinmeier has delivered a video message to German citizens over social media, praising the willingness of people to help each other amidst the fears and challenges raised by the coronavirus crisis.
“Yes, this crisis awakens our deepest fears,” the president said. “But it also brings out the best in us. It is this, dear fellow citizens, that we must now hold to.”
“We are perhaps damned to isolation – but not to idleness,” he said, highlighting examples such as sewing face masks, grocery shopping for elderly neighbors and financially supporting business and cultural institutions that are closed. “Every one of us can now help,” he said.
Steinmeier also added that pianist Igor Levit, who has been live streaming concerts via Tweeter from his apartment every night since restrictive measures went into place, would instead be performing Thursday’s concert at 7 p.m. local time from the presidential palace Bellevue.
08:50 Greece has sealed off a migrant camp near Athens after 21 camp inhabitants tested positive for coronavirus. According to the government, the positive cases were among a total of 63 camp inhabitants who were tested. Twenty of the positive individuals displayed no symptoms.
The camp is located in Ritsona, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Athens. The government said camp access would be restricted and food would be delivered to the inhabitants. All residents and medical staff in the area would be tested, it added.
As of Thursday morning, Greece had a total 1,415 infections, with 51 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Migration and human rights activists have warned of the dangers of a coronavirus outbreak in refugee and migrant camps, which are densely populated and lack adequate sanitation, leaving its residents, many of whom have fled war, highly exposed.
08:40 The virus has yet to arrive at full strength in developing countries, but poor health care facilities and weak finances point to grim times ahead. DW examines why the pandemic already rivals the 2008 global financial crisis.
08:30 European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has called for more EU solidarity in the fight against the coronavirus. In a letter published Thursday in the Italian daily La Repubblica, the German politician said too many nations had focused on their own problems in the early days of the crisis.
“Only solidarity will allow us to emerge from this crisis,” she wrote.” The distance between European nations … puts everyone at risk.”
She added that the EU would allocate up to €100 billion in financial aid to the hardest-hit countries, starting with Italy, to make up for the salary shortfalls of those people who cannot work. Many European nations, including Italy, are on lockdown, with business, restaurants and even in some cases even factories closed. Economic activity has come to a standstill, and many governments have instituted massive financial aid measures to try and dampen the economic blow.
08:15 Australian government scientists have begun the first stages of testing for a potential vaccine against the SARS CoV-2 coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19.
Australia’s national science agency CSIRO said Thursday that testing at a biosecurity facility was expected to take three months.
08:00 The 2020 United Nations global climate summit, or COP, has been postponed due to coronavirus, host county Britain announced Wednesday. It had been scheduled to take place in Glasgow, Scotland, in November but will now take place at a yet to be determined time in 2021. ”In light of the ongoing, worldwide effects of COVID-19, holding an ambitious, inclusive COP26 in November 2020 is no longer possible,” the government said in a statement. Euro 2020 soccer tournament and the Summer Olympics, which were slated to take place in Tokyo.
07:50 France’s coronavirus death count reached 4,043, officials announced late Wednesday, making it the fourth nation after Italy, Spain and the United States to surpass 4,000 deaths. France’s death count only includes deaths inside of hospitals.
Late Wednesday, health officials from the eastern region of Grand-Est, where there is a high concentration of coronavirus cases, said 570 individuals had died in nursing homes since the outbreak of the virus on March 31. Of the region’s 620 nursing homes, 411 have been affected, the official added.
As of Thursday morning, nationwide infections were at 57,763, according to John Hopkins University.
07:30 Thailand has reported 104 new cases of coronavirus, bringing its total to 1,875 cases, according to government figures. Three new deaths brought the total number of fatalities in the country to 15.
07:15 Doctors are working around the clock in the fight against the coronavirus. DW visited Germany’s COVID-19 epicenter to speak with an intensive care doctor, as well as three other medics working in very different roles.
07:00 German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has said the German military, or Bundeswehr, lacks protective gear such as masks.
“We have supplies for a certain short-term duration,” Kramp-Karrenbauer told public broadcaster ARD. “Otherwise we’re naturally suffering right now, like everyone else, in that we can’t get enough new supplies of protective masks, and we lack specialists, too.”
The Bundeswehr has been assisting Germany’s 16 states over the past few weeks in their fights against the coronavirus outbreak, including by delivering protective masks and aprons to outbreak hotspots and treating civilian patients in military hospitals. Military planes have also been used to fly patients to Germany from other hard-hit European nations, like Italy.
06:30 In the United States, a 6-week-old baby has died from coronavirus in the eastern state of Connecticut.
06:15 North Korean officials have insisted that the internationally isolated nation remains totally free of the coronavirus, even as infections are reported in every part of the world. The country shut down its borders in January after the virus began to spread in neighboring China. It also imposed strict quarantine measures.
Experts say North Korea is vulnerable to the crisis due to its weak medical system.
Along with China, many Asian nations were the sites of the first outbreaks, though countries like South Korea and Singapore managed to contain the spread. The numbers have recently started to climb again, however, as travelers return home from overseas.
06:05 The New Zealand government has announced it will allow thousands of stranded tourists to leave the country starting Friday. Around 12,000 Germans remain stuck in New Zealand, as the German government continues its efforts to repatriate its citizens abroad. It has become the largest group of Germans to remain abroad, after flights out of the Pacific nation were abruptly canceled last week.
Around 187,000 of the roughly 200,000 Germans stranded overseas due to the coronavirus pandemic have been flown home, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted on Wednesday.
05:45 Israel Health Minister Yaakov Litzman has been diagnosed with coronavirus, the Health Ministry said on Thursday, adding that his wife also had the virus. The two are in quarantine. Litzman is an ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who tested negative for the virus earlier this week. The health minister heads an ultra-Orthodox Jewish party. He has urged the community to obey guidelines intended to curb the outbreak after various community members expressed skepticism.
Israel currently has 6,092 confirmed cases, with 26 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
05:30 The number of coronavirus infection cases in Germany jumped by 6,156 in one day to a total 73,522, according to data from the country’s public health agency, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). A total 872 people have died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus — an increase of 140 from the previous day.
The numbers are slightly lower than those provided by the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in the US, which lists Germany’s total infections at 77,981 and deaths at 931. This is due to different methods of information gathering: Whereas the RKI relies on numbers being sent to them by state authorities and collates the totals, JHU sources numbers from official information that is publicly available and then compiles it.
05:10 Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned the country’s inhabitants in a TV message that anyone caught violating coronavirus lockdown measures would be shot.
“My orders to the police and military … if there is trouble and there’s an occasion that they fight back and your lives are in danger, shoot them dead,” he said. “Is that understood? Dead. Instead of causing trouble, I will bury you.”
He made his speech one day after residents of a poor area in the capital Manila protested over a lack of government food aid.
The Philippines has registered 2,311 infections, with 96 deaths, data from Johns Hopkins University shows. Infections are rising daily by the hundreds.
03:46 Indonesian President Joko Widodo has revealed the government is considering starting a new national holiday to prevent the annual mass exodus usually taking place at the end of Ramadan. The Muslim fasting month this year falls over April and May, and Widodo said at a cabinet meeting that measures could be implemented during the new holiday such as making tourist attractions free to help “bring some calm to the people.”
Almost 90% of Indonesians identify themselves as Muslim and celebrate the end of Ramadan or the Eid al-Fitr festival with a feast and new clothes. In doing so, many return to their hometowns and it is this level of travel that Widodo is hoping to prevent.
03:37 Japan’s government has agreed to exempt firms from certain taxes if their sales decline by more than half year-on-year in any three-month period between February and October amid the coronavirus outbreak, Kyodo news agency reported. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last week ordered his cabinet to come up with an unprecedented package to support the world’s third-largest economy amid the disruption caused by the pandemic.
03:16 The World Health Organization (WHO) has created a coronavirus platform where users will receive all the latest news and information on COVID-19. Via the Viber chatbot, subscribers will receive notifications as well as be able to “learn how to protect themselves,” WHO said. Users can also “test their knowledge on coronavirus through an interactive quiz that helps bust myths.”
03:08 Foreigners stranded in New Zealand will be able to leave the country from Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has said. Peters announced a plan to enable the “safe, orderly exit of tens of thousands” of foreign nationals currently stranded in the country.
“When we moved into lockdown a week ago the government rightly prioritized public health and limited the movement of people so as to restrict the spread of COVID-19,” the deputy PM said. “But it is clear that many foreign nationals traveling here do not have the resources or capability to adequately self-isolate and wish to return home.”
Peters added: “We have taken the time and care to develop a seriously detailed plan for the exit of foreign nationals, without endangering the lives of others.”
02:47 Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has stated that parents who require childcare during the coronavirus outbreak will be able to access it without being charged for it, and that centers that look after children will remain open. Morrison also said the spread of COVID-19 in the country was slowing, and that parliament would resume next Wednesday.
Meanwhile, in Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales (NSW), police have revealed that enforcement of restrictions on personal movement would last three months, in light of the PM’s statement about the slowing of the outbreak. ”When is the turn-off period for these orders? It is 90 days,” state police commissioner Mick Fuller said in a televised press conference.
After a federal government order limiting social gatherings to two people, Australian states have instructed their authorities to issue financial penalties of up to A$11,000 ($6,672, €6,102) to citizens who violate the restrictions. In NSW, home to almost a third of Australia’s 25 million population, police have also threatened jail terms of up to six months for people who flout the newly imposed restrictions.
02:35 The United States death toll has surpassed the 5,000 mark. Almost half of those deaths have occurred in the state of New York. Data released by Johns Hopkins University showed that 5,116 people had lost their lives so far due to COVID-19.
02:05 Health workers in Colombia have taken to the streets of Bogota, in ambulances with sirens blazing, to show their support for colleagues and protest at what they believe are unnecessary salary delays amid the country’s COVID-19 outbreak.
The paramedics, doctors and nurses, all of whom were escorted by police, stopped in front of a clinic in the north of the capital to applaud colleagues working inside. There have been more than 1,000 registered coronavirus cases in the Latin American country, and 17 people have died as a result of contracting the disease.
01:46 Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti has asked the city’s people to wear face masks when they leave the house in an effort to combat the spread of SARS-CoV-2.
Garcetti told reporters the masks can be homemade, like a bandana, and don’t have to be N-95, which are needed for medical personnel. The United States’ second most populous city is also stepping up its attempts to get businesses to comply with a “Safer at home order” and will shut off water and power to businesses deemed non-essential if they refuse to stop operating even after being warned.
01:23 The coronavirus has caused the deaths of 884 people over the last 24 hours in the United States, a new one-day record for the country that has by far the highest number of infections in the world, according to data released by the Johns Hopkins University.
That record figure brought the total death toll in the United States to 4,475. Meanwhile, the number of registered cases rose by 25,200 over the same period, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 213,372.
00:59 Germany’s social distancing measures are to remain in place until at least April 19. To read more about what that will entail, click here: Coronavirus: Germany extends social distancing restrictions until April 19
00:54 British Airways (BA) is expected to announce the suspension of 36,000 employees as it grapples with the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. The airline, which has grounded most of its fleet, has been negotiating with the Unite union for over a week. BA and Unite have reached a rough agreement, according to the BBC, but are yet to sign on some of the finer details of the deal.
Many passenger airlines are letting employees go at a record-breaking pace. Some are putting workers on temporary leave, in which they are paid their salaries, thanks partly to government aid, or asked to work shorter hours. Germany’s Lufthansa is putting 27,000 of its 35,000 employees on short hours under a government support program that will ensure they get most of their pay while the pandemic reduces air traffic. In other cases, employees are losing their jobs outright, and are then given priority for medical training programs.
The trend is less pronounced in the United States, where passenger carriers are receiving $50 billion (€45.7 billion) in government funds, under the condition that they do not cut jobs for the next six months. US President Donald Trump, though, has announced he is considering grounding all domestic flights.
00:45 Here is a round up of the latest updates from Latin America:
Brazil: President Jair Bolsonaro, who has claimed social distancing measures are needlessly damaging Brazil’s economy, has found himself at the center of a row over spreading fake news. Bolsonaro posted a video on Wednesday of a market supposedly hit by shortages caused by the outbreak. But he was forced to take it down hours later after reporters found the same market well stocked. Bolsonaro previously described COVID-19 as a “little flu,” and condemned the reaction to it as “hysteria.” Meanwhile, Brazil’s health minister has described the South American country’s death toll as very worrying.
Latest figures for Brazil: 5,717 cases, 201 deaths, 127 recovered
Chile and Argentina: A Chilean consul in the Argentine city of Rosario has died from COVID-19, Chile’s Foreign Ministry confirmed on Wednesday. Fernando Labra contracted the coronavirus, which led to his hospitalization and isolation in Argentina after he presented symptoms on his return from Chile.
3,031 cases and 16 deaths in Chile, 234 recovered
1,133 cases, 32 deaths in Argentina, 248 recovered
Mexico: A top diplomat thanked two Chinese charities for donating medical supplies to help stem the coronavirus outbreak in an online message that went viral. “Thank you China!!!” Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard wrote in a Twitter post. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has previously courted controversy by holding rallies and public addresses, actions that have been criticized by human rights groups.
Latest figures for Mexico: 1,215 cases, 29 deaths, 35 recovered
Ecuador: The mayor of Ecuador’s most populous city revealed that the first of four refrigerated containers had arrived for the storage of corpses that authorities had failed to pick up due to quarantine restrictions. Cynthia Viteri, the mayor of Guayaquil, said that the containers would be used to hold the bodies of citizens who had died at home and in hospitals, both as a result of the coronavirus and of other causes.
Latest Ecuador figures: 2,758 cases, 98 deaths, 58 recovered
00:25 Here’s a recap of the global figures:
932,605 confirmed cases
193,177 recovered worldwide
00:00 Catch up on yesterday’s news here: Coronavirus latest: More than 200,000 infections in United States
jsi, cmb/rt (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)
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