Pandemic worsens in the United States and Europe as number of confirmed infections worldwide exceeds one million.
More than 1,002,000 people have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 disease worldwide, as the death toll surpassed 51,000 while about 208,000 patients recovered.
The coronavirus pandemic death toll in Spain passed 10,000 on Thursday, as the country reported its highest single-day number of deaths since the outbreak began, with the total rising by more than 1,000 to 10,096 among 110,238 infections.
The United States – the world’s hardest-hit country – recorded more than 5,600 coronavirus deaths, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. It has confirmed more than 236,000 cases of the disease.
Here are the latest updates:
Thursday, April 2
23:20 GMT Thursday – Trump to Iran: If they want help, we will give them help
President Donald Trump has said that if Iran requests his administration for help in dealing with the coronavirus emergency, that he would be willing to do it.
“They have a very big case of virus. A very, very big case. One of the worst on Earth if you believe what you’re reading and I happen to believe what I see and what I know. If they want help, we will give them help.”
Earlier, presumptive Democratic nominee for president, former Vice President Joseph Biden said he supports the lifting of sanctions against Iran as the country deals with the deadly disease.
23:15 GMT – Trump invokes law to expand protective masks
President Donald Trump has invoked the Defense Production Act to rapidly expand domestic manufacturing of N95 protective masks by Minnesota-based by 3M to assist first responders.
A memorandum signed by Trump calls for DHS Secretary Chad Wolf to “use any and all authority available” under the act to acquire masks produced by 3M Co FEMA Administrator Rear Adm John Polowczyk is charged to determine the number of masks needed, according to the memo.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told lawmakers in late February that the US needed a stockpile of about 300 million N95 face masks for medical workers on the front lines of stemming the spread of the virus.
23:10 GMT – Trump admin moves toward promoting broader use of face masks
The Trump administration is formalizing new guidance to recommend that many Americans wear face coverings when leaving home, in an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
The recommendations, still being finalized Thursday, would apply to those who live in areas hard-hit by community transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.
Trump, who was tested again for coronavirus Thursday using a new rapid test, indicated Tuesday he would support such a recommendation. “If people wanted to wear them, they can,” he said.
20:30 GMT – US borrowers seeking aid from banks face hurdles
United States borrowers seeking a reprieve from mortgage, auto or credit card payments because of coronavirus hardships are not getting the help they expected from big banks that promised assistance in recent weeks.
Read more here.
20:25 GMT – US doctors seek opioid production boost
United States doctors running out of narcotics needed for COVID-19 patients on ventilators are asking the federal government to raise production limits for drugmakers, according to a letter seen by Reuters news agency, after national quotas had been tightened to address the opioid addiction crisis.
20:12 GMT – Two stranded cruise ships given approval to dock in Florida
Passengers aboard two cruise ships that have had coronavirus cases and deaths have been given the green light to disembark at a Florida port.
Broward County Commissioner Michael Udine said that an agreement had been reached between local, state and federal officials and Carnival Corp, which owns the Zaandam and the Rotterdam. And Port Everglades traffic records list the two ships’ arrival as “confirmed”.
The cruise line Holland America is operating the ships. Holland America says 45 passengers who are mildly sick will stay on board until they recover, but that it needs 10 people to be taken to a Fort Lauderdale hospital for immediate medical care.
20:00 GMT – Trump issues order to boost ventilator manufacturing
US President Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to aid companies building ventilators for coronavirus patients to receive the supply of materials they need.
In a memo released by the White House, Trump directed the US Health and Human Services secretary to use his authority to help facilitate the supply of ventilator materials for six companies – General Electric Co, Hill-Rom Holdings Inc , Medtronic Plc, Resmed Inc, Royal Philips NV and Vyaire Medical Inc.
19:40 GMT – Bolsonaro says coronavirus ‘not all it’s being made out to be’
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro continued to downplay the coronavirus epidemic, saying it is “not all it’s being made out to be” and denying that any hospital in the country has reached its full capacity due to the outbreak.
Speaking to church ministers outside his official residence in Brasilia, he urged state governors not to be so “radical”, warning that their confinement and quarantine measures are taking a heavy toll on the economy.
He estimated that 60 percent to 70 percent of Brazilians will eventually contract the virus.
18:23 GMT – World Bank to roll out $160bn emergency aid
The World Bank approved a plan to roll out $160bn in emergency aid over 15 months to help countries deal with the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic.
The board of the Washington-based development lender announced the first set of fast-track crisis funding, with an initial $1.9bn going to projects in 25 countries, and operations moving forward in another 40 nations, the bank said in a statement.
The bank is also working to redeploy $1.7bn of existing funding, including the use of “catastrophic drawdowns”, a type of emergency credit line.
US jobless claims surge to 6.65 million – another record (08:55)
18:21 GMT – France’s death toll jumps to nearly 5,400
The number of cumulative known deaths from coronavirus in France surged to nearly 5,400 as the country started including fatalities in nursing homes in its data.
Jerome Salomon, head of the public health authority, said the number of coronavirus-related deaths in hospitals rose 12 percent on Thursday to 4,503 from a day earlier.
He added that a provisional tally showed that a cumulative 884 people in total had died in nursing homes. This makes for a total of 5,387 lives lost to coronavirus in France.
18:20 GMT – Lebanon municipalities ‘discriminate’ against refugees
Nearly two dozen Lebanese municipalities have implemented restrictions targeting Syrian refugees amid the coronavirus pandemic, including curfews that do not apply to other foreigners or Lebanon’s citizens, according to Human Rights Watch.
18:19 GMT – UK looking at virus immunity certificates
The United Kingdom is looking at issuing immunity certificates to people who have developed resistance to the coronavirus, but there needs to be more research into the science behind it, health minister Matt Hancock said.
People who have had COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, develop antibodies to fight the virus, but it is unclear how long any immunity they develop lasts.
“[An immunity certificate] is an important thing that we will be doing and are looking at but it’s too early in the science of the immunity that comes from having had the disease,” Hancock said at a news conference.
17:31 GMT – Portugal shuts all airports to commercial flights during Easter
Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced the closure of all airports to commercial flights during the usually busy Easter holiday period to stop the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
The airports will shut between April 9 and April 13 and only flights repatriating citizens or transporting goods will be allowed to operate.
COVID-19: The devastating effect on health workers (02:01)
17:05 GMT – Turkey’s death toll rises to 356, total cases 18,135
Turkey’s death toll from the coronavirus outbreak increased by 79 to 356, its highest daily rise, while the number of confirmed cases from the disease rose by 2,456 to 18,135, health ministry data showed.
It said 18,757 tests had been carried out in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of tests conducted in Turkey to 125,556 since the outbreak began.
17:01 GMT – Moscow extends partial lockdown until May 1
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said a partial lockdown and other restrictions introduced to halt the spread of the coronavirus would remain in place until May 1.
Residents of Moscow, the epicentre of Russia’s coronavirus outbreak, have since Monday been allowed to leave their homes only to buy food or medicine nearby, get urgent medical treatment, walk the dog or take out the rubbish.
16:33 GMT – Malawi reports its first three cases
Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika says the African country recorded its first three coronavirus cases.
“Malawi had no cases of the virus. Sadly, we now have three confirmed cases,” Mutharika said in an address to the nation.
16:25 GMT – Five key developments in Spain
Spain has the world’s second-highest number of fatalities and rising unemployment, but there is hope amid the crisis.
16:20 GMT – How to talk to your children about coronavirus
With many of the world’s people confined to their homes amid efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, families are finding themselves spending more time than ever together.
For many, this is an unexpected opportunity to connect with spouses, children and siblings. But one question has come bubbling up: how should adult caregivers be talking about coronavirus to the children in their lives?
16:14 GMT – New York has ventilators to last six days: Governor
New York has enough ventilators in stock to last another six days at the current rate they are being used in hospitals to treat coronavirus patients, the governor said.
Andrew Cuomo told a daily briefing the statewide coronavirus cases had increased to 92,381, up from 83,712 a day earlier, with deaths rising to 2,373 from 1,941.
16:10 GMT – Trump signals oil price war truce as Saudis call OPEC+ meeting
Saudi Arabia on Thursday called for an emergency meeting between the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies led by Russia, in the face of mounting pressure from US President Donald Trump to call a truce in an oil price war that has sent crude prices plummeting and engendered US shale oil producers.
15:28 GMT – Iran’s parliament speaker tests positive for coronavirus
Iran’s parliament says Speaker Ali Larijani has tested positive for the new coronavirus and is in quarantine.
15:22 GMT – Canada’s tally jumps by 1,115 cases
Canada’s public health agency data shows the number of coronavirus cases went up by 1,115 in a day to 10,132. The death toll increased by 22, bringing the total to 127.
14:41 GMT – Romanian doctors to get 500 euros monthly bonus
Romanian doctors, nurses and other personnel dealing with coronavirus cases will receive a monthly bonus of about 500 euros ($543) a month, President Klaus Iohannis said.
“I demanded the government to reroute European (Union) funding, to give a monthly bonus of 500 euros to front line personnel dealing with COVID[-19] infected patients. I am prepared to deliver solutions,” Iohannis told a video briefing.
About 15 percent of all coronavirus infections in Romania are medical personnel.
14:37 GMT – US jobless claims surge to 6.65 million
Another week, another record shattered as the coronavirus pandemic unleashes unprecedented carnage on the US economy.
The number of Americans filing for initial unemployment benefits surged to 6.65 million in the week ending March 28, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Thursday, obliterating the previous record 3.3 million set only the week before.
14:35 GMT – As Iran struggles to fund virus fight, US keeps squeezing economy
The war against the coronavirus pandemic is literally a life and death fight for nations. But Iran is waging it with an economy badly crippled by US sanctions that have Tehran bereft of financial resources to mount an effective public health response.
14:08 GMT – Putin extends non-working days until April 30
President Vladimir Putin said Russians will continue not going to work while receiving pay until the end of the month to combat the coronavirus.
In his second televised address on Russia’s response to the virus, Putin said in Moscow “so far it has not been possible to turn around the situation despite the measures taken by federal and city authorities”.
Regional authorities should take decisions on what needs to be shut down based on the “objective situation” while ensuring people’s safety, Putin said.
14:06 GMT – Four French soldiers test positive
Four soldiers in West Africa have tested positive for coronavirus, the French army said.
The army also said three of the infected soldiers have been repatriated to France.
13:46 GMT – Singapore confirms 49 new cases
Singapore reported 49 more coronavirus cases, its health ministry said, taking the city-state’s total infections to 1,049.
The country recorded its fourth coronavirus-related death.
13:30 GMT – UK death toll rises to 2,921, up 24 percent in a day
The UK’s death toll from the coronavirus rose 24 percent to 2,921 as of April 1.
As of 08:00 GMT on April 2, a total of 163,194 people had been tested of which 33,718 tested positive, the health ministry said.
“Of those hospitalised in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus, 2,921 have sadly died,” the health ministry said.
Hello, I am Tamila Varshalomidze in Doha, taking over the blog from my colleague Joseph Stepansky.
Qatar Airways launches new measures to tackle COVID-19 (02:47)
12:55 GMT – Boeing announces voluntary layoff plan
Boeing has unveiled a voluntary worker layoff programme, telling employees that it hoped to avoid “other workforce actions” as the aviation industry reels from the coronavirus crisis.
The initiative, announced by Boeing Chief Executive David Calhoun, that such belt-tightening was needed amid the hit to the industry caused by the pandemic.
He said, “It’s important that we start adjusting to our new reality now.”
12:50 GMT – Pandemic forces postponement of crucial UN climate summit
This year’s United Nations global climate summit is being postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic , the host UK has said.
The most important climate summit since Paris 2015, also called COP26, was scheduled to take place in the British city of Glasgow in November. It will now be held in 2021.UN negotiators say the postponement, which pushes the summit after the US presidential election, will allow them to assess whether they will have support in the White House after US President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 Paris agreement in 2017 and rolled back Obama-era environmental policies.
12:40 GMT – UK health minister to set out new testing measures
UK Health minister Matt Hancock will set out on Thursday how Britain will boost its testing regime to help tackle the coronavirus outbreak, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, acknowledging more needed to be done.
Johnson believed Britain must see a “massive increase” in testing to “unlock the coronavirus puzzle and defeat it in the end”, the spokesman said.
“We acknowledge that more needs to be done in relation to testing, we need to be testing more people and we need to be making progress very quickly … The health secretary will set out later the steps we are going to be taking to ensure that there is a significant increase in testing.”
12:35 GMT – ‘Dear Elon’: Ukraine takes up Tesla’s ventilator offer via Twitter
Ukraine has taken to Twitter to ask Elon Musk to send it ventilators after the billionaire chief executive of Tesla Inc offered to ship them across the world during the coronavirus pandemic.
Musk said this week he was ready to send the life-saving machines wherever his company delivers, free of charge.
“Dear Elon, Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe with population nearly 40 mln citizens,” Ukraine’s embassy in Washington, DC wrote on Twitter late on Wednesday. “The pandemic situation in Ukraine is approaching its peak, April is going to be the hardest. People in hospitals need ventilators. We are ready to cooperate! Dyakuyemo! [Thank you!]”
12:30 GMT – Portugal extends state of emergency
Portugal’s parliament has approved the extension of a state of emergency by another 15 days to stop the spread of the coronavirus, as the number of deaths from the disease rose over 200.
“If decreeing a state of emergency was necessary 15 days ago, it is essential that we renew it today,” Prime Minister Antonio Costa told parliament. “All the effort we have made so far will be compromised if it does not continue.”
Just one lawmaker voted against the measure, with 10 abstentions and 215 votes in favour.
Senior Socialist lawmaker Ana Catarina Mendes deemed the move “hard but necessary”. Portugal has confirmed 9,034 coronavirus cases and 209 deaths.
12:20 GMT – Twitter removes accounts linked to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, other countries
Twitter has taken down thousands of accounts linked to Egypt, Honduras, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Serbia for either taking directions from the governments or promoting pro-government content.
Twitter and other social media companies are under pressure to clean up misinformation and hateful content on their platforms, while abuse related to the coronavirus outbreak has also increased scrutiny of their actions.
Twitter said it removed the accounts because they violated its policies and were a targeted attempt to undermine the public conversation. It took down 2,541 accounts in the Egypt-based El Fagr network because it created fake accounts to amplify messages critical of Iran, Qatar, and Turkey.
Coronavirus may change city designs (2:26)
12:15 GMT – Saudi Arabia imposes 24-hour curfew in Mecca, Medina
Saudi Arabia has imposed a 24-hour curfew in Mecca and Medina, the interior ministry said, extending measures taken to combat the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected more than 1,700 people and killed 16.
The interior ministry said in a statement there were some exceptions, including for essential workers and for residents to buy food and access medical care. The curfew had previously been from 1500 to 0600.
12:10 GMT – Deaths in Netherlands increase to 1,339
The number of deaths caused by an infection with the new coronavirus in the Netherlands has increased by 166 to 1,339, health authorities have said.
The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the country increased by 8 percent to 14,697, the Dutch Institute for Public Health said.
12:00 GMT – Israel’s health minister gets coronavirus; top officials isolate
Coronavirus has forced more top Israeli officials into isolation after the country’s health minister, who has had frequent contact with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, tested positive, the health ministry said on Thursday.
Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman and his wife, who also contracted the virus, are in isolation but said they feel well and are being treated, a ministry statement said.
Shortly after the announcement, the prime minister’s office said Netanyahu returned to self-quarantine because of his contact with Litzman.
11:55 GMT – Former Somali PM dies of coronavirus in London
Somalia has entered a three-day mourning period after Nur Hassan Hussein, the former prime minister, died in a London hospital on Wednesday after contracting the new coronavirus.
He was 83.
Popularly known as Nur Adde, he was the East African country’s prime minister from November 2007 to February 2009.
11:45 GMT – Public anger grows as Bosnian mother denied test dies
Advija Kanlic, a 52-year-old woman from Sarajevo, had serious symptoms of coronavirus infection for more than a week, including high fever and shortness of breath.
For six days, her children asked the health service for a coronavirus test, but their requests were routinely rejected because she had not been to any country with a serious outbreak.
It was not until after she died that authorities finally conducted a COVID-19 test and confirmed the infection.
11:35 GMT – LATAM Airlines to cut all but 5 percent of flights in April
LATAM Airlines, South America’s largest carrier, will only operate 5 percent of its regularly scheduled passenger flights in April due to the coronavirus crisis, the company has said.
The airline said it will keep 39 domestic routes in Brazil, 13 in Chile and 4 international routes. LATAM had previously said it would cut 70 percent of its flights.
11:30 GMT – British ventilator consortium targeting 1,500 units per week
A consortium of British engineers, aerospace and Formula One companies are hoping to produce at least 1,500 ventilators a week within a matter of weeks.
Companies including Airbus, Ford, Rolls-Royce and BAE have come together with seven Formula One teams to ramp up production of two existing ventilators made by Penlon and Smiths Group in Britain.
The companies answered a call by Prime Minister Boris Johnson for industries to help build life-saving equipment ahead of the peak of the coronavirus outbreak.
Spain reports 950 coronavirus deaths in 24 hours; highest daily toll
11:20 GMT – Switzerland death toll rises to 432
The Swiss death toll from the coronavirus epidemic has risen to 432, the country’s public health agency has said, from 378 people on Wednesday.
The number of positive tests increased to 18,267 from 17,139, it said.
11:10 GMT – Zambia records first death
Zambia has recorded its first death from coronavirus, and the number of confirmed cases has risen by three to 39, Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya has said.
Chilufya said the three new cases had all got the virus from people who had travelled abroad.
Anti-malaria drug used to fight COVID-19 in Senegal
11:00 GMT – EU executive chief concerned Hungary emergency measures go too far
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has expressed concern that coronavirus restriction measures taken by Hungary went too far and insisted they should be limited in time and subject to scrutiny.
Hungary’s parliament on Monday granted Prime Minister Viktor Orban an open-ended right to rule by decree and introduced jail sentences for anyone hindering measures to curb the spread of the virus or spreading false information about the pandemic.
“I am concerned that certain measures go too far and I am particularly concerned about the situation in Hungary,” von der Leyen told a news conference on Thursday.
“These emergency measures have to be limited to what is necessary, they have to be strictly proportionate because they have to be adequate in this situation, they should not last indefinitely and very importantly they should be subject to regular scrutiny,” she continued.
10:45 GMT – India’s toaster-sized ventilator to help in pandemic fight
Light, portable and easy to use, a small ventilator originally created by an Indian robot scientist and a neurosurgeon is offering hope in the country’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Because it doesn’t need much power to run, and can be set up anywhere, the AgVa portable ventilator is allowing less-critical patients to be moved back home.
As the coronavirus toll rises in India, production of AgVa’s ventilator shot up from 500 a month to 20,000.
10:35 GMT – Next EU budget should be ‘Marshall Plan’ for Europe: Von der Leyen
The next EU budget should be a new “Marshall Plan” to stoke Europe’s recovery from the coronavirus crisis, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said.
“We know in this crisis that we need quick answers,” she told a news conference, adding that the long-term budget, known as the multi-annual financial framework (MFF) was recovery’s strongest tool.
“We want to shape the MFF in such a way that it is a crucial part of our recovery plan… I think the European budget should be the Marshall Plan we are laying out together as a European Union for the European people,” she said, referring to the US aid programme for Western Europe from 1948 to stimulate a recovery after World War II.
Source: ALJAZEERA ENGLISH
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