Afghanistan likely facing coronavirus ‘disaster’: Live updates

Afghanistan likely facing coronavirus ‘disaster’: Live updates

  • US President Donald Trump said China could have unleashed the coronavirus on the world due to some kind of horrible “mistake”.

  • A US watchdog warned Afghanistan is likely facing a “health disaster” from the pandemic.

  • The eurozone’s economy shrunk by 3.8 percent in the first quarter, the biggest hit since records began in 1995.

  • Worldwide, the number of confirmed infections stood at more than 3.25 million, with some 232,000 deaths and more than one million recoveries.

  • The World Health Organization says it is “very concerned” about community spread in a number of countries in West Africa.

Here are the latest updates:

Friday, May 1

06:55 GMT – Germany’s confirmed cases rise by 1,639

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

The death toll rose by 193 to 6,481.

German authorities have agreed to reopen playgrounds, churches and cultural institutions such as museums and zoos as part of the gradual loosening of the country’s pandemic lockdown.

06:50 GMT – Irish airline Ryanair plans 3,000 job cuts 

Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair said it plans to axe up to 3,000 pilot and cabin crew jobs, with air transport paralysed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Dublin-based Ryanair added in a statement that most of its flights will remain grounded until at least July and predicted it would take until summer 2022 before passenger demand recovers.

06:40 GMT – Turkey evacuates over 300 nationals from Iraq

More than 300 Turkish nationals were evacuated to Turkey from the Iraqi capital of Baghdad and several southern provinces, upon their repatriation requests due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The Turkish citizens were returned to their homeland through the land route with the support of Turkish ministries and the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad.

The Turkish government has repatriated around 60,000 of its nationals from various countries since the start of the pandemic.

Turkey to deliver medical aid supplies to Palestine

Turkey prepares to deliver medical equipment to Palestine [Esra Bilgin/Anadolu]

06:30 GMT – May Day marks pain for workers hit by virus

The first of May usually brings both protest rallies and celebrations rallies marking international Labor Day.

Among the ten of millions of people left idle or thrown out of work by the coronavirus crisis, garment workers have been among the hardest hit as orders dry up and shutdowns leave factories shuttered, giving workers plenty to protest at a time when lockdowns are keeping them at home.

Millions of jobs have vanished in countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia, Cambodia and Myanmar that rely heavily on garment manufacturing as fashion brands cancelled or suspended billions of dollars’ worth of orders.


06:15 GMT – Heathrow sees April passenger numbers down 97%

London’s Heathrow Airport, traditionally the busiest in Europe, said passenger numbers were expected to be down by around 97 percent in April and they were likely to remain weak until governments fighting the coronavirus outbreak deem it safe to travel.

For the first quarter, revenue fell 12.7 percent to 593 million pounds ($745m).

Heathrow said it had 3.2 billion pounds in liquidity, sufficient to maintain the business at least over the next 12 months, even with no passengers.

The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in London

A lady wearing a mask is seen at Heathrow airport, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, London, Britain [Henry Nicholls/Reuters]

06:00 GMT – Hungary PM warns of potential second wave in Oct-Nov

Hungary needs to prepare for a potential second wave of the coronavirus outbreak in October to November, even though the spreading of the virus will likely slow in the summer, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told state radio.

Orban also said if authorities manage to reduce the death rate from the pandemic in Budapest, where 80 percent 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.

Hungarian ballet dancer Kovacs performs a choreographic piece he has designed for the 'coronavirus melody' during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Budapest

Hungarian ballet dancer Zsolt Kovacs performs a choreographic piece he has designed for the ‘coronavirus melody’, a musical composition created by MIT scientists from a model of the protein structure of SARS-CoV-2 in Budapest, Hungary [Bernadett Szabo/Reuters]

05:45 GMT – Australia says relationship with China ‘mutually beneficial’

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the country’s relationship with China “mutually beneficial” amid an intensifying row with Beijing over a proposed international inquiry into the coronavirus outbreak.

China, Australia’s top trading partner, has accused Canberra of “petty tricks” in the dispute that could affect diplomatic and economic ties between the countries.

Hello, this is Saba Aziz in Doha, taking over from my colleague Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur.

05:03 GMT – Thailand reports six new coronavirus cases

Thailand reported six new coronavirus cases and no new death on Friday, taking its tally to 2,960 infections while fatalities remained at 54 since the outbreak began in January.

New daily infections have stayed in the single digits for five consecutive days. The six cases also marked the lowest new daily infections since early March, according to Reuters news agency.

King of Thailand

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida produce a face mask during a visit to an exhibition at a Royal Guard regiment in Bangkok [Royal Household Bureau via Reuters]

04:39 GMT – Australia to consider easing of containment measures

Australia will consider next Friday whether to relax coronavirus-related mobility restrictions, as the growth rate of new infections slows, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday following a national cabinet meeting.

Morrison urged Australians to download an app aimed at tracing contacts of COVID-19 patients, saying it was a pre-condition to relaxing the containment measures.

Australia has reported about 6,700 COVID-19 cases and 93 deaths.

04:24 GMT – Japan’s Naruhito performs ritual

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito marked his first anniversary of his enthronement Friday with a prayer at palace shrines for the people’s peace and happiness amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Naruhito, wearing a white surgical mask, greeted well-wishers on the sidewalk from a royal car on the way to the palace for the ritual.

Naruhito, 60, ascended to the Chrysanthemum throne on May 1 last year, the day after his father, Akihito, abdicated. In Friday’s closed ritual, Naruhito was to change to traditional outfit to pray for the peace and happiness for the people and the gods of Shinto.

04:24 GMT – Protesters stage May Day rally in Taiwan


Labour union groups gather for a May Day rally while wearing surgical masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus disease in Taipei on Friday [Ann Wang/Reuters]

04:12 GMT – Afghanistan likely facing coronavirus ‘health disaster’

Afghanistan, beset by a poor healthcare system, malnutrition, war and other vulnerabilities, likely is facing a “health disaster” from the coronavirus, a watchdog report to the US Congress warns.

The report by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) could heighten concerns among US officials that the pandemic threatens to derail stalled US-led peace efforts.

“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.

03:19 GMT – Malaysia to allow most businesses to reopen starting on May 4

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced on Friday that most businesses will be allowed to reopen starting on Monday, May 4, subject to some conditions.

Economic sectors that involve large gatherings of people such as cinema and bazaars, however, will not be allowed to reopen, he said in a televised address.

Muhyiddin made the announcement as he acknowledged that the government has lost an estimated MYR63bn (US14.66bn) due to the lockdown following the coronavirus pandemic.  

02:44 GMT – South Korean exports plunge due to coronavirus

The coronavirus crisis sent South Korean exports plunging in April at their sharpest pace since the global financial crisis, signalling a bleak outlook for international trade as the pandemic paralyses the world economy and shatters demand, according to Reuters news agency.

Exports dived 24.3 percent year-on-year in April, trade ministry data showed on Friday, the worst contraction since May 2009. It slid 0.7 percent in the previous month.

The average exports per working day, excluding the calendar effect, also tumbled 17.4 percent, far worse than the 6.9 percent fall seen in March.

South Korea, is Asia’s fourth-largest economy.

02:25 GMT – South Korea reports nine new cases

South Korea reported nine more cases of the new coronavirus Friday, bringing the nation’s total infections to 10,774, out of whom 9,072 have recovered, the Yonhap news agency reported. 

Of the nine new cases, eight cases are believed to come from people who came from overseas, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said in a statement.

The nation’s death toll from the coronavirus rose by one to 248 total.

01:55 GMT – Funeral home in New York ‘overflowing’ with bodies

New York state officials have warned that funeral home could face fines and license suspensions, after police found that one such facility in Brooklyn had resorted to storing dozens of bodies on ice in rented trucks.

Authorities found that the Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Home had rented four trucks to hold about 50 corpses, Health Commissioner Dr Howard Zucker said Thursday.

A neighbouring business owner called 911 to report that fluids were leaking from one of the trucks, police said.

Health officials issued guidance to all funeral homes that they would not tolerate “any of that kind of behavior,” Zucker said at the daily coronavirus briefing by New York Gov Andrew Cuomo.

Almost 63,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the US, majority of which were from New York.

New York

Workers move bodies to a refrigerated truck from the offending funeral home in New York City [Craig Ruttle/AP]

01:25 GMT – Japan to decide whether to extend state of emergency

Japan will formally decide as early as Monday whether to extend its nationwide state of emergency, according to the public broadcaster NHK, after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned citizens to prepare for a “drawn-out battle” against the coronavirus.

The nationwide state of emergency is set to expire on May 6 and the government is planning to extend the emergency for about a month, sources have told Reuters news agency.

Some countries are restarting business activity after closures and social distancing measures to contain the spread of the virus, even as Japan has seen far fewer infections and deaths than hot spots in the United States and Europe.

Japan - Tokyo

The government is planning to extend the emergency for about a month, sources have told Reuters news agency [Eugene Hoshiko/AP]

01:00 GMT – China reports 12 new cases of coronavirus

China’s National Health Comission reported on Friday 12 new coronavirus infections as of the end of Thursday, with 6 being imported cases.

There were almost 84,000 people infected of the disease in China, but about 94 percent of the patients have already recovered. At least 4,637 were officially reported as fatalities.

Meanwhile, China announced that it will reopen the Palace Museum in Beijing to the public starting on Friday, May 1.

01:00 GMT – Top US doctor expresses hope for coronavirus drug

News that an experimental drug seems to be the first effective treatment for the new coronavirus has unleashed a flurry of interest.

Talk turned Thursday to how quickly the federal Food and Drug Administration might act on Gilead Sciences’s remdesivir, after preliminary results from a major study found it shortened the recovery time by an average of four days for people hospitalised with the disease, also known as COVID-19.

“You do now have a drug that you have proven can actually work on the virus,” the National Institutes of Health’s Dr. Anthony Fauci told the Associated Press news agency.

“Will it be an overwhelming cure? No, of course not. But with its use, “you will free up hospital beds, you will take less stress on the health care system,” he added.

00:40 GMT – Australia plots return of sport as spread of coronavirus slows

The Australian government will meet on Friday to discuss how sport can restart as the number of new coronavirus cases dwindles and states begin to relax restrictions on social gatherings, two sources familiar with the details told Reuters news agency.

Australia has reported about 6,700 cases of the new coronavirus and 93 deaths, significantly below the levels reported in the United States, Britain and Europe. Growth in new infections has slowed to less 0.5 percent a day, compared to 25 percent a month ago.

“The agenda includes the principles for sport and other recreational activities,” one source familiar with the cabinet agenda told Reuters.

00:30 GMT – Mexico reports 1,425 new coronavirus cases, 127 deaths

Mexican health officials have reported 1,425 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 127 new deaths in the country, bringing the total to 19,224 cases and 1,859 deaths in the country.

00:01 GMT – Trump says US can never declare ‘total victory’ over virus

President Donald Trump said Thursday that he believes the US can never declare “total victory” over the coronavirus because too many people have died. But he added that he will count it a win when the virus is gone and the economy fully reopened.

With almost 63,000 Americans fallen to the virus, Trump pointed out that the death rate in the US was lower than in many other countries and he offered the optimistic prediction that the battered economy would be vastly improved in a matter of months and “spectacular” by 2021.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. You can find all the key developments from yesterday, April 30, here.

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