China drops 2020 economic growth target: Coronavirus live updates

China drops 2020 economic growth target: Coronavirus live updates

  • With 20,000 deaths and more than 310,000 infections, Brazil is fast approaching Russia to become the world’s second coronavirus hotspot, behind the United States.

  • China will not set an annual growth target for 2020 as it tries to rebuild its economy in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

  • US President Donald Trump ordered the nation’s flags at half-mast to honour coronavirus victims.

  • More than five million people around the world are now confirmed to have the coronavirus, according to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University. More than 328,000 people have died globally while some 1.9 million people have recovered.

Here are all the latest updates:

06:40 GMT – UK to set out quarantine measures for international arrivals

The United Kingdom will set out details of its plans for a quarantine for international arrivals, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said.

Home Secretary Priti Patel will set out he details at a briefing later, he told Sky News.

06:10 GMT – Bulgaria to allow entry of citizens from EU, Schengen countries

Bulgaria, which has started to ease its lockdown, has scrapped a ban on the entry of visitors from the European Union and Schengen visa zone countries, the health ministry said in a statement.

In mid-March European Union member Bulgaria banned entry to its territory to travellers from many countries in an attempt to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The health ministry said that the lifting of the ban also covers San Marino, Andorra, Monaco and Vatican City. The ministry said that people arriving in Bulgaria would continue to spend 14 days in quarantine.

Hello, this is Umut Uras in Doha taking over from my colleague Kate Mayberry.

I will be handing over this blog to my colleagues in Doha shortly. Here are the key developments from this morning:

  • Japan’s central bank is launching a $279bn programme to boost lending to small firms
  • New Zealand’s opposition switched leaders to counter soaring support for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern over her handling of the coronavirus
  • The IMF and Ukraine agreed in principle on a new $5bn aid package

05:25 GMT – Japan central bank to boost lending to small firms

The Bank of Japan is offering 30 trillion yen ($279bn) in additional lending to help small firms struggling with the economic devastation wrought by the coronavirus.

The central bank says it will start providing the funding to banks in June. The new measure brings the Bank of Japan’s total package of financial assistance to small and medium-sized firms to 75 trillion yen ($700bn).

It comes as data showed that Japan has slipped back into deflation for the first time in more than three years, with prices falling 0.2 percent in April.

05:17 GMT – Philippine legislator proposes tax targeting tech giants

Joey Salceda, a Philippine Congressman, has introduced a bill in Parliament aimed at taxing big tech firms such as Facebook, Alphabet’s Google and YouTube, Netflix and Spotify, to raise funds to battle the coronavirus.

The bill looks to raise 29 billion pesos ($571m) by imposing a value-added tax on digital services provided in the Philippines, a key growth area for e-commerce transactions as its people are among the world’s heaviest users of social media.

“We spent to fight COVID-19 and we need more to continue fighting it and recover,” Salceda, the bill’s principal author, told Reuters News Agency.

05:05 GMT – Thailand reports no new cases, no new deaths

Thailand reported no new coronavirus infections or deaths on Friday, maintaining the total of 3,037 confirmed cases and 56 fatalities since the outbreak started in January.

There are 2,910 patients who have recovered and returned home since the outbreak started, the government’s coronavirus taskforce said in an update.

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

People eat lunch at a food court of a department store after the Thai government eased coronavirus restrictions in Bangkok, Thailand on May 21, 2020 [Athit Perawongmetha/ Reuters]

04:46 GMT – Malaysia confirms more cases at migrant detention centre

Malaysia has reported 35 new coronavirus cases at an immigration detention centre on the outskirts of the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Noor Hisham Abdullah, director-general at the Malaysian health ministry, said the positive cases at the Bukit Jalil immigration detention centre include 17 people from Myanmar, 15 from India and one each from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Egypt.

Malaysian authorities have arrested more than 1,800 migrants in at least two raids as part of efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus, raising concerns they could instead raise infection risks in overcrowded detention centres.

04:29 GMT – Australia’s most populous state to relax curbs on hospitality sector

New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, has said restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus will be eased to allow cafes, restaurants and pubs to have up to 50 seated patrons. 

“Losing 221,000 jobs in April was a disaster,” state premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney, referring to state-wide job losses. “We don’t want to see that continue.”

The measure will take effect on June 1. Nationally, nearly 600,000 people were forced out of work in April by the coronavirus restrictions.

04:05 GMT – New Zealand opposition changes leader

New Zealand’s conservative opposition has switched leaders in a last-gasp bid to counter the record support Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is enjoying for containing the coronavirus.

National Party legislators voted to ditch Simon Bridges after opinion polls suggested he was headed for a wipeout at a general election on September 19. His replacement is former agri-business executive Todd Muller.

A 1 News Colmar Brunton poll released on Thursday night put support for Ardern’s Labour Party up 18 points at 59 percent, a record for the centre-left grouping.

Ardern’s rating as preferred prime minister was 63 percent, up 21 points to the highest figure recorded by any legislator in the survey’s 25-year history.

03:40 GMT – Australia extends bans on cruise ships

Australia extended its ban on cruise ship visits for three months until September 17.

Australian Border Force said any cruise ship capable of carrying more than 100 passengers is prohibited from operating cruises in the country.

The ban has been in place since March 27, following deadly outbreaks linked to cruise ships.

02:07 GMT – No annual growth target for China, a first in decades

China took the rare move of not setting an annual growth target this year after the coronavirus battered the world’s second-largest economy and ravaged global growth.

Instead, given “great uncertainty” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Beijing will “give priority to stabilising employment and ensuring living standards”, Premier Li Keqiang told the opening of the National People’s Congress.

It is the first time China has not set a gross domestic product (GDP) goal since the government started to publish such targets in 1990.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delivers his work report during the opening session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 22, 2020 [Leo Ramirez/ AFP]

01:33 GMT – Dozens test positive at centres for stranded migrants in Panama

A Panama health official said 59 migrants stranded at Panamanian migration centres have tested positive for the coronavirus.

More than 2,500 migrants became stranded in Panama in March when the border with neighbouring Costa Rica was closed. The vast majority of those people are being held in migration centres in the southern Darien province.

“It is not easy to have 1,900 people in a small place,” Dr Juan Rosales told Reuters. “The work has been hard.”

01:02 GMT – Australia seeks exemption from UK quarantine

Australia is seeking an exemption from a requirement that travellers arriving in the United Kingdom quarantine for 14 days to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said in a statement: “Australia has led the world in the successful containment of COVID-19, which clearly means that travellers coming from Australia would pose a low risk to the rest of the world.”

Birmingham said Australia has no plans to open its borders to non-citizens, while all returning locals will still have to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.

00:46 GMT – IMF, Ukraine agree in principle on new $5bn aid package

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Ukraine have reached an agreement in principle on a new $5bn aid package to help Kyiv battle the coronavirus crisis.

The agreement on the 18-month aid programme is subject to the approval of the IMF’s management and executive board, which will look at the deal “in the coming weeks”, the Washington-based lender said.

Ivanna Vladkova Hollar, the official who led the IMF negotiating team, said the deal would offer “budget support” to Kyiv while “consolidating achievements to date, and moving forward on important structural reforms to reduce key vulnerabilities”. 

00:08 GMT – Trump orders US flags lowered to half-mast for virus victims

Donald Trump, the president of the United States, says he will order the US flag to be flown at half-mast over the next three days as the death toll from COVID-19 approaches 100,000.

“I will be lowering the flags on all Federal Buildings and National Monuments to half-staff over the next three days in memory of the Americans we have lost to the CoronaVirus,” he said in a Twitter post.

The move follows a request from Democratic leaders to do so to recognise a “sad day of reckoning when we reach 100,000 deaths”.

00:03 GMT – Brazil passes 20,000 virus deaths after record 24-hour toll

The coronavirus death toll in Brazil surpassed 20,000 after a record number of deaths in a 24-hour period, the health ministry said.

The country is the epicentre of the outbreak in Latin America and its highest one-day toll of 1,188 pushed the overall death tally to 20,047.

Brazil has now recorded more than 310,000 cases, with experts saying a lack of testing means the real figures are probably much higher.

With its curve of infections and deaths rising sharply, the country of 210 million ranks third in the world in terms of total cases, behind the US and Russia.


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives.

You can find all the updates from yesterday, May 21, here.

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