The United States economy has taken its hardest hit since the height of the Great Recession, with its gross domestic product (GDP) contracting 4.8 percent in the first quarter of the year.
The chief of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, defended the body’s record in its response to the new coronavirus, saying it has acted “quickly and decisively” since the beginning.
Worldwide, the number of confirmed infections stood at 3.1 million, with more than 224,600 deaths and 957,000 recoveries.
- US health expert Anthony Fauci welcomed the news that experimental antiviral drug remdesivir helped improve outcomes for COVID-19 patients during a clinical trial by Gilead Sciences Inc.
Here are the latest updates:
Thursday, April 30
04:52 GMT – Sri Lanka to reimpose full nationwide curfew
Sri Lanka’s government reimposed a 24-hour curfew across the Indian Ocean island nation after a recent resurgence of coronavirus cases.
Sri Lanka has reported 630 COVID-19 patients including seven deaths. Of the total, 308 cases were reported after April 22 and many of them were navy sailors or their close contacts.
The virus is believed to have entered a navy camp after sailors were deployed to search for a group of people who had contact with a COVID-19 patient and were evading quarantine.
Authorities isolated the camp and took the necessary steps to quarantine about 4,000 troops there after infections rose.
The blanket curfew will resume at 8pm. It was originally imposed on March 20 but had been eased in recent days for about two-thirds of the country. The capital, Colombo, is among the districts considered high-risk and its 24-hour curfew was never eased.
04:03 GMT – UN urges countries to avert ‘hunger catastrophe’ for millions of children
The World Food Programme and the United Nations children’s agency have urged governments to shore up the futures of the 370 million children worldwide who depend on school meals.
“For millions of children around the world, the meal they get at school is the only meal they get in a day. Without it, they go hungry, they risk falling sick, dropping out of school and losing their best chance of escaping poverty,” said David Beasley, the WFP Executive Director.
“We must act now to prevent the health pandemic from becoming a hunger catastrophe and to ensure that no one is left behind.”
During #COVID19 school closures, the world’s most vulnerable children are missing out on more than education.
For millions of children in fragile countries, school is a place of safety🏚️, the promise of a daily meal🍛, as well as access to 🩹💉health and nutrition. pic.twitter.com/cb9ylakSnZ
— World Food Programme (@WFP) April 29, 2020
03:39 GMT – Maldives reports its first coronavirus death
Health authorities in the Maldives have said an 83-year-old woman died in the country’s capital, Male, after contracting the new coronavirus.
The death on Wednesday was the island nation’s first reported death from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus. The Maldives has recorded 280 cases, of which the majority are among the country’s migrant labour force.
03:15 GMT – IMF approves $650m in aid to Dominican Republic
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved $650m in emergency assistance to the Dominican Republic to combat the effect of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The pandemic has significantly weakened the country’s macroeconomic outlook for 2020 and created financing needs that require additional support,” the IMF said in a statement.
The money will be used to finance increased healthcare spending and to provide assistance to the most vulnerable.
02:57 GMT – China reports four new coronavirus cases
Health authorities in China have reported four new cases of COVID-19 at the end of Wednesday. All were imported.
The figure brings the total number of imported cases in the mainland to 1,664 and takes the country’s tally to 82,862.
02:45 GMT – First batch of Hong Kong residents stranded in Pakistan to return home
The first batch of Hong Kong people stranded in Pakistan due to coronavirus-related border closures are due to depart Islamabad on a chartered flight today, says the government of Hong Kong.
Upon their arrival in Hong Kong, the 300 returnees will be tested for COVID-19 and will have to undergo 14 days of quarantine. There are about 1,600 Hong Kong residents stranded in Pakistan right now, according to the territory’s government.
02:32 GMT – US threats ‘could block affordable COVID-19 drugs’
Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF) criticised the US government for threatening trade sanctions against countries it believes are not adequately protecting intellectual property policies in the pharmaceutical sector.
The move by the US Trade Representative (USTR) could block the targeted countries from making affordable drugs to treat the coronavirus, the humanitarian group said.
The countries listed in the USTR’s Special 301 Report include India, Brazil, China, Chile and Canada.
“At a time when governments across the globe are struggling to provide adequate healthcare, it is ludicrous that the USTR is continuing to aid pharmaceutical corporations to profit from the abuse of intellectual property,” said Leena Menghaney, head of South Asia for MSF’s Access Campaign.
“It is a matter of concern that the US government is going after countries in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic for encouraging generic competition and price-lowering mechanisms to ensure access to medicines.”
01:41 GMT – South Korea reports no new domestic coronavirus cases
Health authorities in South Korea have said they recorded no new domestic cases of coronavirus infections at the end of Wednesday, a first for the country since its outbreak began to worsen in February.
However, there were four new imported cases, said the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The figure takes the national tally to 10,765. The death toll is up by one to 247.
01:01 GMT – European lockdowns could avert 11,300 air pollution deaths
Improved air quality in Europe due to lockdowns to combat the coronavirus pandemic has delivered health benefits equivalent to avoiding 11,300 premature deaths, according to research published on Thursday.
Researchers extrapolated the likely effect on diseases caused or made worse by air pollution, which have fallen dramatically as hundreds of millions of people have been forced to stay home over the past month.
“You could compare it to everyone in Europe stopping smoking for a month,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst at the Helsinki-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, which conducted the study.
“Our analysis highlights the tremendous benefits for public health and quality of life that could be achieved by rapidly reducing fossil fuels in a sustained and sustainable way.”
00:33 GMT – Cities face 100 million ‘new poor’ in post-pandemic world
About 100 million people living in cities worldwide will likely fall into poverty due to the coronavirus pandemic, experts have said, calling for mapping tools to identify vulnerable communities and investment focusing on slum areas.
“Within cities, we need to focus on those who need help the most, the poor and the vulnerable have been very seriously affected,” says Sameh Wahba, global director for the World Bank’s urban, disaster risk management, resilience and land global practice.
“Our estimate is that there will be possibly upward of a 100 million so-called ‘new poor’ on account of loses of jobs and livelihoods and income,” Wahba told a webinar with members of the media.
Without data, government food and financial aid is not reaching slum areas where about one billion people live worldwide, added activist Sheela Patel.
00:26 GMT – UK to test 100,000 people to check coronavirus spread
The United Kingdom’s health ministry has said it plans to test a randomly chosen group of 100,000 people for the new coronavirus as part of its efforts to understand infection rates better before loosening restrictions on the public.
The tests to see if people are currently infected with the respiratory disease will be led by London’s Imperial College and polling company Ipsos MORI. The chosen people will be sent self-testing kits to see if they are infected.
The UK’s government is due to review next week whether to relax a nationwide lockdown brought in on March 23 to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which has so far killed more than 26,000 people in the UK.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives. You can find all the key developments from yesterday, April 29, here.