- More than five million people around the world have now been confirmed to have the new coronavirus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. More than 328,000 people have died globally while some 1.9 million people have recovered.
- Brazil could soon have the second-highest number of cases in the world as the Health Ministry reported 888 new deaths and nearly 20,000 new infections in a single day, pushing the total cases to 291,579 and almost 19,000 deaths.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) reported 106,000 cases globally, the highest in a single day yet, raising concerns over the spread of COVID-19 in poor nations.
- The central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the global coronavirus pandemic is believed to have originated, has issued a total ban on the hunting, breeding and human consumption of wild animals.
Here are all the latest updates:
Thursday, May 21
11:09 GMT – Africa reports more than 95,000 cases
The number of those infected with coronavirus in Africa has reached 95,201, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has reported.
According to the latest data, the death toll in the continent tallied at 2,997 while 38,075 people have recovered.
South Africa recorded 18,000 coronavirus cases, the highest number in the continent.
11:07 GMT – Nigerian medical union ends Lagos doctors strike
Nigeria’s largest medical union has ordered its members in the commercial capital Lagos to resume work, ending a strike over alleged police harassment.
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) doctors’ union, which ordered Lagos members to stop work indefinitely from Wednesday evening, said it had received assurances that doctors would be exempt from a nationwide overnight curfew and would therefore be allowed to move freely by police.
11:03 GMT – Despite closed borders, Argentina to fly in rabbis to certify kosher meat
Argentina, which has enforced one of the world’s toughest travel bans, plans to help charter a private flight to bring in rabbis from Israel to certify meat at the country’s packing plants for kosher markets around the world.
The trip is key to Argentina being able to maintain beef exports to key buyer Israel, which has become increasingly important with exports stalled to the EU and sharply down to major buyer China.
“The only alternative has been to be able to try to arrange a charter in combination with Israeli clients, and supervised, authorized and coordinated by the governments,” said Mario Ravettino, head of Argentina’s ABC meat export consortium.
10:46 GMT – South Africa scientists say up to 50,000 deaths possible
South Africa could see up to 50,000 coronavirus deaths and as many as three million infections by the end of the year as the southern hemisphere winter leads to a higher rate of infection, scientific models have showed.
The country already has the highest number of infections and deaths on the continent, with more than 18,000 identified cases and 339 deaths, but a national lockdown entering its sixth week had slowed infections.
However scientists and statisticians hired by the health ministry to model the spread of the disease said the country could see between 35,000 and 50,000 coronavirus deaths by November.
10:23 GMT – Qatar welcomes NATO initiative to airlift coronavirus supplies
Qatar has welcomed NATO’s initiative to airlift needed medical and humanitarian supplies in support of the UN’s efforts in fighting the pandemic.
“Qatar is proud to join the NATO initiative to send humanitarian and medical supplies in coordination with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to combat COVID-19 in countries that need more external support,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Lolwah Alkhater said on Twitter.
“Qatar Airways will participate in airlifting these supplies.”
Qatar is proud to join the #NATO initiative to send humanitarian & medical supplies in coordination with the @UNOCHA to combat #Covid_19 in countries that need more external support. @qatarairwaysar will participate in airlifting these supplies. https://t.co/l1ktKnftRN
— لولوة الخاطر Lolwah Alkhater (@Lolwah_Alkhater) May 20, 2020
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also welcomed the offers of the UK and Qatar to provide airlift assets coordinated by NATO’s Euro Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC).
I welcome the offer of the UK & Qatar to support @UNOCHA‘s global request for airlift support for humanitarian & medical supplies, through #NATO‘s Disaster Relief Coordination Centre. In our joint efforts against #COVID19, we are #StrongerTogether https://t.co/BAUqPJ0eCN
— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) May 20, 2020
UN OCHA had issued a global call requesting that appropriate military and civil defence assets be made available for the transport of humanitarian and medical items needed during the pandemic.
09:40 GMT – Iran says 10,000 of its health workers infected with coronavirus
Around 10,000 Iranian health workers have been infected with coronavirus, the semi-official ILNA news agency has quoted the deputy health minister as saying.
“Around 10,000 health workers have been infected with the deadly disease in Iran and some of them have died,” Qassem Janbabai said, according to ILNA.
09:33 GMT – Indonesia reports 973 new cases, biggest daily jump
Indonesia has recorded its biggest daily jump in cases, bringing the total number of cases to 20,162 in the world’s fourth most populous country.
Indonesia confirmed 973 new infections and 36 new deaths, taking the total number of fatalities to 1,278, health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said.
09:30 GMT – Japan may lift Tokyo state of emergency as early as next week: PM
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said that it was possible that a state of emergency in Tokyo and its surrounding regions could end as early as next week if the number of coronavirus infections continues to decrease.
“The state of emergency will continue in Tokyo, Hokkaido and other regions. We will meet with experts (on Monday) to update the situation on infections,” Abe told reporters after ending the state of emergency in Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures.
“If the current situation continues, it is possible that the state of emergency could be lifted in those areas.”
08:26 GMT – Airlines to follow ticket price rules as India resumes some flights
Airlines should stick to ticket price guidelines issued by India’s civil aviation ministry when they restart some domestic flights, two months after air travel was halted due to the pandemic, the ministry has said.
Airlines should adhere to the lower and upper limits of fares set by the ministry, it said in a notice, but it did not give details on the amounts.
Airlines will be allowed to resume about a third of their operations from Monday, adhering to rules that include no meals on board, temperature checks for all passengers and full protective gear for crew, the ministry said.
08:10 GMT – Philippines reports four more deaths, 213 infections
The Philippines’ health ministry has confirmed four more coronavirus deaths and 213 new cases.
In a bulletin, the ministry said total deaths because of the pandemic had increased to 846, while infections had risen to 13,434. But 68 more patients have recovered, bringing the total number of recoveries to 3,000.
08:04 GMT – UK healthcare workers begin hydroxychloroquine trial
UK healthcare workers will begin taking part in a University of Oxford-led international trial of two anti-malarial drugs to see if they can prevent COVID-19, including one US President Donald Trump says he has been taking.
The ‘COPCOV’ study will involve more than 40,000 frontline healthcare workers from Europe, Africa, Asia and South America to determine if chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are effective in preventing the coronavirus.
The drugs have risen to prominence after Trump said earlier this week he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive medicine against the virus despite medical warnings about its use.
Trump says he’s taking hydroxychloroquine
07:40 GMT – Russia’s official death toll surpasses 3,000
Russia’s official coronavirus death toll has risen to 3,099 after officials said 127 people had died in the last 24 hours.
Russia’s authorities reported 8,849 new cases of the coronavirus, raising the total number of cases to 317,554.
Moscow extends lockdown until May 31 as COVID-19 infections soar
07:33 GMT – Lufthansa closes in on $10bn state rescue deal
Lufthansa is in advanced talks over a $9.9bn (9 billion euros) state bailout that would see Germany take a 20 percent stake in its flagship airline.
Lufthansa has said a deal would involve the government taking two seats on its supervisory board, but it would only exercise its full voting rights in exceptional circumstances, such as to protect the firm against a takeover.
Lufthansa has been in talks with Berlin for weeks over aid to help it cope with what is expected to be a protracted travel slump, but has been wrangling over how much control to yield in return for support.
Read more here.
07:26 GMT – UK dealing with technical issues of track and trace app: minister
The UK is dealing with technical issues of its track and trace app, but will use traditional tracking means until it is rolled out, the security minister has said.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a “world-beating” programme to test and trace those suspected of having been in contact with people who have tested positive for COVID-19 would be in place by June 1.
The test and track programme is seen as a key measure to reopen the country, but has also been dogged by criticism after opposition lawmakers said an earlier promise of a nationwide roll-out of a National Health Service (NHS)-developed smartphone app had slipped from the middle of this month.
07:20 GMT – Singapore confirms 448 more cases
Singapore’s health ministry has confirmed another 448 coronavirus cases, taking the city-state’s tally of infections to 29,812.
07:00 GMT – EasyJet to restart flights in June with compulsory masks
British low-cost airline easyJet has said a small number of flights would restart on June 15 and that passengers and cabin crew would all be required to wear masks when travelling.
EasyJet’s planes have been grounded since late March when the coronavirus spread across Europe, but the airline said it would restart domestic flights in the UK and France from June 15, before adding other destinations later.
06:30 GMT – How coronavirus cases reached five million worldwide
More than five million people have now been infected by the new coronavirus worldwide.
The landmark figure was reached almost five months after the first reported case in the Chinese city of Wuhan last December.
The US, Russia and Brazil have emerged as the countries with the highest number of confirmed cases.
Read more here.
04:48 GMT – Indonesia warned against premature easing of restrictions
Civil groups in Indonesia have warned the government that it should not rush the easing of restrictions in the country, as the number of cases and deaths continue to rise.
Lapor COVID-19, a civil society alliance, was quoted by Jakarta Post as saying that fatalities among suspected coronavirus cases in 18 provinces have hit 3,833 as of May 15. Combined with the 1,242 deaths among confirmed cases as of May 20, the group said the total number of deaths was at least 5,075.
04:28 GMT – Greece seeks to jumpstart tourist season on June 15
Greece’s long-awaited tourist season will begin on June 15 with the opening of seasonal hotels.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis says international flights will begin heading directly to tourist destinations on July 1.
In a televised address to the nation on Wednesday, Mitsotakis says visitors would be subject to sample coronavirus testing and “our general health protocols will be adhered to”.
There are 2,850 cases and 166 deaths reported in the country of nearly 11 million people.
03:45 GMT – Japan ending emergency order in Osaka, two other areas
Japan’s economy minister says experts have approved a government plan to remove a coronavirus state of emergency in Osaka and two neighboring prefectures in the west where the infection is deemed to be slowing, while keeping the measure in place in the Tokyo region and Hokkaido.
Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters that experts at the meeting approved the plan to lift the measure in Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo.
The measure will be kept in place in Tokyo and three neighbouring prefectures, as well as Hokkaido, where the infections have slowed but the containment needs further improvement, according to the AP news agency report.
03:13 GMT – Trump threatens funds for US states easing voting during pandemic
President Donald Trump has threatened to hold up federal funds for two election battleground states of Michigan and Nevada that are trying to make it easier and safer to vote during the coronavirus pandemic.
He later backed away from that threat but stuck with his unsupported claim that widespread voting by mail promotes “a lot of illegality”. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends voting by mail as a safe option during the pandemic.
Trump has said repeatedly, without evidence, that mailed ballots allow widespread fraud and has worried publicly that wide availability could lead so many people to vote that Republicans would lose in November.
02:50 GMT – Cambodia lifts entry ban from six countries as coronavirus eases
Cambodia has announced the lifting of a travel ban of tourists from Iran, Italy, Germany, Spain, France and the US.
In an announcement late on Wednesday, the country’s health ministry said visitors from those countries need to present a certificate no more than 72 hours old confirming that they are free from the virus, as well as proof of $50,000 health insurance coverage.
The visitors are also required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
02:09 GMT – Recession-hit Japan’s exports, imports fall due to pandemic
Recession-hit Japan’s exports plunged nearly 22 percent in April, the country’s worst drop in more than a decade as the coronavirus pandemic slammed global demand, AP news agency reported.
The Finance Ministry also said on Thursday that imports fell 7 percent.
The drop in exports is the worst since the 2008 financial crisis, as export-dependent Japan struggles to juggle the health risks of COVID-19 with the dire need to keep the economy going.
Japan is in a technical recession after a contraction that began in the last quarter of last year deepened in the January-March quarter. Analysts say worse may be ahead, given the economic pain of the pandemic may be prolonged.
01:38 GMT – Merkel says Germany not cutting foreign aid
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the country won’t be cutting foreign aid due to the coronavirus pandemic, and further relief for poor nations is needed.
Speaking on Wednesday after a video meeting with heads of the World Bank, the International Monetary fund and three other global economic bodies, Merkel noted last month’s agreement to freeze poor countries’ debt obligations and said that “as far as the sustainability of debt is concerned further steps need to follow”.
But she did not spell out whether Germany would go so far as agreeing to debt relief.
01:17 GMT – New Zealand’s Ardern proposes four-day work week
New Zealand’s prime minister wants employers to consider switching to a four-day work week as a way to promote tourism, which has been hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Jacinda Ardern said in a Facebook Live video that people had learned a lot about flexibility and working from home during the nation’s lockdown, which was eased last week.
New Zealand’s tourism industry had accounted for about 10 percent of the economy, but has ground to a halt during the outbreak, according to the Associated Press news agency.
The South Pacific nation’s borders remain closed, but Ardern said that as much as 60 percent of tourism was domestic and that more flexible working arrangements could allow New Zealanders to travel more within their own country.
00:56 GMT – South Korea’s exports of coronavirus test kits surge
South Korea’s exports of coronavirus test kits are expected to gather momentum down the road thanks to high overseas demand, Yonhap news agency reported on Thursday, quoting industry sources.
Yonhap quoted the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety as saying that 72 test kits manufactured by 46 companies have been approved for exports. The figure includes six products that have won approval for emergency use locally.
Several test kit makers have already clinched more orders this year than last year’s total, with Sugentech Inc securing $49m worth of deals to export coronavirus test kits since April 1. The company has been producing two million kits per week this month.
00: 28 GMT – China reports 2 new coronavirus cases, 31 new asymptomatic cases
China’s health commission reported on Thursday two new coronavirus cases as of the end of Wednesday, including one imported case.
The health agency also reported 31 new asymptomatic cases in the mainland, slightly up from 16 the previous day.
00:19 GMT – Russia sets up quarantine facility in Siberia
The Russian military has set up a quarantine facility at a Siberian gold mine where hundreds of workers have been infected with the novel coronavirus.
The Olimpiada mine in the town of Yeruda has emerged as a top spot of contagion, with more than 800 workers testing positive for COVID-19. The new facility can accommodate as many as 2,000 patients.
Russia has ranked second behind the United States in the number of infections, with more than 300,000 coronavirus cases.
Mexico eases restrictions despite increase in COVID-19 deaths
00:01 GMT – Large contingent of Cuban doctors help Mexico with coronavirus
At least 500 Cuban health workers are helping tackle the new coronavirus in Mexico City, Mexican officials told Reuters news agency, making it likely the largest contingent the communist-led island has deployed globally as part of its response to the pandemic.
Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum has publicly acknowledged the presence of “several” Cuban doctors working in the city’s hospitals to help make up staffing shortfalls, but she has not confirmed the scale of the deployment.
A federal health ministry told Reuters there were now 600 Cuban health workers on the ground. Both sources asked not to be identified. Cuba has for decades sent medical professionals to countries across Latin America and as far afield as Africa to help during health crises.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Read all the updates from yesterday (May 20) here.