Kuwait decides to implement a total lockdown starting Sunday to curb the spread of coronavirus as the number of cases climbs in the Gulf country.
The US unemployment rate for April skyrocketed to 14.7 per cent as the coronavirus and lockdowns sharply battered the economy.
As Europe and the US loosen their lockdowns against the coronavirus, health experts express growing dread over what they say is an all-but-certain second wave of deaths and infections.
WHO warns coronavirus could kill 83,000-190,000 people in Africa in the first year and infect between 29 million and 44 million during that period if it is not contained.
- More than 270,000 reported killed worldwide from the disease with cases up to 3.8 million and nearly 1.3 recovered. Cases in the US have reached 1.25 million with 75,500 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.
Here are the latest updates:
Friday, May 8
16:15 GMT – Biggest threat to Brazil pandemic response? President Bolsonaro, says The Lancet
The biggest threat to Brazil’s ability to successfully combat the spread of the coronavirus and tackle the unfolding public health crisis is the country’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, according to British medical journal The Lancet.
In an editorial, the Lancet said his disregard for and flouting of lockdown measures is sowing confusion across Brazil, which is now recording record numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths, and is fast emerging as one of the world’s coronavirus hot spots.
16:10 GMT – Italy tops 30,000 deaths, new cases edge down
Italy became the third country in the world to record 30,000 deaths from the coronavirus, reporting 243 new fatalities compared with a daily tally of 274 the day before.
The country’s total death toll from COVID-19 since its outbreak came to light on February 21 now stands at 30,201, the Civil Protection Agency said. Only the United States and Britain have seen more deaths from the virus.
The daily number of new infections fell slightly to 1,327 from 1,401 on Thursday, taking the total of confirmed cases since the epidemic began to 217,185, the third highest global tally behind those of the United States and Spain.
15:50 GMT – US Vice President’s staff member tests positive for coronavirus
A member US Vice President Mike Pence’s staff has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which caused Pence’s flight to Iowa to be delayed and some fellow passengers on Air Force Two to disembark, according to a White House official.
Pence’s flight was delayed more than an hour, and according to press pool reports passengers who were Pence staff members, appeared to disembark prior to departure.
15:25 GMT – Yemen reports nine new cases, two more deaths
Yemen reported nine new coronavirus cases in Aden, the interim headquarters of the government, including one death, and said a second person infected in the southern province of Lahaj had died.
This takes the total count in areas under control of the internationally recognised government to 34 infections with seven deaths.
Will the coronavirus pandemic lead to a food crisis? | Counting the Cost
15:05 GMT – German chapter of Fridays for Future holds first post-corona protest
A small group of the Fridays for Future movement calling for action on climate change held a protest in front of the Hamburg City Hall on Friday, while observing strict social distancing rules.
Around 25 youthful demonstrators unfurled a banner with the words “Our future in your hands” in the first such protest in Germany since a partial lockdown was imposed in mid-March.
The protest had been agreed with the relevant authorities and was held under strict hygienic precautions.
14:44 GMT – Markets closed to control Mexico’s exuberant Mother’s Day
Few countries celebrate Mother’s Day with as much gusto as Mexico, and that has created fears the celebrations could threaten lock-down measures and spread the new coronavirus.
Wary of Mexicans’ deep desire to bring mom flowers and cakes this Sunday, some officials have ordered the closing of public markets, and pastry and flower shops, while others are proposing a virtual Mother’s Day or even postponing celebrations for a month.
“There should be no celebration of Mother’s Day because we would probably bring mom the gift of the coronavirus, which could kill her,” said Dr. Manuel De la O Cavazos, the health secretary of northern Nuevo Leon state.
14:20 GMT – Kuwait to impose 20-day ‘total curfew’ from May 10
Kuwait will enact a “total curfew” from 4pm (1300 GMT) on Sunday through to May 30 to help to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, the Information Ministry said on Twitter on Friday.
Further details of the curfew will be announced soon, it said.
Kuwait on April 20 expanded a nationwide curfew to 16 hours a day, from 4pm to 8am, and extended a suspension of work in the public sector, including government ministries, until May 31.
13:59 GMT – Trump offers Biden rapid COVID-19 test to resume travel
President Donald Trump said that he is willing to provide Joe Biden, his presumptive Democratic opponent, with a rapid COVID-19 testing system so Biden can return to the campaign trail.
In a telephone interview with ‘Fox & Friends’, Trump said he would be willing to provide the former vice president with the same coronavirus tests he uses.
“Yes, 100%. I’d love to see him get out of the basement so he can speak,” Trump said, needling Biden for holding virtual campaign events and media interviews from a studio in his home.
13:40 GMT – Japan lowers bar to coronavirus testing, drops temperature guideline
The Japanese Health Ministry said it now wants people experiencing difficulty breathing or those with a fever to seek advice on whether they may have been infected with the new coronavirus, easing public access to testing.
Government guidelines had previously specified that those who had had a fever of 37.5 Celsius (99.5 Fahrenheit) or more for four consecutive days should seek advice at local public health centres, which are tasked with conducting screening ahead of administering tests for the virus. It has now dropped its temperature-related criteria.
13:18 GMT – Friday prayers resume as mosques reopen in Lebanon
Lebanon’s mosques welcomed worshippers for Friday prayers, as authorities eased restrictions imposed in March to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Dozens of worshippers preformed the weekly prayers at Beirut’s iconic Al-Amin Mosque. The masked worshippers sat, contrary to traditions, at considerable distance from one another and were obliged to bring their own prayer mats.
This year, Muslims find themselves cut off from much of what makes Ramadan special as authorities fight the pandemic. Many countries have closed mosques and banned taraweeh to prevent crowds.
13:00 GMT – Qatar reports more than 1,300 new cases
Qatar’s health ministry reported 1,311 new confirmed coronavirus cases, as total infections in the country surpassed the 20,000 mark.
Most of the new cases were in expatriate workers who had come in contact with those previously infected, the ministry said.
— وزارة الصحة العامة (@MOPHQatar) May 8, 2020
12:30 GMT – Pandemic destroys 20.5 million US jobs in April
The US unemployment rate hit 14.7 percent in April, the highest in the post-war era, as 20.5 million jobs vanished in the worst monthly loss on record.
The figures are a stark evidence of the damage the coronavirus pandemic has done to a now-shattered economy.
The unprecedented collapse drove the unemployment rate well beyond the peak hit in late 2009 during the global financial crisis – from 4.4 percent in March.
The plunge in nonfarm payroll employment was the largest ever recorded since 1939, while the jobless rate was the highest and the biggest increase since 1948, the Labor Department report said.
Read more here.
12:00 GMT – EU to give 10 million masks to healthcare workers
The European Commission will start dispatching a stock of 10 million masks to healthcare workers across the 27-country bloc and in the United Kingdom.
The Commission said a first batch of 1.5 million masks will be shipped to 17 member states and UK over the next few days.
The stock, purchased through a European Union fund set up to tackle the COVID-19 crisis, will be distributed in weekly installments over the next six weeks.
11:45 GMT – South Africa to grant parole to 19,000 inmates
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said some low-risk prisoners would be granted parole to help curb the spread of the coronavirus in correctional facilities.
Around 19,000 people would be freed by the move, taken in response to a UN call on all countries to reduce prison populations so that social distancing and self-isolation conditions could be observed, Ramaphosa said.
“In South Africa, as in many other countries, correctional facilities have witnessed outbreaks of coronavirus infections among inmates and personnel,” Ramaphosa’s statement said.
COVID-19 in Africa: Misinformation thwarting containment
11:30 GMT – Italy’s Milan a ticking virus ‘bomb’, viroligist warns
Italy’s economic capital Milan is a virus time “bomb” at risk of erupting with residents now free to move around after two months under a pandemic lockdown, a virologist has warned.
The city in the northern Lombardy region is the epicentre of Italy’s outbreak, one of the worst in Europe in terms of deaths and infections.
“We have a very high number of infected people returning to circulation,” Massimo Galli, the head of the infectious diseases department at the Sacco hospital in Milan, said in an interview with the Repubblica newspaper, referring to the easing of lockdown measures on May 4.
11:15 GMT – UN agency for Palestinians launches emergency appeal
The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) launched an emergency coronavirus appeal, saying Palestinians across the Middle East were suffering a devastating socio-economic impact.
The agency appealed for $93.4m for the next three months to provide food and cash assistance to the vulnerable.
While the number of Palestinian refugees infected with COVID-19 has so far been relatively low, they often work in informal sectors and are facing devastating economic repercussions from the crisis, UNRWA said.
11:00 GMT – South Korea’s football league kicks off with no crowd
South Korea’s football league season kicked off with reigning champions Jeonbuk Motors hosting Suwon Bluewings in an empty World Cup Stadium in Jeonju.
The start of the season was delayed by several weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak. The 12-team campaign has been shortened from 38 to 27 matchdays, and no fans will be allowed at least in the early stages.
The K-League is the biggest football league to play at the moment, before Germany’s Bundesliga restarts on May 16.
10:45 GMT – China market had role in outbreak, but more research needed: WHO
A wholesale market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan played a role in the outbreak of the novel coronavirus last year, as the source or possibly as an “amplifying setting”, the World Health Organization said, calling for more research.
Chinese authorities shut down the market in January as part of efforts to halt the spread of the virus and ordered a temporary ban on trade and consumption of wildlife.
“The market played a role in the event, that’s clear. But what role we don’t know, whether it was the source or amplifying setting or just a coincidence that some cases were detected in and around that market,” said Peter Ben Embarek, WHO food safety and animal diseases expert .
10:40 GMT – Spain’s virus death tolls rises by 229
Spain’s daily death toll from the coronavirus rose to 229, up from 213 on the previous day, the health ministry reported.
Overall deaths rose to 26,299 from 26,070 on Thursday and the number of diagnosed cases rose to 222,857 up from 221,447 the day before, the ministry said.
10:20 GMT – Ireland’s adjusted unemployment rate hits record high
Ireland’s unemployment rate rose to 28.2 percent at the end of April including those receiving emergency coronavirus jobless benefit, the highest on record and up from just 4.8 percent before the crisis two months ago, the state’s statistics office said.
The new COVID-19 adjusted unemployment rate increased from 15.5 percent in March after the number of people claiming the higher emergency payment more than doubled to 602,107, on top of the 216,900 on regular jobless benefits.
Excluding the emergency coronavirus payment, the unemployment rate stood at 5.4 percent.
10:00 GMT – UN: Civilian killings mounting in Syria amid pandemic
The UN human rights chief has accused the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group and other factions in Syria of taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to step up violence on civilians, describing the situation as a “ticking time-bomb”.
“We are receiving more reports every day of targeted killings and bombings from one end of the country to the other, with many such attacks taking place in populated areas,” Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.
“Various parties to the conflict in Syria, including ISIL, appear to view the global focus on the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to regroup and inflict violence on the population,” she added.
We’re facing a double pandemic’: UN body warns of ‘mega-famines’
09:50 GMT – Facebook to allow employees to work remotely until year end
Facebook Inc said it would allow its workers who are able to work remotely to do so until the end of the year as the coronavirus pandemic forces governments to extend stay-at-home orders to curb the spread of the disease.
The social media giant also expects most offices to stay closed until July 6, according to a company spokesperson.
09:45 GMT – Germany doubts US claims of China virus lab leak: report
A German intelligence report casts doubts on US allegations that COVID-19 originated in a Chinese laboratory, Der Spiegel magazine reported.
An internal memo prepared for Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer “classifies the American claims as a calculated attempt to distract” from Washington’s own failings, Der Spiegel reported.
US President Donald Trump is attempting “to distract from his own mistakes and direct Americans’ anger at China”, Spiegel cited from the document.
09:05 GMT – China supports WHO review of global pandemic response
China said it supports the establishment of a panel led by the World Health Organization (WHO) to review the global response to the coronavirus pandemic, after facing global pressure to allow an international investigation.
The review should be conducted in an “open, transparent and inclusive manner” at an “appropriate time after the pandemic is over”, under the leadership of WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a briefing.
09:00 GMT – World leaders scrutinised over face masks
US President Donald Trump has not donned one. French President Emmanuel Macron boasted a small French flag on his. Slovakia’s president made a fashion statement by sporting a fuchsia-coloured one to match her outfit.
As the world starts emerging from coronavirus lockdowns, political leaders are being closely scrutinised over their choice to wear a mask – or not – as many people question seemingly mixed messages about the value of face coverings as infection barriers.
“The decision to wear or forgo a mask in public is based on what message the leader wants to convey,” behavioural scientist Jacqueline Gollan of Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, told AFP news agency.
“They are more likely to wear a mask if the leader believes in promoting public health. They may forgo the mask if the leader believes that they should convey that the risk of transmission is low and things are normalised,” she said.
08:45 GMT – Former Greek health minister dies of virus
Former Greek health minister, cardiologist and university professor Dimitris Kremastinos has died of the new coronavirus, Greek officials. He was 78.
Kremastinos, a widely respected doctor who became a household name in Greece as the personal physician of late Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou in the mid-1990s, was admitted to Athens’s public Evangelismos hospital on March 26 and was being treated in the intensive care unit.
News of his death was made public by Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias.
08:30 GMT – South Korea tracks new outbreak in nightclubs
South Korean health authorities are investigating a small but growing cluster of coronavirus cases linked to a handful of Seoul nightclubs, at a time when the country is moving to less restrictive social distancing measures.
At least 15 cases have been identified with connections to clubs in Itaewon, a neighbourhood popular with Koreans and foreigners in the capital, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said on Friday.
“These venues have all the dangerous conditions that we were the most concerned about,” KCDC director Jeong Eun-kyeong said, referring to crowding and ventilation issues.
08:00 GMT – Qatar’s ‘coronavirus rate not high, but realistic’
It has been nearly two months since Qatar implemented a series of measures to contain the outbreak of COVID-19, the highly infectious respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The country has, to date, reported 18,890 cases and 12 deaths.
In our latest episode of Talk to Al Jazeera, Qatar’s minister of public health, Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari, discusses the country’s plans to combat the coronavirus.
07:50 GMT – Japan, US agree to cooperate in COVID-19 fight
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Trump have agreed to cooperate closely in developing COVID-19 vaccines and drugs, and in their efforts to boost their economies.
The two leaders held telephone talks as they seek to reopen businesses in their respective countries.
“It was extremely meaningful to be able to reassure Japan-US cooperation via telephone talks between the two leaders just as the international society is expected to unite and tackle the (pandemic),” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.
07:30 GMT – Russia reports over 10,000 cases again
The number of new coronavirus cases in Russia rose by 10,699 over the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide tally to 187,859, the coronavirus crisis response centre said.
It was the sixth consecutive day that cases had risen by more than 10,000, but down on Thursday’s record daily rise of 11,231.
It also reported 98 new deaths from COVID-19, bringing the total death toll in Russia to 1,723.
07:10 GMT – Afghan health minister tests positive for COVID-19
Afghanistan’s Health Minister Ferozuddin Feroz has contracted the COVID-19 disease, as the war-ravaged country sees a surge in cases of the virus, officials confirmed.
Waheedullah Mayar, spokesman for the health ministry, told Anadolu news agency the minister had experienced symptoms of the coronavirus for the past few days. He got a positive test result on Thursday.
“The health minister’s health is stable, and he is under isolation at his residence,” he added.
06:50 GMT – Malaysian businesses hit hard by lockdown
Malaysian business has been hammered by a lockdown imposed in mid-March to try contain the new coronavirus pandemic, according to a government survey.
Some 42.5 percent of the 4,094 companies surveyed by the Department of Statistics said they will need at least six months to recover from the restrictions, which until Monday required people to stay at home unless buying essentials or commuting to work.
Malaysia’s retail sales fell 5.7 percent to a seven-year low in March, the department reported separately, with unemployment climbing 17 percent year-on-year to reach 3.9 percent.
06:20 GMT – Hong Kong gyms, bars and cinemas reopen
Hong Kong started easing major social distancing measures with bars, gyms, beauty parlours and cinemas reopening their doors after the financial hub largely halted local transmissions of the deadly coronavirus.
Queues formed outside gyms in the semi-autonomous Chinese city for employees to check temperatures as people celebrated the return of some normalcy to the city.
06:00 GMT – WWII commemorations downsized in Europe
Large-scale parades to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe have been downsized.
The anniversary of Nazi Germany’s 1945 unconditional surrender after a war that cost 50 million lives is a holiday in Berlin this year.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier are due to lay wreaths at the country’s main memorial.
Ceremonies across France have been drastically scaled-down, although President Emmanuel Macron will still be attending an event on the Champs-Elysees.
In the United Kingdom, street parades by veterans have been cancelled.
05:40 GMT – UN chief: Coronavirus has sparked ‘tsunami of hate’
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an “all-out effort” to end the “tsunami of hate and xenophobia” sparked by the novel coronavirus pandemic, without naming specific countries.
“Anti-foreigner sentiment has surged online and in the streets,” Guterres said in a statement. “Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories have spread and COVID-19-related anti-Muslim attacks have occurred.”
According to Guterres, migrants and refugees have been “vilified as a source of the virus – and then denied access to medical treatment.”
#COVID19 does not care who we are, where we live, or what we believe.
Yet the pandemic continues to unleash a tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scare-mongering.
That’s why I’m appealing for an all-out effort to end hate speech globally. pic.twitter.com/ojh957xhQq
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) May 8, 2020
05:01 GMT – Thailand reports eight new coronavirus cases
Thailand on Friday reported eight new coronavirus cases but no deaths, bringing the total to 3,000 cases and 55 deaths since the outbreak started in January.
Of the new cases, three are from the southern province of Yala where authorities are aggressively testing the population due to high infection rates. Five other new cases are migrants who have been detained at an immigration detention centre in southern Songkhla province.
Slowing numbers of new cases have prompted Thailand to cautiously allow some businesses this week to reopen after weeks of semi-lockdown.
03:23 GMT – Former Japanese diplomat dies from coronavirus
Former Japanese diplomat Yukio Okamoto, a one-time adviser to prime ministers and expert on ties with the United States, died late last month after contracting the novel coronavirus, his consultancy confirmed on Friday, according to Reuters news agency.
After retiring from the foreign ministry in 1991, Okamoto, 74, served as an adviser to then-prime minister Ryutaro Hashimoto on thorny issues related to Okinawa, home to the bulk of US troops in Japan.
He also advised then-prime minister Junichiro Koizumi from 2001-2004 and was a research fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for International Studies.
“This is a shock. And from the coronavirus!” said Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said on social media.
02:58 GMT – Many states disregarding Trump’s guideline on reopening
Many governors across the US are disregarding or creatively interpreting White House guidelines for safely easing restrictions and letting businesses reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, an Associated Press analysis found.
The AP determined that 17 states did not meet a key benchmark set by the White House for loosening up — a 14-day downward trajectory in new cases or positive test rates. And yet many of those have begun to reopen or are about to do so, including Alabama, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah.
Asked Thursday about states reopening without meeting the benchmarks, President Donald Trump said: “The governors have great power as to that, given by us. We want them to do that. We rely on them. We trust them. And hopefully they are making the right decisions.”
02:18 GMT – Pandemic sets Japan on course for deep recession
Japan’s household spending plunged in March and service-sector activity shrank at a record pace in April, reinforcing expectations that the coronavirus pandemic is tipping the world’s third-largest economy into deep recession, Reuters news agency reported.
The weak readings make it a near certainty the economy suffered a second straight quarter of contraction in January-March, the technical definition of a recession, and was on track for a deeper decline in the current quarter as the health crisis kept shoppers home and businesses closed.
01:40 GMT – Argentina’s Fernandez rises in polls over handling of COVID-19 crisis
Argentine President Alberto Fernandez has received a 68.5 percent approval rating in April over his handling of the country’s response to the spread of COVID-19, buttressing his political clout as he faces off against creditors with a major debt revamp.
Argentina is in a nationwide lockdown, which has been extended until at least May 10, helping slow the spread of new confirmed COVID-19 cases, which total just over 5,000 with 270 deaths. That is far less than in nearby Chile, Peru or Brazil.
01:08 GMT – Eyes an important entry point of coronavirus infection – Hong Kong study
The eyes could be an “important route” for the coronavirus infection to enter the human body, according to researchers from Hong Kong.
The South China Morning post also quoted University of Hong Kong scientists as saying that the virus is 100 times more infectious through the eyes and airways than SARS.
00:40 GMT – Australia prepares to ease coronavirus restrictions in four-week stages
Australia will ease social distancing restrictions in four-week increments, two sources told Reuters, as the country’s national cabinet meets on Friday to decide which curbs to remove first amid dwindling numbers of coronavirus cases.
With fewer than 20 new infections each day, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday began talks with state and territory leaders to decide which restrictions will be eased.
The easing will carried out in four-week increment to ensure measures do not lead to a resurgence in infections, two sources familiar with the plan told Reuters.
00:01 GMT – In clash with riot police, Hondurans block burial of coronavirus victim
Residents of an impoverished part of the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, have clashed with riot police after blocking the burial of a person suspected of having died from the novel coronavirus, according to a Reuters news agency witness.
Riot police fired tear gas when the residents armed with rocks burned tires and blocked a road leading to the Amor Enterno Cemetery with stones and construction material in the La Era neighbourhood, the witness said.
The Central American country has so far reported 1,461 coronavirus cases, many of them in the capital, and 99 deaths. Residents said their neighbourhood lacked adequate sanitation for such burials.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
For key developments from yesterday, May 7, go here.