23rd April 2020 – United Kingdom 

# Cases $


New Cases







Source: Public Health England and news reports. (Public Health England Web Site)
*=Interim Figures / Key: UK USA Other
** A  new process for collecting numbers of recovered patients is in development: the figure shown is for 22/03/2020. The figure shown is an estimate based on a three week recovery time line.
$ Cases now include Pillar 2 cases as of 11th April 2020


More information coming soon.

22:49 White House Briefing

US President Donald Trump has taken the podium for his daily White House coronavirus briefing. He is joined by Vice-President Mike Pence and Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus taskforce co-ordinator.

Donald Trump says “we are very close to a vaccine”, after noting vaccine trials taking place in the US, Germany, the United Kingdom and China. “We have a lot of great, brilliant minds working on this,” he says. “Unfortunately we’re not very close to testing because when testing starts it takes a period of time, but we’ll get it done.” Dr Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious diseases expert, has previously said that a vaccine will likely take 12-18 months to be approved for widespread use. Most health experts also agree that it would take at least 12-18 months before a vaccine is ready.

Taking the stage after Donald Trump, Vice-President Mike Pence says the data continues to show “promising signs of progress” in the US fight against coronavirus. Major virus hotspots including the New York Metro Area, New Jersey, Connecticut, Detroit and New Orleans “all appear to be past their peak”, Pence says. “Our only conclusion is that we’re getting there, America,” he adds. “If we continue these mitigation efforts in the days ahead… we do believe by early summer we could be in a much better place as a nation, with much of this coronavirus epidemic behind us.” He says 16 states have released formal reopening plans so far.

Vice-President Mike Pence says that 4.93 million coronavirus tests have been completed across the US, adding that commercial labs surpassed 100,000 tests yesterday. Pence says that he is “encouraged” by states’ “phased approach” to reopening their economies. “We’re slowing the spread, we’re protecting the most vulnerable, we’re saving lives and every single day we are one day closer to opening up America again,” Pence says.

William Bryan, the under secretary for science and technology at the US Department of Homeland Security, says the coronavirus may be killed faster under increased temperature, humidity and sunlight. “We identified that heat and humidity is a weakness” of the virus’ ability to spread, Bryan says, showing data suggesting that the virus could survive for 90 seconds under direct sunlight, and for 90 minutes without any solar contact. The findings are an “emerging” result of their work, Bryan says.

The BBC’s Jon Sopel asks a question about the new guidance suggesting the virus is vulnerable to heat and humidity. “At the moment the advice is stay at home, by the summer could we be flipping that, and saying you’ll be much better off being outside?” Sopel asks. “I would not go contrary to the guidance that has been issued right now,” Bryan says. He adds: “If I’m having an event with my family, I’m doing it in the driveway or the backyard, not inside the house.” “In fact I’m thinking about moving outside to the rose garden,” Trump jokes.

Trump is asked why he has stopped promoting hydroxychloroquine, a malaria and lupus medication, as a possible treatment for coronavirus. “I haven’t at all… we’ll see what happens,” he says. The president’s public remarks hyping the drug have decreased substantially over the past week or so. He says today he hasn’t seen a recent study that said coronavirus patients taking hydroxychloroquine had higher death rates. That research followed 368 patients at US Veterans Health Administration medical centres. The 97 patients who took hydroxychloroquine had a 27.8% death rate. The 158 patients who did not take the drug had an 11.4% death rate.

Trump is asked about the new guidance suggesting the virus is vulnerable to heat and humidity, particularly given that countries with hot weather, like Singapore, have also been hit by the outbreak. “I hope people enjoy the sun,” Trump says. “And if it has an impact that’s great…. maybe you can, maybe you can’t. I’m not a doctor” He then asks Dr Deborah Birx, a co-ordinator of the White House virus response whether heat can help kill the virus. “Deborah have you ever heard of that? The heat, and the light relative to certain viruses, yes, but to this virus?” “Not as a treatment,” Dr Birx says. “I mean, certainly, fever, is a good thing. When you have a fever it helps your body respond.” But she does not believe it works as a treatment, she repeats.

The BBC’s Jon Sopel asks Trump how British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was when he spoke to him this week. “He called me a few days ago, I will tell you he sounded incredible. I was actually surprised… he was ready to go, I’m very surprised to tell you this, it’s like, the old Boris, tremendous energy, tremendous drive.” He adds: “Because he called me almost pretty close to when he got out of the hospital, I think he’s doing great, he was so sharp and energetic, pretty incredible, he’s an incredible guy, he’s a friend of ours and a friend of mine, he loves our country, he loves his country a lot… and they’re lucky to have him over there.”

The briefing is now over but to recap, Trump launched an extraordinary attack on his ally, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, over his aggressive reopening plan for his state. “I want the states to open, more than he does, much more than he does,” Trump says of Kemp. “But I didn’t like to see spas [reopening] at this early stage, nor did the doctors.” Kemp said hair salons, gyms, bowling alleys and nail salons would be allowed to reopen on Friday, with restaurants following suit on Monday. “I didn’t like to see a lot of things happening, and I wasn’t happy with it, and I wasn’t happy with Brian Kemp,” Trump says. “I could have done something about it if I wanted to, but I’m saying, ‘Let the governors do it.'”

22:14 South Africa is tweaking lockdown, not ending it

The announcement that the sale of cigarettes will resume on 1 May has been welcomed by those who were angered by the prohibition since the lockdown began nearly a month ago. But many are still questioning the ban on alcohol sales which is still not allowed.

In essence, South Africa’s lockdown has been extended indefinitely, with a few changes. The movement of people is still very much restricted – and it’s now compulsory for people to wear masks in public areas. Some industries, particularly the manufacturing industry will benefit from the partial easing of the lockdown from next Friday. This is a very cautious approach which takes into consideration the need for the country’s economy to start working again.

President Ramaphosa took into consideration the seriousness of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the country. Some restrictions will help to contain the virus and protect lives.

21:08 UN agencies in joint shipping plea

Three UN bodies have made a joint appeal to governments to facilitate trade by ship during the pandemic. The statement by the International Maritime Organization, the World Health Organization and the International Labour Organization says that shipping and seafarers must be allowed to deliver vital goods. It says restrictions on international traffic should be based on evidence and proportionate with the level of risk. The statement says seafarers should have access to proper medical care, and calls for an easing of limits on the movement of doctors and ship inspectors.

20:17 South Africa to ease restrictions

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says some economic activity will be allowed to resume on 1 May, when the country will ease coronavirus restrictions.

However, he says the nation must avoid a rushed reopening of the economy which could trigger a spike in infections.

20:11 EU leaders agree huge rescue package

A plan for injecting billions of euros of emergency aid into Europe’s struggling economies has been agreed by EU leaders. At a video conference they agreed to set up a massive recovery fund, to be closely tied to the bloc’s seven-year budget. The European Commission now has to work out the details. They also confirmed that €540bn (£470bn) of financial support would be released through existing mechanisms, to ease the economic pain caused by coronavirus, from 1 June.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said the future recovery fund would mobilise €1 trillion of investment. There has been bitter argument over how to fund the much-needed aid. But Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said “great progress” had been made on Thursday. Italy – the worst-affected country in Europe to date – has urged its EU partners, especially the richer countries of northern Europe, to show more solidarity.

19:01 Charter flights to bring ‘thousands’ more Britons home from India

The UK government has chartered 14 new flights to bring 3,600 more stranded British travellers back home, the Foreign Office says. Once completed, these additional flights will bring the total number of people flown to the UK from India on government charter flights to more than 13,000, according to the department. The flights, which leave from next week from Amritsar, Ahmedabad and Delhi, are for British nationals who normally reside in the UK and their direct dependants. Seats are only available for those who are already registered and on a waitlist. More than 1.3 million travelling Britons have been helped to return to the UK on commercial flights – but “tens of thousands” are still stranded, officials said on Tuesday.

18:25 ‘Vicious and dumb’: New York governor lashes out at top Republican

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has hit back at Senate Leader Mitch McConnell for his suggestion that states declare bankruptcy, as the coronavirus outbreak continues to pummel local economies. “This is one of the really dumb ideas of all time,” Cuomo, a Democrat, said at his daily coronavirus briefing. “You want to see the market fall through the cellar? Let New York State declare bankruptcy.”

McConnell – the top Republican in the US Congress – said this week that additional assistance for state governments should be “thoroughly evaluated”, in a press release called “Stopping Blue State Bailouts” – referring to Democrat-leaning states. “How ugly a thought,” Cuomo said of McConnell’s “obsessive political bias”, before calling the senator “the self-proclaimed grim reaper”. 

New York State reported 438 deaths yesterday, continuing a gradual decline in its death toll. Nearly 20,000 people have died statewide since the outbreak began. At Thursday’s briefing, Cuomo also announced that the state would begin an investigation of nursing homes, to ensure they are following state guidance during the Covid-19 pandemic.

18:21 UAE relaxes lockdown for month of Ramadan

The UAE has announced it will be relaxing the 24-hour lockdown for the month of Ramadan. The new lockdown timings will be 10pm to 6am – allowing residents to step out during the day. For the last three weeks, Dubai had imposed a strict lockdown, during which residents were asked to stay at home. The two main cities – Dubai and the capital Abu Dhabi – are also initiating a plan to reopen shopping malls soon. They have issued a set of guidelines on the eve of Ramadan that include capping mall capacity to 30% and the management ensuring two-metre social distancing in all common areas. Visitors will be allowed to shop for a maximum of three hours and it will be mandatory to wear a mask at all times. Restaurants will have to restrict seating capacity to 30% and maintain a distance of six feet between tables.The authorities in Dubai have also announced a plan that would allow residents to receive family members during Ramadan and leave home for “one outdoor activity” but the gathering cannot exceed 10 people. Physical contact such as handshakes and hugging will be strictly prohibited during such gatherings, according to the guidelines issued. However, congressional prayers at mosques will still not be permitted across the UAE. Metro services in Dubai are also expected to start operations soon. The UAE has reported 8,756 cases of Covid-19 and a total of 56 deaths.

18:14 France reports 516 new deaths

In France, 516 deaths have been reported in hospitals and care homes in the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s overall death toll to 21,856.

17:00 UK Press Briefing

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has emerged, and today’s Downing Street press conference is under way.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock starts by saying: “We must retain our resolve and follow social distancing rules – they are working. “To lift the measures too soon and to risk a second peak will be a mistake and undo all the hard work that has been done.” It would be bad “for nation’s health and economy”, he says. He goes on to say testing capacity has increased “ahead of our times” to 51,000 a day – but still short of the 100,000 a day target.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says from today employers of essential workers and their families will be able to go on the government’s website to get a coronavirus test for any of their staff who wants one. “From tomorrow, any essential workers who need a test will be able to book an appointment on gov.uk themselves directly,” he says.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says 18,000 people will be hired to help trace coronavirus infections.

This week the “biggest antibody studies we have ever seen” begin, Hancock says – it is a joint project with the Office for National Statistics and the University of Oxford. He says 25,000 people will take part in the first phase and there are plans to expand it further over the next 12 months. “If you are asked to take part in vital research for this country… If you get a letter, please respond as soon as you can,” he says.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has thanked British Muslims for staying at home over Ramadan, which begins today. “I know how important the daily iftar is, how important communal prayers are at night, and how important the Eid festival is,” he says. “Thank you for making major changes to these vital parts of your practice,” he says, adding: “Ramadan Mubarak.” (Happy Ramadan)

Matt Hancock says they are “putting the infrastructure in place now so we can roll out contact tracing on a large scale”. He says they are testing the new NHS contact tracing app. “If you become unwell, you’ll be able to tell NHS with this app and then this will send an alert to other users,” he says. Test track and trace is “vital” to stop the virus, he says.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, says it is clear transmission rates are down and social distancing measures are having a “very big” effect. He says that the decline in people in hospital is “very clear” in London, with the UK overall “coming through the peak” and heading “in the right direction”. Referring to the slide above, he says, however, that death numbers are “not coming down fast” – adding he expects this trend to continue for a couple of weeks, before a quicker decline is seen thereafter.

Prof John Newton, coordinator of the UK coronavirus testing programme, says testing capacity has increased “exponentially”. The UK is “on track”, he promises, to reach the government’s target of 100,000 tests per day by the end of the month. As Mr Hancock said at the start, only 23,560 tests took place yesterday – meaning there’s a way to go. But he adds the UK is “ahead of where we thought we’d be at this stage”. He says that 48 mobile testing facilities manned by military personnel will also help map outbreaks in areas “where they are needed most,” such as care homes.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg asks Matt Hancock about the government’s transparency on what comes next – it comes after the Scottish government today set out its lockdown exit strategy. Matt Hancock says he understands the “thirst for knowledge”, but the five tests the UK government has set out are “critical”. He says the “message remains the same – that people need to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives”. “It is succeeding… but we are not through that yet and there is still a lot of work to be done.”

The UK government briefing is continuing and Prof John Newton, coordinator of the UK coronavirus testing programme, says the number of mobile drive-through regional test centres will increase from 31 to 48, to help test at speed where needed. “We are also currently working with the Army on a new pop-up mobile testing option, which was developed for us by the Army and is really working very well,” he says. “So we’re going to have 48 of these pop-up facilities which can travel around the country to where they’re needed most, for example in care homes.”

Asked about what is known about whether obesity in a factor in how people are affected by the virus, Prof John Newton says that this – as well as ethnicity, age and gender – is being investigated. He says it should be possible to get an answer to these questions “reasonably soon”. Sir Patrick Vallance is asked about a previous prediction of the number of UK deaths from the virus – he has previously said it would be a “good outcome” for the UK if this is below 20,000. He says the important number is “excess deaths” that would not have occurred anyway – but says he’s “not going to put a number on that”.

Sky News’ Beth Rigby asks whether a “proper, scaled-up testing and tracing system” has to be up and running before the restrictions are eased – and whether this will be ready by the next review of measures on 7 May. Matt Hancock replies that there is “no automatic link” between the scale of track and trace and any changes in social distancing measures – so he cannot set a deadline. He says track and trace can “help to suppress transmission in a way that allows you to have lesser social distancing rules”. And track and trace works effectively when the number of new cases is lower, he adds.

The Express newspaper asks about the endurance of the public on social distancing and whether it may be waning, and also whether there will be more support for relatives of those NHS staff who have lost their lives. Health Secretary Matt Hancock says it is “absolutely phenomenal” how the public have risen to the challenge of social distancing measures. On support for NHS relatives, he says he hopes to announce more “very soon”. Sir Patrick Vallance adds that there is “no evidence” public backing for the measures is tailing off and says it is “important that we carry on with it”.

Asked when his target for 18,000 contact tracers needs to be met, Health Secretary Matt Hancock says this group of volunteers will be ready in “a matter of weeks”. He says they will be needed to track cases “when we get the level of transmission down”. On whether the UK is behind the curve in advising people to wear face masks, Mr Hancock says the government advice is “unchanged” but the evidence is being reviewed. Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, says the evidence for general mask-wearing is “variable” and “quite weak”.

There’s a question about whether lockdown measures could be eased in London first given it was hit hardest by the virus early in the UK outbreak. Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, says he has previously said the virus in the capital is “up to two to three weeks” ahead of the rest of the country. However, he says this does not necessarily mean the restrictions will be lifted earlier – but he adds this is a “matter for ministers to make a decision on”.

The Brighton Argus asks about coronavirus outbreaks in care homes and on how to stop people going to the beach during the restrictions. Matt Hancock says there is a “huge effort under way to limit the spread in care homes”. He says the government has expanded testing for anyone with symptoms and, as of yesterday, to anyone without symptoms in care homes so all residents have access. In response to the Brighton beach question, he says the police have done a good job in making sure people follow the rules.

Matt Hancock was asked about whether the UK government should publish its strategy for easing the lockdown. It comes after the Scottish government published a document earlier outlining its thinking on the matter – although without specifying dates. Hancock says, though, that the Scottish government’s approach is “based” on the UK government’s five tests for when measures should be lifted, and both administrations have taken “similar” approach. He adds that a UK-wide approach to easing the restrictions is the “best way to go”.

16:20 Royal Navy postpones sailing of aircraft carrier

The Royal Navy has postponed the sailing of its aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth in order to carry out coronavirus testing of its 800 crew. HMS Queen Elizabeth had been due to sail from Portsmouth on Tuesday without any of the crew being tested, but the Navy says extra capacity means all crew will now be screened for Covid-19. The plan is to then “self isolate” at sea for two weeks to ensure there is no virus outbreak.

16:05 US House debate $484bn aid package

Lawmakers in the US House of Representatives have gathered to debate a new $484bn (£390bn) relief package meant to revive loan funding for small businesses and provide additional funds to hospitals and coronavirus testing. The vote is expected at 13:30 EST (17:30 GMT). It comes as the number of jobless claims filed by Americans since mid-March reach 26.4 million.

15:57 Elizabeth Warren’s brother dies of virus

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has revealed her older brother has died after contracting Covid-19. In a series of tweets on Thursday, the former presidential hopeful paid tribute to the 86-year-old, as well as the staff who looked after him before his death.

15:33 US air fares fall further, Europe and Asia bottom out

US air fares have fallen by nearly 40% and are continuing to decline, according to the Airbus risk-management subsidiary Skytra. It says airlines in the North America region have been offering big discounts on the services they are still running. Average fares in the US-dominated region are now down 37.8% since 1 January, Skytra says. Meanwhile, ticket pricing in Europe and Asia is bottoming out, with 20.7% and 13% year-to-date declines respectively. This is a slight improvement from a week earlier.

15:09 UK coronavirus deaths rise by 616

A total of 18,738 patients have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 17:00 BST on Wednesday, the Department of Health says, up by 616 from the previous day. The figures do not include those who died in care homes or in the community.

14:57 WHO issues malaria warning

The World Health Organization (WHO) is warning that the number of deaths from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa could double this year because of the pandemic. A new modelling analysis by the organisation says nearly 760,000 people in the region could die from malaria in the region in 2020, if there is severe disruption to access to the medicine and insecticide-treated nets that help prevent malaria. That, the WHO warns, could lead to a return to malaria mortality levels last seen 20 years ago. At the best of times, African countries account for over 90% of more than 400,000 deaths from malaria recorded each year. But because of the pandemic, borders are closed, air travel is suspended and movement severely restricted in most countries. The organisation is urging countries to use this time, when Covid-19 cases are still low in Africa, to increase the distribution of malaria prevention and treatment commodities.

14:46 Sweden sees spike and admits data error

Sweden has seen its confirmed cases of Covid-19 jump from 16,004 to 16,755. The rise was much larger than in recent days, during which Sweden’s Public Health Agency had been cautiously celebrating a flattening of cases. The agency’s deputy state epidemiologist Anders Wallensten said the majority of the new cases were in Stockholm. Increased testing of healthcare workers could be a factor, he said, but scientists were looking into other potential reasons. The agency also adjusted an earlier estimation that one-third of Stockholm residents will have been infected by the virus by 1 May, which was featured in a report released by the agency earlier this week and withdrawn after officials admitted errors in calculations. “I don’t think this should be looked upon as something that is representative of Swedish statistics in general,” Wallensten told the BBC from the news conference via video link. “It was a mistake, I think many people understand that we are working hard these days… unfortunately this was not spotted before it went out.” He said it was “too early to say” how much of an impact asymptomatic infection rates and the subsequent potential for immunity would have on the potential to lift social-distancing recommendations in Sweden in the near future, in comparison to places which have endured stricter measures. Unlike other countries Sweden has not implemented strict social distancing measures.

14:26 Coronavirus deaths in England rise to 16,786

NHS England has announced 514 new coronavirus-related hospital deaths, bringing the total number of reported deaths in hospitals in England to 16,786. Patients were aged between 31 and 100 years old. Sixteen of the 514 patients (aged between 37 and 92 years old) had no known underlying health condition.

14:22 Coronavirus deaths in Wales reach 641

A further 17 people have died after testing positive for coronavirus in Wales, bringing the total number of deaths there to 641, Public Health Wales says. A further 234 people have tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 8,358. Dr Robin Howe, from Public Health Wales, says: “Based on the new case numbers there is emerging evidence suggesting a levelling-off in the number of new cases of Covid-19 in Wales, which may be an indication of the effectiveness of lockdown measures. “However, it is still too early to tell for sure, and it is too soon to end the current social distancing rules.”

13:51 PM Johnson making calls and in touch with team

The UK prime minister’s spokesman said he could not “give a timetable” for Boris Johnson’s return to work, as he continues to recover from coronavirus. The prime minister has been at his official country residence, Chequers, since leaving hospital. He has been speaking to his No 10 team and receiving regular updates on the coronavirus response, the spokesman said, but “he is not doing government work”. Mr Johnson spoke to the Queen last night.

13:50 Car production resumes

Volkswagen has restarted its plant in Zwickau in eastern Germany, after a five-week standstill. The group is building a fully electric car there, and says it still plans to launch the new model this summer. Car makers including Renault and Daimler – the maker of Mercedes Benz – have announced plans to kick off production again. But others are holding off, with dealerships shuttered worldwide amid the lockdown measures.

13:45 A further 4.4m Americans file for unemployment benefits

Latest figures show another 4.4 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the last week. More than 20 million Americans had filed new claims for unemployment in the previous five weeks, while a $349bn loan programme for small businesses ran out of money within two weeks. The new applications have brought the total number of jobless claims since mid-March to 26.4 million – more than 15% of the US workforce.

13:14 Dutch death toll rises by 123

The death toll in the Netherlands has risen by 123 in the past 24 hours, reaching 4,177, officials say. The country’s Institute for Public Health (RIVM) says the number of infections increased by 887 to 35,729.

12:53 Lockdown is damaging economy, education and health – Sturgeon

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says the lockdown measures to contain the virus are doing damage to the economy, living standards, children’s education and aspects of our physical and mental health. Speaking at her daily briefing in Edinburgh, she says: “We cannot and we must not take our eye off the need to suppress the virus and minimise the damage that it does. But she adds: “We must try to find a better balance than the one we have right now.” Sturgeon says the proposals she’s publishing today are not a detailed plan of action but look in general at how to shift the balance between keeping necessary restrictions in place and re-establishing some sort of normality.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says “a return to normal as we knew it is not on the cards in the near future”. “What we will be seeking to do, is find a new normal. A way of living alongside this virus, but in a form that keeps it under control and stops it taking the toll that we know it can do.” she says. “Social distancing and limiting of contacts with others will be a fact of life for a long time to come, certainly until treatments and ultimately a vaccine offer different solutions. “So that means possibly for the rest of this year, and maybe even beyond.”

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says changes to social measures aimed at containing the virus “will need to be careful, gradual, incremental and probably quite small to start with”. “We’ll need to assess them in advance and monitor them in action – sometimes, as I said a moment ago, we may even have to reverse things,” she says. “I can’t stand here and promise you that it’s going to get a whole lot easier soon.” “But as I hope we have started to set out today, if we keep doing the right things and if we consider all of the options carefully and with the right objectives in mind, I do believe there will be a way through and we will find that way through.”

12:53 US attorney general compares shutdowns to ‘house arrest’

In the United States, Attorney General William Barr has compared coronavirus shutdowns to “house arrest” and said the Justice Department could take legal action against states. Speaking on radio programme The Hugh Hewitt Show, Barr said: “These are unprecedented burdens on civil liberties. The idea you have to stay in your house is disturbingly close to house arrest. “We’re looking carefully at a number of these rules and if we think one goes too far, we initially try to jawbone the governors into rolling them back or adjusting them. If they’re not and people bring lawsuits, we [will] file statement of interest and side with the plaintiffs.” Barr’s comments come after President Trump on Friday published a series of tweets calling for Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia to be “liberated”. Protests have been held in those and other states with people pushing to end lockdown rules. The United States has the highest number of coronavirus deaths of any country in the world, with more than 46,700 fatalities.

12:38 58 more coronavirus deaths in Scotland

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirms that a further 58 people who have tested positive for coronavirus have died, taking the total number of deaths in Scotland to 1,120. She extends her “deepest condolences” to those who have lost a loved one.

12:33 Arrogance will ‘poison’ cooperation – Chinese ambassador

China’s ambassador to the UK says coronavirus “does not discriminate between races” and “blaming and scapegoating is futile” in the face of the current crisis. Last month, US President Donald Trump was criticised for describing Covid-19 as the “Chinese virus”. Speaking at a news conference in London, Liu Xiaoming says: “Arrogance and insolence will only poison the cooperation between countries. “It is against the human conscience to deliberately put various labels on a specific regime, and stigmatise a specific country. “Such a move will only drive a wedge between countries, undermine international cooperation and harm the interests of all mankind.”

12:20 People in care facilities need more protection – WHO

Some more quotes from Dr Hans Kluge, the World Health Organisation’s regional director for Europe, who has said that almost half of the coronavirus deaths in Europe were residents in care facilities (see 11:14 entry). Speaking at a news conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, Dr Kluge called for greater efforts to protect residents and said carers needed help and supplies. He said: “Those dying in homes from Covid-19 have the right to be attended to and to receive end of life care including symptom relief with adequate medication surrounded by their loved ones. “The dedicated, compassionate people working in long-term care facilities who are so often overstretched, underpaid and unprotected are the unsung heroes of this pandemic. “We must do all we can to ensure those workers have personal protective equipment and other essential supplies to protect themselves and those they care for.”

12:11 Children to be allowed to play outside in Spain

By the time children under 14 are allowed out of their homes again on Sunday, Spain’s lockdown will have been in place for six weeks. The government has now given details of how it’ll work under a so-called 1-1-1 rule. Up to three children will be allowed out with one responsible adult for one hour and for up to 1km (0.6 miles) from their home. Most families live in flats so for the 6.8 million children involved this is a big moment. They will be allowed to run or scoot, and play with a ball or other toys, between 09:00 and 21:00. But parks and playgrounds will stay out of bounds and social distancing will have to continue. The government initially said children could only go to the shops with their parents but they relented when faced with a chorus of criticism and now say running, jumping and exercising will be allowed too.

12:07 Scientific answers will take time

The UK government is looking at setting up a tracking system to see how much of the population has had the virus, and what sort of immunity they have. Around 300,000 people will be sent swab kits, and some may even be asked to do their own blood tests. But this, like the hunt for a vaccine, is unlikely to bear fruit until next year. So the government is emphasising people need to continue with social distancing. And piecing together the disparate advice on face masks, the general public are not being told to wear them. This might change for vulnerable groups and people who can’t distance at work, but experts are currently more concerned that wearing a face mask could make people more relaxed about other, more important measures.

11:58 Empty middle seat is idiotic, says Ryanair boss

The boss of Ryanair says the budget airline will not resume flights if it has to keep middle seats empty to fight Covid-19, calling the idea “idiotic”. Michael O’Leary said empty seats didn’t ensure safe social distancing and were financially unviable. You might remember that easyJet, Emirates and Delta in the US have all said they plan to keep middle seats empty. But Mr O’Leary said that if the Irish government imposed it as a rule, it would have to pay for the middle seat “or we won’t fly”.

11:46 Flight for Britons stranded in Fiji

The UK government is arranging a special charter flight to Australia for around 40 British travellers stranded in Fiji. The flight will depart from Nadi for Melbourne on 29 April, where passengers will be able to access a commercial flight to London. Spare seats on the flight will be offered to EU nationals who wish to return to their countries of residence. There are currently no commercial flight options from Fiji – which has also been hit by Cyclone Harold this month – and the government is urging all British travellers who want to return home to book on the flight at the Fiji Travel Advice page. The government has helped more than 1.3 million Britons fly back to the UK so far but tens of thousands are still stranded, the head of the Foreign Office said on Tuesday.

11:37 Merchant sailors – the pandemic’s unsung victims

An estimated 150,000 merchant sailors are currently stranded at sea – unable to leave because of travel restrictions, even though their contracts may have expired. Rajnish Shah captains a bulk carrier docked in Chittagong, Bangladesh. He had planned to return to India after finishing a four-month contract. He’s been aboard for eight months now – some crew have been there a whole year. “As a Master I need to be in control of this situation, but as a father and husband I’m worried and sad,” he told the BBC. Shipping firms insist they are taking steps to support sailors, but some groups say they’re not doing enough. “This is not the time to throw away hard-won and hard-fought-for civil, human rights, labour rights,” says David Hammond, the head of charity Human Rights at Sea. “We need to protect [seafarers] because they are ultimately keeping the world fed and supported.”

11:23 Four Arsenal players breach guidelines

Four Arsenal players are the latest Premier League footballers to be caught breaching government guidelines on social distancing. David Luiz and Granit Xhaka met up in a London park, Nicolas Pepe was filmed playing football with friends and Alexandre Lacazette was shown standing close to a man valeting his car. Arsenal have spoken to the quartet about their actions. Tottenham have already had three different incidents involving their players – including one with manager Jose Mourinho. Manchester City’s Kyle Walker, Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish and England legend Wayne Rooney are among the English footballers to breach the guidelines.

11:14 Almost half of deaths were people in care facilities – WHO

Almost half of all people who have died with coronavirus in Europe were residents in care facilities, the World Health Organisation’s regional director for Europe has said. Dr Hans Kluge told a press conference on Thursday there was a “deeply concerning picture” emerging regarding those in long-term care. He said: “According to estimates from countries in the European region, up to half of those who have died from Covid-19 were resident in long-term care facilities. This is an unimaginable human tragedy.”

10:49 Czech Republic to decide on next steps

The Czech Health Minister, Adam Vojtech, says the latest statistics show there was no significant bump in coronavirus cases over Easter. The country has confirmed 7,132 cases and 208 deaths so far. It was feared they could reach 15,000 cases by the end of the month, but those estimates have now been revised down. The director of the Institute for Health Information and Statistics, Ladislav Dusek, said that life in the country could gradually begin returning to normal. Nine locations around the country have started mass antibody testing today, the BBC’s Prague Correspondent Rob Cameron reports. Further information about the next steps will emerge later, he adds. The government is meeting today to discuss whether to extend a state of emergency into next month and how and when to re-open the country’s borders

10:38 B&Q reopens dozens of UK stores

B&Q has reopened dozens of UK stores – despite lockdown measures remaining in place. The DIY group says it has brought in “social distancing controls”, such as capping the number of customers inside every store. Other UK firms, such as luxury carmaker Aston Martin and housebuilder Taylor Wimpey, have also said they will return to work in May. B&Q had been closed since the government introduced its lockdown measures at the end of March – although hardware stores were included on the government’s list of essential retailers that were allowed to trade under the restrictions.

10:25 Spanish death toll tops 22,000

Spain’s virus death toll has passed the 22,000 mark in the third slight daily rise, the country’s health ministry says. Some 440 people had died from the coronavirus in the previous 24 hours, which brought total fatalities to 22,157, it added.

10:08 2.8 million workers furloughed – UK business secretary

As of 16:00 BST on Wednesday, 2.8 million workers have been placed on the government’s furlough scheme, Business Secretary Alok Sharma says. Speaking to MPs on the Commons Business Committee, he said there had been 387,000 applications to the scheme, through which the government pays 80% of employees’ wages who have been placed on a leave of absence because of the pandemic. He also gave an update on the government’s loan scheme, saying around 38,000 businesses had applied for finance, with 16,600 securing loans worth a total of £2.8bn.

10:03 Finland’s PM in virus isolation

Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin is self-isolating after a person working at her official residence came into close contact with a confirmed coronavirus case. An official statement from her office said the prime minister had been tested for the virus and was showing no symptoms. The 34-year old gained worldwide attention after she became the world’s youngest sitting head of government, taking office in December last year.

09:34 French clashes this week unlike 2005 riots – minister

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner does not think this week’s outbreak of violent clashes in French housing estates will result in scenes similar to the 2005 riots that broke out throughout the country. “We are not in this sort of scenario,” he told BFM TV. Current coronavirus-related restrictions have exacerbated tensions in low-income neighbourhoods around the capital. The 2005 unrest – sparked by the death of two youths who were fleeing police in a northern Paris suburb – lasted three weeks.

09:15 UK warned against coming out of lockdown ‘too early’

Some Conservative MPs have been raising concerns about the impact of the UK lockdown on businesses. One of them, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, treasurer of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the UK needed to start a discussion “about how we get back to normality” or some businesses would have to cease trading. In response, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said while some businesses were able to reopen with social distancing measures in place, the best way to protect the public and the NHS was to stay at home as much as possible. “One of the most damaging things for our economy would be if we came out of lockdown too early,” he said, adding that this would risk a second peak.

09:14 Germany agrees more economic aid

Germany on Thursday agreed on a further aid package to help its economy weather the coronavirus crisis. The extra 10.8bn euros (£9.4bn, $11.7bn) are to go to tax cuts for businesses and additional employment benefits for workers. Families will also get help to buy computers for children studying from home. Workers staying at home due to the lockdown will now receive 70-77% of their net salary from the fourth month of unemployment, a 10% increase over what they got for the first three months. From the seventh month, they will receive 80-87%. The additional package comes as Germany takes its first steps to reopen the economy after the government said the pandemic was being brought under control.

09:06 Grim surge in business for funeral industry

Amid lockdowns and economic slowdowns during this global pandemic, one industry has seem a grim surge in business – the funeral industry. For funeral directors W Uden & Sons in south-east London, their workload has doubled in recent months. The pandemic has also changed the way they operate: Undertakers have to wear full protective equipment when collecting Covid-19 victims from hospital mortuaries.

08:47 Merkel urges European cohesion

Chancellor Merkel said controlling the virus was a huge challenge for the cohesion of Europe. “It’s the biggest challenge since World War Two, for the life and health of our people,” she told the Bundestag – the lower house of parliament. Later on Thursday she will join other EU leaders in a video conference on the crisis. She said that by continuing “with maximum discipline, we can get back to living in security faster”. She warned that such discipline was needed to avoid stop-start lockdowns. “We must not waste what has been achieved already,” she said, praising the efficiency of Germany’s healthcare system and the armed forces’ assistance in the national effort.

Her government’s decisions in this crisis “have no historical model”, she said. “The question of how we can prevent the virus from overwhelming our health system and subsequently costing the lives of countless people, this question will for a long time be the central question for politics in Germany and Europe.” She said Europe must strengthen its capacity to produce specialised medical kit, instead of depending on global supplies, which are now very stretched.

08:34 German death toll edges past 5,000

Germany’s confirmed virus cases have increased by 2,352 to 148,046, officials said on Thursday. The number of deaths linked to Covid-19 has risen by 215 to now 5,094.

08:29 Merkel: ‘Clever, cautious’ approach needed

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged the nation to remain “clever and cautious” in handling the next phase of the coronavirus epidemic. Speaking in parliament, she said “it’s not the end phase but still just the beginning. We will be with it for a long time”. She said “I know how difficult the restrictions are, it’s a challenge to democracy, it limits our democratic rights”. But she said democratic transparency, such as a free press, helped to make the situation tolerable. “It’s amazing how much understanding people have shown for each other,” she said. MPs frequently applauded her.

08:25 Stricken Ruby Princess leaves Australia

Virus-hit cruise the Ruby Princess has now left Australian waters, five weeks after it first docked in Sydney. It was given a “water salute” as it left Pork Kembla, south of Sydney. A spokesman from the cruise operator Carnival Australia, told the Guardian newspaper that the ship was headed to the Philippines. The ship has been Australia’s largest source of infections after thousands of passengers were allowed to disembark with no health checks, despite the fact that around a dozen passengers reported feeling sick and had swabs taken for Covid-19. The other passengers on board weren’t told of this. The ship has been linked to more than 600 confirmed cases in Australia and 21 deaths.

08:17 Northern Ireland lockdown could end at different time

Northern Ireland may emerge from coronavirus restrictions at a different pace than other parts of the UK, First Minister Arlene Foster says. She said measures would be eased when scientific and public health criteria were met, regardless of timetables or dates.

08:15 Why fractious EU still believes together is better

As we said earlier, EU leaders are due to meet by video conference for a summit on Thursday afternoon. They’re expected to sign off on a new €540bn (£470bn; $575bn) emergency fund to protect European workers, businesses and countries worst affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The fund was difficult to agree between member states, but they got there in the end. After considerable push and pull, plus a dramatic intervention by French President Emmanuel Macron, who threatened the end of the EU if agreement wasn’t found. Brussels boasts that, in addition to the fund, EU members have been sharing protective medical equipment and specialist medical teams with one another. In some cases, they’ve also been treating each other’s patients. The leaders are also expected to approve common measures for gradually lifting coronavirus restrictions. This does not mean co-ordinating an EU-wide end of the lockdown. Each country has its own health service, with different infection patterns and different curbs in place.

07:55 Schools in England could reopen by 1 June

The earliest “realistic” point by which schools in England could re-open is 1 June, head teachers’ leader Geoff Barton has said. “We cannot see any realistic way that schools could be reopened to more pupils before the second half of the summer term,” he said. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said no date has been set. He said if and when five thresholds in the fight against coronavirus were reached, a date could be agreed for schools to reopen.

07:49 EU to sign off huge rescue package

European Union leaders are expected to sign off on a huge rescue package for countries hardest-hit by the coronavirus crisis when they hold a video conference later on Thursday. The 500bn euro (£438bn) package was agreed after bitter debate between richer countries in the north of the EU, and weaker economies in the south which have suffered most from the pandemic.

07:43 The church threatened with Kalashnikovs

The pastor of an evangelical church in France – blamed by the French government for spreading coronavirus across the country – has given one of his first broadcast interviews to the BBC. Pastor Samuel Peterschmitt has described death threats faced by his congregation and hit back at accusations that the church was responsible for the outbreak in France.

07:15 UK social restrictions ‘to remain for rest of year’

Some social restrictions are expected to remain in the UK for at least the rest of the year, the government’s chief medical adviser has said. Prof Chris Whitty said it was “wholly unrealistic” to expect life would suddenly return to normal soon. He said the ideal way out would be via a “highly effective vaccine” or treatment drugs but said the chances of having these within the next year was “incredibly small”. “This disease is not going to be eradicated, it is not going to disappear,” he said, at the government’s daily coronavirus briefing. “So we have to accept that we are working with a disease that we are going to be with globally… for the foreseeable future.”

06:38 Indonesia’s Aceh allows Ramadan mass prayer

Muslims in Indonesia’s northernmost province, Aceh, held a mass tarawih – the nightly prayer for the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan – at some mosques last night, defying the government’s advice to forgo mass prayers this year. Indonesia’s country’s religious minister earlier this month issued a guidance on praying during Ramadan – which begins this evening – in which he urged Muslims to pray at home and minimise activities at the mosques. However in Aceh – the only province in Indonesia that implements sharia law – the grand mosque will still allow mass tarawih prayers as long as people wear masks and bring their own prayer mats. “Muslims can still do tarawih prayers at the mosques as usual, but we hope that they pay attention to their health by wearing masks,” says Tengku Faisal Asli, vice chairman at Aceh Ulama Consultative Assembly, according to news agency Antara. Indonesia registered 7,418 positive coronavirus cases as of Wednesday and 635 deaths have been linked to the virus.

06:32 Nothing will be normal as China moves forward

Despite all the criticism it’s facing, China is focused on continued containment – as well as putting out the message that their approach has been a success. The Lancet medical journal praised it as “impressive” and “encouraging” for other countries, while repeating claims that China’s true number of Covid-19 cases early on was much higher than reported, because of its early strict criteria for diagnosis.

But the virus is re-emerging in parts of the north, where the city of Harbin is under restrictions. One hospital there has closed after an 87-year-old man who had visited was diagnosed with the virus – he’d unknowingly infected 78 other people. With the impact on China’s economy laid bare by last week’s GDP figures the push to get back to business continues. But nothing will be be normal. Schools in Shanghai are set to start re-opening next week but some teachers have already been told that they will be required to abide by certain safety measures, such as compulsory masks indoors.

06:13 Australia urges G20 action on wildlife wet markets

More now on the growing pressure on China to rein in its markets, with the Australian government calling for G20 countries to take action on wildlife wet markets. Australia is not yet calling for a ban – but says its own advisers believe they may need to be “phased out”. “Wet markets” are simply marketplaces that sell fresh food such as meat, fish, fruit and vegetables. A small number also sell wildlife – and it’s thought the coronavirus may have emerged at a wet market in Wuhan that sold live “exotic” animals. “A wet market, like the Sydney fish market, is perfectly safe,” said Agriculture Minister David Littleproud. “But when you add wildlife, live wildlife, exotic wildlife – that opens up human risk and biosecurity risk to the extent we have seen. “And in fact, China themselves reported this to the World Organization for Animal Health, that that was the cause of Covid-19.”

06:09 China faces a growing international backlash

Australia’s relationship with China post-virus is evolving, to put it politely. It will be further strained by calls from the Prime Minister Scott Morrison for all members of the WHO to co-operate with an independent inquiry into the spread of the virus. Add to that a push by his agriculture minister for members of the G20 group of advanced economies – which includes China – to ban wildlife markets (one of which in Wuhan is where the virus is thought to have emerged). This looks like a concerted push back against Beijing. The criticism has been coming thick and fast this week from London, Paris and Washington. The UK’s Foreign Secretary said there could be no “business as usual” with China now. After Donald Trump turned his fire on the WHO, stopping US funding of the world’s health policeman claiming it was soft on China, the pressure is undeniably mounting.

05:54 Attempt to sue NZ PM over lockdown dismissed

A New Zealand man who tried to sue Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arguing he had been unlawfully detained by the lockdown has had his court case dismissed. Everyone in New Zealand currently has to remain at home with the exception of essential movement, though some restrictions will be eased next week.

The man, who cannot be identified, asked for a writ of habeas corpus, which declares that someone’s detention is unlawful. Justice Mary Peters dismissed this, saying she did not consider the man and his family to be detained. “In my view, the freedom to exercise whenever they wish, to go to the supermarket whenever they wish, to talk to whomever they wish, and to access the internet whenever they wish is quite different from being held in custody,” she said, according to local media. There are currently 1,112 confirmed cases in New Zealand and 16 deaths.

05:45 Singaporeans navigate lockdown and lunches

A Singapore man who broke quarantine orders to go out for dinner has received a six week jail sentence – making him the first in the country to be sentenced for a coronavirus-related offence. Alan Tham ignored a 14 day Stay At Home order after he returned from Malaysia to go to a hawker centre for dinner as he had a craving for bak kut teh – a pork rib soup dish. Much of Singapore eats its meals in hawker centres, or food courts, where dishes can be as cheap as S$2 ($1.40; £1.20).

But Singapore, which has more than 10,000 virus cases, is in a partial lockdown – which it refers to as a “circuit breaker”. Only deliveries and takeaways are allowed for food, and many restaurants are serving their food on delivery apps. But many of the small, specialist hawkers stalls are run by elderly Singaporeans who have no idea how to navigate these apps, or can’t afford the fees. One Facebook group however, is trying to remedy this. People have been actively posting in the Hawkers United 2020 group, bringing attention to hawkers who need help and posting phone numbers, so people can arrange for takeaway services. It’s hoped these measures will help hawkers stay afloat during these tough times.

05:17 Controversy over ‘India’s first virus fatality’

Muhammad Husain Siddiqui’s family do not believe he died of Covid-19. His family say he was fine, that he looked good after having spent a month with his younger son in Saudi Arabia. But 10 days after returning, he was dead – India’s first official Covid-19 fatality. Anxious family members had ferried him between two cities and four hospitals – all had rejected him. He died on his way to the fifth, where he was declared “brought dead”. The day after Siddiqui died, authorities announced that he had tested positive for the virus. “We still do not believe he died of Covid-19. We haven’t even got the death certificate,” his son, Ahmed Faisal Siddiqui, told me. In many ways, the story of his father’s death underlines the chaos and confusion often marring the treatment of Covid-19 patients in India.

05:05 India reports second biggest daily spike as cases soar

With 1,486 new infections confirmed on Wednesday, India has seen its second sharpest daily spike. The health ministry also said 49 people had died in the last 24 hours, taking the total death toll to 681. With the new cases, the total official tally in India has crossed 20,000 infections. The sharpest spike yet was reported on Monday, when authorities said more than 1,500 people tested positive. But there is also some good news. Officials have said that the doubling rate – the number of days it takes for infections to multiply by two – had increased to almost eight days, up from 3.4 days before the lockdown.

04:51 Australian billionaire exempt from quarantine

Since late March, all Australians who return from overseas have been required to spend 14 days in quarantine in hotels – or almost all of them that is. Billionaire and media mogul Kerry Stokes and his wife were given an exemption from these quarantine rules on medical grounds by Western Australian police, meaning they could self-isolate in their home rather than be shut up in a hotel room, say local media reports. The couple had reportedly returned to Perth from the United States on their private jet two weeks ago. WA Premier Mark McGowan had earlier said the quarantine rules applied “for all Australians”. However, according to Australia’s Department of Health, it is possible for people to be granted a quarantine exemption on medical grounds on a case by case basis.

04:23 Alleged health care worker attackers test positive

Five people who were accused of pelting stones at health workers in India’s Uttar Pradesh state recently have tested positive for coronavirus. Officials have now quarantined more than 70 police officers who may have come in contact with them. The five are among 17 men who were arrested earlier this month in Moradabad district. The mob were trying to prevent healthcare workers from taking an infected patient to an isolation ward. Police told local media that 73 officers have undergone tests so far. Several healthcare workers in India have been attacked as they battle to stop the spread of the coronavirus. On Wednesday, the government passed a new law by which those who are found guilty of attacking doctors or health workers can be sentenced to up to seven years in jail.

04:05 Vietnam to ease lockdown measures

Vietnam is set to ease social distancing measures in the capital, Hanoi, and the commercial capital Ho Chi Minh City, as the rate of infection in the country slows down. Stringent social distancing rules will be eased and non-essential services and businesses reopened from Thursday, subject to conditions, reported Vietnam’s biggest daily Tuoi Tre. It’s a different story in other parts of Vietnam, however. According to Tuoi Tre, authorities locked down a small Vietnamese town that sits on the border with China, after a local girl was found to have the virus. The lockdown, which applies to around 7,600 people in Dong Van, will be maintained until further notice, said authorities.

04:00 Vietnam to ease lockdown measures

Vietnam is set to ease social distancing measures in the capital, Hanoi, and the commercial capital Ho Chi Minh City, as the rate of infection in the country slows down. Stringent social distancing rules will be eased and non-essential services and businesses reopened from Thursday, subject to conditions, reported Vietnam’s biggest daily Tuoi Tre. It’s a different story in other parts of Vietnam, however. According to Tuoi Tre, authorities locked down a small Vietnamese town that sits on the border with China, after a local girl was found to have the virus. The lockdown, which applies to around 7,600 people in Dong Van, will be maintained until further notice, said authorities.

03:52 Ruby Princess to leave Australia

The source of the biggest outbreak in Australia – the scandal-ridden Ruby Princess cruise ship – will finally leave Australian waters today with a skeleton crew, and head to the Philippines to take them home. The ship, which freely unloaded sick passengers in central Sydney last month, has been tied to 25 deaths and at least 700 infections, about 10% of all Australian cases. A public inquiry into the disaster began yesterday with the ship’s doctor testifying she was surprised the ship was cleared by officials when there was reported illness on board.

03:41 One month old baby recovers from virus

A one-month-old baby – the youngest coronavirus patient in Thailand – has now recovered. Doctors used four antiviral drugs to cure the baby, said a Reuters report quoting the paediatrician who treated him. “The strategy used to treat this child was to give him medication for 10 days. We conducted a health check on him every day and three to five days after that, his X-rays showed signs of gradual recovery,” said Visal Moolasart of the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute in Bangkok. There are currently 2,826 confirmed cases in Thailand and 49 deaths.

03:17 New Zealand reports two new deaths

The two new Covid-19 related deaths reported in New Zealand today bring the country’s total fatalities to 16. One of the deaths was a woman in her 60s in Dunedin, whose condition had been reported as stable earlier this week. Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield apologised to her family for confusion over her status. The other person who died, a man in his 70s in Christchurch, had tested negative but officials have determined he was considered a probable case. New Zealand enacted a full shutdown of public life last month, before its first death was recorded. It plans to move into a lighter lockdown next week after managing to contain the virus’s spread.

2:27 China keeps virus deaths at zero

China continues to keep its number of new coronavirus deaths at zero for a sixth consecutive day, official data shows. The country reported 10 new positive tests for the past day, down from 30 the previous day. The number of imported cases – travellers returning from overseas – declined, down to six from 23 the day before. China counts the number of asymptomatic patients in a separate tally and that number also declined, to 27 from 42 the previous day. China’s virus data is difficult to verify and has been called into question by some observers who suggest Beijing is trying to keep the numbers low to maintain its narrative that it has the virus under control.

Sources: Various news sources including but not limited to BBC News, Fox News, CNN.