Turkey has reported 82,329 confirmed coronavirus cases, overtaking neighbouring Iran for the first time to register the highest number of infections in the Middle East.
Iran partially reopened its capital, Tehran, allowing “low-risk businesses”, including shops, factories and warehouses to resume operations. But Algeria, Morocco, Croatia and Spain extended lockdowns, while Uzbekistan prolonged social distancing measures.
- Nigerian president’s chief of staff died from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus. Abba Kyari’s was the highest-profile death in the West African country.
In the United States, New York reported the lowest daily death toll in more than two weeks with Governor Andrew Cuomo expressing hope the hard-hit state may now be “past the plateau”. In Washington state, Governor Jay Inslee accused President Donald Trump of “fomenting domestic rebellion and spreading lies” after the latter encouraged protests against Democratic governors who have imposed virus-related restrictions.
Globally, more than 2.3 million people have been infected and more than 159,000 people have died, according to a tally by the Johns Hopkins University.
Here are the latest updates:
Sunday, April 19
10:15 GMT – Spain’s coronavirus toll slows, with 410 deaths overnight
Spain’s death toll from the new coronavirus outbreak rose by 410 on Sunday, down from 565 on Saturday, the Health Ministry said, bringing the total to 20,453 deaths in one of the world’s hardest hit countries.
The number of overall coronavirus cases rose to 195,944 on Sunday from 191,726 on Saturday, it added.
09:55 GMT – Germany’s coronavirus cases rise by 2,458 to 139,897
Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases have risen by 2,458 to 139,897, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Sunday.
That was lower than a 3,609 increase reported on Saturday, by when cases of infections had been increasing for four days in a row.
The reported death toll has risen by 184 to 4,294, the Sunday tally showed.
09:25 GMT – Japan passes 10,000 domestic cases of COVID-19
Japanese health ministry said 568 new cases of the coronavirus were reported on Saturday, bringing a domestic total to 10,361. A combined total including 712 others from a cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo earlier this year came to 11,073, with 174 deaths.
The number of cases is still relatively small compared to the US and Europe, but that’s only as many as Japan’s limited testing has detected and actual infections are believed to be far more widespread.
Japan has finally started setting up additional testing centres in Tokyo and elsewhere, allowing primary care doctors to send suspected patients directly to testing stations rather than having them go through public health centres to screen eligibility, an earlier requirement that had prevented and delayed testing and treatment of many people.
Experts have noted that their strategy of going after clusters to trace infections is no longer effective to keep up with the surging cases and more tests are needed.
08:48 GMT – Pakistan starts repatriating UAE-based nationals stranded by coronavirus
Pakistan has started repatriating some of its citizens from the United Arab Emirates, which had threatened to review labour ties with countries refusing to take back their nationals during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The first Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight carrying 227 “stranded passengers” from Dubai and other emirates left for Islamabad on Saturday evening, Pakistan’s consulate general in Dubai said in a Twitter post.
— Consulate General of Pakistan, Dubai (@ParepDubai) April 18, 2020
It was not clear when other flights would depart. More than 40,000 Pakistanis in the Gulf Arab state have registered with the consulate to return home, two UAE newspapers reported.
The UAE and other Gulf states have reported increased infections among low-income migrant workers who live in overcrowded quarters. Some have moved to rehouse them in shuttered schools or dedicated centres, and are trying to arrange flights to repatriate them.
08:30 GMT – Philippines records 12 new coronavirus deaths, 172 more cases
The Philippines’ health ministry reported 12 new coronavirus deaths and 172 new infections.
The Southeast Asian country now as a total of 6,259 confirmed coronavirus cases and 409 deaths, it said in a bulletin.
It said 56 more patients have recovered, bringing the total to 572.
08:18 GMT – Taiwan reports 22 new coronavirus cases, mostly navy sailors
Taiwan’s government on Sunday reported 22 new coronavirus cases, 21 of who had been on a Taiwanese navy mission to the Pacific island state of Palau last month.
Speaking at a news conference, Taiwan Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said the cases had so far only been discovered on one of the three ships that had visited Palau, but that further investigations were needed before they could say where exactly the sailors had contracted the virus.
The new cases bring Taiwan’s total to 420, six of whom have died.
08:00 GMT – Israel’s COVID-19 cases surpass 13,300
The death toll in Israel from the coronavirus rose to 171, as seven more people died, the country’s health ministry said.
The ministry said 97 new cases were reported in the country, bringing the tally to 13,362, some 156 of them in critical condition.
Caretaker Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel will relax some of its lockdown measures on Sunday because the spread of the virus was slowing down. Israel was better off than other countries, he told a televised news conference.
“We have one of the lowest death rates,” he said.
07:50 GMT – Singapore reports 596 new coronavirus cases, taking total to 6,588
Singapore’s health ministry confirmed 596 new coronavirus infections, taking the total number of cases in the city-state to 6,588.
The vast majority of the new cases are migrant workers living in dormitories and 25 are permanent residents, the health ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
07:15 GMT – Panama holds 1,700 migrants in jungle due to coronavirus
About 1,700 undocumented migrants heading to the US are being held in a jungle camp by Panama authorities after several cases of the new coronavirus were detected among them, an official source said.
They are being kept in La Penita, close to the Colombian border, in facilities designed to accommodate about 200 people.
“Seventeen migrants have been infected with the new coronavirus,” the official source said on condition of anonymity.
The infected people have already been removed from the camp.
In Panama, which has 4,273 coronavirus infections and 120 deaths, migrants are treated at three temporary border posts where the government, UNICEF and the Red Cross provide them with water, food and medical care.
06:52 GMT – Pakistan to keep mosques open during Ramadan
Even as Pakistan’s daily confirmed cases inch upwards, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government buckled to pressure from religious scholars refusing to order mosques throughout the country closed during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.
Pakistan recorded 7,993 confirmed cases till Sunday, a daily increase of 514. Sixteen people died of the virus in the last 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 159. But in Pakistan, religious scholars have become a powerful force, holding sway often using fear of bringing mobs onto the street as leverage to force the government to bow to their demands.
Pakistan has been blamed for contributing to the outbreak of the virus in other parts of the world including the Gaza Strip after it refused to stop a gathering of tens of thousands of Tablighi Jamaat (Islamic missionaries) until early March. By the time it was cancelled, thousands were already in Pakistan and many returned to their countries infected.
06:30 GMT – India to supply hydroxychloroquine to UAE
India has agreed to provide hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) tablets to the United Arab Emirates to be used for treating COVID-19 patients, the Arab state’s embassy in New Delhi said.
India last month banned the export of HCQ as sales soared to secure supplies for itself as US President Donald Trump touted the drug as a potentially effective treatment for the deadly virus. It said this month it would send supplies to some countries.
“The first shipment of medicine, currently on its way to the UAE, includes 5.5 million pills for treatment of patients with COVID-19,” the embassy tweeted late on Saturday.
06:15 GMT – Rwanda, DRC make wearing mask mandatory
Wearing face masks in public will soon be mandatory, Rwanda’s health minister said, as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country reached 144.
Daniel Ngamije said the latest guidelines require everyone to wear a mask in public, and at home during the lockdown and thereafter.
“From next Monday, local companies will start making masks to help supply affordable quantities on the market. Wearing masks will be effective in preventing spread of COVID-19,” he said.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the governor of the capital of Kinshasa, Gentiny Ngobila, said the mandatory wearing of masks will begin April 20.
04:55 GMT – Australia calls for probe into WHO, China virus response
Marise Payne, Australia’s foreign minister, is calling for an independent investigation into the global response to the coronavirus pandemic, including the World Health Organization’s handling of the crisis.
Canberra will “insist” on a review that would investigate, in part, China’s early response to the outbreak in Wuhan, the city where the virus was first detected last year, Payne says in an interview with public broadcaster ABC.
“We need to know the sorts of details that an independent review would identify for us about the genesis of the virus, about the approaches to dealing with it [and] addressing the openness with which information was shared,” she says.
Payne adds that the fallout from the pandemic may change the relationship between Australia and China “in some ways”, with her concern around Beijing’s transparency now “at a very high point”.
04:40 GMT – Mexico reports 7,497 cases, 650 deaths
Hugo Lopez-Gatell, Mexico’s deputy health minister, says the country has registered 7,497 confirmed coronavirus cases and 650 deaths till Saturday.
That is up from 6,875 cases and 546 deaths on Friday.
03:46 GMT – Greek Easter services held in empty churches
Greek Orthodox priests held Easter services in empty churches on Saturday night due to restrictions in place to try and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Greece is under lockdown and the government had warned faithful to stay away from churches.
Priests still carried out services and fireworks were set off over the Acropolis at the stroke of midnight, ushering in Easter Sunday.
Many in the northern port city of Thessaloniki and around Greece stepped out on their balconies at the stroke of midnight with lit candles to mark the resurrection.
The threat of a fine for violating the lockdown measures did not stop some faithful who stood outside St Demetrios Church in Thessaloniki with lit candles, while the church bells rang at midnight.
02:50 GMT – More Guatemalans deported from US test positive
Guatemala’s President Alejandro Giammattei says 19 more Guatemalans deported from the US to the Central American nation have tested positive for coronavirus.
The latest figures bring the total number of infections from the plane to 32.
The affected migrants are believed to have arrived from Alexandria, Louisiana on Monday. Guatemala has now suspended all flights of deportees from the US.
02:19 GMT – China reports 16 new cases
Health authorities in China are reporting 16 new coronavirus cases in the mainland, the lowest number since March 17 and down from 27 a day earlier.
Of the new cases, nine are imported from abroad. There are no new deaths.
The latest figures bring the total number of cases in the mainland to 82,735.
02:00 GMT – Infections in S Korea falls to single digit for first time in two months
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting eight new cases of the coronavirus, marking the first time infections in South Korea fall to a single digit since the outbreak peaked in February.
Of the eight, five involve travellers from overseas.
The nation’s total tally is 10,661 cases and 234 deaths.
01:23 GMT – Virtual all-star concert for front-line workers kicks off
Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones and Beyonce are taking part in a global special of music, comedy and personal stories in what Gaga calls a “love letter” to front-line workers battling the coronavirus pandemic.
The two-hour “One World: Together at Home”, broadcast across multiple television channels in the US and overseas, features a Who’s Who of pop culture, with contributions, filmed from their homes, from Elton John, Stevie Wonder, British football star David Beckham and former US first ladies Michelle Obama and Laura Bush.
“I’m so grateful for the healthcare workers, the medical workers, all the grocery store workers and delivery people, the postal workers, all the other nonprofits that are working so hard,” Gaga says.
“This is really a true love letter to all of you all over the world, and I hope a reminder of the kindness that’s occurring right now,” she adds.
Hosted by three of the biggest late-night television show hosts in the US – Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon – the special pays tribute to teachers and healthcare, grocery, delivery, postal and other workers.
The event, organised by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the nonprofit group Global Citizen, is the biggest celebrity effort so far to mark the coronavirus pandemic.
00:53 GMT – Europe’s virus death toll tops 100,000
Europe now accounts for a total of 100,510 coronavirus deaths – nearly two-thirds of the 157,539 fatalities worldwide, according to an AFP tally.
Many countries are testing only the most serious cases and the number of confirmed infections is likely to be a fraction of the true total.
Italy and Spain remain the hardest-hit countries in Europe, with 23,227 and 20,043 deaths, respectively, followed by France with 19,323 deaths. The United Kingdom’s official death toll is 15,464.
00:36 GMT – Brazilian drivers protest against lockdown restrictions
Hundreds of people in trucks, cars and motorcycles, are taking to the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and the capital city of Brasilia, calling for governors to resign over lockdown measures that have forced most businesses to close for weeks.
In Rio de Janeiro, about 100 vehicles are seen in the gridlock, cruising down Atlantica Avenue, along the iconic and temporarily shut-down Copacabana beach.
“Either we just have the pandemic, which is already a lot, or we have the pandemic and chaos,” says Anderson Moraes, a state legislator who had called for Rio residents to join the protest. “For sure, lives are more important than anything else, but we can’t take decisions today without thinking about tomorrow. Because tomorrow, I don’t know how a family man will be when he sees his children going hungry.”
In Brasilia, President Jair Bolsonaro who opposes the lockdowns reiterates his intention to start reopening the economy. “The fear was excessive,” he says, denouncing the “greed” of politicians “who have shut down everything and created panic”.
“People want a return to normality,” the president says in a Facebook Live session shortly before meeting with a small crowd of supporters who had gathered outside the Planalto presidential palace.
Hundreds of people are protesting against the virus-related lockdowns in the US too, with rallies in states including Texas, Maryland, New Hampshire and Ohio.
In Washington, DC, Trump tells reporters that some state governors have gotten “carried away” and imposed “unreasonable” restrictions.
Read more about the protests in the US here.
Hello, I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives, with Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
You can find all the updates from yesterday, April 18, here.