France, Spain begin easing coronavirus restrictions: Live updates | News

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  • Saudi Arabia will impose tough austerity measures, tripling its value added tax and halting monthly handout payments to citizens to cope with record low oil prices and a coronavirus-led economic downturn.

  • Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a cautious easing of the country’s lockdown, encouraging those who cannot work from home to go back to their workplaces and allowing people to go out for unlimited exercise.

  • France and Spain, two of the hardest pandemic-hit countries in Europe, are gradually easing the restrictions they imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

  • Globally, more than four million cases of the coronavirus have now been confirmed, and 1.4 million people have recovered, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. More than 282,500 people have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Here are the latest updates.

Monday, May 11

12:00 GMT – Sri Lanka: Muslims face extra threat as coronavirus stirs hate

The Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka had originally agreed on burials of the coronavirus victims, but amended the guidelines on April 11 making their cremations mandatory.

Prominent Muslim activists and personalities have expressed their concerns against the ban on burials which they see as part of anti-Muslim rhetoric amid the pandemic.

Read more here. 

The island nation’s top Ulama body urged the government to allow burial of coronavirus victims [EPA]

11:40 GMT – China will step up macro-economic policy adjustments: PM

China will step up macro-economic policy adjustments as the country’s development faces unprecedented difficulties and challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, Premier Li Keqiang said, according to state-owned TV.

China will also strive to achieve economic and social development targets and tasks this year, the China Central Television quoted Li as saying in a meeting with top officials from other political parties to discuss the government’s work report, which is soon to be revealed at the annual parliament meeting later this month.

11:10 GMT – Marriott quarterly profit dives 92 percent on decline in bookings

Marriott International Inc reported a 92 percent slump in profit for the first quarter, as bookings plunged due to coronavirus-led travel restrictions.

Net income fell to $31m, or nine cents per share, in the quarter ended March 31, from $375m, or $1.09 per share, a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, Marriott earned 26 cents per share in the quarter. Revenue slumped seven percent to $4.68bn.

11:10 GMT – Russia sets new daily record of coronavirus cases

Russian President Vladimir Putin will address the nation about the coronavirus, as a new record of daily confirmed infections was set and number of deaths surpassed 2,000.

Putin will give speak about the deadly pandemic and measures to support the Russian economy, the Kremlin said in a statement.

According to the official coronavirus data website set up by the Russian government, 11,656 people tested positive in the last 24 hours, with the total now at 221,344.

Outside image - blog - 10 may - russia update

According to the official coronavirus data, 11,656 people tested positive in the last 24 hours [EPA] 

13:55 GMT – Germany takes uptick in coronavirus reproduction seriously: ministry

The German health ministry is taking the most recent rise in the coronavirus reproduction rate in the country seriously but the higher number does not mean there is an uncontrolled outbreak, a ministry spokesman said.

The Robert Koch Institute for disease control had said the number of people each sick person now infects – known as the reproduction rate, or R – had risen to 1.1. When it goes above 1, it means the number of infections is growing.

10:35 GMT – Low-skilled men suffer highest COVID-19 fatalities in England and Wales

Men in the lowest-skilled jobs had the highest rate of death involving COVID-19 among working-age people in England and Wales, according to data, which also showed deaths among nurses and doctors was no higher than the average.

The data was published after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that manufacturing and construction workers should be encouraged to go back to their jobs, drawing concern from trade union groups.

Men in the lowest-skilled jobs suffered 21.4 COVID-related deaths per 100,000 males in the period up to April 20, more than double the average for working age males of just under 10 deaths per 100,000, the Office for National Statistics said. The average death rate for working age women was 5.2 per 100,000.

10:10 GMT – Spain’s daily coronavirus death toll falls to 123

Spain’s daily coronavirus death toll fell to 123, the health ministry said, its lowest level in seven weeks.

The overall death toll from the epidemic rose to 26,744 on Monday from 26,621 on the previous day. The number of confirmed cases rose to 227,436 from 224,390 on Sunday.

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Barcelona

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Mediterranean country are 227,436 [Reuters]

09:40 GMT – Abu Dhabi offers partial refund for restaurant and tourism property leases

Abu Dhabi has announced a 20 percent refund on annual commercial property leases for restaurants and for tourism and entertainment facilities, state news agency WAM reported.

Eligible businesses will have to apply online for the refund, which is calculated against fixed rental costs, WAM reported, citing the emirate’s department of economic development.

The refund scheme is aimed at easing pressure on businesses affected by government measures to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, WAM said.

09:10 GMT – Philippines coronavirus infections breach 11,000 mark

Confirmed coronavirus infections in the Philippines have broken past the 11,000 mark, the health ministry said.

In a bulletin, the health ministry reported 292 additional cases, bringing the total to 11,086. It recorded seven more deaths, increasing the total to 726 while 75 more patients have recovered, bringing total recoveries to 1,999.

08:55 GMT – Coronavirus clips the wings of the world’s second-oldest airline

Avianca Holdings, Latin America’s second-largest airline, has filed for bankruptcy after failing to meet a bond payment deadline, while its pleas for coronavirus aid from Colombia’s government have so far been unsuccessful.

If it fails to come out of bankruptcy, Bogota-based Avianca would be one of the first large carriers worldwide to go under as a result of the pandemic, which has crippled world travel.

Read more here.


Avianca might be one of the first large carriers worldwide to go under as a result of the pandemic [Jaime Saldarriaga/Reuters]

08:40 GMT – How much surveillance is too much during a pandemic?

In the fight against the novel coronavirus, governments around the globe are using police drones, security cameras and mobile apps to track people’s health and location.

In such an environment, how much surveillance is too much?

Al Jazeera’s Start Here explains.

08:20 GMT – Migrants stranded in Greece by COVID-19 fly to UK

A group of 50 refugees and asylum seekers flew from Greece to Britain to reunite with relatives in a transfer that had been held up by the coronavirus lockdown.

The group includes 16 unaccompanied minors, Greek migration ministry officials said. Some 130 Greek nationals stranded in the UK because of the COVID-19 lockdown will be repatriated on the return flight, the ministry said.

Greece hopes to gradually relocate around 1,600 vulnerable persons from its refugee camps to other countries in the coming months.

08:00 GMT – French minister warns lockdown easing could be reversed

France could reverse the relaxation of its nationwide lockdown if there is a resurgence of the coronavirus outbreak, Health Minister Olivier Veran warned.

“If the virus were to resume its wild race, we would again take lockdown measures,” Veran told BFM television.

France, with the world’s fifth-highest death toll, has enforced an eight-week lockdown since March 17 to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. It is gradually lifting those restrictions.

07:45 GMT – Malls, salons reopen as Turkey eases coronavirus lockdown

Shopping malls, barbershops and hair salons have been allowed to reopen across Turkey after a nearly two-month closure, with stepped-up safety and hygiene measures in place for containing the new coronavirus.

The easing of restrictions is the start of a nationwide post-coronavirus normalisation as the death toll and the number of infections eases in the country.

On Sunday, Turkey’s senior citizens also got their first chance to venture outside in seven weeks, after being subjected to a stay-at-home curfew since March 21.

Read more here.


Turkey’s senior citizens on Sunday got their first chance to venture outside in seven weeks [Ozan Kose/AFP]

07:20 GMT – Colombian woman’s 100th birthday celebrated despite lockdown

A Colombian neighbourhood found a way to celebrate a resident’s 100th birthday despite the coronavirus lockdown.

Here is the moment Sara Veron’s neighbours came together to throw her a big surprise party from their terraces and balconies.

07:05 GMT – Raab: UK economy will not be back to work until July at very earliest

Non-essential retailers would not go back to work until June at the earliest while other sectors will not go back to work until July at the earliest, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.

“There’s the other changes for things like non-essential retail and people going back to school, particularly primary school, which won’t start until the earliest on the first of June, subject to conditions,” Raab said.

“Starting from the 4th of July at the very earliest, those other sectors where they are inherently more difficult because people are mixing together and it’s difficult to maintain the social distancing, we wouldn’t be able to say … that we would start them at least until the 4th of July.”

06:40 GMT – Men have high levels of enzyme key to COVID-19 infection: Study

Men’s blood has higher levels of a key enzyme used by the new coronavirus to infect cells than women’s, the results of a big European study showed – a finding which may help explain why men are more vulnerable to infection with COVID-19.

Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is found in the heart, kidneys and other organs. In COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, it is thought to play a role in how the infection progresses into the lungs.

The study, published in the European Heart Journal, also found that widely prescribed drugs called ACE inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) did not lead to higher ACE2 concentrations and should therefore not increase the COVID-19 risk for people taking them.

An illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), depicts the 2019 Novel Coronavirus

The ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the novel coronavirus [Dan Higgins/Reuters]

06:10 GMT – India to ‘gradually’ restart rail operations in lockdown easing

One of the world’s largest train networks will “gradually” restart operations from Tuesday as India eases its six-week coronavirus lockdown.

The move comes after the government faced widespread criticism for its treatment of migrant workers, who were forced to walk hundreds of kilometres from cities to reach their home villages as factories and businesses where they earned their livings shut down due to the lockdown.

Read more here.

Migrant workers in India

The total number of cases in India has passed 67,000 with more than 2,200 deaths. [Amit Dave/Reuters]

05:55 GMT – Coronavirus interrupts world’s longest-running cartoon

Production of the world’s longest-running cartoon and a mainstay of the Japanese weekend has been interrupted by the coronavirus, forcing the broadcast of re-runs for the first time in decades.

“Sazae-san”, which first aired in 1969, revolves around the life of Mrs Sazae, a cheerful but klutzy full-time housewife who lives with her parents, husband, son, brother and sister.

The cartoon, recognised as the longest-running animated TV series by Guinness World Records, has been hamstrung by the outbreak of the virus, with animation dubbing halted to keep staff safe, broadcaster Fuji Television Network said. It is the first time the network has been forced to air re-runs since 1975.

05:37 GMT – Saudi announces tough austerity measures

Saudi Arabia will triple its value added tax (VAT) and halt monthly handout payments to citizens in tough new austerity measures amid record low oil prices and a coronavirus-led economic slump.

The measures, which could stir public resentment with the cost of living rising, come as the country steps up emergency plans to slash government spending to deal with the twin economic blow.

“It has been decided the cost of living allowance will be halted from June 2020 and VAT will be raised from 5 percent to 15 percent from July 1,” Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said in a statement released by the official Saudi Press Agency.

Read more here.

04:55 GMT – Markets reopen in Pakistan as lockdown eased

Pakistan will allow markets and shops to open for several days a week from Monday, as it loosens its coronavirus lockdown, Al Jazeera’s Asad Hashim reports.

Confirmed cases have exceeded 30,000 with 667 deaths, but planning minister Asad Umar reiterated on Sunday the government’s approach to containing the outbreak would be to focus on targeted lockdowns in areas where a large number of cases were reported.

Markets can open for between three and four days a week depending on the province.

04:30 GMT – New Zealand to ease nearly all restrictions

New Zealand will allow restaurants, cafes, cinemas, and shopping centres to reopen, as well as travel within the country to resume from Thursday as it eases most of the restrictions put in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said schools can open from May 18 and bars by May 21.

Gatherings would be limited to 10 people, she added.

03:20 GMT – South Korea scrambles to contain Seoul-centred outbreak

South Korean officials are scrambling to contain a spike in coronavirus cases linked to Seoul’s nightlife after 35 new cases were reported on Monday.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported a total of 69 cases in the past 48 hours, most of them connected with an outbreak at several bars and nightclubs in the capital. Some 4,000 people have been tested, but authorities are still trying to track down 3,000 more who were at the venues.

“Our top priority is to minimise the spread of the infections in the greater Seoul area,” Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said on Monday.

“We should quickly find and test them.”

02:40 GMT – Tunisia reports zero new cases for first time since March

Tunisia reported no new cases of coronavirus on Monday for the first time since March.

The North African country reported its first case on March 2, and has confirmed 1,032 cases and 45 deaths. It began loosening its coronavirus lockdown last week, and shopping centres, clothing stores and hairdressers are due to open on Monday.


Tunisia recorded zero new cases of coronavirus on Monday for the first time since March [Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters]

02:35 GMT – Pence not in quarantine, will be at White House on Monday

US Vice President Mike Pence is not in quarantine and will be at the White House on Monday, spokesman Devin O’Malley said in a statement on Sunday.

O’Malley said Pence had tested negative “every single day” amid reports he was in self-quarantine after a member of his staff tested positive for coronavirus.

“Vice President Pence will continue to follow the advice of the White House Medical Unit and is not in quarantine,” the statement said.


02:30 GMT – China reports new cases, five in Wuhan

China reported 17 new cases of coronavirus, including five in Wuhan, the city where the virus first emerged late last year.

The five Wuhan cases all involve people living in the same residential compound.

Seven other cases were among travellers returning from overseas travel, and the remainder in the northeast where there concerns about the resurgence of the virus have prompted some cities to step up their response.

01:45 GMT – Australia’s Victoria state announces ‘cautious next steps’

Australians living in the southeastern state of Victoria will be able to visit more friends and family under a slight relaxation to the lockdown in the state.

Larger gatherings – of up to ten people outdoors and five visitors inside a home – will be allowed. Residents will also be able to do more outdoor sports – provided physical distancing rules are followed – and more people will be able to attend funerals.

The changes come into effect at 11:59pm (13:59 GMT) on Tuesday.

01:10 GMT – Saudi Arabia to distribute $493m in ‘Ramadan Aid’

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Monday ordered the distribution of ‘Ramadan Aid’ worth 1.85 billion riyals ($492.6m) to social security beneficiaries, according to the state news agency.

Individuals supporting families will get 1,000 riyals each, while family members will each get 500 riyals.

00:15 GMT – Shanghai Disneyland to welcome first guests

Shanghai Disneyland will welcome its first guests in more than three months on Monday.

The park, the first of Disney’s theme parks to reopen since the coronavirus pandemic began, will operate at 30 percent capacity (24,000 people) and visitors will have to wear masks and follow strict rules on physical distancing. 

Shanghai Disney

One of the first visitors to Shanghai Disneyland after the theme park reopened on Monday [Aly Song/Reuters]

00:00 GMT – Some Australian children return to school

Some children in the Australian states of New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland began returning to school on Monday after weeks off school because of the coronavirus.

NSW has equipped schools with sanitiser, soap, personal protective equipment and temperature monitors, while class sizes will be smaller and personal contact reduced.

“I know this is a huge relief for families,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters. “It is a huge relief for the state government because we know how important it is for students to receive that face-to-face teaching.”


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage fo the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.&

Read all the updates from yesterday (May 10) here.

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