- The world has recorded close to 1.8 million cases with almost 110,000 deaths
- The elderly might have to stay isolated until 2021 — EU
- Germany plans ‘corona-presidency’ during six-month rotating EU leadership from July
- Churches put on virtual Easter Sunday services; Pope Francis livestreams Mass from Saint Peter’s Basilica
Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)
13:35 In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was discharged from the London hospital where he was treated for coronavirus in intensive care, while the United Kingdom’s COVID-19 death toll exceeded 10,000.
Johnson’s office said he left St. Thomas’ Hospital and is set to continue his recovery at Chequers, the prime minister’s country house.
Johnson, 55, was taken to hospital on April 5, after suffering persistent symptoms of the virus. He was then moved to an intensive care unit on April 6, and remained there until last Thursday.
“On the advice of his medical team, the PM will not be immediately returning to work. He wishes to thank everybody at St. Thomas’ for the brilliant care he has received,” an official statement said.
Figures from the National Health Service on Sunday put the combined number of dead across all four nations of the United Kingdom at 10,647.
13:15 Italy will transfer migrants from German private rescue ship Alan Kurdi to another ship where they would be kept in quarantine, Italian officials said on Sunday.
The vessel, with 149 migrants on board, was previously rejected port from Malta and Italy over coronavirus concerns. Following complaints and pressure from Berlin, Italian authorities supplied the crowded charity boat with food yesterday.
On Sunday, Italy’s transport ministry said that people on board would be moved to another ship, screened and then kept in quarantine.
12:40 The South African police service said it had arrested four of its own officers for their part in the illegal alcohol trade. The lockdown in South Africa includes a ban on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes.
South African authorities also have announced a crackdown on looters and have carried out at least 16 raids in Cape Town of liquor stores to break up illicit gatherings.
South Africa has 2,028 confirmed cases of coronavirus, the highest in Africa, and 25 people have died.
For the first time in 25 years, sub-Saharan Africa is heading for recession, the World Bank has said.
While countries in Africa have not been as badly hit by coronavirus, the knock-on effect from the struggling economies of China, the EU and the US are negatively affecting African countries’ economies.
The slump in the trade of raw materials and tourism is also set to lead to negative growth of up to 5.1%, the World Bank estimated. In 2019, African countries saw growth of around 2.4%.
11:38 Israeli authorities have closed off a number of ultra-Jewish Orthodox neighborhoods in Jerusalem where one in 1,000 residents have been found infected with the coronavirus. The move comes after authorities found violations of coronavirus restrictions across ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods such as group gatherings.
As of Sunday, the government also instructed all Israelis to cover their mouths and noses in public as part of a new measure to contain the outbreak. Children under six and those unable to wear masks for health reasons are exempt.
11:30 Berlin police say the majority of people have been adhering to coronavirus social-distancing rules over the Easter weekend. Some 500 police officers have been deployed across the German capital due to concerns the weekend’s predicted warm weather may lead people to disregard government advice. Some police traveled on horseback to surrounding forests check for violators.
As part of the restrictions to curb the virus, Germans are banned from gathering in groups of more than two unless they are members of the same household.
11:14 Migrants aboard the German rescue ship Alan Kurdi are to be transferred to another vessel and quarantined at sea off Italy to ensure they don’t have coronavirus. The Italian Transport Ministry said in a statement that the controls cannot take place on land due to the pandemic. Instead, the Italian Red Cross and health authorities will screen the 150 migrants on the second ship.
Italy had asked Germany to take in the migrants but the ministry said that Sea-Eye group spokesperson Gorden Isler refused, saying that “the large ships of the Italian coast guard are much better suited” to the job.
10:30 Pope Francis has broken with centuries of tradition to livestream his Easter Sunday Mass to allow the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics to celebrate their holiest holiday under the coronavirus lockdown.
In an empty St Peter’s Basilica, Francis gave the “Urbi et Orbi” (To the city and to the world) message and blessing, urging European “solidarity” in the face of the pandemic.
“Today my thoughts turn in the first place to the many who have been directly affected by the coronavirus: the sick, those who have died and family members who mourn the loss of their loved ones, to whom, in some cases, they were unable even to bid a final farewell,” he said.
The pope also called for “immediate” ceasefires in global conflicts and appealed for the forgiveness of debt to developing nations.
Normally St Peter’s Square would be packed with worshippers on Easter Sunday, but the crowds and lavish flower arrangements are missing. Instead, the Vatican, which has been closed to the public for more than a month, is now sealed off by armed police wearing facemasks and rubber gloves.
10:24 The coronavirus death toll in Europe has reached 75,011, according to the latest tally conducted by French news agency AFP. Some 80% of all the coronavirus-related deaths are in Italy, Spain, France and the UK. Europe has a total of 909,673 infected persons, AFP reported, making it the continent hardest hit by the disease.
Italy and Spain are the most affected European countries with 19,468 and 16,972 deaths respectively. France has a toll of 13,832 deaths and the UK 9,875.
10:10 Iran says its death toll from COVID-19 has risen by 117 in the past day to 4,474. The Islamic Republic has recorded 71,686 cases of the new coronavirus and has been the country hardest hit by the pandemic in the Middle East.
09:46 Spain’s overnight death toll has risen to 619 from a nearly three-week low of 510 on Saturday. Nearly 17,000 people have now died from COVID-19 related complications, the Health Ministry said in a statement. Spain is one of the worst-hit countries, and total cases have now risen by 4,167 to 166,019.
09:36 Malaysia has registered 153 new coronavirus cases, bringing the number of people infected to 4,683, the highest in Southeast Asia. Three new deaths raised the country’s death toll to 76. The Health Ministry said 45% of all confirmed cases have recovered. Indonesia has recorded its biggest daily jump so far with 399 new cases. There are now 4,241 infections. The world’s largest Muslim-majority nation has seen 374 deaths, with 46 new fatalities in the past 24 hours.
Thailand has reported three more deaths as well as 33 new infections, bringing the total number of cases to 2,551 and the death toll to 38. The Philippines has registered its highest number of deaths in a single day, with 50 new fatalities. The death toll now stands at 297. The Health Ministry said 220 new infections took the total number of virus cases to 4,648.
Read more: Coronavirus and sports: ICC and UFC canceled
09:24 Ten Jewish worshippers wearing face masks have prayed at Jerusalem’s Western Wall during a Passover ceremony that usually draws thousands. The group maintained social distancing for the “Priestly Blessing” at the holy site in the walled Old City. The blessing is carried out by members of the Jewish priestly caste, known as “Kohanim” in Hebrew.
The Western Wall abuts the sacred compound known to Jews as Temple Mount, and to Muslims as The Noble Sanctuary. The holiest place where Jews are allowed to pray in Jerusalem, it was built more than 2,000 years ago by Herod the Great.
08:46 Police in Frankfurt have been attacked by men with stones and iron bars while enforcing social distancing measures to stop the spread of coronavirus. In a statement issued on Saturday, police said officers stopped their car when they saw a large group of people in the street who were blatantly ignoring lockdown rules.
As one officer stepped out of the patrol car, one of the group threw a large stone at the vehicle, before the group ran away. Shortly afterward, a second officer was attacked by around 20 people as the officer got out of the vehicle.
The incident, on Friday, is believed to be the first in Germany, where residents are generally respecting strict regulations that have been put in place nationwide to slow the spread of coronavirus.
08:35 Chinese officials have reportedly tried to influence German government officials to give positive feedback on Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak. The newspaper Welt am Sonntag cited a confidential Foreign Ministry document that said senior officials and employees of several German ministries were invited “to express themselves in positive terms on China’s handling of the coronavirus.”
It said a German intelligence source had confirmed that ”Chinese officials are pursuing increased political influence and using propaganda policies in connection with the coronavirus.” According to the report, the ministry has recommended all government departments reject such approaches. The ministry has refused to confirm or deny the report.
Germany’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution has said that Beijing is seeking to cast light on its medical missions abroad to help fight the pandemic “in order to present the People’s Republic as a trustworthy partner.”
08:33 China has recorded its highest daily number of imported virus cases, with 97 new infections. No new deaths were reported. The country where the disease first emerged has largely brought its domestic outbreak under control, but it faces a fresh battle against imported cases from overseas, mostly Chinese nationals returning home.
The northeastern Harbin city, close to the border with Russia, says it has ordered those entering from abroad to undergo a 28-day quarantine. Residents, meanwhile, will be quarantined for 14 days where confirmed and asymptomatic cases have been found.
08:27 As well as warning Europe’s elderly population, and those with pre-existing health conditions, that they may need to stay isolated for the rest of the year, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has warned EU nationals against booking their summer vacation just yet.
“I advise people to delay such plans. No one can make reliable predictions for July and August at the moment,” she told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.
She also criticized the German government’s decision that holidaymakers could only claim a credit note for canceled trips during the coronavirus crisis, and not a full refund. “Throughout Europe, people have a legal choice as to whether they want the cash or a voucher,” she insisted.
07:57 Russia has reported 2,186 new coronavirus cases, the largest daily increase since the start of the outbreak, bringing the national tally of confirmed cases to 15,770. The number of coronavirus-related deaths rose by 24 to 130. On Saturday, the Kremlin said a ”huge influx” of coronavirus patients was beginning to put a
07:04 Saudi Arabia has extended a nationwide curfew until further notice. Last week, King Salman placed the capital Riyadh and other big cities under a 24-hour curfew, locking down much of the population to stem the spread of the virus.
The country of some 30 million has recorded 4,033 infections with 52 deaths, the highest among the six Gulf Arab states. Saudi authorities reported more than 300 new infections on each of the last four days.
06:12 Hospitals in Japan are reportedly so overrun with COVID-19 patients that they are turning away people rushed by ambulance, including those suffering strokes, heart attacks and external injuries. The Japanese Association for Acute Medicine and the Japanese Society for Emergency Medicine have issued a joint statement warning of a potential “collapse of emergency medicine,” which may lead to the collapse of medicine overall. It said some of those turned away later turned out to have the coronavirus.
Japan has nearly 7,000 confirmed cases and about 100 deaths, but the numbers are growing. The government has declared a state of emergency, asking people to stay home.
06:01 Microsoft founder Bill Gates has called on industrialized countries to invest billions in the development and distribution of a coronavirus vaccine. In an opinion piece for Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper, the US billionaire said the race was on to find a vaccine to help curb the pandemic, predicting that researchers are aiming for ”at least one of them to be ready for use in 18 months.” Gates said that a solution for a new pathogen had never previously been discovered in such a short time. “This tight schedule can only be met with appropriate financial support,” he warned.
05:50 Church pews across Europe will be empty this morning as Christians celebrate Easter Sunday under lockdown conditions. Churches and synagogues across Australia and New Zealand offered their services online, allowing their flocks to attend services virtually. The Jewish Passover festival coincides with Easter this year.
Pope Francis is set to break with centuries of tradition by taking his Easter mass online, with Saint Peter’s Basilica — usually packed every year with worshippers — left deserted.
A handful of US priests and pastors will risk arrest by holding public services in their churches on Sunday, snubbing rules and medical advice. But most were streaming their services, and some were innovating with “drive-in” blessings.
05:34 South Korea reported just 32 additional infections over the past 24 hours, a continued downward trend. The country now has 10,512 confirmed cases and more than 7,300 people have recovered. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday that the death toll had increased by three to 214. After hundreds of domestic cases were reported every day in March, officials are now worried about a steady rise in infections linked to those arriving from overseas and transmissions at bars and other leisure facilities.
05:25 Indonesia is to stop an annual exodus of people from cities at the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. About 75 million urban dwellers normally return to their ancestral villages as the Holy Month comes to a close — this year at the end of May. But health experts have warned that people could carry the coronavirus with them to rural areas.
The government of the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country has ordered public buses, trains, airplanes and ships to fill only half their passenger seats. The rule will also apply to cars, while motorcycles can only be ridden only by one person.
The capital Jakarta is the epicenter of Indonesia’s outbreak, with the most infections and deaths among a national tally of 3,842 cases and 327 fatalities.
05:03 A lawyer for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has issued an appeal for him to be released from a UK jail, saying he is at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus. Stella Morris said there were genuine fears over his health due to long periods of isolation inside London’s Belmarsh prison. ”He is in isolation for 23 hours a day and all visits have stopped,” Morris said.
Assange is waiting for an extradition hearing on May 18 on behalf of the US, where he is wanted for questioning over WikiLeaks’ activities. Last month, a British court rejected a bail request, ruling that Assange was likely to skip US extradition proceedings if freed.