Coronavirus latest: New York sees worst 24 hours yet

  • New York state reports a record day for fatalities, at 630
  • China has held a 3-minute silence for its 3,330 coronavirus “martyrs”
  • Spain has extended its nationwide lockdown until April 26
  • A 63-year-old man is the first reported police killing for not obeying lockdown measures in the Philippines
  • Despite Germany’s relatively low death rate, almost 4,000 citizens are in intensive care

Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)

18:25 Yemen’s rebels say they have freed 1,600 prisoners to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the impoverished, war-torn country. Yemen is one of the few nations that has yet to officially record any cases of coronavirus. The 1,600 inmates were released by Iran-backed Houthi rebels to attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19. The rival Yemeni government announced the release of hundreds of prisoners earlier in the week. It is feared in Yemen — and elsewhere in the world — that the virus will spread especially quickly in jails due to cramped conditions.

18:20 Here is the latest from the US and Canada:

New York State: New York has recorded 630 deaths by Saturday, bringing the total death toll to 3,565. This is the biggest day-to-day jump since the outbreak began. The northeastern US state, with its population of 19.5 million, now has 113,704 confirmed infections. Italy, with its population of 60.5 million, has around 120,000.

US warship: After a coronavirus outbreak hit the aircraft carrier, USS Theodore Roosevelt, the US Navy said 44% of the crew has now been tested. The nuclear-powered vessel normally has a crew of around 5,000. The US military said 155 sailors have so far tested positive of COVID-19 and none of them have been hospitalized. Over 1,500 crew members have been moved ashore. On Thursday, the warship’s captain Brett Crozier was fired after he demanded 80% of his sailors be evacuated in order to slow the outbreak. His firing triggered outrage in the US.

Mormon Church: Around 20,000 worshippers are set to remotely attend a religious conference in Utah on Saturday, hosted by the top religious leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — or the Mormons. The conference started with leaders sitting six-feet (1.83 meters) apart in an empty room while the event was streamed online. Church President Russell M. Nelson, who is 95 years old, said the gathering was altered in order to be good “global citizens” and to curb the spread of COVID-19 spread. The religious community has closed its temples and churches and recalled thousands of missionaries from across the world.

Walmart: The US retail giant is to introduce one-way lanes in their shops to help customers keep their distance. The company will also to limit the number of people in their stores to one-fifth of their normal capacity. To enforce these rules, Walmart employees will direct customers to only one entry door and admit them one by one. Walmart is the largest private employer in the world with 1.5 million people working for it in the US alone.

Coral Princess: A third cruise ship with confirmed COVID-19 cases and fatalities onboard is docking in Florida on Saturday afternoon after spending days waiting for authorization. Earlier this week, the company said seven passengers and five crew members have tested positive aboard the Coral Princess. Two of the passengers have since died. The ship entered port in Miami a day after two other cruisers, Zaandam and Rotterdam, were allowed to dock at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, just north of Florida’s most populous city.

Canada: Ottowa says will not retaliate after the US said it would prevent the export of N95 protective masks. Trump announced the move late Friday and his administration later ordered US manufacturer 3M to halt their exports to Canada and Latin America. On Saturday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau noted that materials used to make the masks come from its side of the border. He said cutting supply chains would hurt both countries.

18:05 The number of people who died from the novel coronavirus in France over the past 24 hours has slowed to 441 from a high of 588 the previous day. Health ministry director Jerome Salomon told a news conference the death toll in French hospitals and nursing homes since the start of the outbreak now stood at 7,560.

17:10 Hong Kong had decided to quarantine 130 riot police after two of them tested positive for COVID-19, a police source told the AFP news agency. One of the officers was deployed in a crowd control operation on Tuesday, while another visited a bar believed to be an infection hotspot. Following an investigation, the authorities decided to isolate 130 of their colleagues for the next 14 days.

17:00 Berlin has reported more violations of coronavirus restrictions as residents ventured out to enjoy the spring weather. During a 24-hour period, police issued 30 criminal charges and 79 warnings to people flouting the rules. Under Berlin’s social-distancing measures, two people from different households are only allowed to meet at a distance of 1.5 meters (5 feet).

16:35 Italy says 681 people have died in the previous 24 hours, marking the first time in over a week that a daily fatality rate has gone below 700. The country also reported its first-ever drop in coronavirus patients needing intensive care. The number now stands at 3,994, or 74 fewer than the day before.

“This is very important news because it allows our hospitals to breathe,” Civil Protection Agency chief Angelo Borrelli said on Saturday. Italy still has a higher death toll than any other country in the world. At least 15,362 people have died of COVID-19 since the outbreak began.

18:30 Here is a round-up of the latest on the pandemic from around the world: 

China: President Xi Jinping and other top officials have led three minutes of silence for the thousands of victims who lost their lives in the coronavirus outbreak. The ceremony took place in the compound of Zhongnanhai in Beijing’s Imperial City. Saturday usually marks the annual Qingming Festival, when millions of Chinese families pay respects to their ancestors. Wuhan has suspended all tomb-sweeping rituals in a bid to curb viral transmission. China also suspended all forms of entertainment for the occasion.  

Spain: Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says the country’s strict lockdown measures will stay in place until April 25, three weeks after the restrictions were introduced. Sanchez added that he would ease some economic restrictions under the state of emergency after the Easter holidays. With a death toll of 11,774, Spain is ranked third, behind the US and Italy, according to Johns Hopkins University. However, the rate of new infections has started to drop in recent days.

Philippines: Police shot and killed a 63-year-old man in the southern province of Agusan del Norte after he violated coronavirus rules by not wearing a face mask and threatened officers. “The suspect was cautioned by a village health worker … for not wearing a face mask … But the suspect got angry, uttering provoking words and eventually attacked the personnel using a scythe,” a police report stated. It is the first reported police killing for not obeying lockdown measures.

Russia: Moscow has called for all sanctions on all countries worldwide to be lifted to prevent further outbreak of the coronavirus. The Kremlin called on United Nations chief Antonio Guterres to push against “discriminatory measures” that hamper the nations’ response. The latest appeal comes days after Russia, China, Syria, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba sent a letter to Guterres demanding that sanctions against them be lifted. 

Germany: Some 200,000 German citizens who were stranded abroad due to the pandemic were flown back, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Twitter. According to the country’s public health agency the Robert Koch Institute, 85,778, people in Germany are infected with the virus, an increase of 6082 on the previous day’s figure. Despite the country’s relatively low death rate (1158 registered deaths so far), almost 4,000 citizens remain in intensive care.

Australia: The government has called on its more than two million visitors on temporary visas including skilled workers and students and some 203,000 tourists to return home if they are unable to support themselves amid an economic downturn and unemployment caused by the pandemic.

Egypt: At least 15 medical workers in the country’s main cancer hospital have been quarantined after testing positive for the coronavirus, state officials said. Cairo’s National Institute of Cancer said three doctors and 12 nurses were found to be infected. 

Brazil: Lawmakers in Congress approved a “war budget’ to fight the coronavirus outbreak, with the bill establishing a special fiscal and financial regime for the expenses linked with the ongoing state of emergency. The proposal would ease fiscal and budgetary burdens for taking steps against the outbreak, and also grant the nation’s central bank emergency powers.

16:15 New York state will receive 1,000 ventilators as a gift facilitated by the Chinese government and Alibaba founders Jack Ma and Josep Tsai, said Governor Andrew Cuomo. Another 140 of the machines will soon arrive from the northwestern US state of Oregon. “It’s going to make a significant difference for us,” Cuomo said

16:10 New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has urged every available medical professional to join the anti-pandemic effort. “Anyone who’s not already in this fight, we need you,” de Blasio said in a video message. Sounding the alarm ahead of an expected spike in infections next week, he urged help from “any health care professional: Doctor, nurse, respiratory therapist, you name it.”

Previously, De Blasio urged a nationwide enlistment program for doctors and nurses which would allow civilian medical workers to be deployed to the areas of the US worst affected by the virus.

15:45 The US state of New York has recorded 630 deaths by Saturday, bringing the total death toll to 3,565. This is the biggest day-to-day jump since the outbreak began. The northeastern US state, with its population of 19.5 million, now has 113,704 confirmed infections. Italy, with its population of 60.5 million, has around 120,000.

15:35 The first UK-made ventilators will arrive at hospitals this weekend, UK Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove told a news conference. The machines, which provide breathable air to critically ill patients, are being produced by a consortium of aerospace, engineering and Formula One teams.

Gove said hundreds of ventilators have also arrived from overseas. “We’ve been buying invasive ventilators from partners abroad, including Germany and Switzerland, and today 300 new ventilators arrived from China.”

Gove also noted there had been criticism over the UK’s response to the pandemic. The minister added that work was now accelerating on the construction of emergency hospitals in various parts of the country. The first, NHS Nightingale, was built in just 9 days and opened in London on Friday.

The politician also urged the public to stick with the social distancing measures, even if they are “tempted on a sunny weekend” to leave their homes.

Read more: Coronavirus lockdown impacts small business in Britain

15:12 Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov says he is personally opposed to Bulgarians taking seasonal jobs in western Europe during the coronavirus pandemic. Although he acknowledged that freedom of movement is enshrined in EU law, Borisov said it was “not fair” for Bulgarians to go to work to Austria and other rich EU countries and then “come here, carrying the infection” with other Bulgarians paying the price.

Wealthier EU states are in dire need of seasonal workers to plant seeds and pick crops, despite border shutdowns across the continent. Similarly, hospitals and nursing homes in western Europe rely heavily on nurses and care workers from poorer states. Earlier this week, the EU published an advisory list of “critical workers” — including medical staff, truck drivers, and field hands — that should be allowed freedom of movement. Two days ago, Germanyeased border rules to let in agricultural workers.

15:00 Prisoners in Italy are to be put to work producing face masks at jails in Milan, Rome, and Salerno, the Italian Justice Ministry said on Saturday. Starting in mid-April, the inmates will operate a total of eight machines with a daily output of 400,000 masks. The items will be initially distributed among other inmates and prison guards. However, the authorities expect a “considerable surplus” to be redirected to medical staff in hospitals across the country.

14:32 Germany has flown back 200,000 citizens who were stranded abroad due to the worsening pandemic. “This was not always easy and there were a few bumps in the road,” said Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Twitter. “But everyone involved can be proud of this effort.”

Maas thanked his employees and travelers and pledged to keep up the massive repatriation effort. “We will continue to work on solutions for travelers that have so far been unable to return.”

Another 40,000 German nationals are still waiting to return home, according to the DPA news agency.

14:16 Police have shot and killed a 63-year-old man in the Philippines after he flouted coronavirus rules and threatened officers. “The suspect was cautioned by a village health worker … for not wearing a face mask,” police said in a report on the incident in the southern province of Agusan del Norte. “But the suspect got angry, uttering provoking words and eventually attacked officers using a scythe.”

Earlier this week, President Rodrigo Duterte said he would order security forces to shoot troublemakers. Filipino officials say the country has so far registered 3,094 infections and 144 deaths due to the coronavirus.

14:10 Over 10,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus in Portugal. The latest figures indicate 10,524 infections and 266 deaths, with authorities predicting the outbreak would reach its peak in late May. Health Minister Marta Temido warned there was still “no light at the end of the tunnel.”

“This fight is not a 100-meter race, it is a long marathon,” she told a news conference. “This is the time to balance fear and courage, courage to stay home, to continue helping others, to ask for help when we need it.”

14:02 Spain will keep its lockdown measures in place until April 25, says Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. Speaking three weeks after the restrictions were first introduced, Sanchez said the government would request “authorization from parliament” for the move next week. Spain will ease some economic restrictions under the state of emergency after the Easter holidays, he added.

Spain currently has 124,736 coronavirus cases, more than any other country in the world except the US. With a death toll of 11,774, it is ranked third, behind the US and Italy, according to data provided by Johns Hopkins University. However, the rate of new infections has started to drop in recent days, giving rise to the hopes that the outbreak is reaching its peak.

13:49 For the first time in Austria, more people have recovered from COVID-19 than were infected in a 24-hour period, authorities said on Saturday. The country’s health ministry confirmed 354 new cases but said 485 people have officially recovered over the previous day. Austria has seen a drop in infection rates in recent days, with the day-to-day jump dropping below 5%, according to Germany’s DPA news agency. The latest figures indicate 11,525 confirmed infections.

Health Minister Rudolf Anschober warned it was too early to celebrate. “We have absolutely not reached our goals,” he said. “But we see that we can reach them — if we all stick together, pull together and keep at it.”

13:35 The German Football League (DFL) has denied a report that the soccer season would restart in early May. Sports magazine Kicker reported that 36 clubs had agreed to let teams compete behind closed doors next month and have them play out the competition until the end of June.

The football body that operates the Bundesliga and the second division said the report was “misleading,” and there was “no game plan prepared for the rest of the current season.” The body said it had been considering “two possible scenarios” which would need to be approved by the government.

Read more: Women’s Bundesliga not facing wave of bankruptcies — at least not yet

13:25 Russia has called for sanctions on all nations in the world to be lifted in order to help the world fight the coronavirus pandemic. Keeping the restrictions in place “brings people in the most vulnerable countries to the brink,” the Foreign Ministry said. Moscow urged United Nations chief Antonio Guterres to push against “discriminatory measures” that hamper those nations’ response. The latest appeal comes days after Russia, China, Syria, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba sent a letter to Guterres demanding that sanctions against them be lifted. 

Russia has faced sanctions from the US and most western European countries following its 2014 annexation of Crimea.

Read more: Russia’s ‘corona-holidays’ leave small businesses in freefall

13:20 Britain has reported a fourth successive daily high in fatalities from COVID19 with 708 more deaths taking the overall tally to 4,313. The figure marks a 20% increase on the previous day.

After struggling to test all but the most serious cases of coronavirus until now, Britain’s leaders have vowed to step up the procedures. 

On Friday, a 4,000-bed field hospital, built in just 9 days, was opened in London by Prince Charles. The critical care facility will be able to help the country deal with a surge of seriously ill patients.

13:10 An Italian policeman who protected Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte died of COVID-19. The 52-year-old officer tested positive on March 21 and has not been in contact with the prime minister for at least two weeks, the Italian government said. Italy currently has nearly 120,000 infections with the death toll at 14,681 according to data provided by the US-based Johns Hopkins Institute.

Read more: What you need to know about the coronavirus

13:04 Hungary is preparing a rescue package for the economy, which will also include a special fund that multinational companies, political parties, banks, and municipal authorities would be required to pay into and “share the burden” of the economic fallout from the pandemic.

The government will transfer around €3.7 billion ($4 billion) to the fund, but also impose special taxes on multinational firms and banks to bring another €250 million, said Viktor Orban’s chief of staff Gergely Gulyas on Saturday.

12:55 Lawmakers in Brazil’s Congress approved a “war budget’ to fight the coronavirus outbreak on Saturday, with the bill establishing a special fiscal and financial regime for expenses linked with the ongoing state of emergency. The proposal would ease fiscal and budgetary red-tape for taking steps against the pandemic, and also grant the nation’s central bank emergency powers. The bill still needs to be approved by at least 60% of deputies in the country’s Senate.

12:48 Authorities in Switzerland have reported 56 more deaths in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total death toll in the country of 8.6 million to 484. The number of registered infections has jumped by nearly 1,000 cases since yesterday and is now at 20,278.

12:09 Spain will extend its strict lockdown measures until April 26, newspaper El Pais has reported. It said Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is set to ask Congress for the extension. The country has witnessed a leveling off in its number of cases and deaths in recent days. A relaxing of its lockdown measures is not expected until it sees a significant drop in its number of cases.

11:44 For nurses on the frontline of the coronavirus response in Germany, there’s no end in sight and the worst is yet to come. Despite the country’s relatively low death rate, almost 4,000 citizens remain in intensive care.

11:25 Lockdown measures in Germany could prompt an increase in domestic violence, especially in urban areas, German Family Minister Franziska Giffey has stated. “We are getting different feedback from the federal states. There is obviously a city-country divide,” she told news agency DPA. The potential for conflict is not so high in rural regions, according to Giffey. “We haven’t heard of additional case numbers there yet,” the family minister revealed.

Germans are being urged to stay home, with meetings allowed with one other person outdoors under social distancing rules, although some local authorities have enforced tougher lockdown restrictions. Schools and daycare centers have been closed in most federal states for three weeks now.

Last week, Giffey said police reports of domestic violence in Berlin had gone up 10%.

11:05 The confirmed number of deaths from the coronavirus in the Netherlands has risen by 164 to 1,651, authorities say.

The National Institute for Health (RIVM) said the number of COVID-19 infections had increased by 6% to 16,627 over the past 24 hours.

The actual number of deaths and infections is higher than the official figure due to a lack of widespread testing, the RIVM has said.

10:10 Spain has recorded a second successive daily fall in coronavirus-related deaths with 809 fatalities, according to official figures. The number of deaths there peaked on Thursday at 950.

The Health Ministry announced it has registered 124,736 cases in total after an additional 7,026 infections were confirmed over the last 24 hours. It is a slight decrease on the previous daily figure.

Spain now ranks ahead of Italy as the country with the second most infections behind the United States. Italy, however, still needs to release its updated figures which it is expected to do later on Saturday.

Spain, meanwhile, is completing its third week of a state of emergency, which the government has used to apply stay-at-home rules and a shutdown of all non-essential industries. The lockdown is due to end on April 12 but few expect it not to be extended as the country grapples with the outbreak that has seen more than 11,000 losses of life.

10:00 A Swiss firm is offering luxury, high-end isolations in style, with a personal grocery shopper, visits from a doctor and an in-room test for COVID-19.

Alexander Hubner, co-founder and chief executive of Le Bijou, told news agency AFP: “We realized we had to come up with a new service and adapt as quickly as possible, and we came up with quarantine apartments.”

Hubner said the luxury firm had reduced its normal price of up to 2,000 Swiss francs ($2,050, €1,900) a night. “Right now I would say the larger or medium-sized units would be around 500 francs a day,” the Le Bijou chief said.

For an extra 800 francs per day, guests can receive a doctor’s house call or a twice-daily check-up from a nurse. The isolators can also request round-the-clock medical monitoring for a mere 4,800 francs a day. If guests want a coronavirus test, one can be conducted in-room for 500 francs.

Hubner said the firm was not making a profit, though, as it was also offering medical staff free accommodation. “We have in-room spas, which could be very suitable for a doctor to relax in,” he said.

09:40 A couple in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh have named their newborn twins Corona and Covid.

“The delivery happened after facing several difficulties and therefore, my husband and I wanted to make the day memorable,” Preeti Verma, the 27-old mother of the boy and the girl, told news agency Press Trust of India.

The parents said the names would remind them about the difficulties they had faced during the countrywide lockdown that began on March 24.

09:00 The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Berlin has put the number of people infected with the coronavirus in Germany at 85,778, an increase of 6082 on the previous day’s figure. Johns Hopkins University (JHU), based in the US city of Baltimore, has reported a total of 91,159 cases. The RKI, which only takes into account the electronically transmitted figures from the federal states and updates its list once a day, has registered 1158 deaths so far, while the JHU reported 1275 deaths.

The RKI also gave a break down on the cases and deaths for each individual German state:

Baden-Württemberg: 17,014 cases, 316 deaths
Bavaria: 21,908 cases, 349 deaths
Berlin: 3,471 cases, 22 deaths
Brandenburg: 1,211 cases, 12 deaths
Bremen: 354 cases, 6 deaths
Hamburg: 2,697 cases, 16 deaths
Hesse: 4,279 cases, 42 deaths
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania: 501 cases, 5 deaths
Lower Saxony: 5571 cases, 85 deaths
North Rhine-Westphalia: 17,885 cases, 200 deaths
Rhineland-Palatinate: 3,504 cases, 29 deaths
Saarland: 1,265 cases, 14 deaths
Saxony: 2,591 cases, 24 deaths
Saxony-Anhalt: 896 cases, 11 deaths
Schleswig-Holstein: 1,559 cases, 17 deaths
Thuringia: 1,072, 10 deaths

Total: 85,778 cases, 1158 deaths

08:55 At least 15 medical workers in Egypt’s main cancer hospital have been quarantined after testing positive for the coronavirus, state officials said.

The news has raised fears that the pandemic could prey on health facilities in the Arab world’s most populous country at a most critical time.

Cairo’s National Institute of Cancer said three doctors and 12 nurses were found to be infected. Other medics at the hospital, which receives hundreds of patients each day, would be tested.

Egypt has registered around 1,000 cases of the virus and 66 deaths. The government imposed a nighttime curfew and shut down all mosques, schools and banned public gatherings in a bid to curb the virus from spreading. 

08:45 Here is a round up of the latest updates from Asia.

Japan: Tokyo has 118 new cases of COVID-19, according to NHK public broadcaster, citing metropolitan government officials. It is the first time that infections have exceeded 100 in a day, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the Japanese capital to 891, NHK said.

Tokyo’s metropolitan government has urged people to stay at home over the weekend amid mounting speculation that Japan may declare a state of emergency, leading to a countrywide lockdown.

The country as a whole has reported 2,935 infections resulting in 69 deaths.

China: The country has been mourning thousands of “martyrs” who have died in the new coronavirus outbreak and suspended all forms of entertainment.

The day of mourning included three minutes of reflection, led by President Xi Jinping in Beijing with other top officials, all dressed in black suits with white carnations, as they bowed before a flag at half-mast in the leadership compound of Zhongnanhai.

Saturday is the annual Qingming festival, when millions of Chinese families pay respects to their ancestors. However, Wuhan has put a stop to all tomb-sweeping activities in its cemeteries until at least April 30, curtailing one of the most significant dates in the Chinese calendar which usually sees millions of families travel to tend to their ancestral graves, offer flowers and burn incense.

Indonesia has reported an additional 106 new cases, taking its total to 2,092. Health Ministry official Achmad Yurianto also said that 10 more people had died, taking the country’s death toll to 191.

Indonesia is combatting the outbreak of novel coronavirus by introducing social distancing policies, but President Joko Widodo has opposed the harsh lockdown measures by many of Indonesia’s neighbors.

India: Amid the ongoing lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19, thousands of migrant workers are stuck in larger cities, such as the nation’s capital, New Delhi, not knowing where their next meal will come from.

Pakistan: Prime Minister Imran Khan has been speaking about how Pakistan is dealing with the crisis. “We are faced with the stark choice of having to balance between a lockdown necessary to slow down/prevent the spread of COVID19 ensuring people don’t die of hunger our economy doesn’t collapse. So we are walking a tightrope.”

Thailand: Thailand has placed a temporary ban on all passenger flights from landing in the country to curb the spread of the novel virus.

The number of infections in Thailand has risen by 89, meaning there are now 2067 cases across the country, authorities announced. There was also another death, bringing the death toll to 20.

South Korea: Strict social distancing measures will remain in place until the number of daily cases becomes 50 or less, on a regular basis, South Korea’s Health Ministry has announced. The country is currently experiencing around 100 cases per day.

Philippines: The health ministry has reported 76 new cases and eight more people have died, bringing the death toll to 144. A total of 3,094 infections have been reported.

08:10 The US pop star Pink has revealed she has recovered after testing positive for COVID-19. The Just Like a Pill singer has also made two separate $500,000 (€460,000) donations to the Temple University Hospital Fund in Philadelphia and the COVID-19 Crisis Fund in Los Angeles. 

07:30 Cubans have been coming up with some unconventional ways of making protective masks to help prevent spreading the coronavirus. Some people have been making masks from bras with elastic bands due to a shortage of protective gear.

06:40 The Australian government has asked more than 2 million people on temporary visas to go home if they are unable to support themselves amid an economic downturn and unemployment caused by the coronavirus pandemic. They include skilled workers and students.

Among those asked to go were some 203,000 tourists currently in the country, most of them on three-month visas, who were told they needed to “return to their home country as quickly as possible” if they do not feel they can provide for themselves under the prevailing conditions. 

Some 118,000 backpackers and other visitors on working holiday visas were also told by Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge that if they do not “have the confidence to sustain themselves over the next six months, they should leave the country.” 

Australia is particularly popular with German backpackers, of whom 19,000 are currently in the country. Some backpackers, however, can have their visas extended if they are employed in essential sectors.

06:20 Authorities in Bangladesh are working overtime to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak in the Rohingya refugee camps. As yet, no cases have been reported, but an outbreak could prove devastating due to the overcrowded conditions. Watch DW’s video here.

05:50 US President Donald Trump has undermined health officials’ guidance, saying that he won’t be wearing a face mask himself.

The United States has reported more than 275,000 cases, with almost 7,500 deaths, and though Trump announced that federal health authorities are now recommending individuals wear cloth face coverings, he said he personally will not be heeding that advice.

“With the masks, it’s going to be a really voluntary thing. You can do it, you don’t have to do it. I’m choosing not to do it,” he said.

Meanwhile, in New York City, which has so far registered 1,867 deaths due to the virus, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is in an “extraordinary race against time,” renewing his call for the federal government to mobilize the military.

“We’re dealing with an enemy that is killing thousands of Americans, and a lot of people are dying who don’t need to die,” he said. “You can’t say, every state for themselves, every city for themselves. That is not America.”

Meanwhile, the mayor’s office tweeted advice including how to improvise a mask.

05:15 South Korea has announced it is to extend its social distancing campaign, scheduled to end on Monday, by two weeks, as the Asian nation steps up efforts to reduce the number of infections to less than 50 a day.

South Korea has been averaging around 100 new cases per day in recent weeks, but Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said it is “too early to be at ease,” highlighting a recent spike in imported cases, as well as a small cluster of infections, which also caused the government to cancel plans to re-open schools next week.

Park continued: “Our goal is to be able to control infections in a way that our health and medical system, including personnel and sickbeds, can handle them at usual levels.”

“If the number goes down to 50 or lower, stable treatment of the patients including the critically ill will be possible without much pressure on the system.”

05:00 A 58-year-old German doctor has died in his apartment, ignoring orders to self-isolate after showing coronavirus symptoms. The London-based medic was found dead at his flat near Berlin, creating concern he could have infected other people on a flight from the UK to Germany last month, British daily The Guardian has reported. 

The German citizen, who is understood to have worked in London as a locum doctor, was told by his employer to put himself into self-isolation on March 19 after developing symptoms. 

On March 25 the man ignored the advice and traveled to Berlin, where he has a close relative and owns an apartment in the Babelsberg district of Potsdam, on the outskirts of the German capital.

His body was discovered and a postmortem revealed had suffered from Covid-19.

02:40 China on Saturday morning commemorated the people who died in the coronavirus outbreak in a three-minute nationwide moment of reflection.

Air raid sirens were heard and flags were flown at half-mast in most major cities, including Wuhan, which became the epicenter of the pandemic, to honor the dead, especially the “martyrs” — what China is calling the health care workers who died fighting the outbreak.

The Xinhua News Agency called the commemoration a “wail in grief” as horns of vehicles, trains and ships joined in.   

02:22 US Attorney General William Barr said Friday that “emergency conditions” due to COVID-19 are affecting the functioning of US federal prisons and said “vulnerable inmates at the most affected facilities” will be released into “home confinement.”

01:30 A group of around 300 people assembled outside a mosque in Berlin on Friday even as a restriction on public gatherings was in place in the German capital amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

The people were reportedly responding to a call to prayer at the Dar-as-Salam mosque in the southeastern district of Neukölln.

Reports said that the Friday prayers were wrapped up early with the cooperation of the imam. Mosque officials told police that they will reach out to people again on social media asking them to stop responding to prayer calls in person. They also said that the call to prayer will be suspended promptly if crowds begin to appear again.

Read more: Russia’s ‘corona-holidays’ leave small businesses in freefall

00:40 US stocks closed out dropping 1.5% on Friday, as US Department of Labor data shows that the country lost 701,000 jobs in the first half of March. The coronavirus pandemic is blamed for ending a record 113-month streak of job growth in the US.

00:07 The German Foreign Ministry estimates that around 40,000 German citizens are still abroad, according to a report published Saturday in the Rheinischen Post newspaper. The majority of them are thought to be in South Africa, New Zealand and Peru, the Foreign Ministry said in the report. Germany has been flying back its citizens stranded abroad during the pandemic, with around 194,000 having been returned so far.

00:05 World Bank Group President David Malpass says he expects a “major global recession” because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a LinkedIn post on Friday, Malpass said that the World Bank aims to respond “forcefully and massively” through support programs especially targeting poor and vulnerable nations, which could be hit the hardest by the recession. 

He also added that the World Bank will soon hold talks with Ethiopia, Kenya and other nations.

00:00 Here are some of the key takeaways from Friday:

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Italy increased at the same rate for five days in a row, giving officials cautious hope that the country is reaching the peak of the epidemic. On Friday, over 4,500 new cases in Italy were reported, including over 760 fatalities, roughly the same number as the day before. More people have died of COVID-19 in Italy than anywhere else in the world, with the current death toll at 14,681.

Officials in Berlin on Friday accused the US of intercepting a shipment of 200,000 protective face masks en-route from a Chinese manufacturer to Germany.

Berlin Interior Minister Andreas Geisel on Friday said that the masks had been ordered for the city’s police department, and that the seizure was linked to an export ban on masks by the US government, as the manufacturer is based in the US.

The US committed “an act of modern piracy,” Geisel said.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending that people wear nonmedical “basic cloth or fabric masks that can either be purchased online or simply made at home.”

US health officials had originally recommended that healthy people need not wear masks.

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams said that the CDC’s new recommendation on masks is based on “recent studies” showing a “significant portion” of individuals with coronavirus who lack symptoms and can unknowingly transmit the disease.

In reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, unless otherwise specified, DW uses figures provided by the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Coronavirus Resource Center in the United States. JHU updates figures in real time, collating data from world health organizations, state and national governments and other public official sources, all of whom have their own systems for compiling information.
Germany’s national statistics are compiled by its public health agency, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). These figures depend on data transmission from state and local levels and are updated around once a day, which can lead to deviation from JHU.

jsi,wr / rc (Reuters, dpa, AP, AFP)

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