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Coronavirus live news: UN warns of 'biblical' famine as Trump reveals 60-day immigration halt

Coronavirus live news: UN warns of 'biblical' famine as Trump reveals 60-day immigration halt
Trump to halt immigration for 60 days initially; 256m people could starve, says UN; cases worldwide pass 2.5 million
  • Coronavirus latest: at a glance
  • Fears of prolonged downturn and second wave of US cases
  • Ramadan in a time of plague: ‘The best thing is to stay home, stay quiet’
  • UK coronavirus updates – live
  • Doctor Marco (R) and nurse Manu at the end of their shift treating coronavirus patients at the San Filippo Neri hospital in Rome.
  • The Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, delivers a speech during a government question time session.
  • On the eve of the summit to discuss a huge but divisive economic stimulus package, Pope Francis urged Europe to remain united in overcoming the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
    The pandemic has put new strains on the unity of the 27-member bloc, again exposing splits between the richer north and the poorer south.
    “In these times in which we need so much unity among us, among nations, let us pray today for Europe,” Francis said at the start of his daily morning Mass, which he dedicates each day to a different theme related to the global crisis.
    He asked for prayers “so that Europe manages to have this unity, this fraternal unity of which the founding fathers of the European Union dreamed”.
    It was the second time in 10 days that Francis, a big supporter of the EU, had expressed concern about the bloc.
    On Easter Sunday he warned that it risked collapse if it did not agree on how to recover together.
    The EU’s fiscally conservative northern nations remain keen to keep a tight rein on spending and have rejected calls from the ailing southern states for a joint debt - or ‘coronabonds’ - to fund the recovery.
    EU states - whose leaders are holding a video summit on Thursday - have clashed repeatedly over financial responses to the epidemic, on issues from sharing medical equipment to cushioning the immediate economic hit.
    The bloc has relaxed state aid rules and limits on public spending as well as unlocking a half-a-trillion euro rescue plan.
    But Rome, Madrid, Paris, Lisbon and others believe that is not enough and call for more solidarity, casting the challenge as an existential choice for the EU.
  • Some blood tests being marketed to tell people if they have ever had Covid-19 are a “disaster”, Roche chief executive, Severin Schwan, said on Wednesday, as he prepares to launch the Swiss drugmaker’s own antibody test in May.
    In developing its test, Schwan said, Roche scrutinised some existing products now on offer but rejected them as unreliable in determining if somebody has actually ever had the disease.
    “It’s a disaster. These tests are not worth anything, or have very little use,” Schwan told reporters on a conference call on the Basel-based company’s first-quarter results. “Some of these companies, I tell you, this is ethically very questionable to get out with this stuff.”
  • In these extraordinary times, the Guardian’s editorial independence has never been more important. Because no one sets our agenda, or edits our editor, we can keep delivering quality, trustworthy, fact-checked journalism each and every day. Free from commercial or political bias, we can report fearlessly on world events and challenge those in power.
    Your support protects the Guardian’s independence. We believe every one of us deserves equal access to accurate news and calm explanation. No matter how unpredictable the future feels, we will remain with you, delivering high quality news so we can all make critical decisions about our lives, health and security – based on fact, not fiction.
    Support the Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.
  • A Chinese writer is facing backlash for her ‘Wuhan Diary’, AFP reports.
    After Wuhan was sealed off from the world, acclaimed writer Fang Fang started an online diary about the coronavirus tragedy unfolding in her hometown.
    Her journal drew tens of millions of readers, but now that it is about to be published abroad in several languages, she is facing a nationalist backlash at home.
    Critics say the 64-year-old, who was awarded China’s most prestigious literary prize in 2010, is providing fodder to countries that have slammed Beijing’s handling of the pandemic.
    Fang began to document life in Wuhan, the city of 11 million where Covid-19 first emerged in December, after it was placed under an unprecedented lockdown on January 23.
  • Chinese writer Fang Fang speaking with media in Wuhan.
  • In one entry she describes residents helping each other, and the simple pleasure of the sun lighting up her room.
    But she also touched on politically sensitive topics such as overcrowded hospitals turning away patients, mask shortages and relatives’ deaths.
    “A doctor friend said to me: in fact, we doctors have all known for a while that there is a human-to-human transmission of the disease, we reported this to our superiors, but yet nobody warned people,” she wrote in one entry.
    Readers flocked to the online diary to get an unfiltered account from Wuhan in a Communist-ruled country that lacks independent media.
    But some social media users have turned on the author, especially as a new diplomatic spat has erupted between China and the US, which accuses Beijing of a lack of transparency in the outbreak’s early days, costing the world valuable time.
    “Bravo Fang Fang. You’re giving Western countries ammunition to target China,” said one post about her on the country’s Twitter-like Weibo platform.
    “You’ve shown your treacherous nature,” it said.
    Another accused Fang of making money off Wuhan’s nearly 4,000 virus victims, writing: “How much did you sell the diary for?”
    Hit by a barrage of online insults, Fang wrote on Weibo that she was the victim of “cyberbullying” by fringe nationalists.
    And in an interview posted on the website of Chinese weekly Caixin, the author said she had received death threats and that her home address was posted online.
    The way US publisher HarperCollins introduces the book - which goes on sale in June and is succinctly titled Wuhan Diary - has added fuel to the online fury.
    “The stark reality of this devastating situation drives Fang Fang to courageously speak out against social injustice, corruption, abuse, and the systemic political problems which impeded the response to the epidemic,” the publishing house says on its website.
  • A team from Lebanon’s Rafik Hariri University Hospital will test for Covid-19 at a refugee camp on Wednesday, after a resident was found to be infected, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said.
    A Palestinian refugee from Syria at the Wavel refugee camp in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley was transferred to hospital in Beirut for treatment that will be covered by the relief agency, a statement said.
    The Lebanese government has worried about the virus hitting camps for Syrian and Palestinian refugees where high population densities are likely to accelerate its spread.
    UNRWA said it was “taking all necessary steps to provide the required assistance to the patient’s family to allow them to isolate themselves inside the house”.
    The UNHCR refugee agency said last month that efforts to curb the coronavirus among refugee communities had started early on with awareness campaigns, distribution of hygiene materials, and preparations for additional hospital capacity.
    Lebanon’s health ministry said on Tuesday it had not recorded a new case of coronavirus in 24 hours, with total infections at 677 and 21 deaths.
  • Spain aims to phase out lockdown in second half of May

  • Singapore’s health ministry said on Wednesday it had preliminarily confirmed another 1,016 cases of coronavirus, taking the total infections there to 10,141.
    Most of the new cases were among migrant workers living in dormitories, a group that accounts for more than three-quarters of the city-state’s infections.
    Singapore authorities have extended a partial lockdown until 1 June.
  • The dormitories for migrant workers in Singapore which have been isolated to help slow the spread of Covid-19.
  • Bulgaria said on Wednesday it had 1,015 confirmed cases of Covid-19, up from 975 the day before.
    Although cases have been gradually increasing for more than a month, the health ministry said the new total represented a climb of more than 300 cases over the last week.
    It added that 47 people had died from the virus, an increase of two from a day earlier.
    The number of people who have recovered from the virus increased to 174.
    Like other countries in Europe, Bulgaria has introduced strict curbs on travel between cities and abroad, closed schools, restaurants and bars, and restricted access to parks.
  • New photos show the drastic improvement of air quality in India as a result of the nationwide lockdown to stop the spread of Covid-19.
  • New Delhi’s skyline on 1 November 2019 (above), and on 20 April 2020 (below).
  • India Gate in New Delhi on 28 October 2019 (above), and 20 April 2020 (below).

  • India Gate in New Delhi on 28 October 2019 (above), and 20 April 2020 (below). Photograph: Manish Swarup/AP
  • The coronavirus outbreak has caused as many as 41,000 deaths in the United Kingdom, according to a Financial Times analysis of the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
    The FT extrapolation, based on figures from the ONS that were published on Tuesday, includes deaths that occurred outside hospitals updated to reflect recent mortality trends
  • The French minister of labour, Muriel Pénicaud, has said more than 10 million workers have signed up for the country’s temporary unemployment scheme.
    That means around 50% of France’s working population has signed up for the scheme, designed to avoid mass layoffs by allowing companies to put staff on reduced or zero hours while the government pays all or most of their wages.
    “As of today, 10.2 million private sector workers have been put on temporary unemployment.
    “That’s more than one employee out of two and six companies out of 10,” Pénicaud said in a interview with BFM Business radio.
  • Also in Japan, efforts to distribute protective cloth masks have been marred by complaints about mould, insects, and stains, fuelling further concern that the government has botched its handling of the pandemic.
    Just weeks after it began supplying every household with two washable, reusable masks at a cost of $430m as part of its strategy to contain the coronavirus, the government has been forced to replace some masks following reports of defects from recipients.
    “I’m thankful to receive these masks, but is this a bug? Debris? Dirt?” asked Twitter user Aiai, posting a photo of two white masks in their original packaging, with what appeared to be an small insect trapped near the side seam of one.
    In a manga sketch posted by another user, two soiled masks crash through a bedroom window to wake a man from sleep.

    The issue has generated its own Twitter hashtag, #Abenomask, a pun on 
  • prime minister Shinzo Abe’s “Abenomics” economic strategy.
  • The health ministry confirmed that by Friday it had shipped nearly 30m masks to pregnant women, medical and nursing facilities and schools.
    These drew 1,903 complaints of soiled or defective products, the vast majority from pregnant women.
    “We are asking manufacturers to confirm how these defects occurred, and asking for their cooperation in replacing the defective products,” a ministry spokesman said.
  • This is Jessica Murray, I’ll be taking the lead on the blog for the next few hours.
    As always you can reach me on jessica.murray@theguardian.com or on Twitter (@journojess_). I might not have time to reply to all your messages but I’ll certainly read them all.
    Japanese officials said on Wednesday that 34 crew members on a docked cruise ship had tested positive for the coronavirus in one day of testing among 57 crew after the first case from the ship was reported.
    The Italian-operated Costa Atlantica has been docked in Nagasaki since late January for repairs and maintenance by Mitsubishi Heavy Industry. The ship carries 623 crew members, including a Japanese translator, but it was empty of passengers during the work.
    The outbreak surfaced on Tuesday when the first crew member, identified only as a foreign national, tested positive for the virus. None of those infected had serious symptoms and all are isolated in single rooms on the ship, officials said.
  • An aerial view of the Italian cruise ship Costa Atlantica in Nagasaki, Japan.
  • Mitsubishi officials said no crew members had left the ship since mid-March. Before then, crew members had been allowed to come and go from ship to shore if they passed temperature checks and had not recently travelled to high-risk countries such as China and Italy.
    Nagasaki officials are investigating how and where the crew members contracted the virus.
    “Many infections have been confirmed on the ship,” Nagasaki governor, Hodo Nakamura, told reporters on Wednesday. “We hope that they will be able to go home in full health as soon as possible. We are asking the national government for help.”
    The outbreak on the ship adds to concerns about testing and hospital capacity in Nagasaki, where only 102 beds are available. All of Japan is under a coronavirus state of emergency as cases rise in the world’s oldest population and third-largest economy.
    Japan has about 11,500 cases of infection, with 280 deaths.
    Those numbers are separate from an earlier outbreak on another cruise ship which docked in Japan, the Diamond Princess, carrying more than 3,700 passengers and crew, where 712 of them were infected.
  • Summary

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