Phased transition, set to begin on Monday, will see half of 47 million-strong population able to go out and socialise.
Barack Obama has launched a scathing attack on Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, calling it an “absolute chaotic disaster”.
Authorities in the South Korean capital, Seoul, shut down more than 2,100 nightclubs, hostess bars and discos after a cluster of cases linked to a popular entertainment district.
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Germany’s plans to restart competitive football on May 16 suffered an early setback after the entire team of second tier Dynamo Dresden were placed in a two-week quarantine following two positive coronavirus tests.
The Bundesliga 2 club announced on their website that tests taken on Friday had revealed two new positive cases and local health authorities had ordered the team into quarantine.
“After an intensive analysis of the situation, the health authority in Dresden… decided on Saturday that the entire second division squad, including the coaching and support team, must now go into a 14-day quarantine at home,” the club said.
Dresden were scheduled to play Hannover 96 next Sunday in their first game back following the stoppage that was caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
President Donald Trump said the United States would buy $3 bn worth of dairy, meat and produce from farmers as unemployment soars and the prices that slaughterhouses pay farmers for animals have fallen in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Starting early next week, at my order, the USA will be purchasing, from our Farmers, Ranchers & Specialty Crop Growers, 3 Billion Dollars worth of Dairy, Meat & Produce for Food Lines & Kitchens,” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter on Saturday.
Former president Barack Obama has launched a scathing attack on Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, calling it an “absolute chaotic disaster”.
In a leaked web call Friday night with former members of his administration, first obtained by Yahoo News, Obama urges former staffers to join him in rallying behind Joe Biden as he prepares to take on Trump in the November presidential election.
“What we’re fighting against is these long-term trends in which being selfish, being tribal, being divided, and seeing others as an enemy – that has become a stronger impulse in American life,” Obama said.
“It’s part of the reason why the response to this global crisis has been so anemic and spotty. It would have been bad even with the best of governments. It has been an absolute chaotic disaster when that mindset – of ‘what’s in it for me’ and ‘to heck with everybody else’ – when that mindset is operationalised in our government.”
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French health officials announced another 80 coronavirus deaths, the lowest figure recorded over 24 hours since early April. The total death toll stands at 26,310, according to the health ministry.
The number of people in intensive care units – a key measure of a health system’s ability to deal with the epidemic – fell by 56, or about two percent, to 2,812. That is less than half the peak of 7,148 seen on April 8.
The number of people in hospital with the virus also fell, to 22,614 from 22,724, continuing an uninterrupted three-week fall, and down 30 percent from an April 14 peak of 32,292.
France will start lifting its almost two-month-old national lockdown from Monday.
Canada’s coronavirus deaths increased by 157 on Saturday, taking the total to 4,628. Confirmed cases jumped by 1,381 to 66,780.
Separately, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned that if provinces move too quickly to reopen their economies, a flare-up of the pandemic could send Canada “back into confinement this summer”.
Italy announced 194 new coronavirus fatalities on Saturday, increasing the total death toll to 30,395.
The total number of confirmed cases increased by 1,083 to 218,268.
There were 1,034 people in intensive care on Saturday, down from 1,168 on Friday, maintaining a long-running decline, the Civil Protection Agency said.
Three children in New York have died from a rare inflammatory syndrome believed to be linked to the novel coronavirus, Governor Andrew Cuomo told a daily briefing on Saturday.
Cuomo had on Friday disclosed the death of a five-year-old linked to the coronavirus and a syndrome that shares symptoms with toxic shock and Kawasaki disease, which was the first known fatality tied to the rare illness in New York.
The death toll from coronavirus in Britain has risen to 31,587, an increase of 346 in a 24-hour period, Transport Minister Grant Shapps said at the government’s daily news briefing.
Also on Saturday, Britain’s deputy chief medical officer said he was confident the coronavirus “R” number, a measure of the rate of contagion, was below 1 across the United Kingdom.
“I am confident that our R is less than 1 overall,” Jonathan Van-Tam said at the government’s daily news briefing.
The R number, or effective reproduction number, measures the average number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to. An R number above 1 can lead very rapidly to exponential growth.
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says loosening the nearly two-month lockdown will be for naught if people don’t obey social distancing rules.
He reminded Spaniards on Saturday, two days before 51 percent of the nation of 47 million will be allowed to sit at outdoor cafes, “the virus has not disappeared”.
On Monday, many regions not as hard hit by the virus will permit gatherings of up to 10 people and reopen churches, theaters, outdoor markets and other establishments with limits on occupancy.
“The struggle goes on and will last until we find a vaccine,” Sanchez said. “Meanwhile, we have to live with the virus, that is why we must reinforce our healthcare system and strengthen its capabilities. ”
Qatar reported 1130 new cases of COVID-19, taking the total number of cases in the country to 21,331.
The ministry of health also reported one fatality, raising the death toll to 13.
Separately, Qatar Petroleum (QP) announced a price drop of more than 51 percent for Qatar land and marine crudes for April, compared to March.
The decline in oil prices and the value of investment assets since the start of the coronavirus outbreak will have an adverse impact on the “financial solvency” of Kuwait, Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah said.
“Kuwait is facing the big and unprecedented challenge of shielding our economy from the external shocks caused by this virus, specifically the decline in oil prices and the value of investments and assets, which will have a negative impact on the financial solvency of the state,” the emir was cited as saying by the state news agency KUNA.
It was not clear if the comment meant that Kuwait could delay the payment of government dues, or whether it was a general statement about the deterioration of the state’s finances as a result of the economic impact of the health crisis.
Meanwhile in Sierra Leone, President Julius Maada Bio accused the opposition of inciting “terrorist violence” after deadly disturbances linked to the COVID-19 outbreak in the West African nation.
In a televised address on Friday evening, Bio said that the opposition All People’s Congress (APC) party was involved in violent flare-ups across the country.
He said the party’s silence over its members who allegedly took part in “acts of terrorist violence, senseless loss of lives, injuries and wanton destruction of public and personal property is truly disconcerting”.
At least 11 people died in an attempted jail break and ensuing riot in the capital Freetown last month.
Spain’s daily death toll from the coronavirus fell to 179 on Saturday, down from 229 on the previous day, the health ministry reported. The figure is the second-lowest reported since mid-March.
Overall deaths rose to 26,478 from 26,299 on Friday and the number of diagnosed cases rose to 223,578 from 222,857 the day before, the ministry said.
Belarus has held a military parade to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, drawing a crowd of thousands of people despite fears about the spread of coronavirus.
The country has recorded a sharp increase in the number of confirmed infections in recent weeks.
According to its latest tally, Belarus has registered 21,101 coronavirus cases and 126 related deaths.
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The UK government has told airlines it will introduce a 14-day quarantine period for most people arriving from abroad, an association representing the carriers said.
Airlines UK said the move required “a credible exit plan” and called for a weekly review. Airport operators said it could have a “devastating” impact on the aviation industry and the broader economy.
The plan was first reported by The Times newspaper, which said Prime Minister Boris Johnson would on Sunday announce that passengers arriving at airports and ports, including Britons returning from abroad, will have to self-isolate for a fortnight.
Under measures that are likely to come into force in early June, travellers will have to provide the address at which they will self-isolate on arrival, The Times said.
Iran’s health ministry expressed concern over the number of coronavirus cases reported in the southwestern province of Khuzestan as it confirmed 1,529 new infections nationwide.
“All provinces are showing a gradual drop in new infections … except for Khuzestan, where the situation is still concerning,” spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said in televised remarks.
In the past 24 hours, the total number of registered infections rose to 106,220, while the death toll increased by 48 to 6,589.
At least six people were killed in Afghanistan’s western province of Ghor as clashes broke out between police and protesters during a demonstration against alleged mismanagement of aid to alleviate the effects of the pandemic.
The dead included two police officers, a journalist and three protesters. Those wounded included 10 police officers and nine demonstrators.
“The city is in a military situation now,” provincial councillor Abdul Basir Qaderi said. “There are tanks on the roads.”
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Coronavirus restrictions are creating a boom in online and home delivery services.
But in Kenya’s capital, some drivers going door-to-door say they are seeing few benefits and are struggling to make ends meet.
Al Jazeera’s Malcolm Webb reports from Nairobi.
Some countries are using serological, or antibody, tests to check past infections and immune status.
Read our latest Doctor’s Note here.
Researchers in Hong Kong have found that patients suffering milder illness caused by the new coronavirus recover more quickly if they are treated with a three-drug antiviral cocktail soon after symptoms appear.
The small trial, which involved 127 patients, compared those given the combination drug – made up of the anti-HIV therapy lopinavir-ritonavir, the hepatitis drug ribavirin and the multiple sclerosis treatment interferon-beta – with a control group given just lopinavir-ritonavir.
Read more here.
Indonesia: 13,645 cases (+533), 959 deaths (+16)
Philippines: 10,610 cases (+147), 704 deaths (+8)
Malaysia: 6,589 cases (+54), 108 deaths (+1)
The number of confirmed infections in Russia surged by 10,817 to 198,676 in the past 24 hours.
The coronavirus taskforce said that 104 people had died overnight, bringing the national death toll to 1,827.
Russia is quickly becoming a hotspot for the pandemic as this week its number of infections surpassed France and Germany, turning it into the fifth worst-hit country in the world.
No more clubbing for people in Seoul as authorities in the South Korea capital shut down more than 2,100 nightclubs, hostess bars and discos.
The move came after all but one of 18 new cases were linked to a 29-year-old clubgoer who went out last weekend in the popular neighborhood of Itaewon as the country relaxed physical distancing guidelines.
“We are put to the test,” Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said, vowing to mobilise all resources to contain a further spread of the new coronavirus.
He said South Korea’s quarantine success or failure will depend on whether the country can stop a further spread of infections linked to clubs in Seoul.
Singapore’s health ministry reported 753 new coronavirus infections, taking the city-state’s total to 22,460.
The vast majority of the newly infected people are migrant workers living in dormitories, the ministry said in a statement. Nine are permanent residents.
The state of Khartoum in Sudan extended for 10 more days a curfew that has been in place since April 18.
The state, the smallest but also the most populous, is the hardest hit in the country. To date, it has recorded 1,111 confirmed infections and 59 related deaths.
Travel between the capital, Khartoum, and other Sudanese states will be banned, the official SUNA news agency reported.
The Lancet, a leading medical journal, has described President Jair Bolsonaro as “perhaps the biggest threat” to Brazil’s ability to successfully fight the coronavirus pandemic as the country is quickly emerging as a hotspot for COVID-19.
On Friday, Brazil’s Ministry of Health registered 10,222 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 751 related deaths, a daily high. That brought the total of confirmed cases in the country to 145,328 and deaths to 9,897.
Read the full story here.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has sent a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, offering Beijing’s support in the fight against the coronavirus.
Quoting Xi’s letter, Chinese state television said the Chinese president was very concerned about the situation in North Korea and the health of its people.
The supportive message came a day after Kim congratulated Xi for his handling of the pandemic and “highly appreciating that he is seizing a chance of victory in the war against the unprecedented epidemic”.
Russia marks 75 years since the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two on Saturday, but the coronavirus outbreak has forced it to scale back celebrations seen as boosting support for the Kremlin.
With coronavirus infections rising, President Vladimir Putin last month postponed the highlight of Victory Day celebrations, a massive parade on Red Square that showcases Moscow’s most sophisticated military hardware, to an unspecified date.
Putin has described Victory Day celebrations as sacred to Russians but said a big public event was too risky during the pandemic. As of Friday, Russia had reported 187,859 coronavirus cases and 1,723 deaths.
Thailand reported four new coronavirus cases and one more death on Saturday, bringing the total to 3,004 cases and 56 deaths since the outbreak started in January, according to Reuters news agency.
A 68-year-old man from Bangkok died, said Taweesin Visanuyothin, spokesman for the government’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration.
Of the new cases, two are from the southern province of Yala, where the authorities are aggressively testing people due to high infection rates. One was linked with previous cases and one had a risk history from public places, he said.
South Korea on Saturday reported 18 fresh cases of the new coronavirus, including 12 in Seoul, as health workers scrambled to trace contacts following a slew of transmissions linked to clubgoers.
The latest infections brought national totals to 10,840 cases and 256 deaths.
Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip told a virus briefing that officials were mapping out plans to share hospital capacities between the capital and nearby towns to ensure swift transport of patients so that a spike of infections in one area did not overwhelm the health care system. He said the plans will go into effect if the daily jump in infections exceeds 100, which has not happened since April 1.
Australia’s most populous states held back from easing COVID-19 restrictions on Saturday even as some states allowed small gatherings and got ready to open restaurants in line with the federal government’s three-stage plan for reopening businesses.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday outlined plans to remove most curbs by July in a three-step process to get nearly 1 million people back to work, as the country has reined in new COVID-19 infections to less than 20 a day with strict lockdowns.
Australia’s total deaths from COVID-19 remain just below 100, while the number of cases were close to 7,000.
China reported one new coronavirus case at the end of Friday, unchanged from the day before, data from the national health authority showed on Saturday.
One new imported case was recorded on May 8, the National Health Commission said in a statement.
The commission also reported 15 new asymptomatic cases for Friday, versus 16 the previous day.
China’s total number of coronavirus cases now stands at 82,887, although 78,000 cases have recovered, while the official death toll remains unchanged at 4,633.
Brazil’s economy minister warns there could soon be product shortages in supermarkets if state quarantine measures are allowed to continue.
Paulo Guedes told an audience at the Supreme Court, including its chief justice, that Latin America’s largest market is at risk of “collapse” similar to what happened in neighbouring Venezuela.
Guedes was joined by President Jair Bolsonaro and a group of industry leaders, who together walked to the top court to make their case for a rollback of restrictions even as Brazil’s coronavirus cases continue to surge.
A military member working in close proximity to President Donald Trump tested positive for the new coronavirus. The White House said Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have since tested negative for the virus and “remain in good health”.
Spokesman Hogan Gidley says in a statement the military member works “on the White House campus” and tested positive on Wednesday.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 1,251 to 168,551, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Saturday.
The reported death toll rose by 147 to 7,369, the tally showed.
Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez has extended until May 24 a quarantine for its capital Buenos Aires but relaxed the restriction aimed at slowing the spread of the new coronavirus elsewhere in the country.
The lockdown, which was in place since March 20 and is due to expire on Sunday, will remain in place in the capital and its outskirts, Fernandez said in a televised address.
Fernandez said he was “extremely proud” of Argentines for observing the strict social isolation measures. As of Friday, the country had registered 5,611 confirmed cases of the virus and 293 deaths.
The leaders of US congressional foreign affairs committees have written to more than 50 countries asking them to support Taiwan’s inclusion in the World Health Organization, citing the need for the broadest effort possible to fight the coronavirus pandemic, congressional sources told Reuters.
Taiwan, which is not a member of the United Nations, has been excluded from the WHO, which is a UN agency, due to objections from China.
“As the world works to combat the spread of the COVID-19, a novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China, it has never been more important to ensure all countries prioritise global health and safety over politics,” the politicians said in their letter, sent on Friday, and seen by Reuters.
Three nurses, all sisters, were found dead with signs of strangulation in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila, officials said on Friday, an apparent triple murder that follows a series of assaults on health workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Officials said they were investigating the crime but that the motive was not clear. Health workers have faced increased aggression in Mexico in recent weeks over fears of contagion.
Javier Guerrero, a top official for Mexico’s main public health service IMSS in Coahuila, described the deaths of the three nurses as murders. They “happened at a moment when our health workers are the most important element to face the health crisis,” he said.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office says the German leader has discussed the coronavirus pandemic with Pope Francis in a phone conversation, AP news agency reported on Saturday.
Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert says that during the call, the chancellor and the pontiff advocated support for poor countries in the virus crisis. He says it centred on “the global humanitarian and political situation in view of the corona pandemic” and on the significance of solidarity in Europe and the world.
Merkel invited Francis to visit Germany when that is possible again.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
For key developments from yesterday, May 8, go here.