Turkey has reported 82,329 confirmed cases of coronavirus, overtaking neighboring Iran for the first time to register the highest number of infections in the Middle East.
Iran has partially reopened its capital, Tehran, allowing “low-risk businesses”, including stores, factories and warehouses, to resume operations. But Algeria, Morocco, Croatia and Spain have extended the closings, while Uzbekistan has extended social distancing measures.
- The Nigerian president’s chief of staff died from COVID-19, a respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus. The death of Abba Kyari is the most high-profile death in the West African country.
In the United States, New York reported the lowest daily death toll in more than two weeks, with Governor Andrew Cuomo hoping that the hard-hit state could now “break the plateau”. In Washington State, Governor Jay Inslee accused President Donald Trump of “fomenting internal rebellion and spreading lies” after he encouraged protests against Democratic governors who imposed virus-related restrictions.
- Worldwide, more than 2.3 million people have been infected and more than 159,000 people have died, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University.
Here are the latest updates:
Sunday April 19
07:15 GMT – Panama detains 1,700 migrants in the jungle due to coronavirus
About 1,700 illegal migrants to the United States are being held in a jungle camp by Panamanian authorities after several cases of new coronavirus have been detected among them, an official source said.
They are being held in La Penita, near the Colombian border, in facilities designed to accommodate around 200 people.
“Seventeen migrants have been infected with the new coronavirus,” the official source said on condition of anonymity.
The infected have already been expelled from the camp.
In Panama, which has 4,273 coronavirus infections and 120 deaths, migrants are treated at three temporary border posts where the government, UNICEF and the Red Cross provide them with water, food and medical care.
06:52 GMT – Pakistan to keep mosques open during Ramadan
Even as the cases confirmed daily by Pakistan progress, the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan resisted pressure from religious scholars refusing to close mosques across the country during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.
Pakistan has recorded 7,993 confirmed cases on Sunday, an increase of 514. Sixteen people have died from the virus in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 159. But in Pakistan, religious scholars have become a force powerful, often influencing for fear of bringing crowds into the street as leverage to force the government to comply with their demands.
Pakistan has been blamed for contributing to the epidemic in other parts of the world, including the Gaza Strip, after refusing to stop a gathering of tens of thousands of Tablighi Jamaat (Islamic missionaries) until ‘at the beginning of March. By the time it was canceled, thousands were already in Pakistan and many returned to their infected country.
06:30 GMT – India sends hydroxychloroquine to the UAE for COVID-19 patients
India has agreed to send hydroxychloroquine tablets to the United Arab Emirates for use in the treatment of patients with COVID-19, said the Gulf State Embassy in New Delhi.
India last month banned exports as sales soared to secure supplies while US President Donald Trump presented the drug as a potential effective treatment for the deadly virus. He said this month that he will send supplies to certain countries.
“The first shipment of medicines, currently en route to the United Arab Emirates, includes 5.5 million tablets for the treatment of patients with COVID-19,” the embassy tweeted on Saturday evening.
06:15 GMT – COVID-19: Rwanda and DR Congo make it mandatory to wear a mask
The wearing of masks in public will soon be mandatory, said the Rwandan Minister of Health, the number of COVID-19 cases in the country reaching 144.
Daniel Ngamije said the latest guidelines require everyone to wear a mask in public and at home during the lockdown and afterwards.
“Starting next Monday, local businesses will start making masks to help supply affordable quantities to the market. Wearing masks will be effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19, “he said.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the governor of the capital of Kinshasa, Gentiny Ngobila, said that the compulsory wearing of the mask will begin on April 20.
04:55 GMT – Australia requests investigation into response of WHO virus and China
Marise Payne, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, calls for an independent investigation into the global response to the coronavirus pandemic, including the handling of the crisis by the World Health Organization.
Canberra “to insist” on review that would investigate, in part, China’s early response to the epidemic in Wuhan, the city where the virus was first detected last year, Payne said in an interview with the public broadcaster ABC.
“We need to know the kind of details that an independent review would identify for us on the genesis of the virus, on approaches to deal with it. [and] address the openness with which the information was shared, “she said.
Payne adds that the fallout from the pandemic could change relations between Australia and China “in a way”, with his concern over the transparency of Beijing now “at a very high level”.
4:40 GMT – Mexico reports 7,497 cases, 650 deaths
Hugo Lopez-Gatell, Mexico’s deputy health minister, said the country had recorded 7,497 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 650 deaths as of Saturday.
This represents an increase of 6,875 cases and 546 deaths on Friday.
03:46 GMT – Greek Easter celebrations in empty churches
Greek Orthodox priests held Easter services in empty churches Saturday evening due to restrictions in place to try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Greece is locked out and the government has warned people to stay away from churches.
The priests were still performing services and fireworks were set off on the Acropolis at midnight, ushering in on Easter Sunday.
Many in the port city of Thessaloniki in the north and around Greece came out on their balconies at midnight with burning candles to mark the resurrection.
The threat of a fine for violating the foreclosure measures did not prevent some worshipers who stood in front of St. Demetrius’ Church in Thessaloniki with burning candles, while the church bells rang at midnight.
02:50 GMT – More Guatemalans expelled from the United States are positive
President of Guatemala Alejandro Giammattei said that 19 other Guatemalans deported from the United States to the country of Central America had tested positive for the coronavirus.
The latest figures bring the total number of aircraft infections to 32.
The migrants concerned have arrived from Alexandria, Louisiana, on Monday. Guatemala has now suspended all flights of deportees from the United States.
02:19 GMT – China reports 16 new cases
Chinese health officials are reporting 16 new cases of coronavirus on the continent, the lowest number since March 17 and down from 27 the previous day.
Among the new cases, nine are imported from abroad. There are no new deaths.
The latest figures bring the total number of cases on the continent to 82,735.
02:00 GMT – South Korea infections drop to single digit for the first time in two months
The Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report eight new cases of coronavirus, marking the first time that infections in South Korea have dropped to a single digit since the peak of the epidemic in February.
Of the eight, five relate to overseas travelers.
The nation’s total is 10,661 cases and 234 deaths.
01:23 GMT – Stars’ virtual concert begins for frontline workers
Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones and Beyonce take part in a world special of music, comedy and personal stories in what Gaga calls a “love letter” to frontline workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic .
The two hours “One World: Together at Home”, broadcast on several television channels in the United States and abroad, present a Who’s Who of pop culture, with contributions, filmed from their home, by Elton John , Stevie Wonder, British football star. David Beckham and former American first ladies Michelle Obama and Laura Bush.
“I am so thankful to health care workers, medical workers, all grocery and delivery workers, postal workers, all the other nonprofits who work so hard,” said Gaga.
“This is truly a true love letter to all of you around the world, and I hope a reminder of the kindness that is happening right now,” she adds.
Hosted by three of the largest late-night television hosts in the United States – Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon – the special pays tribute to teachers and health care, groceries, delivery, posts and other workers.
The event, hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the non-profit group Global Citizen, is the largest celebrity effort to date to mark the coronavirus pandemic.
00:53 GMT – The number of deaths from the virus in Europe exceeds 100,000
Europe now has a total of 100,510 deaths from coronaviruses – nearly two-thirds of the 157,539 deaths worldwide, according to an AFP count.
Many countries only test the most severe cases and the number of confirmed infections is likely to be a fraction of the true total.
Italy and Spain remain the hardest hit countries in Europe, with 23,227 and 20,043 deaths respectively, followed by France with 19,323 deaths. The United Kingdom official the death toll is 15,464.
00:36 GMT – Brazilian drivers protest lock restrictions
Hundreds of people in trucks, cars and motorcycles take to the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and the capital Brasilia, calling on governors to resign due to foreclosure measures that have forced most businesses to close for weeks.
In Rio de Janeiro, about 100 vehicles are seen deadlocked, walking down Atlantica Avenue, along the iconic and temporarily closed Copacabana Beach.
“Either we just have the pandemic, which is already a lot, or we have the pandemic and chaos,” said Anderson Moraes, a state lawmaker who called on residents of Rio to join the protest. “Of course life is more important than anything else, but we cannot make decisions today without thinking about tomorrow. Because tomorrow, I don’t know how a father will be when he sees his children hungry. “
In Brasilia, President Jair Bolsonaro, who opposes the closings, reiterates his intention to start reopening the economy. “The fear was excessive,” he said, denouncing the “greed” of politicians “who closed everything and sowed panic.”
“People want to return to normal,” the president said in a Facebook Live session shortly before meeting a small crowd of supporters who gathered outside the Presidential Palace in Planalto.
Hundreds of people are also protesting virus blockages in the United States, with rallies in states such as Texas, Maryland, New Hampshire and Ohio.
In Washington, DC, Trump told reporters that some state governors “got carried away” and imposed “unreasonable” restrictions.
Learn more about the protests in the United States here.
Hello, I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives, with Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
You can find all the updates from yesterday April 18 here.