Trump says coronavirus taskforce to continue work: Live updates

US President Donald Trump to announce new members of coronavirus taskforce Monday, as focus turns to medical treatment.

  • In a reversal from statements a day earlier, United States President Donald Trump said emergency taskforce handling his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak would not be wound down and would instead continue its work “indefinitely”.

  • China hits back at the United States over claims by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo the new coronavirus originated in a lab in Wuhan, saying he has no evidence, amid renewed US criticisms.

  • The United Kingdom now has the highest death toll in Europe even as cases rise rapidly in Russia, which reported more than 10,000 cases for the fourth successive day.

  • More than 3.6 million people around the world have been confirmed infected with the new coronavirus so far, and nearly 257,000 have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 1.2 million people have recovered.

Wednesday, May 6

21:30 GMT – Fauci, Birx will keep roles on coronavirus task force

US top infectious disease doctor Anthony Fauci and coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx will continue to hold their positions on the coronavirus task force moving forward, US President Donald Trump said.

Announcement comes after Trump said the emergency taskforce handling his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak would not be wound down and would continue its work “indefinitely”.

21:15 GMT – Bundesliga plans May 15 restart after government gives green light

Germany’s Bundesliga says it plans to re-start on May 15, making it the first of Europe’s top soccer leagues to get under way following the novel coronavirus stoppage, after being given the green light by the government.

The government said the Bundesliga and second-tier 2. Bundesliga could re-start in the second half of May without spectators, adding that the German soccer league (DFL) would decide on the exact dates.

Under the current schedule, the first match would be the relegation battle between Fortuna Duesseldorf and Paderborn, the first of the 26th round of matches.

“Today’s decision is good news for the Bundesliga and the 2nd Bundesliga,” said DFL chief executive Christian Seifert.

“It comes with a great responsibility for the clubs and their employees to implement the medical and organisational requirements in a disciplined manner.”

A government statement also said teams would have to go into quarantined training camps ahead of the restart.

21:00 GMT – US meat processing plants to be fully back up in a week to 10 days

US meatpacking plants that were shut down because of the novel coronavirus epidemic will be fully back in production in a week to 10 days, US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said.

Perdue was speaking at a White House event with President Donald Trump and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.

20:20 GMT – France reports rise in COVID-19 infections, deaths drop

France reported a surprising rise in novel coronavirus cases in with 4,183 additional patients nationwide, according to figures reported by the country’s Ministry of Health.

There were 278 fatalities compared with 340 on Tuesday – a drop of 62. Deaths in hospitals stood at 181 and raised the total to 16,237, while the tally of people who died in nursing homes rose to 9,572 after increasing by 97.

Hospitalizations also rose, with the number standing at 24,983, an increase of 209 patients over Tuesday. The number of those in intensive care fell to 3,147, down by 283 patients.

19:30 GMT – Organised sport in Netherlands can resume from Sept

Organised sport will only resume in the Netherlands from September 1 but recreational golf and tennis will be allowed from Monday, Dutch prime Minister Mark Rutte said as he announced an easing of COVID-19 lockdown measures.

All sports events had been prohibited until August 31 and Wednesday’s announcement opens the door for various codes to begin planning for a resumption in just over three months.

That includes the Dutch football league which can now look ahead to its next season after already calling off the 2019-20 campaign on April 24.

The Dutch can resume playing golf and tennis from Monday but clubhouses remain closed, Rutte said.

“These steps points to a return to a society free of the domination of the virus and gives the Netherlands and sport hope,” said the Dutch Olympic Committee in response to Rutte’s announcement.

18:35 GMT – Dutch to begin easing lockdown measures next week

The Netherlands will begin easing coronavirus lockdown measures next week nearly two months after they were imposed, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said.

The phasing out of the restrictions will be rolled out over the next four months. They could be curbed if the new coronavirus starts spreading more quickly, Rutte warned.

“Steps to slowly open the economy and public life will give our country the space to look forward and make plans for the future. We will do that as quickly as possible, but it is better to be safe now than sorry later.”

Face masks will be compulsory on public transport from June 1, he said.

18:20 GMT – Trump denies reports that US coronavirus taskforce to disband

In a reversal from statements he made only a day earlier, United States President Donald Trump said the emergency taskforce handling his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak would not be wound down after all and would instead continue its work “indefinitely”.

In a series of tweets, Trump said the taskforce may “add or subtract people” but will remain in place and focus on safely bringing the hard-hit country out of its economic lockdown.

11:45 GMT – Slovakia reopens businesses as cases ease

Slovakia reopened restaurant terraces, hotels, all shops outside large malls and other businesses, expediting plans to revive the economy thanks to better-than-expected progress in containing the coronavirus pandemic.

The government, which opened small shops on April 22, also gave the green light for religious services and weddings to take place with a limited number of guests.

Slovakia’s coronavirus lockdown loosened further as the government on Wednesday merged the second and third stages of its reopening plan, after tests showed 11 consecutive days of single-digit growth in new infections.

The latest figures showed 1,429 cases in total with 25 deaths, and more than half of those infected already recovered.

11:30 GMT – India plans airlift for 400,000 stranded overseas

India will begin special flights on Thursday to bring home some 400,000 citizens stranded overseas by travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, prompting some worries over the risk that imported infections could fuel contagion in the country.

Responding to the distress among India’s huge diaspora, the government has asked national carrier Air India to provide aircraft to bring back Indians who want to return from the Middle East, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Indian navy has also been asked to help by sending two ships to evacuate citizens from the Maldives, in the Indian Ocean.

“Priority will be given to workers in distress, elderly people, urgent medical cases, pregnant women, as well as to other people who are stranded in difficult situations,” the Indian consulate general in Dubai said.

11:20 GMT – Europe’s ‘historic’ recession threatens euro zone survival

The European Union forecast on Wednesday that the euro zone economy would contract by a staggering 7.7 percent in 2020, warning the wreckage from the coronavirus pandemic could endanger the single currency.

Calling it a “recession of historic proportions”, the EU executive said the 19-member single currency zone would rebound by 6.3 percent in 2021, but in a recovery that would be felt unevenly across the continent.

The European Commission insisted that, without some form of a common rescue plan, the EU project and the single currency could be ripped apart.

“Such divergence poses a threat to the single market and the euro area – yet it can be mitigated through decisive, joint European action,” Economic Affairs Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said.

10:30 GMT – Indonesia postpones local elections to December

Indonesia has postponed regional elections from September to December because of the coronavirus pandemic, the cabinet secretariat said. 

President Joko Widodo signed an emergency decree on the postponement on Monday, the secretariat said.

The elections to choose nine governors, 37 mayors and 224 district chiefs had been scheduled for September 23. They will now be held on December 9.

10:25 GMT – Which countries have made face masks compulsory?

More than 50 countries require people to cover their faces when they leave home. Here are some of them:

10:00 GMT – EU forecasts ‘historic’ 7.7 percent euro zone recession

The EU predicted “a recession of historic proportions this year” due to the impact of the coronavirus with a drop in output of more than 7 percent.

The group of 19 nations using the euro as their currency will see a record decline of 7.7 percent this year, and grow by 6.25 percent in 2021, the European Commission said in its spring economic forecast.

“Europe is experiencing an economic shock without precedent since the Great Depression,” EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said in a statement.

09:50 GMT – Qatar, Singapore keep virus death rate below 0.1 percent

Two tiny nations have the lowest fatality rates among countries which are experiencing major coronavirus outbreaks, Bloomberg reported.

In Qatar and Singapore, the death toll is less than 0.1 percent of reported infections.

“The two nations are also among some of the wealthiest in the world, which means they can better afford the test kits and hospital beds they need,” Bloomberg said in its report.

09:45 GMT – Pakistan mosques become coronavirus battleground issue

In Pakistan, tens of thousands of mosques across the country reopened late last month, after religious leaders prevailed upon the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan to allow them to restart congregational services.

The decision saw a push-and-pull between religious and political leaders.

Read Asad Hashim’s report here.

09:25 GMT – Pakistan concerned that workers returning from UAE are infected 

Pakistan has raised concerns with the United Arab Emirates that many citizens have been returning home from the Gulf Arab state infected with COVID-19 and that crowded living conditions for workers in the UAE may be helping to spread the virus, officials said.

Read the full story here.

09:15 GMT – Spain’s daily deaths rise above 200 after three days

The number of daily fatalities from the coronavirus in Spain picked up as health authorities registered 244 deaths, up from less than 200 on each of the three previous days.

The health ministry said the overall coronavirus death toll rose to 25,857 from 25,613 the day before.

The ministry also reported 996 new coronavirus cases, taking total infections to 220,325.

09:00 GMT – Czech study shows low COVID-19 incidence in population

A Czech “collective immunity study” testing the presence of COVID-19 antibodies in people without symptoms has shown a very low incidence of the disease, health authorities said.

The Czech Republic tested 26,549 people – some randomly selected – in four localities using antibody tests and found 107 new cases within the study that ended on May 1.

Ladislav Dusek, head of the Czech Institute of Health Information and Statistics, said the results show that “the degree of immunisation is very low”.

08:35 GMT – Taiwan eases restrictions for baseball games

Taiwan eased coronavirus restrictions on outdoor activities, including baseball games and mountain climbing, as the epidemic slows down in the island nation.

“We’ve agreed to allow up to 1,000 fans to attend a baseball game, starting Friday,” Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung told a news conference.

The country is also lifting restrictions on mass gatherings, for art and cultural activities as well as restaurants.

08:15 GMT – Philippines coronavirus infections surpass 10,000

Coronavirus infections in the Philippines have broken past the 10,000 mark, the health ministry said,

In a bulletin, the health ministry reported 320 additional infections, bringing the total to 10,004.

It also reported 21 new deaths, raising the total fatalities to 658.

08:05 GMT – Ecuador Indigenous community fears extinction from virus

Members of one of Ecuador’s Indigenous communities have fled into the Amazon rainforest after fears that they could be wiped out as coronavirus infections rise in their territory.

With about 744 members, the Siekopai nation, along the border between Ecuador and Peru, has 15 confirmed cases of the virus.

Read more here.

07:55 GMT – Philippine patients to undergo COVID-19 treatment trial

At least 100 coronavirus patients in the Philippines will be given the Japanese anti-flu drug Avigan as part of a clinical trial in treating the highly contagious disease, the Health Department said.

The department was preparing a protocol to choose the patients to be included, said Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

“We have the go signal to conduct the clinical trial in the coming days,” she said. “The Japanese government is providing supply for 100 patients. We already have the clearances from different institutions in the country.”

07:40 GMT – Russia reports over 10,000 cases again

The number of new coronavirus cases in Russia rose by 10,559 over the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide tally to 165,929, the country’s coronavirus crisis response centre said.

It was the fourth consecutive day that cases had risen by more than 10,000.

It also reported 86 new fatalities from COVID-19, bringing the total death toll in Russia to 1,537.

07:30 GMT – Qatar Airways to cut jobs amid pandemic

Qatar Airways is planning to cut a “significant” number of jobs because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on travel, according to a company notice.

“We have to face a new reality, where many borders are closed, rendering many of our destinations closed and aircraft grounded as a result, with no foreseeable outlook for immediate, positive change,” Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker said in the notice.

“The truth is, we simply cannot sustain the current numbers and we need to make a substantial number of jobs redundant – inclusive of cabin crew.”

More:

  • Coronavirus: Which countries have confirmed cases?

  • Timeline: How the new coronavirus spread

  • What is Madagascar’s ‘herbal remedy’ Covid-Organics?

07:00 GMT – UN chief says people with disabilities hard hit by virus

The United Nations head said the world’s 1 billion people living with disabilities are among the hardest-hit by the coronavirus and called for them to have equal access to prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

In a video message, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the pandemic is revealing the extent to which of marginalisation and is intensifying the inequalities that people with disabilities already face, such as poverty and higher rates of violence, neglect and abuse.

“We cannot let this continue,” he said. “We must guarantee the equal rights of people with disabilities to access health care and lifesaving procedures during the pandemic.”

06:45 GMT – Shanghai Disneyland to reopen next week

The Disneyland theme park in Shanghai will reopen on May 11 under “enhanced health and safety measures”, the company said.

Only limited attendance will be allowed initially, and visitors will need to book tickets and make reservations in advance.

Physical distancing will be maintained in lines for amenities, in restaurants, and on rides and other facilities; in addition, sanitisation and disinfection will be boosted, the company said in a news release.

06:15 GMT – Taiwan asks WHO for first-hand information

Taiwan’s health minister asked the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure the island had access to first-hand information about the coronavirus, saying that not having the full picture slows down work to halt the pandemic.

China, which considers the island one of its provinces, objects to Taiwan’s membership and the exclusion from WHO has infuriated Taipei.

“For Taiwan, what we want is first-hand information. Any second-hand information slows down any actions we take, and distorts our judgement about the epidemic, like we’re unable to see the woods for the trees,” Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said.

06:00 GMT – Germany to reopen shops and schools in May: Draft agreement

Germany will fully reopen shops and schools in May after weeks of shutdown imposed to control the spread of the coronavirus, according to a draft agreement between Chancellor Angela Merkel and regional premiers.

“Even after initial steps to open up were introduced from April 20, the number of new infections remained low,” the document read – with “no new wave of infection” so far detected – justifying the new measures.

05:44 GMT – Chinese students back to school in Wuhan

More than 120 schools reopened in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the original epicentre of the new coronavirus, for nearly 60,000 high school senior students after being closed for more than three months because of the pandemic

Wednesday’s back-to-school was the latest step in a gradual normalising of life in Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province.

Al Jazeera’s Katrina Yu, reporting from the capital, Beijing, said: “Many schools remain closed, particularly primary schools, and younger high school students are still not able to attend classes. These students we’re seeing going into class are the oldest high school students, and they have been prioritised because they have to prepare for their university entrance exams.”

Hello, this is Saba Aziz in Doha, taking over the updates from my colleague Kate Mayberry.

05:15 GMT – Indonesia’s president tells ministers to use ‘whatever means’ to control outbreak

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has told his ministers to use “whatever means” necessary to bring the country’s coronavirus outbreak under control and ensure the infection curve comes down in May.

“I ask that you exert all of your energy and concentrate on efforts to control COVID-19 and its impact,” Widodo said during a cabinet meeting that was broadcast on local television.

The country reported 484 new cases on Tuesday – the highest single daily increase since the outbreak began. Indonesia has confirmed a total of 12,071 cases – the highest in Southeast Asia after Singapore.

04:40 GMT – Hong Kong says more than 173,000 placed in compulsory quarantines

Hong Kong’s Department of Health has issued 103,543 quarantine orders to people arriving in Hong Kong from mainland China, Macau and Taiwan, and 69,685 to those arriving from other countries and territories, Sophie Chan, Hong Kong’s food and health secretary told the Legislative Council on Tuesday.

She said the government had “zero tolerance” for those who tried to evade the orders and had conducted 14,000 spot checks on those in quarantine.

Four people who violated the orders were each sentenced to prison terms ranging from 10 days to three months by magistrates’ courts, she said. Some 56 people who left their dwelling places before the expiry of their quarantine orders had been stopped at the border and were under investigation.

03:50 GMT – Top UK scientific adviser resigns after breaking lockdown rules

Neil Ferguson, the Imperial College epidemiologist whose modelling of the outbreak helped shape the British government’s response to the coronavirus, has resigned after it was revealed he breached lockdown guidelines.

Ferguson stepped down after The Daily Telegraph reported that he had broken the rules a month ago to meet his partner.

The professor was a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

“I accept I made an error of judgement and took the wrong course of action,” Ferguson said in a statement. “I have therefore stepped back from my involvement in SAGE.”

03:15 GMT – Germany updates on coronavirus outbreak

Germany has released the latest data on its coronavirus outbreak.

The Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases says the number of confirmed cases rose by 947 to 164,807.

A further 165 people died, bringing the toll to 6,996, it said.

02:00 GMT – Sanofi to enrol thousands in coronavirus vaccine trial

French drugmaker Sanofi says it plans to enrol thousands of people across the world in trials of an experimental coronavirus vaccine it is developing with Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

Sanofi Pasteur executives told Reuters the company hopes to start the trials in September and will be testing the vaccine on larger numbers of people to secure stronger data sooner. Late-stage trials comparing the vaccine with a placebo are expected to take place at the end of this year or early 2021.

01:50 GMT – Chinese border city loosens lockdown restrictions

Suifenhe, a Chinese town on the country’s northeastern border, is loosening coronavirus restrictions that were introduced after a surge in cases among travellers returning from Russia, according to the Global Times.

23:30 GMT (Tuesday) – Trump to wind down coronavirus taskforce

US President Donald Trump will wind down the government’s coronavirus taskforce as his focus shifts towards opening the economy.

Trump said Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, the two senior medics who took prominent roles in the taskforce, would remain as advisers.

“We can’t keep our country closed for the next five years,” Trump said when asked why it was time to wind down the taskforce. The taskforce had done a “great job”, he said during a visit to a factory making personal protective equipment, but the focus now was “safety and opening”.

More than 70,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US, more than anywhere else in the world. 

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Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

Read the updates from yesterday (May 5) here.


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