World leaders have rallied around the United Nations for an initiative to help the most vulnerable countries gain access to vaccines, diagnostics and treatment tools for the coronavirus as soon as they emerge. Noticeably absent: The United States, which is the hardest hist country in the world, and China, where the virus first appeared.
The World Health Organization’s chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the agency is teaming up with countries and partners worldwide to accelerate work on drugs and a vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Africa’s coronavirus cases have surged 43 percent in the past week but its countries are dangerously behind in the global race for scarce medical equipment. Ten nations have no ventilators at all. John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the continent is competing with the developed world in terms of obtaining supplies and equipment. “The very future of the continent will depend on how this matter is handled.”
The death toll in the United States surpassed 51,000 amid more than 890,000 cases. But the number of daily deaths in New York has gone down, with 422 reported on Friday – the lowest since April 1. Meanwhile, China reported it has not had a new death from the virus in 10 days.
Close to 196,000 people have died due to the pandemic, with 2.7 million infected globally, out of whom almost some 781,000 have recovered.
Here are the latest updates:
Saturday, April 25
08:00 GMT – Germany’s confirmed cases rise by 2,055 to 152,438
Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases increased by 2,055 to 152,438, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases has shown – a second day of deceleration after three days of acceleration in new infections.
On Friday confirmed coronavirus cases had increased by 2,337. The reported death toll rose by 179 to 5,500, the tally showed on Saturday.
07:40 GMT – Singapore reports 618 new cases, taking total to 12,693
Singapore has registered 618 new coronavirus infections, its health ministry has said, taking the city-state’s total number of COVID-19 cases to 12,693.
The vast majority of the new cases are migrant workers living in dormitories, the health ministry said in a statement. Seven are permanent residents.
The island of 5.7 million people now has one of the highest infection rates in Asia, according to official figures.
People wearing facemasks as a prevention measure against the spread of the coronavirus show their identification card as they queue to enter a wet market in Singapore [Roslan Rahman/AFP]
07:30 GMT – Attention turns to China’s north as no new deaths reported for 10 days
China has reported no new deaths from the coronavirus in the last ten days, as attention has turned to northern provinces bordering Russia.
The vast majority of new cases in the country have been imported, according to health authorities.
Attention has now turned to Chinese nationals returning through the border with Russia in Heilongjiang province, Al Jazeera’s Sarah Clarke reported.
“The main cluster, the main focus, is the north of the country. This is where we’re seeing the largest number of imported cases,” she said. “There were 12 new cases reported by the national health commission on Saturday and 11 of those were imported.”
07:15 GMT – Shopping robots come into their own in locked-down English town
A fleet of robots on wheels that deliver shopping in the English town of Milton Keynes have seen their popularity surge as residents are stuck indoors due to the coronavirus lockdown.
The robots, which come up roughly to an adult’s knee height and look like smooth white plastic boxes mounted on six black wheels, are a familiar sight in the town, where they have been delivering groceries for over two years.
But since the government imposed strict social distancing measures on March 23, the devices have been busier than ever, delivering for free to National Health Service (NHS) staff and facing increased demand from the general public.
“Right now we are offering free delivery to all NHS workers within the community. We want to make life a little bit easier for these people in these very, very stressful times,” said Henry Harris-Burland, of Starship, the company that makes the robots. “Lots of them are doing … 80-hour weeks and they don’t have time to go to the local grocery store, so they use our robots for their shopping.”
European countries considering when to lift lockdowns
07:00 GMT – New York City fields spike in disinfectant ingestion after Trump comments: Report
An unusually high number of New York city residents contacted city health authorities over fears that they had ingested bleach or other household cleaners in the 18 hours after President Donald Trump’s suggested that injecting such products could cure coronavirus, the New York Daily News reported.
The Poison Control Center, a subagency of the city’s Health Department, managed a total of 30 cases of possible exposure to disinfectants during the period, a spokesman told the newspaper. During the same period last year, the agency handled only 13 similar cases.
Of the cases reported between Thursday and Friday, nine were specifically about possible exposure to Lysol, while ten were in regards to bleach and 11 about household cleaners in general, the spokesman said.
During the same period last year, there were no cases reported of Lysol exposure.
To be clear, disinfectants are not intended for ingestion either by mouth, by ears, by breathing them in any way, shape or form. And doing so can put people at great risk. https://t.co/QFuGdXIPcp
— Commissioner Oxiris Barbot (@NYCHealthCommr) April 24, 2020
06:45 GMT – Argentina prisoners riot demanding health measures
Dozens of prisoners at a jail in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires have rioted in a demand for urgent health measures after confirmation of a coronavirus case inside the facility.
Police surrounded the prison, which holds around 2,200 inmates, as explosions were heard during the incident on Friday, an AFP news agency reporters at the scene said.
A group of prisoners managed to climb onto a roof, burn mattresses and throw objects at security guards trying to quell the uprising.Authorities have yet to comment on the riot or whether there are any injuries.
Inmates could be heard shouting demands for a judge to hear their case and for better protection against the pandemic, just a few days after a warden at the Villa Devoto prison was confirmed to have contracted the novel coronavirus.
“COVID-19 in Devoto, genocidal judges,” read a banner hung from the prison roof. “We refuse to die in prison,” read another.
Inmates from Villa Devoto prison burn mattresses during a riot demanding measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus [Juan Mabromata/AFP]
06:20 GMT – Japan economy minister cancels appearances after contact with infected staffer
A key government official in charge of Japan’s economic response to the coronavirus outbreak has called off his public appearances on Saturday to work from home after it was discovered that he had been in contact with a staffer who was infected with the virus.
In a statement, the office said that it had discovered that Nishimura had visited a university hospital last week with an office staff person who later tested positive for the virus.
In past weeks, the minister has become the face of Japan’s economic efforts to deal with the coronavirus.
“Neither the minister nor the staffer who tested positive for the virus has shown any symptoms, but as a precaution, the minister will remain at home until he receives further notice on his condition from health authorities,” the office said in a statement.
Trump ends COVID-19 briefing abruptly after ‘inject disinfectant’
05:45 GMT – Maryland sends out emergency alert after Trump disinfectant comments
The US state of Maryland has sent out an alert telling residents “that under no circumstances should any disinfectant product be administered into the body through injection, ingestion or any other route.”
The message, posted on Twitter on Friday, comes after President Donald Trump in a Thursday press conference asked his administration’s medical experts to look into injecting disinfectants into the body to kill the coronavirus or exposing the body to ultra-violet light.
Experts have said the statements were dangerous and should be not be tried under any circumstances.
Trump later claimed he was being sarcastic and falsely said that only made the comments in response to a reporters question. The president had made the comments without solicitation while looking at his coronavirus response coordinator Dr Deborah Birx and Department of Homeland Security science official Bill Bryan.
Maryland had reportedly received over 100 calls to its coronavirus hotline asking about the president’s comments.
ALERT🚨: We have received several calls regarding questions about disinfectant use and #COVID19.
This is a reminder that under no circumstances should any disinfectant product be administered into the body through injection, ingestion or any other route.
— Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MDMEMA) (@MDMEMA) April 24, 2020
05:00 GMT – Thailand reports 53 new cases, one new death
Thailand has reported 53 new coronavirus cases and the death of a 48-year-old Thai man who was infected with the virus along with four other family members.
Of the new cases, three were linked to previous cases, one had no known links, and 42 are migrant workers who have been under quarantine at an immigration detention centre in the southern province of Songkhla.
Seven other new cases were reported from the southern province of Yala, where authorities are aggressively testing the population because of high infection rates there, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration.
Since the outbreak escalated in January, Thailand has reported a total of 2,907 cases and 51 deaths, while 2,547 patients have recovered and gone home.
This is Joseph Stepansky in Doha taking over the live updates from my colleague Ted Regencia.
04:30 GMT – UN special rapporteur sounds alarm on response to COVID-19
The United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression has sounded the alarm over some of the response to the global health emergency following the coronavirus pandemic.
In a social media post on Saturday, David Kaye showed a summary of his report to the UN Human Rights Council, which concluded that some policies carried out to help contain the deadly disease “may be failing to meet the standards of legality, necessity and proportionality”.
He wrote in the summary that access to information, independent media and other free expression rights “are critical to meeting the challenges of the pandemic.”
is #COVID19 a pathogen of repression? check out my new report to the @UNHumanRights Council for answers. i call for robust promotion of freedom of expression to advance public health. https://t.co/aaGAjray0E pic.twitter.com/QQa196Jabr
— David Kaye (@davidakaye) April 24, 2020
03:24 GMT – Nearly 60 new coronavirus cases confirmed on cruise ship in Japan
Nearly 60 new cases of coronavirus infections were confirmed among crew members of an Italian cruise ship docked in Japan, domestic media reported on Saturday.
With testing of all crew members now complete, the new number, reported by public broadcaster NHK, brings the total infections onboard the Costa Atlantica to around 150, roughly one quarter of the vessel’s 623 crew members. TV Asahi said 57 crew members tested positive.
The infection cluster onboard the vessel docked in Nagasaki comes as hospitals are running out of beds in some parts of Japan, where the national tally of virus cases has risen above 12,800. Some 345 people have died, according to Reuters news agency.
With testing of all crew members now complete, the new number, reported by public broadcaster NHK, brings the total infections onboard the Costa Atlantica to around 150 [Kyodo via Reuters]
02:33 GMT – Vanuatu defies coronavirus shutdown with women’s cricket final
The Pacific island nation of Vanuatu is defying the coronavirus-led shutdown of global sport by scheduling their Women’s Super League cricket final and streaming it on social media on Saturday, Reuters news agency reported.
Most sport around the world, including all international cricket, has been brought to a halt because of the social-distancing measures put in place to control the pandemic.
Vanuatu, some 2,000 kilometres (1,242 miles) off the east coast of Australia, has a population of 300,000 but has not yet recorded a single case of COVID-19.
“We’re lucky here in Vanuatu and life is returning to normal so we thought it was our duty to provide the world with some live sport,” Shane Deitz, chief executive of Vanuatu Cricket, said in a video posted on Twitter.
02:01 GMT – Senior official cited by Trump is subject of investigation
The senior Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official who was thrust into the spotlight by US President Donald Trump to describe the effects of temperature on COVID-19 has been the subject of misconduct allegations for his previous government work.
A Department of Energy Inspector General investigation was still pending on Friday based on evidence submitted by a whistle-blower that William Bryan abused his government position with energy-consulting work in Ukraine.
It is unclear if Trump was aware of that investigation when he called on Bryan at his daily briefing Thursday to explain DHS research that prompted a presidential riff on the potential to cure the virus with disinfectant and kill it with sunlight.
Bryan has been acting under-secretary for the DHS Science and Technology Directorate, since May 2017. Before that, he was president of a consulting firm in Virginia, following previous work with the Department of Energy.
01:35 GMT – China reports 12 new coronavirus cases, no new deaths
China reported 12 new coronavirus cases on April 24 compared with six new cases on the previous day, National Health Commission data showed on Saturday. Of the new cases, 11 were imported.
The commission also reported 29 new asymptomatic cases, slightly down from the previous day’s tally of 34. Four of these cases were imported.
The total number of confirmed cases in China is now 82,816. The death toll remained the same at 4,632, with no new deaths reported on April 24.
China reported no new virus deaths for the ninth-straight day and just six new cases on Friday [Mark Schiefelbein/AP]
01:29 GMT – Polish health minister says safest to delay May election
Poland’s health minister, who is also a cardiologist, has said that delaying the country’s presidential election until 2022 would be “the only safe option” given the coronavirus pandemic.
“One option would be to put this whole issue on hold for two years and really deal with the epidemic. I think that’s the best option and I recommend it,” Minister Dr Lukasz Szumowski told Poland’s Polsat commercial television.
Despite pressure from the opposition, medical workers, the majority of the public and even members and allies of the ruling conservative party, the government has refused to postpone the May 10 ballot.
President Andrzej Duda is running for reelection in the polls.
01:15 GMT – IMF approves $309m in aid for Mozambique
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has announced the payment of emergency aid of $309m to Mozambique to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
“The pandemic should have a significant impact on the economy of Mozambique, halting an emerging recovery after two powerful tropical cyclones that struck in 2019,” the institution said in a statement.
00:27 GMT – US Navy wants to reinstate fired captain of aircraft carrier: report
In an extraordinary reversal, the US Navy has recommended reinstating the fired captain of the coronavirus-hit aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, whose crew hailed him as their hero for risking his job to safeguard their lives, officials told Reuters news agency.
The Navy’s leadership made the recommendation to reinstate Captain Brett Crozier to Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Friday, just three weeks after Crozier was relieved of command after the leak of a letter he wrote calling on the Navy for stronger measures to protect the crew, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Pentagon issued a statement acknowledging Esper received the results of the Navy’s preliminary inquiry into the Roosevelt incident. But it added that Esper wanted to review a written copy of the completed inquiry.
00:17 GMT – Mexico coronavirus cases, deaths continue to rise
Mexico’s health ministry has confirmed a total of 12,872 coronavirus cases across the country.
The ministry also said the number of deaths has reached 1,221.
00:05 GMT – Britain starts plasma trial against coronavirus
Britain is to start trials to see whether plasma collected from donors who have recovered from COVID-19 could be an effective treatment for patients who are severely unwell with the disease, Reuters news agency reported.
Up to 5,000 severely ill patients with COVID-19 could soon be treated each week with plasma as part of a new approach to treating the virus, the health department said on Saturday.
Plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients can be transfused to patients who are struggling to produce their own antibodies against the virus.
Hello, I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. You can find updates from yesterday, April 24, here.