6.58am BST

Thailand on Monday confirmed nine new coronavirus cases and one death, bringing the country’s totals to 2,931 cases and 52 fatalities, Reuters reports.

It is the first time since the outbreak started in January that there have been no new local transmissions reported in Bangkok, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government’s Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

Buddhist monks wearing protective face masks walk to collect alms at an almost empty beach, which is usually crowed with tourists, following the coronavirus disease in Pattaya, Thailand April 26, 2020. Photograph: Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters

Of the new cases, three were linked to previous cases, two are arrivals from overseas that have been under state quarantined, and four others were reported from the southern province of Yala, where the authorities are aggressively testing the population due to high infection rates.

The latest death was of a 64-year-old Thai woman.

Since the outbreak escalated in January 2,609 patients have recovered and gone home.

6.47am BST

Wuhan discharges all coronavirus patients as Beijing takes steps to stop second wave

The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus pandemic began, has discharged all of its coronavirus patients, as the nation reported only three new cases and no new deaths.

According to the National Health Commission, as of Sunday the number of new coronavirus patients in Wuhan was at zero. “Thanks to the joint efforts of Wuhan and medical staff from around the country,” said a spokesman for the commission, Mi Feng.

Two of the three new cases on Sunday were imported infections, while the third was a locally transmitted case in the northeastern border province of Heilongjiang, which has seen an uptick in cases as Chinese nationals have rushed back home from Russia.

China, which has recorded more than 82,000 cases and a total of 4,633 deaths, has begun to gradually reopen after months of paralysis. On Monday, almost 50,000 high school students in their third year, the most important for preparing for the national university entrance exam known as the gaokao, returned to class in Beijing. Other cities and provinces have announced various dates for reopening schools.

At the same time, authorities are still worried about a second wave of infections:

6.36am BST

UK doctors finding it harder to get PPE kit to treat Covid-19 patients

Doctors working in the riskiest areas of the UK’s hospitals with Covid-19 patients are finding it harder to get protective kit, despite ministerial pledges to solve the problem, research reveals.

The Royal College of Physicians has condemned the apparently worsening availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) as “truly terrible” and warned that frontline staff’s lives are at risk as a result.

Among doctors performing aerosol-generating procedures (AGP), in which patients with the disease release droplets from their mouth, 37% cannot always access a visor to wear while 31% have not been able to obtain a full-length surgical gown. Both are key elements of the full PPE NHS staff are advised to wear when participating in an AGP, such as a patient being intubated before being ventilated.

A survey undertaken by the college, to which 2,129 hospital doctors responded last week, found medics are finding it harder generally access to any sort of PPE. Just over a quarter (27%) said they could not get the kit they needed to keep them safe while treating people with Covid-19, up from 22% who said the same when the RCP conducted the same survey at the start of April.

6.23am BST

Locked-down advertisers ask: is it too soon for jokes?

Jim Waterson and Mark Sweney report for the Guardian:

Advertisers are struggling to work out how to promote their products during an age of physical distancing, walking the tightrope between continuing to sell goods where possible, building their brands, and trying not to look insensitive.

Already there are a few basic rules of thumb that are changing how advertising looks. Footage of people socialising outside the home is out, as it may look jarring to audiences in lockdown; adverts that resemble Zoom calls are in, but may already be a cliche; and everyone’s trying to work out how to create new promotions without being allowed outside.

6.07am BST

Fijian military leader defends government’s right to ‘stifle’ press during Covid crisis

Kelvin Anthony reports for the Guardian:

A Fijian military leader has said the government was justified in “stifling criticism” of its policies by the press during the Covid-19 outbreak, prompting warnings that Pacific leaders should not use the coronavirus crisis as an excuse to quell press freedom.

The comments have been condemned by press freedom advocates as the “kind of behaviour [that] is the prerogative of authoritative military dictatorships.”

In a Fiji Sun op-ed last week, Jone Kalouniwai, a brigadier-general in the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF), defended the view that Covid-19 is a good reason to take away the media’s right to question policy decisions.

‘It’s catastrophic’: Fiji’s colossal tourism sector devastated by coronavirusRead more

“[I]n times of such national emergency, our leaders have good reasons to stifle criticism of their policies by curtailing freedom of speech and freedom of the press,” wrote Kalouniwai, who added that the fight against Covid-19, was “likely to end up violating the individual rights and rule of law that are at the heart of any liberal society.”

5.23am BST

Asian stock markets have had a positive start to the week ahead of some momentous-looking data due in the coming days.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1.2% in early trade, taking back some of last week’s 2.6% decline. Japan’s Nikkei gained 2.1%, and Chinese blue chips 1%. In Australia, the ASX200 has risen 1.21%.

It’s been helped by the Bank of Japan announcing yet more stimulus for the country’s battered economy. The central bank has pledged to buy unlimited amounts of government bonds and it has raised purchases of corporate and commercial debt, and eased rules for what debt would qualify.

David Ingles

The Bank of Japan going all in pretty much:

– removes limits on JGB buys
– raises limits on corporate bond, CP buys
– removes price momentum from forward guidance

Looks like one of the world’s biggest “bond funds” is about to get bigger. pic.twitter.com/Iv4TxmO5xn

April 27, 2020

later in the week the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank meet to decide on what further measures they might take. The United States and European Union also release GDP for the first quarter and around 173 companies in the S&P 500 report quarterly figures thisweek including Apple, Amazon , Facebook, Microsoft, Caterpillar , Ford, General Electric and Chevron .

5.17am BST

New cases rise by 1,018 in Germany

The number of Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases increased by 1,018 to 155,193, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases shows today.

The death toll rose by 110 to 5,750, according to the tally.

An in case you missed it, here’s is an excellent Q&A with the scientist in charge of Germany’s much-lauded response. Christian Drosten says he has ahunch that China’s huge trade in raccoon dogs could be linked to the outbreak.

4.53am BST

British Bosses appeal to the government for a lockdown exit plan

The UK government must set out its lockdown exit plans to restore confidence among British businesses that have become increasingly bleak about the economy’s future, a leading employers’ group has warned.

The Institute of Directors said its 28,000 members were “clamouring” for information so they could start drawing up return-to-work plans. Jon Geldart, its director general, said it was in everyone’s interests to kickstart the economy again once it is safe to do so.

4.38am BST

Mexico has begun removing staff from Gulf of Mexico oil platforms to limit the spread of the coronavirus, leaving essential personnel on board, state oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) said on Sunday.

Pemex said in a statement that workers had started coming off the rigs as Mexico implements stricter measures to combat the coronavirus since entering the highest phase of a public health alert last Tuesday, Reuters reports.

A monument to the fishermen stands in the front of a gasoline station from Pemex, the Mexican state-owned petroleum company, in Tuxpan, Veracruz. Photograph: Luis Antonio Rojas/The Guardian

Some 259 rig workers disembarked on Sunday at the Gulf port city of Ciudad del Carmen, Pemex said in a statement. Of them, 76 worked for Pemex, while the rest were employed by firms working for the state oil firm, the company said.

A source at Pemex, speaking on condition of anonymity, earlier said the oil platforms would be left with between half and a quarter of their normal personnel.

Pemex has so far confirmed 248 cases of the coronavirus and 28 deaths. Five of the dead were current Pemex workers, 14 were retired employees, one an external employee and eight were relatives of workers.

OPEC+ had pressed Mexico to make cuts of 400,000 barrels per day (bpd), but Lopez Obrador agreed only to 100,000 bpd in May and June and said the United States had pledged to make up most of the difference.

The Pemex source told Reuters the personnel reductions on platforms would likely lead to a drop in oil output considerably more than the cuts Mexico had agreed to.
Offshore areas in the Gulf produce around 1.4 million bpd of Mexico’s total output of some 1.7 million bpd.

4.27am BST

Fried chicken and bento: New Zealanders dream of takeaways as lockdown prepares to lift

On Tuesday, New Zealand’s restaurants, cafes and takeaways will be back in business.

Under the move to level-3 restrictions, which come into force at midnight on Monday, New Zealanders have been told to work and study from home, “unless that is not possible”. Anyone going out must obey social distancing rules. Businesses can open, but cannot physically interact with customers and “low-risk” recreation activities will be allowed.

Restaurants will be required to follow a number of public health measures to protect the safety of staff, including physical distancing which must be in place in all kitchens. Customers will not be allowed inside restaurants, bars and cafes and businesses will have to sell prepared food and non-alcoholic drinks by contactless delivery and collection.

4.11am BST

Lebanon roads blocked in protest at dire economy

Demonstrators blocked roads through Lebanon late Sunday to protest the deteriorating economic situation, despite a lockdown and curfew imposed because of the coronavirus, according to the official news agency.

Police quickly intervened to reopen the highways where the demonstrators burned tyres to block roads, the ANI national news agency said.

Lebanese riot police stand guard where protesters shout slogans against the governor Ryad Salameh of the Lebanese central bank are they block the Hamra main street in Front the Central bank building in Beirut, Lebanon 23 April 2020. Photograph: Nabil Mounzer/EPA

Protesters have staged several daytime demonstrations recently, including a convoy of cars in the capital last week, despite the coronavirus lockdown and nighttime curfew.

A nationwide protest movement erupted in October last year, with hundreds of thousands of people demonstrating against the ruling elite and the rampant graft critics say has brought the economy to its knees.

Lebanon’s worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war is now compounded by the coronavirus lockdown. Poverty has risen to 45% of the population, according to official estimates.

Its economy is forecast to contract 12% in 2020, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The Lebanese pound has also plummeted against the dollar, resulting in high inflation.

at 5.49am BST

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