Countries around the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Iran and Spain, are moving to ease coronavirus lockdowns as daily infections and deaths slow. Italy has announced it will ease its two-month-old controls from May 4.
At least 1.3 million Australians have downloaded the government’s COVIDsafe tracing app, as support for Prime Minister Scott Morrison surges thanks to his handling of the outbreak.
Worldwide, the number of people confirmed to have the coronavirus has risen to more than 2.97 million and at least 206,000 have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Some 868,000 people have recovered.
Here are the latest updates:
Monday, April 27
09:05 GMT – Boris Johnson ‘cannot spell out’ how UK lockdown will ease
After suffering from a severe case of coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned to work to the biggest dilemma of his premiership: how to lift the lockdown that is destroying swathes of the British economy without triggering a deadly second wave of the outbreak.
Speaking outside Downing Street early on Monday, he said the government “simply cannot spell out” when or how restrictive measures will ease, but offered hope by adding progress was being made with fewer hospital admissions and that the UK was “passing the peak”.
Read more here.
08:45 GMT – Bangladesh restarts some garment factories
More than 500 garment factories in Bangladesh have reopened after a month-long shutdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus, while in India calls grew for an easing of its lockdown, which has caused deep economic pain.
Factories in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka and the port city of Chittagong have been permitted to resume work. Some of the world’s biggest clothing firms, including Gap Inc, Zara-owner Inditex and H&M, source their supplies from Bangladesh.
Industry groups for the sector, which boasts some 4,000 factories employing 4.1 million workers, had warned the shutdown could lose the country $6bn in export revenue this financial year.
Bangladesh has reported more than 5,000 cases of the coronavirus and 145 deaths.
08:25 GMT – Philippines’ coronavirus death toll rises to 511, cases to 7,777: Ministry
The Philippines reported 198 new coronavirus cases and 10 more deaths, brining the country’s tally to 7,777 cases and 511 fatalities.
The Department of Health also said 70 individuals have recovered from the infection, bringing the total number of recoveries to 932.
A soldier wearing a face mask holds on his weapon as he guards an empty street following the lockdown imposed to contain the coronavirus disease in Manila, Philippines [Eloisa Lopez/Reuters]
08:05 GMT – Motor racing-French Grand Prix cancelled due to pandemic
The French Formula One Grand Prix scheduled for June 28 at Le Castellet has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organisers said in a statement.
The Formula One season has yet to start and the race at the southern circuit is the 10th to be affected by the new coronavirus.
07:45 GMT – Nearly two million Australians download coronavirus tracker app
Nearly two million Australians rushed to download a new smartphone app designed to make coronavirus contact tracing easier, the government said, overlooking privacy concerns in the hope of speeding up the end of social-distancing lockdowns.
Health Minister Greg Hunt hailed take-up since the app was released Sunday evening as “extraordinary”, saying 1.9 million people had downloaded the program in less than 24 hours.
The nation of 25 million people has uncovered just over 6,700 instances of coronavirus, with the rate of new cases falling to 10-20 per day despite widespread testing.
Like governments around the world, Australian authorities are under growing pressure to ease restrictions on travel and public gatherings imposed to halt the spread of the virus, but which have devastated the economy.
07:25 GMT – Saudi Arabia, Russian citizens restricted from entering Japan – Shinzo
Effective Wednesday, Japan is adding 14 more countries – including Russia and Saudi Arabia – to an entry ban to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.
The move brings the total number of countries and territories covered to 87.
Travellers from China, the United States and all of Europe are restricted from entering Japan under the measures.
The Japanese PM announced the restriction will take effect on April 29 [File: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Reuters]
07:05 GMT – Kids return to school in Norway
Norway, which says it has the new coronavirus epidemic under control, reopened primary schools to the youngest students, in another step toward a gradual normalisation, though some parents expressed concern.
One week after nursery schools, pupils aged six to 10 started returning to their school desks after six weeks of remote learning from home in the Nordic country. Classes were however reduced to a maximum of 15 students.
Norway has progressively begun lifting restrictions imposed on March 12 to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.
COVID-19: The Beginning of a Pandemic | Between Us
06:44 GMT – Britain making good progress with antibody tests – junior minister
The United Kingdom is continuing to test whether antibody tests can be used in the fight against the novel coronavirus and is hopeful they will work, junior health minister Edward Argar said.
“Tests continue to be tested, the sign at the moment is positive but we’re not there yet in saying this is 100 percent going to work,” he told Talk Radio.
“We are continuing to research at pace … we are making very good progress now and I am hopeful we will see some positive news on that front.” (Reporting by Kate Holton and Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Michael Holden)
06:20 GMT – Pakistan extends flight ban until May 15
Pakistan has extended a ban on all international flights into and out of the country, with certain exceptions, until May 15, the country’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced.
“As per decision taken by the government of Pakistan, suspension of operation of all international passenger, chartered and private aircraft inbound flights to Pakistan is extended upto Friday, May 15, 2020,” said a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) issued by the CAA.
“The only exception to the above would be the diplomatic, special/cargo flights and flights of national carrier to/from Pakistan holding special approval from the competent authority for transporting stranded passengers, however, passengers onboard any or all inbound flights shall be subjected to thorough checking as per established procedures including screening, swab testing and isolation/quarantine as per the advice of the health professionals.”
The government has been allowing flights to allow Pakistanis stranded in other parts of the world to return home, as well as for foreign nationals to return to their home countries through flights arranged by their respective governments.
Hello, this is Usaid Siddiqui in Doha taking over from my colleague Kate Mayberry.
05:45 GMT – Germany, Thailand, Pakistan report latest coronavirus cases
A number of countries have been updating their data on the coronavirus.
Thailand has reported nine new cases and one death, Germany’s Robert Koch Institute has reported 1,018 new cases and 110 deaths and Pakistan has reported 605 new cases with total deaths rising to 281.
Pakistan has said it will also introduce a test-trace quarantine programme, according to Al Jazeera’s Asad Hashim who reports the policy was approved at a high-level meeting last week.
“It is a new policy under which the provincial governments with the support of district administrations. will locate the contacts of the confirmed cases and test them,” said Zafar Mirza, the country’s de facto health minister. “If any are found to be positive, they will be quarantined.”
04:45 GMT – South Korea investigating how patients get coronavirus again
South Korea’s made great strides in tackling the coronavirus with daily cases now well below 20, but it has also found people who were thought to have been cleared of the virus getting it again.
Finding out whether it is reinfection or reactivation could be crucial for efforts to develop a vaccine.
Read the story from Kelly Kasulis in Seoul.
South Korea has managed to curb its outbreak of coronavirus but is trying to understand why some people appear to have got the virus a second time having recovered [Lee Jin-man/AP Photo]
03:25 GMT – New Zealanders prepare to emerge from strict lockdown
New Zealand was preparing on Monday to emerge from a month-long lockdown that was among the world’s strictest.
The country will move from Level 4 restrictions to Level 3 at midnight (12:00 GMT).
The parliament and courts will reopen, and about 400,000 people are expected to return to work under stringent conditions. Some children will also be able to go to school. Delivery services – suspended under Level 4 – will also resume.
02:40 GMT – Osaka to ‘name and shame’ pachinko parlours that continue to open
Japan’s Osaka Prefecture has said it will name and shame pachinko parlours that continue to operate despite being told to close under coronavirus restrictions.
Pachinko parlours with their closely packed lines of gaming machines are common throughout Japan and known for their loud music and flashing lights.
“They are big and we know who they are,” said a spokesman for the prefecture.
On Friday, it identified six pachinko parlours in operation and three have now closed.
02:30 GMT – China reports just three new cases on mainland
China’s National Health Commission said on Monday the mainland had confirmed just three new cases of coronavirus and no new deaths.
Of the new cases, two were among people returned from overseas, while the other was in the northern province of Heilongjiang bordering Russia.
02:00 GMT – Australians rush to download tracing app, gov’t popularity surges
Some 1.3 million Australians have downloaded the government’s COVIDSafe tracing app since it was launched on Sunday.
Health Minister Greg Hunt says the app is necessary to help “disease experts find people who might have been exposed” and that its adoption had exceeded expectations.
The surge in downloads as a new poll showed Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s approval rating rise to 68 percent on his handling of the outbreak, the highest approval rating for an Australian leader since 2008.
I downloaded #COVIDSafe. I don’t regard govt as malign, I regard it as essential. Didn’t vote for this mob + have plenty of criticism but we’re a democracy. That means we all give and take. My ‘right’ to privacy gives way to responsibility to other ppl rn. Society > self.
— Rose Jackson (@RoseBJackson) April 26, 2020
More than one million Australians have already downloaded the new voluntary coronavirus tracing app ‘COVIDSafe’ [Scott Barbour/EPA]
00:45 GMT – Iran to reopen mosques in areas free of coronavirus
Iran plans to reopen mosques in parts of the country that have been consistently free of coronavirus infections, President Hassan Rouhani announced.
The country will be divided into white, yellow and red regions depending on the number of cases and deaths. In “white” areas mosques would be allowed to reopen and resume Friday prayers, according to the presidency’s website.
Iran says mosques in ‘white’ zones (where coronavirus cases are low) will be able to reopen [File/West Asia News Agency via Reuters]
00:30 GMT – Italy’s Conte announces lockdown easing from May 4
Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has announced the second phase of Italy’s lockdown will begin from May 4.
Under the plans, bars and restaurants will be able to provide takeaway as well as delivery, and people will be allowed to move around their own regions, but not beyond. Factories and construction sites will also be able to resume work, providing they respected social distancing and other health protocols.
“We expect a very complex challenge,” Conte said. “We will live within the virus and we will have to adopt every precaution possible.”
Museums and galleries can reopen from May 18 when sports teams will also be allowed to resume group training.
00:00 GMT – Trump rejects reports he plans to fire health secretary
US President Donald Trump has rejected – in a tweet – reports that he plans to fire Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar.
Trump described the reports as “Fake News” and said Azar was doing an “excellent job”.
Reports that H.H.S. Secretary @AlexAzar is going to be “fired” by me are Fake News. The Lamestream Media knows this, but they are desperate to create the perception of chaos & havoc in the minds of the public. They never even called to ask. Alex is doing an excellent job!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 26, 2020
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.
Read all the latest updates from yesterday (April 26) here.