The US economy has taken its hardest hit since the height of the Great Recession, with its GDP contracting 4.8 percent in the first quarter of the year.

The chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus defended the body’s record in its response to the new coronavirus, saying it has acted “quickly and decisively” since the beginning. 

Worldwide, the number of confirmed infections stood at 3.1 million, with more than 224,600 deaths and 957,000 recoveries.

US health expert Anthony Fauci welcomed the news that experimental antiviral drug remdesivir helped improve outcomes for COVID-19 patients during a clinical trial by Gilead Sciences Inc.

Here are the latest updates:

Thursday, April 30
02:32 GMT – US threat could block affordable COVID-19 drugs

Doctors Without Borders is criticising the US government for threatening trade sanctions against countries it believes are not adequately protecting intellectual property policies in the pharmaceutical sector.

The move by the US Trade Representative (USTR) could block the targeted countries from making affordable drugs to treat the coronavirus, the humanitarian group says.

The countries listed in the USTR’s Special 301 Report include India, Brazil, China, Chile and Canada.

“At a time when governments across the globe are struggling to provide adequate healthcare, it is ludicrous that the USTR is continuing to aid pharmaceutical corporations to profit from the abuse of intellectual property,” says Leena Menghaney, head of South Asia for Doctors Without Borders’ Access Campaign.

“It is a matter of concern that the US government is going after countries in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic for encouraging generic competition and price-lowering mechanisms to ensure access to medicines.”

01:41 GMT – South Korea reports no new domestic coronavirus cases

Health authorities in South Korea say they recorded no new domestic cases of coronavirus infections at the end of Wednesday, a first for the country since its outbreak began more than two months ago.

However, there are four new imported cases, says the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The figure takes the national tally to 10,765. The death toll is up by one to 247.

01:01 GMT – European lockdowns could avert 11,300 air pollution deaths

Improved air quality in Europe due to lockdowns to combat the coronavirus pandemic is delivering health benefits equivalent to avoiding 11,300 premature deaths, according to research published on Thursday.

Researchers extrapolated the likely affect on diseases caused or made worse by air pollution, which has fallen dramatically as hundreds of millions of people have stayed at home over the past month.

“You could compare it to everyone in Europe stopping smoking for a month,” says Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst at the Helsinki-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, which conducted the study.

“Our analysis highlights the tremendous benefits for public health and quality of life that could be achieved by rapidly reducing fossil fuels in a sustained and sustainable way.”

00:33 GMT – Cities face 100 million ‘new poor’ in post-pandemic world

About 100 million people living in cities worldwide will likely fall into poverty due to the coronavirus pandemic, experts say, calling for mapping tools to identify vulnerable communities and investment focusing on slum areas.

“Within cities, we need to focus on those who need help the most, the poor and the vulnerable have been very seriously affected,” says Sameh Wahba, global director for the World Bank’s urban, disaster risk management, resilience and land global practice.

“Our estimate is that there will be possibly upward of a 100 million so-called ‘new poor’ on account of loses of jobs and livelihoods and income,” Wahba tells a webinar with members of the media.

Without data, government food and financial aid is not reaching slum areas where about one billion people live worldwide, adds activist Sheela Patel.

00:26 GMT – UK to test 100,000 people to check coronavirus spread

The United Kingdom’s health ministry says it plans to test a randomly chosen group of 100,000 people for the new coronavirus as part of its efforts to understand infection rates better before loosening restrictions on the public.

The tests to see if people are currently infected with the respiratory disease is led by London’s Imperial College and polling company Ipsos MORI. The chosen people will be sent self-testing kits to see if they are infected.

Britain’s government is due to review next week whether to relax a nationwide lockdown brought in on March 23 to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which has so far killed more than 26,000 people in Britain.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives. You can find all the key developments from yesterday, April 29, here.

Al Jazeera and news agencies

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