Australian health authorities are investigating possible breaches of infection control at a Sydney aged care facility at the centre of a coronavirus cluster.
Of the five new Covid-19 cases in the state over the last 24 hours, two were recorded at Newmarch House, where 13 residents have died.
Anglicare Sydney, which runs the aged care facility, confirmed the positive tests but said it had “strict procedures and enforced infection control practices” in place.
More than 60 people – 24 staff and 37 residents – at the Penrith nursing home have tested positive to Covid-19 since the outbreak on 11 April.
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Somali medics report rapid rise in deaths
Medics, funeral workers and gravediggers in Somalia have reported an unprecedented surge of deaths in recent days amid growing fears that official counts of Covid-19 deaths reflect only a fraction of the virus’s toll in Africa .
So far Somalia, one of the poorest and most vulnerable countries on the continent, has announced an official total of 601 confirmed cases and 28 deaths.
But evidence from medics and burial workers in Mogadishu, the capital of the unstable east African country, suggest the number of deaths could be many times higher.
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The Jakarta post has reported that a hamlet on the island of Bali has been put under lockdown after rapid testing showed hundreds of residents were likely infected.
Out of 1,200 tests, 400 returned a reactive result.
“Starting Thursday, Serokadan hamlet in Abuan village is isolated, closed. No one is allowed to enter or leave the hamlet,” said the Bali provincial Covid-19 task force’s executive chairman, Dewa Made Indra.
“We have followed up the rapid test results by taking swab samples for further PCR [polymerase chain reaction] tests to get accurate results on whether they are positive for COVID-19 or not. Of course, we will use the swab test results as the final results.”
AP: Gun-carrying protesters have been a common sight at some demonstrations calling for coronavirus-related restrictions to be lifted. But an armed militias involvement in an angry protest in the Michigan statehouse Thursday marked an escalation that drew condemnation and shone a spotlight on the practice of bringing weapons to protest.
The American Patriot Rally started on the statehouse steps, where members of the Michigan Liberty Militia stood guard with weapons and tactical gear, their faces partially covered. They later moved inside the Capitol along with several hundred protesters, who demanded to be let onto the House floor, which is prohibited.
Some protesters with guns which are allowed in the statehouse went to the Senate gallery, where a senator said some armed men shouted at her, and some senators wore bulletproof vests.
Armed protesters provide security as demonstrators take part in an “American Patriot Rally,” organized on April 30, 2020, by Michigan United for Liberty on the steps of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, demanding the reopening of businesses. – The group is upset with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s mandatory closure to curtail Covid-19. Photograph: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images
For some observers, the images of armed men in tactical gear at a state Capitol were an unsettling symbol of rising tensions in a nation grappling with crisis. Others saw evidence of racial bias in the way the protesters were treated by police.
For some politicians, there was fresh evidence of the risk of aligning with a movement with clear ties to far-right groups.
Prominent Michigan Republicans on Friday criticized the showing, with the GOP leader of the state Senate referring to some protesters as a bunch of jackasses” who used intimidation and the threat of physical harm to stir up fear and feed rancor.”
President Donald Trump, who has been criticized in the past for condoning extremist views, called the protesters very good people and urged Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to make a deal.
Michigan has been the epicenter of the political showdown over how to contain the spread of the deadly virus without decimating the economy. About a quarter of the state’s workforce has filed for unemployment and nearly 4,000 people have died.
Parts of Australia have started easing their restrictions on social activity. In the state of NSW for example, two people could visit another house for the first time from yesterday. In the Northern Territory, some national parks have opened and there is a date for pub’s reopening. Queensland is allowing people to travel up to 50km for recreation.
Naaman Zhou has spoken to a few people about what they planned to do with the new (relative) freedom.
For Lisa Villani, Friday’s relaxation of restrictions means she can see her friend Deb Mansfield, who is recovering from surgery.
Mansfield, 43, is a visual artist and former university lecturer, who now works in the disability sector. The pair met seven years ago and, until the shutdown, worked together at a pottery workshop.
“In some of my toughest times, Deb has been the family in Sydney I didn’t have. She checks in. She delivers baked goods. She sends gifts,” Villani says.
Singapore to ease restrictions as cases subside again – minister
Singapore’s health minister says the city-state will relax some anti-coronavirus measures after a fall in the number of cases in the broader community.
Some businesses will be allowed to open again after 12 May while some schools will reopen from 19 May.
The Straits Times
Some Singapore businesses to reopen from May 5 as circuit breaker measures eased progressivelyhttps://t.co/WzWgm0p47l
May 2, 2020
Singapore saw cases flare up recently in a second wave as infections spiked in its crowded migrant worker dormitories.
The postponed Tokyo Olympics are unlikely to go ahead in 2021, infectious disease experts have warned, in a Bloomberg article.
“Japan may be able to contain the virus by next year’s games” but other regions like the U.S., Africa or Brazil may not, creating an uneven playing field for athletes, said Norio Sugaya, a visiting professor at Keio University’s School of Medicine in Tokyo and a member of a World Health Organization panel advising on pandemic influenza. “It’s going to be tough to hold the Olympics.”
A giant Olympic rings monument is illuminated at dusk at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo. Photograph: Franck Robichon/EPA
AFP: Ten years after sinking into its worst economic crisis in living memory, Greece once again faces the spectre of a grave recession in the midst of a global coronavirus lockdown.
Though the country has so far been spared the death toll of other European nations at fewer than 150 fatalities from Covid-19, it will not escape the resulting economic downturn, prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis warned this week.
People in front of the Acropolis in Athens. Photograph: Petros Giannakouris/AP
“The consequences of this coronavirus attack will undoubtedly be dramatic,” he told parliament on Thursday.
“We know with certainty that (the recession) will be deep… we don’t know how long the health crisis will last, we don’t yet know if we’ll have tourism.”
Tourism is one of Greece’s most important sources of revenue, along with shipping.
The Greek state alone could lose 8-10 billion euros ($8.8-11 billion) in income this year, the prime minister said.
There were attempts at May Day rallies in some countries yesterday. In Hong Kong, where pro-democracy protests have been a massive presence since mid last year, authorities banned any May Day marches, citing public health regulations.
3,000 riot police were reportedly sent out on the street in anticipation of people ignoring the ban.
Lab or organisers appealed the ban, but lost, and so instead went out in two small groups that were 1.5m apart. They were, however, fined by police, according to activist leader Lee Cheuk-Yan.
Lee told the Guardian yesterday police stopped them and said because the two groups had “the same objective” they would all be fined.
He accused police of abusing the social distancing laws to stop protest actions.
Elsewhere some protesters took to shopping malls to hold small rallies or to sing. They were met with quite an intense response from police, who used pepper spray to disperse more than 100 protesters singing and chanting pro-democracy slogans at a shopping mall in the New Territories.
Police PTUF & QRF1 crushed into New Town Plaza and deployed pepper spray to disperse shoppers and protestors inside the mall #HongKongProtests pic.twitter.com/NYblHd1r9q
May 1, 2020
The International Monetary Fund has approved a request from Ecuador for emergency financing to fight the coronavirus pandemic, granting a $643 million loan, the Andean country’s economy ministry said on Friday.
Ecuador has been among the hardest-hit countries in Latin America by the coronavirus, with 24,675 confirmed cases and 883 deaths, plus a further 1,357 deaths that were likely caused by the virus.
“This financing will allow us to have the necessary liquidity to support the reactivation of the economy, and protect jobs,” the ministry said in a statement.
The outbreak there is boosting pressure on President Lenin Moreno to default on $17 billion in debt and devote more resources toward fighting a pandemic that has left bodies in the streets of the country’s largest city, Guayaquil.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany rose by 945 to 161,703, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Saturday.
The death toll rose by 94 to 6,575.
Malaysian authorities are rounding up undocumented migrants as part of efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus, the country’s police chief said late on Friday, after hundreds of migrants and refugees were detained in the capital Kuala Lumpur.
Over 700 migrants were taken into custody, including young children and ethnic Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, during Friday’s raid in a downtown area where thousands of migrants and asylum-seekers live, rights groups had said.
The operation was aimed at preventing undocumented migrants from travelling to other areas amid movement curbs imposed to contain the spread of the outbreak, Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador told state news agency Bernama.
“We cannot allow them to move freely… as it will be difficult for us to track them down if they leave identified locations,” Abdul Hamid was quoted as saying.
Those detained would be placed at a single location for monitoring until the movement curbs were lifted, he said according to Bernama.
The arrests followed public anger in recent days over the presence of migrant foreigners, particularly Rohingya refugees, with some in Malaysia accusing them of spreading the coronavirus and being a burden on state resources.
Malaysia has around 2 million registered foreign workers but authorities estimate many more are living in the Southeast Asian country without proper documents. Malaysia does not formally recognise refugees, regarding them as illegal migrants.
The Australian government has urged any citizens or residents currently in Africa to get a flight out as soon as possible, if they can.
“We have no plans to provide evacuation [flights],” it said.
“The government cannot guarantee you access to medical services if the situation gets worse.”
If you’re anywhere in Africa, and can access a✈️out, we urge you to do so asap. We have no plans to provide evacuation✈️. The ?? Government cannot guarantee you access to medical services if the situation gets worse. Consular assistance will also be limited. #staysafe #beprepared
May 2, 2020
World Health Organization officials in Africa have said the Covid-19 outbreak is still increasing across the continent despite widespread efforts at containment.
Most African nations are hoping they can slow the spread of the disease to protect their very limited health facilities, which aren’t able to treat large numbers of sick people.