China’s state broadcaster CCTV attacked US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s “insane and evasive remarks” over the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

Malaysia and India are among countries in Asia that will begin to ease parts of their lockdown on Monday.

Afghanistan’s health ministry raised the alarm over the spread of the new coronavirus after a small study with random tests in Kabul suggested that about a third of the capital’s residents could be infected.

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus exceeds 3.5 million. More than 247,000 people have died while about 1.1 million have recovered.

Here are the latest updates:

Monday, May 4
14:50 GMT – EU to contribute 1 billion euros for global vaccine search 

The European Union  has pledged 1 billion euros ($1.09 billion) for the global search for vaccines and treatment for the novel coronavirus, the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a pledging conference.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for any treatment developed to be available to everyone, something the World Health Organization said would be a challenge.

Most businesses resume operations in Thailand (2:50)

14:45 GMT – Macron: France pledges 500 million euros to global coronavirus vaccine hunt   

President Emmanuel Macron has said France would contribute 500 million euros ($550 million) to a global fund-raising push to finance research into a vaccine and treatments against the novel coronavirus.

“France will commit an additional 500 million euros for the ACT-A initiative,” Macron said in a video call hosted by the European Commission during which world leaders are expected to raise at least 7.5 billion euros.

14:40 GMT – Netherlands coronavirus cases reach 40,770, total deaths 5,082 

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Netherlands rose by 199 to 40,770, with 26 new deaths, health authorities said.

Total deaths in the country reached 5,082, the Netherlands Institute for Health said in its daily update.

First factory in Afghanistan to make face masks (2:40)

14:35 GMT – Questions need to be answered about virus origin – UK PM’s spokesman 

Britain believes questions need to be answered about the origin of the coronavirus, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, declining to comment on a report that a US-led intelligence consortium had accused Beijing of a cover-up.

“Clearly there are questions that need to be answered about the origin and spread of the virus, not least so we can ensure that we are better prepared for future global pandemics,” the spokesman told reporters.

14:25 GMT – Germany’s Merkel pledges 525 million euros to global coronavirus vaccine hunt

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that Germany would contribute 525 million euros ($573.51 million) to a global fund-raising push to search for vaccines and for a treatment for the novel coronavirus.

“We will contribute 525 million euros directly to this pledging conference and we will also continue our obligations for global health overall with around 1.3 billion euros,” Merkel said. 

14:05 GMT – Zimbabwe pleads with foreign lenders to prevent ‘catastrophe’ 

Zimbabwe is headed for a health and economic catastrophe from the coronavirus pandemic because its debt arrears mean it cannot access foreign lenders, the finance minister warned in a letter to the IMF.

Mthuli Ncube said in the letter that Zimbabwe needed to start talks and normalise ties with foreign creditors to clear its decades-old arrears and unblock urgently needed funding.

“The Zimbabwean authorities propose a high-level dialogue on mitigating the economic and social downfall from the COVID-19 pandemic through transformative arrears clearance … short of which the country will suffer a health and economic catastrophe,” Ncube wrote.

13:50 GMT – Nigeria reopens main cities of Lagos and Abuja 

Nigeria began easing restrictions in its capital Abuja and in largest city Lagos, heralding the reopening of Africa’s biggest economy after more than four weeks of lockdowns imposed to contain the new coronavirus.

The government has said a 24-hour stay-at-home order in place since March 30 in Abuja and the states of Lagos and Ogun – with exceptions only for food shopping and health-related trips – will be lifted gradually over a six-week period.

On Monday, the usually frenetic streets of the coastal megacity Lagos, largely empty during the lockdown, were busy again with cars, buses and motorised tricycle taxis. In a crucial difference to pre-lockdown life, most people on the streets of Lagos wore face masks.

Coronavirus: Lessons From Asia (48:30)

13:40 GMT – Swiss environmentalists demand ‘green recovery’ after coronavirus

Environmental activists delivered a petition to a special session of the Swiss parliament demanding a $64bn government aid package should promote a “green recovery” from the coronavirus crisis.

More than 22,000 people signed the petition demanding that support for companies in sectors with large greenhouse gas emissions, such as aviation, be tied to reducing their environmental impact.

“We are here because we want to make it a green recovery. We need to foster measures that help us to quit fossil fuels now in the wake of corona,” said Georg Klingler from Greenpeace Switzerland. “We need to make our society more resilient for the crises to come.”

13:35 GMT – ‘Darth Vader’ enforces lockdown in Philippine village 

Dressed as Star Wars characters, local officials in the Philippines are out and about to enforce strict quarantine measures while also handing out relief packages.

With Darth Vader and Stormtrooper outfits made from rubber mats and old plastic, the youth leaders catch the attention of villagers on the outskirts of Manila, who are then reminded to stay indoors.

“We tell off residents who still go outdoors without the proper quarantine passes needed and also those who do not wear face masks. We make sure the government guidelines are properly followed,” said Muriel Baldago, an elected official dressed in a Stormtrooper costume.

May 4 known as Star Wars Day and celebrated worldwide by fans.

Trump claims coronavirus came from Wuhan lab (1:10)

13:25 GMT – China says US’s Pompeo ‘insane’ over coronavirus lab theory 

China’s state broadcaster CCTV attacked US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s “insane and evasive remarks” over the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

Pompeo on Sunday said “enormous evidence” showed the virus originated in a lab in China, doubling down on previous claims that have been repeatedly denied by the World Health Organization and various scientific experts.

Titled “Evil Pompeo is wantonly spewing poison and spreading lies”, the harshly worded commentary cited WHO executive director Mike Ryan and Columbia University virologist W Ian Lipkin, who claimed the virus is natural in origin and was not man-made or leaked from a laboratory.

“These flawed and unreasonable remarks by American politicians make it clear to more and more people that no ‘evidence’ exists,” the commentary said.

“The so-called ‘virus leaked from a Wuhan lab’ hype is a complete and utter lie. American politicians are rushing to shift the blame, cheat votes and suppress China when their own domestic anti-epidemic efforts are a mess.”

13:20 GMT – Germany starts to reopen 

Germany took a further step on the long road back to post-coronavirus normality with museums and hairdressers reopening under strict conditions, churches opening their doors for worshippers, and more car factories resuming work.

Germany has been more successful than other large European countries in slowing the virus’ spread – it estimates that every 100 carriers of the virus now infects only 74 others on average, well below the 100 mark where new restrictions must be imposed.

But there are fears complacency and a race to reopen between different regions could undo the successes achieved so far.

12:14 GMT – Italy leads Europe in easing measures

Italy is leading Europe in easing lockdown measures aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus, almost two months after the epidemic hit the continent.

More than 4.4 million Italians went back to work on Monday after seven weeks of extraordinary restrictive measures.

Read more here.

Workers wear protective face masks at Porta Palazzo market in Turin after it reopened with social distancing rules as Italy begins a staged end to a nationwide lockdown, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) [Massimo Pinca/Reuters]

12:11 GMT – Which Middle East states have begun easing restrictions?

In the Middle East, several Gulf states have now relaxed their restrictions, including reopening malls with limited capacity. 

Precautionary measures, such as wearing face masks and gloves while maintaining social distancing remain in place.

Read more here.

11:59 GMT – Romania president will enforce ‘state of alert’ from May 15

Romania will not extend a state of emergency past its May 15 expiry date, but will impose a “state of alert” allowing some modest relaxation of restrictions, President Klaus Iohannis said.

“Unfortunately this epidemic has not yet passed. We need to be responsible and be very cautious further ahead,” Iohannis said, adding that some travel restrictions were lifted but “people won’t be allowed to travel in groups larger than three”.

Gatherings outdoor, indoor were still banned, he added. 

11:51 GMT – Japan’s Abe extends state of emergency

The government of Japan has extended a state of emergency over the pandemic until the end of May, warning it was too soon to lift restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

“I will extend the period of the state of emergency I declared on April 7 until May 31. The area covered is all prefectures in the nation,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said after a meeting held to discuss the measures.

Read more here.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a press conference where he announced an extension of the nation’s state of emergency at the Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo [Eugene Hoshiko/AP Photo]

10:38 GMT – Ukraine government agrees to partially ease lockdown 

Ukraine’s government extended a nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic until May 22 but agreed to partially lift some restrictions from May 11, according to televised cabinet proceedings.

The partial lifting of the restrictions includes opening parks and recreation areas, as well as allowing some shops, such as those specialising in household goods or textiles, to open. Cafes can open for takeaway services.

10:03 GMT – Iran reports new cases, deaths

Iran reported 74 new fatalities in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 6,277.

Meanwhile, the total number of positive cases in the country stands at 98,647, according to a health ministry official.

Firefighters in protective masks disinfect the streets in Tehran, Iran [File: Ali Khara/Reuters]

09:34 GMT – Expo 2020 Dubai postponed to Oct 2021

The Expo 2020 Dubai has been postponed by a year because of the outbreak and will now be held from October 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, the Paris-based organiser said.

A two-thirds majority of member states of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) voted in favour of the delay, which “allows all participants to safely navigate the impact of COVID-19,” it said in a statement.

09:03 GMT – Bangladesh cases top 10,000

The number of coronavirus cases in Bangladesh surpassed 10,000, the country’s health ministry said, with infections increasing in pace over the past several days.

Bangladesh reported 688 new cases over the past 24 hours, taking its total to 10,143. The death toll rose to 182. 

09:00 GMT – Indonesia reports 395 new cases

Indonesia reported 395 new infections, taking the total in the Southeast Asian country to 11,587, said health ministry official Achmad Yurianto.

Yurianto reported 19 new coronavirus-related deaths, taking the total to 864, while 1,954 have recovered.

These transparent face masks are helping Indonesia’s hearing impaired to communicate through lip reading amid the #coronavirus pandemic.

— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) May 3, 2020

08:54 GMT – South Africa GDP could shrink as much as 12 percent

South Africa’s economy could contract by as much 12 percent and unemployment balloon to more than one-third of the workforce due to the impact of the coronavirus, Director-General of the National Treasury Dondo Mogajane said in a radio interview.

“Anything between minus 7 percent up to 12 percent could be the impact [on GDP]. We have to focus on the post-virus environment so we can contain the impact … It’s gonna be huge,” said the head of treasury on talk radio station 702.

“We could even reach 40 percent unemployment if things go the way they are. The manufacturing industry is impacted. Mining is impacted. The services sector is impacted. Look at tourism for instance, it’s on its knees,” Mogajane said. 

08:35 GMT – South Korean students to go back to school

South Korea said it will reopen schools in stages starting from May 13, as the daily number of domestic cases has fallen close to zero over recent days.

But health authorities urged vigilance once some 5.5 million elementary, middle and high school students gather in classrooms and they are conducting mock drills and preparing guidelines in the event of a surge in infection.

“We’re now preparing for the opening of schools while managing the daily risks of the disease,” Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae said in a televised briefing.

“If a student turns out to be infected with the virus, health authorities will take the necessary action, and the school will switch to online classes.”

08:08 GMT – Philippines reports 16 deaths, 262 infections

The Philippine health ministry reported 16 new coronavirus deaths and 262 additional cases.

The health ministry said total confirmed cases have risen to 9,485, while 623 people have died. But 101 more patients have recovered, bringing total recoveries to 1,315. 

Philippine President Duterte has extended strict lockdown measures in the capital of Metro Manila to May 15 [Francis R. Malasig/EPA]

07:55 GMT – Russia reports 10,581 new cases

Russia reported 10,581 new cases in the past 24 hours, a slight decrease from the day before when it reported 10,633 cases.

07:27 GMT – FINA postpones 2021 Fukuoka world championships

The 2021 aquatics world championships in Fukuoka, Japan, will now be held from May 13-29, 2022, swimming’s governing body FINA said in a statement.

The decision follows the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to 2021 due to the pandemic.

“After liaising with the relevant stakeholders and receiving feedback from them, we have no doubt that the decision taken will provide the best possible conditions for all participants at the championships,” said FINA president Julio Maglione.

“At a time of unprecedented uncertainty, FINA hopes the announcement of these dates will allow for some clarity in planning for all concerned.”

07:25 GMT – Singapore reports 573 new cases

Singapore’s health ministry said on Monday it confirmed 573 new cases, taking the city-state’s tally of infections to 18,778.

A woman walks along the promenade at Marina Bay in Singapore [Roslan Rahman/AFP]

07:14 GMT – Australia, New Zealand, discuss possible trans-Tasman ‘travel bubble’

New Zealand and Australia are discussing the potential creation of a “travel bubble” between the two.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she has accepted an invitation from Australian Premier Scott Morrison to take part in a meeting of Australia’s emergency coronavirus cabinet on Tuesday, stoking anticipation of a travel deal.

Still, Ardern warned that more health measures needed to be put in place before trans-Tasman travel could restart.

“Both our countries’ strong record of fighting the virus has placed us in the enviable position of being able to plan the next stage in our economic rebuild and to include trans-Tasman travel and engagement in our strategy,” Ardern said.

06:55 GMT – EU approves 7 billion euros in French state aid to Air France

The European Commission has given the green light to 7.0 billion euros ($7.7bn) in French state aid to national carrier Air France to cushion the economic fallout from the pandemic.

“The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a EUR7 billion French aid measure consisting of a state guarantee on loans and a shareholder loan to Air France to provide urgent liquidity to the company in the context of the coronavirus outbreak,” EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement. 

A sign with physical distancing instrucitons at a deserted check-in desk at Nice airport [File: Eric Gaillard/Reuters]

06:31 GMT – ‘Bloody awful’: British defence minister on having COVID-19

Having COVID-19 was “bloody awful,” British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said, adding that the virus had sapped his energy, reduced his will and temporarily taken away his sense of taste and smell for days.

Asked by Sky News how it was to have COVID-19, Wallace said: “Bloody awful, if you want the honest truth.”

“It wasn’t severe, but it mentally taps your will because it comes and goes, it ebbs and flows,” said Wallace, who was infected with the virus at the end of March. “I sat on my own in my flat in London for eight days, and I lost taste and smell, and it’s a sort of energy-sapping thing that reduces your will.”

“But it then disappeared, and I took some more precautions, but in the end, I went back to work,” Wallace said.

06:22 GMT – Germany warns vaccine could take ‘years’

Germany’s health minister said developing a vaccine for the coronavirus could take “years”, after US President Donald Trump predicted it could be achieved by the end of 2020.

“I would be delighted if it was possible to achieve this in a few months,” Jens Spahn said on ARD television.    

“But it can also take years as there can, of course, be setbacks, as we have seen some with other vaccines,” he said. 

“The development of vaccines is one of the most challenging and difficult tasks in medicine.”

Neal Browning receives a shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for the COVID-19 coronavirus at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle [File: Ted S. Warren/AP Photo]

06:10 GMT – Japan to seek extension of state of emergency

Japan’s government will seek to extend the country’s nationwide state of emergency to May 31 later on Monday, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said in parliament.

The government-issued state of emergency is due to expire on Wednesday, the last day of a week-long national holiday.

People walk past shops in a residential area in Tokyo [Charly Triballeau/AFP]

Hello, this is Farah Najjar taking over from my colleague Kate Mayberry.

04:50 GMT – US intelligence sources believe China covered up extent of outbreak: AP

US officials believe China covered up the extent of the coronavirus outbreak – and how contagious the disease was – to stock up on medical supplies needed to respond to it, according to intelligence documents.

Chinese leaders “intentionally concealed the severity” of the pandemic from the world in early January, according to a four-page Department of Homeland Security intelligence report dated May 1 and obtained by The Associated Press news agency.

The revelation comes as the Trump administration intensifies its criticism of China over the pandemic.

Read more on the intelligence report here.

04:00 GMT – Coronavirus data: countries release latest updates

A round-up of some of the coronavirus data that has been released on Monday.

Germany’s Robert Koch Institute reported 679 new cases, bringing the country’s total to 163,175. There were also 43 deaths. Some 6,692 people have now died from the disease in Germany. 
China reported three new cases – all among people returning from overseas – bringing the total to 82,880. The National Health Commission also reported 13 new asymptomatic cases. There were no new deaths.
South Korea, which is planning to ease physical-distancing guidelines on Wednesday, reported eight new cases – all from overseas. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said total cases now stood at 10,801.

03:40 GMT – New Zealand reports no new cases for first time since mid-March

New Zealand reported no new cases of the coronavirus on Monday, marking the first time the country recorded zero cases since its outbreak took hold in mid-March.

The development comes less than a week after the Pacific nation began to ease a strict lockdown that was imposed to contain the outbreak.

“It is symbolic of the effort everyone has put in,” said Ashley Bloomfield, the director-general of health.

“This is the first day that we had no new cases and we want to keep it that way.”

Construction has resumed after New Zealand eased some restrictions last week. The country recorded no new cases of the disease on Monday [Marty Melville/AFP]

03:00 GMT – China develops extensive delivery network in coronavirus boom

Delivery services have boomed across China – and many other countries around the world – helping people get through strict coronavirus lockdowns that mean they can only go out to get food supplies or to see a doctor.

Al Jazeera’s Katrina Yu in Beijing visited one distribution centre that is processing tens of thousands of packages every day with most of them delivered within 24 hours of ordering.

02:50 GMT – With coronavirus response under fire, Brazil’s Bolsonaro takes to streets

Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro appeared at a rally of hundreds of supporters on Sunday to attack Congress and the courts.

Bolsonaro is under fire and increasingly isolated over his response to the coronavirus with known cases now totalling more than 100,000.

Read more here.

02:00 GMT – Some coronavirus curbs eased in India

India is moving to ease some of its coronavirus restrictions, although the nationwide lockdown – the world’s biggest – remains in force until May 17.

Each state and city has been colour-coded – red, orange or green – according to the incidence of coronavirus. New Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru have been named red zones. In these places, businesses can open at one-third capacity, construction can resume providing the workers live on-site, and standalone shops can reopen.

In orange zones, taxis can also operate, while green zones – areas where there has been no incidence of coronavirus in 21 days – can resume all activities unless they are prohibited under the nationwide lockdown.

At the national level, all travel remains suspended, while schools, shopping malls, hotels, restaurants and other places where people gather are to remain closed.

There is no restriction on manufacturing and the movement of goods between states.

Testing is a key part of India’s relaxation of its coronavirus lockdown [Yawar Nazir/Getty Images]

00:20 GMT – Malaysia eases restrictions on business, but some states hold back

Malaysian businesses, including restaurants, have been told they can reopen from Monday providing they adhere to requirements on social distancing, hygiene and contact tracing.

After a spike in cases over the weekend, some state governments have said they will not ease the restrictions. Federal authorities continue to encourage people to work from home.

Malaysia reported 122 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, the highest since the middle of April, and two more deaths.

Malaysia relaxes its Covid-19 partial lockdown today, so what can we expect?

— Malay Mail (@malaymail) May 3, 2020

00:10 GMT – Trump claims there will be coronavirus vaccine by year-end

US President Donald Trump has told TV network Fox News that he believes that there will be a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year. He also said he would like to see schools and universities open in September.

00:00 GMT – Australia debates opening of schools, as some restrictions eased

Australia is beginning to ease coronavirus restrictions, but a Sydney schoolboy’s positive test for coronavirus has added to the debate about whether schools should reopen.

The seven-year-old’s diagnosis prompted the closure of his school, but it was the only new case in New South Wales (NSW), state Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters.

NSW, home to nearly half the country’s roughly 6,800 confirmed cases of coronavirus, is reopening schools on a staggered basis, while neighbouring Victoria state has asked parents to keep children at home until the middle of the year.

The states are moving at different speeds to lift movement restrictions: NSW has allowed people to make house visits in groups of up to two, while Victoria has said it will consider relaxing its stay-home order on May 11.


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

Read the updates from yesterday (May 3) here.

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