The number of coronavirus cases in Russia has surpassed 250,000, but daily new infections fell below 10,000 for the first time in nearly two weeks.

US authorities have accused China-linked hackers of breaking into organisations in the US researching the coronavirus.

The United Nations is forecasting that the pandemic will push an estimated 34.3 million people into extreme poverty, mostly in Africa.

Brazil has become the sixth-hardest hit country in the world after a daily record of 11,385 new coronavirus cases and 749 new deaths.

To date, more than 4.34 million people have been infected and at least 296,000 have died from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. About 1.6 million people have recovered.

Here are the latest updates:

Thursday, May 14
08:30 GMT – China dismisses US hacking claims 

China has dismissed US accusations about Chinese hackers breaking into COVID-19 research, calling it slander from the US.

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that any action online to sabotage efforts against the disease should be condemned.

08:00 GMT – WHO: Pandemic is seriously affecting mental health

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said substantial investment is needed to avert a mental health crisis amid the coronavirus outbreak, raising concern over the impact of the pandemic on people’s psychological well-being.

“Social isolation, fear of contagion, and loss of family members is compounded by the distress caused by loss of income and often employment,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.

“It is now crystal clear that mental health needs must be treated as a core element of our response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.

#COVID19 is already having a serious impact on people’s #MentalHealth

The ??? needs to urgently increase investment in services for mental health to prevent a massive increase in mental health conditions. ?

— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) May 14, 2020

07:40 GMT – Finland reopens schools despite virus warnings

Schools have reopened in Finland after eight weeks of coronavirus lockdown despite warnings from the teacher’s union it may not be totally safe for its staff or the children.

The reopenings see pupils back at school for just over two weeks before the summer holidays begin in early June, with strict social distancing rules in place.

Pupils keep physical distances before entering Eestinkallio primary school, as it re-opens after the lockdown due to the new coronavirus pandemic in Espoo, Finland [AFP]

Break times will be staggered to avoid large numbers of children in the playground at once, and unused spaces will be turned into classrooms to allow pupils to spread out, Education Minister Li Andersson said when announcing the decision on April 29.

07:35 GMT – Russia’s coronavirus cases pass 250,000

Russia reported 9,974 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, its lowest daily rise since May 2, bringing its nationwide tally to 252,245.

Russia’s coronavirus response centre said 93 people died overnight, bringing the official death toll to 2,305.

07:00 GMT – PGA tour to return with mandatory testing

Testing for the novel coronavirus and daily temperature checks will be a mandatory feature of the return of professional golf in the US next month, officials said.

In a 37-page presentation, the PGA Tour gave detailed insights into the stringent hygiene standards and safety precautions needed to be able to resume the tour on June 11 with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas. 

The TOUR is set to lead the way as sports return. ?️‍♂️

— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 13, 2020

06:50 GMT – Pandemic will cost global insurance sector $203bn: Lloyd’s

The deadly coronavirus outbreak will cost the global insurance industry about $203bn, the Lloyd’s of London insurance market has forecasted.

“The estimated 2020 underwriting losses covered by the industry as a result of COVID-19 are approximately $107bn, on par with some of the biggest major claims years for the industry, such as when catastrophic windstorms have struck” in 2005 and 2017, it said in a statement.

The industry will also experience an estimated $96bn fall in investment portfolios, bringing the total projected loss to $203bn, it added.

06:30 GMT – Burundi orders top WHO official to leave country

Burundi has ordered the expulsion of the country’s top WHO representative and three other experts coordinating the coronavirus response, the foreign ministry said.

In a letter dated May 12 and addressed to WHO’s Africa headquarters, the foreign ministry said the four officials “are declared persona non grata and as such, must leave the territory of Burundi” by Friday.

The foreign ministry did not state a reason for this decision. 

WHO: ‘Virus may never go away’

06:15 GMT – Thailand reports one new case, no deaths

Thailand reported one new coronavirus case and no new deaths, bringing the total to 3,018 cases and 56 deaths since the outbreak started in the country in January.

The new patient is a 39-year-old man from the northern province of Chiang Mai, who recently returned from working on the resort island of Phuket, an area with a high infection rate, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, spokesman for the government’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration.

Hello, this is Saba Aziz in Doha, taking over from my colleague Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur.

05:17 GMT – Philippines braces strong typhoon amid coronavirus emergency

A strong typhoon is roaring towards the Philippines as authorities work to evacuate tens of thousands of people, while avoiding overcrowding in emergency shelters that could spread the coronavirus.

Typhoon Vongfong – the first to hit the country this year is expected to slam ashore on eastern islands later on Thursday with maximum sustained winds of 150 kph (93 mph) and gusts of up to 185 kph (115 mph).

Governors say social distancing will be nearly impossible for residents staying in emergency shelters. Some shelters are now serving as quarantine facilities, and they may have to be turned back into emergency storm shelters.

Read more here. 

Workers fold up a billboard to prepare for the coming of typhoon Vongfong in Manila on Thursday [Aaron Favila/AP]

04:48 GMT – UN says 34.3 million people to fall into extreme poverty

The United Nations is forecasting that the coronavirus pandemic will shrink the world economy by 3.2 percent this year, the sharpest contraction since the Great Depression in the 1930s, pushing an estimated 34.3 million people into extreme poverty mostly in Africa.

The UN’s mid-year report said COVID-19 is expected to slash global economic output by nearly $8.5tr over the next two years, wiping out nearly all gains of the past four years.

In January, the UN forecast a modest growth of 2.5 percent in 2020.

04:18 GMT – UN’s Guterres: Address mental health needs amid pandemic

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged governments, civil society and health authorities to urgently address mental health needs arising from the coronavirus pandemic, warning that psychological suffering is increasing.

In a video address late on Wednesday, Guterres pointed to “grief at the loss of loved ones, shock at the loss of jobs, isolation and restrictions on movement, difficult family dynamics, and uncertainty and fear for the future.”

“After decades of neglect and under-investment in mental health services, the COVID-19 pandemic is now hitting families and communities with additional mental stress.”

04:02 GMT – Australia reports surge in coronavirus-fuelled unemployment

Australia posted its biggest ever monthly rise in unemployment on Thursday because of coronavirus lockdown measures, even as the country begins to gradually ease those social distancing rules.

Thursday’s data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed employment in April dropped by 594,300, the largest fall on record, fuelling the 6.2 percent unemployment.

03:49 GMT – Japan seeks to end state of emergency for most regions; Tokyo to stay on alert

Japan was expected to lift a state of emergency across a large part of the country on Thursday, according to Reuters news agency, but the capital Tokyo will remain under restrictions until there is a convincing containment of the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to hold a news conference later on Thursday, and is expected to announce the lifting of the state of emergency for 39 of Japan’s 47 prefectures, but not including Tokyo.

The world’s third-largest economy declared a nationwide state of emergency a month ago, urging citizens to reduce person-to-person contact by 80 percent in an effort to slow the pace of new infections and ease the strain on medical services. The government had said it would reassess the situation in mid-May.

The Japanese government declared a state of emergency last month and said it would reassess the situation in mid-May [Koji Sasahara/AP]

03:12 GMT – South Korea raises alarms over infections at nightspots

Infections in Seoul coming from nightspots in the neighbourhood of Itaewon reached 72 on Thursday, according to the Yonhap news agency, raising fears over what South Korean health authorities described as “a truly cruel virus” further spreading in the greater area of the capital.

The cases traced to Itaewon is the second-largest cluster of infections in Seoul, following 98 cases linked to a call center in the southwestern area of Sindorim.

Daily new infections in the country came in at 29, including 22 in Seoul area, bringing the country’s total infections to 10,991 on Thursday, Yonhap quoted health officials as saying. The death toll is at 260.

02:48 GMT – US state of Wisconsin court tosses out governor’s stay-home order

The supreme court of the US state of Wisconsin has struck down Gov Tony Evers’ coronavirus stay-at-home order, ruling that his administration overstepped its authority when it extended it for another month without consulting legislators.

The 4-3 ruling essentially reopens the state, lifting caps on the size of gatherings, allowing people to travel as they please and allowing shuttered businesses to reopen, including bars and restaurants.

The decision let stand language that had closed schools, however, and local governments can still impose their own health restrictions.

02:06 GMT – Japanese pharma company says coronavirus treatment trial to start in July

The Japanese company, Takeda Pharmaceutical, could start a clinical trial as early as July for a potential treatment of COVID-19 that is based on antibodies from recovered patients’ blood, company executives said.

The clinical trial would include hundreds of patients and take several months to complete. If successful, Japan’s Takeda could file for approval by US authorities this year, said Julie Kim, president of the plasma-derived therapies unit of Takeda.

“When the product will be available beyond the clinical study is still a bit unclear,” Kim said on an investor call. “But we do expect that before the end of the year, we should see some information in terms of broader use.”


01:18 GMT – Whistle-blower: US could face ‘darkest winter’ if virus rebounds

America faces the “darkest winter in modern history” unless leaders act decisively to prevent a rebound of the coronavirus, says a government whistle-blower who alleges he was removed from his job after warning the Trump administration to prepare for the pandemic, the Associated Press news agency reported.

Immunologist Dr Rick Bright made his sobering prediction in a testimony prepared for his appearance on Thursday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Aspects of his complaint about the administration’s early handling of the crisis are expected to be backed up by testimony from an executive of a company that manufactures respirator masks.

“Our window of opportunity is closing,” Bright says in his prepared testimony posted on the House committee website. “If we fail to develop a national coordinated response, based in science, I fear the pandemic will get far worse and be prolonged, causing unprecedented illness and fatalities.”

01:02 GMT – Mexico’s total deaths from coronavirus rise to 4,220

Mexico’s health ministry confirmed 1,862 new cases of coronavirus infections on Wednesday, along with 294 additional deaths, slightly lower than the country’s record number of daily fatalities reported the day before, Reuters news agency reported.

The new infections brought confirmed coronavirus cases to 40,186 and 4,220 deaths in total, according to the official tally.

People sit bundled up against the cold after spending the night waiting for news of relatives being treated for suspected COVID-19, outside the Mexico General Hospital, in Mexico City [Rebecca Blackwell/AP]

00:48 GMT – Canada, US likely to extend travel restrictions until June 21

Canada and the US appear likely to extend a ban on non-essential travel until June 21 amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, a Canadian government source and a top US official told Reuters news agency.

The two neighbouring countries had agreed on April 18 to extend border restrictions until May 21 as cases of the disease continued to rise in both nations. Canada is now pressing for the measures to remain for another month.

“It’s too early to lift the restrictions, so we’re working toward an extension,” said one Canadian government source, describing the talks with Washington as positive.

Chad Wolf, acting US Department of Homeland Security secretary, also said later on Wednesday that restrictions across the borders with Canada and Mexico would likely be extended. 

00:35 GMT – China reports 3 new cases from mainland, no new imported infections

China’s National Health Commission reported on Thursday at least three new cases of the coronavirus cases in the country as of the end of Wednesday – down from seven cases the previous day.

The health agency also said none of the cases was imported.

Of the 82,929 total cases officially reported in China, 78,195 have recovered and 101 remain active, while 4,633 have died.

China reported no new imported cases as of the end of Wednesday [Ng Han Guan/AP]

00:01 GMT – Spokesman for Mexican foreign minister has coronavirus

The chief spokesman for Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard has tested positive for the coronavirus and an official in the president’s office has died of the disease, bringing the pandemic closer to the inner circle of government.

The spokesman, Roberto Velasco Alvarez, a close aide to Ebrard, said he had COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

Mexico has recorded more than 38,000 infections and close to 4,000 deaths due to the virus.


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Click here to read updates from yesterday, May 13.

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