The number of deaths in a single day reached a record in Brazil – the country with the world’s third-biggest outbreak of coronavirus. 

World Health Organization (WHO) member states agreed on a review of the global pandemic response at a virtual meeting of the World Health Assembly.

China has accused the United States of smearing Beijing and shirking responsibilities to the UN health agency after President Donald Trump threatened to quit the organisation. 

Globally, there have been nearly 4.9 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 323,000 people have died, according to the Johns Hopkins University. Almost 1.7 million people have recovered.

Here are all the latest updates:

Wednesday, May 20
06:24 GMT – Britain’s Rolls-Royce to lay-off 9,000 jobs

British engine-maker Rolls-Royce said that it would need to lay-off at least 9,000 of its 52,000 staff to make annual cost savings of 1.3bn pounds ($1.59bn) as it seeks to cope with the downturn in air travel caused by the pandemic.

The job losses would mostly take place in its civil aerospace business, the company said, as it started consultations with unions.

06:11 GMT – Polish schools may remain closed until end of June

Polish schools will most probably remain closed until the end of June, when children start summer holidays, government spokesman Piotr Muller told public radio.

Schools have been closed since March, when Poland confirmed its first case of coronavirus. By May 25 they will start offering day care for the youngest children, although teaching will still be conducted online.

The current school year ends on June 26, followed by a two-month long holiday in July and August. 

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

05:30 GMT – 

I’m handing the blog to my colleagues in Doha shortly. A brief summary of developments this morning – Brazil recorded a record number of deaths for a single day on Tuesday,  the US praised Taiwan’s COVID-19 response as President Tsai Ing-wen was inaugurated for a second term, Estonia has begun tests for a digital immunity passport and Singapore has delivered a death sentence by Zoom. 

04:35 – Man sentenced to death by Zoom call in Singapore amid court curbs

A man has been sentenced to hang in Singapore via a Zoom video-call, the first time the city-state has delivered a death sentence remotely.

Punithan Genasan, a 37-year-old Malaysian, was sentenced for his role in a 2011 drug deal on Friday, court documents showed, with the country under lockdown to try and curb one of the highest coronavirus rates in Asia.

“For the safety of all involved in the proceedings, the hearing for Public Prosecutor v Punithan A/L Genasan was conducted by video-conferencing,” a spokesperson for Singapore’s Supreme Court said in response to Reuters’ news agency questions, citing restrictions imposed to minimise the virus’ spread.

At the Supreme Court in Singapore July 1, 2019 which sentenced a Malaysian man to death in a Zoom call. {Edgar Su/[Reuters]

It was the first criminal case where a death sentence was pronounced by remote hearing in Singapore, the spokesperson added.

Genasan’s lawyer, Peter Fernando, confirmed his client received the judge’s verdict on a Zoom call and is considering an appeal. While rights groups have criticised the use of Zoom in capital cases, Fernando said he did not object because it was only to receive the judge’s verdict, which could be heard clearly, and no other legal arguments were presented.

04:20 GMT – Malaysia raids migrants in area under enhanced lockdown

Local media in Malaysia are reporting authorities have begun a raid on undocumented migrants in an area of Kuala Lumpur that is under enhanced lockdown.

The Star newspaper reported immigration trucks entering Petaling Jaya Old Town on Wednesday morning and that police were providing assistance. 

In a statement, local MP Maria Chin Abdullah, who was distributing food aid when the trucks arrived, urged the authorities to stop using COVID-19 as an excuse to crack down on migrants.

“The prejudice and discrimination they are facing is unacceptable,” she said. “No one should be faced with such indignity especially at a time of crisis like this.”

There have been raids previously in other parts of the city with large populations of migrants.

Press Statement – End Arrests of Migrants

— Maria Chin Abdullah (@mariachin) May 20, 2020

PJ Old Town was sealed off behind razor wire on May 10 after a spike in coronavirus cases linked to a food market in the area, with no one allowed in or out. The enhanced lockdown is due to end on May 23.

04:05 GMT – Estonia begins testing digital immunity passport for workplaces

The Baltic nation of Estonia has started testing one of the world’s first digital immunity passports, according to Back to Work, a coalition of technology firms, medical experts and local government officials which are developing the app.

The device collects testing data and allows people to share their health status with a third party via a temporary QR code.

Taavet Hinrikus, founder of Transferwise and a member of Back to Work, told Reuters the immunity passport was intended to “diminish fears and stimulate societies all over the globe to move on with their lives amid the pandemic.” 

02:00 GMT – Venezuela imposes new curfews in key border towns

Venezuela has imposed new curfews in a number of towns along its border with Colombia and Brazil after a jump in coronavirus cases.

Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said the country had confirmed 131 new cases in the past 24 hours – the most in a single day – with 110 of those in people who had returned from overseas.

Many Venezuelans have left the country because of economic collapse, finding work in nearby countries including Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. Those returning have to spend 14 days in quarantine in shelters at the border.

01:45 GMT – US praises Taiwan’s pandemic response in inauguration message

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday praised Taiwan’s coronavirus response and called it a reliable partner, in a statement congratulating President Tsai Ing-wen on her inauguration for a second term that stood in sharp contrast with recent US criticism of China.

“We have a shared vision for the region – one that includes rule of law, transparency, prosperity, and security for all, Pompeo said in a statement. “The recent COVID-19 pandemic provided an opportunity for the international community to see why Taiwan’s pandemic-response model is worthy of emulation.”

Tsai won a landslide victory in elections held in January and her inauguration ceremony began on Wednesday morning. China claims self-ruled Taiwan as its own. 

⚡️ 2020 ?? inauguration activities are underway in Taiwan, so please join me as I take the oath of office, deliver my inaugural address, & greet friends & allies from around the globe.

— 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) May 20, 2020

01:10 GMT – Australia’s New South Wales to ease domestic travel restrictions

Premier Gladys Berejiklian says people living in New South Wales will be able to take holidays within the Australian state from the beginning of June.

Art galleries and museums will also reopen, but Berejiklian warned people they would need to adapt because some social-distancing measures would remain.

“We want people to enjoy themselves, to be free, but at the same time please know that nothing we do is the same during a pandemic,” she said in a televised media conference. 

00:10 GMT – Brazil reports record daily death toll

Brazil’s daily death toll from the new coronavirus reached a record 1,179 on Tuesday.

The highest daily toll before that had been on May 12 when 881 people died. The pandemic has killed at least 17,971 people in Brazil, according to the Health Ministry.

Right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro has been widely criticised for his handling of the outbreak, and has been a vocal opponent to coronavirus lockdowns that he sees as too damaging to the economy.

Brazil has the third-highest number of cases in the world after the US and Russia


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

Read all the updates from yesterday (May 19) here.

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