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Hello, Helen Sullivan with you now. I’ll have the blog for the next few hours, so please do get in touch on Twitter @helenrsullivan.
Here are the key developments from the last few hours:
- UK prime minister says the country now ‘past the peak’. Boris Johnson defended the decisions the UK government has taken. Speaking at the UK government’s daily press conference, Johnson said that the NHS has not been overwhelmed at any stage.
- Trump claims he has seen evidence of Covid-19 originating in Wuhan lab. When asked if he has seen anything that gives you a “high degree of confidence” that coronavirus originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, President Trump replied: “Yes, I have.”
- Germany eases lockdown measures. Germany is to re-open museums, galleries, zoos and playgrounds and allow religious services to resume, in measures agreed by the chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the leaders of 16 federal states.
- Brazil sees record 7,218 new cases, raising the total to 85,380, Reuters reports the health ministry saying on Thursday.The death toll rose by 435 to 5,901.
- Denmark says partial reopening has not accelerated virus spread. Denmark became the first country outside of Asia to ease lockdown measures a fortnight ago.
- Spain allocates times slots for outdoor activities, as death toll falls. Spain’s daily death toll fell to its lowest level in nearly six week, with 268 fatalities related to Covid-19 recorded overnight.
- Eurozone records 3.8% slump, as European Central Bank chief warns of worse to come, with the eurozone potentially on course for a 15% collapse in output in the second quarter.
- Another 3.8 million Americans lose jobs as US unemployment continues to grow. The pace of layoffs appears to be slowing, but in just six weeks an unprecedented 30 million Americans have now sought unemployment benefits.
- Covid-19 outbreak increasing across Africa, WHO warns. World Health Organization officials in Africa have said the Covid-19 outbreak is still increasing across the continent despite widespread efforts at containment.
- Russian prime minister diagnosed with coronavirus. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has said he has been diagnosed with coronavirus and will self-isolate from the government in the country’s highest-profile case of the disease yet.
- Tajikistan reports first coronavirus cases. Tajikistan, which was thought to be one of the few countries untouched by coronavirus, has recorded its first coronavirus cases.
- South Korea reports no new domestic cases for first time since 29 February. South Korea reported on Thursday no new domestic coronavirus cases for the first time since its 29 February peak.
- War-torn Yemen reports first virus deaths. The country reported its first two deaths and a new cluster of Covid-19 cases amid worries that the virus has been circulating undetected for some time.
- Czechs say coronavirus spread is contained as country reopens. The Czech Republic has seen the number of new cases drop below 100 for the past eight consecutive days.
- People out of work in Germany increased by 373,000 to 2.64 million in April. Data from the labour office also showed the unemployment rate increased to 5.8%, up from 5% in March, as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
US state and local governments could need close to $1 trillion in aid over several years to cope with the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned.
She told reporters: “We’re not going to be able to cover all of it, but to the extent that we can keep the states and localities sustainable, that’s our goal.”
Asked if state and local aid would be the largest part of upcoming relief legislation, Pelosi said: “I’ve talked about almost a trillion dollars right there, I would hope so. But we do have other issues that we want to deal with.”
President Donald Trump said he would “think about what’s happening.”
Canada’s coronavirus curve is flat but worrying trends are emerging, particularly outbreaks in vulnerable indigenous communities, the country’s top medical officer said.
The daily death toll in Canada has risen by 10 pr cent or more only once in the last 11 days. The total number of people killed by the coronavirus increased by 6% to 3,082 in a day, official data showed on Thursday.
“The COVID-19 curve is flat … (but) we have to be very cautious going down the other side of the epidemic curve,” chief public health officer Theresa Tam told a briefing.
“Already on this path we have seen some worrisome transmission events emerging,” she said, citing increasing cases in remote aboriginal communities in several of Canada’s 10 provinces.
Meanwhile, Alberta unveiled a plan to reopen its economy gradually, starting on Monday with some non-urgent surgeries, golf courses and services such as physiotherapists and social workers.
The next stage begins as early as May 14, reopening retail businesses, hair salons, daycares and restaurants.
Moving to that stage hinges on increased testing and contact tracing, and rules for using masks in crowded spaces. Alberta has not set dates for reopening schools.
Ontario, which has not set dates to restart its economy, issued more than 60 guidelines for businesses when they reopen, ranging from markers and barriers to maintain physical distancing, and additional labor inspectors to ensure compliance.
Friday’s Guardian leads on Boris Johnson announcing the UK has passed the peak of Covid-19 cases.
The FT splashes on US stocks on the brink of their best month since 1987
Tomorrow’s i goes with face masks potentially being an everyday accessory.
The Mirror goes down a similar line on going past the peak of cases.
The Times leads on Johnson announcing the UK has passed the peak of the virus.
Tomorrow’s Daily Telegraph leads on Boris Johnson saying his plan to relax the lockdown will be unveiled next week.
Tomorrow’s Daily Mail
Friday’s UK front pages are rolling in, starting with The Independent
In more tougher rhetoric against Beijing, Trump said he does not have to stop debt payments to China and can instead impose tariffs.
That awkward moment in the press conference on the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Trump added he could not say why he has a high degree of confidence that the virus originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
He also said it was possible that China either could not stop the spread of the coronavirus or let it spread.