China to donate $30m more to WHO

  • The head of the US agency in charge of developing a vaccine against the coronavirus says he was removed from his job for opposing the chloroquine treatment promoted by US President Donald Trump.

  • The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) says there are “worrying upward trends” in early epidemics in parts of Africa and Central and South America, warning that the “virus will be with us for a long time”.

  • More than 2.5 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

  • The United Nations is warning global hunger could double as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, putting 265 million people at risk.

    Thursday, April 23

    10:30 GMT – Tokyo deploys Marie Kondo in virus fight

    Worried about getting bored while stuck at home during holidays amid the coronavirus pandemic? The Tokyo governor has a solution: Decluttering with Marie Kondo.

    Governor Yuriko Koike told reporters the metropolitan government will share fun videos – including those of the decluttering guru — to keep Tokyo residents entertained at home during the forthcoming “Golden Week” holidays.

    “I think there are people who want to declutter during the holidays,” Koike said.

    “With help of KonMari, we will upload videos in which she teaches us secrets of tidying up,” she said, referring to the now world-famous decluttering guru.

    A Tokyo official added that other entertainment videos would be available for those who do not wish to spend their holidays clearing out their cupboards.

    10:14 GMT – German-funded mobile virus testing labs land in East Africa

    Uganda and Rwanda have taken delivery of two mobile diagnostic labs to help fight the coronavirus pandemic, the first in a network of German-funded units for East Africa, public investment bank KfW said.

    While the project to procure the labs and train staff has been underway since 2018, “they’re arriving at exactly the right moment to help with fighting,” the virus, KfW board member Joachim Nagel said in a statement.

    More of the mobile units “for speedy and modern diagnosis of infectious disease” will arrive in the six countries of the East African Community (EAC) region in the coming days, KfW said, for a total of nine in the first phase.

    09:55 GMT – China President Xi says to boost investments, employment

    China will step up investment in various sectors including 5G, artificial intelligence, transport and energy and boost employment, President Xi Jinping said, as the world’s second-largest economy reels from the coronavirus epidemic.

    The official Xinhua news agency reported that Xi, speaking during a visit to northwestern Shaanxi province, said the long-term trend of improvement in the Chinese economy has not changed but said Beijing will take steps to boost the real economy, especially the manufacturing sector.

    Xi said Beijing will focus on the employment of college graduates, migrant workers and retired veterans and boost employment and entrepreneurship via multiple channels.

    09:40 GMT – Spain’s death toll from coronavirus rises to 22,157

    The Spanish health ministry said 440 people died from the coronavirus in the previous 24 hours, which brought total fatalities to 22,157.

    That was slightly higher than the previous day when 435 people died. The number of diagnosed cases rose to 213,024 from 208,389 the day before.

    09:20 GMT – French economy ‘under anesthesia’ as virus lockdown takes toll

    France’s coronavirus lockdown has eroded economic activity to a bare minimum, the national statistics office said Thursday, as officials weigh the risks of trying to reopen businesses even as infections remain high.

    “Like a person placed under anaesthesia, the French economy can now ensure only its vital functions,” INSEE said, estimating that activity in the private sector, which makes up around three-fourths of total GDP, had plunged 41 percent overall.

    Some industries, like construction, restaurants and tourism, have effectively been at a standstill since the business closures and stay-at-home orders were announced in mid-March.

    France’s coronavirus lockdown has eroded economic activity to a bare minimum, the national statistics office said Thursday, as officials weigh the risks of trying to reopen businesses even as infections remain high.

    09:00 GMT – The UK activists creating multilingual coronavirus content

    A large number of people who have contracted the coronavirus in the United Kingdom have ancestry in other regions, and according to research, many who have died since the start of the epidemic were from ethnic minority backgrounds.

    While a nationwide campaign about the benefits of social distancing and proper hand-washing attempts to inform people how to limit the spread of the coronavirus, much of this information has been in English, meaning large sections of British society are unable to access important messaging and even services.

    08:40 GMT – Unilever sees pandemic changing consumer demand

    Anglo-Dutch consumer giant Unilever reported Thursday a slight rise in first quarter sales and said the coronavirus has caused hygiene product sales to rocket while those of ice cream melted.

    The firm, which produces Magnum ice cream, Domestos household cleaner and Lipton tea among other things, said sales edged up by 0.2 percent to 12.4 billion euros ($13.3 billion) from the same period a year earlier.

    Unilever withdrew its outlook for the year however, and its shares fell sharply in Amsterdam.

    08:10 GMT – Pakistani doctors warn of catastrophic consequences of easing lockdowns.

    Pakistani doctors have warned the government of the possibly catastrophic consequences of easing a countrywide lockdown, asking that restrictions be enforced for several more weeks to avoid a collapse of the country’s healthcare system.

    The appeal comes as Pakistan registered its highest single-day rise in cases for the second time in three days, with 765 new cases taking the country’s tally to 10,513. The pace of the spread of the virus has increased in the last five days, with more than 500 new cases registered each day, according to government data.

    Addressing a press conference in the southern city of Karachi, senior doctors called for a continuing ban on all public gatherings, including those at shopping malls and at mosques.

    In a letter addressed to the government, a number of prominent epidemiologists and other doctors made special mention of the government’s decision to reopen mosques this week, saying those gatherings could prove a significant vector for the spread of the virus.

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