Global coronavirus cases reach 1.5 million: Live updates

There are now some 1.5 million confirmed cases of coronavirus around the world. More than 88,500 people have died and nearly 330,000 have recovered.

For the second straight day, the US recorded nearly 2,000 fatalities while in Britain the daily death toll hit a record 938 over 24 hours.
France saw its total number of dead climb over 10,000 as the country prepared to extend its strict lockdown measures. Spain and Italy still saw hundreds of deaths per day, despite tentative signs the disease may have peaked.

Here are the latest updates.
Thursday, April 9
09:21 GMT – Malaysia reports 109 new coronavirus cases with 2 new deaths

Malaysia reported 109 new coronavirus infections, raising its cumulative total to 4,228 cases as Southeast Asia’s third-largest economy grapples with the highest number of infections in the region.

The health ministry also reported two new deaths, raising the total number of fatalities to 67.
09:10 GMT – Coronavirus lockdown drives jump in vodka and whisky sales in Russia

Russian retailers have seen a sharp spike in alcohol sales in recent weeks with consumers rushing to buy vodka, whisky and beer at a time when Moscow and other regions have imposed partial lockdowns.

In the last week of March, vodka sales across Russia’s largest retail chains jumped 31 percent in year-on-year terms, while whisky and beer purchases increased 47 percent and 25 percent respectively, Nielsen, a market research firm, found.

Sultan Khamzaev, head of Sober Russia which campaigns to reduce alcohol consumption, said the spike in sales was driven by long holidays, stress, fears that alcohol would run out, and a belief among many Russians that alcohol offers some protection against the new coronavirus.
08:53 GMT – China tackles coronavirus cluster brought from Russia

The Chinese city of Suifenhe in northeastern Heilongjiang province, which has seen an influx of imported coronavirus cases from Russia in recent days, is building a temporary hospital to treat those who have been infected.

The hospital will provide more than 600 beds and is expected to be completed by April 11. The city, on the Russian border, has already placed residents under lockdown and closed the land border.
08:45 GMT – South Africa’s Ramaphosa defends WHO after Trump virus lashing

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has thrown his support behind the WHO after it came under stinging attack from US leader Donald Trump over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

A statement from Ramaphosa’s office late Wednesday said he “reaffirms his appreciation for the exceptional leadership” of World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, “from the very earliest stages of this unprecedented global health crisis”.

Ramaphosa was speaking in his capacity as the current leader of the African Union (AU).
08:20 GMT – UN delivers 90 tons of COVID-19 aid to Venezuela

A plane carrying 90 tons of UN health, water and sanitation aid arrived in Venezuela on Wednesday to help the cash-strapped country fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The shipment includes 28,000 Personal Protective Equipment kits for health workers, oxygen concentrators, pediatric beds, water quality control products and hygiene kits, the UN said.

“This is the first United Nations humanitarian shipment in support of the Venezuela COVID-19 outbreak,” said Peter Grohmann, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Venezuela.

Venezuela, suffering from a crippling economic crisis that has led to shortages of basic food and medicine and forced some five million people to flee the country, has 167 confirmed cases of coronavirus and nine deaths.
07:40 GMT – Vietnam approves $7.6 bln tax holiday to help virus-hit businesses

Vietnam has approved a plan to delay the collection of 180 trillion dong ($7.6 billion) worth of taxes and land rent to help businesses hit by the new coronavirus, which has infected 251 people in the country, the government said.

The government will delay the collection of value-added tax, corporate income tax, personal income tax and land rent for five months for various businesses and households, it said in a statement.
Indonesia pandemic: fears about COVID-19 ahead of lockdown

07:15 GMT – Taiwan protests accusations from the WHO

Taiwan’s foreign ministry on strongly protested accusations from the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) that it condoned racist personal attacks on him that he alleged were coming from the self-governing island democracy.

On Wednesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus accused Taiwan’s foreign ministry of being linked to a months-long campaign against him during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At a press briefing, he said he has been personally attacked, including receiving death threats and racist abuse.
06:45 GMT – UK’s Johnson remains stable – minister

The UK Culture Minister said Prime Minister Boris Johsnon was stable, and his condition was improving as he engaged with the medical staff tending to him.
08:45 GMT – South Africa’s Ramaphosa defends WHO after Trump virus lashing

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has thrown his support behind the WHO after it came under stinging attack from US leader Donald Trump over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

A statement from Ramaphosa’s office late Wednesday said he “reaffirms his appreciation for the exceptional leadership” of World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, “from the very earliest stages of this unprecedented global health crisis”.

Ramaphosa was speaking in his capacity as the current leader of the African Union (AU).
08:20 GMT – UN delivers 90 tons of COVID-19 aid to Venezuela

A plane carrying 90 tons of UN health, water and sanitation aid arrived in Venezuela on Wednesday to help the cash-strapped country fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The shipment includes 28,000 Personal Protective Equipment kits for health workers, oxygen concentrators, pediatric beds, water quality control products and hygiene kits, the UN said.

“This is the first United Nations humanitarian shipment in support of the Venezuela COVID-19 outbreak,” said Peter Grohmann, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Venezuela.

Venezuela, suffering from a crippling economic crisis that has led to shortages of basic food and medicine and forced some five million people to flee the country, has 167 confirmed cases of coronavirus and nine deaths.
07:40 GMT – Vietnam approves $7.6 bln tax holiday to help virus-hit businesses

Vietnam has approved a plan to delay the collection of 180 trillion dong ($7.6 billion) worth of taxes and land rent to help businesses hit by the new coronavirus, which has infected 251 people in the country, the government said.

The government will delay the collection of value-added tax, corporate income tax, personal income tax and land rent for five months for various businesses and households, it said in a statement.
Indonesia pandemic: fears about COVID-19 ahead of lockdown

07:15 GMT – Taiwan protests accusations from the WHO

Taiwan’s foreign ministry on strongly protested accusations from the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) that it condoned racist personal attacks on him that he alleged were coming from the self-governing island democracy.

On Wednesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus accused Taiwan’s foreign ministry of being linked to a months-long campaign against him during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At a press briefing, he said he has been personally attacked, including receiving death threats and racist abuse.
06:45 GMT – UK’s Johnson remains stable – minister

The UK Culture Minister said Prime Minister Boris Johsnon was stable, and his condition was improving as he engaged with the medical staff tending to him.
06:20 GMT – India identifies, seals coronavirus hot spots

Indian authorities have identified and sealed dozens of hot spots in the Indian capital and the neighboring Uttar Pradesh state comprising residential districts to check the rising trajectory of new coronavirus infections.

Government statements late Wednesday said people will be supplied food, medicines and other supplies at their doorsteps and they will not be allowed to leave these areas.

Hello, this is Usaid Siddiqui in Doha taking over from my colleague Kate Mayberry.
05:45 GMT –

I will be handing over the blog to my colleagues in Doha shortly.

A brief summary of this morning’s developments:

The US and UK both suffered their highest number of deaths from COVID-19 in a single day as global confirmed cases rose to 1.5 million. Flags were being flown at half mast in New York, the worst-affected US state.

There are glimmers of hope in countries including South Korea and New Zealand where confirmed infections appear to be slowing.

In a deepening spat with the World Health Organization, Taiwan has rejected claims by WHO chief Tedros Adhanon Ghebreysus that it used racial slurs against him.

The first case of coronavirus has also been found among the Amazon’s isolated Yanomami people. Brazil says a 15-year-old boy was diagnosed with the disease and is in hospital.
05:40 GMT – Fujifilm starts phase II clinical trial for Avigan in US COVID-19 patients

Japan’s Fujifilm is moving to the second phase of its clinical trial in the United States for its Avigan anti-flu drug.

The trial will involve about 50 patients at three hospitals in Massachusetts.

Fujifilm announced the third phase of the clinical trials in Japan on March 31. Favipiravir, the active pharmaceutical ingredient in Avigan, has a “mechanism of action that prevents the propagation of viruses”, the company says.
05:30 GMT – Pakistan starts giving cash grants to low-income families

Pakistan will start distributing cash grants worth Rs12,000 ($70) to low-income families on Thursday, reports Al Jazeera correspondent Asad Hashim.

About 35 million people registered for the payment, according to Sania Nishtar, a senior government official. After verification, about 12 million people (one person for each household) were found to be eligible for the one-time grant.

Pakistan currently has 3,713 confirmed cases of coronavirus. At least 62 people have died.
05:10 GMT – UN calls on Southeast Asian nations to protect health of migrants

The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia is calling on countries around the region to do “everything they can” to protect the health of migrants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Migrants in detention faciities should be released, forced returns suspended and “firewalls” erected between healthcare and immigration, the Bangkok-based office said.

“Migrants are an integral part of our communities, and only by including them fully will we be successful in overcoming COVID-19,” Regional Representative Cynthia Veliko said in a statement.

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