Global virus deaths at 154,000; US cases at 700,000: Live updates | News

  • The number of deaths linked to the novel coronavirus has hit almost 154,000 worldwide, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally, while Reuters news agency reported that the total number of infections in the United States has hit 700,000, up more than 30,000 from the previous day with few states still not reporting. The number of US deaths is hovering around 37,000.

  • Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has accused US President Donald Trump of “fomenting domestic rebellion and spreading lies” after the latter urged supporters to “LIBERATE” three states led by Democratic governors.

  • The British government was too slow to react on several fronts to the novel coronavirus outbreak that could cause the deaths of 40,000 people in the United Kingdom, a leading public health professor told lawmakers on Friday. 

  • Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti has said Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr prayers could take place at home amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are the latest updates:

Saturday, April 18

07:00 GMT – US senator tells VP failed testing is ‘dereliction of duty’

Frustration boiled over into anger on a private call with Vice President Mike Pence as Democratic senators questioned administration officials about coronavirus testing plans but left without adequate answers, according to reports. 

At one point in the Friday call, Maine Senator Angus King, an independent and former governor, told Pence the administration’s failure to develop an adequate national testing regime is a “dereliction of duty,” a person who joined the hour-long call but was unauthorised to discuss it told the Associated Press News agency. 

“I have never been so mad about a phone call in my life,” King told the administration officials, the person said.

The plea for more testing before implementing President Donald Trump’s new guidelines to ease stay-home restrictions is a top priority for Democrats. They are heeding the warnings of health officials worried the virus will simply boomerang into prolonged national crisis.

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06:20 GMT – China mandates tests for key public workers leaving Wuhan

China ordered on Saturday that anyone in Wuhan working in certain service-related jobs must take a coronavirus test if they want to leave the city.

The order comes after the central city, where the coronavirus emerged late last year, lifted a 70-day lockdown that all but ended the epidemic there.

People in Wuhan work in nursing, education, security and other sectors with high exposure to the public must take a nucleic acid test before leaving, the National Health Commission said in an order.

The government of Hubei province, of which Wuhan is capital, will pay for the tests, the commission said.

Since the city relaxed its lockdown restrictions people who arrived in there before Chinese New Year, when the virus was peaking in China, are allowed to go back to their homes.

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06:00 GMT – Australia sees 3 new deaths as govt urges app installation 

Australia’s coronavirus-related death toll rose by three to a total of 68 on Saturday, health data showed, with the government stepping up its calls for people to sign up for a controversial movement-tracking mobile phone app.

Australia and neighbouring New Zealand have shown early success in potentially stopping Covid-19 after closing their early and imposing strict curbs on public movement. Australia recorded 36 new cases on Saturday, bringing the total to 6,533 cases, according to the health ministry data.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Saturday that downloading a movement-tracking up, which would enable the government to detect potential new outbreaks and which has been criticised as invasion of privacy, would not be mandatory.

Australia coronavirus

A worker cleans the mostly deserted waterfront area of the Sydney Opera House [Loren Elliott/Reuters]

05:40 GMT – Trump accused of ‘fomenting rebellion’ after ‘LIBERATE’ tweets

Washington Governor Jay Inslee on Friday accused Donald Trump of “fomenting domestic rebellion and spreading lies” after the United States president urged supporters to “LIBERATE” three states led by Democratic governors.

“The president’s statements this morning encourage illegal and dangerous acts. He is putting millions of people in danger of contracting COVID-19,” Inslee said in a series of tweets on Friday afternoon.

Inslee’s tweets came after Trump apparently encouraged the growing protests against the stay-at-home restrictions aimed at stopping the coronavirus.

Read more here

05:20 GMT – Thailand reports 33 new cases, no new deaths

Thailand has reported 33 new coronavirus infections, bringing the nation’s total to 2,733 cases, a senior official has said. 

Eleven of the new cases were in Bangkok and had a history of going to public areas, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government’s Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration.

No new deaths were reported and 1,787 people have recovered, he said.

Thailand has reported 47 fatalities since the outbreak escalated in January. 

Hello, this is Joseph Stepansky in Doha taking over from my colleague Ted Regencia.

04:55 GMT – Germany’s coronavirus cases rise by 3,609 to 137,439: RKI

Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases have risen by 3,609 to 137,439, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Saturday, marking a fourth straight day of a spike in new infections.

The death toll has risen by 242 to 4,110, the tally showed.

04:05 GMT – South Korea shows lowest daily jump in virus cases since February 20

South Korea has reported 18 new cases of the coronavirus, its lowest daily jump since February 20, continuing a downward trend as officials discuss more sustainable forms of social distancing that allows for some communal and economic activity.

Figures released by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday brought national totals to 10,653 cases and 232 virus-related deaths, the Associated Press news agency repoted.

At least 993 of overall infections have been linked to arrivals from overseas.

03:33 GMT – Japan to expand testing amid rising infections

Japan, alarmed by rising coronavirus deaths and the spectre of the collapse of the medical system, is scrambling to expand testing with drive-through facilities and general practitioners helping to collect samples, according to Reuters.

The decision to expand testing came as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this week expanded a state of emergency, originally issued for Tokyo and six other areas, to the entire country, and warned of the growing burden on health facilities

Japan conducted about 52,000 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests in March, or just 16 percent of the number carried out in South Korea, according to data from Oxford University.

03:01 GMT – China reports new cases coming from Russia

China has reported 27 new confirmed cases of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, as it tries to stem an upsurge in infections in a northeastern province bordering Russia.

Twenty of the new cases were in Heilongjiang province, including 13 Chinese nationals who had returned recently from Russia. The land border with Russia has been closed.

The confirmed cases brought the total to 82719, of which 77,029 have recovered. Meanwhile, China’s official death toll rose sharply to 4,632, reflecting a major upwards revision the previous day by authorities in Wuhan, the nation’s hardest-hit city.

02:35 GMT – Indonesia records highest number of cases, deaths in Southeast Asia

From zero reported infections and fatalities in January and February, Indonesia now has the highest number of cases and deaths in Southeast Asia.

Indonesia has reported nearly 6,000 cases surpassing the Philippines. The death toll in Indonesia as of Friday was 520.


People wears face masks as they practice social distancing to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus at a supermarket in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, on Friday [Achmad Ibrahim/AP]

02:28 GMT – Canada requires air passengers to wear masks to curb coronavirus

Canada’s transport agency has announced that all airline passengers would be required to wear a non-medical mask or face covering during travel to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The regulator said travellers must cover their mouth and nose during the boarding process and flights. The rule goes into effect on Monday.

Air Canada, the country’s largest carrier, had previously recommended that customers wear a face-covering over their mouth and noses while onboard its flights.

02:00 GMT – Many migrants on US deportation flight had coronavirus – Guatemalan president

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei has announced that a large number of the migrants on a deportation flight from the United States to Guatemala earlier this week were infected with the novel coronavirus.

Earlier, it was reported that at least 44 of the 77 Guatemalans deported on Monday were infected with the coronavirus. 

01:21 GMT – Trump wants to return to campaign trail

US President Donald Trump says he remains hopeful that he will be able to resume campaign rallies ahead of the November election.

Trump said that he does not want social distancing at his rallies, which typically draw big crowds, because doesn’t want attendees to miss the “flavour” of the experience. Trump stopped holding his big stadium rallies in early March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The president predicted that when the rallies resume they’ll be “bigger than ever.” He plans to travel to the US Military Academy in New York next month to deliver the commencement ceremony.

00:40 GMT – Nigerian president’s chief of staff dies from coronavirus

Abba Kyari - Nigeria

Abba Kyari (standing) served as the chief of staff of Nigerian President Mohammadu Buhari (seated) since 2015 until his death on Friday [File: Aghaeze/Nigeria State House via AFP]

The Nigerian president’s chief of staff, Abba Kyari, died on Friday after contracting the new coronavirus, two presidency spokesmen said on Twitter.

Kyari, who was in his 70s and had underlying health problems including diabetes, was the top official aide to 77-year-old President Muhammadu Buhari and one of the most powerful men in the country, Reuters news agency reported.

“The Presidency regrets to announce the passage of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari,” said presidency spokesman Garba Shehu in a tweet, using an honorific title for Kyari.

Kyari’s was the highest-profile death due to the disease in the West African country, which has 493 confirmed cases and 17 deaths, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

Mexico City

Mexico has declared a mandatory use of face masks= inside trains and subway stations, as a measure to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease [Edgard Garrido/Reuters]

00:18 GMT – Mexico reports 570 new coronavirus cases, 60 new deaths

Mexican health officials have reported 578 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 60 new deaths, bringing the country’s total to 6,875 cases and 546 deaths.

Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said on Thursday the country might have nearly 56,000 people infected with the fast-spreading coronavirus.

Citing government models, Lopez-Gatell has said many who are infected likely did not have symptoms or were not diagnosed.  

00:10 GMT – Mexico: Trump promised to sell 1,000 ventilators

Mexico’s president says that United States President Donald Trump has promised Mexico will be able to buy 1,000 ventilators and other intensive-therapy equipment used in treating severe cases of COVID-19.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says he spoke with Trump about Mexico’s request to purchase the machines, relatively few of which are available in Mexico.

Lopez Obrador said on Twitter that Trump “guaranteed me that by the end of this month” Mexico could buy 1,000 ventilators and possibly more.

Lopez Obrador calls it a “new gesture of solidarity with Mexico”. He says he suggested a meeting with Trump in June or July to personally express the country’s appreciation.


Hello, I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. You can find all the updates from yesterday, April 17, here.

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