Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.
- Coronavirus-related deaths in the US exceeded 40,000 with nearly half of all casualties in New York, as protests against “stay at home” orders flared in a number of states.
- The number of deaths in Italy was the lowest in a week, while the pace of new infections also slowed. Spain registered its lowest daily death toll in almost a month.
- Some countries are moving to ease lockdowns including Iran, which partially reopened its capital, Tehran.
- A group of more than 150 economists in Australia have urged the government to maintain social distancing restrictions as some urge a lifting of the lockdown to save the economy. “We believe a callous indifference to life is morally objectionable,” they wrote.
- Globally, nearly 2.4 million people have been diagnosed with the virus while close to 165,000 have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 612,000 people have recovered.
Here are the latest updates.
Monday, April 20
02:55 GMT – Rare leatherback turtles return to Thai beaches empty of tourists
Thailand has found the largest number of nests of rare leatherback sea turtles in two decades on beaches that have been emptied of tourists by the coronavirus pandemic, environmentalists say.
The 11 turtle nests authorities have found since last November were the highest number in 20 years, said Kongkiat Kittiwatanawong, the director of the Phuket Marine Biological Center.
“This is a very good sign for us because many areas for spawning have been destroyed by humans,” he told Reuters. No such nests had been found for the previous five years.
02:25 GMT – South Korea cases below 20 for third day
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) has just given its latest update on the coronavirus.
The KCDC reported 13 new cases – seven from overseas – on Monday, bringing the total to 10,674.
It’s the third day in a row where cases have been below 20, Yonhap news agency reported.
02:15 GMT – Malaysia parliament to resume on May 18 – for single day
Malaysia’s parliament will sit for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic on May 18, but only for a single day and with no debates.
A power grab in Malaysia at in late February led to the resignation of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the fall of the Pakatan Harapan administration leaving the country without a government for just over a week.
The new leadership includes Mahathir’s former political party (without Mahathir) and the parties that lost to Pakatan in May 2018.
An extraordinary announcement yesterday. Parliament will restart on 18th May but…. for only one day. This will be a ceremonial event with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong delivering the King’s speech. (1/n) pic.twitter.com/4AckrqBDhA
— Wong Chen (@WongChenPKR) April 18, 2020
02:00 GMT – New Zealand due to announce lockdown decision
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is due to announce later on Monday whether to ease the lockdown imposed in late March to tackle the coronavirus.
Ardern is expected to announce her decision in a couple of hours.
New Zealand reported nine new cases on Monday and no deaths.
00:45 GMT – China reports zero deaths for second day
China has just released its latest coronavirus update.
The National Health Commission says there were no deaths reported on the mainland on April 19, the second consecutive day.
It also reported 12 new cases of coronaviurs – eight of them imported – as well as 49 new asymptomatic cases.
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) April 20, 2020
00:00 GMT – Pence says US has sufficient testing capability to support states
US Vice President Mike Pence says the US has sufficient testing capacity nationwide to allow any of the states to start lifting lockdown orders, providing they meet other criteria required for relaxation.
The other criteria include 14 days of declines in infections and enough hospital capacity to treat everyone who gets sick.
23:40 GMT – Trump says willing to help Iran – if asked
US President Donald Trump says the US would be willing to provide aid to Iran to help with deal with the coronavirus pandemic if Tehran requested it.
“If Iran needed aid on this, I would be willing,” he said at the daily press briefing in the White House.
23:00 GMT (Sunday) – Economists in Australia urge continued lockdown
A group of at least 170 economists in Australia have written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the country’s national cabinet to urge the government to continue social distancing measures, amid a growing debate over whether to ease the country’s lockdown to boost the economy.
“We believe a callous indifference to life is morally objectionable and that it would be a mistake to expect a premature loosening of restrictions to be beneficial to the economy and jobs, given the rapid rate of contagion,” they wrote in an open letter.
“We recognise that the measures taken to date have come at a cost to economic activity and jobs, but believe these are far outweighed by the lives saved and the avoided economic damage due to an unmitigated contagion.”
Read all the updates from yesterday (April 19) here.
Al Jazeera and news agencies