South Africa records first Covid-19 deaths; China closes borders; UK records biggest daily rise in deaths
- Coronavirus latest – at a glance
- UK coronavirus – live
- US now has more cases than any other country
- Xi Jinping calls on Trump to improve US-China relations
- See all our coronavirus coverage
For all live UK coronavirus news, please do read our UK facing live blog
The BBC is reporting that the British prime minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for coronavirus and is exhibiting “mild symptoms”.
The Prime Minister has tested positive for Corona virus. He has mild symptoms and will self-isolate in Downing Street. but he will still be in charge of the government’s handling of the crisis.
Ireland and Northern Ireland are preparing improvised morgues as they brace for a sharp increase in the number of deaths from coronavirus, reports Rory Carroll in Dublin.
Health officials in Dublin on Thursday night announced 10 deaths, bringing the republic’s death toll to 19, and said Ireland was just starting a curve that would sweep upwards.
They also announced 255 new cases of infection, bringing the confirmed total to 1,819. Clusters in nursing homes and healthcare settings are of particular concern.
Spain’s health ministry has just given out the latest figures, which show a new record single-day death toll, reports Sam Jones in Madrid.
There have been 769 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 4,858. This is a new high – the previous record was 738, between Tuesday and Wednesday this week.
The country now has 64,059 confirmed cases up from 56,188 yesterday.
Armenia has reported its first death as a result of coronavirus.
A 72-year-old woman diagnosed with coronavirus died in Armenia on Thursday, the health ministry’s spokeswoman said, reporting the country’s first death related to the virus.
A rescue flight arranged by the German government on Friday picked up hundreds of tourists who had been stranded in Nepal since the Himalayan nation went on lockdown earlier this week, the Press Association reports:
The Qatar Airways charter flight took off with 305 people on board, said Deo Chandra Lal Karna, an official at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport.
Immigration official Sagar Acharya said most of the passengers were German nationals or had some connection to the country.
The UK’s largest retailer Tesco is limiting online shoppers to 80 items per shop in a drive to free up more delivery slots to households in self-isolation, writes my colleague Rebecca Smithers.
A typical online order before the coronavirus would contain fewer than 60 items, but the average has leaped recently due to the number of very large shops now over 100 items. Customers are stocking up with essentials but may also buy more than they need.
The move will allow the supermarket to release significantly more delivery slots over the coming weeks, as part of its efforts to ensure all customers can buy what they need.
The Spanish government has withdrawn 9,000 Chinese-made coronavirus testing kits from use after it emerged that they had an accurate detection rate of just 30%, reports Sam Jones in Madrid.
Like other countries struggling to diagnose and treat the virus, Spain has looked to China for rapid testing kits equipment and much-needed supplies, and announced this week that it would spend €432m on tests, masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment.
However, a batch of Chinese-made kits bought by Spanish health authorities a few weeks ago has been pulled after they were discovered to be unreliable and the Chinese government said that they had been made by a company that did not appear on its list of authorised manufacturers.
Authorities in Bosnia have ordered the transfer of thousands of migrants to a remote camp in Lipa, a village about 25 kilometres from the border with Croatia, due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country, reports my colleague Lorenzo Tondo.
In a document seen by the Guardian, the Bihać city civil defence headquarters asked that the move be carried out “in order to take urgent measures to prevent the onset of the disease caused by Covid-19”.
The number of cases in Iran has risen to 32,332, while the number of deaths hits 2,378, according to the country’s health ministry.
Here is the death toll for the past five days:
A spike in coronavirus patients means hospitals in and around Paris will reach saturation point within 48 hours, the head of the French Hospital Federation said on Friday, with the peak not expected until April, Reuters reports.
Paris and its suburbs now account for over a quarter of the 29,000 confirmed coronavirus infections in French hospitals, with almost 1,300 now in intensive care. The death toll nationwide as of Thursday evening stood at 1,696.
“We will clearly need help in the Ile-de-France (Greater Paris region) because what happened in the east is coming here,” Frederic Valletoux, the federation’s president told BFM TV.
Ireland and Northern Ireland are preparing improvised morgues as they brace for a sharp increase in the number of deaths from coronavirus.
Health officials in Dublin on Thursday night announced 10 more deaths, bringing the republic’s death toll to 19, and warned that Ireland was just starting a curve that would sweep upwards.
Covid-19 continues its spread across the African continent with 3243 cases now recorded, and 83 deaths, writes Jason Burke.
COVID-19 : UPDATE IN AFRICA, 27 MARCH 2020 – 9:00 am EAT
Countries (46) reporting a total #COVID19 3,243 cases, 83 deaths, 254 recoveries by region.#COVID19 #FactsNotFear #AfricaPrepares #AfricaRespond pic.twitter.com/05hruMG3Hx
The 56m inhabitants of South Africa woke up to the first day of a rigorous lockdown enforced by the police and army. Streets in much of Johannesburg were quiet, though there was significant activity in many high-density neighbourhoods amid complaints that the tight restrictions on movements would deny many vital income.
Similar strict measures are now being rolled out across the continent, though some governments, such as Zimbabwe, are yet to impose full curfews.
Here is a recap of the main news currently, courtesy of Reuters as of 6am GMT.
Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orbán has announced new restrictions on movement in the country, reports the Guardian’s Shaun Walker in Budapest.
From tomorrow, for an initial period of two weeks, Hungarians will only be able to leave the house to go to work or for other basic essentials, bringing the country in line with many other European nations.
People over the age of 65 will only be able to visit grocery shops and pharmacies between the hours of 9am and midday, and during these hours those under 65 will be banned from the shops.
Afghanistan has confirmed 11 new Coronavirus cases in last 24 hours, pushing the total number of infections to 95, reports Akhtar Mohammad Makoii in Herat.
The heath ministry in Afghanisatan also reported third death as a result of coronavirus. The patient was a 55-year old man who had recently returned from the UK.
South Africa has reported its first deaths resulting from COVID-19, says Health Minister Dr Zwelini Mkhize.
These two deaths occurred in the Western Cape. One at a Private Hospital and the other at a Public Hospital.
There are now more than 1000 cases in the country.Cases have increased from yesterday’s number and have tipped the 1000 mark.
German hospitals with spare capacity will take in at least 47 coronavirus patients from Italy in a sign of European solidarity, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Thursday.
“Because we stand by our Italian friends. We can only manage this together,” Maas said in a short statement.
In Italy, an overwhelmed health care system has witnessed the outbreak kill more people than in any other country.
The fire service in the UK could be drafted in to support the NHS with firefighters taking on roles such as driving ambulances and delivering food and medicine, it emerged this morning.
The Press Association report:
The General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union Matt Wrack said it would be “quite a serious challenge” for firefighters to take on more work to help deliver food and medicine and drive ambulances.
Wrack told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “Well, training is a key element of a document that we will be releasing today. Firefighters are clearly keen to do whatever they can to help in the situation.”
That’s it from me, Helen Sullivan. I’ll be back with more live world coronavirus news tomorrow. In the meantime, my colleague Alexandra Topping will steer you through Friday’s developments.
Here is what has happened in the last few hours:
Vietnam will limit domestic flights and stop public gatherings for two weeks from Saturday in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the government said in a statement on Friday.
The UK government has urged people to avoid moving house during the coronavirus outbreak, as the pandemic brings the country’s property market to a near standstill, Reuters reports.
In guidance issued late on Thursday, the government said while “there is no need to pull out of transactions, we all need to ensure we are following guidance to stay at home and away from others at all times”.
The outbreak has restricted banks’ ability to offer new mortgages, while many have been swamped with inquiries from people asking for breaks on their existing home loans.
In line with the government’s advice, British lenders agreed on Thursday to give all homebuyers the option of extending mortgage offers by three months.
UK Finance, the banking industry body, said banks would grant homebuyers who have exchanged contracts the possibility of moving at a later date by extending their mortgage offer for up to three months.
Virtual pubs, comedy clubs, quiz nights and concerts will be among the attractions as a frazzled UK attempts to shake off, however briefly, its most trying week since the second world war by recreating a Friday night out while in lockdown.
Here are today’s UK front pages for Friday, 27 March 2020:
The latest now on that call between US president Donald Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping.
Xi told Trump the US needed to take “substantive actions” to improve China-US relations, according to Chinese state media.
If you have tips, news or other thoughts you’d like to share, get in touch with me directly on Twitter @helenrsullivan.
US electric car maker Tesla plans to slash on-site staff at its Nevada battery plant by around 75% due to the coronavirus pandemic, the local county manager said on Thursday.
New Zealanders, proving that clothes maketh even the virtual man, are spending their second day of a nationwide lockdown dressed to the nines as part of the burgeoning #formalFridays movement.
The Australian sharemarket tumbled in afternoon trade after prime minister Scott Morrison said he would put the economy into “hibernation” but gave no details of how this would be done.
Morrison said Australian businesses would need to be able to spring back into action once the coronavirus crisis was over, and the pain of doing so would be shared with landlords and banks.
But he did not outline any concrete proposal for rent relief for businesses and households whose incomes have been reduced to zero by his government’s measures to fight the crisis.
The benchmark ASX200 index, which opened the day up as much as 2.4%, finished the day down 5.3%.
Uzbekistan locked down more cities and districts on Friday, and announced large bonus payments for medical workers, in its effort to slow the spread of a coronavirus, as it recorded the country’s first death and the number of cases climbed to 83, Reuters reports.
More on that Trump-Xi phone call now. The South China Morning Post reports that during the call Xi “urged unity and solidarity and delivered three main messages: strengthen international efforts to stop the virus; shore up the economy amid downward trends; and a subtle call on the US to stop its hostile moves against China.”
The SCMP quotes the Chinese president as telling Trump:
The virus knows no boundaries, and the pandemic is our common enemy. All countries must join hands and put up the strictest network for joint prevention and joint control [of the disease]
US president Donald Trump has given glowing praise of China and its response to coronavirus – which he did not refer to as the “Chinese virus” – in a tweet following his call earlier with Chinese president Xi Jinping:
Just finished a very good conversation with President Xi of China. Discussed in great detail the CoronaVirus that is ravaging large parts of our Planet. China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!
In Singapore, getting within a metre of another person at a restaurant or a shopping queue can now land you in prison under some of the toughest punishments seen worldwide to implement social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reports.
It’s been a long and difficult week and Guardian Australia’s cartoonist First Dog on the Moon has what you need to cheer you up on this Friday afternoon (yes, it’s Friday, not that that means much to people who are self-isolating or under lockdown).
He has these true stories of pets in isolation. Enjoy!
Just to wrap up if you are just joining us. The Australian prime minister Scott Morrison just delivered a press conference and the key points are:
We will make announcements on the details. I today wanted to set out what the objective was. There will be a burden for everyone to share. And that will include the business as well. There will be landlords who will suffer. There will be – the banks will be having to make arrangements with them … The intent is, as far as possible, to … ensure that a business through no fault of its own – just like if there’s any Australian who has lost a job through no fault of their own – we are simply trying to preserve and support them in the best way we possibly can for the simple reason that, A: they are Australian, and that is what we should do, and, B: on the other side we want them to surge. We want Australia to rise again on the other side of this and to go forward strongly.
On that comment from New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern that she does not want to “see the scenes of Bondi beach in Australia”:
Bondi, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, is part of the Waverly council area. This week the council which was forced to shut down Bondi Beach after thousands of people went to the beach despite social distancing recommendations.
Waverley is now the council area with the highest number of coronavirus cases, at 105. Of these, at least eight people acquired the infection without any known contact with a confirmed case or travel overseas, Guardian analysis shows.
In New Zealand, Charles Anderson reports for the Guardian that finance minister Grant Robertson says employers are required to pay employees a government wage subsidy, even if they cannot continue to employ them. This would take the support scheme to an estimated NZ$8-12bn (US$4.8-7.2bn).
Meanwhile, modelling released yesterday suggested, left unchecked, the virus would eventually infect 89 percent of New Zealand’s population and kill up to 80,000 people in a worst-case scenario.
Over in New Zealand, which is under total lockdown and a state of emergency, the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern is imploring people to “stay local” during a four-week countrywide lockdown and does not want to see “the scenes of Bondi Beach in New Zealand”, referring to last weekend in Australia when a sunny Friday saw the country’s most famous beach packed locals and tourists.
Charles Anderson reports for the Guardian that Ardern again told reporters in Wellington this afternoon that, despite the lockdown, numbers of those infected with Covid-19 will continue to rise for some time.
Australia will be putting the economy into “hibernation”, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says. He did not explain how it works, but as we understand it, this means that business overheads, including rent and mortgage costs, will be suspended for a while. Australia’s finance minister Matthias Cormann said this could be for six months. Banks, lenders and landlords will wear at least some of this cost.
We’re of course hoping for more clarity on the specifics of what Morrison has called an “innovative” solution soon.
Australian prime minister Scott Morrison is talking about the plan to put the country’s economy into hibernation now. He says the idea is simple, but does not go on to explain the idea.
Part of that plan that we will be announcing will be to seek to hibernate Australian businesses… The idea is simple: there are businesses which will have to close their doors. They will have to keep them closed either because we have made it necessary for them to do so, or simply because there is just not the business to keep their doors open. We want those businesses to start again. And we do not want over the course of the next six months or as long as it takes, for those businesses to be so saddled by debt, so saddled by rental payments, so saddled by other liabilities that they will not be able to start again on the other side. We want these businesses to effectively go into a hibernation, which means on the other side, the employees come back, the opportunities come back, the economy comes back.
Australia’s quarantine measures will be enforced by state government with the help of the Australian Defence Force, prime minister Scott Morrison says. The ADF will also be helping to check up on those already in self isolation.
Scott Morrison says of the new quarantine measures:
By no later than midnight tomorrow – that is 11:59pmSaturday – states and territories will be quarantining all arrivals through our airports in hotels and other accommodation facilities for the two weeks of their mandatory self-isolation before they are able to return to their home.
If their home is in South Australia or in Perth or in Tasmania and they have arrived in Melbourne, they will be quarantining in Melbourne. If it’s in Sydney, it will be if Sydney. If it’s Brisbane, and so on.
In Australia, Morrison says “Today we have decided to take further actions targeted at our greatest area of concern. What we’re announcing today enables us to deal with the increasing pressure we have from Australians returning home.
Two thirds of the cases that we currently have are from an Australian who has come home. Two thirds… As time goes on, the risk of Australians coming home from other countries actually increases.”
Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, is speaking now in Canberra.
Australians will be looking for clear, firm guidance from their leader today. So far, he is offering praise for the country’s response.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is speaking now in Canberra.
“We always knew Australians were up to this test. And you’re proving it every single day,” he says.
Have news you think our readers should know or something that might lower our collective stress levels for a moment? Let me know on Twitter @helenrsullivan.
We’ll be focussing on Australian news now for a short while. Friday has seen a few key developments in the country and Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to hold a press conference within minutes.
Australia has 3,005 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 13 deaths.
In Japan, queues formed at supermarkets and stores in Tokyo on Friday as residents prepared for a weekend at home after the city’s governor called on them to stay at home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Reuters reports.
In the US, one or more coronavirus cases have been reported among workers at thirteen of Amazon’s warehouses across the country.
More on the situation in South Korea now, which has been reporting around 100 new cases per day for two weeks.
Asian stocks rose on Friday as investors wagered policymakers will roll out more stimulus measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic after US unemployment filings surged to a record, Reuters reports.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1.2%. Australian shares gave up gains to fall 1.09%, but Japan’s Nikkei rose 1.44%.
Philippine stocks on track for one of their best weeks on record following one of the worst weeks on record.
Parang puso ng ex mong balimbing pic.twitter.com/yrPGrMCapj
US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he would not cancel the Republican National Convention in August in Charlotte, North Carolina, because of the coronavirus.
In an interview on Fox News, Trump said he believed the country will have rebounded from the coronavirus outbreak by then.
Trump opens by saying he pushed back a diplomatic call with President Xi of China so he could talk to Hannity on Fox News pic.twitter.com/MzMQfJx8sh
US unemployment claims are represented in the New York Times graph below, which you can also find here.
That’s quite a graphic https://t.co/Q9BhNFDGRO
Have news you think our readers should know, or something that might lower our collective stress levels for a moment? Let me know on Twitter @helenrsullivan.
Back to Australia now, where finance minister Matthias Cormann is considering putting the economy into “hibernation”.
The Australian economy was already extremely weak before the coronavirus crisis, according to research from the University of Melbourne’s Melbourne Institute.
US nurses union head says there is a national shortage of protective equipment.
In the US, scarcities of protective masks, gloves, gowns and eyewear for doctors and nurses – reports abound of healthcare workers recycling old face masks, making their own or even using trash bags to shield themselves – have emerged as a national problem, Reuters reports.
“Our nurses across the country do not have the personal protective equipment that is necessary to care for Covid patients, or any of their patients,” Bonnie Castillo, head of the largest US nurses union, National Nurses United, told MSNBC.
Nurses have been sounding the alarm for months!
Without the proper protections against #Covid19 we risk not only our own lives but the lives of our patients and families.
While New York was the coronavirus epicenter in the United States this week, the next big wave of infections appeared headed for Louisiana, where demand for ventilators has already doubled. In New Orleans, the state’s biggest city, Mardi Gras celebrations late last month are believed to have fuelled the outbreak, Reuters reports.
In the US now, Dr Sirous Asgari, an Iranian scientist who was exonerated in a US sanctions trial but remains jailed by immigration authorities, said the conditions in detention were filthy and overcrowded – and officials were doing little to prevent a deadly coronavirus outbreak.
The materials science and engineering professor told the Guardian the “inhumane” treatment by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) could cost him his life. He was acquitted in November on charges of stealing trade secrets, but Ice has kept him indefinitely detained.
Dr. Sirous Asgari: “The way that they have been treating us is absolutely terrifying. I don’t think many people in the US know what is happening inside.”
“They are downplaying it in this facility, that it is safe … But coronavirus is a viral bomb waiting to blow up here.” pic.twitter.com/rhVE8DSNuP
Australia’s federal government is considering putting the economy into “hibernation” the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports:
The Federal Government is considering a radical suite of measures to effectively put the economy into hibernation, allowing businesses to emerge after the coronavirus crisis, and resume and rehire without crippling debts.
As the Government prepares to unveil its third economic rescue package “within days”, policies are being developed to help business owners see out the crisis without having to walk away from their companies.
More on Argentina now, where tenants are about to receive some welcome relief: a six-month rent freeze to help family budgets affected by the nationwide coronavirus lockdown declared last Friday. The decree about to be signed by President Alberto Fernández will be a welcome move in a country where rents are tied to the inflation rate, which stands at about a yearly 50%.
son los “corrales” (verdaderas jaulas) al aire libre donde la policía de Jujuy y Corrientes alojan a lxs detenidxs.
Crece la represión en los sectores populares en vez del fortalecimiento del sistema de salud. pic.twitter.com/RHJhhnfIH8
The Japanese government said on Friday there was no need now to declare a state of emergency, after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe the previous day described the coronavirus as a “national crisis” following a surge of cases in Tokyo.
South Korea reported 91 new coronavirus cases on Friday, taking the national tally to 9,332, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
The figure is down from 104 new coronavirus cases on Thursday.
Charles Anderson reports from Nelson on New Zealand’s South Island now.
New Zealand’s total number of patients with Covid-19 is now at 368 after 76 new cases were identified. The country reported 85 new cases made up of the 76 confirmed and nine suspected.
The US House of Representatives will begin a two-hour debate on a sweeping US$2.2 trillion coronavirus aid bill at 9 am (1300 GMT) on Friday, but it is not clear whether the measure would be able to pass on a voice vote, the House Majority Leader’s office said late on Thursday.
While most House members are in their home districts because of the coronavirus outbreak, those able and willing to travel to Washington for a vote should arrive by 10 am (1400 GMT), according to the House advisory.
There have been discussions of a possible roll-call vote if a voice vote is blocked by dissenters.
Mainland China reported its first locally transmitted coronavirus infection in three days, although cases involving travellers from overseas continued to dominate the total number of new cases.
More US news now.
President Donald Trump said he will speak by phone with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping later Thursday as the United States overtook China as the country with the most coronavirus cases.
US president Donald Trump again struggled to reassure a fearful nation on Thursday as it emerged the US now has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world.
News that America had surpassed virus hotspots China and Italy with 82,404 cases of infection, according to a tracker run by Johns Hopkins University, broke as the president was holding a press conference at the White House.
Certainly not in this country. Nobody’s fault. We got very lucky when we made a decision not to allow people in from China on a very early date. I say that because some people don’t want to accept it, but this was a great decision made by our country, or the numbers that you’re talking about – we’re a big country – they’d be far greater, far bigger.”
Here is a summary of the latest US news now from my colleague Maanvi Singh, as infections there overtook those in China.
The US has surpassed China and Italy, with more than 82,000 cases per Johns Hopkins’ tally. A lack of early action and setbacks in testing could be to blame.
The death toll from the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe could hit 1.8 million worldwide this year even with swift and stringent measures to stop it, according to a study from Britain’s Imperial College published Thursday.
New Zealand has reported 85 confirmed and suspected Covid-19 cases in the country.
Yesterday prime minister Jacinda Ardern warned that infections were likely to get worse before they got better, despite the entire country now under lockdown orders and a state of emergency.
Hello and welcome to our global coronavirus news liveblog.
For the first time since the outbreak began, China’s number of confirmed Covid-19 infections is outnumbered by another country’s: the United States. As the World Health Organization warned could happen earlier this week, the US is now the centre of the virus, with 83,507 confirmed cases. China has 81,782 and Italy is not far behind, with 80,589.