Key developments in the global coronavirus outbreak today include:
Global cases pass quarter of a million
According to Johns Hopkins University figures, 271,629 people have been confirmed as having contracted the virus and 11,280 have died. In addition, 87,403 people have recovered.
UAE suffers two fatalities – its first deaths
The United Arab Emirates announces its first deaths. One of the patients was a 78-year-old Arab national who had arrived in the country from Europe. The official news agency, WAM, reported the health ministry as saying the cause of death was a “heart attack, coinciding with complications from the coronavirus disease”. The other patient was reportedly a 58-year-old foreign-born resident of the UAE who had heart disease and kidney failure.
Israel announces its first death
Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek hospital said an 88-year-old man died a week after he was admitted. The hospital said the man had a history of health problems, according to the Associated Press. Israel has reported more than 700 cases.
US vice-president’s staffer tests positive
The employee, who was not identified, had not come into close contact with either the US president, Donald Trump, or his boss, Mike Pence, who is in charge of the US’s coronavirus response, according to the latter’s spokeswoman.
Italy and Spain record highest single-day death tolls
Italy and Spain both reported their biggest single-day death tolls from the coronavirus. Authorities in Rome on Friday announced 5,986 new cases and a record 627 new deaths, raising the totals to 47,021 infections and 4,032 fatalities. In Spain, the death toll rose to 1,002, a highest-ever increase of 235 in 24 hours. Helge Braun, Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, warned that a near-total lockdown – as is in force in France, Italy and Spain – could soon be necessary in Germany.
Restaurants, pubs and gyms to close in the UK
All cafes, pubs, restaurants, gyms and other similar venues across the UK have been ordered to close from Friday evening for the foreseeable future, as the prime minister, Boris Johnson, said it was vital to take more urgent steps to reduce the rapid spread of the Covid-19 virus. The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has announced the government will pay up to 80% of the wages of British workers to keep them in jobs.
Donald Trump invokes new powers to speed up medical supplies
The US president invoked the Defense Production Act to get needed medical supplies on the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak, mobilising the federal government to marshal the private sector to combat the pandemic. The secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, confirmed the US-Mexican border will be closing to nonessential travel.
Chinese inquiry exonerates coronavirus whistleblower doctor
The Chinese doctor who was reprimanded for “spreading rumours” after he sought to warn colleagues about the emergence of Covid-19 has been officially exonerated by an investigation into his death. However, the report has been criticised for not going far enough, after it only recommended the reprimand against Dr Li Wenliang be withdrawn.
Anger grows among Britons on holiday as lockdowns block returns
Thousands of British holidaymakers could find themselves stranded abroad, as flight cancellations, travel restrictions and lockdowns due to the global coronavirus pandemic complicate their journeys home. As many as 100,000 tourists may still be in Spain, despite a near-total lockdown and government orders that all hotels be shut down within the week.