Nurses in protective gear pose before starting shift in Daegu, South Korea

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Live Reporting

Edited by Owen Amos

All times stated are UK

  1. Australia-China ‘stoush’ rumbles on

    Tensions between Australia and China are high as Australia echoes American calls for a global investigation into the virus’s origins.

    It’s sparked a war of words – which at times has veered into the
    alarming and absurd.

    Let’s recap. Earlier this week, Beijing’s ambassador warned that Chinese consumers – upset by a political attack on their country – might
    boycott Australian beef, wine and travel products.

    Given China is Australia’s biggest trading partner, these
    comments were viewed in Canberra as “economic coercion”.

    Australia’s top diplomat called the ambassador to rebuke him,
    and then the next day found details of the private call leaked
    online by the embassy.

    Despite China’s criticism, Australian Prime Minister
    Scott Morrison has stood firm, saying that an investigation is an “entirely reasonable” prospect in the national and global interest.

    Some analysts have told the BBC the diplomatic stoush will blow over soon, with both nations too invested in their trade relationship to
    actually shake things up.

    However, Australian business groups are concerned,
    and have questioned why Canberra is mounting this campaign now, when other
    Western allies – such as the UK and France – say it can wait.

    Greg Hunt

    Copyright: EPA

    Image caption: Another awkward moment yesterday, when Australia’s health minister was forced to share a press briefing with a Chinese consular official who praised the two nations’ “co-operation”
  2. Guinea Bissau PM tests positive for coronavirus

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    BBC World Service

    Guinea Bissau's Prime Minister Nuno Gomes Nabiam

    Copyright: AFP

    The health ministry in Guinea Bissau says the Prime Minister Nuno Gomes Nabiam has tested positive for coronavirus.

    Interior Minister Botche Cande and two other ministers also have Covid-19.

    The West African country has so far confirmed 205 coronavirus cases and one death.

  3. Pimp my ride: Social distancing version

    Mand and girl on a stretched motorbike

    Copyright: AFP

    Motorbikes and scooters are essential for many locals in Asian cities. And often it’s a lot more than one person on that bike. So how do you practise social distancing in this situation?

    No problem for Indian man Partha Saha. He got an old bike, cut it in half and simply made it a lot longer.

    He told AFP he will use it to take his daughter to and from school, so she doesn’t have to take the crowded bus.

    “Necessity is the mother of invention!” said Kumar Deb, chief minister of Tripura state where Saha lives, while praising the pimped ride on Twitter.

    “I congratulate Partha Saha… for making a unique motorcycle to create awareness during Covid-19 pandemic.”

  4. South Korea’s virus battle: A timeline

    As you’ve seen, South Korea has reported zero local infections for the first time in 75 days (though there were four imported cases).

    Here’s a look back at how South Korea went from being a hotspot to a success story:

    • 20 January – the first confirmed case of Covid-19 is reported, a Chinese woman
    • 4 February – South Korea begins denying entry to foreigners travelling from Hubei province in China – the epicentre of the outbreak
    • 18 February – South Korea confirms its 31st case – a member of the Shincheonji religious organisation who continued to go to large church gatherings. As the country tests large numbers of church members, there are big spikes in case numbers
    • 24 February – 15 countries impose travel restrictions to and from South Korea
    • 29 February – the daily total peaks at 909 people infected
    • 2 March – by this date more than 4,200 cases are confirmed with about 60% of them stemming from the church
    • March – despite having one of the highest number of cases globally, the country is lauded for its aggressive approach to testing and contact tracing
    • 15 April – amid the pandemic, South Korea holds an election like no other
    • 22 April – as cases stabilise to single-digit daily infections, the government says it will start to lift restrictions
    • 30 April – South Korea reports no new local infections for the first time since 15 February

    Total cases are now at 10,765, and while some restrictions will be eased -officials are warning of a possible second wave.

    Medical workers, with adhesive bandages on their brows and noses to prevent skin abrasion, from wearing protective gear, prepare for their work shift at Dongsan Hospital in Daegu, South Korea, 13 April 2020.

    Copyright: European Photopress Agency

  5. Stranded migrants in India can return home

    India has said millions of people stranded by a nationwide lockdown can now return to their home states.

    A notice issued by the home ministry on Wednesday said people will need to be screened for symptoms at both source and destination, and be quarantined.

    But the movement of people will be only possible through state government facilitation, which means people cannot attempt to cross borders on their own.

    PM Narendra Modi announced the lockdown on 24 March with barely four hours’ notice, prompting hundreds of thousands in cities to try to return to their villages.

    When industries shut down overnight, many of them feared they would starve.

    For days, they walked – sometimes hundreds of kilometres – to reach their villages because bus and train services were shut down. Several died trying to make the journey.

    You can read the full story here.

    Stranded migrants in India

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Image caption: Millions have been stranded by the lockdown
  6. Maldives records first death

    The Maldives has announced the country’s first coronavirus-related death.

    Health officials in the island state in the Indian Ocean said the victim was an 83-year-old woman.

    She died in hospital in the capital Male late on Wednesday. The Maldives has 280 confirmed infections.

  7. ‘A milestone’ as South Korea records no local cases

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    Laura Bicker

    BBC News, Seoul

    This feels like a milestone – and as a journalist who has followed the country’s aggressive and successful fight against this virus, it felt great just to type the words “zero cases”.

    In February, South Korea had one of the worst outbreaks in Asia outside mainland China.

    I remember seeing exhausted doctors and nurses in the worst-hit city of Daegu telling me they would do everything they could to bring the infection rates under control, as ambulances queued around the hospital. The main buildings in the capital Seoul have been lit a brilliant blue in the evening just for them, and deservedly so.

    Today, as local infections have fallen to zero (I like repeating it) thousands of South Koreans are enjoying the spring sunshine on what is a national holiday to celebrate Buddha’s birthday.

    The parks are full of people laughing with friends and having picnics. The local airport is crowded with excited passengers flying to the southern island of Jeju to make the most of the long weekend – the busiest the airport has been in months.

    Everyone we spoke to felt thankful that the country has stayed out of lockdown. They’ve been shocked by the impact Covid-19 has had on Europe and the US and told us they felt lucky to be able to enjoy time with friends and family.

    But there is also real caution here – and fear of a second wave.

    The Korean Centre for Disease Control has announced that it is inevitable that this pandemic will return to the country. They are urging people to keep to a daily routine of staying home if they feel ill, washing their hands, keeping some distance and not gathering in large groups.

    South Koreans are taking a moment to enjoy this small victory – but they know that until a vaccine is found, this battle is not over.

  8. Australian capital eliminates all virus cases

    Australia's Parliament House in Canberra

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Image caption: Canberra in the ACT is the seat of government in Australia

    Australia’s smallest jurisdiction, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), has become the first to eliminate the virus, officials say.

    The ACT includes Canberra, the nation’s capital city, and has a population of 426,000 people. For comparison – over 5 million people live in Sydney.

    The administrative region had recorded 106 cases and three deaths. However, amid national lockdown measures, it was able to contain the virus in just seven weeks.

    Government officials said the last known patients recovered from the virus on Thursday, meaning there were no more known cases.

    Other Australian jurisdictions are also on their way to reaching zero, with South Australia reporting no new infections for a seventh consecutive day.

  9. Swimming with the fishes


    Copyright: AFP

    No one is certain whether the Tokyo Olympics will really go ahead next year, but athletes have to continue training regardless. And that’s not easy under lockdown rules.

    India’s top breaststroke swimmer SP Likith has been stuck at his coach’s farm since February and now swims in a tank that normally holds the water for crops and vegetables.

    It’s a 20m pool and a total of 15 athletes are using it to train.

    “It is not boring, it is fun. The only difference is… the water is not clear at all, there are fish and turtles and we don’t have lanes,” Likith told news agency AFP.

  10. War-torn Yemen records first deaths

    A man looks as a health worker disinfects a street in Sanaa, Yemen. Photo: 28 April 2020

    Copyright: Reuters

    Yemen has recorded its first two coronavirus deaths.

    The victims are reported to be brothers who died in hospital in the southern city of Aden. The government said five infections had been discovered there.

    More than five years of war have badly degraded Yemen’s health service, leaving it desperately ill-prepared to deal with the virus.

    Other diseases including cholera, dengue and malaria are rife, and only half of hospitals are fully functional. Millions of people are reliant on food aid.

    The UN has said the virus could be spreading unchecked, with aid agencies warning of a “nightmare scenario” after the first infection was confirmed earlier this month.

  11. What’s happening in India?

    Good morning to our readers tuning in from India this morning, where the end of the second lockdown is inching closer by the day. Here are the latest developments:

    • The government has said there will be “considerable relaxations” in many districts when the lockdown ends on 3 May – without going into too much detail
    • But one state has already decided to prolong its lockdown – the northern state of Punjab will be under lockdown for two more weeks with some relaxations in non-hotspot districts
    • India now has just over 1,000 coronavirus deaths. The western state of Maharashtra saw 32 fatalities on Wednesday, its highest so far. The country has confirmed more than 31,000 cases
    • The number of victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy – one of the world’s worst industrial disasters – to die from Covid-19 has risen to 12. Many of those affected by the gas leak have other health conditions that make them more vulnerable
    • Meanwhile, the government says there is some good news – the doubling rate for infections in the country has slowed further. It now takes 11.3 days for cases to double, up from 8 days
  12. ‘We’ll starve to death if this continues’

    Half of the world’s workers could lose their jobs because of Covid-19, the International Labour Organisation has said.

    The BBC’s population reporter Stephanie Hegarty heard from people in four countries who used to get by on a daily wage, but whose lives have been torn apart by the lockdown.

    Video content

    Video caption: ‘We’ll starve to death if this continues’
  13. US economy shrinks at fastest rate since 2008

    Shops with shutters down

    Copyright: Getty Images

    The US economy suffered its most severe contraction in more than a decade in the first quarter of 2020.

    As states introduced various levels of lockdowns, the world’s largest economy sank at an annual rate of 4.8%, according to official figures released on Wednesday.

    That’s the first contraction since 2014, ending a record expansion.

    And yet, the figures only hint at the full crisis, since many of the restrictions were not even put in place until March.

    Click here to read our full story on this.

  14. Why is there so little testing in Japan?

    Rupert Wingfield-Hayes

    BBC Japan correspondent

    Empty Shibuya crossing in Tokyo

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Why is Japan not in lockdown? It’s a question I’ve been asked numerous times by friends all over the world.

    But it is perhaps the wrong question. Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea and most of mainland China, have also never had full lockdowns.

    For those trying to understand what’s going on in Japan, the much more puzzling question is why there is so little testing for Covid-19.

    The country is only testing people who are already quite sick. In fact, the guidelines for doctors say they should only recommend a test if the patient has pneumonia.

    This is leading to some rather extraordinary stories from those trying to get tested.

    Click here to read Rupert’s full story.

  15. Caribbean nations hit hard by ‘tourism collapse’

    A beach in the Dominican Republic. File photo

    Copyright: Getty Images

    A “sudden stop” in tourism is projected to cause a 6.2% economic contraction in 2020 in the Caribbean region – the deepest recession there in more than 50 years, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned.

    With more than 1,000 confirmed Covid-19 infections, many countries have taken strong containment measures, such as border closures and lockdowns, the IMF wrote in a blog.

    It spoke of the “collapse of the tourism sector”, which accounted for up to 90% of GDP and employment in some Caribbean nations.

  16. An unlikely coronavirus hotspot in the US

    As the coronavirus sweeps across the US, it has been infecting and killing black Americans at a disproportionate rate.

    In Albany, Georgia, decades of poverty and economic inequality are threatening an entire generation of African Americans in the pandemic.

    Watch our video about this unlikely hotspot:

    Video content

    Video caption: An unlikely coronavirus hotspot in forgotten US corner
  17. Elon Musk blasts ‘fascist’ lockdown rules

    Elon Musk

    Copyright: AFP

    Silicon Valley billionaire Elon Musk has blasted California’s lockdown, saying it was “fascist” to tell people they cannot leave their homes.

    “This is not democratic, this is not freedom. Give people back their goddamn freedom,” Musk said in an earnings call of his company Tesla.

    Musk is known for his often outspoken comments and his remarks are markedly different from fellow tech billionaire Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook – who expressed concerns about easing lockdown measures too early.

    Facebook and Tesla are very differently affected by California’s shelter-in-place orders.

    While we can still use Facebook (and probably do so more than before the lockdown), Tesla was forced to suspend its production lines in mid-March.

  18. Australia’s hospital cluster linked to Ruby Princess

    Ruby Princess cruise ship in Sydney Harbour

    Copyright: EPA

    Image caption: The Ruby Princess has been linked to one-tenth of Australia’s 6,700 cases

    For weeks now, the two main outbreaks in Australia were known to centre around a hospital in Tasmania and the Ruby Princess cruise ship.

    (This was the boat which let thousands of passengers disembark in Sydney last month despite illness on board.)

    But this morning, officials confirmed long-held suspicions that the clusters were in fact related. Australia’s smallest state has recorded 12 deaths and 220 cases.

    “Most likely, that
    ground zero for the outbreak at the North West Regional Hospital was the Ruby
    Princess,” said Tasmanian premier Peter Gutwein.

    “No passenger is to blame, and no healthcare worker is to

    But critics are asking whether government fumbling can be blamed.

    The small island closed its borders to the rest of Australia in March. But it allowed its own residents to return, and among them were cruise passengers who later became the state’s first deaths.

    They were treated at North West Regional Hospital – in a poorer, rural region – and within two weeks there were more than 100 other infected healthcare workers and patients.

    On 12 April, officials were forced to shut down two hospitals, quarantine 5,000 locals and bring in military medics as cover.

    The Australian Medical Association (AMA) told the BBC it wants an investigation into how the virus got into the state and how it spread in the hospital.

    Officials initially blamed the spread on a staff dinner party, which turned out to be a false rumour. Reports have since emerged of inadequate PPE and poor practices in the under-resourced hospitals.

    AMA Tasmania branch president Prof John Burgess told the BBC: “How much did the underlying vulnerability of the the health system in that area – because it’s a rural region – play into its preparedness to deal with the virus?”

    Map of Australia with Tasmania and Sydney marked

    Copyright: BBC

    Image caption: Sick passengers from the cruise ship got off the vessel in Sydney before flying home to Tasmania

    North West Private Hospital in Tasmania

    Copyright: EPA

    Image caption: One of the two hospitals which had to be shut due to the outbreak
  19. China’s ‘Davos’ cancelled

    China has cancelled the 2020 Boao Forum for Asia – touted as the region’s answer to Davos’s World Economic Forum – due to the virus outbreak.

    In a statement on its website, the forum said it had make the “difficult decision” to not go ahead.

    It said it appreciated the “unwavering support from the Chinese government, members and partners of the forum since the outbreak”.

    The annual conference was initially scheduled for 24-27 March this year. It was then postponed, but now has been cancelled.

    China's President Xi Jinping delivers a speech during the opening of the Boao Forum for Asia

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Image caption: China’s President Xi at the Boao Forum
  20. Tom Hanks donates plasma after beating the virus

    Tom Hanks was one of the first international celebrities to catch the virus and was in quarantine for weeks in March.

    So why is he donating his plasma? It’s not so doctors can clone a new Forrest Gump – but because it’s possible is to infuse the severely ill with plasma (the liquid part of the blood) from people who have recovered from the virus.

    As they have developed antibodies, those antibodies will be in the plasma they donate. Once it’s given to a severely ill patient, doctors hope it could help them defeat the virus as well.

    Read more about plasma trials here.